Forcing the Bloom

Happy, Healthy Mommy Blog


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ABC Sticky Note Game

My three-year old is working on mastering beginning word sounds.  As his vocabulary and speech improves, he is able to associate more words.  My toddler and his grandpa play a game where they take turns thinking of a word that starts with each letter of the alphabet.  We made up a new game today!

I gave my toddler a sticky note with a letter on it – “A” then “B” and so on.  He took the sticky note and together we looked for things around the house that started with that letter.  Then he “stickied” the object by placing the sticky note on it.  Some objects where a little challenging, such as the cat, but he tried!  This game could be expanded to word ending sounds, middle word sounds, rhyming words or the entire word.  Of course, in the end there are stickies all over the house but that’s ok with me!

Apples (decorative), coconuts (a lamp made out of coconuts), and eggs (hard-boiled)!  Just a few of the beginning sound words that were stickied today!

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Road Trip Ideas for Kids

Summers are all about the road trips.  Are we there yet?  Are we there yet?  

The real question is how to keep the kids busy until we are there, wherever there may be.  Beach?  Grandma’s house?  Camp?  We’re about to finish up our adventure in Washington, D.C.  Then we are off to the beach in a few weeks.  In the fall, we’re visiting St. Louis.  Whew!  I don’t even like to travel!  How is it that I travel more with children then I ever did before they were born?

Since I try to minimize screen time, I was very excited about this little find at the library – Playaway.  You can rent these all-in-one recorded book devices at the library or buy them online (playaway.com or Amazon).  The handheld devices are light and easy for my toddler to start and stop.  One device usually has one recorded book but some have a collection of short books.  You can get all types of books – children’s, young adult, classics.

My toddler has been enjoying listening to books via Playaway in the car and it’s a great activity for a long car trip.  Since your child uses headphones to listen, that means you don’t have to listen.  Sometimes I like to listen to music and stories with my child but sometimes mommy needs quiet time!  My favorite part is hearing my toddler burst out laughing in a seemingly random way when everything and everyone else is quiet.  It’s almost as good as hearing him talk to himself.  You could give your child an actual book to hold while they listen or just let them listen without any visuals.  Either way is fun.

What are some interesting ways to keep kids busy in the car?  Have any long car trips planned for this summer?

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Get Ready for Summer Reading: Encourage “WILD READERS”

Are your kids “wild readers”?  Are you?  I know I am!  For one, I read a book about reading.  But how do I share that love of books with my children?

I just finished Donalyn Miller’s “Reading in the Wild.”  A perfect book to get ready for summer reading!  This book is about how to cultivate lifelong reading habits.  Although Miller specifically talks about her experiences teaching 6th graders to love reading (beyond her classroom), I thought her insights applied to everyone, including me (mom).

I have to admit that I grabbed this book simply based on the title.  WILD READERS!  I want that for my kids!  Wild readers read because they love reading.  Nothing can stop them from reading.  They read whenever they get the chance.  They know what they want to read next.  They have favorite authors and series.  They are confident in their book selections.  They seek out reading communities and enjoy talking with over readers.

If you have a house full of wild readers or you want to help your kids become wild readers, this is the book for you.  There are an AMAZING number of things we do that we think encourage reading but instead squash our children’s interest in reading.  Do we give our children enough opportunities to read?  Do we allow them the opportunity for self-selection?

If you want to kick off summer reading with a BANG, I recommend checking this book out first!  Then hit the library.

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TV for Babies?

Yesterday (3/30/15) the Wall Street Journal reported on a new TV channel just for babies called BabyFirst.  According to the article, “It’s Really Here: TV for 6-Month-Olds” BabyFirst reaches 50 million households.  Although the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends NO TV for children under the age of two, this is apparently not the trend.  The article stated that children 2-4 years old average about 34 HOURS of screen PER WEEK.  Yikes!  It’s not like we’re missing the recommended target (zero screen time) a little bit.  We are way off.  That’s more than a day and a half each week or 73 1/2 days a year!

Interestingly, I read this article right finishing a two-week experiment.  I recorded the number of hours my toddler (3 years old) and I spent in nature and the number of hours of his screen time.  I did this mainly because his temper tantrum rate had increased to about 1 tantrum a day, lasting well over an hour.  I was unsure what to do so I prescribed some nature therapy.  What I found was that the more time we spent in nature and away from any screens, the less tantrums.  Now I admit that there could be many other variables involved, such as not feeling well, travel, food, sleep, weather.  Although I can’t conclusively prove it, I sure seems like more nature and less screen time has significantly reduced tantrums.  I was so happy and inspired by the result that we weaned off of screen time almost completely.  He still watches some TV here and there, such as March Madness with his Dad, but it is SO much easier to just say no – no screen time.  Otherwise, I completely lose track and without even knowing it screen time slowly increases until it’s out of control.  If, however, the idea of NO TV or screen time seems too extreme then you could still keeping a chart and track screen time.  Post it on the refrigerator and try for some time with nature.

My heart goes out to parents and I know all about the TV temptation.  My favorite screen time is at a restaurant when my toddler finishes his food in about 5 minutes.  If I hand him my iphone and he becomes engrossed in YouTube or games, my husband and I can almost have a real conversation.  It’s almost like a date!  But at what cost?  The last time we went out to eat I resisted pulling out my phone and we survived just fine.  We talked more with our toddler and did not stay as long but I think it was worth it.  And there were no tantrums.

How do you limit screen time?  Is screen time out of control?  What do you think about the new TV channel for babies?

 


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Toddler (Spring) Fever

Springtime is like a toddler.  One moment a lamb and the next moment a lion.  Quick to change, a whirlwind of activity, excited about everything, and ready to begin again and again and again.  My toddler is about to turn 3 and just like the 2 year old lion we met at the zoo – he’s found his roar!  (Lions develop their roaring capability after they turn two.)  Just like I’ve completely given up on the weatherman (because who can blame him, the weather changes every second in the spring – rain one minute, sun the next, 70 degrees back to 50 degrees in a day), I have given up predicting my toddler.  My 3 1/2 month old is more predictable!  I DO know that summer will arrive eventually.

This past week I retreated to my parents house at the beach for a respite (or as close as I’ll ever get!).  My husband is away traveling and in addition to that disruption we have dealt with stomach bugs, sore throats (me), runny noses, temper tantrums, and the usual travel conditions – new routines, new foods, new places, new temper tantrums (did I mention that already?).  When I think about all we’ve done, it seems that my toddler has weathered the storm quite heroically.  Through it all I have continued a learn-on-the-go, Montessori-inspired, education philosophy.  The beach is one HUGE sensorial bin.  I have “followed the child” down the beach for an aimless, toddler walk.  We have discovered nature at the zoo and listened to grandparents reading stories.

So, my question…how do you keep education rolling along when everything else is constantly changing?  School work during trips?  At the grandparent’s house?  At the beach?  On springbreak?

Pictures from our trip to Nana’s and Papa’s at the beach…

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Distinguishing Sounds Activity

I believe there are several versions of this activity.  I’m curious how you would structure this game.  I took three noisy items (keys, bells, and rocks), showed them to my toddler (almost 3 years old) and then placed the items in three brown bags.  I shook each bag and had B guess which item was in the bag.  He had to guess based only on the sound.  He also had fun reaching into the bags, feeling the items, and naming them – so distinguishing the items based on touch.  This activity encourages your toddler to pay attention, listen, and distinguish sounds.

Do you have a similar distinguishing sounds activity?

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Toddler Letter Activities

I am always working on letters with my toddler (almost 3 years old).  The general learning pattern so far has been 1.) identify letters and the phonetic sounds 2.) learn beginning sounds of words 3.) learn to sound out words and 4.) learn ending sounds of words.  Sounding out the ends of words is still very challenging.  Even though he is learning to sound out words, we still go back and focus on specific letters to encourage mastery.  It is very motivating for him to work on things that stretch his learning as well as things that he has mastered.  And of course, the number one learning activity for letters is READING out loud together!  We read everyday and visit the library every week.  Here are some shelf work ideas involving LETTERS.

How are you teaching letters and early reading to your little ones?

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