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1 Summer Fall 2013 Volume 32 Number 2 A journal for education of and advocacy for young children. Creativity within the Content Areas: Teaching Content in Creative and Unique Ways Featured Articles: But I Don t Speak Spanish C. Miki Henderson, Ed.D., Candice Tippens, Ed.D. and Alma Contreras-Vanegas, Ph. D. Get Outside! Utilizing Natural Outdoor Play in Early Childhood Education Joshua Kivlovitz Spanish Translation: Sing a Song and Read Along Rebecca Giles, Ph.D. and Jeanette Fresne, D.M.A. Translation by: Adriana Gutierrez Sing a Song and Read Along Rebecca Giles, Ph.D. and Jeannette Fresne, D.M.A. haaeyc Advocate Summer Fall Issue 2013

2 HAAEYC Advocate Publishing Board Dr. Deborah J. Irabor, HAAEYC President Carolyn Green, Program Director Dr. Amelia Hewitt, Advocate Editor Advocate Committee: Adriana Gutierrez Aaron Carrara Deborah Harris Advocate Consulting Editors: Dr. Kimmera Pinkerton Dr. Bonnie Mackey Dr. Diana Nabors haaeyc Advocate accepts articles concerning the education of young children. Interested writers should contact the HAAEYC office. Si desea publicar un articulo en esta revista haaeyc Advocate, favor de contactar la oficina. Articles published in haaeyc Advocate can be translated into Spanish by calling the HAAEYC Office. Si desea la traducción al español de alguno de los artículos publicados en esta revista, llame al oficina. Nuestras traducciones al español intentan ser inclusivas de todas las culturas que utilizan este rico y complejo idioma. Questions regarding information published in haaeyc Advocate should be directed to the HAAEYC office. The views expressed or implied are not necessarily those of HAAEYC. HAAEYC Office: Carolyn Green, Program Director Telephone: Fax: The mission of the Houston Area Association for the Education of Young Children is to promote and support high quality care and education for young children through improved professional practice and broadened public awareness. Houston Area Association for the Education of Young Children (HAAEYC) is affiliated with the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Texas Association for the Education of Young Children (TAEYC) and Southern Early Childhood Association (SECA) HAAEYC Officers and Board President Dr. Deborah J. Irabor Past President Mary Jane Gomez Secretary Dr. Carolyn Wade Treasurer Barbie Brashear VP-Membership Ayesha Simpson VP-Organ. Support Deborah Harris VP-Outreach Kimberly Gonzales VP-Program Janine Groth Board Members At Large Monica Aleman Linda Draper Maria Garcia Dr. Carolyn Wade Dr. Mary White Dr. Lee Wright Claudia Zelaya In This Issue HAAEYC News & Information President s Message, Page 3 Past President s Farewell, Page 4 Articles But I Don t Speak Spanish Written By: C. Miki Henderson, Ed.D., Candice Tippens, Ed.D. and Alma Contreras-Vanegas, Ph. D., Page 6 Get Outside! Utilizing Natural Outdoor Play in Early Childhood Education Written By: Joshua Kivlovitz, Page 14 Sing a Song and Read Along Written By: Rebecca Giles, Ph.D. and Jeannette Fresne, D.M.A., Page 18 Spanish Translation: Cantando y Leyendo Juntos: Usando la Música para promover el aprendizaje de la lectura Written By: Rebecca Giles, Ph.D. and Jeannette Fresne, D.M.A., Page 23 Translation by: Adriana Gutierrez Membership Info and Highlights Call for Manuscripts, Page 12 Membership Information, Page 13 Resources of Interest, Page 29 Have A Feature You d Like to See in the Next Advocate? Let us hear from you! page 2 haaeyc Advocate Winter Issue 2013

3 The President s Page Welcome: Old & New Members Wanted! I have been an advocate for early childhood education for over twenty five years and if it is your passion- then it s time to get creative and do your best to keep the torch burning. Now is the time to get out of your corner and join the circle of early childhood educators who work tirelessly to affect the condition of young children in this country. Networking is key. It really is the perfect time for you to join HAAEYC. If you are a current member, THANK YOU! Together we can stay positive learn more about social networking and advocacy as well as being able to share insights, knowledge, and help one another. Our organization lends support to all its members who actively participate. So please join us as we look to the future. I am very excited to start my journey as Board President with the Houston Area Association for the Education of Young Children. I ve served on the HAAEYC Board for several years and have had a great time. I m looking forward to a brilliant future with wonderful programming and member focused events in the next few years. I personally want to thank Mary Jane Gomez, our outgoing President, and the whole HAAEYC board for doing such an excellent job over these past few years. I will strive to continue their high caliber of event work and management of HAAEYC. Come to think of it...i d also like to thank all the past presidents that I ve known over the years, they have been outstanding role models and a huge inspiration for me as I look to my future leadership role as President. It s truly an honor and a privilege to be among these greats. I hope you ll join me in welcoming the new members to our Board. These new board members along with our current ones have so many innovative ideas for the upcoming months...please stay tuned! As the in-coming president, I see one of my major roles is as a facilitator of the members needs. This being said, we are very open to listening to our members and what their needs are. This will help further our organization and its upcoming programs. Please know that I m hoping that each and every one of you will send us your ideas, thoughts, and critiques for the organization. I have a question for you: Where can you picture yourself in our organization? Imagine what HAAEYC can be, and how we can create new and interesting programs together to assist our young children. HAAEYC has so many possibilities; we re just waiting to see what visions you have to help us move forward and into the future. Please say to yourself: How can I help move HAAEYC and early childhood educators into the next wave of educational endeavors? Here s one answer: With your ingenuity and creativity we can implement many new ideas. You just have to get involved. Share with us what you d like to have the organization do. A call to action - We are looking for members-old and new to volunteer with our board. I m hoping that if you are interested and have a great vision for the organization, you ll contact us and based on your passion and expertise, we ll help you find a great volunteer position. This is a terrific way to meet other members, but more importantly, help shape the path of HAAEYC! Sincerely, Deborah Joy Irabor Dr. Deborah Joy Irabor Board President haaeyc Advocate Summer Fall Issue 2013

4 Past President s Farewell Message! Dear HAAEYC Members, "How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard" ~ Carol Sobieski and Thomas Meehan, Annie This quote captures and expresses my feelings as I say farewell to you as my two year term as President of HAAEYC came to an end. I am lucky to have worked with the dedicated HAAEYC Board members that have a "CAN DO" attitude. They continually stay focused on what is best for our members and the importance of supporting the education and development of young children. My luck was enhanced by you the HAAEYC members. I have enjoyed meeting you throughout my tenure at the various HAAEYC events and applaud you for your continued dedication to grow professionally. To our business and early childhood organization partners I thank you for your continued support. We are lucky as an organization to work side by side with you in supporting teachers and children. My luck will continue this year as I serve on the HAAEYC Board in the position of Past President. Know that I will not be far for I will always be an advocate for children. As we continue together to focus on what is best for children know that they will ultimately be the LUCKY ONES. Sincerely, Mary Jane Gomez Mary Jane Gomez HAAEYC Past President page 4 haaeyc Advocate Winter Issue 2013

5 Job Seekers Employers Recruiters Come check out our Job Board at Cost effective way of advertising for jobs and posting resumes. The HAAEYC job board was constructed to help connect our members with new employment opportunities. However, this is open to anyone who is in the early childhood education field. Houston Area AEYC members receive a membership discount for posting jobs. CHECK IT OUT! haaeyc Advocate Summer Fall Issue 2013

6 But I Don't Speak Spanish! Monolingual Teachers of Dual Language Learners By: C. Miki Henderson, Ed.D., Candice Tippens, Ed.D. and Alma Contreras-Vanegas, Ph. D. While the population is becoming increasingly linguistically diverse, the early childhood education profession is dominated by English speaking, Caucasian teachers (Saluja, Early, & Clifford, 2002). It is critical that educators be prepared to communicate and collaborate with all children and their families, regardless of language differences (Feeney & Freeman, 2005). Through the author s research, she has determined there are three fundamental dispositions of teaching in a diverse classroom: a willingness to seek out knowledge; the ability to adapt and modify the curriculum and environment; and a capacity for understanding, respecting and including all children in your care. The term dual language learner (DLL) is an important one in early childhood education. Essentially it refers to a child learning two languages, but the implications of the term are much deeper and more complex (Howes, Downer & Pianta, 2011). During the early years all children are language learners primarily influenced by the speech and communication of their families. However, some children are exposed to a substantial amount of language outside their home that they are expected to know and that may or may not be the same as their home language. In the US, children are expected to learn English in order to participate fully in the education system. Learning English lays the foundation for a successful start as children transition to public school. When children are able to understand and speak some English, they are better prepared to learn from teachers and engage with peers in English-speaking environments. Because the home language serves as a foundation for learning English, ongoing development of the home language also is essential. (Office of Head Start, 2010, p. 21) It is important to remember that the home language of the DLL will assist and not hinder the process of learning English (Cummins, 1979). When the child is competent in their native language, it will be easier to transition into learning English. Furthermore, DLLs do not need to relearn the information they already page 6 haaeyc Advocate Winter Issue 2013

7 know in their home language as the information transfers from one language to another (Cummins, 1979). As children continue to develop their home language, the term English language learner (ELL) has been applied to children speaking one language at home and English at school. The percentage of DLLs is highest in the early years of schooling when all children are learning language and communication skills (Berg & Petrón, 2010). Approximately 30% of the children enrolled in Head Start are from homes where a language other than English is predominantly spoken (Schmidt & Ewen, 2012). Therefore, in an effort to emphasize the need for early educators to focus on supporting children as they continue to grow and develop in their home language while also learning English, the term DLL should be used. Seek Out Knowledge of Second Language Acquisition Teacher preparation programs do not offer enough background for teachers to feel competent working with children learning two languages (Ponciano & Shabazian, 2012). It is incumbent upon early childhood educators to develop the knowledge, skills and dispositions to work with DLLs. Nemeth (2012) explains that teachers can prepare themselves by learning as much as they can about the children in their care, planning for vocabulary instruction, and intentionally creating environments that support interactions between children, staff and families. Getting to know the children s background and home language is important when developing classroom activities. Children learn English at different rates and teachers need to be prepared them bridge to English using their home language. DLLs may appreciate opportunities to reflect on experiences in their home language whenever possible which translates into observing others engaged in the activity before attempting it, discussing the activity with peers who speak their language and doing the same activity many times before feeling satisfied with their own efforts. When DLLs are able to communicate in their home language, they are using their schema or background knowledge, to help them connect to their new learning in English (Rumelhart, 1980). In a Head Start classroom one English speaking teacher decided to teach about the parts of plants to her group that included several Spanish speaking children. She didn t feel confident about offering the haaeyc Advocate Summer Fall Issue 2013

8 unit only in English so she asked her curriculum director for some ideas. They brainstormed some ideas and researched modifications they could make based on the resources they had available. They recruited a bilingual parent to help label a poster of the parts of a plant in Spanish and English for the teacher and the children. They wanted to use Gail Gibbons From Seed to Plant, so they asked another teacher who was a Spanish speaker to record a reading of it for the students to use in the library center. These simple adaptations to the environment and curriculum yielded excellent results for the children and the teacher. Adapt Instruction to Meet the Needs of Linguistically Diverse Learners All educators should strive to minimize boredom as well as over-stimulation, frustration and failure with all children. However, children who are DLLs have unique needs with regards to the learning environment and climate. In the Framework from the Office of Head Start it states, programs are to ensure that children have opportunities to interact and demonstrate their abilities, skills, and knowledge in any language, including their home language (2010, p. 4). Thus, early childhood educators need to develop an environment and climate in which DLLs can be intrigued, engaged, challenged and successful even if they don t speak any English. For example, the environment can be enhanced by having DLLs who are proficient in English help those who are less proficient. A supportive climate for DLLs will include many visuals and hands-on activities that incorporate the culture of all children in the classroom. Allowing DLLs to work with partners or in small groups that include native-english speakers is beneficial as this provides the opportunity to interact and learn from one another. Teachers need to consider what is most important to assess (Gonzalez-Mena, 2008; Tabors, 2008). Beyond academic skills there are numerous areas young children need to gain knowledge, skills and dispositions in. There are social, emotional, physical and cognitive skills that can be assessed without relying completely on the child s ability to speak English. Finally, when assessing children who are DLLs, staff needs to understand that the purpose of assessment is to learn what a child knows and is able to do. With the exception of assessing a child s English language development, assessment does not depend on a child s understanding or speaking abilities in English, but on the page 8 haaeyc Advocate Winter Issue 2013

9 specific knowledge, skills, or abilities that the assessment measures. the specific knowledge, skills, or abilities that the assessment measures. For example, a child can demonstrate an understanding of book knowledge or science concepts in the home language. Assessing a child who is a DLL only in English will rarely give an accurate or complete picture of what the child knows or can do. (Office of Head Start, 2010, p. 5) It s important for educator s to use a multidimensional approach to assessment (Lessow-Hurley, 2013), such as the arts because children may need to show what they know using various aspects of the hundred languages of children (Edwards, Gandini, & Foreman, 1998). It is also crucial for educators to have ongoing informal assessments to know the progress their DLLs are making and how to scaffold their needs. Some examples of ongoing informal assessments may include observations, portfolios and checklists (Herrera, Perez, & Escamilla, 2010). Mary Mayeski (2002) urges teachers to intentionally utilize the arts and creative expression activities in their curriculum as a way to learn what children truly know instead of relying solely on pencil and paper methods of assessment. During learning center time, an ELL child in a Head Start classroom used foam pieces and crayons to make a paper model of the parts of a plant. The English speaking teacher wrote the child s words in the home language spelling the words phonetically. She was able to ask a bilingual teacher from another classroom to help her find out if the child knew the parts of the plant. From this activity the teacher is assessing the child s understanding of science concepts with the parts of the plants. This activity does not require English proficiency since the assessment is a work sample using hands-on best practices which is one way for children to show they are communication proficient even when they do not have a large English vocabulary. The teacher was then able to use the child s work to teach them the English vocabulary to go with the science she already knew and understood (Espinosa, 2010; Tabors, 2008). Understand, Respect and Include Children Who Speak Languages Other Than English Teachers can start developing a climate of respect by making some modifications to their own communication practices (Berg&Petron, 2010). Limit the use of pronouns and be specific Combine gestures with words haaeyc Advocate Summer Fall Issue 2013

10 Limit use of contractions Simplify sentence structure Enunciate clearly, repeat or restate phrase Limit idiomatic and nonsensical expressions Add wait time after asking a question Modifications to the climate and environment can be thoughtfully and intentionally implemented to help all children, but especially to help DLLs to feel comfortable in the classroom. Children should be encouraged to use some of their time to watch, daydream, brainstorm and think-aloud. This should be viewed as desirable instead of as disengagement. Children need to be encouraged to express themselves in a variety of novel ways using verbal and body language, the arts and movement. When children make mistakes, these mistakes are valued as learning opportunities and met with empathy, caring and calmness. Developing a climate and environment in this manner will enhance the early school experience for all students. Conclusions Teachers who speak English, but work in a language diverse setting are encouraged to seek out knowledge about instructing DLLs, adapt and modify the curriculum and environment when necessary, and to understand, respect and include all students. These three dispositions of the teacher directly impact the experiences of DLLs in early childhood programs. page 10 haaeyc Advocate Winter Issue 2013

11 References Berg, H. & Petrón, M. (2010). Teacher talk: Consistency in language use for young English language learners. Early Years, 31(3) Cummins, J. (1979). Linguistic interdependenc and the educational development of bilingual children. Review of Educational Research, 49(2), Edwards, C., Gandini, L., Forman, G. (1998). The hundred languages of children: The Reggio Emilia approach advanced reflections, 2 nd ed. Westport, CT: Ablex Publishing. Espinosa, L.M. (2010). Getting it right for young children from diverse backrounds: Applying research to improve practice. Boston, MA: Pearson. Feeney, S. & Freeman, N. (2005). Ethics and the early childhood educator: Using the NAEYC code. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children. Gonzalez-Mena, J. (2008). Diversity in early care and education: Honoring differences, 5 th ed. NY: McGraw-Hill. Herrera, S.G., Perez, D.R. & Escamilla, K. (2010). Teaching reading to English language learners: Differentiated Literacies. MA: Pearson Education, Inc. Howes, C., Downer, J.T. & Pianta, R.C. (2011). Dual language learners in the early childhood classroom. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Company. Krashen, S.D. (1981). Principles and practice in second language acquisition. In English Language Teaching. London, UK: Prentice-Hall International. Lessow-Hurley, J. (2013). The foundations of dual language instruction, 6 th ed. Boston, MA: Pearson. Mayeski, M. (2002). How to foster creativity in all children. New York, NY: Thomson/Delmar Learning. National Association for the Education of Young Children. Early childhood curriculum, assessment and program evaluation: Building an effective, accountable system in programs for children birth through age 8 a joint position statement with the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education. [Electronic Version]. Retrieved July 7, 2012 from K.N. Nemeth, K. (2012). Basics of dual language learners: An introduction for educators of children from birth through age 8. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children. Office of Head Start. (2010, November). The Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework: Promoting positive outcomes in early childhood programs serving children 3 5 years old. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families. Rumelhart, D.E. (1980). Schemata: The building blocks of cognition. In R.J. Spiro, B.C. Bruce, & W.F. Brewer (Eds.), Theoretical issues in reading comprehension (33-58). Hillside, NJ: Erlbaum. Saluja, G., Early, D.M. & Clifford, R.M. (2002, March). Demographic characteristics of early childhood teachers and structural elements of early care and education in the United States. Early Childhood Research & haaeyc Advocate Summer Fall Issue 2013

12 & Practice, 4(1). Available online at: Practice/ html Tabors, P.O. (2008). One child, two languages: A guide for early childhood educators of children learning English as a second language, 2 nd ed. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Company. Call for Manuscripts Our next edition of the Advocate, HAAEYC s online and printed peer-reviewed journal, will begin accepting research-based and theory into practice articles. We are interested in articles following APA format from classroom teachers, educational consultants, presenters, researchers, graduate students and professors in the early childhood field. Spring 2014 Theme: An Artist s Palette: Integrating Art in the Curriculum We are seeking manuscripts that show teachers how to integrate art techniques into the curriculum as well as manuscripts that provide research-based methodologies for using art and encouraging art as part of the high impact classroom experience. Submission deadline is February 3, 2013 to: Please check the Advocate online section of our HAAEYC website for submission information. page 12 haaeyc Advocate Winter Issue 2013

13 Membership Levels HAAEYC Membership Comprehensive - $ Regular - $ Student - $90.00 *HAAEYC Subscription Membership - $15.00 (with this you will only receive the haaeyc Advocate newsletter) What do you get when you join HAAEYC? National Association for the Education of Young Children Membership (NAEYC) Southern Early Childhood Association Membership (SECA) Texas Association for the Education of Young Children Membership (TAEYC) Houston Area Association for the Education of Young Children Membership (HAAEYC) Voting Privileges Reduced fees to workshops and conferences haaeyc Advocate subscription TAEYC's Early Years Publication SECA's Dimension Magazine NAEYC's Young Children Magazines *Comprehensive members receive newly released NAEYC Publications Yes, it is a package deal. You can't pick and choose! Membership in one gets you into all four organizations for one year. How do I join? Visit the NAEYC website at There, you can join online and pay by credit card. Please remember to designate HAAEYC as your local affiliate chapter. If you prefer to pay by check, you may print out the membership application from our site and mail it to the HAAEYC office. HAAEYC will then submit your application to NAEYC for processing. If you want a membership as soon as possible, it is strongly advised that you join online at NAEYC's website. haaeyc Advocate Summer Fall Issue 2013

14 Get Outside! - Utilizing Natural Outdoor Play in Early Childhood Education By: Joshua Kivlovitz It s getting harder and harder to get students outside. Some blame the higher academic standards that are being placed on teachers, which take away from free time and add to the time spent teaching new curriculum. Some blame the growing use of technology for entertainment. It s much easier to let students sit in front of computers or video games than to take them outside while monitoring their safety. However, the truth is, a big reason that students are not playing outside is that very few teachers are convinced of how great outdoor natural play is, and many don t know how beneficial it is for a young student s education (Maynard & Waters, 2007). Why take students outside? Well, the easiest answer is, it s what they prefer (Titman, 1994)! Researchers have shown that humans are inherently inclined towards the outdoors. It s in our nature to enjoy nature. Evolutionary psychologists call it biophilia, which means the love of life or living systems. It makes sense: in the entire history of the human species, more than 99% of it was spent living in the great outdoors (White & Stoecklin, 1998). Living inside with air conditioning, computers and electric stoves is relatively new. In fact, young students are the most inclined to go outside because they haven t had the chance to be fully conditioned into our technological lifestyle (White & Stoecklin, 1998). Their intrinsic human values are still intact. Save them! Take students outside. Playing outside is also great for students mental and physical abilities. And, this means not just playing outside, but playing outside in nature. Playing on manufactured jungle gyms in schools and neighborhoods featuring rounded corners and smooth surfaces is not the same as playing in nature. Nature provides a beautiful range of textures and surfaces to be touched by young curious hands. The world of the outdoors creates small challenges of uneven surfaces for little feet to walk across, and those challenges mold students into physically capable kids. Dealing with all of these organic shapes, textures and surfaces builds a student s motor skills and physical abilities (Fjørtoft, 2001). And not only does exploring nature develop students physical abilities, but their brains will grow stronger as well. The great thing about the outdoors is that there is no storyline or instruction manual. Students must discover amongst themselves how to use nature to have fun through creative thinking. By having students create their own fun in this world of endless possibilities, they develop more creativity, more social skills, more problem solving skills and and stronger cognitive abilities (Burdette & Whitaker, 2005). And they will love doing it! Getting outside to burn off all that energy and excitement page 14 haaeyc Advocate Winter Issue 2013

15 also helps students stay focused when it comes time to learn. Some research even suggests that getting outdoors might reduce ADHD symptoms in young children (Faber Taylor et al., 2001). Taking students outside helps them learn more and learn better. Studies have shown that when students participate in inquiry-based lessons in natural environments, they have higher academic achievement (SEER, 2005). The authentic learning that nature-based activities incorporate helps improve student behavior, and outside play lets students expend their excess energy, which helps create a calmer classroom environment (Barros, Silver, & Stein, 2009). When students are learning in their own natural environment they are more likely to get involved in their learning through self-inquiry, which enforces a stronger understanding of the material (Dyment, 2005). Not only does outdoor learning improve understanding of concepts, but it also builds other skills such as communication and cooperation (AIR, 2005; Burdette & Whitaker, 2005). Furthermore, students who play outside develop a passion for nature that is not as common in students who do not have outdoor nature experiences. Students who participate in outdoor nature activities while they are young are much more likely to care about the environment as adults (Wells & Lekies, 2006; Chawla, 2006). Most importantly, the outdoors is an amazing place to learn. There are endless teaching opportunities outside. What better place to learn about wildlife than with actual wildlife? Have students actually experience the nature around them rather than seeing it in pictures. Not only will it be much more educational, but it s much more fun too. But don t feel confined to teaching science outside! Take story time outside, practice math by arranging leaves by size or counting the legs on a bug, or make art with mud and sticks. Often teachers will not adjust their pedagogical technique between the indoors and outdoors, creating a huge barrier for the teachers who attempt to teach outside. Use creativity and see what can be taught outdoors that cannot be taught indoors. Still don t know how to go about taking students outside? There are many great resources available that teachers can use to teach their students about the outdoors. Growing Up WILD is an early childhood curriculum guide for educators with 27 units and over 400 experiences that encourage learning about nature and outdoor education. Each unit is correlated with NAEYC academic standards. Growing Up WILD is produced by a nationally recognized non-profit that works with state parks and wildlife departments around the US to provide professional development training for teachers to help get students outdoors and learning. By participating in interactive, hands-on workshops, haaeyc Advocate Summer Fall Issue 2013

16 educators gain valuable experience in using Growing Up WILD guides, selecting and conducting activities to meet curriculum requirements, and improving their content knowledge. Because the workshops are often tailored to the location where the students reside, many educators have left feeling more confident about their abilities to teach in their local environment. As an example, a training manager at an early childhood center, after moving from Colorado to Virginia, attended a Growing Up WILD workshop in her new state. Her training enhanced her knowledge of the local plants and animals. During a training workshop educators learn how to incorporate all that Growing Up WILD has to offer into their classrooms, such as Healthy Me activities, outdoor time, snack ideas, Helping Hands stewardship activities, arts and crafts, and music. If you want to learn more about the workshops offered in Houston and state-wide here in Texas, or the Growing Up WILD curriculum guide, go to or contact Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Project WILD coordinator Kiki Corry at In the meantime, here are some ideas that can be used to get students outdoors developing their physical and mental skills and having fun: -Keep a supply of kitchen and garden tools outside for students to enjoy. Encourage them to dig and create with all that the earth has to offer. -Find logs of various sizes and lay them out to be used as chairs, balance beams or even building blocks. -Make a small pond or provide a large bucket of water outside. Students can use cups or small buckets for splashing around in the water. Add soil or sand and make mud for even more fun. -Create an outdoor garden to show students how to grow vegetables and herbs. Once the vegetables ripen, the garden can provide healthy snacks that students can be proud to have grown! -Hang pots and tins from trees and allow students to bang on them to create a musical experience. -Bring or find stones for students to sit on, step on, play on or stack. -Build a sunflower house by planting a square of sunflowers with space for children to play in the center. - Designate a spot in your room for children to experience nature while indoors. Keep a small collection of leaves, rocks, shells, sand, feathers and bones for children to touch during their free time. Allow the children to find their own nature items like twigs or acorns to add to the collection. -Create a nature-inspired indoor environment with your students! page 16 haaeyc Advocate Winter Issue 2013

17 References: AIR. (2005). Effects of Outdoor Education Programs for Children in California. American Institutes for Research: Palo Alto, CA. Barros, R.M., Silver, E.J., & Stein, R.E.K. (2009). School recess and group classroom behavior. Pediatrics, 123(2), Burdette, H. L., & Whitaker, R. C. (2005). Resurrecting free play in young children: looking beyond fitness and fatness to attention, affiliation, and affect. Archives of pediatrics & adolescent medicine, 159(1), 46. Chawla, L. (2006). Learning to love the natural world enough to protect it. Barn, 2, Dyment, J. (2005). Gaining ground: The power and potential of school ground greening in the Toronto District School Board. Evergreen: Toronto, Canada. Fjørtoft, I. (2001). The natural environment as a playground for children: The impact of outdoor play activities in preprimary school children. Early childhood education journal, 29(2), Hoyert DL, Xu JQ. Deaths: Preliminary data for National vital statistics reports; vol 61 no 6. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics Kuo, F. E., & Taylor, A. F. (2004). A potential natural treatment for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: evidence from a national study. Journal Information, 94(9). Maynard, T., & Waters, J. (2007). Learning in the outdoor environment: a missed opportunity? Early Years, 27(3), State Education and Environment Roundtable (2005). California Student Assessment Project Phase Two: The Effects of Environment-Based Education on Student Achievement. SEER: Poway, CA. Taylor, A. F., Kuo, F. E., & Sullivan, W. C. (2001). Coping with ADD The surprising connection to green play settings. Environment and Behavior, 33(1), Titman, W. (1994). Special Places; Special People: The Hidden Curriculum of School Grounds. World Wide Fund for Nature: Surrey, United Kingdom. Wells, N. M., & Lekies, K. S. (2006). Nature and the life course: Pathways from childhood nature experiences to adult environmentalism. Children Youth and Environments, 16(1), White, R., & Stoecklin, V. (1998). Children's outdoor play & learning environments: Returning to nature. White Hutchinson Leisure & Learning Group. haaeyc Advocate Summer Fall Issue 2013

18 Sing a Song and Read Along: Using Music to Promote Literacy Learning By: Rebecca Giles, Ph.D., and Jeannette Fresne, D.M.A. Early childhood is the ideal time to surround children with the building blocks of music melody, harmony, volume, rhythm, beat, timbre, and form. Immersing young children in music activities emphasizing play, vocal exploration, and interaction is a natural and pleasurable way for them to encounter the richness of language. The similarities between musical development and literacy acquisition are many. Literature and music share such common features as being forms of communication, using a symbolic system, and naturally encouraging oral language development and listening skills (Tunks & Giles, 2013). Because the effects of musical experience on subcortical auditory processing are pervasive and extend beyond music to the domains of language and emotion (Kraus, Skoe, Parbery-Clark, & Ashley, 2009, p. 543), combining music and literacy experiences can be extremely effective for promoting growth in both areas (Davis, 2000). Side by side, comparisons of research in language arts, music, and neurophysiology reveal patterns demonstrating that music learning is beneficial to the reading process (Hansen & Milligan, 2012, p.79) and that music perception is predictive of reading skill (Sima, Trainor, Woodside, & Levy 2002). Learning music and learning to read both rely on repetition to enhance memory and facilitate understanding, making it important for emergent and early readers to experience many connections between language, music, and print (Jalongo & Ribblett, 1997). For this reason, children s literature possessing musical qualities provides the ideal choice for rewarding learning experiences. While there are more complex ways of integrating the elements of music through literature, the following suggestions are designed to help even the most non-musical teachers confidently sing books with children of all ages. Song Picture Books Song picture books, which are illustrated versions of well-known tunes, support early readers in numerous ways (Sawyer, 2011). The rhyme, rhythm, repetition and predictable structure inherent in song picture books make them particularly appealing to young children. Both traditional and contemporary song book selections build on prior page 18 haaeyc Advocate Winter Issue 2013

19 knowledge, and many have the added appeal of humorous exploits. Illustrations provide concrete representations of ideas and vocabulary, making the lyrics easier to understand and enjoy. The accompanying text increases the children s knowledge of story structure (Kouri & Telander, 2008) while familiarity with the words written aids in print recognition (James, 2000). As a result, children learn new concepts, words, and expressions as well as print conventions and book handling skills when they sing and read along with these engaging books. Oftentimes, such classics as Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Turn Around, Mary Had a Little Lamb, and Old McDonald Had a Farm can be found in book form at the local dollar store, since expired copyrights have dramatically decreased the cost of publishing. Other examples of popular song picture books include Down by the Bay and Ten in the Bed along with seasonal favorites like Over the River and Through the Woods and The Twelve Days of Christmas. Use Books to Improve Listening Skills Listening skills are essential in singing, language development, expressive movement, and, later, reading. Look for books that have a word or short phrase repeated at least three times. Books with similar recurring words and phrases can be used to improve listening skills by having children vocalize assigned sounds or perform designated movements each time the word or phrase is heard. For example, in Mortimer by Robert Munsch children repeatedly walk up the stairs (preferably by walking in place), walk down the stairs, and shake their finger while saying Mortimer, be quiet. using the four vocal timbres of a mommy, daddy, policeman, and 17 brothers and sisters as they are introduced through the story. A similar experience can be provided using Boom Boom Go Away! by Laura Geringer. In The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything, a lady meets shoes, pants, a shirt, gloves and a hat while out walking. At one point, the story says Two shoes that go, Clomp, clomp. Upon hearing this phrase, the children join in by saying the words clomp, clomp--and stomping their feet. As the story continues, the shirt wiggles, the hat nods, etc. Children love the lively interaction generated with such fun movements and sounds! Musical aspects can be further emphasized by incorporating instruments into the story. Simple instruments, such as egg shakers, maracas, rhythm sticks, bells, drums or tambourines, haaeyc Advocate Summer Fall Issue 2013

20 can be selected to represent each character or recurring sound. Children are cued to play their instruments when the corresponding character name or sound word is heard. A basic example would be to read a book such as I Know a Wee Piggy by Kim Norman and have children play their instruments each time a color word is heard. Cumulative tales, types of folktales in which the actions or characters build and repeat, provide the opportunity for more sophisticated practice as each child is assigned a single character that signals his performance when heard in the story. Engaging choices with numerous animal characters include Mr. Grumpy s Outing by John Burningham, Stuck in the Mud by Jane Clarke, and The King, the Mice and the Cheese by Nancy and Eric Gurney. When using instruments with The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything, children strike rhythm sticks together four times when the shoes appear. When the pants appear, children tap the egg shakers four times. The shirt, gloves, and hat may be translated by bells, drums, and tambourines, respectively. Use Books to Explore the Voice In music, exploring the voice is a crucial skill for young children. As we age, we become less likely to make new sounds. Books incorporating assorted animal sounds, while not sung, are wonderful for providing varied opportunities for vocal exploration. I Went Walking, Duck in the Truck, The Noisy Counting Book and Never Tease A Weasel are just a few examples. These selections allow children to practice auditory discrimination while laying a foundation for phonemic awareness tasks, such as hearing, identifying, and manipulating individual sounds in spoken words (Gromko, 2005). Shy children can use animal puppets to help them overcome their hesitancy to make unusual sounds. While artistically valuable, musical experiences may extensively enhance children s language and literacy development as well (Gromko, 2005) since music skills have been found to correlate significantly with both phonological awareness and reading development (Sima, Trainor, Woodside, & Levy, 2002). We challenge teachers to discover the musical gems on their book shelves and ignite the love of music and literature for their students! With a just few simple pointers (see below), teachers will be able to successfully share their expanding library of music. page 20 haaeyc Advocate Winter Issue 2013

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