What “universal” language promotes reading, creativity, and comprehension skills all at the same time? MUSIC!
According to neurobiologist Norman M. Weinberger, music exists in every culture. Parents all over the world sing to their babies. Music provides us with a natural and rhythmic way to learn. Do you ever wonder why children learn to sing their ABCs before they can say them? Do you notice that so many of our favorite children’s books have a certain rhyme or rhythmic pattern? Many studies show that there is a very strong connection between literacy and music. Through music, children learn to:
Does this mean that we pipe classical music into the background all day and expect preschoolers and kindergarten children to miraculously begin reading at a third grade reading level? Of course not! Here are some more reasonable and practical ways to assimilate music into the lives of young children:
I have a ton of favorite children’s songs – too many to list here. But some of my favorite children’s musicians are
Check your local symphony to see if their website has a link for teachers or children. For example, The Dallas Symphony Orchestra has the DSO Kids Club and The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra has a link for BSO Kids
Written by Tonya Wright
Remember the old Jetson cartoons where George would call home and his image would appear on the “telephone” screen? And Elroy had a computerized homework helper? We may not be living in apartments in outer space and we certainly aren’t flying around in space cars (yet), but some of that Jetson technology has become closer to realty than science fiction. These days most people and many businesses are Skyping, Tweeting, Blogging, Instant Messaging, and connecting through Facebook; these words didn’t even exist a few short years ago!
For a variety of reasons, the early childhood community has been slower to catch when it comes to technology. A recent survey of early childhood professionals by Child Care Information Exchange revealed that among child care centers, most that use technology only do so for administrative purposes such as accounting or record-keeping; and classroom use is often limited to educational software.
Technology can positively impact classroom practices.
Children can use photographs that they (or a teacher) have taken and create slideshows or stories. Websites such as Slideshare and Voicethread can be used to enhance literacy in the early childhood classroom. There are e-pal sites where classrooms can communicate with other classrooms across the state, across the country, or even across the world! Teachers can also scan student artwork or work samples and create electronic portfolios.
Word-processing and desktop publishing software can be used with students to creates student books, classroom labels, signs, and much more! My kindergartners were able to type “Do not touch” signs, print them out, and label their block creations. They could also type and print “Wet paint” signs to put near their art projects. While traditional methods should not be abandoned, technology can be used to enhance literacy-teaching strategies that we already know are effective.
Chances are, if you are reading this blog, you have a certain degree of technology know-how. I hope that you take what you know about technology and share it with an early childhood professional that may be able to learn from you. Knowledge is power and we have to spread the word about technological literacy!
Written by Tonya Wright
Science encourages logical thinking, communication skills, making predictions, drawing conclusions, and interpreting information; all of these skills enhance literacy development for students of any age! Science also provides a springboard for reading and writing activities.
Young children are curious learners and therefore, natural scientists. They don’t walk into our classrooms with closed-minds and preconceived set-in-stone ideas. As teachers of young children, we should take the opportunity of these “wonder years” and provide our students with the chance to make discoveries, develop theories, and test their hypotheses. We must give them a safe environment with adequate materials to help them extend their understanding of the world around us.
But let’s not be confused about the nature of science: Science isn’t just a set of experiments or a table in a corner that we fill with magnifying glasses and leaves. Science should be happening every day in most areas of the early childhood classroom.
- In the block area, children are learning about cause and effect, weight, balance, classification, and many other science concepts.
- The water and sand areas should be filled with items that support discovery: eye droppers, funnels, food coloring, ice cubes, spray bottles, soap bubbles, sink/float objects. In the art center, have students actually help you make play dough and clay and talk about the chemical reactions between wet/dry ingredients.
- Every cooking activity that you do can be a science activity! Get a class pet or at least a fish aqaruium to learn about animal life cycles.
And let’s not forget those teachable moments; you know, those moments that are not planned, but present themselves as a chance to teach something:
- Outside on the playground, do you help the children notice the wind, a bug, rain droplets, or shadows?
- Have your students discovered that sometimes static electricity makes your hair stand up when going down the sliding board?
Look around your classroom and see what types of science discoveries can be found; I am sure that you’ll find plenty!