From my research, I concluded that doing playful reading and literacy activities with my son would be beneficial to his development. If you have been following my blog, you probably know that my son learned to read at a very early age. This accomplishment was NOT my intention. My intention was to expose him to as many words as I could so he could communicate his wants and needs. I did not want him to be a late communicator.
As a play therapist, I often found that children who were last communicators would resort to hitting or kicking. They were simply frustrated that they could not tell others their desires. This can be frustrating for adults as well. I could only imagine how a child who experiences this feels.
Seeing the Interest
I saw that my son was interested in reading, letters, and language at a young age. Therefore, I started to expose him to the alphabet, phonics, sight words, and blending sounds in a playful manner. He seemed to like how I was interacting with him daily, so I kept introducing him to reading and literacy.
Below is a video presentation I did for my alma mater, Davidson College. It outlines and gives tips on how my son learned to talk, blend sounds, and read at 21 months. There are various videos of my son as a baby showcasing his journey from talking to reading.
The presentation is a little over 50 minutes long. However, it gives a ton of resources and tips on how to stimulate your child’s brain and various methods to develop a love of reading and language. The steps are easy and fun to do with children.
Letter Recognition and words are one of the first concepts children learn when starting school. Letter recognition can be perfected by singing the Alphabet song, reading books, watching educational shows, and by simply playing with letters. Children often become familiar with words by reading, spelling, playing word games, etc.
My son and I have used all the methods mentioned above to get him familiar with letters and words. This time we decided to do something different. We created a fun activity called the Blindfold Alphabet and Word Game.
This game starts out easy with letter recognition but then gets harder with spelling words. The unique part of this game is that you have to identify letters and words with a blindfold.
We had so much fun playing this game. There was a lot of laughter during this activity. This game is a great way to reinforce letter recognition, how letters are formed (which is beneficial for handwriting skills) phonics, and spelling.
My son and I made a video of us playing the Blindfold Alphabet and Word Game. We had a friendly competition. You will see us having fun while learning. Watch the video below to see who won the game. Have your children participate while watching by identifying the letters and words with us.
Before I had children, child development professionals, friends, and families told me boys usually talk later than girls. It became something that I expected. So, when my son Cory was born, my goal was to communicate with him often so he would become familiar with language.
I didn’t want Cory to be a late communicator, because in my work as a play therapist, I noticed children who couldn’t speak would resort to hitting or kicking out of frustration. However, once they developed language, this behavior would decrease because they could communicate their wants and needs.
My son was able to speak in full sentences by nineteen months. This was because he was naturally exposed to language through play and interaction. One way that I exposed him to language was through playing and singing toddler songs.
How and when it was done
I played and sung songs during the night when he woke up as a baby and during car rides. We also heard songs during feedings and diaper changes. When we played Toddler Radio on Pandora, I would pick my son up and dance with him.
Once my son become a toddler, we would play music on Youtube or on the radio and dance to it. Then we would do physical movements to songs like Wheels on the Bus and Head Shoulder Knees and Toes. This helped Cory make a connection with words and their meaning.
You may take it a step further by purchasing or going to the library and getting books that are based on toddler songs. It is an excellent way to expose children to language.
Now that you know the benefit of exposing young children to toddler music, I will give you a list of 60+ songs.
I love doing science experiments with my son. One reason is that they help children become better readers. Also, they provide learning that is hands-on and uses the three senses of sight, hearing, and touch (sometimes smelling and tasting as well). They are the best way children can apply what they are learning.
In the past, I have used science experiments to teach my son lessons in hygiene such as the importance of washing his hands. The activity I will show you today is a great complement to that experiment. It is called the Tooth Decay Experiment. This could be your child’s next science fair project (for older kids).
The Tooth Decay Experiment will show your children the importance of brushing their teeth twice a day. Furthermore, it demonstrates what happens to your teeth when you drink certain beverages such as orange juice, tea, and water.
We have fun with all our experiments; even those that don’t work. It gives us opportunities to investigate and solve problems. I tell my son this is what scientist do!
The Tooth Decay Experiment has made my son a “Flossing and Teeth Brushing Advocate!” After you do this activity, it will probably have the same impact on your child. I will show you how to do it.
Let’s Get Started!
Warning: This post contains a lot of pictures.
5 cups (we used paper cups)
5 individual labels that read: Orange Juice, Soda, Water, Tea, and Vinegar
1 cup of orange juice (enough to submerge an egg)
1 cup of dark soda (enough to submerge an egg)
1 cup of water (enough to submerge an egg)
1 cup of tea (enough to submerge an egg)
1 cup of vinegar (enough to submerge an egg)
Plastic Gloves to protect hands
Goggles to protect hands
Here is a video of my son doing the Tooth Decay Experiment. This video comes from my son’s YouTube Channel, Corban’s Fun Learning Adventures. Please like and subscribe for fun activities.
Make 5 individual labels that read: Orange Juice, Soda, Water, Tea, and Vinegar
My family exposed me to money at an early age. As a four-year-old, my older brother Linsey, introduced me to counting money. Linsey is eleven years my senior, so he was my mentor along with being my sibling.
After learning how to write in cursive, my mother gave me the task of filling out checks to pay our household utility bills. After completing the task, my mom would sign the check.
This taught me valuable lessons. As a nine-year-old, I was familiar with how much my family paid for water, electricity, telephone, and cable services. As a result, I was conscious of turning off lights when I left a room and how much water I used when taking a bath. Once I started paying bills on my own, it was second nature to pay them in a timely manner.
This book is available on Amazon. Click the image above to access it.
During the summers of my middle and high school years, Linsey and his wife, Michelle, invited me to stay with them for two to three weeks. During these times, they exposed me to money topics such as the stock market, interest rates, and credit through games and role plays. They also owned and operated a business and it was my job to assist and learn what it took to be an entrepreneur.
Passing It On
When my son, Cory, was fifteen months, he saw a quarter on the table and tossed it in the air. He was amazed at the sound it made once it hit the floor. He seemed interested in the quarter and I decided it was time to show him a piggy bank.
My purpose was to let him touch, feel, and play with coins. Because Cory was fifteen months at this time, I stayed close to him. I did not want him to put the money in his mouth. He carefully took pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters out of the plastic bag and put them in the piggy bank. He was pleased with the clanging sound made as the coins hit the bottom of the piggy bank.
Cory and I have explored various financial literacy topics since his first encounter with the quarter as a fifteen month old. These topics range from money recognition and saving to real estate investing and business. He has been exposed to this topic through games and playful activities. For example, we discussed real estate investing by using Play-Doh, paper, and pencil.
We have also discussed the purpose of car insurance by using his toy cars. My son and I spend a lot of time in the car going to the grocery store, playdates, church, library, etc. Cory was curious about what happens if I hit a car. This led to a discussion about car accidents, police officers, and car insurance while we had a treat at Dunkin Donuts. We went home and defined terms such as liability and collision insurance by playing and crashing toy cars.
Watch the video below to learn how to teach children the financial literacy words, Assets, Liabilities, and Transactions by simply playing Monopoly.
Below are questions many parents have about teaching kids financial literacy…
How do you teach kids about finances?
Exposing children to lessons in finance does not have to be dry and boring. In fact, as adults we deal with money almost on a daily basis. You can include your child in some of those real world experiences, like my parents did, by having them pay for their own item at the store or helping you pay bills.
Another idea is to use your child’s toys to explain financial concepts similar to how we used toy cars to explain car insurance.
With over 30 years of combined experience in teaching financial literacy, Linsey and I have written a book called, Teach Your Child About Money Through Play.There are over 110 games/activities, tips, and resources on how to teach kids financial literacy at an early age. The activities include materials and toys that you already have in your home. They also include fun field trips that create a hands-on approach and a supplement to your child’s learning.
It will help you take the guessing game out of how to expose kids to money topics and concepts.
What is taught in financial literacy?
In the book, Teach Your Child About Money Through Play, we address money topics such as the history of money, various ways people earn it, and how it is used. You will learn fun ways to teach your child about budgeting, basic banking, the difference between liabilities and assets, and debt.
We also teach you how to use items in your home, such as toys and clothing, to introduce your child to real estate investing, stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Learn to use household items to create fun scenarios and role plays so your child will have an understanding of these subjects.
If you have a child who has a lot of ideas or has a desire to earn money, starting a business may be appealing to them. You will receive a step-by-step guide on how your child can be an entrepreneur. Even if your child is not interested in business, it is great to expose them to this subject to encourage them to act on their ideas.
How did you decide on these financial literacy topics?
It was important for Linsey and I to teach children the history of money, how it is used, how to earn it, and making it grow. The purpose of this book is for children to have a basic understanding of money since they will manage it in their future. We included games and activities so you will know how to present the information in a relaxed and fun manner.
These financial literacy topics were based on Linsey’s and my teaching experience. I have experience in creating curricula and hiring over 25 teachers to expose kids to real estate investing, the stock market, budgeting, saving, etc. In previous jobs, I helped kids start businesses where they made money.
Linsey is the financial expert in our family and has 27 years experience in financial services and teaching kids about money. He and my parents were my first teachers on financial topics. Linsey is a former bank manager, stock broker, tax strategist, health insurance specialist, licensed in life property and casualty insurance, investor, and recipient of the US Small Business Administration Entrepreneur of the Year.
This why I asked him to co-write the book with me. I trust his judgement especially when it comes to financial topics. He approved the topics and content in the book.
Why is financial literacy important for youth?
Robert Kiyosaki, the author of Rich Dad Poor Dad said when you are an adult your report card is your credit score. This statement is very true. This is one reason why teaching kids financial literacy is so important. Once a child becomes an adult, handling money becomes inevitable.
It is best to make this process easier for children by exposing them to money topics while they are young. Teach Your Child About Money Through Play shows parents and teachers how to accomplish this with resources they use daily.
Let’s get our children a financial head start and strive to reduce the number one stress in our society today, money.
The Book’s Mission
Linsey and I have made it our mission to expose children to money topics in a fun way. With over 30 years of combined experience in teaching youth financial literacy, we give you a first-hand view of how to make money a conversation that is fun, natural, and interesting!
This is a great tool for parents and educators of children ages 4-10!
This book provides the following and so much more…
How to use real-world experiences to expose kids to financial literacy
Fun activities to introduce toddlers and preschoolers to money recognition.
How money is used in our society now and in the past.
Various ways that people earn money
Important lessons in budgeting money
The basics of banking
The difference between a liability and asset
Various types of debt and how it is used
How people invest in Real Estate
How people invest in the stock market, bonds, and mutual funds
Starting and operating a business
Kid Business Ideas
The purpose of having insurance
Here is What Others are Saying About the Book
I love that this book gives children an understanding of money and finances. Not only does it delve into ideas that make money, but it teaches the facts of money; its purpose, how to use money as a tool to grow in all areas of our lives and other vehicles that help accumulate financial growth.
I learned so much from this book. One detail that stuck with me was the power of working memory. Did you know that it is more important than IQ? As always, I want to share what I learned with you and its benefits to young children.
Let’s Get Started!
One of best ways to improve working memory is to read. Working memory is one’s ability to process information. This means focusing on the information or making decisions about it. A person with great working memory can manipulate information and reformulate it.
Let’s apply this to children. If a child is in school or participating in an extracurricular activity with a group, working memory can help them inhibit distracting information, like their classmates whispering near them. It will also help them keep track of where they are in a multistep task. Furthermore, children with good working memory can access information, like numbers or words, to complete an assignment. It allows children to hold information in their mind and complete tasks quicker.
Other Ways Working Memory Helps Children
It helps children think fast on their feet.
Take smarter risks
Make smarter judgement calls
Adapt to new situations
Stay motivated to achieve long-term goals
Follow a moral compass like doing the right thing in social situations
Working Memory is Better than IQ
Have you noticed that many people with below average IQ scores became great business men and women, bestselling authors, or innovative inventors? IQ is not the best predictor of lifetime success, especially not in our current times.
Thanks to search engines like Google, we no longer need to rely on knowledge such as facts, dates, and names. These types of facts are associated with IQ. Intelligence today is measured by being able to put those facts together, organize the information, and do something constructive with it. IQ is what you know and working memory memory is what you can do with what you know.
The facts below about working memory versus IQ may be shocking to you…
A good working memory is the best advantage in school and is related to good grades.
Kids with good IQ scores don’t necessarily have good working memories.
An average or even high IQ does not necessarily give children the tools for success in the classroom and beyond.
So let’s see how reading can help children improve working memory
Reading requires working memory because you recall information, anticipate what is coming next, and interpret words and sentences. Challenge your child and boost their working memory by reading more difficult books and stories.
For Children Ages 2 to 5
Read aloud to children and challenge them by reading new stories.
For 2-3 year olds, ask them facts about the story.
This will make them use their working memory to review what they know about the story.
If you read to children at early ages, you’ll be surprised at what they can analyze and make sense of.
Ask your 4 year old to give their opinions on the motivations of the characters.
For example, ask your 4 year old the following question: Why do you think the character ignored their friend?
These types of questions will help your child stretch their speculations.
For 5 year olds, if they can read, ask them to read simple and short stories on their own occasionally.
If the 5 year old cannot read, ask them to picture walk.
Picture walk means to look at the images of the story and predict what it is about.
Bonus Tip: For children ages 6-10, read harder material to them.
In doing this, you will stretch their minds and the easier books they read on their own will seem less difficult.
One day my son, Cory, watched the Youtube personality, Ryan. He saw Ryan and his mom do the elephant toothpaste experiment. After watching, he said, “Mom, I want to do that!” So I watched the video with Cory and immediately started to write down the materials and directions.
We had everything needed for the experiment except dry active yeast. I purchased the yeast from Amazon because I figured Cory would want to do this repeatedly. The next day, the yeast came and we immediately started to make the elephant toothpaste.
The first time we did the experiment, we saw an explosion but the cup we used was too big. We decided to use a smaller cup because we wanted the chemical action to overflow out of the cup. The second time was “epic” according to my son.
I will show you how we did the experiment below. Your child will want to do this repeatedly so get ready.
Let’s Get Started!
½ cup of Hydrogen Peroxide
1 squirt of Dawn dish soap
5 drops of food coloring
15 ml of warm water
.25 oz Fleischmann’s Active Dry Yeast (1 packet)
Goggles to protect eyes
Gloves to protect hands
Tell your child that they will create a fun foam explosion called Elephant Toothpaste.
Put on goggles and gloves
Put hydrogen peroxide in one of the cups
Add five drops of food coloring in the cup
Put a squirt of dish soap in the cup
In a different cup pour 15 ml of water.
Add the active dry yeast packet to the water and mix.
Pour the water and yeast mixture in the cup with the hydrogen peroxide mixture
I have always admired people, young and old, who can play the game of Chess. Throughout my life, I have heard the many benefits of playing this strategic game. Also, people who play Chess seem intelligent to me.
Honestly, I have tried three times to learn chess and failed. It was the time and energy it took to learn the name of the pieces and how they moved. I would read or watch online videos about the game and eventually become bored.
The idea of tackling Chess again came from my mother. One of her gifts for my son’s third Christmas was a Chess game. It was the same cycle again.
I read the book that came with the game she gave my son and I got bored. Additionally, I thought my son was too young to learn the game. However, in the back of my mind, I knew Chess would be a game that he would like because it challenges the brain.
My Bright Idea
My decision was to wait until he got a little older to introduce him to the game.
My future plan was to take him to some type of community program that would teach him how to play Chess. Then, maybe I would learn through him. This was a win-win situation!
It wasn’t until one night while skimming Facebook, I saw an advertisement for Story Time Chess.After seeing the advertisement’s picture of young kids playing chess with their parents, I wanted to learn more. On the website, I saw these words, “A revolutionary new game that lets you teach your child how to play chess as young as the age of 3!”
It is revolutionary because it teaches kids to play through fun stories with colorful diverse characters instead of rules. Each piece has a story about how it moves. Each piece holds a character’s picture from their story which allows children to visually connect it to the chess board and understand how to play.
Another helpful aspect of Story Time Chessis each story is concluded with a mini game that reinforces how the pieces move.
We love it! My four-year-old son and I learned how to play chess within a week and a half of opening the game! He was highly motivated to learn because of the engaging stories and pieces in the game. We currently play almost daily. Sometimes, he wins and other times I am the victor.
Watch the two videos below of my son and I playing chess. The first video is footage of us playing a game. The second one shows my son winning against me in the game of Chess.
Below I will answer frequently asked questions parents have about Chess. It will be through the lens of our experience.
What age can a child learn chess?
The programs that I have researched in my local area start teaching kids chess at the age of seven. However, I have seen kids learn chess as young as five-years-old. My son learned how to play through Story Time Chess as a four-year-old. However, if I’d known about this game earlier, our starting age would have been three.
If your kids love fun engaging stories with colorful characters, they can learn at an early age.
What is the easiest way to play chess?
Of course you know the easiest way for us to play chess was to learn through Story Time Chess. We learned how the pieces moved in this order: king, pawns, knights, rooks, bishops, and queen. There were mini games at the end of each story that gave us a hands-on perspective on how each piece moved.
The best way to learn is be consistent with playing. It is important to learn the basic steps first and then take it a step further by learning various strategies.
We play daily which helps to hone our skills and learn new strategies.
What Chess teaches?
Chess teaches children so many important skills. I will concentrate on three skills below.
Chess teaches kids problem solving skills. During our games, my son spends time concentrating on how to keep his king safe while capturing mine. I can see him thinking about and planning his next move.
It also increases your child’s creatively. There is one piece my son loves to use when capturing my king. When I take that piece away from him, he has to be creative and think outside the box to win the game.
Chess has improved my son’s memory and observation skills. I use a particular strategy to win games against him. One day, I noticed he began to remember my first three moves while playing. He told me what the moves were and asked why I always did that. Then he developed some strategy to counter my moves. Amazing!