BOOKS...CRAFTS...JOY! Rhyme Time!

It's Rhyme Time!  How do you turn your young child into a joyful reader? Rhyme it!

Reading and understanding what you’re reading is one of the essential skills in our world today, so why do so many kids fall behind in this area? There are probably as many answers to that question as there are kids, but one way to help stem this tide is by making reading fun and joyful from the very beginning!

Simply talking to your young child builds vocabulary, and face time with the ones they love is always special. Snuggling in a lap to read and pointing out words and pictures builds print motivation and awareness as well as leaving a loving association with books. Telling stories about your day, or events in a sequence, develops a child’s understanding of how a story works and will make reading easier by building narrative skills.

Still sound a bit daunting? Mother Goose to the rescue!

The time honored craft of NURSERY RHYMES fills all the above needs and more. The saying “rhymers are readers” is true! In her book, Reading Magic, acclaimed author of children’s books, Mem Fox, says that “Experts in literacy and child development have discovered that if children know eight nursery rhymes by heart by the time they’re four years old, they’re usually among the best readers by the time they’re eight.”

Nursery rhymes help children explore the sounds of language through repetition of words and phrases, the rhythm of speech, and the rhyme of similar sounds. Nursery rhymes are totally portable and don’t require any props at all even though they can be enhanced by them.

Mother Goose has always known what she was talking about, bless her!

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Start with simple, short rhymes and add actions, finger plays, and facial expressions to catch your child's interest. What infant wouldn’t love having their hands moved to Itsy Bitsy Spider or delight in being lifted into the air as Jack jumps that candlestick? And do I even need to mention Pat-A-Cake or Ride A Little Horsey? Simply clapping your child’s hands along to the rhymes emphasizes rhythm and a steady beat.

And don’t forget BOARD BOOKS made especially for little hands! Each library in the NPL system has its own collection just right for babies and toddlers.

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Best of all, nursery rhymes are great for babies AND preschool children. Something a child learns as an infant will still have the oomph to entertain them as they head to preschool.

How can you introduce crafts at a very early age to enhance enjoyment of these rhymes?

Crafts for older kids are easy - so many to choose from. But what about babies? After all, infants don’t usually do well with glue. However they do love touch and sensory stimulation while spending time with the ones they love. 

Introducing sensory experiences through a craft YOU do is always fun, too. As long as you make each item safe (as in child-proof) and use them in a supervised environment, the opportunities are endless! 

Create bold, graphic cards with favorite nursury rhymes.

Laminate the cards and they'll stand up to teething time and tearing fingers.

Make a sensory mat to let children feel their way through the story.

As always, please supervise your baby - older infants with teeth may chew through the mat. Taping the mat to the high chair tray or other stable object helps keep them from going immediately into the mouth!

Here are a few from Mommy Websites that can inspire you:

Create a Rhyme Singing Basket

Fill a basket with items your child hears about during rhyme time. 

Check out these props for There was an old Lady who Lived in a Shoe? How about Hickory Dickory Dock? Use your imagination with objects for rhymes! Learn more about making a Rhyme Singing Basket from The Imagination Tree

Have fun, keep it light hearted and enjoyable and remember that no time spent reading, singing or story re-telling is EVER wasted. You are investing in your child’s future literacy skills and equipping them with the ability to become strong readers and writers in the next few years. 

Anna Ranson - theimaginationtree.com

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