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Authors Add to Their Book Series

Date: April 17, 2001
By: Dawn Fuller
Book photo by David C. Baxter
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Archive: General News

A new book by authors Sally Moomaw and Brenda Hieronymus - UC faculty and early childhood education specialists for UC's nationally recognized Arlitt Child and Family Research and Education Center - provides a valuable resource for early childhood teachers and parents. The book, More Than Letters, published by Redleaf Press ($24.95), is based on more than 20 years of experience shared by Moomaw and Hieronymus and features fun activities that stimulate a child's interest in reading, writing and comprehension.

More Than Letters

The state of Ohio has launched a number of initiatives to ensure that every child can read and write. The state's teachers are examining their curricula and their own techniques as they measure that success in the classroom.

The literacy challenge extends across the nation, as new Head Start performance standards assess skills and accomplishments of children and educators. Ohio funded programs will be held accountable for literacy outcomes under guidelines from the Ohio Early Childhood Indicators of Success Project.

All of the ideas and activities featured in More Than Letters were proven as successful practices in the classrooms of the 75-year-old Arlitt preschool for children aged three to five. The book features literacy exercises for preschool-aged children through the first grade, but could also build the confidence of slightly older children who may be struggling with reading and writing.

"Literacy has been a mainstay of our (Arlitt) curriculum for the past two decades," says Hieronymus. "Last spring, I had worked on a grant from the Ohio Department of Education to help design a package to go with the state's literacy initiatives, and Sally worked on the math initiatives.

"All preschool programs that receive state funding will be held accountable for indicators of success," continues Hieronymus. "Can children identify letters, can they identify their own names? How does the classroom environment enhance their learning? What are the expectations of teachers and how do they know when children have identified 10 letters or less...11 letters or more?"

"I think there are a lot of things in this book that parents would like to do with their children as well," Moomaw adds. "Parents and children can work together to make what we use in the activities for as little as five dollars, and the directions for making them are included in the book. The Letter-Bead Twist is made of just three wooden cubes, marked with letters, on a dowel rod. By twisting around the beads, you can make different words." Other activities include Alphabet Bingo, Grab Bag (children pull letters from a bag to match their individual game boards), and Magnetic Words, in which children spell with magnetic letters on a tray.

More Than Letters holds ideas for teachers on how they can create a writing center - a special area of the classroom to stimulate writing techniques and creative writing. Once again, the materials are affordable and appealing to children, such as the Pizza Writing Center, Grocery Store Writing Center, Construction Zone Writing Center, or the Colorful Mice Writing Center, to name just a few. Hieronymus says this is how print becomes part of the play in the classroom.

"Then we have these little suitcases...we call them Literacy Suitcases," says Moomaw. "These are also great for parents, and we (educators at Arlitt) send them home from school as a way of bridging the children's learning between home and school." The suitcases can hold a book, word cards, fill-in-the-blank games and a blank book of paper to practice writing.

The book traces stages of literacy, such as when a child starts scribbling, and how that parallels the stages of early language development. It outlines interactive charts for teachers, Big Books, and environmental print, or existing signs in the child's surroundings. For instance, Moomaw says children know one sign immediately, the McDonald's sign.

More Than Letters is the newest addition to a collection of six books in the series co-authored by Moomaw and Hieronymus and published by Redleaf Press, which includes More Than Counting, More Than Magnets, More Than Painting, More Than Singing, and Much More Than Counting. The books are carried by the Blue Marble bookstore in Oakley (the authors are exploring other local outlets), or can be ordered by calling the publisher's toll-free number, (800) 423-8309, or by checking the web site,

The book will be a reference for UC's early childhood education students as well as the Arlitt Center. Moomaw and Hieronymus will be presenting More Than Letters at the Ohio Association for the Education of Young Children, held in Columbus May 3-5, and at the Minneapolis Association for the Education of Young Children in November.

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