Happy Saturday, Friends!
We're off to the pumpkin patch and zoo shortly, but I wanted to share a great resource with you before we head out! As SLPs/teachers, we know the importance of language and literacy development, and we spend our careers trying to facilitate it. Sometimes it is easier than others. We're all busy, and planning for therapy each day can be difficult. Not to mention that keeping therapy exciting and fresh can be a challenge. Add in the budget cuts, and new toys and therapy materials are pretty much out the window. But every once in a while, you come across a great resource that is effective and budget-friendly, and you want to shout about it to the world! The Hanen Centre's Preschool Language & Literacy Calendar is one of those great resources!
The Hanen Centre is a wonderful resource for both early interventionists AND parents! They provide interventions and materials that are research based and host trainings to teach the implementation of their strategies. They graciously gave me a copy of their calendar to review, as well as extras for a giveaway for you! Disclaimer: Copies of the calendar were provided to me to review; however, no other compensation was provided. The opinions below are all mine.
The calendar is a 16 month-long calendar that provides a tip to focus on each month, as well as tips for parents and educators.
The inside cover discusses critical thinking and the importance of critical thinking in language and literacy development. I LOVE that this calendar focuses on critical thinking. If you spend much time in the schools these days, it doesn't take you long to figure out that the curriculum is requiring a lot of critical thinking, and many children lack this ability. It is a crucial skill from day one, and it requires time and attention to foster critical thinking skills in a child.
Each month in the calendar looks something like this. It gives you something to focus on, like keeping conversations going. Then, it gives suggestions for how both teachers and parents can facilitate this in everyday life with children. I really appreciate how it shows that you can use objects and activities in daily life in order to work on communication-this doesn't have to be something that is done sitting behind a desk or at the kitchen table only while doing homework. Critical thinking skills should be addressed everywhere. In all environments. During all tasks! Click here to read an awesome article on critical thinking from the Hanen Centre!
Being a mommy to a 2-year old I've been using my copy of the calendar at home. It has been such a great guide for focusing on critical thinking, and has helped to facilitate some great play times and conversations with my own little one. Below, over some late-night pretend cake, Halle Jane and I had a great conversation about pre-school that day, including her telling me which kids went to time-out and why! (Disclaimer: kids will tell on you. All the time.) I focused on using 'wh' questions to ask her questions like "Why did so-and-so go to timeout?" "What should he have done instead?" and "What do you go to timeout for?" --Trick question on that one...I wanted to see if she'd tell on herself. But she just responded "Halle Jane not go to timeout." Thata girl!
Here, we went for a walk. When we heard an airplane, we stopped to look all around until we found it. We talked about what the airplanes are used for (in this case, the crop duster sprayed a near-by field for bugs). She had tons of questions about the bugs eating the plants in the field.
Pretend play is so, so important. I'll say it again: Pretend play is really, really important. It is so necessary for developing early critical thinking skills. Last week, Halle Jane left her pretend baby bottle at her grandma's house. When she wanted to feed Baby Jenny, I told her she'd have to find something else to use as a bottle, but didn't tell her what. She thought about it for a little while, went to the container cabinet, and asked me to help her get the Doc McStuffins empty juice bottle out that we had washed and saved from a few days before. She thought it made a great baby bottle, and I was super proud that her little creative mind had figured out a solution all by herself! (I would've helped her if she had needed it!)
Below, we carved pumpkins a few nights ago, and that included letting her clean out her own pumpkin. She had no idea pumpkins were filled with seeds and gooey insides, so that was quite a shock! But she enjoyed it, and it was a great learning activity.
Finally, instead of looking at her children's books before bed this week, we've been looking at magazines. Since I was raised on a cattle farm, my dad gets tons of "cow magazines," and Halle Jane is currently really into cows. And tractors. And pretty much everything farm related. She has enjoyed looking at "real pictures" of the animals, farm equipment, and people. We've talked about the different kinds of tractors and what they do, and the different breeds of cattle. Sure, some of it is a little over her head, but it's never too early to start raising a farm girl. :)
Opportunities to enhance critical thinking skills are everywhere...you just have to focus attention on building those skills as you walk through life. The Hanen Preschool Language and Literacy Calendar is a great resource for getting started, both for parents and teachers! Be sure to enter the giveaway to win a copy below...and just in case you'd like to buy one (or more), you can find them on their website HERE for only $9.95!