Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mark it up!

Once your child has mastered holding a crayon (or other writing tool) and scribbling. You can model writing a vertical line. After modeling a vertical line, make a vertical line with your hand on top of your child's hand. Finally, see if your child can copy your vertical line. The goal is for your child to make an attempt at creating a line that begins near the top of the page and moves toward the bottom (although may not actually reach the bottom).
A fun way to practice copying vertical lines with your child is to give him black paper and a white piece of chalk. The chalk really stands out on the paper and gives him an immediate response to his attempts. (April reminded me on her last post that all children do develop differently. If your child loves the taste of chalk, you might want to try a white crayon or something else.)
Since your child will later learn letter formations by starting at the top of the page, this is a good concept to introduce first.
After your child masters drawing a vertical line. You may want to introduce these concepts as well:
horizontal line
v shape
Make your "practicing" fun. Don't attempt to teach your child all of the letter formations. Let them enjoy just making marks on a page and trying out new things.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Ready, Set, Read... and WRITE

I have writing on the brain this week. Not sure why. Maybe it's some of the great books I've been reading.  Look for a lot of posts on writing this week.
Today we're going to start at the very beginning (a very good place to start). Try introducing a writing instrument to your child around 9 months of age. (That age was recommended to me by my Parents as Teachers Organization as well as my pediatrician. However, Logan did not start holding the crayon and making marks alone until around 1 year).

There are many choices of writing instruments. There are triangle shaped crayons, rounded crayons, etc. Most children don't need a special type of writing tool when beginning. A plain crayon will do. If your baby eats the crayon, try these colored pencils. They are chunkier so they feel more like a crayon but they can go in the mouth.

One of our favorite beginning activities was making large marks on paper. Guide your child's arm around at first and demonstrate making large circles/scribbles. Say, "We are making large circles. We are making green circles.)" etc.

By exposing your child to scribbling at a young age, you are helping to develop the hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, creativity and enjoyment that your child will need to be a writer in the future!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

stART: Owl Babies

After reading Owl Babies by Martin Waddell, Logan and I created this owl.

This was one of my favorite projects we've done together. I don't know if it was because we were both in happy little moods-- possibly because potty training is going so well-- or what.  I drew an owl onto contacts paper and then we stuck feathers onto the owl drawing. After we stuck the feathers on, we put a backing of blue paper behind the owl to represent the "night sky". Then Logan told me we needed a moon and a star. That really excited me because I realized he understood the idea of owls being nocturnal... although he doesn't know that word!
Owl Babies by Martin Waddell is a fabulously written and illustrated story. In the story, the mommy owl leaves for the night on a hunt and her babies wait up for her return. Logan kept telling the babies, "mommy gone." The text is very simple and clear. The text layout is wonderful. And the illustrations, besides being visually appealing, could stand alone to tell the story.
(This book and project were part of our Joyful Learning curriculum for the month of August. If you haven't checked out Hubbard's Cupboard, go there to find this project and so much more!)
On a side note to this project, after we made the owl and hung him so nicely on our door in the kitchen, I glanced over and saw this little feather sticking out.

Guess what I thought it was??? The NOT SO itsy-bitsy spider!!!
Oh, and then, I turned around and saw this lying on the floor.

Whose idea was it for me to be the mother of boys??? I was not cut out for the creepy crawlies that they adore so much!!!
stART (story + art) is a blog hop hosted by A Mommy's Adventures. I find great ideas from other moms all the time here.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Weekend Review: We Give Books

This weekend, I'm reviewing not just one book but many books... and I have a FREE copy of every single one of them for every single one of you, my readers!! Actually, anyone can access these free books but if you haven't heard of this website yet, check it out. http://www.wegivebooks.org/
We give books is an online library of free e-books.  For every book you read with your child (or your child reads alone) a book is donated to support literacy around the world.
We give books is hosted by the Penguin Group and Pearson Foundation. You begin by signing up (which is totally FREE).  You then get to choose your "campaign". For every book you read, the publisher makes  a donation to your campaign. We chose the campaign, Books for Asia, but you can choose from eight different campaigns or choose to support all eight.
After you sign up, you can choose any book from the library to read for FREE. (Did I mention everything on this website is FREE to you??) The books are a variety of fiction and nonfiction including
some of our favorites like:
DK Let's Look Books (Dinosaurs, Trucks and Diggers, Snakes, Monkeys
Max and Ruby Books by Rosemary Wells
Spot books by Eric Hill
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
The Mitten by Jan Brett
Llama Llama books by Anne Dewdney
Ladybug Girl by Jacky Davis

Classics like:
The Little Engine That Could
The Tales of Peter Rabbit

And Early Readers-- most of these seem to be non-fiction

From time to time new books are added!
The site is easy to navigate and the reader is very easy to use. Logan likes to "turn the pages" himself and he is able to do it with just a click of the mouse button.
As an added bonus, you can read up about the different campaigns and talk to your children about wegivebooks is giving back. You can also join reading groups (although I haven't checked into that feature myself).
I have to give this site an A+ rating!! (They didn't pay me or give me anything to say that. It's just my honest opinion on the subject.) So go check it out and let me know what you think.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tips and Tricks Thursday: Bible Reading for "Babies"

I've been wanting to start some Bible reading with Logan and Tyson. I try to incorporate our faith by singing songs to them like "Jesus Loves Me" or Bible verse songs (Joyful learning curriculum has some great bible verses set to traditional children's tunes).  We have a few Bible story books. We pray before meals. But I wanted to figure out a way to incorporate reading God's word with them. I know they are very, very young but the Bible has many verses that make it clear that God wants us to introduce our children to His word at a very young age.  (Luke 18:16)
The other day, Logan picked up my Bible. He was so excited to have "momma Bible". He wanted to turn all of the pages-- and even though he has good book handling skills, he was a little too rough for my liking. However, as I watched my precious 2 year old turning the pages in God's Word, I couldn't just yell, "STOP IT!"
This got me thinking about a way that I could incorporate my 2 year old child's "I-do-it" attitude with a little daily Bible reading. (And by little, I mean short, short, short amounts). So, here's what I came up with:
I cut 5 different colors of construction paper into bookmark size strips.
I wrote 5 verses. (Very short parts of verses to be exact on each strip).
"Be patient." Ephesians 4:2
"Love One Another." John 13:34
"Honor God and Obey His commands." Ecclessiastes 12:13
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth." Genesis 1:1
"Use every chance you have for doing good." Ephesians 5:16
I placed each strip in my Bible.
Each day, I pick a color.
I tell Logan, "Can you find the blue one?" Then he helps me carefully open the Bible to that verse.
I let him read the verse. What?
Ok, I actually tell him the verse one-two words at a time and he repeats the words, sometimes.
Then I say, "Thank you Logan for reading our Bible verse today!!" And we jump up and down and cheer at what an amazing "reader" he is!
I have a confession to make.... we usually read all 5 verses every day, at Logan's request!
We're going to keep the same verses for a while because preschoolers don't seem to ever grow tired of repetition.

Giving credit where credit is due: If you grew up in my hometown of Festus and went to my church, I know, I know, you're thinking, "Jackie, you stole that idea from Mrs. Sherrie." Ummmm, yep. You're right. "Mrs. Sherrie" is the best preschool worker I have ever met. She taught when I was a preschooler/kindergartener. She taught preschool when I was in high school and I got to be her helper. I already knew I was going to be a teacher at that point so I tried to pay attention and learn from her. And guess what? She is teaching my nephew's Sunday School class right now!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

StART: Eric Carle Art

Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother, Too?Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother Too?
Yes! A Kangaroo has a mother just like me and you
This book by Eric Carle was the inspiration for our StART project this week.  What I loved about our stART project this week, was that it was completely child directed. After reading this story and seeing Carle's amazing illustrations, Logan said, "Momma, I want to paint." So we created a crazy, messy painting

 which actually doesn't look that much different than Carle's backgrounds in this book.

 I think children like his artwork so much because they can relate to it.
While painting, Logan said, "Momma, I want to make an animal." So, I got out the book, and we browsed and he decided to make a kangaroo.
Eric Carle creates all of his artwork as collages. I wanted Logan to get to experiment with this medium. So we dug out my old scrapbooking scraps and tore the paper up while the paint dried. (I even let Tyson play with the baggie of torn paper. He was quite fascinated!)

Later that afternoon, we stuck the torn paper onto a piece of contact paper to create a kangaroo. It totally looks like a dinosaur and not like a kangaroo.

We own many of the Eric Carle books (we actually don't own this one, just borrowed it from the library).  B I wanted to feature this one this week for back to school. This book has a very repetative text and a very repetative text layout. The text is always on the left side of the page. The question is repeated, "Does a kangaroo/lion/bear, etc have a mother, too? Yes, a kangaroo/lion/bear, etc has a mother just like me and you." While this constant repetition may seem ridiculous to parents, it is SO beneficial to new readers for many reasons. One of those benefits is introducing SIGHT WORDS. Many of your kids are going to be expected to learn certain words by sight this school year. This book uses many of those words over and over and over (does, a, have, too, yes, has, just, like, me, and, you.) Repeated readings would give your child numerous opportunities to practice locating those words as well as help your reader notice how those words are used in text. The text could also be written onto long strips of paper and then cut out for the child to put back in order. This task would require the child to attend to the sight words that he or she knows. The repetative verse is beneficial for many other early literacy skills (developing print awareness/concepts, joining in on reading or "pretend reading", and many more.) We will probably have to add this Eric Carle book to our Eric Carle library soon!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Same Kind of Different as Me

Same Kind of Different As Me: A Modern-Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them TogetherSame Kind of Different as Me is the true story of two men who form a friendship with the help of one amazing woman.
Denver and Ron were different. Denver grew up as a "modern day slave." He was raised as the child of a sharecropper, working for "the man", never making any money, never able to move out of sharecropping. After facing many terrible atrocities as he was growing up, Denver became a homeless man on the streets of Dallas. Ron was different. He grew up in the middle class. He was raised in Texas and even though his family wasn't wealthy, they were able to provide for him and send him to college. After growing up in the middle class, Ron ended up marrying well and eventually became a very wealthy art dealer.
These two men would likely not have met in life except for the work of one woman. Debbie, Ron's wife, was different. Instead of judging people by the color of their skin or the level of their class,  Debbie saw the needs of people. She convinced her art dealer husband to step out of his comfort zone and  minister to the homeless people in Dallas. She convinced her husband, Ron, to form a real friendship with Denver. At first, even Denver was suspicious of the friendship. But as their friendship grew, Ron and Denver were forced to face an even tougher reality. Debbie became sick with cancer. Ron and Denver friendship deepened as they walked through her sickness together.
I loved this story. Same Kind of Different as Me challenged me to think outside of my comfort zone. When I read Denver's account of sharecropping and the racism that he encountered, it made me think about teaching my children the lessons of  respecting all people regardless of race. When Debbie challenged Ron to begin ministering to homeless people and begin interacting with people of a different class, it challenged me to move beyond my neighborhood and connect with people who may be needy, smelly, or hungry.
Same Kind of Different as Me made me laugh and cry. At one point, Denver tells Ron, "Folks at the mission thinks you and your wife is the CIA." When Debbie asks the homeless people their names and birthdays, they start thinking she is from the CIA. I had to smile at this. It reminded me of something my mom would do!! The first time I read this story, I was 9 months pregnant so I CRIED! I was so touched by the friendship that formed between Ron and Denver. I was so saddened by Debbie's diagnosis of cancer. Overall, I thought this was a very inspirational story, even if it was a tearjearker!
If I had any negative comments about the book, I would say there were a few theological differences and the writing wasn't necessarily "award winning" . However, the writing style, which switches back and forth between Denver and Ron, is an easy read. The few theological things that stood out to me were that they had visions from God in the book. I'm not a theologian but I've never personally experienced this. But overall it was an inspiring, challenging, enjoyable story to read.
Thomas Nelson provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

10 Tips for Saving Money During the Back to school Season

One thing I like ALMOST as much as reading books is saving money!!! Here are a few Tips for Saving money During Back to School.
1. Make a list or get the list from the school so you know exactly what you need.
2. Save your Coupon inserts for several weeks so you have multiple copies of many different brands of coupons.
3. Follow a great couponing blog like http://www.stlmommy.com/, which will help you match up your ads to your coupons.
4. Use your coupons at stores that also have the item on sale in order to get the most bang for your buck.
5. Check out places like Staples, Office Max, and Office Depot. They often have things for VERY cheap, like a penny.
6. You don't have to drive around town. You can take any comparison ad to Walmart or Target and they will match the price!
7. Stock up for the entire school year. Pencils will need to be replaced. Buy them now while they are cheap.
8. If your child has an item that is still in good condition, like a backpack, coat, or lunch box consider swapping with a friend or passing on to a friend.
9. Buy college textbooks online. So much cheaper than the bookstore price.
10. Check the Target dollar spot for the more expensive items like dry erase markers. They come and go there.
“I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Staples blogging program, making me eligible to get a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here

Tips and Tricks Thursday: A Potty Party

I think this will (hopefully) be my last potty training post. Unless I end up potty training Logan until he is 5. Then you should expect to see many, many more! Last weekend, I posted my potty training book reviews here. Some of the reviews I wrote and some were shared by other readers. I've really enjoyed getting input on potty training from others. (Even if it's just a heck ya, I've been there and it sucks comment!)
I decided that instead of doing a thematic unit of activities this week, I would do some "FUN" potty activities with Logan. This might seem like overkill to some kids. But Logan always buys into my thematic units. If we read books about bubbles, he is obsessed with bubbles. If we read about beaches, he becomes obsessed with beaches, and so on. So, without further ado, here is our potty journey:
We followed Dr. Phil's Potty Train Your Child in one Day method. I'm not sure if Dr. Phil's "days" are like the biblical "days". You know, to the LORD, a thousand days are like one day...but other than not working in a day for us, it seems like a decent method.
We got a doll that pees. Logan named him Michael. We fed him, watched him pee, had the potty party, and got a sticker. Then I told Logan, "If you pee on the potty, you will get a sticker too." His response? "I don't like the potty. I want sticker." Me: "You can have a sticker as soon as you pee in the potty. Do you want to pee in the potty?" Logan: "No, Never." (ummm, where did he learn the word "never"?)
I followed April's suggestion to have him go barebottomed. This helped me more than him, I think. I could tell right when he was going and it helped me to learn the signs that he was ready to go. I debated going back to pull ups when he pooped on the floor and seemed upset by it. I wasn't trying to embarrass him, just trying to make him aware. However, when I let him pick to wear a pull up or big boy underwear or go without, he always picked big boy pants or going with out.
According to Dr. Phil's method, every time your child has an accident you take him to the potty 10 times in a row to help build muscle memory. As a teacher, I know that repetition does work. But I wanted it to be fun for Logan-- since he is a kid who could be easy to get into a power struggle with. So, we made up the potty races. We put the potty at the end of our hallway. We took turns running, sitting on the potty, and running back. We would say, "Uh-oh, gotta go." and then take off. We also did giant steps, baby steps, hops, jumps, turns, crawls to the potty. (It was also a good chance for me to assess what movement skills he can control.) I didn't realize until we did this, that sitting down on the potty was actually difficult for him to do alone.
We also made a collage to use to decorate the bathroom. Our kid's bathroom is really ugly and ready for a makeover soon. It has no wallpaper or paint on the walls right now (as we ripped the nasty wallpaper down). So it needed some sprucing up! I clipped pictures from magazines as well as pictures of family members. We sorted them into people that go on the potty and people who wear diapers. Logan got to glue (one of his favorite things).
We did a lot of art during the intense potty training. I found that it helps him relax a little and he can be naked and make a mess. Yes, he did "nude painting".
We also made this potty box.

We decorated an old wipes box with stickers and loaded it up with a few small toys to play with on the potty.
We watched the Elmo potty video (thanks, Gayle for the suggestion). You can see the potty song on youtube. (just a note, do not search youtube with your kid. there are "potty videos" with elmo, barney, etc. that are not kid appropriate!! I watched this one and it is the same video that is on the DVD produced by sesame street but you might want to watch it before showing it to your kid just in case!)

We did a few songs. We did a few dances. We are still a LONG way from being potty trained. Logan is still not sure it is something he wants to do. I think the more he sees that he CAN do it, the more he will WANT to do it. So I plan on staying close and watching for readiness signs and getting him to the potty so he can experience success. We are having more successful pees on the potty than accidents so I think we're doing ok. This is probably one of the hardest things I've done. It has exhausted me mentally, emotionally, and physically (you try running down the hallway and squatting on a kid size potty ten times in a row, whew!). To all the potty training moms out there, best wishes. You can do it!! And so can your kid (I think).

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tips for Getting Your Kids Ready to Go Back to School- Developing your reader's self-perception

The new school year is looming. Is your child prepared? Have you stocked up on the 25 cent crayons and 5 cent glue bottles? Do you have the coveted Iron Man backpack? Have the buses been doing practice runs through your neighborhood? Have you been doing practice runs for school?  Is your child ready for a successful school year? Does your child believe that he will be successful this year?
Preparing your child physically and mentally for a new school year is pretty easy. Most children are excited to pick out all of the required supplies. Throw in a few math flash cards the night before and they'll be back where they left off last year.  But what about preparing your child emotionally for a new school year? Is that an important preparation?
For the last several years, studies have shown that students who have a positive perception of themselves as a reader, will read more often and for longer periods of time. Students have also supported the idea that students who have a poor perception of their reading abilities will either avoid reading altogether or read with little involvement. Helping your child feel confident as a reader is important.
In Choice Words Peter Johnston explains the differences between readers who have a good sense of agency (a belief that if they act strategically they can accomplish their goals) and those who do not have a good sense of agency.
Children who doubt their competence set low goals and choose easy tasks... when they face difficultites, they become confused, lose concentration...In the long run they disengage, decrease effort, generate fewer ideas, and become passive and discouraged. Children with strong belief in their own agency work harder, focus their attention better, are more interested in their studies, and are less likely to give up when they encounter difficulty...

Here are some tips for getting your reader geared up for a great year:
  • Be choosy with the words you use when instructing your child in reading. During my reading recovery training, we found we were often saying to children, "Good readers (insert reading strategy here)...." After a lot of discussion and study, we started to wonder how that phrase might affect the child's perception of themselves as a reader. It's really a simple equation. (Good readers + reading strategy) - I'm not using that strategy = I'm not a good reader.  We decided to just say, "Readers..." (Example: "Readers check the pictures for help.")-- this idea came from reading Peter Johnson's book "Choice Words"
  • Don't camp out in the "baby" books. When your child begins to read, they may start with beginning phonics readers or early very repetitive text such as "I can jump. I can run. I can walk." These are GREAT ways to teach early reading concepts-- but try to move your child quickly through these books. If your child is still reading early phonics readers in second grade, reevaluate. The message we are sending these kids is that they aren't real readers. Mom and Dad don't read books with repetitive texts or patterns, so let your child move quickly to the real reading. (That doesn't mean skip these early books. They are essential.) 
  • On the flip side, DO provide your child with books that are easy for him to read. Allow him to read them over and over and over and over. This repetitive reading allows your child to pull together all the aspects of reading and build fluency.
  • Don't interrupt your child's reading. Allow him to read to you and just enjoy hearing him read. This will also help him develop fluency. After he reads, you might want to go back and work on one thing.  You don't have to point out every mistake in the book.
  • Teach your child to problem solve. This empowers them as readers. (Here is a good way to know if you've empowered them-- Do they look at you first when they encounter a problem in reading or do they try something on their own first?-- I know about this from watching videos of my former students. Sometimes it looked like they had whiplash because they were turning their heads toward me so many times. Those children were not empowered as readers).
I hope you can send your kid back to school this year with an IronMan backpack full of the best 10 cent supplies AND a belief that he can succeed as a student and a reader!

The Reading Teacher; March 1995
Choice Words by Peter Johnson
I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms blogging program to be eligible to get a HarperCollins book set. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

10 favorite picture books on Aug. 10, 2010

Since I became a mom, two years ago. My home has become my classroom. In the past, I have taught first grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. I am a reading specialist and was a reading recovery teacher. Now that I stay at home, I still consider myself a teacher. I only have two students (my two boys) and I don't get a paycheck, but I use books to teach every day.
Today, Cathy at Reflect and Refine is hosting a blog jog today. For the blog jog, she posed the question, If you were stranded on an island and had to teach, what 10 picture books would you hope to have in your bag? Whew, it's hard to pick 10! I would probably swim off the island just to get more books for my boys! But here is my list! I think these are must-haves for any nursery. (As well as about 100 more!)
On the Night You Were BornOn the Night you Were Born By Nancy Tillman A book to celebrate the birth of your child. In this story, a baby is born and the whole world celebrates. The polar bears dance and  the geese fly home as the news travels through all of creation. The author pauses in the story to address the child and incorporate movement with lines such as "In fact I think I'll count to three so you can wiggle your toes for me." This book teaches an important message- that you are fearfully and wonderfully made.Hopefully that message will  follow your child through the rest of life!

Tomie's Little Mother GooseTomie's Little Mother Goose By Tomie dePaola Every nursery should be equipped with at least one nursery rhyme book. This is one of our favorites. Classic nursery rhymes are illustrated by one of my favorite illustrators, Tomie dePaola. Many of the rhymes are shortened to just one stanza which matches a baby's short attention span.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? [BROWN BEAR BROWN BEAR-BOARD BK]Brown Bear, Brown Bear What do you See? By Bill Martin Jr. Although Bill Martin Jr. has written many animals books that follow this text format. Brown Bear, Brown Bear is still our favorite. Each page is filled with a large colorful animal and the repetative text Brown bear, Brown Bear what do you see? I see a red bird looking at me. It was through this book that my son learned his colors, animal names, and animal sounds! He has also been chanting along with the text since he was about 20 months old!
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom: Lap EditionChicka, Chicka Boom Boom By Bill Martin Jr. Another great read by Bill Martin Jr. This book was a favorite of the first grade class that I taught when I was pregnant with Logan. Logan must have heard it so many times when I was pregnant that I think he came out knowing it! I would recite this book to him while he was nursing and it would help him latch on! It is still one of his favorites. Now it is memorized and he has made up his own actions to it. He loves the flyleafs of the book which are filled with large colorful alphabet letters. He will spend a long time on those pages naming all of the letters.
Baby Danced the Polka (Ala Notable Children's Books. Younger Readers (Awards))Baby Danced the Polka by Karen Beaumont This book has everything you could ask for in a toddler book. It has a jingling rhyme. It has flaps that can be lifted. It has silliness. In this story, Mama and Papa keep putting baby down for a nap and baby keeps escaping. Each escape is accompanined by a dance: the polka, the cha-cha, or he shooby doobies. Each time the reader has to guess which animal is joining in on the dance. Readers can use rhyming cues to help. For example: While Papa shaved his whiskers, and mama washed her wig, baby shooby doobied with the polka dotted... pig." This is great for building phonemic awareness. Another book that uses this skill is The Magic Hat by Mem Fox. (I know, I know, I'm sneaking an extra book into my list
Moo Baa La La LaMoo, Baa, La la la by Sandra Boynton A book that teaches animal sounds with a little silliness thrown in. "A cow says Moo. A sheep says baa. Three singing pigs say la, la, la." My son loves to quote the next page, "NO, NO. That isn't right. The Pigs say oink." What kid doesn't love to tell mom, "No."
Good Night, Gorilla   [GOOD NIGHT GORILLA-BOARD] [Board Books]Good Night, Gorilla By Peggy Rathmann The unobservant zoo keeper moves through the zoo saying goodnight to all of the animals. He doesn't notice that the gorilla is letting all of the animals out to follow him home. This book helps us wind down at the end of the day. There is very little text which allows for mommy or daddy to create a bedtime story. The repetative good nights in the book are fun for your little one to chime in.
Clap Your Hands (Paperstar Book)Clap Your Hands By Lorinda Bryan Cauley Adorable animals instruct your child to clap, stomp, shake, roar, find something yellow, and wave bye-bye. Action books are very important for surviving time with my wiggly two year old. This book is a good mix of reading and playtime.

Sleepytime Rhyme by Remy Charlip The first words of this book will warm your heart, "I love you. I think you're grand. There's none like you in all the land." The book moves through each part of baby's body softly exclaiming a parent's love for eyes, ears, nose, and all 10 toes. The text of this book fits well to the tune of "Twinkle, twinkle little star" I have often sung a baby to sleep with this sweet book.
Goodnight, My DucklingGoodnight my Duckling by Nancy Tafuri is a great goodnight book. Mother duck swims through the pond with her little ducklings. Each of the pond animals says goodnight to the little ducklings. One little duckling gets lost on his journey home. A helpful turtle gives the lost little duckling a ride home to his brothers and sisters and mom. At the end, all of the ducklings are safe as mother duck tells them goodnight.
 I can not wait to read all of the 10 on 10 lists! I'll be visiting our library a lot I'm sure after I read all of these lists. Many of the lists have been created by teachers so this would be a great back to school stop!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Weekend Review: Potty Talk

Ok, Pleeeze, don't stop reading my blog just because I'm posting a lot about potty training. It's just kind of our world right now. Hopefully some of you are also potty training and can relate to the crazy, consuming topic of potty training. A few weeks ago, I asked people for their help in preparing to potty train. My son was showing many of the signs of readiness to potty train and I had no idea where to start. Well, I received some great suggestions and I thought I'd pass them along to you-- along with some reviews of the potty training books we used and others used.
My Big Boy Potty by Joanna Cole (author of Magic school bus books, if it sounds familiar to you). This has been my favorite book so far. The text is clear, the pictures are clear. It explains the process well. It address accidents, wearing diapers at night, and standing up and peeing like daddy (when you get bigger). There is a girl version, My Big Girl Potty but we don't need that one :)
I really think Logan enjoyed My Big Boy Potty. In fact, we started by reading this book and then I gave him a doll that peed. I let him name his doll. Guess what he named him? "Michael." The name of the boy in this book! We watch Michael drink and pee and we cheer when Michael goes on the potty. Michael and Logan got a sticker when Michael went on the potty. Then I told Logan he could get a sticker if HE went on the potty. The kid is obsessed with stickers so it is a good motivator.
How to Potty Train Your Monster by Kelly S. Dipucchino. This is a cute book. If your child is really in to monsters, it could be a good motivator for him. However, the pictures are not clearly about potty training and the text seems more for adult humor than for kids. (Of course, adults need all the humor they can get to make it through potty training, right?)
Pirate Potty by Samantha Berger. Again, the text seems more for entertaining adults than for teaching a young child how to use the potty but Logan enjoyed this book. The coolest thing is that at the beginning of the book, there is a pirate hat that you can make. Logan loves hats. We actually made a "Potty hat." out of a party hat and he gets to put his stickers on his potty hat. He also wears it around the house. I told him it could help him remember to go potty. (Of course, if hats aren't your child's thing, this probably won't work.) Oh, and there is a girl version of this one too but I don't know if it comes with a hat. Princess Potty
Gayle from One Cramazing Life recommended Everyone Poops. Ok, I have to admit. We haven't checked out this book yet. Mostly because my husband has a junior high sense or humor about all bodily functions and I don't want to encourage that in any way. Here is Gayle's review of the book, "It's a cute book, but I'll admit it did nothing more than cause hysterical laughter to sound from my husband and I as we tried to read it. It does offer pictures, text like, "A mouse makes tiny poop" and so forth. I'm assuming it would work if you have a child who is afraid to poop on the potty. "
Gayle also recommended Once Upon a Potty -- Boy She said, ""Once Upon A Potty" was written by a mother as she potty trained her children and I know many parents who used it. Our pediatrician recommended the book to us as a tool to help our oldest son with potty training. The author uses "wee-wee" and "poo-poo" in the book, but also recommends parents read the book with their children and develop their own words if it helps. I'll admit, it helped some, but we had to use other...erm...creative ideas. =)
Gayle also suggested the Sesame Street - Elmo's Potty Time DVD. I bought it and it has been a favorite of Logan's. The only problem is that he tends to go while watching the video.
Another reader from Embracing Destiny, said she found good resources at Pampers and BabyCenter. I liked the song, "Tinkle, Tinkle" at Pampers. I also enjoyed this article from Babycenter on when to potty train.
So, we've just started potty training. We're reading the books. We're taking potty breaks. My kid is running around naked. I've got to say, it's one of the hardest things I've ever done!! Some other readers gave me some great tips that I will share soon as well as what is working for us and what is NOT working for us. Trust me, there are a lot of things that are NOT working at this point but right now I'm still telling myself, "you can do this!!" If he doesn't catch on a little soon, we'll probably take a break for a while. It's hard to know if they are truly ready! If anyone else has any books or tips, let me know. I'd be happy to link back to you!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Why? Wednesday: Making Meaningful Connections

It's BEACH AND OCEAN WEEK at our house. So WHY am I talking to my son about lakes?
Very simple. I'm helping him make connections between something he knows very well, lakes, and something he has never experienced, oceans.
Logan's grandparent's have a lake in their back yard and we have visited a few lakes near us. Logan has experienced riding in a boat, fishing, a lake beach, and a few small waves. He has never experienced the vastness of the ocean, the creatures you find in and around the ocean, a large, sandy beach, or rolling waves. Therefore, I need to help him connect what he already knows about water and lakes to a new concept, such as oceans and beaches.As we are reading this week, I am modeling making connections. You might also hear this called a "think a loud."
As Logan and I share books we generally pause or deviate from the text to talk about what we are reading or seeing. As we are doing this, I can help to focus him by saying things like:
Remember when you and Grandpa caught the fish in his lake. There are lots of fish in the ocean, too.
What else might live in the ocean?  Logan said, "Cats." Hmmm, no. Cats don't live in oceans or lakes. Can you think of anything you saw in the water with daddy? Logan, "crawdads". That's right! Crawdads live in the creek. Look at the picture of a crab. It lives in the ocean.
Here are some Tips for Making Meaningful Connections with your child:
  • Try to have a conversation with your child without using TOO many words.
  • Find natural places to pause in the reading. You don't have to make a connection on every single page.
  • Build on what your child knows (his schema). For example, when Logan started learning animal names he called every 4 legged animal a doggie. I built on that by saying, "Hmmm, that does look like a doggie but it is much bigger. That is a horse. It says, "neigh, neigh." Can you say "neigh, neigh"?
  • As your child grows and sees you making meaningful connections, he will probably begin making his own connections. So, point out to him the strategy that he just used and praise his attempts!
  • With an older child, you could invite the child to create a drawing or write an explanation of how their story connected to past experiences or how a new piece of information connected to previous concepts that they knew. This can help make a read aloud multi-aged and multi-leveled!
Why is this important?
Ketch, A. (2005). Conversation: The comprehension connection. The Reading Teacher, 59, 8-13.

Readers make connections as the respond to text. These connections help build their schema and help the readers to remember what they have read.
Making connections helps readers identify with characters or situations they have experienced. This enhances comprehension.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Beach Activities for Babies

We've been busy at the beach this week. Actually, we've been at home this week, but we've been pretending to be at the beach. My oldest has been enjoying activities from our preschool beach unit. However, I didn't want my littlest one to be left out of the beach fun. I've been collecting books for babies about the beach. I've been letting him feel some of the textures he would feel at the beach. We've been using beach towels to build up muscles for crawling. I've even let him look at fish in his wave bottle for babies. There are lots of activities for babies that you can do with a beach theme.

Sensory Activities for Babies

Beach Texture Activities for Babies

While reading beach books, you might want to let your baby "lay out". Try letting your baby feel some of the textures he might experience at the beach.
Let your baby feel a beach towel.
activities for babies, beach unit

Let your baby lay on a vinyl tablecloth

activities for babies, beach unit

Let your baby feel  a grass mat (to imitate the rough feeling of sand)-ok. I can't find my grass mat anywhere so this activity was a bust at our house but I'm including it anyway. I know I had one that I used with Logan when he was learning to crawl on different surfaces. A textured placemat works well too.

** This would also be a great activity for crawlers or new walkers to let them experience moving on a variety of textures**

Beach Towel Roll for Babies

The beach towel roll  is a great exercise for learning to crawl. Roll a beach towel up and tie with string or ribbon. Put baby on tummy and place the beach towel under his arms. Get behind the baby and roll him back and forth. As you roll him, he will move his arms. This is great practice for isolating the movement of each arm.
activities for babies, teach your baby to crawl

Beach Sensory Activity: Wave Bottle

Your baby might want something stimulating to look at while doing tummy time. Why not create a ocean scene for him to enjoy?

Fill an empty plastic bottle with sand, blue water, and anything you want to float around in the water (we used foam fish). Glue around the top before placing the cap back on.
activities for babies, beach sensory bottle

activities for babies, wave bottle

And yes, he smiles like that all day! (I am blessed, truly)
If you'd like some books about the beach to read with your baby, here are a few of our favorites. These are Amazon affiliate links.