The first week of April we started our work on numbers and emphasized sequencing along with numeral/quantity relationships. In order to do this, and have fun, we made number chains of links starting with one 1, then two 2s, and so on, with a strip for their names. I printed these numbers on a standard 11inch printer page then copied them onto colorful printer paper, then along with a volunteer, I cut them into strips and gathered them with paper clips into groups of 11 strips.
Each participant got a group of strips, which we showed them how to connect using a glue stick. While I wanted them to connect in the correct order, many of the children were just happy to connect them. And as I always say–there is no wrong way–we learn at our own speed, and work on our own level–the only rule is to have fun (oh, and don’t eat the glue or put it in anyone’s hair) Some parents and caregivers created their own chains which they used to practice numbers with their children.
Sequencing is an important pre-literacy skill–and practicing putting things in order, from number strips, letter strips, or flashcards can be a fun and easy way to develop this skill. We had over a hundred participants, both children and caregivers.
Along with this activity, we displayed books featuring numbers and counting, particularly counting to 10. There are a number of very popular books re-telling the classic round story about 10 in a bed. Which is perfect for toddlers, because it is repetitive, and allows for participation. It also teaches cause and effect. While children worked on their crafts, I discussed with parents the advantages of reading this type of book and suggested several titles they might use.
Since these activities attract children from 17mo to 7 yrs old, from a wide variety of backgrounds, who are at various stages of reading readiness, parents have extremely varied needs. Some parents think that their children are too young for counting, too young for books, and lack the attention span for reading. So during the activities I enjoy demonstrating how small children can enjoy a book, and how interactive many of our board books are. Because these activities are joint caregiver and child, I have a lot of opportunities to interact with parents and offer tips and suggestions on fostering literacy skills. But since there are so many parents and children I can’t always offer extended attention, so I dedicated a shelf of my display cart to parenting and literacy books filled with ideas for fun ways to make literacy learning a part of every day.