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Early Years Bulletin

Winter 2013/14 vol 1, no 3

Focus on Pre-K and K

editors: Jennifer Baumgartner & Cynthia DiCarlo

Extending the Possibilities: Linking Language and Literacy to Outdoor Play by Karyn W. Tunks and Rebecca M. Giles, University of South Alabama, Mobile, Alabama


hinking of children at play typically evokes images of children running, climbing, swinging, and jumping in an outdoor setting such as a park, backyard, or playground. Unfortunately, this image is beginning to fade as opportunities to play and explore outdoors are decreasing. In school settings, increased pressure to document achievement and raise test scores has drastically reduced or eliminated recess and time for play outside. At home, an increase in the availability of technology-related entertainment, such as game systems, computers, and iPods, as well as over-extended after-school schedules leave little time for outdoor play. Author Richard Louv expresses concern about the resulting “nature-deficit disorder,” in his book Last Child in the Woods, and links the reduced amount of time children spend playing outdoors to problems of obesity, attention disorders, and depression. Consequently, more adults need to make children’s outdoor play a priority. Teachers are finding creative ways to bridge the divide between academic expectations and limited time for outdoor exploration by integrating the two. The National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education (NAECS-SDE) suggests

Contents p. 5 Infant and Toddler Nutrition and Exercise p. 8 Books for Infants & Toddlers p. 9 Early Literacy Instruction With Environmental Print p. 11 Children’s Books

continued on p. 2 . . .

Winter Health and Safety Tips Excerpted from an article by Deborah Skolnik on,1


indy days can feel much colder than the actual temperature. When deciding how long kids (and adults!) can play outdoors safely, the windchill factor is most important. Keep this information handy:

insist they’re fine. Feel babies’ hands and (if possible) feet regularly to see if they’re turning icy; also watch for unexplained fussiness. It’s a good idea to come inside for a quick break every 40 minutes or so, just to warm up a bit.

Green Zone: 30°F and higher

Yellow Zone: About 20°F - 30°F

Kids can usually play outside comfortably when it’s 30°F and higher -- just layer their clothing and make sure they wear hats and mittens. Offer water often (it helps regulate body temperature), and watch for signs that they’re getting chilled. If they’re shivering, bring them inside even if they

Be cautious. It’s okay for your kids to go out, but follow the guidelines above, and expect to see signs of chill sooner -take short indoor breaks every 20 to 30 minutes. continued on p. 4 . . .

Early Years Bulletin . . . continued from p. 1

Winter 2013/14 rope rhymes, and clapping games, allow language to become internalized through frequent repetitions. Sources that provide numerous options for exhilarating, rhyme-filled, act-along fun include: Hand Rhymes by Marc Brown, Schoolyard Rhymes: Kids’ Own Rhymes for Rope-Skipping, Hand Clapping, Ball Bouncing, and Just Plain Fun by Judy Sierra, and Miss Mary Mack and Other Children’s Street Rhymes by Joanna Cole and Stephanie Calmenson.

that children grow healthier, wiser, and more content when they are more fully connected throughout their childhood to the natural environment in as many educational and recreational settings as possible. Integrating experiences is an established and effective practice in early childhood based on an understanding that children learn best from authentic and meaningful experiences. Combining literacy-related experiences with an outdoor setting offers new opportunities for learning. (See Figure 1.)

Reading Experiences Outside Taking story time outside provides another opportunity for integrating literacy and the outdoors. Teachers can read aloud to a group, or children may read independently in an outdoor setting. Books that relate to the outdoors can be used as a springboard for outside activities. For example, Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis cleverly demonstrates how a stick can be used in many different ways. Each child can find his or her own stick or pass around a stick and describe a unique purpose for it. (See Figure 2.) Constructing designated places to read outdoors can be as simple as spreading a quilt under a tree or over a piece of playground equipment to create a fort. Theme-oriented experiences for reading outside continually generate new interest. A cooler filled with books on topics related to the ocean or lake can be enjoyed while lying on beach towels or sitting in sand chairs. During cooler months, children can bring sleeping bags to curl up in and flashlights for reading books about camping and other adventures. A picnic basket with a checkered tablecloth and a selection of books about food, ants, and picnics can be read during outdoor snack time. With a little imagination, reading outdoors will become a favorite activity. (See Figure 3.)

Listening and Conversing Experiences Outside Children can fine tune their listening skills while outside. Identifying and discussing the sounds heard outdoors–leaves rustling in the wind, a dog barking, an airplane overhead, water running, a car driving by—provides practice in auditory discrimination and vocabulary development. Video and voice recorders can be used to record these sounds. When the recording is played later, children can recall and name the source of the sounds. Listening activities support phonemic awareness skills that are used for reading and writing, such as hearing, identifying, and manipulating individual sounds in spoken words. Children have unique opportunities for using spoken language when playing outdoors. The outdoors is the perfect place for children to experiment with the pitch and volume of their voices. No longer required to use “inside voices,” children call to friends across a playground and cheer loudly while playing games. A greater focus can be placed on talking by offering props, such as toy telephones, walkietalkies, microphones, megaphones, and speaking tubes, that encourage conversations between children. Outdoor activities and games give children the chance to listen, talk, and discuss together. Creating an obstacle course with available items, such as carpet squares, milk crates, and tires, requires negotiation and explanation. Simon Says and other “follow-me” type games provide an enjoyable purpose for children to give clear oral instructions and listen carefully while being physically active. Familiar outdoor games, such as “Hot Potato” and “Duck, Duck, Goose,” offer fun and authentic purposes for listening. Singing is one of the best and easiest language activities to take outside. Using sing-along books, such as Little White Duck by Bernard Zaritzky or Jamberry by Bruce Degen, sparks exploration with words, rhyme, rhythm, and sound while also incorporating literacy learning. Introducing a range of imaginative movements—slithering, pouncing, gliding, twirling, and galloping—enhances vocabulary development along with locomotor skills. Simple songs, like chants, jump

Writing Experiences Outside Drawing and writing also can be done outdoors. The absence of physical boundaries promotes the use of large muscles in arms along with the small muscles in hands and fingers. The outdoor environment offers new stimuli and purposes for drawing and writing. As children draw trees, birds, the sun and sky, their pictorial representations can be labeled with the corresponding word and thus contribute to their writing vocabulary. Making traditional drawing and writing materials available for outdoor use is inviting to children. Crayons or markers can be stored in lidded tubs with handles to be easily carried outside. Large chalk pieces marketed for outdoor use is another option. Consider the surfaces available for writing. Picnic tables can be covered with bulletin board paper taped or clipped to the table. Temporary chalk drawings can be made freely on a variety of surfaces and hosed down with water or left until the next rain storm. With several coats of blackboard paint, an


Winter 2013/14

Early Years Bulletin

exterior door, wooden fence, or storage shed wall becomes an inviting place for children to make their marks. Clipboards with paper and pencils stored in plastic baskets or canvas bags near the outside door can be easily transported outdoors for children to use. Because the clipboards provide a sturdy base for writing and are easily carried, they can be taken wherever children are playing outside. Spaces for children to sit or lie down outdoors, such as tree stumps, plastic tables, benches, or blankets, should be available and inviting. Display children’s work created in outdoor settings for others to see. A clothesline along a sheltered outdoor wall that is fixed a safe distance above children’s reach can be used to pin up their work. Clothespins can be used to attach children’s drawing and writing to a chain-link fence. This can create a charming display for parents to see when they pick up their children. Conclusion Children’s surroundings play a substantial role in their growth and learning. Teachers who value literacy know the importance of providing a classroom environment that facilitates children’s participation in literacy-related experiences. Equal consideration should be given to children’s outdoor environment. Integrating opportunities for listening, speaking, reading, and writing with outside time is an ideal solution for increasing children’s literacy learning while also strengthening their connection to nature. Reading, writing, and spending time outside are compatible experiences, as literacy and outdoor experiences enhance one another. Outdoor literacy experiences are essential because they provide added benefits not found in any classroom—fresh air and sunshine. Resources Bunting, E. (1999). Butterfly house. New York, NY: Scholastic Press. Cronin, D. (2003). Diary of a worm. New York, NY: HarperCollins. Cronin, D. (2005). Diary of a spider. New York, NY: HarperCollins. Cusick, D. (2009). Big butts. Waynesville, NC: EarlyLight Books, Inc. Fielding, B. (2010). Animal tails. Waynesville, NC: EarlyLight Books, Inc. Fry, S. (2012). Grandpa’s garden. Cambridge, MA: Barefoot Books. George, L. B. (1996). Around the pond: Who’s been here? New York, NY: Greenwillow Books.

Giles, R. M., & Wellhousen, K. (2006). Reading, writing, and running: Literacy learning on the playground. The Reading Teacher, 59(3), 283-285. Jenkins, S. (2011). Actual size. New York, NY: Sandpiper. Louv, R. (2008). Last child in the woods: Saving our children from naturedeficit disorder. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books. National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education. (2002). Recess and the importance of play: A position statement on young children and recess. Retrieved from National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education. (2008). Re-connecting the world’s children to nature: A call to action. Retrieved from Call_to_Action.pdf Nagel, K. B. (2001). Our silly garden. New York, NY: Scholastic. National Association for the Education of Young Children (2009, September). Recess – it’s indispensable! Young Children, 64(5), 66-69. Rand, G. (1996). Willie takes a hike. New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace & Co. Wellhousen, K. (2002). Outdoor play every day. Albany, NY: Delmar.

Language and Literacy Learning Outdoors Children will have opportunities for: Listening and Speaking • Develop auditory discrimination skills • Use voice in a variety of ways, from quiet conversation to loud shouting • Talk about experiences in the outdoor environment • Talk about features of the outdoor environment • Use language to describe, explain, predict, and ask questions • Use scientific and descriptive vocabulary relating to outdoors, such as weather, plants, insects, and birds • Interact and converse with adults and peers to extend language • Use language to develop ideas • Comprehend language to follow directions and instructions • Listen, respond, and link language with physical movement • Interpret language in action songs and rhymes • Use language to effectively communicate during role play and practical experiences • Use language to negotiate plans, activities, and use of equipment and space. Reading • Develop visual discrimination skills • Access a wide range of texts • Enjoy stories, rhyme, and songs in the outdoor environment • Experience a variety of meaningful print (e.g., labels, symbols, and signs) • Begin to understand some purposes for reading. Writing • Experiment with early writing using brushes, chalk, sand, paint, clipboards, and pencils • Use drawings, written marks, or writing to express ideas and feelings • See themselves and adults using writing for a genuine purpose • Write during role play and other activities.

Figure 1


Early Years Bulletin Sources for Children’s Literature About the Outdoors The following sites offer bibliographies and lists of children’s literature, including nonfiction, fact-based fiction, and fictional picture books, related to the outdoors: • National Outdoor Book Awards (NOBA) is a non-profit educational institution that recognizes outstanding writing and publishing of children’s books about the outdoors. • National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) in cooperation with the Children’s Book Council (CBC) creates an annual list of outstanding science trade books for K-12 students. • National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) gives the Orbis Pictus Award annually to outstanding nonfiction in children’s literature; many of which relate to the outdoors. • Association for Library Service to Children awards the Robert F. Sibert medal to outstanding informational books for children. bookmedia/sibertmedal

Winter 2013/14 Types of Books for Outdoor Reading

Information books often relate to outdoor settings and provide facts

that are intriguing to children. Bug Butts by Cusick gives a humorous look at the ways insects use their bodies to protect themselves from predators. Beth Fielding takes a similar approach in Animal Tails by describing the ways this body part is used to communicate, hunt, and move on land, in trees, or water. The size of animals is put into perspective in Actual Size by Steve Jenkins. He goes beyond basic facts and describes animal parts in relation to other objects (i.e., an eye as big as a child’s head or a two-foot long tongue). Nonfiction is very appealing to children and sparks conversations about what they are learning. Fictional picture books often depict animals, but in unrealistic situations. Stories such as Diary of a Worm and Diary of a Spider by Doreen Cronin, and Willie Takes a Hike by Gloria and Ted Rand, show personified animals who talk and experience human-like emotions. But since the animals are shown in their natural habitats, the reader does gain a perspective on how the world may appear to real animals. In these types of stories, people may appear as giants, and even small objects such as a discarded tin can becomes a huge obstacle to overcome. Children enjoy hearing these stories and using their imaginations to make up their own fictional tales. Fact-based fiction includes scientific facts about nature within the context of a story. Around the Pond: Who’s Been Here? tells the story of two children who, while picking blueberries, discover clues about animals that live along their path. Eve Bunting’s Butterfly House depicts the cycle of life. A young girl discovers a caterpillar and cares for it through each stage of metamorphosis with her grandfather’s help. A generation later, butterflies still return to the house. From Grandpa’s Garden, by Stella Fry and Sheila Moxley, children learn about the growing season for vegetables and how to protect gardens from intruders. It includes “Grandpa’s Tips” for growing a vegetable garden. After hearing books such as these, children can be encouraged to share their own experiences exploring the outdoors.

Figure 2 . . . continued from p. 1 It’s especially crucial to layer older kids’ clothes, since they may ditch their coats if they get sweaty and so need to be wearing more than a thin shirt underneath.

Red Zone: Below 20°F Stay indoors

Windchill Decoder 30° = chilly and generally uncomfortable 15° to 30° = cold 0° to 15° = very cold -20° to 0° = bitter cold, with a significant risk of frostbite -60° to -20° = extreme cold; frostbite is likely to occur -60° = frigid; exposed skin will freeze in one minute

Walking in Winter For little kids unaccustomed to a snow-dusted driveway or a slushy set of stairs, maintaining a firm footing

Figure 3 can be difficult. Ronald Grelsamer, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York City, offers the following advice: • Make sure children have the right footwear -shoes or boots with rubber soles that have a raised pattern for a better grip. • Warn them not to go running across a fresh patch of snow -- there could be ice underneath. • Teach your children to walk sideways down slippery slopes, bending their knees a little. They should avoid crossing one foot in front of the other, though; that’ll compromise their balance. • It’s also a good idea for kids to protect their dominant arm. If a child is a righty, for instance, tell her to put that hand in her pocket; if she’s carrying something, direct her to put it in the dominant hand. That way, if she starts to stumble, she’ll instinctively use her less-crucial hand to break the fall.


Winter 2013/14

Early Years Bulletin

Focus on Infants & Toddlers editors: Laura Hooks & Nur Tanyel

Begin at the Beginning, a Good Place to Start: Infant and Toddler Nutrition and Exercise for Better Health by Laura M. Hooks, Professor at the University of South Carolina Upstate, Spartanburg


ew parents face a sometimes overwhelming job providing for the needs of their infants and toddlers. In all cultures, that includes ensuring children are well fed, healthy, and safe. The decisions parents make at that early stage can and do lay the health groundwork for a lifetime. Parents and caregivers need to establish routines and food choices that enable infants and toddlers to maintain an appropriate body weight while also getting appropriate nutrients. This article provides recommendations and examples to support nutritional practices by both parents and caregivers of infants and toddlers. Review Childhood obesity is a growing concern for those who care for children. In the United States, the number of obese children is growing: 32% are overweight, 16% are obese, and 11% are extremely obese. Obesity can have serious mental and physical health repercussions in childhood, which often carry into adulthood. Physical health issues include increased risks of high blood pressure and high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, and asthma. Additionally, children may experience social struggles and poor self-esteem associated with the stereotypes of those who are overweight. Children who are obese now are more likely to be obese and suffer health issues associated with obesity as adults. Creating healthy habits in infants and toddlers will help provide solid grounding for future health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends parents begin early to help children learn healthy habits to prevent obesity that can last a lifetime. Childhood obesity can be attributed to several factors. The CDC identifies six areas of interest when considering how to address obesity: breastfeeding infants, eating fruits and vegetables, eating energy-dense foods, consumption of sugarsweetened beverages, physical activity, and amount of time spent in front of a media screen. In the United States, diets tend to be low in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and high in


added sugars and saturated fats. Children often are given foods that are fast and convenient in the fast-paced society in which we live. These foods are typically high in fat, have unneeded calories, and lack fresh fruits and vegetables. Good nutrition begins in infancy. Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding until six months of age, and then continuation of breastfeeding while introducing various foods through one year of age. Those who provide child care for nursing infants can provide good social support along with an environment that enables and even encourages this practice. Some nursing mothers may be able to continue to nurse their infant by coming to the center or home where the care is provided. Caregivers can support this practice by welcoming the mothers with an open-door policy, and by providing a quiet place for mothers to nurse. Caregivers may need to adjust their daily schedule and work with mothers to ensure the feeding schedule meets each infant’s needs. Other mothers may want to continue to nurse their infants but their schedules do not allow them to actually do so throughout the day. Caregivers can continue to support these nursing mothers by providing proper storage and feeding of extracted breast milk. In both situations, taking extra time to communicate with parents allows caregivers to encourage this healthy practice. Typically, infants are introduced to solids around six months of age. Readiness should be an individual decision and parents and caregivers need to communicate closely as solids are introduced. Infants should be introduced to one new food at a time, progressing from thin cereals, to vegetables, to fruit, and finally to meats. Toddlers present unique challenges for parents and caregivers as they strive to ensure appropriate nutritional intake. Toddlers are learning many things quickly and their desire to be independent cannot be overlooked. Remembering toddlers’ need for independence and autonomy gives parents and caregivers guidance for smooth meal and snack times. It is important to provide toddlers with opportunities to choose what and how much to eat. Armed with that knowledge,

Early Years Bulletin

Winter 2013/14 Scheduling Physical Activity In addition to providing a variety of healthy nutritious foods served in a positive and developmentally appropriate manner, children need ample time for physical play. Participating in physical activities supports fitness as well as emotional and psychological health. Physical activity protects health and is essential for children’s physical growth and development. The health benefits associated with regular physical activity are significant. Allowing infants and toddlers to move and play freely, and even scheduling time to ensure it, is paramount for healthy development and sets the stage for enjoyment of physical activity later in life. The schedule for 2-year-olds in Figure 1 is one example of how to make sure toddlers have time for movement and play.

parents and caregivers can offer children choices among equally nutritious foods. Given a choice between peas or beans, the toddler feels autonomous but still receives a healthy food. Toddlers often demonstrate feeding behaviors that can be disturbing to parents; they may be picky eaters, resist new foods, make a large mess when eating, or exhibit a large appetite one day and not eat much the next. These behaviors leave parents wondering and worrying how to ensure that their children get a well-balanced diet with an appropriate number of calories to ensure good health. Several strategies can help parents and caregivers maneuver through the toddler years. First, it is important to know that these are typical behaviors connected to the toddler’s developmental needs for independence and autonomy. Second, parents should exercise patience when children exhibit these behaviors; children are experiencing and learning many new things and some take a little longer to make sense of the world around them. Third, parents and caregivers need to create a pleasant and calm atmosphere so toddlers can look forward to mealtime. Fourth, parents should not give up on foods that are refused the first time they are offered. It may take many exposures to a new food before the toddler is brave enough to try a bite. One way to encourage toddlers to try something new is to offer it when they can see others enjoying the new food. If children watch adults or other children try new food, they are more likely to accept it, or at the very least, try it.

Environment and Materials Scheduling time for movement and play is only one component of a program that supports active infants and toddlers. It is also important to consider what materials are in the environment and how the environment is arranged. The “Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale–Revised” (2006) is a tool used to evaluate programs that serve infants and toddlers. This tool considers the actual environment, the materials that are available to infants and toddlers, and the scheduled time to use the environment and materials. Programs that score as excellent in program structure require, among other things, schedules that are flexible in order to fit the needs of individual children, a balance of indoor and outdoor activities, and varied active and play time depending upon the individual needs of the Little Learning Center 2-Year-Old Daily Schedule children. Programs that score excellent in free play include, but are not limited to, free play 7:00 – 8:00 am Arrival/Breakfast Time for much of the day and availability of varied 8:00 – 8:45 am Free Play (potty time, one-on-one time with the teacher) materials and equipment. Scoring excellent in 8:45 – 9:45 am Outside (free play, sand and water, trikes) active physical play includes, but is not limited 9:45 – 10:00 am Story Time or Music to, outdoor space with two or more types of 10:00 – 10:45 am Free Play (prepare for lunch, potty time) services, materials that stimulate a variety of 10:45 – 11:15 am Lunch large muscles, and a large area for active play 11:15 – 11:45 am Outside that is not crowded. Infants and toddlers who 11:45 – 1:45 pm Nap Time (as children wake, potty) are provided an environment and materials 1:45 – 2:15 pm Free Play (finish potty time) that encourage play and movement gain 2:15 – 3:00 pm Outside (free play, balls, bubbles, trikes, gardening) valuable experiences that support physical 3:00 – 3:30 pm Snack Time health and development. In addition, these 3:30 – 4:15 pm Free Play (potty time, one on one time with teacher) activities lay the groundwork for a lifetime 4:15 – 4:30 pm Story Time that includes necessary exercise. 4:30 – Close Free Play (prepare to go home) Play for infants and toddlers should include experiences that use movement and sensory The schedule changes due to weather and in-house field trips (music teacher, input as a means to explore and play. Sensory puppet shows). A lot of movement and active hands-on learning is encouraged. materials means a variety of textures, colors, smells, and sounds. Provide materials that Figure 1 allow toddlers to explore but are still safe if


Winter 2013/14

Early Years Bulletin

they should decide to take a taste. Remember the children are learning through exploration and a plan of what to do first, second, and third is not needed or useful; it is best to let the infant/toddler be the guide. Parents/caregivers should follow the child’s lead and try to build on his/her interests. They should give toddlers plenty of time to explore and return time and again to the materials. Push toys, such as cars or balls, allow infants to explore what effect they can have when they touch or push them during tummy time; later, toddlers will learn what happens when they kick a ball. Repeated opportunities teach children they can control what happens. This leads to increased strength, coordination, endurance, and confidence. All of which, in turn, leads to better health through an enjoyment of physical movement and activities that will hopefully last throughout their lives. South Carolina Both diet and physical activity patterns must be addressed if we are to reduce childhood obesity and set healthy habits for children to take into adulthood. Children need to increase their physical activity as well as incorporate a nutritious diet. Communities, schools, child care settings, work places, and health care facilities should all be aware of this need. In South Carolina, the Department of Social Services, Advocates for Better Care (ABC) division has introduced new nutritional and physical activity standards for child care centers. The new standards enhance the nutritional and physical activity guidelines in an effort to help children in South Carolina to be exposed to healthy eating habits and more physical activity while in child care. Starting children early with healthy eating habits and a lifestyle that includes physical activity will provide children with habits that are likely to continue into adulthood and help reduce obesity for a lifetime. This example from just one state, where obesity levels are high, illustrates specific changes that are simple to follow. One center director, T. Compton (personal communication, April, 15, 2013), noted that after making nutritional changes gradually and giving children time to adjust, she has been surprised at how quickly the children in her center have adjusted. She noted that the parents of the children in her center volunteered to build planting boxes so the children could grow their own vegetables; although every child was not convinced to like broccoli, they were willing to give it a try. This is one example of how a center director was able to work with the families she serves to make simple changes to improve the health and nutrition of the children in her care. Summary A healthy life is something that is beneficial to everyone, and it starts with a healthy beginning. Parents and caregivers who follow nutritional guidelines and provide healthy

meals in a manner that encourages infants and toddlers to want to participate give youngsters a great start to a healthy life. Providing an environment that allows and encourages movement and physical activities in a developmentally appropriate manner gives infants and toddlers a great start for a life that includes physical exercise. It is never too early to begin such habits. Resources American Academy of Pediatrics. (2012). Breastfeeding and the use of human milk. Pediatrics, 129(3), e827-841. Retrieved from http:// Bruns, D., & Thompson, S. (2012). Feeding challenges in young children: Strategies and specialized intervention for success. Baltimore, MD. Paul H. Brooks. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Basics about childhood obesity. Retrieved from Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. (2010). Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee on the dietary guidelines for Americans, 2010, to the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. Harms, T., Cryer, D., & Clifford, R. (2006). Infant/toddler environment rating scale—revised edition. New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Healy, L. G. (2012). Epidemic on a local scale. Herald-Journal, April 17, 2012. Katz, D. L. (2011). Unfattening our children: Forks over feet. International Journal of Obesity, 35(1), 33-37. doi:10.1038/ijo.2010.218 Lee, J. M., Philli, S. S., Gebremariam, A. A., Keirns, C. C., Davis, M. M., Vijan, S. S., . . . & Gurney, J. G. (2010). Getting heavier, younger: Trajectories of obesity over the life course. International Journal of Obesity, 34(4), 614623. doi:10.1038/ijo.2009.235 National Association for the Education of Young Children. (1997). The value of recess and outdoor play. Retrieved from ece/1998/08.asp Pomeranz, J. (2011). The role of United States law to prevent and control childhood obesity. In D. Bagchi (Ed.), Global perspectives on childhood obesity: Current status, consequences and prevention (pp. 455-4611). London, England: Academic Press. Shultz, S. P., Deforche, B., Byrne, N. M., & Hills, A. P. (2011). Fitness and fatness in childhood obesity: Implications for physical activity. In D. Bagchi (Ed.), Global perspectives on childhood obesity: Current status, consequences and prevention (pp. 371-381). London, England: Academic Press. South Carolina ABC Child Care Program. (2013). ABC child care program: Grow healthy. Retrieved from healthy

Call for Manuscripts

The editors of “Focus on Infants & Toddlers” are seeking manuscript submissions. Send submissions to Laura Hooks at or Nur Tanyel at


Early Years Bulletin

Winter 2013/14

Books for Infants and Toddlers That Promote Good Nutrition and Movement The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle This children’s classic introduces children to many foods and provides great opportunities to talk about how important it is to eat good foods.

Yummy YUCKY by Leslie Patricelli Some things are good to eat and some things are YUCKY; this book has lots of pictures toddlers can relate to and like to compare.

We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger, illustrated by Miki Sakamoto This book provides parents with a familiar but somewhat different song that includes movements even infants can have fun making.


Global Babies by Global Fund for Children Keren Su (Photographer) and Frans Lemmens (Photographer) Beautiful pictures of babies from different cultures provide parents with opportunities to connect with their cultures as well as share other cultures with their infants and toddlers.

Winter 2013/14

Early Years Bulletin

Ideas for the Classroom editors: Sandra Stone and Basanti Chakraborty

Early Literacy Instruction With Environmental Print The following Idea for the Classroom was submitted by Jennifer Prior, Associate Professor, at Northern Arizona University, and Maureen R. Gerard, Faculty Associate, at Arizona State University


heerios, McDonald’s, Barbie, Pizza Hut, ON/OFF, STOP— environmental print is everywhere! Many people assume children learn to read when they begin school, but most educators know that literacy development begins long before children reach school age. Environmental print is the print found in a child’s natural environment and plays an important role in a child’s beginning literacy development. Such print includes product labels, logos, road signs, billboards, and store signs. Children see the shape of the golden arches, and they understand that it represents McDonald’s. Functional print, one form of environmental print, is relevant to young children because of the strong connections made to everyday life. Names, directions, and signage fulfill an important communication function for young children in a literate society. Environmental print helps children understand how written language is organized and used. Early notions about print, directionality, function, and letter sounds take shape as children realize that the print in their everyday world holds meaning and serves important purposes. By pointing out familiar print on cereal boxes, food packages, and street signs, adults can build on these natural interests and foster print awareness. The more aware and attuned the child becomes to the print in the environment, the larger the child’s vocabulary of recognizable words. The young child who successfully reads environmental print internalizes the meaning-making function of reading, enjoys a sense of accomplishment, and finds a point of entry into the complex world of literacy. Environmental print is one of the first sources of reading material for the young child and serves as soil for the roots of literacy. Some researchers say that when reading environmental print, children are influenced not only by graphic cues, but also by social, contextual, grammatical, and language cues. There are those who say that the reading of environmental print is a precursor to conventional reading, while others claim that the absence of supporting cues leaves children unable to recognize logo words. In our research, we found that kindergarten children do not seem to notice that logos and other environmental print


texts contain letters, but rather find them to be meaningful pictures. With teacher-facilitated instruction using environmental print, however, the children began to notice the letters and sounds in familiar logos. Once they noticed these letters, they seemed to notice letters everywhere, all the time! Using Environmental Print for Literacy Development Games. Environmental print materials can be used to make simple, inexpensive games. The front panel of cereal boxes can be cut into pieces (from 2 to 15 pieces, depending on the age of the child) and made into puzzles. Cutting through the logo on the cereal box pushes awareness of letter shape and letter sounds. Adult instruction during puzzle play draws attention to the word, letter shape, and name of the letter. Children can match two-dimensional coupons and advertisements to the three-dimensional real item play props used in centers. Teacher Talk With Guided Questions. The adult’s role is important when using environment print to teach beginning reading skills. Research suggests that when an adult draws attention to the letters and sounds in environmental print words, the children are more likely to transfer this knowledge to decontextualized print (text without color and graphics). The following vignette illustrates the teacher talk and student transfer of alphabet knowledge to decontextualized print: Reading instruction in this all-day kindergarten happens around a teacher table in small groups. At the table, the teacher facilitated an activity where kids matched logos to decontextualized print (logo words with no color or graphics). Each child had a set of logos in decontextualized forms. The teacher would show a logo and each child would find a matching word. “How do you know that one says ‘Macaroni & Cheese’?” “Do any of the others begin with the same letter?” “Are there any other letters in that word that you know?” “What letter sounds do you hear?”

Early Years Bulletin “Can you find an ‘S’?” Implementation of an environmental print curriculum includes whole- and small-group instruction using environmental print logos in varying forms as well as independent practice with environmental print games. These are high-success activities that communicate every child’s ability to read, including second language learners and students with special needs. When conducting any of these activities, be sure to generate discussion about the environmental print words and ask questions that draw students’ attention to the letters and sounds. See the list of questions below. “How do you know that says ‘Skittles’?” “What letter do you see at the beginning?” “What sound does the letter ‘S’ make?” “Do you see any other letters in that logo that you recognize?” “Can you find another logo that begins with the same letter?” “Do those words begin with the same sound?”

Winter 2013/14 cards at a time to find matching logos. Increase the difficulty level by gluing a logo to one card and a beginning letter to another. Children then turn over cards to find a logo and its corresponding beginning letter. For example, a child would look for the Wal-Mart logo on one card and a W on another. Two-Piece Puzzles. Glue a logo and the typed logo word to a card. Then cut the card in half, separating the logo from the typed word to create a two-piece puzzle. Create several puzzles with different logos and corresponding typed words and mix them up. To play, a child assembles each puzzle by matching the logos and words. Logo Books. Create file folder books. For example, a pizza book would contain logos of different brands of pizza or pizza restaurants. A book titled My Neighborhood could include a photo of the school’s name, photos of local street names, and logos for nearby stores. Children enjoy reading the logos and talking about their experiences with them. Resources

More Ideas for Using Environmental Print Because environmental print is familiar to children, it is important to determine which words your students know and understand. Begin by looking at print in the neighborhood—the names of grocery stores, convenience markets, and fast food restaurants. What street signs are readily visible to your students? Include the name of your school, nearby street names, and student names. It is vital that the print used for these activities be familiar to the children in order to assist them in making meaningful connections. The following games and activities can be used for beginning reading instruction in the classroom: Letter Collages. Provide each child with a sheet of construction paper, labeled with a selected letter. Then provide an assortment of logos. The child locates the logos beginning with the letter on the paper and glues the logos on the paper. Discuss the featured letter, the sound it represents, and how the letter appears differently in color, size, etc. in different logos. Food and Fun. Divide a sheet of paper in half. Label one side “Food” and the other side “Fun.” Provide an assortment of logos. Children glue logos, such as for Burger King, Yoplait, and Doritos, to the side labeled “Food.” They glue logos such as Play-Doh and LEGO to the side labeled “Fun.” Once again, draw children’s attention to the beginning letters and the beginning sounds they hear. Memory Game. Glue pairs of logos to different index cards and then turn the cards face down. Children turn over two

Environmental Print for Early Childhood Literacy by Jennifer Prior and Maureen R. Gerard Integrating Environmental Print Across the Curriculum, PreK-3: Making Literacy Instruction Meaningful by Jerry Aldridge and Patricia Kuby Everyday Literacy: Environmental Print Activities for Children 3 to 8 by Stephanie Mueller Environmental Print Bingo Lesson Plan: classroom-resources/lesson-plans/bingo-using-environmentalprint-954.html Environmental Print Activities: environmental-print.aspx I Can Read!:

References Christie, J. F., Enz, B. J., Gerard, M., Han, M., & Prior, J. (2003a). Understanding how environmental print supports early literacy. Symposium presented at the Arizona State University Language and Literacy Conference, Tempe, AZ. Christie, J. F., Enz, B. J., Gerard, M., Han, M., & Prior, J. (2003b). Examining the instructional uses of environmental print. Paper presented at the International Reading Association annual convention, Orlando, CA. Cloer, T., Aldridge, J., & Dean, R. (1981/1982). Examining different levels of print awareness. Journal of Language Experience, 4(1&2), 25-33. Harste, J., Burke, C., & Woodward, V. (1982). Children’s language and world: Initial encounters with print. In J. A. Langer & M. T. Smith-Burke (Eds.), Reader meets author/bridging the gap: A psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic perspective (pp. 105-131). Newark, DE: International Reading Association. Prior, J., & Gerard, M. R. (2004). Environmental print in the classroom: Meaningful connections for learning to read. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.


Winter 2013/14

Early Years Bulletin

Children’s Books Coombs, Kate WATER SINGS BLUE: Ocean Poems. Il. by Meilo So. ISBN 9780-81187-284-3. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books, 2012. 36 pp. $16.99. Filled with rich vocabulary, breathtaking illustrations, and captivating sea creatures, Water Sings Blue: Ocean Poems will be a certain hit for any beach or sea lover. The author creates the perfect balance of beauty and factual knowledge, capturing the reader’s attention with every detail of every page. Coombs’s voluminous wording paired with Meilo’s exquisite illustrations make the compilation of poems more than worthy of the many awards and honors it has received, including the 2013 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award; the 2013 National Council of Teachers of English Notable Books; one of Kirkus’s Best Books of the Year, 2012; one of Meghan Cox Gurdon’s 12 Favorite Picture Books and Chapter Books of 2012; and a Cybils Finalist for Poetry 2012. Readers will learn to love a range of sea animals, from the little-known gulper eel to such favorites as sea turtles and sharks. Coombs’s book is the perfect mentor text for young authors learning to write poems about nonfiction topics, while also learning about a wide range of animals. Ages 4-8. Ferber, Carole SPRING BLOSSOMS. Il. by Leslie Evans. ISBN 978-1-58089-4128. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge, 2013. 32 pp. $16.95. This is a beautifully written nonfiction poem about trees. Two girls run through the trees and enjoy the blossoms that are blooming in spring. The illustrations feature white dogwood, crab apple, magnolia, cherry, white oak, beech, red maple, redbud, white pine, and balsam fir. The book explains pollination, with pictures of the male and female blossoms. “The white oak bears two kinds of blooms. Male flowers droop. They’re greenish gold. The female blooms are small and red. Both open as new leaves unfold.” The final pages of the book present all 12 blossom illustrations with labels. Ages 4-7. Ghigna, Charles THE WONDERS OF THE COLOR WHEEL. Il. by Ag Jatkowska. ISBN 978-4048-8311-6. North Mankato, MN: Capstone Readers, 2013. 20 pp. $7.99. The Wonders of the Color Wheel introduces toddlers to a colorful study of colors. The rollicking narrative of rhymes and the brilliant rainbow of colors combines for the perfect stimulus to stir the imagination and inspire readers to create their own works of art. This book is part of Ghigna’s My Little School House series. Other books in the series include Numbers in the Park,


a joyful romp through the park where numbers abound! The rhyming narrative shows children swinging and dancing and playing in a colorful park full of numbers. Shapes Are Everywhere! presents a colorful, rhyming look at the circle, the triangle, the oval, and square—like the shape of the book—and how they are found everywhere we look! The Alphabet Parade is a memorable rhyming ABC picture book full of colorful circus characters and animals who march in a humorous parade across each page. Ages 3-6. Guiberson, Brenda Z. FROG SONG. Il. by Gennady Spirin. ISBN 978-0-8050-9254-7. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company, 2013. 40 pp. $17.99. This is an irresistible celebration of frogs and toads from around the world. Utilizing amazing onomatopoetic texts and stunning illustrations, amphibians from a variety of continents are brought to life in their habitats through their songs and sounds. There are specific adaptations of each species that become more interesting with the author’s use of the literary device to help the reader visualize and “hear” the amphibians in their natural environments. Ages 4-8. Heidbreder, Robert NOISY POEMS FOR A BUSY DAY. Il. by Lori Joy Smith. ISBN 978-155453-706-8. Tonawanda, NY: Kids Can Press, 2013. 40 pp. $16.95. This collection of 30 poems follows a little boy from getting out of bed, to eating breakfast, brushing his teeth, and going to school, continuing through the day until he is getting ready for bed, hearing a story, and dreaming in sleep. This collection of poems is joyful, with inviting pencil drawings. One poem about play is “Somersaults”: “Tipsy-tipsy. Turfy-curve. Swirly-curly. Tumble-swerve. Cool!” Children will enjoy this look at their daily routines. Ages 4-7. Hoberman, Mary Ann (Selected) FORGET-ME-NOTS: Poems to Learn by Heart. Il. by Michael Emberley. ISBN 978-0-316-12947-3. New York, NY: Little Brown and Company, 2012. 141 pp. $19.99. Former Children’s Poet Laureate Mary Ann Hoberman has meticulously chosen memorable, meaningful poems that every child will want to learn by heart. From her opening introductory poem to the directions for learning poems by heart at the end of the book, she has

Early Years Bulletin

Houran, Lori Haskins DIG THOSE DINOSAURS. Il. by Francisca Marquez. ISBN 987-0-8075-1579-2. Chicago, IL: Albert Whitman & Co., 2013. 24 pp. $15.99. This delightful nonfiction poem about many children’s favorite dinosaurs can be sung to the tune of “One Little, Two Little Pumpkins.” The illustrations match the song. The text of the book is lively and rhythmical. The book is well-researched and follows a paleontologist through the process of finding and reassembling dinosaurs. “Dig those dinosaur bones. So big those dinosaurs. Jigsaw those dinosaur bones. Rig those dinosaur bones. Dig those dinosaur bones.” What an enjoyable and informative book for young children. Ages 4-7. Lewis, J. Patrick WHEN THUNDER COMES: Poems for Civil Rights Leaders. Il. by Jim Burke, R. Gregory Christie, Tonya Engel, John Parra, and Meilo So. ISBN 9781452101194. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books, 2013. 44 pp. $16.99. Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis writes When Thunder Comes: Poems for Civil Rights Leaders about well-known and lesser known leaders who fought for peace, justice, liberty, and equality for all. This collection of poems demonstrates how the lives and work of 17 civil rights leaders are “like ringing a small bell, and know a million bells can drown out fear.” Inspiring readers of all ages, the poems in this collection illustrate powerful acts that moved nations to fight for peace and equality, right injustices, protect the most vulnerable, recognize humanity’s opportunities to stand for what is right, and let all generations know that their work had not been in vain. The end notes add details to the inspiring work and courage of the featured civil rights leaders, which include Coretta Scott King, Aung San Suu Kyi, John Gibson, Mamie Carthan Till, Mohandas Gandhi, Mitsuye Endo, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, Helen Zia,

Ellison Onizuka, Dennis Banks, Harvey Milk, Muhammad Yunus, Nelson Mandela, Jackie Robinson, and Sylvia Mendez. Ages 5 and up.

Children’s Books

painstakingly prepared the reader for the poetic journey of a lifetime. The poems will make you smile, think, laugh, and wonder. They may even tug at your heartstrings, as in “Poem” by Langston Hughes: “I loved my friend. He went away from me. There’s nothing more to say. The poem ends. Soft as it began – I loved my friend.” All Ages.

Winter 2013/14

Lewis, J. Patrick WORLD RAT DAY. Poems About Real Holidays You’ve Never Heard Of. Il. by Anna Raff. ISBN 978-0-7636-54023. Sommerville, MA: Candlewick Press, 2013. 40 pp. $15.99. Calendar pages throughout this book announce primarily animal-themed holidays, including National Skunk Day (June 14), Bat Appreciation Day (April 17), and Worm Day (March 15), as well as Limerick Day (May 12) and ChocolateCovered Anything Day (December 16). All of the poems, by the immediate past Children’s Poet Laureate, J. Patrick Lewis, feature animals. For May 29, Pink Flamingo Day, Lewis presents a concrete poem: “A Flamingo is a long cooooooooool drink of pink,” presented in pink font and in the shape of a flamingo. Lewis is the master of the pun, so for National Skunk Day, the poem reads: “If the skunk did not exist,/Then the skunk would not be mist.” There are multi-stanza poems, rhyming poems, a one-line poem, and additional formats, all about animals, including a poem about a Chocolate Anteater for Chocolate-Covered Anything Day. Delightful illustrations, great vocabulary, and language play characterize this book. Celebrate animals and poetry all year long! Ages 3-8. Raposo, Joe SING. Il. by Tom Lichtenheld. ISBN 978-0-8050-9071-0. New York, NY: Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt and Company, 2013. 40 pp. $16.99. “Sing! Sing a song. Sing out loud, sing out strong.” This picture book is an adaptation of the popular song written for Sesame Street in 1971. The New York Times-bestselling illustrator of Duck! Rabbit! and Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Sight, Tom Lichtenheld has created a touching story in pictures to accompany the song. With endearing themes of encouragement, hope, and perseverance, Lichtenheld tells a story about a boy who helps a bird learn to find its voice. Because the lyrics are the only words in the book, the simple watercolor images must work in unison with the song to portray the action. Lichtenheld does this beautifully. The book comes with a CD that includes three songs: “Sing!,”“Somebody Come and Play,” and “One of These Things”—all Sesame Street favorites. The songs, by Joe Raposo, are performed by Becca Kauffman with The Midnight Sun Ensemble. Ages 4-8. Rosenthal, Amy Krouse I SCREAM ICE CREAM! A Book of Wordles. Il. by Serge Bloch. ISBN 978-1-45210-004-3. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle


Winter 2013/14

Early Years Bulletin

Children’s Books

Books, 2013. 40 pp. $16.99. Wordles are groups of words that sound exactly the same but have different meanings. This book is an outrageous romp through pairs of fun phrases that are phonetically identical but mean different things when written out. Simple line drawings and basic coloring bring this clever book of wordplay alive for readers. Sometimes, there are trios of phrases (I see! Icy! Aye, sea!). Readers will be inspired to create their own wordles. I see this book as helpful and fun for second language learners who are trying to understand the context of English phrasing. All Ages. Sayre, April Pulley GO GO GRAPES! A Fruit Chant. ISBN 978-1-44243-390-8. New York, NY: Beach Lane Books, 2012. 36 pp. $16.99. April Pulley Sayre’s Go, Go, Grapes is a colorful mantra full of life and energy. This author uses creative rhythm, alliteration, and onomatopoeia to chant (or cheer!) about the characteristics of many fruits. Younger children will enjoy the liveliness of the story and rhyming lines. This book will encourage them in learning shapes, discovering colors, rhyming creatively, and counting the many varieties of fruits. Readers of all ages will be encouraged to try new fruits! If you like this one, dig deep into the delightful and delectable companion book by Sayre, Rah Rah Radishes! A Vegetable Chant! Companion books are Lois Ehlert’s Eating the Alphabet: Fruits and Vegetables From A to Z and Growing Vegetable Soup, and Bruce McMillan’s Growing Colors. Ages 3-7. Singer, Marilyn FOLLOW FOLLOW: A Book of Reverso Poems. Il. by Josée Masse. ISBN 978-0-80373-769-3. New York, NY: Dial Books for Young Readers, 2013. 32 pp. $16.99. Award-winning author Marilyn Singer writes a new set of reverso poems in this second collection of poetry based on fairytales and fables. Her reverso poems can be both read top down and bottom up with only changes in punctuation and capitalization. The result is a poem told from two differing perspectives, showing how two characters in the same context view their worlds in

Early Years Bulletin is published quarterly by the Association for Childhood Education International, 1101 16th St., N.W., Suite 300, Washington, DC 20036.

mirror images. The reverso poems are a remarkable way to enjoy the fairytale and fable characters in a different light, as with the emperor’s new clothes verse: “This emperor has - ha sublime taste in finery! Only a fool could fail to see.” Josée Masse illustrates the characters and their worlds, adding depth and meaning to the poems. Readers are drawn to the characters portrayed through the verses and linger in the poems with Josée’s magnificent illustrations. This new reverso poems genre by Marilyn Singer will be a good addition to anyone’s poem collection. Ages 5 and up. VanDerwater, Amy Ludwig FOREST HAS A SONG. Il. by Robbin Gurley. ISBN 061-884349-7. Boston, MA: Clarion Books, 2013. 40 pp. $16.99. If you happen to love poetry, and are looking for a fun way to introduce children to the forest, then this book may be the perfect fit. Author Amy Ludwig VanDerwater starts her collection with the poem “Invitation,” which invites readers into the woods, and ends with the forest bidding us adieu in “Farewell.” In between, we are entertained and educated with poetry describing and detailing woodland creatures, plant life, and even fossils. VanDerwater smoothly alternates between alliteration, analogies, and assonance; she subtly teaches her readers about different types of literary terms, while overtly teaching them about the forest. In “April Waking,” we learn about the beginning stages of a fern while being entertained by VanDerwater’s crafty use of language: “Ferny frondy fiddleheads... Stretching stems they sweetly sing greenest greetings sent to Spring.” In “Forest News,” VanDerwater likens exploring the forest to reading a newspaper. “I stop to read the Forest News in mud or fallen snow. Articles are printed by critters on the go.” Illustrator Robbin Gourley’s watercolor artwork pairs nicely with VanDerwater’s text to make this book a colorful and informative addition to any poetry collection. Ages 5-10. ACEI HEADQUARTERS STAFF: Diane P. Whitehead, Executive Director Michelle Allen, Operations Manager Anne Watson Bauer, Editor/Director of Publications Banhi Bhattacharya, Professional Development and Research Specialist Emebet G/Micheal, Accounting Manager Olivia Kent, Communications Manager Deborah Jordan Kravitz, Production Editor Sheri Levin, Member Relations Manager Yvette Murphy, Director of Advocacy and Outreach Dione Walters, Membership Assistant

Articles published in Early Years Bulletin represent the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect positions taken by the Association for Childhood Education International. Copyright © 2013 by the Association for Childhood Education International. No permission is needed to reproduce materials for education purposes.


Early Years Bulletin, Winter 2013/14  

The Early Years Bulletin, published four times a year, brings together the voices of practitioners, administrators, researchers, and advocat...

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