11 summer-friendly literacy activities for parent involvement in education

Ask a child to define “summer slide” and responses may include descriptions of the tunnel slides at the local park, the indoor slide at the restaurant down the street, or maybe the water slide at the pool. Ask an early childhood educator, however, and the response would probably include an explanation of what can happen to the early literacy skills of a child who doesn’t read or engage in early literacy activities over the summer.
As a child’s first and best teacher, parent involvement in early childhood education can stop the “summer slide.” We put together 11 tried-and-true early literacy activities for families to do together over the summer (or anytime!) that supports early literacy development.

11 summer-friendly early literacy activities

1. Read with your child 20 minutes each day. Include a mixture of books that you both choose.
2. Practice letter writing in the sandbox, chalk on the sidewalk, or even a cookie sheet with flour (for those rainy days).
3. Act out your child’s favorite story together.
4. Go on a “Letter Sound” scavenger hunt. Help your child find objects around the house or in your neighborhood that start with every letter of the alphabet.
5. Listen to books on CD or download stories from play.kindermusik.com.
11 Summer-friendly early literacy activities6. Add eBooks to your reading list. eBooks can be especially engaging for reluctant readers.
7. Go fishing. Put magnetic letters in a bowl. Tie a string to a paper clip and let your child “fish” for a letter. After catching a letter, your child identifies the letter and the sound it makes.
8. Connect stories to your child’s life. Reading a book with characters that live in the woods? Go on a hike. Is the setting at a lake? Visit a lake, pond, or even a stream.
9. Look at the clouds and make up stories about what you see.
10. Play “I Spy” with letter sounds. “I spy something that starts with the letter B.” (Then make the sound of the letter.)
11. Download the Reading Rainbow app, the number 1 app in Education. Plus, with hundreds of books and videos, new content added every week, and music-themed content by Kindermusik, we know you can find something for every young reader!

Early childhood curriculum increases family involvement in early childhood education

ABC Music & Me is an early childhood curriculum that uses music and movement to teach young children. We also increase parent involvement in early childhood education by providing families each month with the music from class as well as a Family Activity Guide (available in English and Spanish). The guide includes the story from class and related literacy activities that families can do together at home.
For more information on how ABC Music & Me uses music to teach early language and literacy and increase parent involvement, email us at abcinfo@kindermusik.com.

Too Small to Fail, indeed

Too Small To Fail - Early Childhood Initiative

Every day in our music classes for toddlers, babies, big kids, and families, we see (or hear about!) how early childhood education positively impacts a child’s future. We know our early childhood curriculum makes a difference.

Too Small To Fail - Early Childhood Initiative
Source: TheNextGeneration.org

However, we also know that too many children start school without an early learning foundation that leads to school and life success.
A new early childhood initiative, Too Small to Fail, focuses on improving the lives of young children. This joint initiative of the Clinton Foundation and Next Generation caught our attention because of their commitment to improving the lives of young children in ways that aligns with our philosophy (and the latest early childhood research!) including:

  1. Parents are a child’s first and best teacher.

  2. During the first five years of a child’s life, early childhood education can make a significant difference in the development of the brain.

  3. Early childhood curriculum that teaches a young child to love learning continues to positively impact the way a child perceives school, including math and science.

See for yourself:

We look forward to watching this new early childhood initiative develop and discovering how we might be a part. You can join in the Too Small to Fail conversation on Facebook – or comment below – to share your ideas or stories of your own experiences with the power and importance of early childhood education.

4 reasons to include play in a preschool curriculum

preschoolers playing

Children participating in a daycare curriculum that incorporates play receive immeasurable—and measurable—benefits. Children naturally learn through play that engages all five senses. Plus, children learn just how fun, well, learning can be!

preschoolers playing4 reasons (and tips) to include play in a daycare curriculum

  1. Play gives children the opportunity to try out new ideas and concepts in a safe environment. Cognitive benefits include boosts to imagination, problem solving, and abstract thinking. Tip: Ask and incorporate children’s ideas into the lessons. Learning about farms? Ask children what kind of animals they would see on the farm. What would they sound like? How would they move? You never know what kind of farm children might create together!
  2. When children play together, they practice cooperation, sharing, taking turns, and conflict resolution—all vital skills needed for success in school, at home, and in life! Tip: Point out positive behavior you see throughout the day.
  3. The language benefits of play include storytelling, vocabulary acquisition, communication skills, and even emergent literacy. Tip: After reading a book to the class, create an “And Then” story together. What happens to the characters after the book ends? After each child’s turn as storyteller, say “And then…”
  4. Play provides opportunities for physical development, such as fine- and gross-motor skills, physical challenges, and self-help skills. Tip: Go outside and play. Research shows children can better concentrate and self-regulate after spending time on a playground during the day.

Preschool curriculum uses music (and play!) to promote school-readiness skills

ABC Music & Me is a standards-based supplemental daycare curriculum. All levels of our toddler and preschool curriculum use music, movement, and play to cultivate turn-taking and sharing, improve self-control, enhance creativity, and boost early language development and early literacy.
For more information about bringing our preschool curriculum to your childcare or daycare, email us at info@abcmusicandme.com.

Georgia’s PreK program finds ways to improve its preschool curriculum

One of the key attributes of a learner is that the quest for knowledge continues throughout the year—whether you are a 4-year-old learning how to write letters, a teacher attending a training on how to implement a new preschool curriculum, or even an childcare administrator uncovering ways to make your program more effective. As creators of daycare curriculum and other early childhood programs, we continue to monitor and implement the latest findings on how children learn. So, we loved hearing how one of the leaders in universal PreK programs in the United States, commissioned a study to find out how they can better reach children and families.

Georgia’s PreK program looks for ways to improve preschool curriculum

With one of the few state-funded universal PreK programs, Georgia’s PreK program reached 94,000 children throughout the 2011-2012 school year in local school systems, private preschools, and blended Head Start/Georgia’s PreK classrooms. However, Bright from the Start, who administers Georgia’s PreK program, wanted to evaluate the program and uncover ways to increase its effectiveness. In partnership with the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, they conducted an evaluation study during the 2011-2012 school year. The study included a random sample of 100 PreK classrooms in the program and assessments

of the language, literacy, math, general knowledge, and behavioral skills of a sample of 509 children.

As published in the Children’s Growth and Classroom Experiences in Georgia’s PreK Program report, the researchers uncovered interesting findings:

Children’s outcomes

  1. Children exhibited significant growth during their PreK year across all domains of learning, including language and literacy skills, math skills, general knowledge, and behavioral skills.
  2. Children who were Spanish‐speaking dual language learners showed growth in skills in both English and Spanish, although their growth tended to be greater in English.

“For many areas, this indicated that they progressed at an even faster rate than would be expected for normal developmental growth,” explained senior scientist Ellen Peisner-Feinberg in a press release.

Two ways to improve Georgia’s PreK program

The report showed that English proficiency, number of English Language Learners in the classroom, and attendance of a PreK program in a local school system predicted greater growth in skills. In addition, researchers identified two ways to improve the overall effectiveness of the preschool curriculum.

  1. Reduce class size
  2. Add bilingual supports during classroom experiences

Preschool curriculum offers bilingual support

ABC Music & Me uses music to promote school-readiness and skills development, including early literacy and language development and social skills in young children. The research-based childcare curriculum aligns with state standards, including the Common Core, and can be especially beneficial for English Language Learners. In addition to our “English Language Learners Strategies Guide” that provides unit-by-unit, lesson-by-lesson tips and tools to use in the classroom, ABC Music & Me includes materials in English and Spanish to increase parent involvement and support the common language spoken in the home.

For more information about using ABC Music & Me as a daycare or preschool curriculum, email us at info@abcmusicandme.com.

March is National Music in Our Schools Month!

Photo Credit: National Association for Music Education

Thanks to the National Association for Music Education’s celebration of March is National Music in Our Schools Month, we’ve been reminded of these three facts, proving the indispensable child development benefits of music:

  • Academic. Among SAT takers, the College Board found that students with 4+ years of music education scored 23 points above average in math, and 31 points above average in writing. See Table 18 here.
  • Literacy. Combined research from 30 studies show that music education, integrated with reading, performance, movement, and traditional academic disciplines, excelerates early literacy.
  • Social. From Dr. Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and practicing musician: “The development of language over time tends to enhance parts of the brain that help process music. Language competence is at the root of social competence. Musical experience strengthens the capacity to be verbally competent.”

A big thank you to all of our educators who continue to make the world a better place for children. And to the children who make the world a better place for us adults! Follow @NAfME and #MIOSM for National Music in Our Schools Month updates.

Daycare teachers promote early literacy skills with music

If Shakespeare had developed daycare or preschool curriculum instead of sonnets and plays, he may have rewritten one of his most famous lines: “If music be the food of love literacy, play on.” Research continues to prove this sentiment, including a new University of Buffalo study published earlier this month.

Training equips preschool teachers to use music

Before conducting this study, professors from the University of Buffalo knew what the research said about music’s ability to greatly impact a child’s early literacy and language abilities. With their study, however, they specifically wanted to see if early childhood teachers, with little to no music background, could be trained to use music in developmentally appropriate ways to boost early literacy development.

Led by Maria Runfola, PhD, and Elisabeth Etopio, PhD, the team recruited 165 preschoolers to participate in music activities led by 11 daycare teachers. As part of the daycare curriculum, the preschool educators leading the music classes received training in musicianship skills and specific strategies for leading preschoolers’ music development. Prior to this early literacy study, these preschool teachers did not have any music training. The researchers found that participating preschoolers experienced a boost in oral vocabulary and understanding of grammar compared to students not enrolled in the preschool curriculum. Plus, children with lower initial literacy skills saw the biggest positive impact.

“First, we found that the musicianship of the early childhood teachers improved as did their ability to guide music activities in ways that enhanced student music development,” explained Runfola in a press release, Study Finds Link Between Music and Preschoolers Reading Readiness.

Since the preschool teachers did not come from a musical background, it was not surprising that participating children did not experience a significant boost to musicality, such as rhythm-pattern achievement. However, the researchers concluded that early childhood teachers without a music background could be trained to teach a daycare curriculum that uses music as a vehicle for early literacy and language development.

“Administrators need to better understand the importance of the arts to children’s development,” Runfola concluded in the press release. “We hope this research will help music educators and childhood educators support their requests for music time for the youngest of our students.  Children need daily appropriate music activity to stimulate their neural activity to develop tonal and rhythm audiation that in turn appears to help their emergent literacy skill.”

If music be the food of literacy, then play on indeed!

Preschool curriculum helps daycare teachers use music to boost early literacy

Created by Kindermusik International, ABC Music & Me is a daycare curriculum that uses music and movement activities to boost early literacy and language skills while also cultivating turn-taking and sharing, improving coordination, enhancing creativity, and more.

Through a robust classroom kit that includes Digital Teacher Guides, ABC Music & Me provides step-by-step planned out lessons so even educators with no musical experience can begin teaching this daycare curriculum immediately.

For more information about using ABC Music & Me as a supplemental daycare curriculum, email us at info@abcmusicandme.com.

10 Predictions About the Future of Digital Learning

We think it’s going to look a lot like this: what you see here in this Google Tablet video. A parent and child using a tablet like a book – to inspire imagination, not take it hostage. Like any good super hero cape or a musical instrument, with imagination and practice technology can become a conduit of learning.

Which makes this one of the most exciting times in the history of education publishing. So as we hang up our 2013 paper calendars and look forward, we have some ideas about about how a few things might unfold in this new era of digital learning. We’d love to hear what some of these ideas might inspire for you, too.

Happy New Year.

1. Someday, musicians will be physicians. Inspired by by the story of cello-prodigy turned street musician Nathaniel Ayers, classical musician Robert Gupta started a non-profit organization, Street Symphony, to bring healing and a sense of community to people suffering with mental illnesses in the streets and jails of Los Angeles. In this TEDTalks video, he talks about the non-profit organization, the various parallels between medicine and music.

2. Parents will still read print books to their children. Even as studies show improved test scores with tablets over textbooks, studies also show that children and adults can better retain information they read in books. It has something to do with “The Importance of Physical Locations and Human Memory.” Online, readers tend to scroll through information and lose a sense of “where” they read something. Whereas print readers tend to “know” information from a book better because they can remember where they read it on the page. If you’re looking for a few good print book ideas, we’d like to recommend these great books. Continue reading “10 Predictions About the Future of Digital Learning”

Kindermusik International leads the way in Digital Publishing for educators, families, and children

Kindermusik Digital Learning Platform for Kids
Kindermusik Digital Learning Platform for Kids
Homepage with Monthly Units

Yes, we’re tooting our own horns a bit because we don’t think a bumper sticker, like “My textbooks fit in my earbuds,” would ever really take off. So every once in a while, we need to celebrate in other ways.

Kindermusik International is leading the way in Digital Publishing. In the last 5 years we’ve been working to convert over 25 years worth of research and curricula, into one easily downloadable system. And the process is running more smoothly than ever before.

No more clunky, spiral bound notebooks. No more children walking home from school, weighed down by an increasingly heavy load of books. And no more paper waste. Kindermusik International’s online textbooks and interactive learning lessons are available on a variety of mobile devices.

Learn more about online Kindermusik Educator training. Click here to receive FREE information on becoming a Kindermusik Educator.

Lesson prep is as easy as updating as syncing your iPod. And Digital Teachers Guides are available online so you can download the lessons and print them out, or, bring your iPad right into the classroom.

And even if you’re not ready to go completely digital, we’ve got you covered, too. You can easily download the class music and activities and burn them to CDs.

Not convinced? Consider this.
Will iPads Replace Textbooks? Seeking Alpha, November 1, 2012
If test scores keep going up, they will. Educators can’t ignore a student’s preference for an interactive tablet over a used textbook, and it seems grades are improving, too. “Houghton Mifflin recently performed a pilot study using an iPad text for Algebra 1 courses, and found that 20 increase in the number of students who scored ‘Proficient’ or ‘Advanced’ in subject comprehension when using tablets rather than paper textbook counterparts.”

Save the date! Reggio Children and the innovative approach to early childhood – and bilingual – education

Kindermusik International is pleased to announce two December workshops in Brescia and Reggio Emilia, Italy celebrating the child-centered, parent-inclusive approach to education known as the Reggio Children Approach.

These special workshops were made possible between a special liaison between Kindermusik International’s Angelica Manca and Reggio Children. The organization focuses on research, study, and development to bring high quality, affordable early childhood programs to families around the world.

The Little England Arts Academy is a bilingual arts academy.

Saturday December 1, 2012 in Brescia, Italy

Come visit Niki Scavolo’s gorgeous Bilingual school “Little England” located in the North of Italy (Brescia, Italy). Niki has been a Kindermusik educator since 2009, training more than 10 of her educators and has successfully used Kindermusik to increase student enrollments at her school, both as an afterschool program as well as part of her core curricula. Niki will be walking us through the pedagogy she follows, the alignment with other approaches, such as Reggio Children, and her beautiful facilities! Plus get some Kindermusik training on our new digital material!

Featured speaker Claudia Giudici is President of Preschools and Infant toddler centres of Reggio Emilia and Member Board of Directors Reggio Children.

Monday December 3, 2012 in Reggio Emilia

Become a part of the future by learning more and collaborating on one of the world’s most innovative approaches to Early Childhood Education with Reggio Children! We will be having a tailor-made professional development training day at the Loris Malaguzzi Reggio Children Center in Reggio Emilia (Italy), guided by the lead Reggio Children Pedagogist Claudia Giudici.

Together we will be exploring concepts of “Atelier,” “The Hundred Languages of Children,” and how to use music to foster learning.

To learn more about the Reggio Children Approach, please click here for more information.

Want to know more? Email Angelica Manca at amanca@kindermusik.com

Where did I read that? A wrap up of bilingual stories and trends in education

Source: She Knows Activity Center

Learning Two Languages Makes Children Excel in Host of Skills

Counsel & Heal, August 4, 2012

Researchers say bilingual children are often on their mental toes, switching back and forth between two languages. That mental acuity has an influence on a number of abilities, new research shows. Studies show bilingual children have larger vocabularies, a deeper understanding of words, as well as “selective attention,” or, the ability to focus on what’s important.

Read more online

Who says Klingon is a dead language? The Calgary Herald, November 2, 2012

The language was created more than 30 years ago for the American Sci-Fi television show, Star Trek. With only 2,000 to 3,000 words, and new book coming out, it’s the most spoken fictional language ever created.

Read more online

Early Autism Intervention Can “Normalize” Brain Activity, Education Week, Oct. 31, 2012

Several parents with children with autism celebrated the release of this article over the Halloween holiday. Could be because the study simply shows that early intervention with focused interaction between parents and their children could lead to changes in the child’s brain activity. “This may be the first demonstration that a behavioral intervention for autism is associated with changes in brain function as well as positive changes in behavior,” said Thomas R. Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health

Read more

Will iPads Replace Textbooks? Seeking Alpha, November 1, 2012

If test scores keep going up, they will. Educators can’t ignore a student’s preference for an interactive tablet over a used textbook, and it seems grades are improving, too. “Houghton Mifflin recently performed a pilot study using an iPad text for Algebra 1 courses, and found that 20 increase in the number of students who scored ‘Proficient’ or ‘Advanced’ in subject comprehension when using tablets rather than paper textbook counterparts.”

Read more online