As we increase communication with keyboards big and small, studies reveal that writing by hand is key to learning, memory, and ideas. In the Wall Street Journal, Gwendolyn Bounds, reports that drawing and writing by hand are essential in early childhood learning.

Researchers at Indiana University led a study illustrating how writing by hand engages the brain in learning. They found that children who practice printing letters by hand have both heightened brain activity and increased vocabulary.

Handwriting requires sequential strokes to form a letter. It is those finger movements that are important for thinking, language, and working memory. In fact, Virginia Berninger, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Washington says studies confirm  “children write more words, faster, and expressed more ideas when writing essays by hand versus with a keyboard.”

Imagine that!

In our playroom, we have tubs of paper, pencils, markers, dot paint, and craft supplies. When your child begins to play with writing, sit next to her and write along with her. Make it fun. Draw and write stories together. Use lots of color and imagination. Writing with your child during playtime is a creative way to show how writing by hand works. Her brain will love it!

To be continued. Watch for part two!

How Handwriting Trains the Brain: Forming Letters is Key to Learning, Memory, Ideas, The Wall Street Journal, October 5, 2011


and then it's spring“First you have brown, all around you have brown then there are seeds and a wish for rain…”

In this sweet storybook, a young boy and his dog decide they’ve had enough of winter brown and plant the first seeds of spring.

With a red wagon full of planting supplies, boy and dog dig, plant, and wait…and wait…for signs of spring.  Charming critters join them. Patiently they watch, and even listen, hoping to hear a “greenish hum” as stems push upward.

After weeks, on a sunny day, shades of green appear.  Oh, the joy of green all around!

Fogliano’s writing is simple, yet stirring. She captivates little listeners with her playful, childlike words. The beautiful pictures by Stead (Caldecott Medal winner) are warm and inviting. She brings seasons to life with soft details. Within each picture’s hopeful shades of brown, children can study the colors, looking for spots of red.

A poetic story, this quiet garden tale inspires parents and little ones to get out in their yards and plant seeds.

when charley“Dear Grampa, We got a dog. His name is Charley. He sleeps in my room. He’s a fast runner like me, and he’s got the same last name as me. Korn.”

“Henry can’t wait for Grampa to meet his new puppy, Charley.

“When are you coming to see Charley? Bring a big suitcase and stay a long time …”

A storybook winner of 2013, parents and grandparents will delight to read aloud When Charlie Met Grampa. Author Amy Hest and Illustrator Helen Oxenbury crafted an enchanting story around a special moment between grandfather and grandson.

“Dear Henry, I’ll be there Sunday, and my train arrives at noon. My suitcase is big. Look for Grampa waving, that’s me. Now about that dog. Is he friendly or fierce?”

Henry and his adorable puppy set off for the station to meet Grampa. They trudge through swirling snow, pulling a sled for Grampa’s suitcase. Henry tells Charley all about his grandfather. But, his Grampa has never been friends with a dog before.

What will happen when Charley meets Grampa?

A hint? A gust of wind blows Grampa’s green cap and Charley knows just what to do. It’s Charley who saves the day.

Here’s a story about how a puppy can warm a hesitant heart. With stunning pencil-and-watercolor paintings, Oxenbury gently expresses the emotions of a boy and his Grampa as they bond with the bouncy puppy.

You’ll be smitten with the ending: all three comfy, cozy in Grampa’s bed.

“Charley looked in Grampa’s eyes and Grampa looked back, which is code for I love you. I love you. I love you.”

Playful Early Learning

  • Look at the cover and ask your child what she sees
  • Open to the title page and look for Grampa’s suitcase, a clue
  • As you read aloud, be sure to study the details of every picture
  • Look for splashes of color, like the boy’s red jacket
  • Whenever you see Charley, describe his face and how you think he feels
  • On the last page, imagine what the three friends will do the next day