Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Read to me Wednesday

Will You Read to Me Wednesdays is hosted by Sarah Denley. It's where we share some of our favorite children's books. Today, I am sharing The Jazz Fly by Matthew Gollub, children’s book author, performer, literacy consultant, musician, parent and publisher. The Jazz Fly is story about musical insects celebrating language and the inventive spirit of jazz. Includes narration set to a jazz quartet on audio CD.

A fly, who speaks jazz, asks different critters which way to town. “Rrribit,” replies the frog. “Oink,” says the hog. Although baffled, the fly hears music in their words, and that evening he stirs up a solo that sets the dinner club a hoppin

I love this little book! It combines music and literature, two of my great loves. And it's just plain fun! We are studying Jazz this month at home, and this is one of the books we're reading and listening to.

I have a deep love for education, having been a teacher myself. And because I love it so much, it has been easy to share my love for music and books, science, history, and culture with my children, while we have this special time together at home. The one job I love more than teaching is being a stay at home mom. It has been such a joy.

I wanted to take this opportunity to also share some tips for language and literacy development. This is great for all moms who are homeschooling, thinking about home schooling, or who just want to enrich their one on one bonding time with their little ones. Literacy is just an extension of language, or how we communicate with one another. So, in essence this is all about how to express ourselves, interact, and connect with one another. So, bare with me because I'm going to start way back at the very beginning, in the womb.

As, I have said before, I was one of those mothers, that played music and read to my baby in the womb. But, not for the reasons you may think. I wanted to make that connection with them and spend time with them as if they were already here. So, I spent my "down time" many nights after dinner or right before bed reading a book out loud or playing music while I rubbed and patted my pregnant belly, all the while talking to my little one. I wanted them to hear and know my voice. My husband would also put his hands on both sides of my belly and talk to our babies. It was very sweet and endearing. Memories I'll cherish. And the moment they arrived, I knew they were calmed by the sound of our voices. Especially our baby girl. I don't remember a lot about my son's birth, which is another post for another time, but, with baby girl I made sure I was going to be very present and alert. I didn't get to hold her right away because she was in distress and they couldn't get her breathing right away. (She had her umbilical cord double wrapped, and it's by the grace of God they were able to revive her after almost two minutes.) After they got her breathing, they did bring her over next to my face so I could see her and talk to her, before they whisked her away again. She was crying her little heart out, but, as soon as she heard the sound of my voice she quieted right down. That moment gave me such peace.

When I brought them home, I spent my days from the very beginning, not just holding them, but, talking to them. It may seem silly to some, and maybe it's just the preschool teacher in me coming out, or the performance side of me, I'm not sure which, but, I had conversations going with them at a very early age. Here are a few examples....

Bath time

Me: Let's put a warm wash cloth on your belly while momma cleans your arms, and your hands and all your little fingers. Then I'm gonna get your toes, and your feet, and your chunky little legs. (As I would dry and put lotion on, I'd go over each body part again and then ask them which outfit they wanted to wear that day, and I'd play that out as well.) -I think this one would be perfect for today since it's nice and warm out.

Meal time

Me: Would you like eggs or cereal this morning? I'm thinking cereal, and maybe some juice.

These are just examples, and many would argue that they can't understand what you are saying at such a young age, so why bother. But, it's really all about engaging, and nurturing. When I started the ritual of rocking them before bedtime, I would read to them, pray with them and then sing to them while we rocked together. Lullabies, hymns, or praise songs, I even sing carols to them during Christmas.

I am also a big believer in baby massage. I would pick out a good CD of music and lie them down on a mat and stretch their little arms and legs out very gently. I'd start in the middle of their chest and using both hands, rub a little heart shape out down their chest to their bellies. Then I'd rub the sides of their bellies and their little legs. And we practice doing the bicycle with their legs and later when they were stronger, I'd practice pulling them up to a sitting position and laying them back down gently over and over while we talked about how much they were growing and how strong they were getting, and how proud I was to be their momma. You may be sitting there asking yourself what all this have to do with reading and literacy. I feel like this part is about language development, which is just a precursor to literacy. And it's about bonding with my little ones, as much as, it's about enriching them later with a love of reading and learning. And of course I read. I read and I read and I read some more. And they already have favorites books that they will bring to me and my husband to read to them.

As they have gotten older, I am still actively reading to them, but, with a different approach. I point to each word as I read to them individually. Or I try to do voices or use voice inflection when I read to them together. Sometimes we just talk about the pictures, and re-tell the story to each other that way. I let them pretend to read to me to find out how much of the story they can retain and remember. And they will point out some environmental print to me as well. (For those who maybe wondering, environmental print is an early stage of reading/literacy where they can recognize logos, signs, and print from the world around them.) This has been great because they are connecting with something meaningful from their day to day life, and when I praise them it builds their excitement and confidence about reading.

I'm working on putting labels on and under things around the house to help them recognize the words, like door or light switch. And I am using music and rhythm patterns to teach them rhyming, alliteration, and the spelling of some words like their names.

It all just builds on each other. But,if you can incorporate little things like this naturally into your everyday life, and they have fun doing it, then they don't even know they are learning. I hope this has been helpful! I just thought I'd share what works for us. ~Blessings!


Christy said...

So sweet :)

I also believe that talking to your babies in the womb and as infants is so, so important to their development. Research does show that it does lead to early literacy and speech development.

I love how babies and young toddlers are so intent on you when you are talking to them. You are their world and they love that you are paying attention to them!

Sarah Denley said...

First, I love your new look that Ashley did!

Second, I pretty much died when I read the words "environmental print" on your blog. What a mommy blog that mixes in a little teach blogging?

I'll be honest, there are days when as much as I LOVE what I'm doing and would never truly want anything different, it bothers me that I didn't get to teach for even one year. Posts like this make me realize that whether I end up having my own classroom one day or not, I WILL be (and am) the teacher I spent four years learning to be!

Thanks Tiff! And I can't wait to check out this book!

Tiffany said...

Christy -I'm so glad I'm not the only one that talked to my babies in the womb! It really does help in their development, and so much so in bonding. And I love, love the infant, toddler stage when you are their whole world. You can feel just how important you are in the life of that one little person. Uh-love it!

Sarah Denley- I'm so glad this encouraged you! And I'm so glad you're hosting this event every week. I think it's so helpful for those of us looking for something new, and it's such a nice way to celebrate this stage we're in with our little ones. -And you're right, every bit of your education will enrich your life and that of your child/children(someday.) If you think of any more tips, lets share them. I love collaberating with other teachers and care givers. I'm always trying to keep things fresh or try something new. ~Blessings to you both!

Sandra said...

I know from experience with my own children that talking to your children like this causes those little receptors in the brain to start growing and their IQ level to increase quickly. After all, if God spoke everything into creation, then wouldn't it be logical to assume that sound or talking creates.
I read something once about the cricket....that some special equipment was used to listen to the sounds they make, and it is an elaborate symphony of some sort. The article was showing how God created everything to make sound and to worship Him. I think it was Dr. Baugh who is a scientist that I got that from.

Tiffany, you should really think about writing a book with your teaching experiences as you are raising your children and how you incorporate God into those experiences or maybe I should say how He incorporates you into those experiences.

Love ya!!!!