Forcing the Bloom

Happy, Healthy Mommy Blog


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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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Book Recommendation: “Better Than Before”

I’m enjoying Gretchen Rubin’s new book Better than Before.  I loved her first two books The Happiness Project and Happier at Home.  Through her books, I learned that I’m an “obliger” and a “finisher”.  I do very well with external expectation but not inner expectations.  Meaning, I put everyone else first before myself.  I wake up and wonder: What is expected of me today?  I’m great at being a role model and supporter but I tend to not leave time for what I want to do.  With these types of tendencies, I need external accountability.  I find this information SO POWERFUL when it comes to making or breaking habits and organizing or prioritizing my day.  Now I know why I LOVE to read but never find the time!  If you want to figure out whether you are an obliger (me), upholder, rebel or questioner (my husband) you can take a short quiz on Rubin’s website.

I highly recommend this book!  What are you reading?

 


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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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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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Book Recommendations

I am looking a few good book recommendations.  I’m always hesitant to pick up a new book…UNLESS someone has recommended it!  What are you reading?  Any recommendations?  A favorite parenting or Montessori book?  A favorite young adult, science fiction?  I enjoy almost all genres.

Are you on Goodreads.com?  I have really enjoyed using this site to track my reading and get recommendations.  There is something very satisfying about checking off that you’ve read another book.  It motivates me to read more.  I have made it a priority to do things that make me happy everyday.  Reading makes me happy.  I used to think it was selfish – taking free time to read.  But now I can acknowledge that I’m a better person and mom when I’m happy.  So that means reading everyday.  And right now I need a new book!  🙂

Here’s what I’ve read recently…

The Book Thief by Lois Lowry

Christian Healer by Yvonne Cache von Fettweis and Robert Townsend Warneck

The Giver by Louis Lowry

The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman 

Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv

 


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Adventures in NY City

I’m excited to visit New York City!  We leave Saturday and will be there for several months.  We found a furnished apartment on the Upper West Side.  It would be much EASIER to stay home and let my husband visit us on the weekends (I seriously considered this).  BUT, I also tend to choose the more (or most) difficult option.  Beside, it will be an adventure!  Hadn’t I been asking for an adventure?  Yes, I’m 5 months pregnant.  And, yes, I’m pulling my toddler out of preschool (Montessori toddler class) for a few months.  I’m disrupting his life and routine.  And, yes, the BIG APPLE is very different from our suburban life.  We’re going from big house to tiny apartment and trading our car for the subways and buses.  BUT, this will give me great blog material!

Since we leave this weekend, I’m taking the opportunity to review my Summer 2014 goals for B (28 months) and make new ones for NY City.  Here is an assessment of my success with our Summer goals.  And as I mentioned in the past, I’m shying away from a curriculum per se.  I do, however, prefer structure – aka a list of goals or suggestions for things to work on.

Summer Goals – June through July (27-28 months old)

1.) Potty Trained   – no, some progress but still working on this

2.) Count to 20 – yes, he likes to count!

3.) Practice writing – yes, we practiced, not much but a few times

4.) Build vocabulary – yes, I’ve seen large growth in his vocabulary

5.) Join book club at library – yes, we enjoyed visiting the library about twice a week

6.) Attend vacation bible school – yes, we attending all the meetings

7.) Start geography and science – yes, we did several activities in these areas

8.) Make nature table – no, didn’t even start

9.) Weekly art projects – yes and no, we did art almost every week but not all the weeks

10.) Get ready for baby – yes, B went to all my appointments, we talk about his little brother everyday and he seem to get it

Here are my NY City Goals – August – October (29-31 months) 

As you can see, some of the goals are specific and some are open-ended.  I’m sure I will need to adjust them.  

1.) Observe B daily – watch B work or play silently and write down his interests, help him cultivate his interests

2.) Be a conscious role model – be more aware of B watching me and be a role model of good behavior

3.) Make the library our second home – find a library close by and visit regularly

4.) Independence – encourage and develop potty training, self-care, language and life skills

5.) Explore – learning on the go – trips to museum and parks, no rushing (go on toddler time), talk and learn as we go

 

Here are some fun pictures of our Montessori-inspired (and other) activities this week.

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