By: Melinda Lancaster
When writing for young children, rhyme is the name of the game. Rhyming exposes children to one very big lesson- words that sound the same share the same letters at the end (most of the time, there’s always exceptions). Children equipped with this knowledge are more likely to “get” that adding letters to the beginning of “at” can make “cat”, “mat”, “rat” etc.
Now, lots and lots of books rhyme, even my book “Tyler and the Spider”, but the undisputed master of rhyme, is Ted Giesel, otherwise known as Dr. Seuss. And, some of his best known works are the best apps that we have on Katie’s iPad. One of the HUGE advantages to these apps is that the physical copy is easily available and reinforces the whole process of reading. Katie finds it very hard to swipe, so she cannot “turn” the app pages, but she can turn a book page, and is learning how to follow along that way
It also reinforces that the same thing can be in different formats. I feel this is an important lesson as well. One day it may help her understand that a picture card can mean an actual item or event and help her communicate this way.
Another cool feature of the Dr. Seuss apps is that many come with the capability of recording different voices, instead of a stranger’s voice, mom and dad, grandparents, siblings etc. can all record themselves reading the story. This will definitely make your child more attentive. It also presents the ability for YOUR inflection, the emphasis you want to put on one word over another to be heard, and you can add things like, “turn the page,” or “can you find….
These books for the most part are straight up books, the characters don’t jump around if you touch them, which I like (an app can sometimes be too busy and overwhelming with different noises and constant activity) BUT you have options for “Auto play”, “read along”, or “read myself” and words highlight on Auto play and read along as the story is being narrated and if you touch a picture the word jumps out in large letters and is spoken, all very important tools in learning to read. Some people put the “closed caption” option on the TV to help reinforce reading as well, and this is much the same principle.
The only downside to these apps, is that they’re on the pricier side, usually $3.99 apiece. But the App Store now offers a group of five books for $14.99, a decent savings.
The other set of books I’d like to mention are the “Miss Spider” books. These were free when I got them, but are now $2.99, totally worth the price. There are two, Miss Spider Bedtime Story and Miss Spider Tea Party. Each comes with two narrated options, “Read” and “Watch” and three games, “Match”, “Paint”, and “Puzzle.”
The “Read” is the narrated book; you’ll have to turn the sound off if you want to read it yourself. The downside here, the words don’t highlight. The “Watch” is a video, the graphics are great and it expands upon the story, but there are no words to look at; kids will really enjoy it, though. And the games are fun and will keep children entertained. What I like is the comprehensiveness of this app. There are several activities that reinforce each other, giving the child and caregiver opportunities to talk about what they read or watched.
Unlike the Dr. Seuss books, though, the physical books are not as readily available, though I’ve seen Miss Spider’s Tea Party at the local library.
There is also an iPhone app in Spanish for Miss Spider Tea Party, unfortunately it no longer comes on the iPad. Beyond apps, teaching rhyming can be fun and easy and is a BIG step in reading. One way Katelin and I study rhyming words is on her chalkboard easel. I’ll write a list of “at’s” or “it’s” and add a letter to the
beginning of each, starting with the second one down. I also use blocks as a manipulative way, finding the “a” and “t” and then handing her other letters and helping her put them in front of the “at” to spell different things. There are a myriad of ways to introduce rhyme, and a library full of rhyming books nearby.
In the words of Dr. Seuss……”the more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go!”
Melinda Lancaster is a children's author and a poet. Her books ("Tyler and the Spider" and "Grandma, Tell me If You Can) are published through Wiggles Press and her poem "Echoes" hangs in the Hyannis JFK Museum. After studying
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