Dr. Seuss

Go Wacky and Wild – Kids Need Time to PLAY

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Dr. Seuss books are full of wonderfully wacky words and no matter how wild, there’s an underlying message–kids need time to play!

kids need time to playHaven’t we all heard that before? After all, this is now the 21st century meaning progress to the max, the mad max! Yet, in his 21st century article, “The Decline of Play and Rise of Children’s Mental Disorders” author and expert Peter Gray has a grim warning. He writes, “…if progress is measured in the mental health and happiness of young people, then we have been going backward at least since the early 1950s.”

We all know kids need time to play and there are more clubs and activities than ever before so, l like Horton the elephant said. “That doesn’t make sense.” What’s declining for kids is their own play, the kind they make up and think up on their own. Not directed by adults. Not structured in lessons. This kind of play is sometimes called free play, or self-directed play.

Dr. Seuss used many ways that kids play in his books, such as having a parade. The Berenstains’ B Book tells the story of a sort of parade on a bicycle. Of course, a whole parade doesn’t fit on a bike so there is a tremendous pile up as everyone piles off.

Dressing up is a favorite way to play. Just think what fun kids could have with The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cousins. Really, only a few is enough and kids find ways to make their own, including a bowl.

As they play, kids love to imagine. Marco kept “his eyelids up” and saw a horse and cart on Mulberrry Street but in his imagination it was a zebra and chariot, or reindeer and sled, or elephant and brass band, and so on.

making a Horton nest

For a play-of-the-day, share a Dr. Seuss book with your child and let your child go play. After we read Horton Hatches the Egg, Big Sister made a nest. Just sitting doesn’t sound very playful–that was Mayzie’s complaint. To sit on the nest, Big Sister had to make one which first needed a sofa cushion. Each time she sat she added something else, a pillow, a placemat, and more.

Play can be wacky and wild, or quiet and mild, but either way, kids need time to play. How will your child play?

Readiness for Kindergarten, Dr. Seuss #15 & Shamrocks

St.-Patrick's-DayGreen Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss, is a perfect book for today. Are you wearing green for St. Patrick’s Day?

Besides the green connection this book is important for another reason – the element of fantasy. Most kids know that there is no such thing as a green egg but delight in the fun even though it is not real. This real or fantasy issue is controversial. Some people think that exposing children to fantasy is not just deceitful but catastrophe in the making, while others believe fantasy is an essential part of childhood.

Weren’t last month’s Oscars, for the most part, all about fantasy? Fantasy for grownups, not just kids? No matter which side we’re on of the fantasy-reality debate in childhood, the reality is that human beings love a good story. In fact, George Lakoff, a university scientist, wrote in his book Metaphors We Live By
that our minds crave stories and are part of the structure of our brains. Apparently, our brains are hard-wired for stories. The context of a story can make a concept come to life, making it easier to understand. Stories harness the power of the imagination to help us learn and remember. Thinking strategies are stretched when listening to and following along with stories and language skills are exercised.

What does this mean for kindergarten readiness? That stories are a powerful teaching and learning tool! The Irish love a good story  and St. Patrick himself used story as a teaching tool. St. Patrick noted the difficulty of understanding the Trinity. He used a 3-leafed shamrock to show how 1 leaf can have 3 parts and so does God, as in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Or so the story goes…

For St. Patrick’s day wear green, pin on a 3-leaf shamrock, look for 4-leaf clovers, tell stories, explore what’s real and what’s fantasy and build readiness for kindergarten as a byproduct of all the fun!
Don’t you agree that’s the golden treasure?

Readiness for Kindergarten, Learning With Dr. Seuss, #14

The Eyes have it, that is The Eye Book by Dr. Seuss has the blog post today. A simple little story, after reading it a few times, kids will have parts of it memorized and can “read” it back to you. This pretend reading is tremendously important for learning to read later on and forms part of the readiness for kindergarten package.

Why is this pretend reading so crucial? It is so important because it is the basis for learning to read. It seems obvious to us, but it isn’t to kids. Kids need to learn that the black line squiggles called letters have meaning. Once kids connect that print tells us something, they are on their way to figuring out that something.

This may still sound confusing, so I’ll use an example. Following are 2 ways of reading the word eye.

1. Point out the word eye. A child could look at the letter e and say it looks like a circle but instead of going all around, it has a line across the tummy, then there is a letter with 2 arms and 1 leg, and the circle e again. That’s one way of “reading” the word e y e but it has no meaning.

2. Point out the word eye and say this is how we write eye when we say it. Talk about eyes: where they are, how we use eyes, point to eyes, open and close them, etc. Together look at the word eye and “read” it. This time the child connects those same 3 squiggles with the meaning of eye. A connection is established with the letters and what it stands for. Just like a long chain, the print is connected to the word eye, and the word eye is linked to all the things that the child knows about eyes and suddenly those letters e y e are full of meaning.

Only when children understand that print is meaning-full are they ready to start building toward tackling the squiggle-code. Simple books such as this one help build the print-meaning connection for kids. Check out eyes in a mirror and see their colors. Your child may want to draw a picture of eyes or add some to a face shape. Play peek-a-boo. Or h’eye’d & go seek, (just couldn’t resist that play on words). These are ways to grow the pathways in the brain that kids need so they can learn to read. Eye hope, oops…, I hope this has been helpful for you. Can you see how to do this?


Readiness for Kindergarten, Learning With Dr. Seuss, #13

Oh the places you’ll go and how will you get there? Boat, train, car, pony, bus, airplane? Dr. Seuss’s book Oh, the Places You’ll Go has many different levels and appeals to little kids and bigger ones, too. Sharing a book with your little one stimulates all kinds of language learning. But kids also like … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten, Learning With Dr. Seuss, #13

Readiness for Kindergarten, Learning With Dr. Seuss, #12

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, by Dr. Seuss, is a double-your-fun book for both some math and colors. Add in some readiness for kindergarten, and that makes it a triple. Fishy crackers are a tasty math manipulative. Together L, who is three, and I counted out 10 fish crackers, saying the number … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten, Learning With Dr. Seuss, #12

Readiness for Kindergarten, Learning With Dr. Seuss, #11

Hop on Pop (by Dr. Seuss) sounds like a fun activity. Well, maybe not for Pop but for kids that like to hop. Did you know that hopping and jumping is great way to develop skeletal strength?  Childhood is the most important time for a healthy skeleton. Activity makes children’s bones stronger and can even change the … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten, Learning With Dr. Seuss, #11

Readiness for Kindergarten, Learning With Dr. Seuss, #10

Some kindergarten readiness evaluations will include a question about alphabet knowledge. Certainly it is helpful for kids to have some familiarity with letters and sounds before starting school, so that they can build on what they know and for their confidence. But kids do Not need flash cards and drill. Instead, there are fun ways to learn … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten, Learning With Dr. Seuss, #10

Readiness for Kindergarten, Learning With Dr. Seuss, #9

And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street has a great idea for today: going for a walk and seeing what’s on your street. When it comes to readiness for kindergarten there isn’t really a specific set of information that is helpful for kids to know. What’s important is that kids have practice learning … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten, Learning With Dr. Seuss, #9

Readiness for Kindergarten, Learning With Dr. Seuss, #8

We do not think of listening as an important readiness for kindergarten skill but it is crucial when it comes to learning. Horton Hears A Who is a fun book for encouraging listening skills. Being able to listen and learn is a key thinking strategy. Giving a baby a rattle to play with isn’t just to … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten, Learning With Dr. Seuss, #8

Readiness for Kindergarten – Learning With Dr. Seuss, #7

What can your feet do? Check out The Foot Book: Dr. Seuss’s Wacky Book of Opposites. Opposites are not easy to get right, but they are an important language and thinking skill. They require brain connections not just for the meaning of each word or concept, but linking of one idea and it’s opposite. Some opposites are easy … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten – Learning With Dr. Seuss, #7