Friday, December 16, 2022

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New Year Goals: Increasing Early Literacy Opportunities & CCEI

Happy December!

As another year wraps up, I like to look ahead and make some goal-based plans to start in January. 

One of my goals for next year is to create more early literacy opportunities. I have a four-year old who is extremely obsessed with letters and reading, and I want to make sure he has all the support he wants to enjoy language, reading, and writing as much as possible.

These two courses are super well-organized and full of ideas that are easy-to-implement and will help me meet my literacy goals for next year.

I will tell you more about these two courses, and CCEI in general, below. 

First, I want to share my new, actionable, and measurable goals! I like goals that are super specific, so I have a very detailed little plan for what I want to try next semester. "Plans" might actually be a better word for me than "Goals." Plans feel more actionable, which is really the ultimate goal for goals! 

So my plan has three goals:

1- Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, and Fables Weekly Story. I'm getting a Fairy Tales Around the World story book, and every week we'll focus on a new story. We might read the story on the first two days, or I might tell my own version of it. On the next two days, the kids will tell their version on the story. I'll also choose a story that ties into other themed work we're doing that week. 

2- 15-minute craft or activity. My kids love art and crafts, so we'll probably do a lot of those, but at a minimum I want to do at least one hands-on activity related to the story three days a week. A few ideas I've already had include making puppets, painting, food from the story or the place the story is from,  and making characters from the story out of rocks and/or recycled supplies! Oooh, and a Story Bin, with objects or pictures from the story for them to play with on their own.

3- Fairy Tale Word Wall. I'm going to add a new little word wall with images and words from the story for that week. I'll also include a map that shows where the story is from. 

This will add in about an extra 30-minute literacy activity every day, which I think will go a long way toward increasing our general literacy activities. I think it will be awesome! 

If I'm really organized, I'll put it all together in a downloadable format for you too... buuuuut, short of that, I'll share each week's activities on the blog here so you can get it as we go along. ;) 

I'm sure you're curious how the courses I took with CCEI helped inspire these plans! 

Well, let me tell you!

First of all, Lit100: Storytelling for Enrichment, Early Literacy, and Fun introduced a variety of story-telling methods, styles, techniques, and even enrichment activities! The course explained why story-telling is important, and how it is different than just reading.

Aside from all the awesome vocabulary-building and language exposure that stories help with, they prepare and motivate children to do hard things. I love this quote from G.K. Chesterton: "Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten."

Here's the slide from the course where this concept is taught:

I love how you can extend this so the kids become the heroes of each of their stories! I want to emphasize reflecting on our lives as story telling and look at ways we can solve problems with kindness and courage.

After the course discussed the importance of storytelling and different kinds of stories, it provided a lot of great instructions on how to make your own storytelling more effective, covering everything from presentation tips to ways to discuss stories with children to play acting!

Even if my weekly Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, and Fables lessons don't work out, I am feeling highly motivated right now to include some new form of story telling on a regular basis. We really just can't get enough!

So then I took Cur102: Environmental and Functional Print. This course is one of the shorter ones (only one credit hour), but it is a wonderful introduction to Environmental and Functional Print. 

Just like the Storytelling course, the Environmental and Functional Print course begins by explaining what these terms mean and why they are important:

Environmental Print is a print found in a child's every day life. It includes product labels, signs, logos, packaging, etc. Functional Print is environmental print that includes instructions or directions. For example, most preschoolers will recognize a stop sign in the street or their name on a rotation or station chart. 

As parents and teachers, we can create a print-rich environment that will help prepare our children to read and write! The course includes dozens of different ways we can do this!! 

Here are a few of my favorites that the course talked about:

** Word Walls!! You can make word walls with words your kids are actually learning to write, names for the kids in your class or home, or even words relevant to other things you're learning (like my plan to include words and maps from the stories we read).

** Provide books and writing materials in several places where the children can use them.
** Display print and change the signs occasionally.

** Point out signs during drives.

** Point out packaging and logos on products we use.

** Model reading and writing.

** Introduce children to a wide variety of literature.

Every time we increase our kids' exposure to print, their brains register the letters and words as symbols and prepare to decode them more in the future. The more exposure kids have to print, and the more they recognize it, the better! 

I love all the suggestions Cur102: Environmental and Functional Print had for practical and fun ways to increase that exposure. 

Both courses had CCEI's typical multiple choice in-course assessment questions and exam at the end of the course. Both courses also had an interactive sorting activity to help you remember and apply concepts.

CCEI courses are all super organized and full of practical ideas you can use immediately in your own teaching situation, whether it's at home or in a classroom. 

My other favorite aspect of CCEI courses is that they are available 24/7/365... any day of the year, any time of the day, I can log on to the system and take my course. This works particularly well for teachers and parents who are usually busy during normal "business hours." You can get IACET CEU credits whenever it is convenient for you! 

And, of course, I love how their courses, programs, and certificates are accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) and the International Accreditors for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).

I think it's also worth pointing out that their course catalog has OVER 150 high-quality online courses in English and Spanish for teachers and parents in a huge variety of settings, including daycares, preschools, after-school programs, Head Start, and more! 

You can take courses a la carte, choosing the ones that will meet your specific needs like I did, or you can earn national certifications like the CDA Certificate and Director's Certificate and Early Childhood Credentials.

When you finish a course, the certificate is available immediately. You can also print a transcript of courses you've already taken.

 This is a copy of the certificate I got from their course CCEI110: Brain Development and Learning: What Every Early Care and Education Professional Should Know:

I love recommending ChildCare Education Institute for any early childhood professional development needs you might have! I have taken more than a dozen courses with them now, and I truly enjoy every one of them! 

Every single course has activity and project suggestions that you can implement immediately--it is like hands-on learning for adults! 

Feel free to let me know if you have any questions about them--I am happy to share my experiences!

And be sure to follow along next year as we jump into storytelling and word walls! 

Happy Educating,

This article is sponsored by ChildCare Education Institute. All opinions are mine--you know I only recommend products and companies I love!

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Have you seen HEEP? It is a preschool homeschool curriculum! Learn more here!

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