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

ABC Cards Games For Tots

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Today is the second day of Fun Ways of Playing with ABC’s hosted by Something 2 Offer.

Today we are sharing about storebrought items that we can utilise and my category is tots!

I will introduce a few games that can be played with tots with ABC cards. They are simple and engaging and help developing fine and gross motor skills and language. These games are also great when emphasising a minority or a second/ third language.

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Note: go very slow with tots. Use not more than 1 or 2 cards at a time.
Avoid baby language – tots need to hear to say words clearly. You can emphasize your articulation and repeat your requests and letters several times.

“Pick Up the Card”

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Place a card on the floor and ask your tot to pick it up. E.g. “Pick up R for me please!” Praise and repeat!

“Give Me the Card”

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Ask your tot to give the card to you: ” Please give me R!” Praise and repeat.

“Where Is the Card?”
Show the letter card to your tot and then hide it behind your back and ask: “Where is R?” Look around with your tot, flash the end of the card from behind your back – encourage him to look for it.
Note: tots might be reluctant to give the card back to you. Give them time to play with the card, don’t push it.

“Swat the Card”
Using a sweater or a soft stick, ask the tot to swat the card: “Swat R!” Encourage and praise.

These are very simple games that any tot at any stage would like. Once they are able to repeat them, encourage them to say the letter with you!

Please stop by the Landing Page for Storebought Ideas to see what other bloggers shared!

ABC Mobile

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Summer is almost over and in many countries children are starting going back to school. For us school starts on September 1st so we are spending the rest of the summer enjoying various activities.

I am happy to participate in 5 days series called Fun Ways to Play with ABC’s hosted by Something 2 Offer. In this series for the next 5 days we will introduce various ways to plays with ABC’s, each day for a different age group.

For the first day, I am introducing an ABC mobile I made for infants, in a category of Homemade Ideas. At the end of my post I will suggest easier ways of making this mobile.
Mobile toys are one of the first interactive toys babies may see. There are so many on the market: with or without music; wind up ones and battery operated ones; ones that move and once that don’t. You can also make your own mobiles and it is super easy.

For this ABC’s mobile I used the following materials:
Upcycle fabric (mine is leftovers from the fabric I used to make a dress for my daughter; you can use an old pillow case, sheet or dress)
Scissors
Craft ribbon
Double sided tape
Isolation tape
Wire hanger
Threads
Needles
Sewing machine
Old teddy bear (or pillow) for stuffing

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Method:
1. To make the base for the mobile:
– You can use an old hanger made from thinnest wire. Bend it into a circle, triangle or square.
– To secure and make it look better, tape over with an isolation tape. Mine is of a pretty red color! Set it aside.

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2. To make the letters:
– Decide on the size and trace the letter on a piece of folded fabric so you have 2 sides which you need to stitch together.
– Stitch the sides by hand or using sewing machine, leaving space to put the stuffing through.
– Stuff it and stitch the opening. Repeat with the rest of the letters

Easier version: use felt or thick carton to cut out your letters. In the case with carton you can use sticky craft paper to decorate over.
– Using craft ribbon, cut out stripes. In my case to make it thicker, I used double sided tape and folded the ribbon into 3 and secured it. Then stitched by hand to the letters.

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3. Assembling the mobile:
– Using double sided tape, stick a piece of it to the other end of the craft ribbon you just stitched to the letter.
– Fold the ribbon over the mobile, securing the edge with tape on it so it is tightly wrapped around the circle. Secure all the letters.
– Using a larger piece of craft ribbon, repeat the same process with double sided tape in order to make a “handle” which you will use to hang the mobile (see the very first picture at the beginning of the post for reference.)

I would suggest not to put more than 3-4 letters at a time. You can change them weekly and hang above the baby’s crib during his awake time. While talking to the baby you can also name the letters to him.

One great thing about the letters I made, once child is older they can be given to.him to play with – simply detach and cut off the ribbon.

Some ideas for stuffing: to make it much safer and completely allergy-free, use pieces of fabric for stuffing.
To ensure better sensory experience once the child is able to  hold the toy, you can add some beans inside with the stuffing.
Supervision is required, especially if you stuff beans inside.

Please visit our Landing Page for Homemade Ideas to read more posts from other participating blogs!

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Five Ways to Deal With Terrible Twos Meltdowns

Twos
Miss A is 2. And since she turned 2, some magic happened and she’s become so different from the calm and content baby and 1 year old she was. First, I thought it was because we had a new baby. Then, I started worrying that perhaps it is some kind of disorder (you can’t blame a mom for worrying when her child keeps “melting down” over and over again for 30-40 minutes!).
So, I addressed my concerns some to fellow KBN members and I got to read this great article from Planning With Kids called Characteristics of Two (and a half) Year Old Behaviour; plus a lot of reassuring experience sharing. Oh, yes, if you wonder, I did know about terrible 2s. I just never experienced them first hand! Miss T had terrible 3s and terrible 4s, plus she is such a spirited energetic and happy child that it is VERY easy to make her laugh in a middle of a meltdown. It is very different with Miss A who has always been very serious, concentrated and HAS TO have things her way.
Before reading the articles we’ve been trying to come up with all sorts of creative ways of dealing with meltdowns. Of course, we are mere humans who also lose patience from time to time, so we go into meltdowns ourselves when all else fails.
Here are 5 things that work {most} of the time. Disclaimer: these are suggestions based on personal experience. If you apply them and fail – well, I am sorry, every child is different! However, if you have enough patience to attempt over and over again, at some point your efforts will be rewarded and you {will} burn a good bunch of calories along the way!
1. Don’t give too many choices. Limit them to 2 items: 2 dresses; 2 pairs of shoes; 2 food items; 2 activities; and so on. Too many choices are overwhelming and are likely to cause even worse anxiety (but you probably already know that!).
2. There is a difference between giving in and allowing some independence. E.g. if your child insists on getting dressed himself, by letting him try you are not giving into a tantrum. You are giving him a chance and you have to state so: “That’s fine, then. You can try yourself and I am here if you need help.” It took some battles for me to realize that miss A WILL come back asking to put her shirt on for her when she can’t figure it out. Or she will start crying and I tell her: “Oh, mama’s got you! Come here and let me see how you can do that!” – which usually means “come here and let me help you”.
3. Picking a child up and putting in a safe place during a meltdown with arms, legs and stuff flying around works. She will come running out, and you pick her up and put her right back in. And you talk her through it with a monotonous voice, as in, no emotions. You may repeat it a few times before she settles. Tip: leave a book or few toys nearby which will switch her attention when she stopped fighting whatever she was fighting.
4. One of the reasons why toddlers fuss and throw fits is because… they are hungry or thirsty. Their metabolism works so fast so they are constantly hungry. It doesn’t mean you have to stuff them up with food and let them eat whatever, but having a couple of favorite snacks and drinks handy, especially when you go out, works wonders!!!
5. Cut yourself some slack. You are probably not doing anything wrong. Your child is undergoing some major changes physically and emotionally.  So… breath in and out, and get back to being a parent. So you lost it today. As parents we also grow and learn and what we like to call “parenting fail” is not really a failure – it is a lesson to where our current limitations are and a chance to improve ourselves.
How do you deal with meltdowns?

Cooking series: yeast dough baking

We love baking and playing with the dough. Different dough has different texture and resilience and while exploring it the child doesn’t only participates in a real life activity but is also engaged into a sensorial activity that promotes fine-motor skills. My daughter can kneed the real dough for a very long time, adding more flour or oil to it. When she was younger, I would put her in the high chair, hand her the piece of dough, some flour in the cup and a rolling pin and she would initiate herself into the whole creative process of exploring the dough.

In Russia we enjoy having all sorts of bread for tea. Buns, rolls, dinner rolls, croissants – you name it. Practically every household has a tradition of making yeast (sour) dough and then use it for making tea snacks. My grandma passed onto us a very simple recipe for the yeast dough. I still use other recipes, but this one is easiest of all.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons of dry yeast

3 cups of warm boiled water

4 tablespoons of sugar

6 tablespoons of flour + 5-7 cups of flour

1 cup of oil

1/2 tablespoon of salt

Method:

Mix yeast with all the water, add sugar and 6 tablespoons of flour. Whisking the whole mixture is better to avoid having lumps. Cover and leave for 15 minutes. Then, add 1 cup of oil, salt and 5-7 cups of flour (depending on what flour you are using). Put it in a warm place and let it double. Make rolls, buns or whatever else you like. This dough is great for pizza and quiche.

This time we made dinner rolls on a regular baking sheet and using the muffin pans. The other time we just made them into naans and pricked them with forks.

It is truly amazing how something as simple as yeast dough can give us a room for creativity!

Paper Plate Series: Paper Plate and Play Dough Sun

It’s always fun to come up with some new ideas and craft which will engage children!
Here’s what we made today in my class with 2+ year olds: Paper Plate and Play Dough Sun!

You will need:
1 paper plate
Double-sided tape
Crepe paper cut in stripes (or coloured tissue paper)
Sunflower seeds
Play dough (we used this recipe to make ours)
A plastic fork and a plastic knife (optional)

Turn the plate bottom up and put double-sided tape around the outer rim.
Remove the paper off the double-sided tape and stick the stripes of crepe or tissue paper to make the sun rays. It’s a lot of fun and helps children practice their fine motor skills.
When done, turn the plate on the other side and cut the dough with a plastic knife or pinch off the pieces.
Put the pieces of the play dough on the plate and even it all out till it covers the surface of the plate.
You can let children use the fork and sort of rake on top of the play dough to create designs.
Next, take the sunflower seeds either one by one or a few at a time and squeeze them into the play dough.
Let the children come up with all sorts of designs. This is a great sensory and exploration activity. You can learn colors as you stick colorful rays.

  

Note: supervision is required due to choking hazard (sunflower seeds, plastic items, crepe or tissue paper which children may want to put in their mouths).

I hope you enjoy this activity! Thank you for reading my blog.

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