Archive | Literacy & Language RSS feed for this section

Learning about “G” with Gingerbread!

13 Dec

Looking for the perfect stocking stuffer for “rookie” parents, “third-time’s-the-charm” parents, or even “been-there-done-that” grandparents?  You’re in luck! Gryphon House is counting down our favorite picks for parents. Whether you’re looking to spice up a holiday road trip, explore some exciting art activities, or bring out your baby’s “baby smarts,” we’ve got a book for that!

Day 11:

L Is for Lion

Learning the ABCs is fun and easy with Between the Lions®L Is for Lion expands on this award-winning PBS Kids® series, to help parents make learning letters fun and easy for their children.

From exploring foods that begin with each letter to learning how to shape letters with their bodies, the activities in L Is for Lion let children explore the alphabet with all five senses.

Activity for the Letter “G”:

Gingerbread Man Shapes

What You Will Need:

  • Bread
  • Cream cheese or frosting
  • Dried fruit, sunflower seeds, and/or candy
  • Gingerbread man (or woman) cookie cutter

What to Do:

  • Use the cookie cutter to cut gingerbread man shapes out of slices of bread.
  • Spread cream cheese onto the shapes and use dried fruit, sunflower seeds, or candies to decorate each gingerbread man.
  • Enjoy the yummy gingerbread man shapes.
  • As you eat the gingerbread man shapes, ask, What part of your gingerbread man do you eat first – the head, arm, or leg?

Note: Remember to wash your hands before beginning this project.

More Ideas:

  • Matching Gingerbread Children
    • Use a gingerbread boy (or girl) cookie cutter to cut out 12 identical brown paper gingerbread people. Add simple decorations to make six matching pairs. Use buttons, happy or sad faces, decorations at the wrists and ankles (zigzag lines, straight lines, or no lines) to make distinct pairs. Model how to find a matching pair and place them together. Then let your child find the matching pairs.
  • Gingerbread Children
    • Ask your child to tell a story about one of her gingerbread cookies. Ask, What is your cookie’s name? What does your cookie like to do? How is your cookie feeling?

For more fun ways to teach your child about letters, you can purchase your own copy of L Is for Lion on our website. And don’t forget to enter our 5 Days of Great Gryphon Giveaways on the Gryphon House Facebook fan page. Join us as we give away 5 books (as mentioned in our 12 Days of Great Gryphon Gifts for Moms and Dads blog series) to 5 lucky Facebook fans each day this week (Monday-Friday)! You still have 3 more chances to win!

Oh the Places You’ll Go With These “Go Anywhere Games for Babies!”

8 Dec

Looking for the perfect stocking stuffer for “rookie” parents, “third-time’s-the-charm” parents, or even “been-there-done-that” grandparents?  You’re in luck! Gryphon House is counting down our favorite picks for parents. Whether you’re looking to spice up a holiday road trip, explore some exciting art activities, or bring out your baby’s “baby smarts,” we’ve got a book for that!

Day 8:

Go Anywhere Games for Babies

Your baby can play and learn wherever you go – on the road, in the air, out to dinner, or back at home!  Go Anywhere Games for Babies is a handy little book packed with learning and bonding games designed for each stage of your baby’s first year.

Develop your baby’s listening skills on the go:

High and Low (for 0-3 months)

One of the newborn’s most highly developed abilities is responding to sound, including the difference between high and low-pitched sounds.

  • Hold you baby close to you and say her name in a soft, high-pitched voice. For example, “Susie, Susie, I love you.”
  • Next say the same words in a soft, low-pitched voice.
  • Alternate between high and low several times.

Develop your baby’s body awareness on the go:

The Kissing Game (for 3-6 months)

Hold your baby in your arms and recite the poem, kissing each part of the body named as you sing each line:

Kissy, kissy fingers,

Kissy, kissy toes,

Kissy, kissy baby,

On your kissy nose.

I love to kiss your fingers,

I love to kiss your toes,

I love to kiss my baby,

On your kissy nose.

Develop your baby’s motor skills on the go:

Fast Food Fun (for 6-9 months)

To entertain your baby while at a restaurant, make a simple toy for them to play with.

  • Take the lids from several drinking cups and put them on one straw, leaving space between each lid.
  • Show your baby how to take the lids off and put them on again.
  • Let the baby try it by herself.

Develop your baby’s language skills on the go:

The Snail (for 9-12 months)

  • Cup one hand. While reciting the poem, creep the fingers of the other hand into the cupped one.

Hand in hand you see us well,

Creep like a snail into his shell,

Ever nearer, ever nearer,

Ever closer, ever closer,

Very snug indeed your dwell,

Snail within your tiny shell.

  • Cup your hand and let your baby creep your fingers into it.
  • Show your baby how to cup her hand. Creep your fingers into it.


For more activities to play with your baby no matter where you go, visit our website to purchase your own copy of Go Anywhere Games for Babies by Jackie Silberg.

“What Does a Lion Say” Anyway?

5 Dec

Looking for the perfect stocking stuffer for “rookie” parents, “third-times-the-charm” parents, or even “been-there-done-that” grandparents?  You’re in luck! Gryphon House is counting down our favorite picks for parents. Whether you’re looking to spice up a holiday road trip, explore some exciting art activities, or bring out your baby’s “baby smarts,” we’ve got a book for that!

Day 5:

What Does a Lion Say?

Foster a love of reading in your children with this playful approach to building literacy skills. Based on the award-winning PBS series Between the Lions, What Does a Lion Say? is filled with fun and easy literacy games for you and your children to play together anytime, anywhere – in the car or at the doctor’s office, at home, or even on a trip!

No “And-It-But” (from What Does a Lion Say?)

For Ages 5 to 95
For 2+ players

  • Don’t let “and,” “it,” or “but” slip into your story.
  • One person starts by making up a story or talking about something they like to do, without using “and,” “it,” or “but.”
  • After a minute, the next person continues the story, and so on until all players have had a turn.
  • Keep going until someone uses either “and,” “it,” or “but.” If they do, they’re out!


For more great on-the-go literacy activities, visit our website and purchase your own copy of What Does a Lion Say? from Gryphon House.

Ten Tips to Make Storytelling Ten Times the Fun!

11 Nov

Stories never get old, but they should change their flavor as they are told again and again. Spicing up the storytelling process is easy with these fun tips from Mary Jo Huff, award-winning storyteller and author of Story Play: Building Language and Literacy One Story at a Time:

  1. Find that special story. What makes a story special depends on many things, including you, the children in your care, and the area where you live.
  2. Learn the beginning and the end of a story. Now, think about ways you can change the story in the middle to create something new, teach a new skill, or aid in a child’s development.
  3. Be flexible and creative. Change the story to make it more meaningful to the listeners.
  4. Practice the story by telling it aloud until you are comfortable with it.
  5. Use voice inflections. Talk in high, low, squeaky, funny, and other voices.
  6. Move your body. Explore the parts of the story that invite you to use body movement.
  7. Introduce the story; do not jump into the telling. Set the scene by saying something about the story. For example, before beginning the story of “Little Red Riding Hood,” you might ask the children if they’ve ever been in the woods.
  8. Look for places in the story where the audience can participate.
  9. Add music, humor, magic, and puppets to the story.
  10. Prepare props that will enhance the story.

Take a few of these fun and simple suggestions to heart and you are sure to light a fire in every child’s imagination! And remember, just because a story comes to “The End” doesn’t mean it has to be the end of the story!

Hello Autumn!

23 Sep

Celebrate the new season and the beautiful changing of leaves with this creative activity from Learn Every Day About Seasons  from Gryphon House!

Learn Every Day About SeasonsLeaves are Falling Down

Perfect for ages 3+

Learning Objectives:

The children will:

  • Learn how leaves fall in autumn.
  • Learn the names of autumn colors.


  • Autumn
  • Brown
  • Fall
  • Orange
  • Season
  • Yellow


  • Real fallen leaves


  • Prior to this activity, go outside with the children and have each child choose a fallen leaf to bring inside.
  • Alternatively, consider bringing in store-bought artificial leaves.

What to Do:

1. Gather the children together and talk with them about their fallen leaves. Ask the children to identify the leaves’ colors, and to talk about how the leaves feel.

2. Teach the children the following action rhyme:

The Wind Is Blowing by Ingelore Mix

The wind is blowing, blowing, (children weave back and forth)

And leaves are falling down.

First fall all the yellows, (children with yellow leaves sit down)

Then red, (children holding red leaves sit down)

And orange, (children holding orange leaves sit down)

And now brown. (children holding brown leaves sit down)

3. After the children complete the rhyme, invite them to trade leaves with the other children and recite the rhyme again.


To assess the children’s learning, consider the following:

  • Can the children say what leaves do in the fall?
  • Can the children name the colors leaves turn in the fall? Can the children identify these colors in the leaves?

Ingelore Mix from Amherst, New Hampshire provided the activity for this excerpt. The excerpt in its entirety is taken from Learn Every Day About Seasons (ISBN: 978-0-87659-364-6, 128 pages, 2011) by Gryphon House. To purchase your own copy of Learn Every Day About Seasons, visit Gryphon House.


Strategies for Handling the Many Languages in Your Preschool Classroom

19 Aug

As the number of dual-language learners in preschool classrooms continues to skyrocket, teachers and administrators are facing the unique challenge of meeting the linguistic, social, cognitive, and physical needs of children who are adjusting to both a new country and a new language. Often, these young students are beginning to learn English while still learning more about their native language.

In her book, Many Languages, One Classroom, author Karen Nemeth brings voice to some of the most pressing questions asked by early childhood educators everyday about teaching dual-language learners, and she also proposes some very wise solutions.

Karen Nemeth offers up several strategies designed to help teachers and administrators support the education of English-language learners and native English speakers at the same time.

  • Extend learning by maintaining themes for days at a time. When children begin to learn English, they struggle to make connections between objects/concepts and the words we speak about them. If you are doing an activity around water and fish ­– the child may understand some basics. If you come in the next day and start talking about magnets­–nothing from that children’s learning day before will be of use, and he will be back to square one trying to learn the words and concepts you are teaching. Themes or projects contribute to the scaffolding of learning the new language and encourage content learning even while the child is not sure of the new language.
  • Use key word lists for each theme. Create and use these lists to learn relevant vocabulary in each child’s language. Do not be intimidated–it is easier than you think. If you are embarrassed to try to pronounce new words, just remember how much more embarrassing it is for a little child who can hardly communicate at all and sees no evidence of his familiar language while he is away from his family. Add the children’s languages to classroom labels, and color code them so English is always in one color, Spanish a different color, and so on. Also use these keywords to introduce important words in English.
  • Repeat and emphasize important words in English. Teaching children from different language backgrounds requires teachers to be intentional in their speech. Dual-language learning (DLL) children learn best when they hear simple vocabulary and short sentences. Try to use the same terms consistently for important things you really want the children to learn.
  • Whenever possible, include visual aids as part of communication. Create a daily schedule with photos. Use more props and pictures. Point directly to pictures or objects when referring to them. Keep in mind what would help you if you were in another country where no one spoke your language.
  • Use body language, gestures, facial expressions, and American Sign Language to augment your communication with DLL children. The most important thing is to take time to look the child in the eye, to focus on your interaction with him, and to show that you really care about the interaction. Not only will this help the DLL child understand you, but it also models for the other English-speaking children how to communicate with more than spoken words when playing with their DLL friends.
  • Make adaptations all around the classroom. Having a few dolls of different skin tones, or a pair of maracas on the shelf does not make a fully multi-lingual/multicultural classroom. There should be models for each child’s home language and culture in each area of the classroom.
  • Narrate play and activities. Be more verbal throughout the day. Use purposeful language to capture those teachable moments when the DLL child shows interest. Help children make friends across language barriers by interpreting and describing the action until they begin to understand each other.
  • Use the talents of your bilingual staff, volunteers, family members, and children. Adults who know a child’s home language should engage in rich, interesting conversations with that child. It is a sign of a high-quality program when all bilingual staff members are using their language to foster learning rather than just using it for classroom management.

The material for this post was provided by Karen Nemeth and excerpts from her book, Many Languages, One Classroom. For more tips and techniques for preschool teachers teaching dual and English language learners, purchase your own copy of Many Languages, One Classroom.

¡Hasta luego!

Have a Roaring Good Time During National Literacy Month!

8 Aug

August is National Literacy Month!

Why not celebrate it with the child or children in your care using some of the fun and easy pre-literacy activities from the popular PBS Kids television show, Between the Lions?

The activities in this post are excerpted from L Is for Lion, a new release in our Between the Lions series.

“I Spy” The Letter

Note: The example used in this activity is the letter B, but you can use this technique with any letter of the alphabet.

What to Do:

  • Focus on one letter of the alphabet, such as the letter B. Review the sound that the letter makes.
    • The letter B makes the /b/ sound.
  • Choose a nearby object that begins with that letter. Describe it, emphasizing the sound the letter makes. For example:
    • I spy something that is round and begins with the /b/ sound. (ball)
    • I spy something that is used to build things and begins with the /b/ sound. (block)
    • I spy something that flies in the sky, lives in a nest, and begins with the /b/ sound. (bird)

Letter Shape Sort

What You Will Need:

  • Bag
  • Marker
  • Plastic letters
  • Tray or paper

What to Do:

  • Place plastic letters F, H, T, C, S, and O in a bag.
  • Divide a piece of paper in half by drawing a line down the middle.
  • Draw a vertical straight line at the top of the left side and a vertical curved line at the top of the right side.
  • Explain to your child that if a letter has straight line, it belongs on the side with the straight line, and that if a letter has curved lines, it belongs on the side with the curved line.
  • Have your child take one letter out of the bag at a time, look at it, and decide where to place it on the paper.
  • Think aloud as you model the activity. Let’s take a good look at the letter T. Move your fingers along the lines. Are the lines curvy? Are they straight? I see a straight line here and another there. The letter T has two straight lines, so it goes on this side of the paper with the straight line.

L Is for Lion  is filled with games, songs, and stories that make it easy for parents and children alike to teach and learn new literacy skills! For more activities, you can purchase your own copy online at!

Story Play with the Story Tree

26 Jul

As the heated days of summer begin to fade and the cooler breezes of autumn begin to blow, consider taking the young ones in your care outdoors for story time with this fun activity from Mary Jo Huff’s new book, Story Play.

The Story Tree

What the Children Will Learn:

  • To connect the stories they hear with the natural world
  • To explore nature through stories


  • A real tree that is in an accessible, safe area
  • Props and materials for a story


  • Gather the materials you will need for the story you intend to tell. Since this activity will take place outside, prepare a story that has an outdoor theme. The Story Tree setting will be especially effective if you choose a story involving trees or familiar creatures that live and find shelter in them.
  • Place a blanket near the base of the tree.

What to Do:

  1. Once outside, place your materials near the tree so you can reach them easily when needed.
  2. Stand behind the tree and chant the following:

Hey, hey, hey

Look at me!

I’m the giant (little, wide, skinny) story tree!

Listen to my tale, one and all,

As I spin my yarn big and tall.

     3.  Say, “Today we will share a story about _______________” as you come            out from behind the tree and begin your storytelling experience.

Reviewing What the Children Learned:

  • Ask individual children to recall elements of the story you told.

More to Do:

  • Create a storytelling tree in the classroom by adding a potted tree to the room.
  • Have the children collect leaves and small twigs that have fallen from the Story Tree. Use these and other art materials to help the children create their own Story Tree collage on heavy paper.

Related Books:

  • The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry
  • The Magician and McTree by Patricia Coombs
  • Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Zweibel and David Catrow
  • The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin by Beatrix Potter
  • A Tree is Nice by Janice May Udry

This is an excerpt from Story Play by Mary Jo Huff. For more activities and ideas to make story time fun and exciting, visit to purchase your own copy of Story Play.

Books Win Teachers’ Choice Award for the Classroom

23 Sep

Two Gryphon House books — Mighty Fine Motor Fun and Thinking BIG, Learning BIG have won the Learning® magazine Teachers’ Choice(sm) Award for the Classroom.

For 17 years, the Learning® magazine Teachers’ Choice(sm) Awards have heralded the very best in classroom-tested, teacher-recommended products. Each year their nationwide panel of teacher-judges names the standouts in books, classroom supplies, educational games, software, Web sites, and more.  Each product is evaluated on the characteristics most important to teachers — quality, instructional value, ease of use, innovation, relevance to curriculum — and whether or not the jury of teachers would recommend it to other teachers.

Mighty Fine Motor Fun provides teachers of children ages 3 to 5 with the tools and information they need to make developing fine motor skills easy and fun.  While children will love the playful, absorbing activities, teachers will appreciate the practical, real-world knowledge author and pediatric occupational therapist Christy Isbell, Ph.D. offers.  The activities are perfect for both large and small groups and are easy to integrate into any curriculum.

Thinking BIG, Learning BIG, by Marie Faust Evitt, is filled with BIG activities to engage the imaginations of young children. The chapters are organized by topic, with activities that build science, math, literacy, and language skills, which form a solid foundation for future learning. The information and activities align with the standards set by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the International Reading Association, and the National Council of Teachers of English. The BIG Connections section presents ways to integrate the topic throughout the curriculum—in sensory experiences, art, music, dramatic play, and gross motor skills.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 201 other followers

%d bloggers like this: