Friday, January 21, 2011

Tubby Time Books and More: Learning From Books Anywhere, Anytime

You should choose a comfortable place to read to your baby bookworm, and chose a time when your baby bookworm is fed, rested, and attentive.  HOGWASH.  OK, so according to my educational psychology books this is the "proper" way that a shared storybook session should go down, but in reality I don't really believe this is the only way that a child can learn through storybooks.  Yes, baby bookworm and I do have a "formal" story time in the morning after she eats breakfast (so she is fed, rested, and attentive) but we share many teachable book moments throughout the day.  I learned from one of my professors in graduate school that to be a “good” instructor (or teacher, have you) you must take whatever conditions you are given (such as a small classroom, not enough materials, or sometimes in my case a long line at the supermarket and a cranky baby), apply the appropriate method (or delivery strategy) necessary to get the desired outcome (whether that be factual knowledge or some kind of problem solving strategy).  So, in other words, I shouldn’t worry too much about my fussy baby bookworm in the back seat of my car or that I selected the cheapest book that I could find (i.e., at The Dollar Tree) because a good educator’s main task is to find the appropriate method of instruction, given particular conditions, to achieve a desired learning outcome or goal.  I guess that sums up the magic of this thing we call learning!  It can occur even in the darndest places and most unique situations.

So, having said that, baby bookworm and I have stumbled upon some unique reading environments outside of our regular morning story time (which occurs next to her very own “library”).  Here’s just a few situations where baby bookworm learned from books in the darndest places:

1)      In the car.  I keep a stash of board books in the front seat of our SUV.  Why? So that when baby bookworm starts screaming as I’m trying to drive from point A to point B, I can pass a book back to her for her enjoyment, entertainment, and my peace of mind.  Not every book is best suited for a car ride though.  Board books work best because they are small, sturdy, and easily memorized (so you can read them to baby without having to READ them). I have found that Sandra Boynton’s books work best.  So, I tell baby bookworm to open the book and then I “read” it (from memory).  My baby bookworm even knows now when to turn the pages because she has memorized the books too. Often times I’ll say, “What comes next?” and she’ll moooo or whatever comes next!  Now, of course, I don’t recommend this strategy necessarily as you’re driving on I-95, but use your best judgment.  Here’s a few of our favorite Sandra Boynton books. 

Fifteen Animals (even has a downloadable song)

2)      Waiting in line for anything. I have found that the first word books work well in these situations.  Again, there’s not much to “read” BUT there is a lot to learn.  So, I stash a board book in my purse as I head into a store.  This past fall, our favorite was Fall (not so ironically) – a bright baby touch and feel book.  The great thing, though, about these books is that your baby bookworm can associate the word with the picture but also with other things you see in your environment.  So, with a book like My First Words, baby bookworm can point to the boy in the picture, then if we see a boy in the store, I can say, “hey, look over there, there is a boy.  Just like in our book.”  Yes, thanks to this book, I was convinced my then 11 month old was boy crazy because she loved to point and say “boy”. 

3)      In the bath tub.  My baby bookworm loves the bath to begin with, but once she realized that someone created books that she can get wet, she loves it even more!  The other day I picked up two bath books at the dollar store that have been a big hit. One is a book about opposites, the other is a book about colors.  They have kept her entertained and learning. I think it’s wonderful obviously to read all of the up and coming children’s books, the good ol’ classics, and the award winners, but you can STILL learn from a book that you got at the dollar store, Walmart, or Target. Amen.

So, the moral of this post is…..learning can happen anywhere!  While it may happen ideally snuggled up next to your baby bookworm right before bed – that’s not to say it can’t happen otherwise. You just need to be creative.

Part of Baby Bookworms "Library"

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