Book Central: Gus the Asparagus

You've heard it said before “read books with your child”, but what they don’t tell you is what books to read and how to read them.  Did you know it’s actually these two things – the what and how - that makes the difference to your child’s development?

We know from research that children who are not read to have a poorer understanding of language, their vocabularies are smaller and their thinking skills are less advanced.  And this means they go on to have trouble learning to read themselves.  So, reading the right books in the right way to your child is critical to their development.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how or book reading with one fantastic book and our top three tips to make sure the way you’re reading is improving your child’s listening, talking and thinking skills.

Title of book and author

Gus the Asparagus by Kaylene Hobson and Ann-Marie Finn

What’s it about?

Gus the Asparagus is a heart-warming book about the struggles of fitting in and finding a place of belonging. This story follows Gus, the only asparagus in his family. Gus is a happy asparagus but becomes starkly aware of his differences when he begins school. Despite all his efforts in trying to fit in with the rest of his classmates, he finds himself lonely and out of place. Following a visit to the doctor’s, Gus finds out that he has ‘Asparagus Syndrome’, which means that Gus sees the world a little differently from everyone else. He comes to realise that this makes him unique and that being different doesn’t mean he has to be alone.

Our top 3 tips
1. Talk about the moral or the coda of the story.

The moral of the story is an element of story macrostructure that often gets missed. The moral provides a rounded summary about what the story was about and plays on your child’s skills to infer what the deeper meaning is to a story. Moreover, Gus the Asparagus can be used to develop or extend your child’s social understanding about individuals’ differences and the importance of embracing their unique qualities.

2. Build on your child’s understanding and use of vocabulary.

Gus the Asparagus features a range of Tier 2 words. Tier 2 words are words that can be used universally across different subjects and are not specific to a topic. For example, the word ‘decides’ in the book can be used in a range of situations and is a good replacement for the word ‘chooses’. As a child’s vocabulary expands, they will be able to add colour and spark interest in their oral and written stories.

3. Use your finger to follow along with the characters’ speech in the book.

This can help build on a child’s pre-literacy skills including their ability to follow along with written text. This skill is essential for later independent reading. In addition, adding character voices helps with engaging children into the story and gives a good indication of the use of punctuation marks (e.g., exclamation marks (!) means that we speak loudly or shout). After all, we would love for our children to love reading!

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Man reading book

Book Central: There Was On Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly

No doubt you’ve heard the message “read books with your child” but what they don’t tell you is what book to read and how to read it.  Did you know it’s actually these two things – the what and how - that make the difference to your child’s development?

We know from research that children who are not read have a poorer understanding of language, their vocabularies are smaller and their thinking skills are less advanced.  And this means they can go on to have trouble learning to read themselves.  So, reading the right books in the right way to your child is critical to their development and future success.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how of book reading with one fantastic book and our top three tips to make sure the way you’re reading it is helping your child communicate, connect and succeed!

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly by Pam Adams and Simms Taback

What’s it about?

This is an hilarious and interactive book that follows the story of an old lady who swallows a fly followed by five other animals. The tale is extremely catchy and kids love reading aloud the repeated rhyming phrases. The colourful and funny illustrations on each page will keep your child glued to this book!

Our top 3 tips
1. Talk about what is happening

As you read you can chat about what's happening on each page. It's a great chance to teach some describing words e.g. "She swallowed a fly?! That's disgusting! She swallowed a spider?! How revolting". This will help increase their vocabulary. You can also ask a few questions that make your child think such as "Would you ever swallow a bird?", "Why not?", "What might happen?". This will help them develop important reasoning and predicting skills.

2. Play a guessing game

Children love guessing games so have some fun with this! Have your child guess what the old lady might eat next before you turn the page. You can get them to have a random guess or, better yet, give them some clues. So, for the cow, you might say "It's something that lives on the farm and we get milk from it" and see if they can guess. This will help build their listening comprehension skills.

3. Go over the sequence of the story

After reading through the book, see if you child will tell the story back. They might tell it back to you, a toy or a pet. You can teach them sequencing concepts at the same time by talking about first, then and last. Get your child to use the book to help them remember the sequence of the animal eaten. This will help your child learn some of the essential parts for retelling and creating their own stories.

 

These a just a few of our top tips to help your child engage in story time and for more tips follow us on Instagram or Facebook.

Worried about your child's talking? Contact us here


Book Central: Pig the Pug

Have you ever wondered if there is a right or wrong way to read to your child? No doubt you’ve heard the message “read books with your child” but what they don’t tell you is what books to read and how to read them.  Did you know it’s actually these two things – the what and how - that make the difference to your child’s development?

We know from research that children who are read to regularly have a greater understanding of language, their vocabularies are larger and their thinking skills are more advanced.  And this means they go on to be confident and skilled readers.  So, reading the right books in the right way to your child is critical for their development.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how of book reading with one fantastic book and our top three tips to make sure the way you’re reading is improving your child’s listening, talking and thinking skills.

Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey

What’s it about?

This is a story about Pig, a pug who finds it difficult to share with his friend Trevor.  He is quite rude and refuses to share even with Trevor’s repeated polite requests.  He gathers his toys up in a pile until something unexpected happens.  The question is has Pig learned his lesson?

An ability to truly understand this storyline should begin around 4 years of age when children learn that their wants and thoughts are different from others.  We call this ‘theory of mind’.  But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t read it with younger children!  It just means you shouldn’t expect them to fully understand the plot as their thinking skills probably isn’t developed enough yet.

Our top 3 tips

If you want your child to develop their listening, talking and thinking skills whilst having loads of fun then try these when you’re reading with them:

1. Add expression when you’re reading.

Adding character voices is a great way of engaging your child in the story.  When Pig flips his wig you do just that when you’re reading what Pig says!  You can also add interest by using a louder voice when words are in capital letters or bold font.

2. Talk about feelings and putting yourself in another person’s shoes.

Questions like “how would you feel if your friend didn’t share with you?” or “how would I feel if you spoke rudely to me?” will increase your child’s emotional knowledge and develop their theory of mind.

3. Point out new words and explain what they mean

If you come across a word you don’t think your child knows, for example in this book they use ‘swine’, take a moment to point it out and explain it by linking it back to words they do know.  You may say “Swine. Well, that’s an interesting word.  Swine is another word for pig.  I could say there is a swine on the farm! Can you use the word swine?”

 

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Book Central: The Gruffalo

Reading the Right Books the Right Way

No doubt you’ve heard the message “read books with your child” but what they don’t tell you is what books to read and how to read them.  Did you know it’s actually these two things – the what and how - that makes the difference to your child’s development?

We know from research that children who are not read to have poorer understanding of language, their vocabularies are smaller and their thinking skills are less advanced.  And this means they go on to have trouble learning to read themselves.  So, reading the right books in the right way to your child is critical to their development.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how or book reading with one fantastic book and our top three tips to make sure the way you’re reading is improving your child’s listening, talking and thinking skills.

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

What’s it about?

This is a story about a little mouse who takes a stroll deep into the woods. On his journey, the mouse comes across a few hungry predators and realises that he might just make a tasty snack for them if he isn’t careful. This mouse, cunning and smart, invents a terrible creature called the Gruffalo to scare off the hungry predators! Or so he thinks…

The Gruffalo is targeted for primary school-aged children who will love the crafty rhymes and humor presented in the story. This story also provides clever ways of describing the creatures in the forest which can help your child build on their descriptive vocabulary. In addition, The Gruffalo provides many opportunities for you and your child to explore and predict what might happen next. Is the Gruffalo real or imagined? Do you think the mouse will get eaten?

Our top 3 tips

1. Try to use gestures when you read.

Gestures are great for helping your child understand what is happening in the story and adds excitement to book-reading time. Pick out a word on the page to gesture along with as you read. To add more excitement, you can also match your reading tone and facial expressions with your gestures.

2. Let your child see the pictures and words in the book.

Letting your child see the pictures and words in a book helps them comprehend the story and build relationships between words and pictures. Letting them see the book when you read also exposes them to what kind of behaviours you need to have when reading a book. For example, they can see when they need to turn the page or where they need to look to read the words.

3. Find a quiet time to read with your child and limit possible distractions.

Choosing a quiet time to read books with your child shows them that you are interested in reading books with them. Limiting distractions also helps both you and your child focus on the words and the pictures, and makes for a more relaxing and positive book-reading experience.

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Christmas Gift Guide to Grow Your Child's Language Skills

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas and it's that time of year to find gifts for the children in your world. There are so many options available so we thought we'd put together a list of the best toys to engage your child's language skills - after all learning through play is one of the greatest ways to help your child develop their communication and have fun!

Looking for some last-minute stocking fillers or a Christmas present for under the tree?  The masses of toys you find in the stores can be rather overwhelming.  You may find yourself asking which ones will they enjoy and will also help with their development? To help you choose, we’ve put together of few of our top suggestions for some great presents this Christmas that everyone will love and won’t send you rushing out for more batteries on Boxing Day.

1. An experience voucher

Not every gift has to be a toy. An experience voucher is a great way to explore the world around us together. Whether it is a voucher for the zoo, movie tickets, an interactive play centre, a wildlife park, adventure park, water park, aquarium or science centre.  There are so many fabulous places for children of different ages.  Your child will love spending time with you and seeing something new.  And, of course, it’s the perfect opportunity for them to learn new things too!

2. Books

The benefits of books are enormous and a great gift for any age!  For younger children, colourful picture books and books with lots of repetition and rhythmical language are perfect.  Some wonderful authors include Mem Fox, Pamela Allen, Eric Carle and Julia Donaldson. For older children, you’ll probably know what they’re interested in reading.  Some great series include the Treehouse series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Bad Guys and Captain Underpants. All of these chapter books have images and text to be able to engage your child in a love for reading.

3. Construction Toys

Think soft or plastic blocks for babies, wooden blocks or Mega Blocks for toddlers, Duplo or LEGO for preschoolers and Technic LEGO for school children.  They will spend hours constructing whilst using their imagination and motor skills. When playing together construction type toys give the opportunity to talk through steps and further develop vocabulary and an understanding of prepositions (i.e. in/on/top/under) which can be explored at any age.

4. Board and Card Games

Games are a great way to explore communicating within a fun framework. They encourage children to take turns, read and process information, express themselves and develop strategies for communicating. When finding games for preschool seek out ones that are simple and encourage taking turns like Snap, Match-Ups, Memory games or Snakes and Ladders. As they get older children can further explore multiple-step instructions and turn-taking along with other literacy skills in a fun way with games like Top Trumps, UNO, Scrabble - Kids Edition, Kids Know Best or Monopoly to develop these skills.

There are lots more specific and detailed suggestions out there. One of the things you’ll notice about these lists is the toys do not need batteries! Studies have found that toys with lights, sounds and automatic actions actually reduce the number of ways a child will play with it and reduce the amount of talking that happens during their play.

We hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and you find a gift that’s your child loves.

Happy Christmas shopping!


Book Central: Cat and Dog Go Bananas

No doubt you’ve heard the message “read books with your child” but what they don’t tell you is what books to read and how to read them.  Did you know it’s actually these two things – the what and how - that makes the difference to your child’s development?

We know from research that children who are not read to have poorer understanding of language, their vocabularies are smaller and their thinking skills are less advanced.  And this means they go on to have trouble learning to read themselves.  So, reading the right books in the right way to your child is critical to their development.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how or book reading with one fantastic book and our top three tips to make sure the way you’re reading is helping your child communicate, connect and succeed!

One of our favourites is Cat and Dog Go Bananas by Jonathan Bentley

What’s it about?

This is an exciting rhyming book about Cat and Dog who have found out there are a number of wild animals trapped in their apartment block. Cat and Dog decide they need to set them free! Whatever could go wrong?

Our top 3 tips

1. Find a quiet time to read together.

When you and your child sit down together to read through the book find a quiet space without distractions. This encourages the maximum potential for your child to listen and take part in the storytelling.

2. Look at the pictures before reading

Take some time before reading the book to flick through the pages and look at the pictures together discussing what you can see in them and what might be happening in the story. This can be fun as you chat together about what you can see and what might happen next.

3. Encourage your child to join in the reading of the book.

This can be done easily by using a simple strategy that does not involve reading. Sentence completion along with pointing to the picture will encourage your child’s confidence with book sharing. e.g. then they saw the…….

 

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Book Central - Where is the Green Sheep?

No doubt you’ve heard the message “read books with your child” but what they don’t tell you is what books to read and how to read them.  Did you know it’s actually these two things – the what and how - that makes the difference to your child’s development?

We know from research that children who are not read to have poorer understanding of language, their vocabularies are smaller and their thinking skills are less advanced.  And this means they go on to have trouble learning to read themselves.  So, reading the right books in the right way to your child is critical to their development.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how or book reading with one fantastic book and our top three tips to make sure the way you’re reading is helping your child communicate, connect and succeed!

Where Is The Green Sheep? by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek

What’s it about?

This is a fun and colourful book that will have your child hooked from the start! It follows a wildly wonderful adventure in search for the green sheep. Before you find the green sheep, you and your child will be introduced to many other sheep along the way who are doing wild and wonderful things. Each page will leave you wondering when the green sheep will be found.

Our top 3 tips

1. Talk with your child about what is happening on each page.

As this book has limited print, it encourages the reader to be creative and generate their own descriptions and discussions for each page. Ask your child to describe the sheep on each page and why they have been given their name (e.g. “the bed sheep”, “the band sheep”). Your child will learn specific vocabulary related to the text and encourage their use of descriptive language.

2. Point out the different concepts and descriptors on each page (e.g. little, big, high, low, tall, short, etc.).

You can link them to real life examples to help solidify their learning (e.g. “Look this sheep is tall like a giraffe”).

3 Use the text as conversation starters (e.g. “so sheep really go swimming?”).

This will help your child extend their language by using reasoning and higher-level thinking skills.

 

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Book Central - The Very Brave Bear

Reading the Right Books the Right Way

No doubt you’ve heard the message “read books with your child” but what they don’t tell you is what books to read and how to read them.  Did you know it’s actually these two things – the what and how - that make the difference to your child’s development?

We know from research that children who are not read have a poorer understanding of language, their vocabularies are smaller and their thinking skills are less advanced.  And this means they go on to have trouble learning to read themselves.  So, reading the right books in the right way to your child is critical to their development.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how or book reading with one fantastic book and our top three tips to make sure the way you’re reading is helping your child communicate, connect and succeed!

The Very Brave Bear By Nick Bland

What’s it about?

This book is a part of a series of books that follow The Very Cranky Bear and his adventures. In this book, the bear is back and this time he is facing Boris Buffalo in a battle of bravery. But something surprises them both resulting in them fleeing through the forest in fear. This book is full of vibrant illustrations and a fun, engaging story which children will love to read aloud.

Our top 3 tips

1. Focus on rhyming words

As you’re reading with your child, point out the rhyming words, talk about how/why they rhyme and ask them to try to think of another word that rhymes. This will help strengthen their phonological awareness skills which they must have to learn to read successfully.

2. Spark a conversation

Have a discussion with your child about each thing that the bear and buffalo do on each page. Ask some questions but not too many. Questions like 'Is that scary?', 'what would you do if that happened?', 'how would you feel about that?', 'Is the bear brave or is the buffalo brave?' and 'What does it mean to be brave?' are great for sparking conversation and expanding your child’s emotional vocabulary.

3. Ask your child to retell the story

After you have finished reading the book together, ask your child to tell back the main things that happened in the story. Help them to remember the correct sequence of the activities that the buffalo and bear completed to show how brave they are. Encourage them to use words like first, then and last. This will help them to understand the structure of stories and make up their own.

 

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