Tuesday, September 4, 2012

September is Library Card Sign-Up Month!

Let me ask you a few questions...

Do you know where your local library is?
Do you have a library card?
But most importantly, 
Do you use it?

It's a well known fact that the best way to encourage early literacy in children is to read to them. One of the best resources for parents and caregivers encouraging early literacy is their local library. And the best part, the library is FREE! Well, you pay for it with your tax dollars, so you might as well use it! :) So this month, I challenge you to stop by your local library, apply for a library card, and chat-up your local librarians. I guarantee you'll be surprised by how much your library has to offer. From books, music, DVDs, computers, toys and puppets, to story times - there is something for everyone in your family!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

List of Educational Free Apps!

I'm not very app savvy--I don't own an iPhone or an iPad (Apple, if you're listening, I'd be happy to test-drive one for you. Hehe! :)), but for those of you that are, here's a great listing of educational apps!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Fingerplay Fridays-The Watermelon Song/Fingerplay

Image from Wikipedia
Summer's right around the corner, I can tell by the amount of watermelons at my local fruit market (There's a TON!)! In honor of buying my first of the season, and just in time for your Memorial Day cookout, here's the Watermelon Song! Enjoy!

(To the tune of Are You Sleeping?)

Watermelon,  Watermelon, (Make a circle with your arms)
On the vine, On the vine, (Cure hands and arms beside body)
Sweet, red, and juicy, Sweet, red, and juicy, (Rub your tummy)
Image from maine.gov
Please be mine! Please be mine! (Palms together as though pleading)

Watermelon, Watermelon,  (Make a circle with your arms)
Thump, Thump, Thump, (Make a knocking motion with your hand)
Thump, Thump, Thump, " "
I think you are ready, I think you are ready, (Point, resting finger on temple)
Big and Plump! Big and Plump! (Make a circle with your arms)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wordless Wednesday- I Must REALLY Want To Be A Librarian

Yesterday I showed up to work, and without warning was dressed darn near the same as one of the librarians. Apparently, I want to be a librarian so badly, I subconsciously dress like them. Oh, and I started work on my grad school application last night--for Library Science.
I apologize for the camera phone graininess...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Early Lit Tip Tuesday-Encouraging a Love of Reading in Your Infant

A common question among parents is "I know that I'm supposed to encourage my child to read, but just HOW do I do it?"

I'm here to tell you that the answer is a lot more simple than you think.

Read Aloud.

You're probably thinking, really Lisa? That's it?

Yep. That's it.

Reading aloud to your child is THE best way to encourage a love of reading, and you should start reading aloud to your baby from birth-though it's never too late to start.

Reading aloud to an infant soothes them. They love the sound of their parent's voice, and the more that they hear it, the stronger the bond between parent and child. This simple act of soothing by talking and reading to your child evolves as your child grows older.

As your infant become a toddler, hearing your voice and exposing  your child to the varied word sounds that are delivered through books, your child becomes aware of speech patterns, and is acquainted with specific speech sounds, even if they cannot yet speak themselves. This is people that don't learn their second language from birth will always have an accent.

As your child becomes aware of the speech patterns of the written word. Though they cannot read, they are becoming aware of the writing on the page. They are beginning to identify the letters on the page, and the sounds that go along with them. This identification, that your child isn't giving you much clue that it's going on, is actually laying the foundation for learning to read. You may find that your child actually learns to read much faster than other children in their age group once the concept of reading is actually taught in school, all because of hearing stories read aloud to them.

But you're still might be thinking, Yeah, that's great Lisa. I get it, reading to your child is great. But my kid won't sit still for a story.

Sitting still for a story is a learned ability. I.e. it becomes part of a routine-Mommy or Daddy reads to me, I sit still and listen. And as with any routine, the best way to create one, is to practice.

I would suggest starting with a bedtime story, put on PJ's get all ready for bed, and then sit down somewhere quiet together, with as few distractions as possible. Start to read. If baby only wants to sit still for a few minutes, good job, praise him or her, and move on. Keep at this routine every day/night, and before you know it, your child will be sitting through an entire story! But don't confine yourself to just one time of day to read! Once your child gets the hang of sitting still, any time is a good time to read. According to Mem Fox, your goal should be to read three books with your child a day:
  • One old "favorite"
  • One familiar book
  • One new book
Another way to encourage reading is to provide your child with lots of books that they can "read" on their own. Boardbooks and cloth books are quite sturdy, and can easily be put in a bin for baby to browse and play with. You don't have to spend money to provide your child with these books either. Most public libraries loan out boardbooks free of charge, and you'll even be able to provide your child with a new selection every time the ones your currently have checked out are due!

Now that you have a plan for how to get your child to sit still, and books from your library to read, when you're reading, BE ANIMATED! Though you may feel like the biggest dork in the entire world, your child will think you are the coolest, funniest, person ever! Don't be afraid to be boisterous, silly, and make funny faces, you're just enhancing the story, and enhancing your child's learning!

Now that you know how to read to your baby, what are you waiting for? Get reading!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Fingerplay Fridays- You Are My Sunshine

Image from lovecommakelley.buzznet.com
The sun is shining where I am and I hope it is where you are as well- Enjoy this fingerplay based on the classic song

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
(point to others, then circle arms over head)
You make me happy when skies are gray.
(hug yourself)
You’ll never know, dear
(shake finger and head, “NO”)
How much I love you
(spread arms far apart)
Please don’t take my sunshine away.
(circle arms over head and sway)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Children's Book Week- Farm Day!

Yesterday, we had the privilege of kicking off our family's celebration of Children's Book Week with a bang! We took a family field trip to Kensington Metropark's Farm Center.

Before we went, DH and I shared books about what happens on a farm with Little Man. We talked about:

  • The animals that live on the farm and the sounds they make
  • The machines that farmers use on the farm
  • That farms give us food: fruits and veggies, milk and eggs. (We choose not to go beyond a G rating when it came to the meat process)
Some of the books we read are (in no particular order):
  • The Cow Loves Cookies* by Karma Wilson
  • Senses on the Farm by Shelly Rotner
  • What the Ladybug Heard* by Julia Donaldson
  • Farm* by Elisha Cooper
  • Farmyard Beat by Lindsey Craig
  • The Farm by Gail Saunders-Smith
  • Cows to the Rescue by John Himmelman
  • Chickens to the Rescue by John Himmelman
  • My Day at the Farm by Jory Randall
  • Grandpa's Tractor by Michael Garland
  • Moo, Moo, Brown Cow, Have You Any Milk? by Phillis Gershator
*Some of my personal favorites. :)

Once at the Farm, it was a trip to remember. Little Man LOVED looking at the animals and hearing all of the different sounds on the farm, but he wasn't too hot on actually touching the animals. I don't blame him, I wouldn't want to get too close to a cow that's almost 5 times as tall as me!

I hope you enjoy some of the photos we took!

Little Lamb


These little piggies were only two days old! Born 5-4-12

Goats have really strange eyes

The Grass is Always Greener

An old gear....

Old Farm Equipment

Down by the water

Walking with Daddy

My Little Man

"Mumma! I picked you a flower!"

Through the grill of the wooden tractor

Driving the tractor

Friday, May 4, 2012

Fingerplay Fridays (Double Play!)- Rain and Rainbows

It seems like there's storms across the Midwest today, and it's definitely raining here, so why not do a little fingerplay about the weather with your kids? These come from ChildFun.com

image from blog.chron.com
Tune: Row Row Row Your Boat
Rain, rain falling down, (Flutter fingers up and down.)
Landing all around. (Move arms out to sides.)
What a lovely sound you make (Cup hands behind ears.)

Splashing on the ground. (Wiggle fingers up and down.)

And after the rain, everyone hopes to see a rainbow!

image from planetpals.com
Rainbow Song 
Tune: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
When the rain falls from the sky, (Flutter fingers downward.)
Don't forget to look up high. (Cup hand above eyes and look up.)
If the sun is shining there, (Make a circle with arms above head.)
You may find a rainbow fair. (Sweep arms in an arc above head.)
Red orange, yellow, green and blue.
And you'll see there's purple, too

Thursday, May 3, 2012

What Are You Reading? Thursdays - Shaggy Dogs, Waggy Dogs

Since Tuesday, I was being begged and pleaded with -- "Mumma, Pwetty pwease can we go the library?" And while I love that my child loves to the library, sometimes it doesn't always immediately fit in the schedule. Nevertheless, we went yesterday and picked up a couple new books, giving us our "What Are You Reading? Thursdays" post! Here's this week's read:

Little Man really enjoyed this one (as he does with almost any dog book):

What are you reading? Don't forget to link up, and leave a comment!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wordless Wednesday-Birthday Flowers

My husband and son got me some beautiful flowers for my birthday last Monday. This morning I noticed water or nectar on the pistol of the flower and attempted to capture it. 
I apologize for the graininess, I shot it with my phone.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Early Lit Tip Tuesday- Make It A "Something" Kind of Day

Magnets for purchase on Etsy.com
by artist Jen Skelley
Every day is an opportunity for your child (and you, believe it or not) to learn something new. So why not make every day a "something" kind of day?
How to you make a "something" kind of day? It's easy!

  • Pick a topic. Letters, Sounds, Numbers, Colors, Shapes, etc.
  • Then break it down even further.
  • Pick a letter of the alphabet, pick a sound (ck, ch, long a, long e, etc.), pick a number, pick a color, pick a shape.
  • Then, focus on that one topic for the rest of the day, the rest of the week, the rest of the month. However long you and your child choose to do so.
  • Make it fun! Wake your child up, and declare, "It's "circle day today! Let's find circles today!" Maybe dress them in a corresponding color, or a shirt that has a matching shape on it. Print off a coloring page, and color it in the color of the day, or cut the shape of the day out of construction paper, or trace/color the letter or number of the day. The options are endless!

For example, Little Man and I are currently working on his colors (he has his letters and numbers pretty down pat). And colors for him, like the can be with other children, are hard to learn. With so many different shades and hues, it's hard to know what is green, and what is yellow sometimes.

So today, at our house, it's green day. Little Man is wearing a green shirt. So any time that I see green today, I'll ask Little Man if he sees any green and give him the opportunity to identify it (we might even play an actual game of iSpy). If he can't find it, I'll point it out to him. It is through every day activities such as this that children learn and retain information.

What something are you and your child going to focus on today?

Monday, April 30, 2012

Review: Mayim Bialik's Beyond the Sling

As promised, I started Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way by Blossom and  Big Bang Theory's beloved Mayim Bialik (she's got her Ph D. in neuroscience now, if you haven't heard, the woman is SMART!).

Anywhoo, Bialik is a self-proclaimed "green" and "granola" mama. So I knew what I was getting into when I picked up her book. I say this because, I'm typically an "eye-roller" when is comes to the Granolas. I am the opposite of a Granola, at least by most measures of the term. I had a scheduled c-section, I breastfed until my lady bits just couldn't take it anymore--and couldn't establish a supply (read stopped for my convenience), fed organic baby food until we just couldn't afford it anymore (WIC only provided non-organic for us while my DH was unemployed), we eat a standard American diet including beef, I use disposable diapers, and my son plays with gasp, PLASTIC toys--some of which are even from China, double gasp
Image from treehugger.com

But, after reading Bialik's book, she (almost) has me as an "Attachment Parenting (AP)" convert, at least I feel a little more "crunchy" after some shifting of my thoughts on certain topics. What is attachment parenting? From what I glean from Bialik's book, attachment parenting is a form of parenting naturally, where you use your primal instincts to raise your child, providing the ideal attachment to the mother, and sense of security for the child. Some of the things that AP parents practice are:
  • "Natural, drug-free birth
  • Breastfeeding
  • Sensitivity to your children and their needs
  • Bonding through touch
  • Co-sleeping
  • Be an available parent
  • Positive discipline, i.e. no spanking or other forms if corporal punishment
  • Balance of the child's needs and your own" (Beyond the Sling, p.10)
Bialik goes on to back up all of these practices with scientific evidence from reputable sources like the AAP.  But all of the beliefs are rooted in the fact that these are all practices that our "cave people" ancestors did, and most Non-Western communities still do as the norm.

Her argument for natural childbirth, and VBAC (vaginal birth after Cesarean) has me really considering establishing a natural birth plan for when I have my next child. And her honest approach to breast feeding and her tips for establishing breast feeding support, have given me the power to actually WANT to breastfeed, where as before, I viewed it as an obligation to my baby.

With my next child, I also hopeful to be an avid "babywearer". My son, was diagnosed with colic, but it is evident to me in hind-sight that he was just a "high-needs" baby
\ that wanted to be held a lot. I was of the school of thought that you can hold a baby too much, and that the only way to establish independence is to put them down. Bialik's emphasis on a baby's "wants are their needs" for at least their first year of life, really changed my mind on this. I truly believe that if I just would have worn my son, and kept him close, that he would not have been such a screamer and I wouldn't have ended up with post-partum depression.

I also endorse Bialik's take on buying limited amounts of "baby-stuff", and staying away from "unnecessary medical intervention". However, there are some portions of her book that I disagree with.

For starters, Bialik does not let her children watch TV or movies. The book seems to illustrate that her main reasoning for this is because it encourages consumerism in children. I.e. they see Dora on T.V., so they are going to want the Dora doll at the store. Though the AAP doesn't approve of limited T.V. watching until after age 2, my son has been "watching" T.V. since about 3 months. I view the T.V. as a learning tool. My son ONLY watches educational television, with no commercials, with one exception. Disney movies, specifically Cars. It was evident in my son's ability to sign around 9 months that the Baby Signing Time DVDs encouraged his signing. It is also evident in his ability to count to 10 and name all of the letters of the alphabet before the age of two, that watching shows like Team UmiZoomi and SuperWhy are encouraging his alphanumeric skills. Does he point out all of the stuff in the store that has Lightening McQueen and Dora on it? Sure he does, but do I buy all of it for him? No. Because that is part of effective parenting too, that is, teaching kids that they can't always get what they want.

I'm also not totally on board with Bialik's takes on pressure and discipline. 

Overall, Bialik's Beyond the Sling is a great book, and well argued. It really got me, a not so crunchy mama, thinking, and provided me with a very well-reasoned, and honest approach to this alternative way of parenting. To be honest, I couldn't put the book down, in part because I find this style of parenting so fascinating (Bialik's second son being "potty-trained from birth" and the topic of Elimination Communication was a jaw dropper.), and because I now wish that I could parent in such a fashion (I think I would have to develop a WHOLE new idea of patience). Overall, I give this book 5 out of 5 stars for it's honest, real-life application and it's ability to open my eyes, and leave my judgement behind. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Mother's Day Giveaway!

PhotobucketAs moms, we're all overworked and under paid. Not to mention, being a mother is something that only a mother can understand.

So this mother's day, moms Susan and Janice over at 5 Minutes For Mom have decided to honor us all, by allowing us the opportunity to win a TON of swag from Coldwater Creek valued at a whopping $476.65! 

Not super stoaked about a Coldwater Creek giveaway? There are other giveaways (necklaces, cash cards, handbags) for mother's day too! You can enter until May 4th, so make sure to check them out here.

Head on over to 5 Minutes For Mom to enter! Hint: Or just hit the button on the right of this post :)

Happy Mother's Day All!

Fingerplay Friday-Springtime Showers

Five little flowers standing in the sun (hold up five fingers)
See their heads nodding, bowing one by one? (bend fingers several times)
Down, down, down comes the gentle rain (raise arms and wiggle fingers as you slowly lower arms illustrating falling rain)

And the five little flowers lift their heads up again! (hold up five fingers)

Image from deepfriar.wordpress.com

Thursday, April 26, 2012

"What Are You Reading?" Thursdays-One Foot, Two Feet

I've decided to start a new weekly meme, aren't you lucky?! On Thursdays, I'll be featuring a link-up called "What Are You Reading?" (Fun Blog Badge coming),  for you to share with others what you're reading to your kids, or even what you're reading yourself. The most important thing is that you're reading! Here's my post for this first week. Link-up and leave a comment at the bottom. Can't wait to see what you're reading!
This morning's read to Little Man

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday-Fun With Great Grandma

I never had the opportunity to say that I have a Great Grandma, at least an alive one. But Little Man is lucky enough to be able to say that he has TWO!

Little Man and Great Grandma April 2012
Little Man and Great Grandma on her 91st Birthday!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Early Lit Tip Tuesday-Don't JUST Read a Book

Reading to your child is one of the best ways to prepare them to read on their own, as well as develop a love of reading--so that maybe you won't have to twist their arm totally off to get them to read in high school.

If you are currently reading to your child. THAT'S GREAT! *HIGH FIVE*
And if you are not, I encourage you to start.
Here are a couple tips to consider, to make sure your child is getting the most out of a book that they can.

If you are reading a counting book, read the words on the page, and then reinforce the numbers by counting the items on the page.

If you are reading a book about colors, read the words on the page, and then reinforce the colors by naming the items that are that color on the page.

If you are reading a rhyming book, read the words on the page, and then reinforce the rhyming words.

In today's fast paced society, parents sometimes rush through a story just so they can "get it done" and "have read to their child", but it's important to remember to slow down. The techniques mentioned previously do not take up all that much more time, and the amount your child can learn from them is infinite.

After all, what could be more important than slowing down, spending quality time with your child, and preparing them for a lifetime of learning?!

Monday, April 23, 2012

26 Years Young?

Image borrowed from
Today, is my birthday. I turn 26 today. Greater than a quarter century, 4 years less than 30. Yes, that is how I'm measuring time these days. I think that's because I feel SO OLD most days. Some of the reasons I feel SO OLD I'm proud of, others, not so much. For example-

At 26, I never would have dreamed that:

I would celebrate my 4th wedding anniversary with a much better guy than my high school sweetheart.

I would have the most AMAZING, GIFTED, ADORABLE, 2 year old son (that serenaded me with the most precious rendition of 'Happy Birthday' I have ever heard this morning).

That I would have such a passion for promoting literacy in young children.

That I would be on the verge of entering grad school to obtain a degree in library and information science.

That I would be a fledgling blogger.

That I would be an aspiring children's book author.

That I'd STILL be trying to find my way financially.

That I'd be in bed by 10p.m. on BOTH Friday and Saturday nights, while my friends that I hardly ever see are out partying at the bar.

BUT it is through these "dreams" that I'm deriving my goals for my 26th year.

I am going to spend as much time with, and enjoy, my son and my husband as much as possible.

I am going to make time to see my girlfriends more often.

I'm going to apply to grad school this fall.

I'm going to put as much energy into my blog, as I do into watching TV. (That's kind of a lot. LOL)

I'm going to start actively writing and revising my children's book--and pandering it out to publishers. And stop making excuses that I don't have an illustrator for my story.

I'm going to find a way, through writing and/or promoting literacy, to provide for my family! (If you have opportunities, send them my way. wink. wink.)

I guess there's just one thing left to figure out, WHAT I'M GOING TO GET MYSELF! :) 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Child Actors Grow Up To Be Parenting Book Authors?

Okay. So maybe I've been living under a rock. But, I just discovered (while trolling Amazon for free Kindle books) that Mayim Bialik is not the only child actress to write a book on parenting. Punky Brewster, aka Soleil Moon Frye also wrote a book on parenting (not that she has a degree in Neuroscience or anything else that I'm aware of)....hummmm....maybe I'll be looking into this too....not to say that I'll believe anything that a celeb puts my way, but it is interesting to see how/why they are raising their children--particularly because we all get to watch and see if it worked!

Disciplining a Two-Year Old

Little Man turned two not too long ago, and if the "Terrible Twos" really do exist, he is expressing them quite vibrantly.

Since he was able to grasp the concept of time out (and even before), we've used the Jo Frost "Supernanny" approach to discipline.
Her approach is such:
Time Out-Explain why they are in time out and leave them for their age in minutes
Ask why they were in time out
Ask for an apology
Give hugs and kisses

But now, Little Man has gotten plain old sassy. I can't even tell you how many times I sit him in the timeout seat and he screams "Muma! Shut-Up!" (Yes, I know that he's heard this "somewhere" before), or I'm "Shhhhhh-ed", or he just sits there in defiance and screams. It's annoying. He's also started to get out of the chair, at which point I've been restarting the timer.


He RARELY is this defiant to his father.

So I'm on the hunt for a new disciplinary action plan.

Image borrowed from
kveller.com whom
 Mayim regularly writes for.
A couple weeks ago, I was watching The Talk on CBS and Mayim Bialik was on. I have so much respect for Mayim. She started as a "child actor" on Blossom, didn't let fame totally F up her life, got married had two kids, got her PhD in Neuroscience, and now acts on The Big Bang Theory. Pretty cool lady, pretty cool story if you ask me.

Image from glam.com
Anyhoo, when I found out that she had published a "Searsesque" book about parenting called Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way, I was dying to check it out. I know that both Mayim and her good friend Sara Gilbert are both pretty "granola" when it comes to raising their kids, and I have been far from such, but I at least want to see what she says. Heck, if it fixes Little Man's crazy defiance problems--I'll listen to anything she has to say! I got a copy of the book from the library, sorry Mayim--but I'm quite a bit of a frugalista, and I'm starting it tonight. I'll let you know what I think! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Free Alphabet Coloring Pages from LeapFrog

Freebies2DealsFor those of you that don't know, I'm kind of a fledgling couponer. I FINALLY made a binder because of the great binder tab dividers that Freebies 2 Deals has on thier page, saving me all of the effort! So I subscribed to thier e-mail notifications, and thanks to one of those e-mails, I was linked to these adorable alphabet coloring pages from LeapFrog.

This is just the letter A....

But you can print the entire PDF file with all of the letters and animals by clicking here.

Happy Coloring!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Early Lit Tip Tuesday - How children view movement

Comprehending movement can be difficult for a child. The concept of wind: you can't see it, but you can feel it, can be particularly difficult. This video gives a brief explanation of how children comprehend movement and some tips to aid in your child's comprehension.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Heart Sorting and Other Fun!

To celebrate Valentine's Day today with Little Man, I had some super fun, and educational activities planned for this morning.

We started out "coloring a Valentine's Day picture for daddy".

Here are some links to this, and other Valentine coloring pages:

We followed up our coloring project with a "Sorting Hearts Collage"
Learning where the different sizes go

Sorting the different sizes

Still perfecting our artwork

The finished product

To create this project, I cut three different sizes of hearts from templates (since cutting symmetrical hearts can be so tricky) on both red and pink construction paper for some Valentine's Day flair. I then labeled the white background construction paper with Little, Medium, and Big Hearts places. After showing Little Man where each of the three sizes went, he had fun matching up the sizes of the hearts. I glued them to the paper where he wanted them, he is only 22 months old after all. :)

If you would like to create this project, here are some links to different heart templates:

Enchanted Learning-Various Size Hearts
Kiddy House-Various Size Hearts
2020Site -Stylized Various Size Hearts

I ended our craft time this morning by surprising Little Man with his Valentine's Day present. Lightening McQueen and Tow Mater. I think the picture says it all:

Happy Valentine's Day!