Lifelong Literacy

5 Early Literacy Practices for Babies

For: Caregivers/Parents

Ages: Birth-2 Years

The love of books and reading starts when we are born. As care providers, parents, and teachers, we need to connect the experience of reading and learning with a ludic/game activity or experience. When you connect a learning or reading experience with a fun experience, your child will associate the learning experience with having a good time. The child will continue to be eager to see this positive experience.

*Focus on having a good time rather than teaching a word, letter, sound or something specific.

Creating a full brain experience:
The left side of the brain is responsible for organizing our thoughts and makes us think logically, whereas the right side of our brain is the emotional side. The right side of the brain experiences feelings and emotions. Developmentally, a baby’s brain development weighs heavily on the right side of the brain.
When your baby is having fun and engaging in activities that they like, such as hearing your voice and enjoying your company, the right side of the brain is in complete activation. This is the ideal moment to connect baby’s left side of the brain with a learning experience.


Crying is a baby’s first means of expression. Your baby will learn that the act of crying will call upon mom’s attention. When your baby cries, they are trying to communicate hunger, a need for comfort, or the desire for company.
A baby’s brain is wired to speak any language, but it will choose the language/or languages that he hears in his environment. The brain will sort out sounds that compose his language or languages and make connections with those sounds. We as caregivers and parents need to create an environment rich with speech since your baby needs to hear a language in order to speak it.

  • Make eye contact with your baby: When your baby reaches 3 months of age, they will be able to follow your face when you talk and follow familiar voices.
    Repetition is always helpful: Your baby is aware of the sound of your voice and the rhythm of language more than what the words actually mean.
  • Active listening: Your baby is actively listening to you. Studies have found that when your baby is listening to you, the sound of the speech stimulates areas of the brain that coordinate baby’s speech. (National Academy of Science, July 14th, 2014)
  • Talkback: Imitate your baby’s babbles and gestures. Having this back and forth conversation is called serve and return. When an adult responds to these actions, the baby’s brain will create connections and strengthen the foundation of their brain.


  • Look in the mirror and name body parts. Ask questions like: Where is the baby’s nose? Then, point to your child’s nose. Your child will love seeing their reflection in the mirror!
  • Wiggle fingers or toes. Support fine motor skills and gross motor skills; connect sensation (touch) with music and a fun experience.
  • Tickling of body parts like the tummy, face, and cheeks, will create sensory stimulations as well as laughter and fun.
  • Explore textures: Exploring a variety of textures activates the senses and different parts of your baby’s brain. You can do this activity with elements you already have around the house. Try using scarves, clothing with different textures, stuffed animals, fabric, feathers, grass, and sand. To make it more fun, use opposing elements such as rough and soft, dry and wet.
  • Moving objects/ disappearing objects: Object permanence is one of your baby’s milestones. With this skill, he will develop the understanding that people and objects still exist even if he can’t see them. Games like Peak-a-Boo will help your baby to develop this skill; they will also help develop socio-emotional, language and logical thinking.

Every time you play these games, you provide opportunities to make eye contact with your baby. Take turns playing and let him make a prediction. Try changing the phrase; instead of saying Peak-a-Boo, ask your baby:  Where am I? And then answer: Here I am!  You can also cover objects with a scarf and ask: Where is the ball?

Try this: In a dark room or a room with little light, turn a flashlight on and off.


Reading to a baby will strengthen bonds between the caregiver/parent and the baby while also helping to build vocabulary and stimulate the imagination.
Babies’ attention span is very short; the recommended time for reading a book with your baby is around 2-5 minutes per session. However, if your baby can stay interested and engaged for a longer period of time, reading for a longer stretch is perfectly fine.
We recommend hardcover books as an incentive for manipulation. Bright colors and contrast (black & white) will catch your baby’s eyes. Make voice inflections, point out pictures in the book and relate them to objects around the house. Babies will love books with disappearing objects.


The key to creating stimulating activities for your baby depends on observing the child’s development. Observe what the child is interested in or trying to do. If your baby is trying to grasp, pinch, pull or reach with their fingers/hands, create an environment or cultivate activities that will enable your baby to use this skill.
Grasping, pinching, pulling, pointing, poking and reaching will help strengthen the hand’s muscles that your baby will utilize for writing. When your baby is ready to grasp, give her/him sticks, pencils, or big crayons which they can easily grasp by making a fist.
When your baby is ready to pinch/poke/point, have dough, clips, and squeaky toys readily available for them to play with. Let him/her sort small materials like cheerios, point at pictures in the book, and in their environment.


Your baby will love the sound of your voice and at 3 months old your baby will be able to follow familiar sounds and music. Familiar music will soothe your baby and stimulates his/her brain.
Sing a lullaby or follow simple rhythms with instruments. Bouncing the baby on your lap will let baby feel the beat in and throughout their body. Tapping, clapping, and stomping will create the opportunity to follow rhythm, beats, and patterns. Dance with your baby! Rocking your baby and having physical contact will create bonds and will stimulate them to follow a rhythm.

Key moments
Key moments are a period of time where you can develop closer experiences with your baby. Daily, routine activities where baby already has your attention can be used to your advantage. Below are some great options to consider:

  • Changing diapers
  • Breastfeeding/bottle feeding time/meal time
  • Bath time
  • Going for a walk
  • Going for a drive
  • Groceries shopping
  • Baby’s crib time
  • Reading time
  • Bedtime


CSL News Lifelong Literacy

Summer Reading 2018: Libraries Rock! The Importance of Music in Early Child Development

The 2018 Summer Reading theme is “Libraries Rock!” This theme gives us plenty of opportunities to create full brain activities through teachable moments.

Music is considered a means of both expression and learning for children. As caregivers, parents, librarians, and teachers, we encounter young children that struggle with expressing their emotions and feelings through words. Luckily, children express themselves naturally using movement and art. As caregivers, we can help them with self-expression by creating activities that will engage the use of art, like painting, drawing, dancing, and singing.

They have everything they need!

A child’s first musical instrument is their body. Their voice, hands, feet, arms, legs, belly or other body parts can become an instrument. So even if you don’t have any instruments lying around, a child can create sound and rhythm with their body. It’s a fun and explorative way of learning about sounds, beats, and patterns.

Benefits of using music for learning:

  • Music creates and reinforces a personal bond between caregiver and child
  • Introduces the idea of rhythm and phrasing
  • Helps understand and enhance vocabulary
  • Increases memory skills
  • Increases listening skills
  • Improves rhythm and coordination
  • Increases fine and gross motor skills
  • Enhances and promotes creativeness and self-expression

Outside-the-library tips:  (Pay attention to the rhyme, pattern and time in everyday activities. The caregiver models the behavior first and the child will follow the action, using their memory skills)

  • Brushing their teeth (up and down, up and down)
  • Bouncing a ball
  • Eating food from a bowl
  • Washing dishes or clothes (You can read Mrs. Wishy-Washy!)
  • Singing a lullaby or following simple partners with instruments
  • Bouncing: Children will feel the beat in and through their body
  • Wiggling fingers or toes: Support fine motor skills and gross motor skills, connect sensation (touch) with music and a fun experience
  • Tickling of body parts like the tummy, face, and cheeks, will create sensory stimulations as well as laughter and fun
  • Fingerplay will enhance fine motor skills and create the opportunity to follow a rhythm
  • Tapping, clapping, stomping will create the opportunity to follow rhythm, beats, and patterns

To learn more about music in early childhood development, visit the following link:

Lifelong Literacy

Creating Full Brain Activities

You’ve probably heard that our brains have a left and a right side. The left side of the brain is the one responsible for organizing our thoughts and makes us think logically. The right side of our brain is the emotional half; we have it to thank for our feelings. What does this mean for us, and for teachers, parents, caregivers, our children and their development, and the way we teach them?

There are things in life we do automatically, like washing dishes, doing laundry or making a sandwich. When we perform these activities our brains use “implicit memory”; the ability to recall a specific learning. We have done these activities so many times that our brain is ready to respond. It’s amazing how our brains can go from 0 to 10 in mastering an activity just by repetition.

I have a very vivid memory of when I started driving, since I learned relatively “late” at 23 years old. Prior to my early twenties, I didn’t “have the need” to learn to drive. My parents, friends, or relatives would drive me anywhere I needed to go. Even though I didn’t “have the need,” I really wanted to have my own car, and experience the independence that comes with having your own transportation. I started saving money from every paycheck and making decisions that every unmarried, child-free, still living at home, young adult will consider as “sacrifices”. I stopped going out every weekend with friends and buying clothes. Having almost saved enough money for a down payment, I realized that I needed to learn how to drive, so I started receiving classes from professionals and my parents. There were moments where I felt very desperate, insecure, and scared that I wouldn’t achieve a specific task at the pace I wanted (which was right away). It took time and practice, repetition and correcting mistakes. But my goal was very clear: I wanted to buy a car and in order to do so I needed to have my license, learn to drive and pass the driving test.

When I think about this experience, I know that the right side of my brain (the one experiencing feelings and emotions) was helping me overcome these obstacles. The desire and excitement to own a car was connecting the left side of my brain (the logical one) which was learning to drive the car. This connection, this “teamwork”, is what neuroscientist calls “an integrated brain.” An integrated brain is able to achieve much more than its individual parts alone. Thanks to this “full brain” activity I was able to thrive.

Taking these examples into consideration, we can understand what a powerful learning experience is involved with both the logical and emotional sides of our brains.

From birth to 3 years old, the right side of the human brain dominates. Children this age live in the moment and are controlled by emotions and feelings. They are not yet thinking logically since their left brain is still developing. Adults should use this time to their advantage by helping to connect new skills with emotions.

When we provide learning experiences that are positive for our children, we create a stronger foundation in their learning. Laughing and having fun with your children while they learn and play makes learning a fun and positive experience.

Think about things that you would like to see your children thrive within and find importance in. Think about the skills you find important for them to master to achieve school readiness or to be successful in school. Now, think about how you, as a caregiver or parent, have the most important tool: a relationship with your children. You can have a direct impact in their learning and the way they perceive learning. Make it count, make it fun, make it a positive experience.

For more information about this topic:

CSL News Lifelong Literacy

Let’s Grow Readers this Summer!

The best thing about summer reading is the weather. The longer and sunnier days make this the warmest season of the year.

As a child, the most exciting part of the summer was getting to spend time with my family, friends, and neighbors. A very active and curious kid, my summers represented extra time to explore, create, be messy, have fun and be with family members. Like other children my age, school days were also busy. After school, there were “after-school” activities; tutors, homework, and sports.

One summer, my mother took my sister and me to summer camp. I had a huge meltdown; I started crying and complaining and told my mother that I didn’t want to stay at the camp. My mom, like most mothers, started worrying. She began asking the usual questions: was someone being mean to me or had something happened to cause this reaction? As a typical kid, I couldn’t explain my feelings but what I did know was that I didn’t wanted to stay. Instead, I told her “Mom, I just want to stay with you today.”

As an adult and as an early childhood professional, I now have a better understanding of what was happening to me that day. Even though I was an independent child, sometimes I just needed to spend time with my mom and dad.

As a grown-up, I understand that most of my life skills were learned from daily interactions with my family as well as social interactions with friends and the community. I never went to a “life skills” summer camp or class. Instead, my knowledge came directly from my adult caregivers and peers.

Visiting your local library will help you develop pre-school readiness skills for your child.

Benefits of visiting your library this summer:

  • Free & fun activities
  • Libraries are accessible
  • Summer reading programs:

This year’s summer reading theme is “Libraries Rock”, and honestly our libraries rock! You can find your nearest local library visiting the following link:

  • Teachable moments:

These are every day and simple life experiences that can be used to teach something to anyone. When we read books to our children and have conversation about the book, we are creating a teachable moment. Children can learn about emotions and how to deal with them by reading a book about feelings and emotions. When children are able to identify and familiarize themselves with the situation, they can learn through the character and the story about their emotions. Libraries are full of teachable moments!

  • Family and Community engagement:

Giving you and your family the opportunity to interact with members of your community in a safe environment.

Some tips

Recommended apps and website to grow your reader this summer:

  • Grow a reader (APP). This mobile app takes the fun, interactive content from our popular early literacy programs and delivers it to parents via their smartphone or tablet.
  • On this website, you will find songs and rhymes that will help you build your reader this summer.


More summer readings incentive programs around Colorado

  • Bronco Bookworm. Read 5 books, submit your log, and receive the following: Certificate of Achievement, Broncos Bookmark, an invitation to Exclusive On-Field Bookworms Recognition Event and an opportunity to win Broncos tickets.
  • Colorado Rapids Reading Program. The Colorado Rapids Summer Reading Program provides Colorado area kids an opportunity to participate in their local Library District’s reading program and receive complimentary tickets to Rapids games as a prize.
  • Chuck E. Cheese summer reading fun! Kids can earn 10 free Chuck E. Cheese tokens for reading each day for 2 weeks. As a bonus: this reading program is year-round.
  • Book it program (Pizza Hut Summer Reading) This program motivates children to read by rewarding their reading accomplishments with praise, recognition, and pizza.  Visit the following link to learn more about i:

More ideas

  • Colorado family attractions for kids 10 & under

  • 21 Places To Take Kids In Colorado (Before They Grow Up)

  • Colorado State Parks (Nature Activities for the Family & State Park Activity Backpacks


CSL News Lifelong Literacy

Parents are a Child’s First and Most Important Teacher

This blog post originally appeared on

The early years — from a child’s birth to age eight — are critically important for all areas of learning and development. That includes children’s health and physical development, emotional and behavioral development, as well as logic and reasoning.

Early experiences and relationships shape how a child’s brain gets built. Creating a strong foundation – with secure and loving relationships and positive experiences — leads to greater health, learning, and well-being later on.

In fact, every interaction you have with your child teaches him or her something about the world. The Colorado Early Learning and Development Guidelines and new video series can make you feel more confident in this role.

The Guidelines describe a child’s learning and development from birth to 8 years old and brings together strategies that align with our deep scientific understanding of how best to support children’s healthy development in the early years.

Visit to access the Guidelines and a series of fun and informational videos that model how you or your child’s caregivers can get more involved in their lives and make the most of the early years.

You can also watch this video for more information on how you can get involved!


Lifelong Literacy

The 5 Early Literacy Practices: Talk

Little asian baby boy talking on a green retro telephone.

“This post is one in a series about the five literacy practices of sing, play, read, talk, and write.”

What is talk? For this post, the definition of talk will be: “The act of emitting sounds with the intention of communicating a specific desire, need or thought”

Have you ever seen a baby babbling to its mom or dad, moving his arms and body, trying to communicate or express something? And then you say or think “the baby is talking to his mom or dad”

I have a 14 month old niece who is always the center of attention for our family. Last time I called, my sister and mother were talking very enthusiastically to each other and paying almost no attention to my niece. So the baby decided to interrupt our conversation by yelling in her baby language, babbling and moving her arms. We laughed and included her in the conversation.

For her, the conversation her mom, grandmother, and aunt were having was a social interaction and she wanted to be part of that. Nobody likes to feel left out of a social interaction happening in their presence. But sometimes we don’t see it like that with babies. We might be tempted to think that they will not understand what is going on. But science has shown us the opposite: studies have demonstrated that a human fetus is capable of recognizing sounds and speech patterns of its mother’s voice and able to differentiate it from other sounds after birth.

How do we learn to talk?
Is it listening, imitating? Playing and singing with parents and caregivers? Is it reading books and having social interactions? All of the above.

Our brains are wired to talk, to speak a language, but the language we will speak and even how we speak it will be influenced by our environment and the people around us. On November 4, 1970, a girl named Genie, was found in Los Angeles, California. Genie spent the first 13 years of her life in isolation, strapped to a potty or a chair. If she made any noise, her dad would beat her. She was never spoken to. She was a feral child, a child that has lived in isolation from human contact or social interactions. Genie’s brain was wired to talk, but her brain never received stimuli to connect those wires, so she couldn’t learn how to talk through a human language.

The Critical Period Hypothesis (Lenneberg 1967) claims the ability to acquire a language is biologically linked to age. This hypothesis claims that every human has a window of time in the first years of life to acquire language in a linguistically rich environment. They also claim that after this time frame, language acquisition becomes much more difficult. Other researchers prefer the terms “sensitive” or “optimal” instead of critical.

Taking those points into consideration, we could say that a child has a “sensitive” time in its development for language acquisition, and those are the early years.

Tips on talking with your child
(Some of the tips have been extracted from Zero to Three and Get Ready To Read)

Infant –babies
(Birth to 12 months)

We have learned that your baby will recognize your voice, and he likes the sound of your voice because it is familiar and comforting.
• Sing to your baby before and after he/she is born
Talk to your baby before he/she is born. After he/she is born, talk to him/her and smile.
• When you talk to your baby try to make eye contact. That way she is able to see your face and expressions.
• If he tries to make the same sound you do, say the word again.
• Using a mirror, let the baby look at herself. Ask questions like: Who’s that? And say her name. Where is the baby’s nose? And point at her nose. You can use other features of her face or part of the body.
• You can help your baby “talk”: Show her how to blow a kiss and say: “Muah”

(12 months to 18 months)
• Ask your child questions about the pictures in books. Give your child time to name things in the picture.
• Ask about things you do each day—“Which shirt will you pick today?” “Do you want milk or juice?”
• Build on what your child says. If he says “ball,” you can say, “That’s your big, red ball.”
• When he points at or gives you something, talk about the object with him. “You gave me the book. Thank you! Look at the picture of the baby rolling the ball.”

Toddlers (18 months to 2 years)
• Teach your child simple songs and nursery rhymes. Read to your child. Ask him to point to and tell you what he sees.
• Teach your child to say his first and last names.
• Ask open-ended questions that don’t have a “yes” or “no” answer.
• Take him to story-time at your local library. Your toddler will enjoy sharing books with you as well as peers.
• Do lots of pretend play. Acting out stories and role-playing creates rich opportunities for using, and learning, language.

Preschoolers (3-5-year-old)
• Make conversation with your child a two-way street. Take time each day to listen to and talk with your child.
• Encourage your child to use language (and not just gestures or actions) to express ideas, observations, and feelings.
• Engage your child in activities and games that require listening and following directions.
• Read and sing nursery rhymes with your child.
• Read books and ask your child questions about the story
• Participate in pretend play with your child.


Other resources:
• Lenneberg, EH, Biological Foundations of Language, 196 New York John Wiley & Sons, Inc
• Tips on learning to talk.
• Understanding Language Development in Preschoolers.
• Preschooler language development.
• Serve and return.
• Talking to babies.

Lifelong Literacy

Getting Ready for Kindergarten With My Library : Language Development

Getting Ready for Kindergarten using the

“Colorado Day by Day Family Literacy Calendar“

And our Libraries


Part 2: Language Development

When we look for the definition of language in the dictionary, it tells us that language is the tool humans use for expressing thoughts, needs, desires, and also to communicate with others.

The famous psychologist Noam Chomsky in his language acquisition theory, what he called,“Universal grammar” defines language as a basic human instinct. He assured us that our brains are wired for language, any language. In my last article, “To be bilingual: Benefits of knowing two languages,” we learn that, “newborn babies are able to discriminate between sounds of any language and learn them.”

Does that mean that we as caregivers/parents don’t have to help our kids with language development? No, on the contrary, even though our brains are born ready to learn language, we have to make those connections happen. It’s like when you buy IKEA furniture, you have in the box all the materials you need to put together the furniture, but you need some external conditions to actually make the furniture: you need some tools, to follow the directions, and a human (you or someone you hired) to connect all the pieces together.

In a more complex and marvelous way, our brains are like IKEA furniture; they come wired to do a lot of things (talk, read, write, sing, play and more) but they need some external factors to develop.


You as a caregiver/parent/teacher can help develop the skills children need for language acquisition.


There are six basic early literacy components that help children with school readiness (Getting Ready for Kindergarten, Ready? Set? Go! Colorado State Library)

  1. Print motivation: interested in and enjoy books
  2. Phonological awareness: hear and play with smaller sounds of words
  3. Vocabulary: know the names of things
  4. Narrative skills: describe objects and events and tell stories
  5. Print awareness: notice print, hold a book the right way, follow words on a page
  6. Letter knowledge: know letter names, sounds, shapes


Children need language development skills throughout their life and they will be able to develop these skills with family, friend and neighbor interactions and at school as well. But before they start formal education, there are some skills our kids should develop, and we can help them on a daily basis using your Colorado Day by Day Family Literacy Calendar and visiting your local library!


Language and Reading skills (Getting Ready for Kindergarten. Ready? Set? Go! Colorado State Library)

Skill #1: State their names, home addresses and telephone numbers.

Activities from the Colorado Day by Day Family Literacy Calendar

  • Talk about being safe. Make sure everyone in the family knows their name, address, telephone number, and what to do in case of an emergency. Here are eight ways to teach your child to learn your address and phone number:
  • Walk through your house or outside. See if you can find items with the first letter of your child’s name.
  • Draw a large outline of your child’s name. Have them trace and color each letter

Skill #2: Identify some labels and familiar signs (like McDonalds or a Stop sign).

Activities from the Colorado Day by Day Family Literacy Calendar

  • Draw safety signs like “Stop” and “Yield.” Talk about what they mean when crossing the street. Talk about traffic lights and their colors. Have everyone play the game Red Light, Green Light.
  • When driving by the streets. Point out signs, labels, and logos along the road and name them.

Skill #3: Know some letters and make letter-sound matches.

Activities from the Colorado Day by Day Family Literacy Calendar

    • An Alphabet of Colors! Starting with A, go through the alphabet and see if you and your child can name a color for every letter!
    • Practice singing the ABC’s. Talk about letters and words. Can you think of an animal/fruit/vegetable/object for every letter of the alphabet?
  • Write out each letter of the alphabet. Cut them out in squares and take them around the house. Call out a letter for your child to find until they are all gone!  Make an ABC Book. Make a 26 page booklet from blank paper. Together, write each letter on the top of each page. Fill in your book with drawings or magazine pictures.


NOTE: In the Colorado Day by Day Family Literacy Calendar, the month of September is completely about letters with daily activity for letter recognition.


List of books you can check out at your local library that will help your child develop this skill (Visit your Library, its free!):

    • First Words by Roger Priddy
    • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.
    • LMNO Peas by Keith Baker
    • ABC: The Alphabet from the Sky by Benedikt Gross and Joey Lee
    • Lines, Squiggles, Letters, Words by Ruth Rocha
    • Backseat A-B-See by Maria Van Lieshou
    • Numbers, Letters by Leo Lionni
    • Alphabatics by Suse MacDonald
    • Alphabet City by Stephen T. Johnson
    • AlphaOops! The Day Z Went First by Alethea Kontis
    • Curious George Learns the Alphabet by H. A. Rey
    • Jambo Means Hello: Swahili Alphabet by Muriel Feelings and Tom Feelings
    • Shiver Me Letters: A Pirate ABC by June Sobel
    • The Sleepy Little Alphabet by Judy Sierra

Skill #4: Understand that writing carries a message.

Activities from the Colorado Day by Day Family Literacy Calendar

  • Label items in your house. Practice saying the words together.
  • Encourage your child to write or tell you a story. If they tell it to you, write it down so you can share it with their family and friends! If you have a copy, read Rocket Writes a Story.
  • Use a cookbook to make something new! Read the recipe and talk about the ingredients. Try to choose a healthy recipe.

Skill #5: Enjoy listening to and talking about story books.

Activities from the Colorado Day by Day Family Literacy Calendar

  • Sit down as a family and read a story.
  • Spend time reading together outside. Sit under a tree and, if you have a copy, read The Giving Tree.

Skill #6: Ask and answer questions related to the story.

Activities from the Colorado Day by Day Family Literacy Calendar

    • Ask your child to tell you a story. When they finish, ask questions. This is how children learn how to tell complete stories and know you are interested in what they have to say.
    • With your child, look at the pictures in a book and guess what happens. Then read the story together to see if you were right.
    • Read two books to your child before bed. Ask your child about their favorite part of each one

Skill #7: “Read familiar books alone, often by memory, using picture cues.

Activities from the Colorado Day by Day Family Literacy Calendar

  • Find some pictures from a magazine or pamphlet. Lay them out in a row and tell a story about them.
  • Ask your child about their favorite book and read it together. Encourage your child to tell you the story.
  • Some picture books have no words only pictures. See if you have any books that are wordless and make up your own words! If you have a copy, read The Lion & the Mouse.

Skill #8: Understand that we read from left to right, top to bottom.

  • When you read a book, point to the words you are reading. By doing this your child can relate the spoken words with the printed text. They can give meaning to the printed words and help them understand the difference between words and pictures. Also they can understand that when we read, we do it from left to right, top and bottom.

Skill #9: Speak clearly and understandably.

  • Sing with your child. Songs are a natural way to learn about language. They develop listening skills and slow down language so children can hear the different sounds in words, a key decoding skill.
  • Talk! Encourage conversations. After you read a book, ask questions about the book.
  • Stretch the language. The more words they know and understand the greater success they will have learning to read. Name and describe things in the world around them. Expose children to new words.
  • Reinforce the correct sounds of letters. Learn some fun activities here


More readings about this topic:


Lifelong Literacy

Reading Aloud at Home: Connecting books with Early Literacy Activities

We talk so much about the five early literacy practices: Read, Talk, Write, Sing and Play, and their importance to your child’s brain development in the areas of language, cognition, socio-emotional and fine-gross motor skills.

But did you know that by reading aloud with your child, having a shared reading or participating in storytime at your local library, you can do all five of these practices?

Here are some tips for reading aloud at home:

Before Reading           

  • TALK about what your child would like to learn/READ.
  • WRITE a list with the topics they would like to learn/READ.
  • Visit your local LIBRARY and ask your librarian for book recommendations depending the age of your child/children and the topics you all want to learn/READ.
  • Sit down with your child and choose together what books you will check out.
  • When in the house, choose a warm, quite place to READ the book.

While Reading

When reading the book, you can either set your child on your lap while holding the book with one hand and leaving the other hand free for turning pages and pointing out words and pictures, or you can sit down in front of your child at their level. If you have more than one child, try to sit in a circle or semi-circle.

However you choose to sit:

  • TALK about the book. This is the front cover of the book, and this is the back cover of the book. What can you see/what color can you see on the front cover of the book? The name of the author is ____. The author is the person who wrote the book. The name of the illustrator is ____. The illustrator is the person who made the drawings. Try to adapt your questions/conversation to the age of your child/children; the older they are, the more elaborate questions you can ask.
  • Point to the words you are reading. By doing this your child can relate the spoken words with the printed text. They can give meaning to the printed words and understand the difference between words and pictures.
  • Modulate your voice depending on the text you are reading. Change voices/tone for different characters: a “soft” voice for a lullaby, a “strong” voice for a command, a “loud” voice for a surprise or exclamation.
  • PLAY with your voice and make noises! Doing this you will keep your child’s attention and their desire to keep reading the book. You will be developing a love of books in your child!
  • Make time to stop and look at the pictures. TALK about them. What is happening in the picture? Who is doing what? What color can you see? What forms/objects can you see? How many objects can you see? By asking questions about color, forms, shapes, counting, you will be stimulating their logical thinking and math skills.
  • Create some anticipation! What do you think is going to happen next? Do you want to READ what’s happening next?

After Reading

  • (TALK) Ask more questions! Did you like the book? What was your favorite part? By doing this your child will be able to re-tell the story, activating his/her memory. Your child will be able to develop a sense of sequence (i.e., what happened first, next and at the end).
  • PLAY games like: “Let’s change the end!” or “What would happen after the end of this story if we wrote a second book?”
  • Increase your child’s vocabulary. If you ask a question like, “What was your favorite part?” your child might answer, “When the caterpillar ate all that”. This is a great opportunity to introduce some more descriptive words: “I also liked it when the caterpillar ate all those fruits, vegetables and candies.”

Activities after Reading

  • Movement. Dramatize the story!
  • Arts & crafts. Draw or paint your favorite part of the story, your favorite characters, or the whole story and all the characters. Mold the characters using modeling clay. Create a collage. Check Pinterest for more ideas!
  • Music. Make songs or rhymes of the book. You can make a song of an object or action from the book. For example, for The Very Hungry Caterpillar, you might choose the action “eat” and SING: “I like to eat, eat, eat, apples and bananas”. You can SING to the same tune, changing the fruits or things the caterpillar ate. Two good resources for songs and rhymes are: StoryBlocks and JBrary.


I assure you that by doing all these activities you will have a lot of fun and laughs!

Lifelong Literacy

The 5 early Literacy Practices: PLAY

 “This post is one in a series about the five literacy practices of sing, play, read, talk,  and write.”

Play has been called “the work of children” and for good reason! It is through play that children learn to interact in their environment, discover their interests, and acquire speech, language, new vocabulary, and cognitive, motor, and social-emotional skills (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2007) –  so we can say that play is not just a game. Play is a learning process!

By playing, children learn problem solving, logical thinking, and creativity, among other skills, in a safe, fun and caring environment.

When we play we learn how to be. There is not a “101” course on how to be a human being. We learn through interactions with our peers and adults. Kids have those interactions by playing. Let me give you an example. A little while ago I was visiting a playgroup and a specific interaction caught my attention. It was a mother with her 3 year-old girl (we will call this one, girl A). Girl A was playing with a kitchen set. She made some “food” for her mom and after the mom was done “eating,” she took the “dirty” dishes and began to wash them. Another girl (girl B), around the same age, offered to help her wash the dishes. Girl A washed the dishes and let them “dry” on a “drying mat.” Girl B put the dirty dishes in a “dishwasher.”

Girl A couldn’t understand what girl B was doing, and she told her that was not the way of doing dishes. She even said to her, “Tu mama no te enseño a lavar los platos?”(Your mom didn’t teach you to wash dishes?)

Let me explain some things: girl B didn’t speak Spanish, so she didn’t understand what was going on. Girl A‘s mother never taught her how to do dishes; she just learned it by observing her mom. Girl A’s mom, watching all this, just told her: “Some people do dishes in a different way”. Girl A apparently understood and was fine with it. (After that I saw her putting dishes on the dishwasher.)

Through this experience during dramatic play, these two girls learned two different ways of doing dishes, two different customs, as well as tolerance, acceptance, and problem solving in a safe and caring environment.

Through play, children put into practice what they have learned and this is their way to process their learning.

Children learn by playing in different ways during their childhood. It all depends on their age and the developmental milestones they reach.

The information on each stage was extracted from the article “The Importance of Play in the Development of Language Skills, 2013 (Atlanta Speech School)

Infants (Babies) (Birth to 18 month)

They learn through their interactions with objects and people around them. When they shake a rattle or an egg shaker by moving their arms, they connect the sound with the object, and this is how they begin to understand that their arms are tools for interacting with the environment.

When they begin to reach and grasp with a purpose, they soon discover the cause-effect relationship. They also began non-verbal communication with their play partners (parents/caregivers) through eye contact and facial expressions. When the baby makes sounds and receives a reciprocal interaction (imitation of the sound) you are creating a foundation for social skill development.

Toddlers (18 months to 36 months)

While playing make-believe (pretending game-dramatic play) toddlers begin to imitate the language and behavior of others. When you play with your toddler, a simple game like rolling a ball back and forth, your child begins to develop the idea of taking turns, an important skill to have for conversations.

Preschooler (3 – 5 years old)

Since they have a larger vocabulary, they will have a more complex imaginary play. They will be more interested in pretend play and cooperative play. They will love to play with peers and their parents/caregivers. Through their make-believe games, they can be doctors, firefighters, veterinarians, parents, anything they want. They will translate their understanding of this profession or role through a game.

By watching them do this type of game, we can learn their perspective, frustrations or reactions toward things. They feel free to express themselves.


Language development and play

  • Playing with your child will promote a closer relationship and allows you to provide a model of values and behaviors that are important to you, your family and community.
  • Observe your child and learn his/her interests. Engage them in activities they like; this will allow a greater opportunity for language acquisition (learning new words).
  • Playing should always be fun; that will make learning easy and a desire to go back to that experience.
  • Play is an excellent opportunity for your child to give meaning to words and actions and also to build new vocabulary. You can model language and correct grammar through play. For example, the child says, “Car” and the caregiver says, “Yes, that’s a big car”.

To find more resources, visit the Colorado Early Learning Developmental Guidelines website:

Lifelong Literacy

To be Bilingual; Benefits of knowing two languages

In this country where I’m living now, or to be more specific, the state where I am now living, Colorado, I have developed a new hobby, thanks to my husband. I am talking about skiing! Even though I have only gone to ski two times, I already consider myself a “ski addict”.

The second time we went to ski, I saw a couple with their two year-old child. The husband was American and the wife was Argentinian. I noticed the mom talking to her child in Spanish and the Dad in English. It was marvelous to see how the kid was making the switch and answering them both in each language.

In just two years, this child was able to identify the language and to quickly answer adequately. This was living proof of “brain plasticity”.

New articles in the neuroscience field (the science of the brain) show us that a newborn baby is able to discriminate between sounds of any language and learn them. When he is a year old, however, small monolinguals lose this ability and specialize only in the sounds of their native language. However, those who are rise bilingual, often because their father and mother are of different origins and speak to the child in their respective languages, still show a cerebral response to sounds of these languages. (Bilingual and Monolingual Baby Brains Differ in Response to Language, 2016. Institute for learning and brain sciences, University of Washington) to learn more about this research click here

To me, this research was not a surprise. As a teacher, kids in my previous classrooms had parents who were Italian, French, Swedish, and Japanese. These parents talked to their child in their native language and their child responded to them in that language. Living in a Spanish-speaking county, they naturally learn the language in order to communicate within the community and with friends. And at the same time, these children received a formal education in English school where classes were in English. With all this going on, these kids were able to make the switch of languages based on whom they were talking to.

Bilingual people have a different brain structure that gives them a better capacity when it comes to concentration. Being bilingual helps you to make faster and accurate decisions. José R. Alonso, Neurobiologist. University of Salamanca, 2017.

There is a reason for this. When little bilingual children need to separate both languages to avoid any interference when talking or listening, this process uses the same nerve cells that the brain uses to make quick decisions.


Benefits of bilingual education


  • Ability to communicate with more people (family and work)
  • Ability to read and write in two language



  • More creative
  • Greater capacity to concentrate
  • Better attention span, memory, and problem solving skills
  • Greater resilience against cognitive deterioration caused by age or brain injury



  • Ability to adapt to different situations
  • Greater appreciation of other cultures
    • Greater ability to put oneself in the position of other people (tolerance and respect for human beings)
    • Greater security (self-esteem)
    • Greater resilience with environmental changes



  • Advantage in getting a job and receiving more economic remuneration


Being bilingual has its perks. So don’t limit your child by only speaking one language. Even if you live in a country where the native language is English, always keep the family native language present, not only for customs and cultural pride, but also for all the advantages that your child can have with the domain of both languages.

Lifelong Literacy

Getting Ready for Kindergarten with My Library (Part 1)


 Getting Ready for Kinder using the

“Colorado Day by Day Family Literacy Calendar”

And our Libraries



Part 1: Social Emotional Development


Social development is a huge part of growing up, but what is Social Development? Social development involves learning the values, knowledge and skills that enable children to relate to others effectively. This kind of learning is passed on to children directly by those who care for and teach them, as well as indirectly through social relationships within the family or with friends, and through children’s participation in the culture around them.

What we know is that children learn best through play (dramatic play, organize play and free play).Play has been called “the work of children” because it is through play that children learn how to interact in their environment, discover their interests, and acquire cognitive, motor, speech, language, and social-emotional skills (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2007).

Children need social development skills all through their lives and they will be able to develop these skills with family, friends, and neighbor interactions and with school as well. But before they start formal education, there are some skills our kids should develop and we can help them through PLAY, SING, READ, WRITE and LAUGH!


The following are 5 skills we considered top skills to develop.  For a complete set of the guidelines, visit

Please note: each child develops at his/her own pace.


  1. Be able to take turns, share and work cooperatively with other children. Kindergarteners will spend a lot of time sharing materials, toys, resources, and working in groups.

You can help develop this skill by playing games and doing activities you will find at your Colorado Day by Day Family Literacy Calendar  and visiting your local library.

  • Play “What Comes Next” Visit your library and check out your favorite book. Read the first half of the book and then ask, “What do you think comes next”?
  •  Take turns, playing the “I Spy” game.
  • Play Simon Says. Take turns with your child.
  • Play pretending to be an animal. Take turns pretending to be different animals and guess which animal the other person is pretending to be.
  • Do you know the sounds jungle animals make? Take turns making animal sounds!
  •  Take turns being the leader and march in a circle singing: Follow the leader wherever he goes. What he does next, nobody knows!


2.   Verbally communicate needs and feelings in an appropriate manner.  Teach young children to control their emotions and express themselves. You can make it easier and funnier reading a book about feelings.

You can help develop this skill by playing games and doing activities you will find at your Colorado Day by Day Family Literacy Calendar  and visiting to your local library.

  • Discuss feelings and let children freely express themselves on a daily basis.  Visit your library and check out books about feelings and emotions; read them together and talk about what makes us feel happy, sad, angry, nervous, scared, anxious, etc.
  • Read Mr. Tiger Goes Wild. Talk about his feelings throughout the book. How did the book make you feel?


3.  Understand the difference between right and wrong, act accordingly and be aware of the feelings of others.

You can help develop this skill by playing games and doing activities you will find at your Colorado Day by Day Family Literacy Calendar  and visiting to your local library.


  • Role Playing is a great way to reinforce right and wrong and appropriate behavior.
  • Let’s draw Let your child draw pictures of the family; cut out the pictures and make them into puppets by taping them to popsicle sticks or straws. Put on a puppet show about your family. Provide scenarios such as brother playing happily with a toy and in comes sister and takes the toy away. Ask – What should “brother” that lost his toy do? Discuss whether the “sister” should have taken the toy away and what would have been a better course of action (ask to play, wait turn, etc.). Take the opportunity to discuss not just the appropriate behaviors/actions but the feelings involved. Developing a sense of empathy for other children is a crucial part of social development.


4.  Follow directions, understand rules and respect authority. Your child must be able to listen to and respect their teacher and follow simple directions in the classroom.

You can help develop this skill by playing games and doing activities you will find at your Colorado Day by Day Family Literacy Calendar  and visiting to your local library.

  • Exercise by giving the children a sequence of two things to do. “Jump up, then sit down.” Increase to three things. “Touch your nose, turn around, and then sit down.” Also sing Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes to keep up the energy!
  •  Draw safety signs like “Stop” and “Yield.” Talk about what they mean when crossing the street. Talk about traffic lights and their colors. Have everyone play the game Red Light, Green Light.
  • Everybody dance together “Hockey Pockey”
  •  Take turns playing, the “I Spy” game.


5.  Adapt to transitions in a positive manner. A day in Kindergarten is busy. Children must be able to make the necessary transitions smoothly.

You can help develop this skill by playing games and doing activities you will find at your Colorado Day by Day Family Literacy Calendar  and visiting to your local library.

  • Try to have an established routine at home. Play “school” and practice how a school day might run.
  • Do a daily schedule and add things like: Storytime, arts and crafts time, snack time, outdoors time, etc.
  • Make a giant heart for your library or librarian. Take it to them the next time you visit and tell them why you love your library.
  • Make some paint from yogurt and food coloring! If you don’t have yogurt, use shaving cream. If you have a copy, read I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More!
  • The three basic colors that make up every other color are: red, yellow, and blue. Mix the paint of two primary colors to create secondary colors!

Visit your local library and ask for a Colorado Day by Day Family Literacy Calendar, it’s full of activity ideas, arts and crafts and book lists you can check out at the library!

Lifelong Literacy

The 5 Early Literacy Practices: Sing

“Gallina=chicken, puerta=door, ventana=window y pluma=pen”

Those are words of a traditional rhyme back in my country. Even though I didn’t know English when I learned that song, I was probably around 3 years old, I knew the letters of that song to perfection.

Music is recognized as a universal feature of human cognition: every healthy human is born with the ability to appreciate it.

Spoken language is introduced to the child as a vocal performance, and children attend to its musical features first. Without the ability to hear musically, it would be impossible to learn to speak.

Songs are a natural way to learn about language. They develop listening skills and slow down language so children can hear the different sounds in words, a key decoding skill.

Songs have repetitions and repletion is key when it comes to language development. It helps them to learn new words and information, strengthens their memory and attention.


How does singing with children help them get ready to read? (Extracted from Every Child Ready to Read)


Print Motivation

Children love singing.  A great option to encourage not only reading, but also singing, is to read books that can be sung.  These can include nursery rhymes, books that promote singing, or books that can be sung to a specific tune.


Print Awareness

A foundational early literacy skill is understanding that print has meaning. To help children make this connection, print out lyrics to favorite songs or read books that can be sung.


Letter Knowledge

Letter knowledge is, at its base, a shape recognition skill, so any rhyme or song that talks about how things are the same and different can help build skills children will need to identify letters. Of course, the ABC Song helps them learn letter names and alphabetical order!



Just like books, songs have great vocabulary words, such as “tuffet” or “In a cavern, in a canyon.” Hearing new words in context helps children build their vocabularies.  In addition, songs have a long tradition of being used as memory boosters! I’m sure many of you can still recite all 50 states because of a song you learned.


Phonological Awareness

Listening to and singing songs is one of the best ways for children to build their phonological awareness because often each syllable of a word connects to a note.  In addition, many songs and rhymes have rhyming words.  Both pieces help children hear the individual parts of each word.


Narrative Skills

Many Mother Goose and other childhood songs are little stories, and listening to them helps children learn about story structure and sequencing. Even silly songs like “Little Bunny Foo Foo” have a beginning, a problem in the middle, and a resolution at the end. When children sing these songs, they become storytellers.


Singing activities to do with your child (Extracted from Earlier is Easier)

Birth-8 month

  • Sing while changing your baby’s diapers.
  • Sing in the car! Hearing songs and stories will help baby learn how to communicate and soon they’ll respond!
  • Move, gently bounce, or hold your baby’s hand as you dance together to music.
  • Rhyming and bouncing songs help babies hear and feel words and sounds so they can begin to repeat them.
  • Put your baby on your lap or on a blanket on the floor and look into their eyes as you sing. Tap their hands together to the beat.
  • Sing a quiet, calming song before your baby goes to sleep. How about “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” or “Hush Little Baby?”

9-18 Month

  • Young children love to sing, so sing everywhere – in the car, in the bathtub, at the store and at the table.
  • Make music with things you have in the house – pots, pans, spoons, boxes, cups. Crawl around on the floor with your child to the beat of the music.
  • Songs have a note for each part of a word, so when you sing you’re helping your child hear that words have smaller parts. Clap or tap along to better hear these smaller parts.
  • Sing the same quiet song at bedtime. Repetition and routine is good for young children and they will know it’s time for sleep.
  • Sing a song you remember learning as a child. A song that was special to you can become special to your child too!


19-36 Month

  • The tune of “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush” is great for singing about your daily activities. “This is the way we brush our teeth, brush our teeth, brush our teeth. This is the way we brush our teeth so early in the morning.” (Don’t know the tune? Listen here.)
  • Sing the ABC song!
  • Take a song you know and change the words to something silly. Include your child’s name.
  • Sing a familiar song faster…and then faster…and then slower…and slower.
  • Visit your local library and borrow some kids’ music cds to sing along with in the car.


Lifelong Literacy

“The Library” or La Biblioteca (English version)

For those who don’t know me, my name is Pamela Mejia. I was born and lived all my life in the Dominican Republic until 2016, the year I got married to my husband from Colorado. We’ve been married 1 year and 7 months, the same amount of time I have lived in this state. Before I moved here, I traveled to the United States as a tourist though I never really got to know the culture.

Both my Bachelor and Master’s degrees are in Education with a major in Early Childhood Education. Throughout my career, I’ve worked in the education field, but always in my own country and within my own culture. When I moved to Colorado I decided to keep myself in this field because I am very passionate about it. A year ago I started working for the Colorado Department of Education, the State Library division.

To be honest, when I first started my job as a Regional Early Literacy Specialist, I didn’t understand what I was supposed to be doing. In my native country, the Dominican Republic—a place of eternal summer and beautiful beaches, located in the Caribbean—we don’t have the concept of libraries as community hubs like in the Unites States. Just recently the Dominican government established the first and only public library for children, youth, and their families. And not everybody knows about this service or has access to it because the library is not part of their community.

During my first months on this job, I had the pleasure of visiting over 20 libraries around Colorado. Even though it seemed amazing to me, this was less than 10{66eaadba41c14e7e553ffe7a4ee73fbae213b19704eda0514b3dd79e37e4c0c5} of all the libraries we have in Colorado. There are over 250 public library buildings across Colorado, and they were visited more than 31 million times in 2016 according to the Library Research Service.

If you live in Colorado, find your local public library by visiting

Thanks to my daily work with public libraries, every time I travel to another state or another country I try to find their public libraries and learn more about their offerings.

In most of the Latin-American countries, specifically in low-income communities, they don’t have the concept of the library as a community hub: a place where children, youth, adults, and seniors can freely visit the library and be part of the activities. Here the library is not just for checking out free books, CDs, and DVDs. At a public library you can participate in storytime, have access to the internet, get help with your questions on immigration and taxes, take English as a second language classes, get to know more about the community, socialize, and make new friends.

I encourage you to get to know your community library; you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain!


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Pamela Mejia de Rodriguez, M.ED


Lifelong Literacy

“The Library” or La Biblioteca (Spanish version)

Para aquellos que no me conocen, mi nombre es Pamela Mejia, nací y viví toda mi vida hasta los 27 años en la Republica Dominicana. Año en que me case con mi actual esposo proveniente de Colorado. Llevamos 1 y 7 meses de casados, lo mismo que llevo viviendo en Colorado. Antes de vivir aquí, había realizado viajes de turismo hacia los Estados Unidos, aunque había visitado su cultura, realmente no la conocía.

Mi carrera de grado y de post grado es la educación, especializada en educación temprana o inicial. Toda mi vida había trabajado en educación en mi País, en mi cultura. Cuando me mude a Colorado decidí seguir trabajando en lo que me apasiona, la educación. Hace un año comencé a trabajar en el Departamento de Educación del Estado de Colorado, en las oficinas de las Bibliotecas del Estado.

Siendo honesta cuando comencé en mi rol como especialista de literatura infantil para las bibliotecas públicas no entendía muy bien cual sería mi papel. Para que entiendas mejor, en mi País, La Republica Dominicana; país del eterno verano, con hermosa playas, ubicado en el Caribe; no existía este concepto de Bibliotecas como existe aquí en los Estados Unidos. Recientemente el gobierno dominicano ha creado  la primera biblioteca pública dominicana dirigida especialmente a niños, niñas, adolescentes y jóvenes del país, involucrando a sus familias. Así como es la primera, es la única, y no toda la población tiene conocimiento de que existe, ya que no está en su comunidad.

En los primeros meses de mi trabajo, tuve el honor de conocer más de 20 bibliotecas en el estado de Colorado, aunque me parecía impresionante, es menos de un 10{66eaadba41c14e7e553ffe7a4ee73fbae213b19704eda0514b3dd79e37e4c0c5}. En nuestro estado de Colorado existen más de 250 bibliotecas públicas, ¡las cuales fueron visitadas más de 31 millones de veces en el 2016!

Si vives en el estado de Colorado, puedes visitar el siguiente enlace y encontrar tu biblioteca pública más cercana,

Gracias a mi asociación con las bibliotecas públicas, cada vez que viajo a un nuevo estado o un nuevo país, trato de ubicar las bibliotecas públicas y aprender más de cada realidad.

La realidad es que en muchos países de Latinoamérica, abundando más en las comunidades de escasos recursos, no existe el concepto de bibliotecas públicas, como el centro de actividades de la comunidad. Lugar donde niños, jóvenes, adultos y envejecientes pueden visitar libremente y participar de las diferentes actividades que ofrece.

No solo puedes tomar prestados libros, CD y DVD de manera gratuita, sino que también puede participar de actividades de estimulación temprana para tu bebe, lectura de cuentos para niños, acceso a internet para trabajos escolares o investigación personal, te pueden ayudar a llenar los papeles de tus impuestos, preguntas relacionadas con el tema de migración, clases de inglés como segundo idioma, conocer más personas en tu comunidad, relacionarte y hacer amistades.

Conoce tu biblioteca pública, no tienes nada que perder y tienes demasiado que ganar.


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Pamela Mejia de Rodriguez, M.ED

Lifelong Literacy

New Year, New Challenge: 500 books before 5!

Parents and caregivers are the first education providers during the 0-5 early critical years. Reading has been associated as an early indicator of academic success.

Have you heard about: “The 1000 Books Before Kindergarten challenge”? It’s simple: read any book with your child, with the goal of reading 1,000 before kindergarten.

The objectives of this program:
• promote reading to newborns, infants, and toddlers
• encourage parent and child bonding through reading.

You can find this program at your local library!

On January 20 2018, Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD) is hosting a KICK OFF ACTIVITY FOR FREE.

They will be offering free rolling suitcases to start your challenge. The kits can be checked out for 3 weeks; most contain at least 4 picture books and 2 music CDs as well as an idea book and manipulatives, such as toolkit items, plastic animals, cars, magnifying glass, pizza play set, Teddy Bear picnic items, feathers, bird nests, play dough cutters, etc.

Here is a link to the kit idea booklets:

These kits were a joint effort by PPLD and local pre-school teachers.

Lifelong Literacy

Bedtime Storytime

Bedtime is a great time for adult caregivers to read books and comfort children before going to sleep. In this last moment of the day, you can develop your child’s early literacy skills by holding a Bedtime Storytime.

*Book Suggestions (Check availability at your closest library):

• Dinosaur vs. Bedtime, by Bob Shea (Hyperion, 2008)
• Down in the Woods at Sleepytime, by Carole Lexa Schaefer (Candlewick, 2004)
• How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? by Jane Yolen (Blue Sky, 2000)
• Kiss Good Night, by Amy Hest (Candlewick, 2004)
• Llama Llama Red Pajama, by Anna Dewdney (Viking, 2005)
• The Napping House, by Audrey Wood (HMH, 2009)
• No, Go Sleep! by Kate Feiffer (Simon & Schuster, 2012)
• Sleepy, Oh So Sleepy, by Denise Fleming (Henry Holt, 2010)
• Sleepyhead, by Karma Wilson (Margaret K. McElderry, 2006)
• Song of Night: It’s Time to Go to Bed, by Katherine Riley Nakamura (Blue Sky, 2002)
• Ten in the Bed, by David Ellwand (Chronicle, 2002) (or another age-appropriate version)
• Time for Bed, by Mem Fox (HMH, 1993)


*Sing these songs using finger play. Song suggestions:

There were 10 in the Bed
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
Sweet dreams-Goodnight song


“Wee Willie Winkie”
Wee Willie Winkie runs through the town,
Upstairs and downstairs in his nightgown,
Rapping at the window, crying through the lock,
“Are the children in their beds, for now, it’s eight o’clock?”

“After My Bath”
After a bath, I try, try, try
To wipe myself ’till I’m dry, dry, dry.
Hands to wipe, and fingers and toes,
And two wet legs and a shiny nose.
Just think how much less time I’d take
If I were a dog and could shake, shake, shake!

“Star Light, Star Bright”
Star light, star bright
The first star I see tonight
I wish I may, I wish I might
Have the wish I wish tonight

Closing Rhyme: “Wave Goodbye”
Wave high. Wave low.
I think it’s time, we gotta go.

Wave your elbows. Wave your toes.
Wave your tongue and wave your nose.

Wave your knees. Wave your lips.
Blow a kiss, with fingertips.

Wave your ears. Wave your hair.
Wave your belly and derriere.

Wave your chin. Wave your eye.
Wave your hand and say “goodbye”.


Little giggles before bedtime will help your child have sweet dreams.

Suggestions for libraries

Create a “mini bedtime Storytime” bag for checkout with 1 book and a sheet with songs and rhymes for bedtime. Encourage caregivers/parents to bring their kids to the library the next day and do an oral re-telling of the book they read the night before. (Librarians can do this activity at the beginning of their Storytime.)

Lifelong Literacy

Early Literacy and Math

Cognitive development is the construction of thought processes, including remembering, problem-solving, language learning and decision-making (logical thinking), from childhood through adolescence to adulthood.

Jean Piaget, a Swiss clinical psychologist known for his pioneering work in child development believed that children construct an understanding of the world around them, through experience making connections with what they already know and what they discover in their environment.
To Piaget, cognitive development was an ongoing process resulting from biological maturation and environmental experience.

He divided this process into 4 stages according to the ages of the child. In every stage, the child is developing new connections and new learning involving language learning (early literacy), problem-solving, logical thinking (math), and remembering. All this connections and learning are interrelated; we cannot separate them, even if we want.

Every time we Read a book with a child, they make connections between previous learning and new learnings, they develop remembering, logical thinking, problem-solving skills, and language learning. Knowing this, we can understand that even when we are reading a book about numbers (math), reciting a poem or a rhyme about counting we are developing all these areas of the developing brain of the young child.

Here are some great ideas on how we can integrate math and early literacy from the “Play to learn preschool website”.

We are sharing 3 of our favorite ones, but you can find more ideas at the following link: (click here)

Chip Clip math rhymes and poems
5 little birds

• These colorful birds clip onto a wooden tree. (Plain trees are available at the craft store. We painted this one with acrylic paint.)nto a wooden tree.
• The song is to the tune of “Bingo.” (Listen HERE.)
• Count the birds in each verse, removing the last one.
• Instead of a number, say “Tweet” or “Chirp” for the missing birds.
• When all of the birds are gone, invite the kids to clip them back on the tree. This is a good way to increase their hand strength. (fine motor skills)
• If you can’t find these exact bird clips, here is another option. Or print a picture of a bird and paste it on a cloth pin!

5 speckled frogs

• Put a fun twist on an old favorite by singing “Five Green and Speckled Frogs” with chip clips! (Click HERE to listen to the song.)
• The “speckled log” is a paint stick, which we painted brown and decorated with spots.
• As the frogs jump off they land in the “pool” which is just a blue circle.
• Encourage your child to talk about the sets of 5: “There are 4 frogs on the log and 1 in the pool.”

5 black cats

• Use the same tree as the bird poem!
• The cats are “Kikkerland” brand, available on Amazon HERE.
• The goals of this poem are to help young children practice counting backward (5-4-3-2-1) and also to begin to understand subtraction. (“If there were 5 in the tree, and 3 climbed down, how many are left?”)

Lifelong Literacy

Going to a Pumpkin Patch or Apple Picking?

No matter which one you are doing this year, or even if you’re doing both, you can turn it into a fun learning experience. The children in your care will create memories they’ll never forget and their learning will be strengthened if you make your outing a positive experience.

Activities to do before

  • Talk to your child about the place(s) you’re going and the activities you will be doing while there.

If you are going apple picking…You can ask questions too! What do you think apple picking is? How will we do that? Why are we doing this? What for? What can we make with apples? Do you like apples? What colors are apples? How do apples grow? What does an apple taste like? Is it sweet, bitter, sour, salty?

If you are going to a pumpkin patch… What do you think a pumpkin patch is? How will we pick pumpkins? Why will we pick pumpkins? What for? What can we make with our pumpkins? Do you like pumpkins? What colors are pumpkins? How do pumpkins grow? What does a pumpkin taste like? Is it sweet, bitter, sour, salty?

By asking questions you can find out what previous knowledge they have regarding a topic and connect it to the new knowledge they will gain during the activity.

  • You can also Read a book about apples and/or pumpkins the day before you go.

Here are some ideas for books:

Visit your local library and read one of these books at the library or check them out.

Good idea: Set some rules before the activity. Talk about the expectations you have for their behavior. To begin, ask them how they think they should behave. If you struggle with setting limits for your child, try writing down the rules together. She or he can help draw the rules, scribbling or “writing” them. You can both sign the “agreement” at the bottom and save it for later when you’ll use the agreement to compare the expectations with their actual behavior.

Things to do during the activity (At the pumpkin patch or apple picking)

  • Point out signs, labels, and logos along the road. For example, you can point out stop signs, yield signs, turn right/left sign, no parking signs, welcome signs, etc.
  • Point out the different kinds of apples/pumpkins, different shapes, sizes, colors, how they smell, their texture, how they grow, if they are heavy or light? Try to relate these answers to the one she/he gave on the questions before going to the activity (connecting previous knowledge with real-time experience)
  • Count the apples/pumpkins you are picking
    Things to do after the activity (Pumpkin patch or apple picking)

Sing some songs about apples/ pumpkins. Here are some good ones:

Play some of these games with your child(ren):
• Scavenger hunt with these “pumpkin letters” 

Counting apples with these printables

All the printables are shared on a google drive:

And don’t forget to Laugh and have fun while you do all this!!

Remember to always, Read, Talk, Sing, Play, Write and Laugh!

Lifelong Literacy

Trick or Treat? Sing with me!

As a caregiver and/or parent, you can have fun with your little ones this Halloween dancing, laughing and singing songs to help build literacy skills that will improve their language.

When children are exposed to silly songs and nursery rhymes they are not only having a great time but also learning.

Phonological awareness is the ability to understand that oral language is made up of specific sounds. When children are exposed to oral language they learn how to distinguish different sounds from each other. For example, they hear the difference between the words mama and dada—they can distinguish the /m/ sound and the /d/ sound. Over time, they learn that different sounds have different meanings.

Why singing?

Singing songs is a great way to activate children’s ears, mouths, and brains. When it comes to phonological and phonemic awareness, sound is the key.

Here are some fun songs for this Halloween that you can find on YouTube:

Lifelong Literacy

Family Members, Friends, and Neighbors (FFN) Child care providers

FFN caregivers present many challenges to any library wishing to serve them. They might not always be hard to find- they are out there and we see them in our community. Sometimes, they have more than one child in their care. They might also appear busy, loving, patient, overwhelmed, relaxed, worried, good listeners, or all of the above. One thing they all have in common, though; plenty of love for the children in their care.
As librarians, when we see these people we acknowledge their work, we admire and respect their devotion, but we also often ask ourselves what can be done to help them.
After all, we have a library full of books, resources, and other materials to support their work; we have a children’s library full of early literacy books, games, and manipulatives; we have blocks, puppets, Storytimes and lots of fun activities for the younger ones.
But, here’s the trick: we don’t often see them using our resources, or maybe we only serve a couple of grandmothers once a week. Why is that? What can we do to get them into the library? Do we have to go outside the library walls to serve them?

After a year working with FFNs and 14 libraries in southern & eastern Colorado that serve them, the staff of “Growing Readers Together”- a project of the Colorado State Library funded by a grant from the Temple Hoyne Buell Foundation- have some insights that might help you on your journey with FFNs.

Who are they? They are around us, by the family side, always helping and giving support. They are grandparents, uncles, aunts, neighbors, friends of the family, friends from church, friends from the community, babysitters, etc. Anyone can be an FFN!

What do they do? They help their families, friends, and neighbors by watching their kids. The schedules can vary- they may take care of these kids every day, maybe the whole day or just the afternoons. Or, they may just watch the kids on the weekends or one or two days a week. A lot depends on the work schedules of the parents.

Why they do this? Some of them do this out of love! They want to help their family members extending an extra hand. Maybe they want to be a good friend or a good neighbor and help that family in need of help. Some others do it for the extra cash, to help pay some bills, college, studies or just an extra income. Sometimes families will trade child care services so there’s no need to worry about payment.
What do they have in common? What we have learned is that no matter the reasons they provide this kind of help, they want the best for the children in their care. They want to provide them with better early childhood experiences, with more resources and materials and are willing to give them the best they have.

Where do we find FFNs?
FFN providers often stay in their own homes or in a trusted place where they can take the kids they watch. They are likely to be in kid- friendly places, close to their home. They prefer to stay in their own communities, mostly in their neighborhoods.

Some places where you might find FFNs:
Community parks
Community centers
Community pools
Community libraries
Fast food restaurants with playgrounds
Grocery stores
At a local mall (kid’s area/kid’s playground)

How do we find FFNs?

Magic words….Outreach, outreach and more outreach!

Finding FFNs will mean going outside your walls.
If they are not already coming to the library, it may be because they aren’t aware of it, the services it has to offer, or be unsure if their kids are even welcome there. Sometimes, FFN providers may worry about kids being too noisy or active.
Go where they are, get close and talk to them about who you are, where you work, what you have to offer them, and the support you can bring them.
Don’t be afraid, even though FFNs may sound like unique, exotic creatures, they are actually regular people with big hearts; providing help to their loved ones. They will really appreciate some new ideas, support, and resources.

Lifelong Literacy

LiteracyGo the New Tablet from AWE Learning

During our summer kits preparation time, Deborah from John C Fremont Library shared with us an innovative way to take pop-out story times out of the libraries.
We already know that while kids are all excited and thrilled about summer time, librarians and informal child care providers are pulling their hair off to come up with new, fun and engaging ideas for summer activities.
Outreach, summer reading, lesson planning, and programming, can take a whole lot of your time as a librarian, having that in mind, AWE learning has come up with a little help for you.
LiteracyGO tablet is the newest early literacy solution from AWE learning.

“Is an early literacy tablet that focuses on educational content and is engaging, durable, easy to use, and safe.”

Through home visitation and pop-out storytimes in the community, Deb, plans to take out storytimes and their literacy center. The LiteracyGo offers, fun and interactive classic story titles for all ages, the text is highlighted, words are pronounced, and content is enhanced with fun hidden features.

It’s a bright solution to reach those who have limited access to the library!
Some of the features of the Learning Stations are:

  •  Created specifically for young learners!
  • Award-winning content: Providing hours of education and fun!
  • 70+ Software titles: Over 4,000 learning activities
  • – English, Bilingual Spanish, & Bilingual French Content List 
  • Correlated content: Aligned to STEM/STREAM and correlated to academic standards
  • Safe environment: Self-contained learning solution keeps children away from unwarranted websites and content
  • Engaging and fun! Full of child-friendly images, sounds, songs & videos
  • Utilization statistics: AWE Learning’s unique Customer Portal allows you to easily view utilization statistics for any given time period
  • Easy to use! As a plug-and-play solution, the product is ready for use out of the box!
  • Ideal for all learning styles: Auditory, visual, tactile & kinesthetic learners.