Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday-- Family Photos

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, while Uncle Sucker was home, we made sure to have some family photos taken. Here is the result.

But not every picture can be perfect...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Early Lit Tip Tuesday Week Three

This week's video focuses on an "old school classic", one that you might not have yet played with your child. I SPY!

Friday, November 25, 2011

FingerPlay Friday--Two Apples

Image borrowed from
I hope everyone had a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving! I know I did. Mine was filled with lots of food, family, and fun with the game I love to hate, Scrabble.

Yesterday, I had some of the most delicious apple pie I've had in a LONG time. So I guess you could say that today's Friday Fingerplay was inspired by the pie....

Two Apples
Way up high in the apple tree. (Point up high)
Two little apples smiled at me. (Smile, pointing to corners of mouth)
I shook that tree as hard as I could. (Shake arms like you are shaking a tree trunk)
Down they came. (Bring arms down and slap knees)
M-m-m were they good! (Rub Stomach)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving

This holiday season, surely the "adult beverages" will be a-flowin'. Should you choose to partake, it's important that you have a designated driver to get you home. In 2009 alone, there were 411 motor vehicle traffic fatalies on our nation's highways during the Thanksgiving holiday.

You don't want to be part of a statistic, do you? You don't want to be the one who chooses to get behind the wheel after one to many and causes a fatal traffic accident. Keep in mind, fatal doesn't necessairly mean that YOU die. In fact, in most drunk driving collisions, the drunk driver walks away unharmed. You could kill someone else, thier children, or even your kids if they are in your car. Could you live with that? I know I couldn't.

Still think that it couldn't happen to you? Check out this video.

This Thanksgiving, please think before you drink. And if you choose to drink, a designated driver is the safest way to get home. Here's a link to a list of designated drivers by state. Before you go out, store the number in your phone, so you have it at the ready. Don't bring excuses to the party.

But maybe you are throwing the party this year, and aren't leaving the house. I have something for you too. Just because you won't be out on the road intoxicated doesn't mean that shouldn't think of how your friends will be getting home. You are thankful for your friends, right? You can make sure all of your friends get home safely by providing their designated drivers with "drive-friendly" drinks.

Easy enough? Go sign the pledge, and let the world know that you won't be getting behind the wheel buzzed, or worse.

Have a SAFE and HAPPY Thanksgiving all!

Wordless Wednesday- Heartsick for Florida

Three years ago, I took my first "adult" vacation. I went on my honeymoon with my husband to Florida as a wonderful wedding present from my Aunt. We stayed in Daytona Beach Shores, but traveled all over the state. It was my first foray with the ocean--that I remember--and I was sucked in. Fascinated. Mesmerized. It was my first time experiencing Disney as an adult, and I believe it was a better experience than when I was a child.

But this time of year, I get a little sad. I want to go back. And I don't know when I ever will...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Be Thankful For Your Librarian This Holiday Season

Article From

85 Reasons to be Thankful for Librarians

1. Librarians take care of libraries, which are still invaluable today.
2. Not all information is on the internet.
3. Older books still hold great cultural significance.
4. Libraries are still repositories for some of the most valuable works of literature in the world.
5. Even with the internet, the library is still the best place to do research.
6. Girls with glasses can still rock the “sexy librarian” look.
7. “Sexy Librarian” is still a popular costume at Halloween.
8. You can’t exactly find periodicals like The New England Journal of Medicine in Barnes and Noble.
9. For that matter, looking at turn-of-the-century National Geographics is still pretty entertaining.
10. Colleges need something to remodel every so often.
11. The library is still the best meeting spot for college students working on group projects.
12. Libraries are where most colleges store some of their history (choir CDs, videos of athletic matches, etc.).
13. A library is one of the few places people can have free internet access.
14. This means some libraries even hold LAN parties during later hours.
15. Somebody has to help lazy people find what they want.
16. Even online collections of books usually connect directly to a library.
17. “Librarian” is still a better career choice for spinsters over “School Lunch Lady.”
18. Studies have shown libraries and librarians improve student test scores.
19. They also have been shown to improve students’ individual learning skills.
20. With their training in instructional design, librarians can help teachers find resources for their curriculum.
21. Librarians also help teachers to use a variety of media in the classroom.
22. Many libraries today offer enough DVDs to serve as a poor man’s Netflix or Blockbuster.
23. Librarians often put together special programs to get children to read early on.
24. While teaching children to use the library, librarians end up teaching them valuable problem solving skills.
25. They also teach children to use multiple resources to form their own original works.
26. If librarians were no longer around, kids wouldn’t understand the opening scene from Ghostbusters.
27. Librarians know a lot about proper citation skills, as well as ethical uses of information, in order to avoid plagiarism issues.
28. Libraries are still a cheaper place to make photocopies than FedEx Kinko’s.
29. Despite the advances in computer technology, a human will still find information better than a search engine.
30. Librarians can also find information better suited to the person who needs it.
31. A library is much MUCH more well cataloged and organized than the internet.
32. Libraries have much better quality control than the vast majority of websites.
33. Who else is going to learn the Dewey Decimal System? You?
34. Seriously though, no one wants to learn the Dewey Decimal System.
35. For that matter, who else is going to show you how to use that microfiche machine?
36. Experienced librarians often know exactly what resources students need for particular courses.
37. Many libraries collaborate and offer book exchange programs, offering users an almost limitless supply of books and media.
38. Librarians can help relieve some of the workload from teachers by helping students to understand information better.
39. Some engineering teams have already explored the idea of a fully digital library…and ended up designing a traditional library with some advanced technology.
40. The copyright costs for digitizing all literature would be astronomical without even factoring in distribution and storage.
41. Even without the costs, digitizing all books in existence would take hundreds of years at the current rate.
42. The internet still mostly only holds information from the past 15 or so years, compared with the hundreds of years of knowledge found in a library.
43. Even though libraries themselves may be losing attendance, their online archives and websites are still receiving plenty of visitors.
44. Despite the rising popularity of e-books, 80% of people surveyed say they still prefer paper books.
45. The experience of reading an actual book is being preserved by libraries.
46. Libraries provide one of the few places for anyone to find quiet area to just read or study.
47. Sometimes, but not always, libraries have free coffee.
48. Sometimes there are even free snacks.
49. Unlike the internet, libraries are careful that the information they contain is checked for usefulness before being included.
50. Also unlike the internet, libraries are much less influenced by corporate interests.
51. They are also less likely to be manipulated by individuals, like search engine optimizers.
52. Information on more specific topics can be much easier to find in libraries.
53. Digital or not, a library still needs a human staff to run it.
54. The resources of a library are well indexed and will always deliver reliable results (I.e. no “broken links”).
55. Many popular news publications still require subscriptions to view their content online, but are still available for free at the library.
56. Libraries provide free and abundant knowledge to everyone (a privilege people didn’t always have).
57. Not everyone can afford books, but everyone has access to the library.
58. Someone has to buy all those books that college professors write.
59. Public bathrooms in libraries are usually cleaner than most places.
60. A library can mold itself for the specific community it’s in, whereas websites usually try to bring in everyone.
61. At libraries, you can take practice qualifying tests for almost any profession.
62. You can always make suggestions to librarians for specific books you’d like to see.
63. Many libraries also display original works of art or even have separate galleries.
64. Some libraries also hold a limited number of free museum passes that anyone can use.
65. If you don’t have a computer, you can always use the ones in the library.
66. The same goes for certain premium software and special databases.
67. If your library offers wi-fi, it’s probably free.
68. Several libraries also offer programs that cater to senior citizens.
69. Believe it or not, studies show that libraries are good for their local economy, since they make their community for attractive to potential businesses and individuals.
70. Libraries are still a cornerstone for free speech and open access to information.
71. When dictators like Hitler and Mao Zedong set out to eliminate a country’s culture or history, they started by shutting down the public libraries.
72. A library still provides a neutral environment for the free exchange of ideas.
73. Public libraries are surprisingly cheap to maintain, but benefit everyone in the community.
74. If you’re a comic book lover, you can probably find plenty at your local library.
75. They might even have some of those expensive indie graphic novels available.
76. We’re still an incredibly long ways away from a paperless world.
77. You might as well use the library, since you’re already paying for it through taxes or tuition.
78. There’s less risk of getting carpal tunnel syndrome from reading books.
79. A library is a great excuse to get out of the house (seriously, why would anyone argue with you about it?).
80. Books are very portable and never need recharging.
81. With the economy these days, going to the library is a great source of free entertainment.
82. You can “try before you buy” any number of books without spending a dime.
83. Some libraries even have bookmobiles or mailing programs that deliver books right to you.
84. Studies have repeatedly shown that reading improves your basic vocabulary and just generally makes you smarter.
85. Regardless of what form a library takes, a librarian will always be ready to guide you to the information you need.

TumbleBooks-Stories for Kids Online

By now, you know that I love a good online story. If your child is going to be on the computer, or on the Internet, there's no reason why they shouldn't be reading and learning, not to mention having fun doing it!

Image Courtesy of
That's why I wanted to tell you all about TumbleBooks! TumbleBooks is an online library where kids can select a book to "read" and it is read to them in an animated format. There are six options to narrow down what kind of book you would like to read: Story Books, Read-Alongs, TumbleTV, Puzzles and Games, Language Learning, and Non-Fiction Books. The site also includes the grade level, the Lexile number, as well as the Accelerated Reader level for the individual books, should those things be inportant to you, or your child's teacher.

Your child can also take a quiz on the book, play a book based game, create a book report with the book report creator, or as parents and teachers you can view lesson plans surrounding the book. The lesson plan feature is an invaluble tool for homeschooling!

But don't take my word for all of these great features! Go explore TumbleBooks!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

In Case You Missed It...The 2011 National Book Award Winners

The 2011 National Book Award Winners
Inside Out & Back Again
Young People's Literature 
Inside Out & Back Again
(Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers)  

Head Off & Split
Head Off & Split 
(TriQuarterly, an imprint of Northwestern University Press)

The Curve
The Swerve: How the World Became Modern
(W. W. Norton & Company) 

John AshberyMedal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters

Mitchell KaplanLiterarian Award for Outstanding Service
to the American Literary Community 

Mitchell Kaplan

Friday, November 18, 2011

A sweet gift idea for Military Members!

I saw this commercial about Hallmark's recordable books last night. It melted my heart. What a brilliant Christmas, or anytime for that matter, gift to send to family members that are stationed overseas.

My brother-in-law is a sailor in the U.S. NAVY (my husband is a vet), and once Lil' Man can read, I'm sure that he would love to send his Uncle Sucker a storybook. And I bet that Uncle Sucker would love to hear a story read by his nephew.

FingerPlay Friday! - 10 Little Turkeys

10 little turkeys sat in their pen (Hold up 10 fingers)"Hide, turkeys, hide!" said the little red hen.
One little turkey flew far away (Fly one turkey away from in front to behind your back with your index finger)
But the other ...9 decided to stay! (Hold up 9 fingers)

9 little turkeys sat in their pen (Hold up 9 fingers)
"Hide, turkeys, hide!" said the little red hen.
One little turkey flew out of the gate, (Fly one turkey away from in front to behind your back with your index finger)
And when he was gone, there were...8. (Hold up 8 fingers)

8 little turkeys sat in their pen. (Hold up 8 fingers)
"Hide, turkeys, hide!" said the little red hen.
One little turkey flew far away (Fly one turkey away from in front to behind your back with your index finger)
But the other ...7 decided to stay. (Hold up 7 fingers)

7 little turkeys sat in their pen. (Hold up 7 fingers)
"Hide, turkeys, hide!" said the little  red hen.
One little turkey hid with the chicks, (Fly one turkey away from in front to behind your back with your index finger)
And when she was gone, there were...6. (Hold up 6 fingers)

6 little turkeys sat in their pen. (Hold up 6 fingers)

"Hide, turkeys, hide!" said the little red hen.
One little turkey flew far away (Fly one turkey away from in front to behind your back with your index finger)
But the other ...5 decided to stay. (Hold up 5 fingers)

5 little turkeys sat in their pen. (Hold up 5 fingers)
"Hide, turkeys, hide!" said the little red hen.
One little turkey hopped out the door, (Fly one turkey away from in front to behind your back with your index finger)
And when he was gone, there were 4. (Hold up 4 fingers)

4 little turkeys sat in their pen. (Hold up 4 fingers)
"Hide, turkeys, hide!" said the little red hen.
One little turkey flew far away (Fly one turkey away from in front to behind your back with your index finger)
But the other ...3 decided to stay. (Hold up 3 fingers)

3 little turkeys sat in their pen. (Hold up 3 fingers)
"Hide, turkeys, hide!" said the little red hen.
One little turkey flapped her wings and flew. (Fly one turkey away from in front to behind your back with your index finger)
And when she was gone, there were ...2. (Hold up 2 fingers)

2 little turkeys sat in their pen. (Hold up 2 fingers)
"Hide, turkeys, hide!" said the little red hen.
One little turkey flew far away. (Fly one turkey away from in front to behind your back with your index finger)
But the last little turkey decided to stay. (Hold up 1 finger)

1 little turkey sat in his pen. (Hold up 1 finger)
"Hide, turkey, hide!" said the little red hen.
The last little turkey flew off toward the sun (Fly one turkey away from in front to behind your back with your index finger)
And when he was gone, there were none.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Corn Cob Prints--Thanksgiving Crafts for Kids

Corn-Print Place Mats Thanksgiving Table Decoration
I've heard of taking apples and cutting them in half and making prints of the "star" that appears. I've also heard of taking potatoes and carving images into them to make prints. One thing I hadn't thought of is using corn to make prints. It makes such a cool pattern!

Check out the directions on how to turn an ear of corn into a cool new stamp at Disney's Family Fun. Use the corn stamp to make place mats as suggested, or use fabric paints and decorate a canvas apron, or even cloth napkins. What a neat way to decorate your Thanksgiving table that will last for years to come! If you do decide to try this please leave a comment with a picture, I'd love to see how your creations turn out!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday-Chi Town Adventures with an Aussie

For the first time in my 25 years, I took a "girl's" trip. My friend Blair traveled roughly 9495 miles from Sydney, Austrailia to come see me. So, I left my husband and little man behind and ventured out--to Chicago!

Chicago, Chicago, that toddling town
Chicago, Chicago, I'll show you around, I love it

I was sad, yet exhilarated! Ultimately it ended up being a brilliant whirlwind trip. And I'm so happy to have been able to share it with one of my best friends that I never get to see!

My foot in an Apatosaurus, formerly Brontosaurus, footprint

Blair and I taking the requiste picture of ourselves in "Cloud Gate"

Touching "The Bean", it's kind of like the Blarney Stone of Chicago

One of my favorite shots. "The Bean" in Autumn

Jellies at Shedd Aquarium

We had a beautiful day to sightsee!

Chicago: The City That Reads Together

Don't Miss the National Book Awards!

Want to know who's the best of the best in literature for both youth and adults? Don't miss The National Book Awards LIVE via webcast!

Next Halloween, Don't let this be your kid.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Twilight's Edward (Robert Pattinson) has a secret...

he likes to read!

If you missed Robert Pattinson's interview with Oprah where they discuss their love for reading, check it out!

The Case For The Written Word: Why YOU should be reading

Watch This. No. Read It!


When you can see Atonement in two hours and 10 minutes (enacted by the very appealing James McAvoy, no less) or listen to it on audiotape, why bother working through the 371-page novel? For that matter, why trudge through the newspaper when you can turn on CNN? Why puzzle over a manual when you can YouTube the instructions? Everyone knows the book is always better than the movie, but is there any real advantage to getting your information by reading it?

Yes, according to neuroscience—your mind will most definitely thank you.

2011 logo
This article is part of's 2011 Feel Good Challenge. Join now—and move closer to the life you want!

Just like muscles, the brain benefits from a good workout. And reading is more neurobiologically demanding than processing images or speech. As you're absorbing, say, this article, "parts of the brain that have evolved for other functions—such as vision, language, and associative learning—connect in a specific neural circuit for reading, which is very challenging," says Ken Pugh, PhD, president and director of research of Haskins Laboratories, which is devoted to the science of language and affiliated with Yale. "A sentence is shorthand for a lot of information that must be inferred by the brain." In general, your intelligence is called to action, as is greater concentration. "We are forced to construct, to produce narrative, to imagine," says Maryanne Wolf, director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University and author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain. "Typically, when you read, you have more time to think. Reading gives you a unique pause button for comprehension and insight. By and large, with oral language—when you watch a film or listen to a tape—you don't press pause."

The benefits of all this mental activity include keeping your memory sharp, your learning capacity nimble, and your mind basically hardier as you age. No one's advising that you toss the DVD player—or books on tape, which, Pugh says, provide more work for your brain than seeing a movie—but print should take up part of your life too. A literate mind is a more complex one. "There's a richness that reading gives you," Wolf says, "an opportunity to probe more than any other medium I know of. Reading is about not being content with the surface." Even when it is superficial (what's a plane ride without a little celebrity gossip?), indulging in a tabloid beats watching TV—just processing the words boosts the brain. "If you had your druthers," Pugh says, "you'd rather be reading."

Keep Your Mind Sharp

Read more:

Now now something for the adults: Kids books that adults will love too

Early Lit Tip Tuesday Week One

For the next 42 weeks. I'm going to be showcasing a YouTube video featuring early literacy and/or early education tips. And lucky you, you get to start with week one! Enjoy!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Good Night Construction Site, Good Night Baby

Image Courtesy of
Today I brought home a new kid's book for little man, he's been fascinated by cars, trucks, trains and all things that go, So I thought I would cater to his desire for things that go, and brought home Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site.

Let me tell you, I am in love with this book! As a kid, I loved the Snort in Are You My Mother, and Mike Mulligan's Steam Shovel. GNGNCS just can't even compare. It goes above and beyond. The best way I can describe the book, is that it's Bob the Builder, meets the Snort and Mike Mulligan, meets Pixar's Cars. This book is not only brilliant, it's award worthy.

The story itself talks about each different personified construction site vehicle, what it does during the day, and how it gets ready for bed. The crane truck even sleeps with a teddy bear. It's adorable. Each segment of the story concludes with saying "Shhhh", and wishing the construction site vehicle goodnight. Little Man loved saying "Shhh" along with the story. And the best part is that he was tuckered and ready for bed by the conclusion. Thank you Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld for reviving my childhood through your fabulous book and for putting my son to sleep. 

Don't believe me that this is one of the cutest books ever?? Check out the book trailer!

Ready to pick up a copy? Check out your local library or purchase a copy on Amazon.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Goldfish Car Wash Commercial, Imagination and Early Literacy in the Media

I was so impressed when I first saw this commercial. If you don't know already, imagination is a MAJOR tool in encouraging early literacy, and this commercial is the epitome of how we should all be fueling our children's imagination.

But don't take my word for it! Watch!

Fingerplay Fridays-Autumn

Image Courtesy of
In autumn when the trees are brown 
(ASL sign for tree)
The little leaves come tumbling down 
(Make falling motion with your hands, like ASL snow)
They do not make the slightest sound 
(Make "shhhh" motion with index finger to lips)
But lie so quietly on the ground 
(Spread hands out to illustrate "ground", a flat surface)
Until the wind comes puffing by 
(Blow into cupped hands)
And blows them off towards the sky 
(Make explosive motion toward the sky)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday-Halloween 2011

2011 marks Lil' Man's second Halloween. Sadly, I think last year was more fun for him. Why? This year, I spent Halloween laid up with the worst sore throat that I've ever had in my LIFE, while Lil' Man had Halloween at Grandpa's...
The *HOT* new Elmo this holiday season-- Elmo Mows The Lawn :)

There was a greater interest in lawn mowing than in Trick-or-Treating

Even the dog wanted in on the action!

Examining his haul

This year Lil' Man's pumpkin was MUCH more simple, i.e. We couldn't find the carving kit, and I refused to buy a new one. :)

 **All Photos Are Copyright**

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dropping the ball, being sick, and Chicago Tourism.

Blair and I at "Cloud Gate"
Image copyright
So I kinda dropped the ball on the three days of Halloween finger plays. I ended up being incredibly sick by Halloween, so little man practically missed out. Thankfully, he has a wonderful Grandpa who made sure that he didn't miss out on the Trick or Treating fun. I will make it up to you though, I'm going to start posting "Finger play Fridays" so there will be a new one to enjoy each week.

During "sick-week", my friend from Australia came to visit. I haven't seen her in 9 years, so she got my undivided attention. Thankfully, I was able to get some antibiotics and join her on a girl's weekend away in Chicago. I had a blast, but it was hard to be away from little man for the first time.

So this week, I thought I'd focus on the excellent early literacy initiatives that I saw while I was in the city.

My foot compared to Apatosaurus
Image copyright
One of our first stops was The Field Museum. Though we only saw the Dinosaurs and Native Americans (we had five different attractions to visit with our CityPass), the exhibits were nothing short of AMAZING. There were many hands on activities, one of my favorites was comparing your foot to an Apatosaurus. This particular activity provides and excellent opportunity to talk about big and small with your child, and or heavy and light. You could also spend time talking about the opposites between humans and dinosaurs. The possibilities are endless.

The next of our stops was The Shedd Aquarium. Shedd is by far my favorite attraction in the city. I went once four years ago, and this year I noticed some major revisions to the exhibits that focused on early literacy. That, or I just didn't pay that much attention the last time I was there. :)

Shedd Aquatic Show
Image Copyright
One of the best early literacy attractions at Shedd is located in the "basement" of the building, underneath the Aquatic show tank. When you descend underneath the aquatics tank, you see a whole new world with dolphins, belugas, and penguins. There is also a hands on exploration table about tide pool animals and organisms.  It is the perfect opportunity to talk about textures--what appears rough or smooth, and to to talk about sizes, what is big and small.

Kids will have the most fun in the interactive penguin exhibit where a they can climb around and act like penguins, they can even slide down a pretend ice slide on their bellies, just like penguins do.

One Book, One Chicago Initiative
Image Copyright

The one thing that I noticed about the city of Chicago itself is that they care about their libraries and literacy. Every where I went, I saw signs promoting reading. It intrigued me so much, that I just had to get a picture next to one. :)

When it comes to libraries and literacy, Chicago gets 5 out of 5 stars from me!