Reading and Writing

Reading, Writing, and Language Early Learning Activities

Space Activities #6: Children’s Space Books

Children’s space books are almost as numerous as the stars in the sky! Space is a really popular theme for children’s books.

children's space booksThere are wonderful picture books about space with amazing photographs and illustrations. National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Space by Catherine Hughes and David Aguilar is one of these. It answers basic questions kids have about space so we don’t need to have all the answers. The book is divided into chapters that are relevant for kids. The first one is Looking Up From Earth. The next is Earth’s Neighborhood, followed by Earth’s Other Neighbors and Far, Far Away. The last section is on Exploring Space. Who knows what discoveries will happen in our children’s lifetime? The page on gravity invites kids to jump 5 times in a row to show gravity works every time.

children's space booksNot written by Dr Seuss himself, There’s No Place Like Space by Tish Rabe and Aristides Ruiz, features the Cat in the Hat. Familiar rhyming text takes kids “off to have fun. We’ll visit the planets, the stars, and the sun!” Wonder if the Cat in the Hat has packed any Green Eggs and Ham in case he gets hungry in space?


children's space booksJoey and Jet in Space, text and pictures by James Yang, is a simple story with only a few words but there’s lots to explore. Almost like a Richard Scary book, rockets and spaceships come in a tremendous variety of shapes and colors. Joey not only goes on a journey to space, he’s on the lookout for his pet. Of course, kids would take along their pet.

children's space booksSam Garton’s Otter character also takes along her pet, Teddy, in Otter In Space. Otter’s trip starts out with a visit to a museum where she sees “old paintings, made before crayons were invented.” But her discoveries do not end there. Just like parents, Otter Keeper won’t buy her everything she wants in the gift shop. With some imagination and creativity, she solves her quest to travel to outer space.

children's space booksOf course, any pile of children’s space books needs one for blasting off. On the Launch Pad: A Counting Book about Rockets,  by Michael Dahl does just that. After hearing it a few times, kids will be able to ‘read’ this by themselves.

Any out-of-this-world adventures with books for your child?

Space Activities #3: Nursery Rhymes and Language Learning for Kids

Today’s play-of-the-day, nursery rhymes language learning for kids, is inspired by the photos the space probe Juno is sending back of Jupiter’s moons. Since there are 4 of them, would kids on Jupiter have to add a few words?

nursery rhymes language learningHey diddle, diddle, the cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon, and the moon, and the moon, and the moon.

The little dog laughed to see such sport and
The dish ran away with the fork, and the knife, and the cup, and the spoon.

Nursery rhymes are special packages of language. They are based on repetition and words that rhyme. Learning any language is a huge challenge for children and takes years. Listening to and saying nursery rhymes helps the brain connect to the patterns and the rhythm that are part of a language.

The ideas in a nursery rhymes are often quite silly. Who has ever heard of a cow jumping over the moon? These bits of nonsense capture attention and encourage really listening. What else might happen? When we read about dishes running away with spoons kids create pictures in their mind. This is called visualizing and is a valuable thinking and information processing strategy.

Do you remember any nursery rhymes? Besides Hey Diddle Diddle, there’s Jack and Jill, Little Boy Blue, Little Bo Peep, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Hickory Dickory Dock, Humpty Dumpty, Jack Be Nimble, Mary Had a Little Lamb, and dozens more. There are many Mother Goose books and resources on line too. Choose a few and share them with your child. You can change the names of the characters, such as Jack and Jill to the name of your child and a brother, sister, or friend to make it more personal.

space activities for kidsWhile not as old as space, nursery rhymes have been around for hundreds of years. Maybe it’s time for some newer ones.

Jack and Jill went to space,
To check on other planets.
They found some rocks and moons and rings,
And plenty of very hot gases.

What ones can you and your child add for nursery rhymes language learning?

Transportation Play Activities #1: Transportation Books for Kids

Children have all different kinds of interests. We can support kids by finding books they like. Here are some great transportation books for kids.

transportation books for kidsOne of the favorite transportation books for kids of a whole range of ages is Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go. Did you know this was published in 1974? For over 40 years kids—and grownups—have been loving this book. Did you look for Goldbug on every page?

The Pig family goes on a picnic and travels the highways and byways, along with wheels on things we’ve never seen, like a pickle, a pumpkin, and a broom. Officer Flossie chases Dingo in his bright red sports car. Each page has adventures of one sort or another.

transportation books for kidsDuck on a Bike by David Shannon is another adventure. Duck learns to ride a bike just like kids. Although the other animals on the farm are somewhat skeptical, they soon forget their criticisms and try it out for themselves. This is a book that kids love over and over, especially the very last page which gives duck another idea and tickles the imagination.

transportation books for kidsSpeaking of ducks, Truck Duck, by Michael Rex, has only 2 words on each page but sometimes reading them can be as funny as the illustrations. These two words rhyme which makes it harder not easier. How many times can you say Plow Cow without it becoming plow clow?

Stories that use rhyming text are very helpful for training the ears to listen carefully and the brain to pay close attention for slight variations in sounds. Kids need to hear zillions of words to figure out that these little bits of sounds can be combined in different ways. This is called phonological awareness and helps for learning to read. Just think of car, star, far, jar, tar, par, and mar. There are many other books with words that rhyme.

transportation books for kidsMo Willems of the Elephant and Piggy series must have kids. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus sounds just like kids who are trying to convince their parents to let them do something. When you read this book, be sure to use the same tone you hear at home to whine and complain.

If you want to make sure a child is listening when you are giving instructions, start with “Now, don’t let the pigeon drive the bus.” Right away, kids engage and there’s a greater chance they will remember. There are so many wonderful books for kids with trains, boats, cars, trucks, airplanes, rockets, submarines, diggers, ambulances, hot air balloons, and more. All kids will have favorite transportation books. What are the well-loved ones at your house?

Bubble Fun and Learning #19: Alphabet Bubbles

After a busy weekend camping, Little Sister seemed played out. With colored felts, she had some quiet fun doing alphabet bubbles. When it comes to kids being ready for school, many parents and caregivers ask, “Does my child need to know the alphabet before kindergarten?” The answer isn’t a straightforward yes or no. Having some … Continue reading Bubble Fun and Learning #19: Alphabet Bubbles

Bubble Activities #7:  Children’s Books about Bubbles

Would it surprise you to know there are some wonderful children’s stories and books about bubbles? And not just the kind in the bathtub. The Bubble Factory by Tomie de Paola tells the story of a girl and boy, twins, who visit the factory where their grandpa used to work. What would workers in a … Continue reading Bubble Activities #7:  Children’s Books about Bubbles

Word Play for Kids = Fun and Exercise for Brains

Celebrate Dr. Seuss with Word Play Fun For a play-of-the-day, how about some word play for kids, a la Dr. Seuss? Books written by Dr. Seuss have been loved for decades. They are full of fun and play, especially word play. What a great way to celebrate Dr. Seuss. Dr. Seuss stories have wonderful rhymes. … Continue reading Word Play for Kids = Fun and Exercise for Brains

Star Wars Storytelling for Kids

Today’s blog post, Star Wars Storytelling for Kids, is brought to you by the famous Google Doodle, which is another story. This doodle is for Charles Perrault, the writer of some well-known fairy stories. Why would a storyteller deserve a day? Another question could be why these stories have been popular for centuries in the … Continue reading Star Wars Storytelling for Kids