“What can I do for my child at home?”

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The title of this post is the most frequent question I get from parents during parent/teacher conferences. It is the question I hear from almost every single parent who has a child learning English as their second, third, or fourth language.

For the past six years, my answer to that question has remained the same.

Read.

Read to your child, have your child read to you, have a baby-sitter read to your child, have your child read to a baby-sitter (or a sibling!), have your child read on their own. Read. Read. Read.

I have never done an official study on this, but I can tell you what I have seen happen in my classroom. This is my sixth year teaching in an international school setting and every year I have at least one or two students who start the year with no knowledge of the English language (this year I had four!). I also have students who speak very little English, or speak English as their second language. Most of my students fall into those three categories: No English, Some English, Multiple Languages. The beauty of international schools.

I have never had a child in my class who has not been able to learn to communicate in English by the end of the year through speaking, reading, and writing. But I have noticed that the students who grow the most in these skills, are students who read (and are read to) the most.

Reading builds vocabulary and permeates into every other subject.

Because I am in Korea and we lack a plethora of English books, especially at the beginner reader’s level, I introduce my students and their parents to http://www.kidsa-z.com. (I am grateful that this is a supplemental program my school invests in.)

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On the side… it is also important to note that being able to read doesn’t just mean you have the skills to sound out letters and blend them into a word. Reading is also about comprehension. It is essential to talk about what you read, and ask questions, and answer questions and all that jazz. When my students achieve a level of fluency where they have the skills of reading simple words and stories I  ask them what the book is about and encourage parents to get their child to talk about what they are reading at home.

If you have resources, such as websites, that work really well in your classroom or for your child at home, please share in the comments! We LOVE comments.

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*images courtesy http://www.pixabay.com

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A New Kind of Library

A good friend of ours in California, Mona, just introduced us to the little free library. And I absolutely love the idea! People are creating their own mini-library outside of their homes for people in their neighborhoods. It’s an honor system, where you keep the books inside and people are free to take a book and bring it back. Neighbors can also add books to the library as well. Also, you put a notebook inside, where people can leave comments on what they thought of the book. It can be a mix of adult and children’s books. I would totally start one if I didn’t live in an apartment building.  This video gives a brief explanation on this idea:

Story featuring Adison Schanie by Beargrass Media about the Little Free Library.

This movement is growing which you can see from this map. Not only are there free little libraries in the US, but all over the world! As of now, I don’t see any in Singapore, maybe it has to do with lack of front yards, but I’m hoping someone will start one soon.

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Have you seen any of these little free libraries in your city? Do you plan on trying to start one in front of your home? Let us know! 🙂

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Need a great Story Map? Look no further!

I recently found this amazing story map poster idea:

Pinterest brought me to this post on Growing Kinders, and Kathleen got this idea from Kim Adsit’s website. I just love sharing! The great, great thing about this poster is that you can use it again, and again— I love visuals. I love this! We read this book last week right before I did an art project with my little ones. If you have never read The Dot, I highly recommend it!

Any great poster ideas, or book recommendations? Share in the comments, we LOVE comments : )

The Great Unexpected Package

It was my first sunny and humid Halloween morning in Singapore.  I looked at my school mailbox and I found an unexpected package peeking out. It was sent from my friend Jane in Chicago. I wondered what she could have sent me. My birthday had already passed, and Christmas was still months away.

As I read the description on the customs label, it said the content was a book?! I opened the package quickly and at first glance, I couldn’t believe it. How did she know this was the book that I’ve been wanting? I’ve been waiting to see when it would sell online here in Singapore since it just came out in the States. I’ve been reading blog posts and tweets about this book! I couldn’t wait to get my own copy. How did she know?

It was the new Sharon Creech book called The Great Unexpected. I immediately pulled the book out of the package, opened it up and immediately stumbled across this.

I couldn’t believe it. Sharon Creech had signed the book to “2 Apples a Day”!  With even more confusion, I read the note inside, of course on Domo stationary from Jane. Now it all made sense. My friend heard of her book signing nearby in Chicago and got her to sign a copy for us. Jane mentioned our blog to Sharon, and she said she knew about it and even followed it.

When Melody and I discovered that Sharon followed our blog a few months ago, we were soo ecstatic. We are both HUGE fans of Sharon Creech and love her books! Now we have our first book that has been signed by the author for 2 apples a day! If any other authors want to send us signed copies of their book, we will gladly accept and blog about them too. 🙂

So a huge thank you to Jane Cho for getting the book signed and sent to us! Also, a big thank you to Sharon Creech as well. I will definitely be blogging about the book after I read it. When I told my students the story about the book, they begged me to read it to them! Make sure to check out Sharon’s blog: http://sharonkaycreech.blogspot.sg/