P is for Phonological Awareness in Toddlers

Working with age group birth to 3 years old is my most favourite. It is such an amazing thing – observing a child growing, developing, and learning first step, first words, first emotions. 

Today I’d like to talk about Phonological Awareness in Toddlers. But before I start, let me share with you what it means:

Phonological awareness is the ability to divide spoken language into units, such as words and syllables. Before diving into individual sounds within words (phonemic awareness), we teach children to pay attention to more obvious sounds. We start with environmental noises, then move into sentences, whole words, and then syllables...

Source: Sightwords.com

As a bilingual Montessori instructor I work mostly with children whose first language is not English. And while  phonological awareness in toddlers happens naturally at home where they are in their mother tongue’s environment, in the classroom I have to emphasize it in order to promote proper pronunciation of sounds, words, sentences; assist with general development of the articulation (which can be quite different from the one of  English language); and guide them to making them speak English as comfortably as possible. 

I would like to share some tips and tricks with you that help me in the classroom. You can use them for any language, whether it is a primary one, or a minority one.

1. Read to children. Yes, you already know that! Reading works wonders on language development. But reading with emphasis on sounds and words, enhancing your articulation will shows toddlers and babies how the mouth forms a sound or a word. 

2. Speak clearly in simple sentences. This is important. Young children don’t have a vast vocabulary to understand your sophisticated words. They respond much better to sentences that short and simple. For example, “Please, pick up the toy”, or “Let’s wash hands”. 

3. Avoid baby talk. Even if it is so tempting with that cute little munchkin who is just so adorable! No, really. Avoid it. Words of endearment are fine. But spoken in a creepy voice the sounds get really messed up and there is a lot of confusion! I like how Chinese people I am around do use extra soft vocal intonations when talking to babies but they persist very much when it comes to speaking the sounds properly. After all, phonetically Chinese is quite hard and even for native speakers the process of learning it never stops. 

4. Play games that involve sounds. It could be anything from how the animals talk to how the engines sound. It is fun, and it is helpful. 

5. Sing your heart out! I can never get enough of stressing how much singing the words helps with phonological awareness and pronunciation in general. Even if you are not so gifted with singing, chant the words and rhymes, and songs. We sing a lot of songs in my classes! 

I’d like to add that while I find phonetics a useful and very important part of any language system, I don’t think they should be emphasized and mindlessly taught to any child. So I hope what you read above you take it as a completary part of teaching/learning the language that can assist you in order to make your job cut out for you! 

31 Days of ABC 2017 | Alldonemonkey.com

It’s time again for another fantastic month of alphabet fun with the 31 Days of ABC!  All this month you can look forward to 31 more days of activities, crafts, books, apps, and more, all dedicated to teaching young children the alphabet.

I am so happy to be working with an amazing group of kid bloggers, who will be sharing their ideas with us in the coming days. So join us as we jump, skip, hop, and read our way through the alphabet this October!

Find more great resources in our series from past years: 31 Days of ABCs 2013, 2014, and 2016!

Don’t forget to follow our 31 Days of ABCs Pinterest board for even more great ABC ideas!

31 Days of ABC

Teaching the ABCs – October 1

All Done Monkey: Early Literacy – Getting Started Teaching the Alphabet

A – October 2

Creative World of Varya: A Is for Aromatherapy for Kids

B – October 3

Hispanic Mama: B Is For Bilingual Baby Books

C – October 4

Witty Hoots: C Is for Cool Fingerprint Castle Keyrings Tutorial

D – October 5

Teach Me Mommy: D Is for Dinosaurs DIY Sensory Bin

E – October 6

E Is for Environmental Print to Develop Literacy

F – October 7

Look! We’re Learning! F Is for Printable Farm Paper Bag Puppets


G – October 8

All Done Monkey: G Is for Go

H – October 9

All Done Monkey: H Is for Hello/Hola

I – October 10

Jeddah Mom: I Is for Ice Cream Craft and Sorting Activity

J – October 11

All Done Monkey: J is for Jirafa (Giraffe) – Spanish Coloring Page

K – October 12

Pennies of Time: K Is for Kindness

L – October 13

Schooling Active Monkeys: L Is for Lion Craft

M – October 14

Sugar, Spice & Glitter

N – October 15

All Done Monkey: N Is for Nature Crafts

O – October 16

Kitchen Counter Chronicles: O Is for Owl Bookmark Printable

P – October 17

Creative World of Varya

Q – October 18

Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes: Q Is for Quito

R – October 19

JDaniel4’sMom: R Is for Robot

S – October 20

Discovering the World Through My Son’s Eyes: S Is for Spanish

T – October 21

Sand In My Toes: T Is for Truck

U – October 22

The Educators’ Spin On it: U Is for Unicorn

V – October 23

CrArty: V Is for Van Gogh

W – October 24

My Story Time Corner: W Is for Wheels on the Bus

X – October 25

The Mommies Reviews: X

Y – October 26

Teach Me Mommy: Y Is for Yarn Letters

Z – October 27

Bambini Travel: Z Is for Zoo Animals

123’s – October 28

Creative World of Varya: Montessori Inspired Printable

Prewriting – October 29

Witty Hoots

Books, Songs, & Apps – October 30

Witty Hoots: Top 5 List

Printables – October 31

Royal Baloo and Logi-Bear Too

Special Guest Thursday: Super – Noche {Kid World Citizen}

Welcome to Special Guest Thursday!
When I first started blogging seriously I virtually met some incredible bloggers and even wrote guest posts for them. One of them is Becky of Kid World Citizen – a blog and an amazing source for everything in regard of raising global citizens. I was impressed how easy going Becky was and how multicultural and accepting her family was.
Today I am very happy to have her as a special Thursday guest. Being a mom of 5 she shares some insights on and importance of family traditions and how to organise a date night with children!

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Becky is the mom of 5 multicultural kids, an ESL teacher, author of The Global Education Toolkit for Elementary Learners and founder of KidWorldCitizen.org. She is passionate about activities that teach kids cultural and global awareness, and shares them on TpT, facebook and twitter.

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Wherever I go, I am asked if I own a daycare or run a school. It could be because I have 5 kids (it’s only five though, we’re not as large as the  Duggar’s!)… or because the kids look like they are all almost the same age (our 9 year olds are 3 months apart and our 7 year olds are 1 month apart.. and we are fostering a baby boy). Probably though, it’s because our family has a mixture of cultures, and kids who are both biological and adopted, and it’s hard to believe: “they are all yours!?”

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When we were trudging through the immense amount of papers and social worker visits in order to be “approved” as an adoptive or foster family, we had to take hours of training on raising children. Due to the nature of adoption, our kids have been through traumas that have changed their little hearts and minds, in order to protect themselves.

The most important job of any parent is to surround our children with unconditional love, so they feel (and are) protected, attended to, accepted, and adored. Because the bonding process is intensified with kids who have lost the only family they have known, our training included ways to facilitate attachment, and to connect with our children. One of the most important ways to do so is to spend one-on-one time with each of your children, on a consistent basis- no screens, no phones, no interruptions.

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Agreeing that it’s necessary to give individual attention is one thing, but going through with it is the challenge- we’re all either working, hustling through chores, chauffeuring kids to sports and dance and violin, trying to get dinner on the table, helping with homework, etc. The list is endless! And yet- whether you are an adoptive family, whether you work inside the home, outside the home, whether you have 10 kids or a singleton, whether you’re a single parent, or you have grandparents nearby (well, then I’m really envious), – all of our kids can benefit from a little dedicated, individual attention.

One way our family has fun with this is to plan a“date night”— or as we call it in our house a “super-noche” (Spanish for “super night”).

We started off when the kids were little, as a way for either me or my husband to take one (or sometimes 2) of our kids on a special outing at night- sometimes even on  school night! Sometimes it’s dressing up and going out for ice cream or hot cider, other times it’s going to see a show, go on a long bike ride, or go dancing in the Town Square. It doesn’t have to be expensive- in fact my sons’ favorite super-noche is to go to a nearby stream and throw rocks in the water. We have spent hours walking by the water looking for baby alligators (we live outside Houston!) and talking about “stuff.”

Without the interruptions of the other kids, and with no hurry to get back, the conversation flows easily. We made a rule that anything we talk about on a super-noche is a secret from the other kids, and all of a sudden I’m hearing stories from school and the playground that they didn’t want to share at the dinner table: who likes who, or something embarrassing or silly. 

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Our date nights have become a family tradition that I hope we will continue throughout their lives. With our busy schedules and homework and crazy running after school, these special times are one way we reconnect with each of our kids. Thought our super-noches might only last about an hour, we hope the memories of the special times last much longer.

Special Guest Thursday: Learning New Words Through Drawing {Multilingual Parenting}

Today I have a very special guest – Rita Rosenback from Multilingual Parenting!  Rita is a fellow blogger from Multicultural Kid Blogs Community I am also a part of. She is also a specialist in bilingual matters and I am very glad she agreed to share her wisdom with us!

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Children (and adults for that matter) learn better when they are having fun – this applies to any subject and for language learning this is particularly true. As a parent you are trying to come up with ways to engage your kids to learn, and especially if you are the minority language parent, you are constantly looking for ways to increase the language exposure time and to make sure that your child acquires an as extensive and varied vocabulary as possible.

One excellent way of learning new words is to draw a picture story together with your kid. – Before you say anything along the lines of “I can’t draw!” or “I wouldn’t know what to draw!” let me tell you that everyone can draw and your child will be delighted with anything you come up with. If you are really struggling with the start, cut our some pictures from a magazine or comic and build on those to make a combined storyboard and drawing. Also, don’t worry, your child’s imagination will lead the way in choosing what to add to your masterpiece!

Ask your child to choose a character who will be at the centre of your story, then place this animal, person, plant, car of whatever was chosen in the middle of the paper. Start expanding on your story by asking questions about your character. If you have a certain vocabulary topic in mind, steer the story towards it by making the questions lead the way. Let’s say you want to introduce different vegetables and fruits, make your character grow, eat, buy or sell them in your story. Or maybe your character could be a fruit looking for new friends! To make the words even more memorable you could have some of the fruits and vegetables ready as a snack for the day.

When speaking about the character use a lot of adjectives describing what it looks like: tiny, happy, surprised, yellow, round, soft and so on. Also make the verbs, the words for the action, more interesting by replacing the common ones with new ones: for example leap, bounce, skip, canter for jump; or stroll, step, march, stride for walk or go. If your child is a bit older you can use a dictionary to look up synonyms together.

After you have done this a few times you will have many lovely picture stories which you could put together as your very own picture book. Wishing you many creative moments with your little ones!

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The illustration is from Rita’s book “Bringing up a Bilingual Child” with the subtitle “Navigating the Seven Cs of Multilingual Parenting: Communication, Confidence, Commitment, Consistency, Creativity, Culture and Celebration.” (picture © Rita Rosenback 2014)

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Rita Rosenback is the author of “Bringing up a Bilingual Child” and she blogs at www.multilingualparenting.com where you can find tips and advice on raising your children to speak the family languages. She also visits schools and community groups to give speeches and lead workshops for parents and teachers on the topic of bilingual children. Rita was born in the Swedish-speaking part of Finland and now lives in Derby, England. She is the mother of two adult daughters who speak Swedish, Punjabi, Finnish and English.
You can connect to Rita and follow her over these social networks –
TwitterLinkedInFacebookPinterestGoogle+

Multicultural Blogging Carnival: Bilingual books for Chinese English Learners

It is February and Little Artists participates in the next part of the Multicultural Blogging Carnival dedicated to Books and Words!

This Carnival is hosted by Cordelia of Multicultural Mama and In Culture Parent. Visit her blogs on the February 14th to see who else participated in this wonderful project!

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Being an expat has certain benefits. And no, it is not about being different and being treated better. It is more about when someone is leaving the city, they often give away books, clothes, household items which are great condition and are very useful. Most of our books for girls are given to us by our friends. As sad as we were to part ways with those who left, we were really delighted that they thought about us when giving away their books.

“English library” series by Higher Education Press came into our house from another Russian friend who left the city. There are few levels of bilingual books and they are aimed at the Chinese speakers who learn English. However, they are also great for those who already speak English. In our older daughter’s case, the first language is English. Then Russian, then Chinese (this is changing now as she is more exposed to Chinese than to Russian). She is just starting to read and she loves reading and to be read to in general. So the “English library” books are perfect for her  age group (4+ years old) as they contain simple sentences with sight words and it is easy to follow and seek out the familiar words.

The short stories are written by English speaking authors and they have nice, friendly illustrations. 

Each page contains an illustration and a text, with some of the new words translated into Chinese. At the end of some books there are activities which help review new words and our daughter enjoys doing them over and over again!

Reading is an important part of our children’s life. With the new age of technology it is sad to see many children growing without books in their hands. Even though I haven’t been reading much either (mainly because it is hard to get books around here), I still prefer a book any time in my hands! Here’s a post I contributed about encouraging reading over at B-Inspired Mama’s Blog.

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