Monday, 13 July 2015

Library Box

After last week's post which saw me suggest wallets as a great developmental and entertainment tool, I have had to consider whether in fact I have accidentally created a wallet thief. My little girl and I visited the library this week (more on that later) and headed to the children's section where we were shortly joined by another mum and her 2 boys. The boys took off but the mum sat down on the same couch as us and alongside her placed her very colourful (read attractive to babies) bag. I watched as my little girl eyed up the bag. She wanted that bag. More to the point, she wanted what was inside the bag. I could practically see the plan forming in her head. Ever the charmer, she turned on her smile and started making her way over to the mum. The mum was smitten, exclaiming over her cuteness. She had fallen hook, line and sinker for the plan. My little girl neared her destination and made her move, reaching for the bag. Unfortunately for her (fortunately for me) her plan was thwarted as the bag was just out of reach. In the process of her attempted thievery, she luckily looked as if she was also reaching for the lady, who thought this was ever so cute and was none the wiser as to how close she'd been to becoming another unsuspecting victim of this little wallet lover. I'll need to keep my eye on her for sure!

The reason we were at the library in the first place was because we were getting ready for this week's activity.

Activity: Library box

Development: language, cognitive and learning
Materials needed: Board books, a box or container of some sort
Age: 6 months + (easily adapted for older or younger children, simply change the books - see the table at the bottom for ideas on how to do this)

While my little girl has other books that we read together, for this activity I only use board books as the focus is on her handling the books herself. As this may include turning pages, crawling all over them and perhaps even chewing them, I know that a paper book would soon become nothing more than a few shredded pages. Collecting a selection of books doesn't need to cost money. As mentioned earlier, we visited the library this week for our selection of books. I made sure to select a variety of books - different sizes, different topics, some touch and feel, some just stories and some just pictures. I placed them all into a shoe box and we we were done, she had her own little library. This box is out near her toys. I want her to feel that the books are hers and she is free to explore them when she wants.

So far, she has loved having her little library. As the books are in a container, she of course thoroughly enjoys pulling them out. Sometimes she'll choose just one book and look through it, sometimes they all come out and she then looks for the book she wants. Her particular favourites at the moment are touch and feel books. Sometimes we read the stories together, sometimes we talk about the pictures and I ask her questions, sometimes she just selects books and enjoys looking at the pictures or turning the pages. Occasionally, she even chooses a book to show to her best friend, our cat (I wish I had taken a picture of this). I have found that having her little library in our lounge has meant that we have done a lot more reading together and has been particularly handy for times when she has needed a little distracting or calming down.

It is not a new thing to say that reading is important for children, but how exactly does it help the brain's development? Very simply, the brain is made up of neurons with a network of connections between them which control everything that happens in the brain. These network connections grow with every experience we have and are pretty important as the more connections we have, the more ways of processing information we possess. Better Brains for Babies provide a simple explanation of the benefits of reading with your child:

When you read a story to your child or have a conversation with her, her brain makes connections for language and relationships. When they read the same story over and over again, connections in the brain become stronger. Every time children hear the same story, they learn something new. 
Not only does reading with my baby help her develop these brain connections and her language skills but providing the opportunity for her to handle the books herself also helps develop a positive association with books. Research has shown that children start developing literacy and language skills from a very young age. While it will be a long time before she is developmentally ready to actually read and write, these beginning positive experiences are laying a good foundation for this process. As Zero to Three states:

...the first three years of exploring and playing with books, singing nursery rhymes, listening to stories, recognizing words, and scribbling are truly the building blocks for language and literacy development. 
Alternatives: This activity is easily modified for different age groups. This table from Zero to Three contains some great ideas on how to select developmentally appropriate books for your little one. 

I'm sure this will be only the first of many activities related to books as I love reading. Even if I weren't a teacher, I would be passionate about promoting an enjoyment of reading as there is nothing better than sitting down with a book and finding yourself transported to another time or world.

Do you have a little library for your child? If so, I'd love to see a picture of it so please do share :)

Until next time,

Thanks to these pages for much of the information in this post

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