How Gardening with Kids Affects Your Child’s Brain, Body and Soul


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For parents struggling to find ways to encourage their kids to eat a healthy and balanced diet, gardening can be an important tool. Don’t let the idea overwhelm you. Gardening doesn’t require a perfectly level, large or sunny backyard. Try planting in a small raised bed or growing a few edibles in existing landscaping. Lean a trellis against an outside wall to grow beans or other edible vines. If you don’t have a lot of outdoor space, a few containers and soil in a sunny spot can be an easy way to grow herbs or some sweet cherry tomatoes that kids won’t be able to resist. Plants like zucchini, radishes and herbs are fairly easy to grow without a lot of fuss, making them a great return on your investment. The much bigger return is how planting a garden can affect not only your child’s body but also their brain and soul.
How gardening can affect the BRAIN:

There is a myriad of scientific concepts you can discuss with your kids when planting and tending to a garden. One study showed that children who participated in gardening projects scored higher in science achievement than those who did not. The wonder of seeing a garden grow may spark your kids to ask questions like: Why do the plants need sun? How does the plant “drink” water? Why are worms good for the plants? Soon you will be talking about soil composition, photosynthesis and more! Add a little math while gardening by measuring how much plants are growing from week to week or counting the flowers on each plant. Supplement the experience of gardening with books about plants, trips to a botanical garden, or a photo journal of the plants that you are growing.

Once you harvest your produce, think of all the brain-building vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients your kids will be eating and how that will continue to boost brain development. Foods like spinach, garlic and beets (which are all easy to grow) have been show to help with cognitive function and can give your kids an advantage in their growth and development. Even if kids may not love the foods they grow at first, teach them to keep tasting and trying and to train their taste buds to enjoy the bounty of their garden.

How gardening can affect the BODY:

When children participate in gardening, the fruits and vegetables that they are inspired to eat will no doubt have a positive effect on their body. But the act of gardening itself can also promote a healthy body. Kids LOVE to get their hands and feet in the dirt, which can run counter to the modern parenting style of compulsively keeping hands and surfaces cleaned and sanitized. However, consider the “hygiene hypothesis,” a theory that a lack of childhood exposure to germs actually increases a child’s susceptibility to diseases like asthma, allergies and autoimmune conditions by suppressing the development of the immune system. So getting dirty while gardening may actually strengthen a child’s immunity and overall health.

These days all kids could benefit from a little more physical activity and sunshine they’ll get while gardening. Activities like moving soil, carrying a heavy watering can, digging in the dirt and pushing a wheelbarrow can promote gross motor skills and overall strength for a more fit body. Plus, these activities, known as “heavy work,” have been shown to help kids stay calm and focused.

How gardening can affect the SOUL:

In this electronic age, kids need time for meaningful family connection. Time in the garden allows for team building and promotes communication skills. Planning a garden, planting the seeds and watching them grow give kids a sense of purpose and responsibility. Making sure that the plants get enough fertilizer, water and sun fosters mindfulness. The concepts learned while gardening, like composting food scraps for fertilizer or using gathered rainwater, can show kids a deep respect and responsibility for taking care of our planet.

In addition, studies show that when children have contact with soil during activities like digging and planting, they have improved moods, better learning experiences and decreased anxiety. Most important, the self-esteem a child gets from eating a perfect cucumber that he grew himself is priceless.

 

Do Some Simple But Great Summer Science Games


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Summer has just arrived, and like you, we’ve been looking for new ways to get outside and do some great science. With both an eight-and-a-half-year-old and a five-year-old in the house, the question this summer is, how can we (and you) get your youngest children thinking like a scientist and engage different age levels at the same time? We turn to an old classic game and add a few twists: “I Spy.”

Observation is the very heart of science. The “Oxford English Dictionary” defines the scientific method as: “a method or procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.”

Observation and measurement can be utilized in many ways and can easily be adapted to many age ranges. When you play “I Spy,” you can vary the object in different ways—you can spy a color or a size (bring a tape measure and spy something one foot long, for example). You can also spy something distant like the sun or moon. We also play “I Hear with My Little Ear”—ask your children to sit or stand still and see what different things you can pick out of the background noise. You can easily vary what you are listening for to suit your location or needs. You can find a quiet spot to listen to birds and compare the pleasant songs of a cardinal to the not so nice sound of crows or catbirds. When animals call, what are they saying to each other? Or listen for patterns—a rhythmic drip from a gutter after a rain or the sound of a passing car or bike. Be as specific as your ages will allow, and again, ask for something unexpected. Ask for a soft sound or a grating sound—maybe the sound of a rake reaching concrete. What are all the ways that you can categorize sounds?
Take a brown paper bag outside and play “I Feel”—same rules, only no peeking! Pick three or four different leaves off of nearby trees and see if you can identify them just by feeling them. There should be clear rules about what goes in the bag: nothing sharp or dangerous, no bugs or animals. But there is really no limit to what can go inside—a cotton ball, an acorn, a flower petal. Ask them to describe the difference between a flower petal and a leaf. Why are flowers smoother and softer than leaves? Or why are sedimentary rocks smoother than other rocks?

Finally, the truly adventurous can play “I Smell” or even “I Taste.” “I Smell” can be both good and bad—be prepared for some potty talk and to have your breath or hair analyzed. If you choose to play “I Taste,” make sure the rules are firmly established and think about fun. I remember playing this game when I was a kid and being given juice from a pickle jar to taste, which was not fun! But if you prepare three or four things and explain the range (one sweet, one salty, one sour, etc.), you can have a lot of fun without negative surprises.

A great way to tie them all together is to come up with a theme. Choose a basic and open theme, like the weather: what can you spy that says summer, but definitely does not say spring, fall or winter? Popsicles, lawn sprinklers, dogs with their tongues hanging out. … Similarly, there are sounds and smells and things to touch that only happen in summer weather. Does heat have a smell? Things get hot in the summer, but how does a cool breeze feel?

Remember to keep it fun, but focus on seeing (and hearing and smelling) things in new ways, and especially think of ways to observe like a scientist. Pick things that show the difference between the qualitative and quantitative, like an unusual flower, not in how it looks but in how many there are on a plant or stem. Slow down, look around, start observing like a scientist, and always follow up with questions that lead to more questions. You don’t have to answer all the questions—just help the kids form a good way to ask them. I spy with my little eye…little scientists having fun! And I hear with my little ear…the sound of little scientists laughing and having fun!

Vince Harriman is a contributor to cwist.com—kids’ challenges with a twist—where he writes science activities for kids and is the author of the widely followed blog Kids Need Science. He is also known as Science Dad on NPR’s Science Friday blog. He lives in Annapolis, Maryland, with his two sons, who ask him “why” approximately 6,542 times a day.

Some helpful tips for beating the back-to-school blues.


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There he was, our son, as sweet as a cinnamon bun, marching confidently into a new chapter of his life: his first day of preschool. We felt like celebrating—or at least doling out a healthy round of fist bumps watching him move into “big boy” status last fall. To be frankly, we were also relieved. Despite a small delay involving a slightly burnt piece of toast, we made it out of the house easily. No protests. No crying. No drama.

As we move toward kindergarten and grade school, I can only hope that heading back to school—after a summer of sun and fun—will always be so effortless. However, for many children, the start of the new school year means the end of fun and free time. If most kids had it their way, summer would last forever. But we already know that’s never going to happen, so instead, help them see that there’s a way to return to school buses, backpacks and books with a genuine smile—not a grimace—on their faces. Here are some helpful tips for beating the back-to-school blues.

Give them the 4-1-1.
If your child is starting at a new school—moving to kindergarten from day care or middle school from elementary—they may feel anxious about all the newness. It’s important to give them as much information as possible in advance, says Dr. Rochelle Harris, a psychologist at Children’s Mercy Hospital and Clinics in Kansas City, Missouri. For example:

  1. “If you can, visit the school one week before, to help them learn the layout of the building,” she says.
  2. Get your kid’s class schedule ahead of time and walk through it with them. “You can decrease a lot of uncertainty and help them get familiar with all of the new components they’re facing.”
  3. Practice opening their lockers, especially if it’s a combination lock. “It can be a panicky thing for kids if their locker sticks and they can’t open it,” Dr. Harris says.
  4. Meet the teacher. “Make sure the teacher knows that your child is new to the school or the neighborhood,” she says. “Writing a letter to the teacher with basic tips and easy requests is a big help. “For instance, let the teacher know that you just moved there or that your child has never been to a school this size.”

Talk through anxieties.
Kids might feel ambivalent or anxious about returning to school for a number reasons. “Whatever the issue, talk about it, but don’t dwell on it,” says Dr. Harris. Also, listen closely to the content, she says. Kids tend to globalize things: I never have fun. School is always boring. “It’s that ‘all or nothing’ thinking that can lead children to feel depressed,” Dr. Harris says. Get them refocused, and challenge that negativity. Remind them about the fun that awaits them at school and on the weekends too. “The key is to normalize it for them and keep a positive spin: ‘Oh, yeah, I hear you, but also remember how much fun you had with your classmates last year. I’m sure this time will be like that.’”

Create a plan of action.
If your child has a legitimate issue that’s leaving them unenthusiastic about returning to school—maybe they struggled with a subject or were bullied—Dr. Harris strongly recommends creating a plan of action and explaining it to your child. “If your kid had trouble in math last year, tell him/her that you are going to start the process of getting them more support, and then follow through,” she says. Or in a bullying situation, let your child know that you will speak to the school and involve the necessary parties to ensure that it’s being looked into and handled.

Get reacquainted with old friends.
With summer camps and family vacations, sometimes your kids don’t see their school friends until that first day back. Dr. Harris recommends reconnecting with buddies a week or so beforehand to get reacquainted. Play dates or, for older children, an easy end-of-summer BBQ in the backyard are great ways to do this. “Suggest that your child call up a friend and coordinate a preschool meetup. Maybe they can arrange to walk into school at the same time on the first day,” she says. A phone call to a friend three or four days ahead can help calm your child’s concerns about going back to school.

Make a special purchase.
Sometimes getting your child excited about the new school year can be as simple as letting them pick out a special item when you’re doing back-to-school shopping. “If the latest backpack helps them feel included, and it works with your budget, just buy it,” Dr. Harris says. “It could make a world of difference.”

The Teacher Mixes Rap Songs Like ‘Bad And Boujee’ Into History Lessons


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“You know, it’s your boy, honest Abe. Making this song to shut down the lames.”

This is how middle school history teacher David Yancey began a lesson on the Civil War at Edwards Middle School in Conyers, Georgia.

Yancey’s remake of Migos’ banger “Bad and Bougee” went viral on Sunday after a high school friend of his tweeted the historical spin on the song, titled “Mad and Losing.”

“The troops are mad and losing. Slowing them down is a doozy. Soldiers are ready and ruthless. With rifles and ironclads, too,” Yancey raps.
While the educator, who’s been using popular songs to create a unique curriculum for three years ― admitted to a lack of vocal talent in an interview with WSB-TV Atlanta ― that hasn’t hindered him in the least bit.

Yancey, who was awarded the school’s 2016 Teacher of the Year title, has also remixed Young MA’s “Ooouu,” Drake’s “Hotline Bling” and even Adele’s “Hello” to educate his students om everything from telegrams to Cherokee tribes.

“It’s not just random things that are being thrown together,” Yancey told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “I’m very intentional … on what content I’m delivering. I’ll do the lesson and I’ll pull it all together in a song.”

But Yancey doesn’t just rely on the power of music to get the lesson across. The songs serve to emphasize lessons he’s just taught.

“I’m not Migos. I’m not Adele,” Yancey said to WBS. “I am an eighth-grade social studies teacher who is trying to reach them.”

 

Serving Up A Slice Of Einstein On Pi Day,Which Is Also Albert Einstein’s Birthday


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It’s on this day each year that so many debate the merits of Dutch apple a la mode vs. lemon meringue pie.

It’s the day pie lovers embrace the (other) Pi (3.14…), transforming March 14th into a good reason to globally celebrate Pi with pie.

For those of us who celebrate fundamental scientific research every day, we raise our forkfuls for yet another reason: to celebrate the man who brought us theories about space and time that, among other things, make today’s GPS so accurate and our search for gravitational waves a reality. Yes, Pi Day is also Albert Einstein’s birthday.

Soon, I will have the honor of participating in this year’s World Science Festival in Australia, where so much of my involvement there is a reflection of science and technology that hinges on Einstein’s contributions and specifically his connection to the NSF-funded Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO).

Einstein, the “poster child” for fundamental scientific research

It’s been a little over a year since the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced that the project it had funded for more than 40 years, LIGO, had detected gravitational waves resulting from two merging black holes 1.3 billion lightyears away.

Not only did Einstein theorize the existence of gravitational waves, his theories provided the tools to set up experiments, simulations and instrumentation that could realize his bold ideas. How did we know LIGO’s detection was two black holes merging? Einstein’s theory of General Relativity. Gravitational physicists from around the world had developed numerical codes that model black holes in this theory. This new discipline, called Numerical Relativity, is the one that provided the simulations that agree with the observations.

And these simulations, done on supercomputers, weren’t easy to achieve. Most of the breakthroughs in this area have been achieved by brilliant researchers in only the past 15 years, and by a large margin most of this work in the U.S. was funded by NSF.

But this is what we do. And the payoff is that NSF research, along with our national and international collaborators, has literally opened a new window to our universe. We have found a way to observe some of the most powerful cosmic phenomena that occur in the farthest reaches of our universe, without leaving our own planet, and we have achieved the means to understand it! It’s a feat that never ceases to amaze me. And one certainly worthy of quite a bit of pie!

When science gives you new windows…

I’m often asked why I became an astrophysicist, to which I reflect on the wonder I held even as a young girl, looking out at the stars. Today, that same sense of awe is coupled with a curiosity shared far beyond my scientific community. In much the same way one gets to know a school or neighborhood to its fullest extent, I believe collectively we share a desire to learn more about our universe. Only last month, an NSF-funded astronomer was among the cadre who discovered seven Earth-like exoplanets outside our solar system.

NSF has long invested in exploring our universe with ground-based approaches that exploit the electromagnetic spectrum from radio waves to gamma-rays. It has also funded observatories that detect high-energy particles of cosmic origins. Now, with the advent of LIGO, NSF also supports the observation of gravitational waves. In fact, as NSF leadership and our National Science Board distilled the broad range of science into “big ideas” that represent important questions for our future, we naturally determined one of them as “windows on the universe.”

I believe strongly that it’s our investment in fundamental research that will allow us not only to see and understand so much more of our universe, but develop understanding, tools and technology along the way that can also be important economic drivers and excite the next generation of scientists, engineers and mathematicians who test and prove theories and create new theories of their own.

What’s next for LIGO

NSF continues to invest in this project because we believe this is just the beginning for a whole new way to study our universe. The plan for Advanced LIGO is that it will run at three separate times, increasing sensitivity with each new “run” of the project’s two interferometers in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington. The hope was that with this second run that is ongoing, European collaborators would also jump into the observations with their Advanced VIRGO detector, and all of this would potentially increase and improve detections.

At this point, VIRGO is delayed because of technical issues, but the LIGO detectors will likely continue until the summer, and we still hope that VIRGO can join in. Our expectation is that potentially we could still see two to five detections. The third run will occur in 2018.

Additionally, we may hear from India on which location they have officially selected, and their plans for a third LIGO interferometer that could get up and running in 2024. That seems like a long time away, but a third LIGO interferometer would help triangulate signals and potentially allow researchers to pinpoint the origin of these cosmic phenomena more accurately.

These are big plans that potentially will provide big news about our universe. And that’s a win for all of us, anyway you slice it.

Some strategies to help you both cope when the going gets tough


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No matter how hard you try, your child may struggle academically at some point in his school career. Here are some strategies to help you both cope when the going gets tough.

Let your kids get frustrated. When kids are having a hard time with homework or a school-related subject, they often explode with anger. And parents wonder “What did I do wrong?” “You didn’t necessarily do anything,” advises Michael Thompson, Ph.D. “Sometimes when kids feel misunderstood at school or frustrated by a subject, they get angry or provoke the parent — as a way of making you feel as helpless or angry as they feel. It’s almost like your child is saying, ‘would you hold my hopelessness for a while?’ Or ‘I need you to feel what I am going through, so I am going to make you angry.’”

Take a break. If your child says “I can’t do it!” and throws the pencil down, take a little break. Maybe she needs to rant and blow off a little steam. Come back in five minutes and start fresh.This also gives a child a chance to “save face” and start over, without even discussing the previous difficulty or outburst.

Don’t always try to have a rational conversation. When kids get very upset about school, the upset may get in the way of their being rational. So wait it out instead of arguing or grilling children about the situation. Once they cool down, you might be able to talk it through.

Let your child make his own mistakes. It’s hard not to correct a child’s homework, but most teachers ask you not to take over unless your child asks for your help or the teacher requests it. Teachers generally want to know what the child understands, not what the parent understands about the material.

Put a time limit on the work. Most teachers will not expect younger kids to work longer than a half-hour on homework from any particular subject, but ask your teacher for a time limit. If your child struggles (while actively trying) and exceeds the limit, write the teacher a note explaining that’s all that could get done.

Contact the school. If homework or a project is turning into a dreaded battle, talk with the school. Don’t wait for your next conference. It’s obviously time for some new insights and new strategies.

Help your child learn how to organize himself. This is a life-long skill that can be taught, but it can be challenging to do so. However you can help your child discover the organizational tricks that will work for him by sharing some of your own. “It’s very difficult to teach children to be organized if it is not in their nature (or yours),” says guidance counselor Linda Lendman, M.S.W. “Encourage your child to label everything. Develop strategies, like the ‘must-do list’ before you leave school (put math book in backpack). Schedule a weekly ‘clean out the backpack and clean off your desk’ time so papers don’t build up. Be patient, and try not to place blame.”

Recognize that school work will never be conflict-free. No one ever raised a child without a homework battle. “There is no conflict-free homework strategy for most kids,” says Michael Thompson, Ph.D. “At times, kids will find it fun and fascinating. Other times, it may be something they just have to do, and you have to help them find the structure for getting it done.”

The Surprising Meaning and Benefits of Reading Nursery Rhymes To Children


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When you sing nursery rhymes to your children, you may be telling the same poems and tales that, in some form, were told by firelight from parents to their children centuries ago, perhaps even as far back as the Middle Ages. Determining the origins of these famous tales before they were written down is impossible, but many have made guesses about their early roots. “Ring Around the Rosy” may refer to the swollen cysts that afflicted the sick during the Black Death. You might be recalling an ancient Welsh king in “Old King Cole” who drowned in a swamp 1700 years ago, and in “Little Miss Muffet” the daughter of a bug expert in Shakespearean England, or a queen beheaded for her Catholic faith in “Mary Mary Quite Contrary.” These stories have undergone so many changes over the centuries that these meanings –if they did originate in these long-ago dark circumstances –are mostly obscured.

“Many of these songs were not originally for children,” says Kay Vandergrift, Professor Emerita of Children’s Literature at Rutgers University. Most of these songs were part of an oral-based society that relayed news, spread coded rumors about authority figures, and worked out its moral dilemmas (for kids and adults) in rhyme and song. And existing nonsense rhymes that were part of this oral tradition could be used or adapted to make references to current events. It was in the nineteenth century, when Victorian society sentimentalized childhood and romanticized “quaint” times from the past, that most nursery rhymes were written down and presented as for children only.

How are these poems—inhabited by kings, queens and peasants of a rural past predating electricity, television and computers—still relevant to twenty-first-century kids and parents? If we are so far removed from the world that hatched these rhymes, why should we still read them? Some of the reasons people sang nursery rhymes to each other in the past remain good reasons to do so today. Here are four main reasons nursery rhymes can be beneficial for kids:

They are good for the brain. Not only does the repetition of rhymes and stories teach children how language works, it also builds memory capabilities that can be applied to all sorts of activities. Furthermore, as Vandergrift points out, nursery rhyme books are often a child’s first experience with literacy: “Even before they can read, children can sit and learn how a book works.” This extends to the pictures and music associated with nursery rhymes: it is a full visual and oral experience.
Nursery rhymes preserve a culture that spans generations, providing something in common among parents, grandparents and kids—and also between people who do not know each other. Seth Lerer, Humanities Professor at the University of California San Diego and expert in the history of children’s literature, says that reading nursery rhymes to kids is, in part, “to participate in a long tradition … it’s a shared ritual, there’s almost a religious quality to it.”
They are a great group activity. Susie Tallman, who has put out several award-winning nursery rhymes CDs, and is also a nursery school music teacher, describes how singing nursery rhymes allows all kids—even shy ones—to feel confident about singing, dancing and performing because they are so easy to grasp and fun: “It builds confidence right in front of my eyes,” she says. “They really see the connection between movement, rhythm and words.” She has also had kids of different ages collaborate on making music videos for their favorite nursery rhymes.
Most important is that they are fun to say. Lerer downplays the life lessons that some rhymes contain, arguing that while parents might consider them important, children probably do not register them. He remembers how as a kid he had no idea what “Peas porridge hot/peas porridge cold” meant but that “he just loved the way it sounded.” One should not let any supposed deeper meanings or origins to nursery rhymes obscure their true value: the joy of a child’s discovery of an old, shared language.

Tips For The Summer Reading


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What comes to mind when you think about summer with your children? Swimming? Summer camp? Barbecues? Music in the park? This year, why not make sharing books part of your family’s summer fun?

Teachers and literacy experts agree that children of all ages need to be read to or to read by themselves and to talk about books over the summer. When you read or talk to your young child about books, she develops important language skills, understandings about books and print, and knowledge about how stories are constructed that will help her to become a strong reader and writer. Your school-aged child’s summer reading and book discussions will help him maintain his reading skills, improve his reading fluency, and learn new vocabulary and concepts. Most importantly, when parents and children enjoy summer reading together, children develop a love of books and reading that lasts a lifetime.

Learn tips for weaving language and literacy activities into your child’s summer days and for helping your school-aged child tackle her school summer reading list . In addition, you can explore links to summer reading lists and more.

“Read” Illustrations can Help Improve Literacy Skills


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Snuggling up with my children and a good picture book was one of my favorite things to do when my son and daughter were young. As parents, we intuitively know the value of this intimate exchange, and understand that reading to our children helps them internalize the structure of language and develop their appreciation for the power and beauty of the written word.

How many of us, though, think to “read” the illustrations in a book with the same amount of attention and care that we read the words? And why might this be important?

On a daily basis we are presented with a steady stream of advertisements, signs and symbols designed to shape our decisions and direct our attention. In addition, one look at the Internet makes it obvious that we are becoming an increasingly visual society. If we want our children to be intelligent and discerning consumers of visual information, we need to teach them how to read visual compositions for meaning.

Picture books present a perfect opportunity for parents to introduce their children to the language of visual composition and its power to inform. Illustrators and writers work closely together to tell stories. Thus, when reading the text, it is well worth taking the time to carefully examine what the images have to say. Liz, a parent of two elementary school-aged children, describes how she encourages her kids to explore images in books: “We take ‘walks’ with our eyes through the illustrations of a new book before reading the words. My kids and I have fun together describing what we see, imagining the events of the story and guessing what might happen next when we turn the page.”

Another mom, Diane, uses the illustrations to pique her son’s imagination: “I asked him to tell me the story he saw in a picture. He described himself within the scenes, imaginatively interacting with the characters and participating in the adventure the illustration unfolded. A visual image often became the basis of his pretend play later on.”

Here are more ways to explore illustrations with your child and to help him develop his ability to “read” visual compositions:

Colors
If your child is very young, ask him what colors he notices most in an illustration. Based on what he says, help him connect the color(s) to particular feelings and/or actions. For example, is red describing something exciting, black telling the story of fright, blue something sad, or yellow revealing excitement or happiness? When you read the words, see how they extend or confirm what you “read” in the image. Or, do the opposite—read the words first, then see how the illustrator helps to further the plot with color. An example of a great book that explores the connection between colors and emotions is “Yesterday I Had the Blues” by Jeron Ashford Frame.

Lines
Ask your child to identify different kinds of lines in an illustration and trace her finger along them while describing what the line is doing. A dotted line might be skipping happily across the picture, a thick line plodding clumsily about the page, curly lines laughing, and thin, pointy lines jabbing angrily. Talk together about how the quality and movement of the lines in the illustration match the story that the words are telling. An exciting example of this is the book “Ish” by Peter H. Reynolds, as it incorporates a variety of different lengths and textures of lines.

Shapes and Objects
Engage your child in naming some of the shapes and objects in an illustration and ask him to describe how big those objects are in relation to each other. Help your child see that the bigger the object and the closer it appears to the viewer, the more important it tends to be in the story. Next, ask your child to notice where his eye is initially drawn into the illustration, and to describe the path around the page his eye naturally takes. Notice together if moving in a horizontal path signals that a problem has been resolved; vertical paths indicate ascending steps toward problem resolution, or diagonal paths create anticipation about a solution that is yet to come. Once again, compare how the verbal text matches the visual story structure. Jan Brett incorporates this skill with great consideration and inspires young readers to infer what might happen next in “The Mitten.”

We live in a world where being visually literate is as important as being verbally literate. The more we can help our children understand the language of visual form and how images interact with words to communicate ideas, the better positioned they will be to interpret, understand and engage in the world around them.

Qualities of a Good Classroom Is Benefit For Children


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Decades of research about how young children learn have shown that good beginnings make a lifelong difference. Young children who spend time in homes and classrooms in which there is a great deal of conversation and daily exposure to books and writing are better prepared to become readers and writers when they enter kindergarten. School-aged children who are in classrooms with a well-balanced reading and writing program and who have support from home are more likely to become skilled readers and writers. This age-customized guide to child care settings and classrooms can help you get your child off to the best start possible.