Nursery Rhymes: A Great Tool For Early Literacy

By Nuria Santamaría Wolfe

Nursery rhymes are not only fun little songs to keep your little ones entertained, they’re also great tools to help them learn and grow! As they sing, move, and dance, kids are building language, motor, and many more skills.  

As a mom, I know how important it is to ensure that fun activities be also learning opportunities. It’s for this reason that I love the power of nursery rhymes. Here are just a few of the benefits of nursery rhymes for baby and toddler development.  

Nursery rhymes can:

  • Develop early literacy skills: Through fun rhymes and catchy songs, kids learn phonics and vocabulary effortlessly.  Nursery rhymes books can be a child’s first exposure to literacy and provide a rich oral and visual experience.
  • Create connections and build community: For parents, these songs provide an opportunity to connect through music and play. For kids, knowing common songs helps them connect with other kids in preschool, the library, and everywhere they go.  The familiar nature of nursery rhymes connects families across generations and across locations. 
  • Build memory capabilities: Repetition is a great way to develop memory capabilities that go beyond the songs and can be applied to any activity.  
  • Improve fine motor skills and coordination:Picture little fingers mimicking a spider climbing up a water spout. Now think of the palm of a child’s hand honking on an imaginary horn going “beep beep beep”. These actions help little ones move their bodies and work on coordination. 
  • Provide hours of fun: Whether through songs, books, or digital content, these children’s songs provide endless entertainment, smiles, giggles, and more! There’s nothing better than that!

 

So next time you’re singing Wheels On The Bus for the n-teenth time, smile, you’re giving your little one the gift of learning…all through the town! 

Managing Children’s Frustration

By Paul Walia

Children are especially sensitive to change and the current health crisis has only added to many children’s feelings of uncertainty and frustration. Parents play a vital role in helping to maintain their child’s sense of security and predictability. Below are some practical tips and recommendations fostering resiliency and security in children in the wake of COVID-19.

  1. Validate and celebrate. Emotions such as frustration and worry are not taboo and your child’s willingness to express real emotion should be both validated and celebrated. The key is to teach your child to express emotions in a healthy and productive way. By validating your child’s emotions, you are fostering resilience because he/she will feel less threatened, feel less apprehensive, and will be more apt to express feelings in the future. 

 

  1. Build resilience. Don’t wait till your child gets upset to teach about feelings and coping skills. Use TV shows, books, and other mediums to find age appropriate resources to help illustrate and teach about positive problem-solving. Embrace the reality that your child will get upset or lose control at some point in time. Help your child navigate the emotional landscape by building confidence and teaching emotional intelligence in advance. 

 

  1. Empower your child. Confidence stems from a sense of industry and feelings of competence. While it is easy to step in and problem solve for your child, it will eventually lead to dependency and self-doubt. Instead, align yourself with your child and guide them through the positive coping process. Also, help them build industry by assigning your child responsibilities like chores, and helping with common tasks around the house. The resulting sense of pride and accomplishment will pay huge dividends when your child has to face unexpected outcomes.   

 

  1. Be proactive. Build structure and routine into your child’s day. Nothing breeds comfort like consistency. Routine leads to predictability and subsequently to feelings of safety. By adhering to established routines and schedules, you are helping to communicate that there is control over your child’s environment. While flexibility is the key to resilience, positive expectations and consistency provide children with the fortitude to adapt to disappointment and unexpected change.        

 

  1. Practice self-care. Modeling is the single most powerful teaching modality, and actions speak louder than words. By practicing self-care and maintaining a positive demeanor, you will be able to maintain a calm disposition in the face of stress and chaos. You will also be better prepared to withstand your child’s expression of frustration and remain calm. By modeling positive behaviors and reactions your child will follow suit and display the same behaviors. 

 

Stickers for Mommy

Stickers for Mommy

About This Activity

Use these stickers to decorate a card for mamá! Making a gift for someone you love is a great way to set positive goals while practicing empathy.

Ages: 3+
Level:
Easy
Materials: Printed activity sheets; crayons or colored pencils, scissors, blank paper for your card, glue stick
Instructions

1. Print out activity sheet.
2. Color in each sticker, use your mommy’s favorite colors if you want.
3. Cut out your stickers and decorate a card for mamá by glueing them on however you like.
4. Try your superpower! Write a note to Mommy in Spanish using words to tell her how much you love her.

How Your Kid Benefits

This activity encourages social emotional learning by allowing kids to set a positive goal and engaging their sense of empathy and creativity to maintain a loving relationship.

Bonus Benefit!

Children who learned a second language were better able to filter out irrelevant information and focus on important information, thus making them more skilled at prioritizing different tasks and balancing multiple projects.

Note to Grown-Ups

You can help your child with this activity by modeling letter writing, which is an effective way to introduce and enrich pre-writing lessons. The Stickers section of the Canticos App is a great way to continue this fun.

Activity Sheet

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Tracing Patterns!

Tracing Patterns!

About This Activity

Patterns are everywhere! Grab a pencil and see if you can trace all of the different patterns in this fun pre-handwriting activity.

Ages: 3+
Level:
Easy
Materials: Printed activity sheets; pencils; crayons or colored pencils
Instructions

1. Print out activity sheet.
2. Have fun tracing the different patterns with a crayon, pencil, or colored pencil.
3. Get creative tracing on new surfaces- on salt trays, a steamed window, in the air, on your palm, anywhere you can think of.
4. Try your superpower! Look for different patterns around you, in nature, art, buildings, everywhere!

How Your Kid Benefits

This activity engages fine motors skills, pattern recognition, pre-handwriting and eye hand coordination skills.

Bonus Benefit!

Bilingual children were found to have a higher aptitude for standardized tests and found in a study that followed children throughout their acquisition of a second language.

Note to Grown-Ups

Art time is a great opportunity to practice mindfulness. If your child is working on an art project independently, encourage them to do so mindfully by working in a quiet, calm, focused way. This activity works well as a supplement to the Art section of the Canticos app.

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Star Light, Star Bright / Estrellita de la nochecita

Star Light, Star Bright / Estrellita de la nochecita

About This Activity

Look on with the lyrics and sing along to this classic nursery rhyme in English and Spanish.

 

Ages: 2+
Level:
Easy
Materials: Printed activity sheets; pencils; crayons or colored pencils
Instructions

1. Print out activity sheet. If you don’t have a printer, you can look at the lyrics on your computer.
2. Read and sing along to our song “Star Light, Star Bright/ Estrellita de la nochecita” in English and Spanish.
3. Try your superpower! Go outside at night and see what stars you can see, find your own wishing star and make a wish in Spanish using “Yo deseo…”.

How Your Kid Benefits

This activity stimulates right brain activity, helping to commit new words to memory through movement, singing and dance.

Bonus Benefit!

Researchers found that bilingual students are better able to filter out classroom noise than their monolingual peers.

Note to Grown-Ups

Help your child out with the lyrics as you sing this song, for help with pronunciation, have them listen listen to song in Music section of the Canticos App.

Activity Sheet

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Little Chickies Board Game

Little Chickies Board Game

About This Activity

Join the Little Chickies in this fun board game for the whole family, giving kids the perfect opportunity to strengthen their early math skills in English and Spanish.

Ages: 3+
Level: Medium
Materials: Printed activity sheets; scissors
Instructions

1. Print out activity sheet and follow the game instructions.
2. Practice addition with the three Little Chickies in this board game.
3. Try your superpower! Try and make your own board game at home, or take a favorite board game and play in Spanish!

How Your Kid Benefits

This activity stimulates early math understanding and numerical skills while introducing bilingual vocabulary.

Bonus Benefit!

A study found that bilingual people tended to be more adept than monolinguals at solving certain kinds of mental puzzles.

Note to Grown-Ups

This board game is a great way to introduce addition. While you don’t have to explicitly ask children to add, have them combine two numbers to make a bigger number. For example, “You are on square 10 and you have to move up 4, what square are you on now?”

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Number 3 with Mama Hen

Number 3 with Mama Hen

About This Activity

Let’s write the number three! ¡Número tres! This activity helps kids practice numbers in English and Spanish while making real world learning connections to further expand and interpret their knowledge.

Ages: 2-5
Level:
Easy
Materials: Printed activity sheet; pencil; eraser
Instructions

1. Print activity sheet.
2. Follow the arrow with your pencil. Then practice writing the number by tracing along the dotted lines before trying the last few by yourself.
3. Finally, shade in only three Mama Hens and three eggs.
4. Try your superpower! Take a nature walk and find three sticks, three stones and three flowers, see what else you can collet three of!

How Your Kid Benefits

By learning numbers your child forms a strong early math foundation in English and Spanish. Combine this activity with the Piñata game in the Learn section and the Beat music game in the Play section to deepen bilingual counting experiences.

Bonus Benefit!

Being bilingual opens the door for your child to be exposed to the diverse customs, ideas, and perspectives from the different cultures that speak that language.

Note to Grown-Ups

Make counting a regular part of your interactions with your child, which is a great way to stimulate learning through play. Look for easy ways to sneak in counting whether cooking in the kitchen, outside, running errands, walking the dog; there are always fun things to count!

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That Goes Here! ¡Guárdalo aquí!

That Goes Here! ¡Guárdalo aquí!

About This Activity

Organize with Pin Pon! This activity brings a creative twist to cleanup time, introducing bilingual vocabulary along the way.

Ages: 3+
Level:
Easy
Materials: Printed activity sheets; pencils; crayons or colored pencils
Instructions

1. Print out activity sheet.
2. Color in this poster and practice saying the names of the different objects.
3. Try your superpower! Identify other items that you have to put away during cleanup time. Following the same organization as your dictionary, sort together objects that start with the same letter.

How Your Kid Benefits

This activity helps with organization, vocabulary, social skills, while giving kids the opportunity for free word association in Spanish and English.

Bonus Benefit!

The earlier your child starts learning a second language, the more likely they are to achieve native profficiency, with a critical learning period between the ages of 2-4.

Note to Grown-Ups

Good habits take time to build, so hang the poster somewhere visible as a reminder for what little ones should clean up until they can tidy things without a visual aid. For further practice with vocabulary, watch the video “Cada cosa en su lugar / Everything in it’s Place” in the Canticos App.

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Color by Numbers

Color by Numbers

About This Activity

Watch the Canticos World come to life as you color by numbers, practicing numeracy and vocabulary along the way.

Ages: 3+
Level: Medium
Materials: Printed activity sheets; pencils; crayons or colored pencils
Instructions

1. Print out activity sheet.
2. Identify the numbers in this picture and color in each section with its corresponding color shown in the key at the top of the activity sheet.
3. Try your superpower! Keep practicing numbers by counting how many different objects you can find in your home that have numbers (clocks, scales, maps).

How Your Kid Benefits

This activity encourages helps with word association and color vocabulary, as well as exposing kids to early bilingual numeracy through creative expression.

Bonus Benefit!

Studies have shown that children who are exposed to other languages are more likely to be empathetic and better communicators, allowing them to understand other perspectives more easily.

Note to Grown-Ups

These activities encourage children to practice numbers and colors in a fun, low-pressure way. Have them say the color words out loud as often as possible. Read All the Colors / De Colores in the Books section of the Canticos App for more practice.

Activity Sheet

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The Small Little Plane / Había una vez un avión

The Small Little Plane / Había una vez un avión

About This Activity

Look on with the lyrics and sing along to this classic nursery rhyme in English and Spanish.

Ages: 2+
Level:
Easy
Materials: Printed activity sheets; pencils; crayons or colored pencils
Instructions

1. Print out activity sheet.
2. Have fun tracing the different patterns with a crayon, pencil, or colored pencil.
3. Get creative tracing on new surfaces- on salt trays, a steamed window, in the air, on your palm, anywhere you can think of.
4. Try your superpower! Look for different patterns around you, in nature, art, buildings, everywhere!

How Your Kid Benefits

This activity stimulates right brain activity, helping to commit new words to memory through movement, singing and dance.

Bonus Benefit!

Bilingualism helps your child gain a better aptitude for languages in general. This improved understanding of how language works, coupled with the experience they have already gained by learning a second language, makes it easier to learn a third or fourth language.

Note to Grown-Ups

Help your child out with the lyrics as you sing this song, for help with pronunciation, have them listen listen to song in Music section of the Canticos App.

Activity Sheet

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