20

Ahem :)

So, this toddler is two years old now. And, now, she is extremely interested in story books with big pictures. The level of interest is such that she prefers me to read aloud books to her rather than playing with toys or watching videos/tv.

The best way to stop her from crying for whatever reason or any irritating behavior, is to tell her that she'll be read the story books.

Here's how I read the books for her:
I don't read the text of the book to her. I tell her with great expressions of face and voice, what's going on in the story, by pointing out to the pictures. I tell her the meaning of the picture once and she remembers it forever. She's got 10 story books which she asks me to read repeatedly, daily.

I tell her the names of nearly all the big objects in the house and on the street, and she remembers them.

She knows A for ant, B for banana till W. She can speak numbers from 1 to 10, though she finds 4 and 5 difficult to speak.

Now, my question is that what else can I do at this age for her which will be educating and entertaining for her at the same time.

Basically, I want to cash on the fact that she likes books. I want to educate her as much as I can without creating a boring environment.

  • 2
    Apart from reading different book/more complicated ones. You can start showing/teaching the usefulness of words/books. I know this is vague (that's why it's a comment ;). You'll have to get creative here (writing notes, signs, she likes birds-get a book on birds, simple poem, song, writing thought, writing her own story together, ...). – the_lotus May 19 '15 at 17:12
  • "She knows A for ant, B for banana till W" But not X for xylophone? :-) (Somebody has a rant about young children thinking that xylophones must be really important because it's the only word that's ever used for X in illustrated alphabets, but i can't remember who.) – David Richerby May 19 '15 at 19:29
  • What would you suggest for X? Xenophobe? Xylem? Xanthan gum? :) – orielwen May 19 '15 at 19:39
  • X for X-Ray is my favorite. – Joe May 19 '15 at 19:47
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    @DavidRicherby Because I haven't ever seen a xylophone myself in real life so I can't show that to her. I have taught her only those words which she can see in her real life and not only in books. – Aquarius_Girl May 20 '15 at 6:50
12

Pretty much every page of every children's book we own has new learning opportunities for our two year old! It's a pretty awesome time.

You can always go into more detail about the illustrations and the story. In general, these are the subjects I ask questions or make comments about:

  • Sizes - Big, smaller, bigger, smaller, medium, tall, short, etc.
  • Positions - on, in, under, above, behind, in front of, etc.
  • Colors - Go beyond the standard colors, and use postnominal training
  • Materials - Metal, wood, cloth
  • Hardness - Hard, soft, squishy (we try to teach our son this, because we try to get him to not throw hard things)
  • Quantity - Specific #s, or just general amounts (a lot, a little)
  • Weather
  • Object identification
  • Body part identification
  • Patterns - Striped, checkered, polka-dotted, etc.
  • Animal identification - Here I would include "What do they eat?" and "What sound do they make?" questions
  • Names and character identification
  • Signs - We teach our son some ASL, so sometimes we'll incorporate sign language into our discussions
  • Alphabet and sound reinforcement
  • Relating it to real-life experiences - "There's a cat, like grandma's cat." "That floor is made of wood, like our table."
  • Relationships - Mama, grandpa, sister, cousin, friend, etc.
  • Emotions and facial expressions

I'm sure there's more! For instance, I'm sure it won't be long before I start working on texture with my son (smooth vs. rough).

A tact I usually take is to pick a certain subject I want to focus on for the story time, and teach about that. I usually only pick one or two things, because I don't want to slow down the pace of the book and cause disinterest. So, if I decide to work on counting, I'll only do one or two counting examples per page, and otherwise read the book as normal.

What's great is that your toddler loves to be read to! My son does, as well. He has plenty of books, and they've all been read to him dozens of times. Nevertheless, we are able to make each reading unique.

It's also helped me to have had some foreign language education. When you start to learn a different language, you realize just how many types of words and concepts you need to know! So when I teach my son, I take the approach that anything and everything can be explained in more detail. Think of how you'd explain it to somebody just learning English as a second language, because you're actually teaching someone who is just learning English as a first language.

An introductory textbook or website (such as DuoLingo) for foreign languages, may give you ideas on what topics to focus on.


I think the best way to explain this is with an actual example. So, here's a page from a Little Critter book by Mercer Meyer, titled When I Get Bigger.

Little Critter page excerpt

These are things I can ask/explain to go into more detail:

  • He's wearing a jacket that's blue
  • His jacket has a button that's yellow
  • He's wearing a tie that's red
  • He's wearing a shirt under his jacket
  • His shirt and his jacket have collars
  • There's a mouse in the window
  • The mouse is wearing a visor, which is like a hat
  • Can you find the signs?
  • He has a name tag pinned to his jacket
  • He's holding a bag, or luggage
  • Can you find the trees?
  • His pants have stripes.
  • Can you find the roof?
  • He's holding a ticket. Can you find another ticket?
  • What color is the sign above the window?
  • Where's the mouse?
  • What color is the mouse's jacket?
  • Can you point to Little Critter's hair?
  • He's smiling
  • His jacket has a pocket
  • The tree branches are behind the bus station
  • He is in front of the bus station
  • He is standing on the ground
  • Is the mouse big or small?
  • Mouse starts with "M"

To me, this page is actually pretty sparse, but it's just one page.

8

At two, while you certainly can begin working on alphabet and numerals and counting, I tend to feel that the most important things are creativity, emotions, and breadth of experience.

By breadth of experience I mean to encounter a lot of different things, such that not only can the child learn about new concepts, vocabulary, cultures, and ideas, but the child can find things that are very interesting to her specifically. As a preschool aged child (3-4), it's very common to dig deeper rather than broader in my experience; starting early to have a very broad base is important.

The action item here is to have a lot of different kinds of books. Books from other cultures; books about trains, cars, animals, flowers, and other real things; beginning storybooks that show different emotions.


Emotions are very specifically important, because reading about different emotional experiences can give your daughter the ability to express her own feelings more fully. Reading about a child who loses her toy and is sad helps her cope with losing her own toy.

Reading about a child who is pushed to the ground by another child helps her understand how to cope with that - or helps her understand how another child that she pushes feels. Giving her that vocabulary can be very useful for the next year or two, which are often very difficult in part because of the lack of emotional vocabulary.


Finally, creativity is something that can be nurtured at this age. Creativity can be developed by taking what she reads and helping her to add more to the story. A simple example is to start by asking "What comes next" at the end of a story. Start by beginning to make things up yourself - and then over time she'll start to join in.

One real-life example of the next step is something I did (and still do) with my now three year old with the Curious George stories (More detailed version of this in this answer). These are formulaic stories that always start with the same sentence ("This is George. He was a good little monkey, and always very curious.") Then, it introduces the setting with "One day, George was ...". He goes somewhere or starts doing something. Something happens to take his parental figure (The Man with the Yellow Hat) away, so that George is alone. He tries to be good, but something is just a bit too interesting, so he goes off and looks at it. That causes some trouble, which he then has to get out of - but ends up turning it into something helpful by the end.

When my son was about 2.5 to 3, I started making up stories with him, where he and George were both doing something together - something mundane, like going to the museum or the store. After a few times of this, he caught on, and started telling me what happened - sometimes just reiterating what I said last time, sometimes making up something new. By 3, he was able to make up stories from whole cloth himself.

Encouraging creativity like this - whether by making up stories, or just thinking about what else is going on - not only teaches them creativity itself, but also helps them begin to think critically about what they're reading. In order for my son to come up with a George story, he has to understand the formula to some extent. Talking about what Peppa does after she finishes jumping in muddy puddles means she has to think about what Peppa might enjoy doing. The answers might not be particularly accurate or complex, but starting to think about things like that not only can lead to interesting conversations but also leads to more critical reading later in life.


All in all, though, I would try to keep the focus on fun and the father-daughter experience. She likes reading undoubtedly in a large part because of the attention and the fun she has with you. The learning will come in time.

7

We've started trying to bring the stories alive by acting the stories and using props and toys.

For example:

We're Going on a Bear Hunt - Searching the house for different "animals" i.e. stuffed toys. We ask what the animal sounds like, what it looks like and where does it live. A hidden iPod with speakers can add to the realism (Or dad doing his best animal impressions).

The Tiger Who Came to Tea - Feeding different guests, again can be animals. We set the table, and ask what do our guests eat and drink. Preparing some snacks for the guests add realism. Strangely the lettuce and carrots for our rabbit guest got eaten. :)

  • 1
    Bringing in creative play is great. A sort of introductory reading comprehension! – Acire May 19 '15 at 14:04
  • We're going on a bear hunt. We're gonna catch a big one... damnit now I can't get it out of my head. – Mark Henderson May 20 '15 at 2:49
3

Lots of good thoughts in the other answers. Here's a couple more.

You say you don't read the text of the books to her. She's getting to an age now where she can really start to appreciate the text. Many children's books have great rhythm and rhyming schemes. Reading her these will teach her about different sounds and rhythms which will set her up with a love of poetry and song for life. My almost-two-year-old enjoys the Dr Seuss books in particular and goes round quoting her favourite books. If the text of the book has a song (e.g. nursery rhymes) then sing her the song. Music is incredibly important to language and brain development as well as being huge fun!

I assume the ten books she asks you to read to her are her ten favourites, rather than that she has only ten books! Either way, keep introducing new books of different types to broaden her horizons. With a new book she hasn't seen before, try getting her to tell you what she thinks is going on, rather than telling her yourself. You might get 'That a cat! Cat eating!' for example.

The public library is a great resource. Ours does song and story times for toddlers and preschoolers – it's great for kids to experience songs, rhymes, and stories in a group setting.

Encourage outdoor activity as well. You can use a picture book as a basis for a scavenger hunt. 'Can you find a leaf shaped like the one in the picture? What's this? A bicycle? Can you see one out here?' Or, as others have said, you can help her act out a story she knows well.

Play Silly Daddy. She's obviously intelligent enough to cope with this. 'What's this? A cow? [pointing at a duck] Does it go squeak squeak?' Getting her to correct you is the first step in teaching her critical thinking – and the courage to contradict people bigger and more powerful than her. She will also find it enormously funny!

You say she can speak the numbers. Get her to count things in the books, things around her, legs on animals, etc. so that she gets a concept of the meaning of the numbers as well.

The Dorling Kindersley 'My First' series (e.g. http://www.amazon.co.uk/First-Words-Lets-Get-Talking/dp/1405370130/) is great for a lot of these, and my toddler loves them: lots of photos of different things, all labelled. 'Hug' by Jez Alborough (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hug-Jez-Alborough/dp/0744588332/) is a good one for emotional development as you can talk about how the characters are feeling on each page. And you can't beat Hand Hand Fingers Thumb (though I think it might be out of print) for a really strong and catchy rhythm.

1

Try branching out to books that have some math or music in them. Also, you can start play-acting together some of the simple, repetitive stories, like Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Try simple non-fiction books too, such as geometric shapes. (Except I'm afraid you're already doing this too!)

You might also enjoy working with actual literacy activities. I read a book about teaching your baby to read. You write down some familiar words (including names of family members) nice and big, flip through them with her about once a day. Stop while she's still having fun. At this stage, it's not going to be phonetic, but that's fine for now.

Back to the music idea. How about something like a Kindermusik program for parent and little one together?

If you hunt a bit, you might be able to find a book of classic children's songs notated without staff lines, and with symbols and position on the page representing note values and pitch.

Take her to puppet shows, plays, musicals and concerts.

In other words, take her interest in books and stories as a jumping off place for learning in other ways.

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Try reading her books such as alphabets with pictures.If she enjoys reading them then she might read books by herself by the time she is 3 years old. I taught the same to my daughter when she was about same age.

Also try to find a animal book with many animals on the same page. Identify them once with your daughter and play the question answer. She might find it interesting and entertaining.

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    I didn't mention it but all this has been done already. – Aquarius_Girl May 19 '15 at 10:20
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  1. As someone else suggested, start reading the words as well when you're reading to her.
  2. Teach her to read - or, more precisely, help her learn to read.
  3. Give her access to books, with some planning initially as to which books.

If she's anything like I was as a kid, she'll pretty much take care of the rest herself.

  • 1
    All kids are different. What if she's not anything like you were as a kid? – jwg May 20 '15 at 7:28

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