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Category Archives: Literacy

It’s Book Order Time!


I LOVED taking home Scholastic Book Orders as a kid, and it makes me so happy to be able to offer the same opportunity to our students.  What parent can say no to a child begging for a new book! There are so many wonderful things about the scholastic program, not only are the books budget friendly (they even have a $1 book featured each month), but parent orders allow teachers and schools to earn points towards free books for the classroom.  You can order books by stopping at school to pick up a flier, or by visiting the scholastic website (click the photo above).  If you order online you will have to set up a parent profile, and choose Inspirations Early Learning Center from the drop-down list of schools.

There are so many books to choose from it can be a bit overwhelming, so we have created a list of some of our favorite authors to help with your decision. Even if you don’t order through scholastic books clubs, please check out some of these authors on Amazon, or at your favorite local bookstore!

Many people consider teachers to be the authority on anything related to children’s literacy, and while we all know which authors we love, our minds have a tendency of going blank when a parent or family member asks us to recommend a great book.  Maybe it’s because there are so many great books how there, how could we pick just one? Here are some of our favorite authors, and a short summary of their work.


Sandra Boynton: We’ve never met anyone who didn’t smile while reading a Sandra Boynton book. Her adorable illustrations, lyrical writing, and downright silly stories are just as much fun for adults as they are for kids.


David Shannon: Shannon’s David stories are perfect for 2-4 year olds, simple wording with hilarious illustrations makes it easy for even the youngest readers to participate in story time. His books for older children (Alice the Fairy, How I Became a Pirate) are written in a conversational tone that makes a child feel as if the main character is a friend, whose imagination is as wild and crazy as their own.


Anna Dewdney: The Llama Llama author is one of our favorites to read because her rhymes seem to roll right off your tongue, without feeling clichéd or obvious. We also give her props for having a moral behind every story that is actually relevant to our world, and any author who can write an honest story about a kid throwing a temper tantrum in the grocery store is a hero in our book.


Ree Drummond: The Pioneer Woman got her start as a lifestyle blogger, but that’s exactly what we love about her books. She writes children stories exactly like she writes her blog, as if she were talking to the reader in person, and that reader happens to be a close friend of hers. We love the conversational style, and kids love Charlie the Ranch Dog.


Denise Fleming: Fleming grew up not too far from our school, so we have to give her books a plug, but what we really love about her work is her distinctive illustrating style. Rarely do you see a perfect straight line in her soft brushstrokes, and this gives all of her characters a realistic look, that also makes them seem inherently friendly.


Literacy Outdoors


With the absolutely wonderful weather that we have been having lately, now is a perfect time to go outside and enjoy nature.  However, even when enjoying nature, plenty of language practice can take place!  A wonderful blog: provides an wonderful example of how to incorporate nature, outdoors, and literacy all in one.  A way to get your toddler or preschooler enjoying all that the outdoors has to offer is to create an outdoor literacy bag.  You can keep this bag right beside your door, that way all you have to do is grab it and go! The following are two examples of what you might want to include in your outdoor literacy bag to get started.  Just remember the possibilities are endless!

One example is when you and your child are outside is to have a bird literacy bag.  Birds and the sounds that they make are everywhere.  In the bag include age-appropriate books about birds that catches the attention of your child.  You can also include a pair of kid-sized binoculars so that they can experiment with them while you walk around your neighborhood looking for birds.  Also, to be able to observe them, you will need to include pencils, crayons, and paper on a clipboard to draw the birds that they see.  To attract the birds, include a small bag of Cheerios or other small cereal and string to make bird feeders to hang on trees.  For older children, you can even include a bird identification book to look up the names and pictures of various birds that you see.

In the second bag, how about learning about bugs?  Include books about bugs (touch and feel books are great for this).  A bug catcher, magnifying glass, and tweezers are perfect for looking for small bugs around your neighborhood.  Also, to be able to observe them, you will need to include pencils, crayons, and paper on a clipboard to draw their bug creations.  Plastic bugs are also great to introduce the names of various bugs and to sort them by color, size, insect, or how they move (crawling, flying, jumping).    Homemade play dough can also be added to this bag to help your child begin to create their own 3D bugs.

These bags are just two examples of what you and your child can explore outdoors.  However, the choices are endless.  The most important thing to remember is to follow the interest of what your child enjoys doing outdoors and create a bag that will extend on this interest. 


Practicing familiar names

Here is another fun language activity to actively engage your older toddler or young preschooler.  Simply place photos of family members on your refrigerator.  With toddlers start with immediate family members such as mom, dad, themselves, and siblings and for preschoolers you can begin to add grandparents, pets, aunts and uncles, and special friends.  Make these photos big enough for the children to see with their names clearly written under the photograph.  Place magnetic letters (a couple of each letter would be preferable) beneath the photographs and have your child then use magnetic letters to spell the names on the specific photos underneath.  As your child gets older, you can begin to have them sound out the names to find the letters on their own and spell the names independently.Image

Learning to Listen

color zoo

A key language task for toddlers is to show understanding of simple requests referring to people, objects, feelings, and ideas. One fun activity to incorporate understanding simple requests related to ideas is to help your child identify colors.  To begin this activity, find a book (from your home or local library) related to color identification.  One book in particular that is developmentally appropriate for this age group is Color Zoo by Lois Ehlert.

As you read the story to your child, take time to point out and identify the different colors portrayed in the story and have your child point to identical colors that he or she sees while reading the story.   After reading the story, another fun activity is to go color shopping with your child.  Find a basket or a bag in your home and have your child go around the house looking for things of a certain color that you or your child choose.  You can refer to the book to show and identify the color if needed.  After the basket or bag is full of items, discuss what items your child found and what color they are.  Continue this activity by picking another color.