Young Ones Blog

Nov 22

Gifts to Promote Early Literacy

Posted on November 22, 2017 at 9:48 AM by Allie Barton

Christmas is right around the corner and while there are so many great gift ideas for little ones, here are a few that can support early literacy for children (and that won't break the bank!).

1. Books--Did you really think that books wouldn't be on this list? Board books are a great gift for your little ones. It's important to read with your baby, no matter the age! You might think they are too young to understand, but babies that hear more words in their infancy have a better vocabulary as a toddler and preschooler. Plus, it's just a great time to cuddle with your small one! Reading to babies can be tricky sometimes. They might be too wiggly or even try to eat the book, but that's okay! Remember to never force your child to read with you. If they are too wiggly or not in the mood, try again later! You want your child to have a positive feeling about reading and books. Try reading when they have full tummy or right before nap time or bed time. 

2.  Bubbles- Bubbles are a cheap form of educational entertainment. Head to your dollar store and stock up on some bubbles! Bubbles can help exercise facial muscles for speech and even help with eye tracking for babies. Babies learn to see over a period of time, much like they learn to walk and talk. The ability to focus their eyes, move them accurately, and use them together as a team must be learned and bubbles can be a great way to help them.

3. Puzzles- Beginner puzzles can help babies develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Look for puzzles with large pieces with a knob for easy gripping for your baby. Puzzles also give you a great opportunity for expanding your baby's vocabulary as you name and place the puzzle pieces. For example, farm or vehicle puzzles give you a chance to name the farm animals and sounds or types of vehicles with your baby. Melissa & Doug have a great selection for purchase and example.

4. Pretend Props- Imaginative play is one of the best ways for your child to expand their background knowledge and vocabulary. Play food, pretend tools, costumes, and puppets are great way to spark children's imaginative play.

5. Toy Musical Instruments- Shakers, bells, and other toy instruments are great tools for early literacy development. Making music and singing with your baby can help increase their phonological awareness.

These are just a few ideas when shopping for your little one this year. Tell us some more of your favorite toys that encourage early literacy!



Sep 21

Sing loud and proud!

Posted on September 21, 2017 at 11:09 AM by Allie Barton

Sing loud!
Sing proud!

I can already hear the excuses:
 "I don't have any musical abilities!"
"I can't carry a tune to save my life."
"No one would want to hear me sing...."

Wrong! Your baby wants to hear your voice. There is nothing sweeter to your baby's ears than your voice, no matter how off-key you are. Not only do they want to hear your voice, it's important that they hear your voice. Studies have shown that singing with your child helps build their vocabulary and phonological awareness. Songs slow down the sounds in words so it makes it easier for your child to hear the words clearly.
Although singing can introduce fun new words and breaks down the sounds slowly, it's still important for you to help explain what those words mean. How many times as children did we repeat the rhyme "Little Miss Muffet" and think, "What exactly are curds and whey?"
Some entertaining ways to increase your child's vocabulary is to use your singing voice to describe words. One of my favorite rhymes is Two Little Black Birds. I like the version of the black birds sitting on a cloud:
"Two Little Black Birds sitting on a cloud;
One named soft;
The other named LOUD!;
Fly away soft;
Fly away LOUD;
Come back soft;
Come back LOUD!"
As I sing the rhyme, I use my voice to sing quietly at soft and sing loudly at loud. Another rhyme I like to do is the "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and then I like to change it up to  "The Great Big Spider." When doing the "Itsy Bitsy Spider" I use a tiny, small quiet voice. For the "Great Big Spider" I use a deep, booming voice to indicate how big he is.

To learn more about the benefits of singing with and to your child check out Early Childhood News.

And remember to
Sing loud! and
Sing proud!

Come enjoy songs, rhymes, and stories at The Sherman Public Library. For babies birth to 18 months (or sturdy walkers) come to Baby & Me, every Monday at 10:00 AM at the MLK Building (1003 N. East Street). Storytime is on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10:00 AM also at the MLK Building. We hope to see you there!



Aug 23

Early Literacy Skill: Background Knoweldge

Posted on August 23, 2017 at 11:51 AM by Allie Barton

At the Sherman Public Library during Storytime and Baby&Me we focus on five activities that parent/caregivers can use to help their children enter school ready to learn to read: singing, talking, reading, writing, and playing. These practices are all part of developing early literacy skills such as phonological awareness, vocabulary, print awareness, letter knowledge, and background knowledge. Researchers found that when children had a solid foundation in these early literacy skills when they came to school, it was easier for them to learn how to read (Library of Virginia). Some of these words are just really big words for easy practices that parents/caregivers can do at home to ensure that their children are ready to read. Today, I want to focus on background knowledge and how parents/caregivers can use talking and reading with their child to increase this early literacy skill.

Background knowledge is prior things that the child has learned. This is vital in helping children understand what they will read. There are simple things that parents/caregivers can do in order to increase a child's background knowledge. This might seem too simple: talk to your child. Talk to your child while you drive. Talk to your child while you change their diaper. Talk to your child in the supermarket. Talk! Talk! Talk! When you’re reading about trains, talk about what you know about trains. Not only will this increase their background knowledge about trains, but it will increase their vocabulary. For example, our first Storytime theme this Fall (starting Tuesday, September 5th!) will be about our state Texas! We're going to read some fun stories about Texas, but we're also going to talk about facts that we know about Texas.
Example interactions that might occur during our storytime:
"The monarch butterfly is the state bug, or insect. Have you seen a monarch butterfly like the one in this picture?"
"The armadillo is the state animal. They have a hard shell that protects them from predators. Do you know what a predator is?"
We're using new words. We're learning new words. And we are increasing our background knowledge.
So whether you are reading a book or taking a walk with your baby you can easily increase their background knowledge by simply engaging them in talking about what you know and as they get older, asking them questions about what they know as well. 

These concepts are partly based on the second edition of Every Child Ready to Read®, a project of the American Library Association. (

We can't wait for Storytimes and Baby&Me to pick up again. Storytimes (for ages 18months to 5 years old) pick up again on Tuesday, September 5th and Wednesday, September 6th at 10:00 am.  Baby&Me (for ages 18 months and under) starts Monday, September 11th at 10:00 am. Both will be in the MLK Building at 1003 N. East Street, right across from the temporary library. We hope to see you there!