Wednesday, March 9, 2011

World Read Aloud Day--Let's Celebrate Books!

In honor of World Read Aloud Day, let's celebrate books! 

Last year, I had the opportunity to travel to a few schools in Ethiopia.  I had prepared myself for the devastation of poverty, but I had not prepared myself for the lack of literacy.  

According to Ethiopia Reads
Ethiopia is home to an estimated 40 million children where 99% of the schools have no books and where 58% of Ethiopians age 15 and above can’t read.--Ethiopia Reads.
How fortunate our children are, to have been born in a country that embraces literacy and immerses children with print from birth.  

LitWorld is a nonprofit organization dedicated to making early exposure to literacy a worldwide norm.  With LitWorld's development of World Read Aloud Day,  we are...
 ...raising our voices together on this day to show the world’s children that we support their future: that they have the right to read, to write, and to share their words to change the world.
 World Read Aloud Day is about taking action to show the world that the right to read and write belongs to all people.
 Across the globe nearly 171 million children could be lifted out of poverty if they left school with basic reading and writing skills. Quality literacy education is the difference between life and death, prosperity and despair. This is literacy for survival.--LitWorld
We travel back to Ethiopia in 6 days and with us we are bringing the gift of literacy to over 200 children.  Thanks to the support of people around the world, bright colorful texts in English and Amharic will be held by young hands that may have never had the opportunity to turn the pages of a book.  

That experience, has really made me reflect on how fortunate my family has been to own a personal library.  Below are some of our favorite children's books.  

Take a moment today, search your bookshelves, visit the library and treasure the gift of literacy that we have been given and share a book with your child!  

For tips on making the most of your read alouds, visit one of our previous posts, "Bringing the Spark Back To Storytime"

Monday, February 28, 2011

Expressing LOVE to our Children

Several years ago, as I was preparing to teach a class on the "Five Love Languages of Children," written by Gary Chapman, I came up with my ownway of expressing love by turning the word, "Love" into an acronym. My next four posts will cover each letter of this most-important word.

L - Listen
O - Observe
V - Validate
E - Enjoy

What is "listening?" Listening is much more than hearing; it is an active way to communicate with another person. Active listening involves validating, confirming and rephrasing.

Parents and caregivers are so accustomed to guiding children, that we sometimes forget to listen to them. Below are some examples of ways to include active listening in your relationship with your child.

Child Says:  
Active Listening Response:

"She knocked down my tower!"  
You sound angry that your tower fell. What can you do? Would you like to talk to _________ about it?

"Me First!"  
Wow, you are really anxious to be the first one to have a snack. Let's think of a way to wait; do you have any ideas?

"You like him more"  
It sounds like you are feeling neglected. Would you like to tell me about it?

"I'm not bad"  
You spilled the paint. It sounds like you are feeling sad about that. Let's get it cleaned up together. We all make messes.

Active listening is an effective stabilizer of emotions and it also validates a person's feelings. We can teach our children how to be mature communicators as we actively listen to them.

Good luck working on this skill!

"It is the province of knowledge to speak, and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen."
Oliver Wendell Holmes

Saturday, February 5, 2011

I Love You To Pieces!!!

“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.”
-Rachel Carson

This year, spend some quality time with your preschooler and make a personalized Valentine that your loved ones will treasure forever!

  •      “I Love You to Pieces” sign
  •             Camera
  •       Thick paper or cardboard
  •       Old Jigsaw puzzle pieces
  •       Glue
  •      Any other decorations that you would like


1)  Have your child hold the sign that says “I Love You to Pieces”. 

2)  Dress them in their best smile and take their picture.

3)  Develop the picture or pictures.  Make more than one and surprise all of the grandmas and grandpas.
4)  Glue the picture onto a thick piece of paper or cardboard that is a little larger than the picture. (or you can purchase matte frames from your local craft store)

5)  Decorate the border with old jigsaw puzzle pieces.  These could be glued on as is or painted. 

6) Jazz it up with any other decorations that make you happy.

7) Finally, hand deliver it to that special someone!

"The best inheritance a parent can give to his children is a 
few minutes of their time each day."
                                                                                                  -M. Grundler

Image for "I Love You to Pieces" sign:

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sensory Awareness

Look for your child to exhibit sensory awareness.

Have your child identify hidden objects in a "feely" box by touch.

Cut the bottoms out of two empty, square tissue boxes, and tape the open ends together. Hide objects of various textures (cotton balls, rocks, sticky tape ball, sand paper, small toys, ice cube etc.) inside the box. Have your child use both hands to touch the objects and figure out what's inside the box.

For smaller items slip an object into a sock. Have your child try to identify the object from the outside of the sock and then by placing their hand inside the sock.

Give your child opportunities to experience various textures such as, mushy, slimy, rough, smooth, cold, wet, dry. Using a variety of descriptive words will help your child build their vocabulary.

    Cut arm holes in a large plastic bag to make a smock. Old vinyl tablecloths or shower curtains can help protect floors and tables.

Join your child in finger painting. For variety mix sand in the paint.

Have your child guess what is in a bowl with their eyes blindfolded. Vary the texture, size, weight and temperature of the items (cold, cooked spaghetti, dried oatmeal, feathers etc.)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Staying Warm: Bring 'Snow Day' Fun Inside!!!

According to, our area has accumulated about 6 inches of snow over the past week.  That sure doesn't sound like a lot, but to my kids, it's music to their ears.  6 inches of snow has equaled 3 extra days of sleeping in, 9 extra meals in the comfort of their own kitchen, and zero homework!

Being an educator, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to spend these treasured days at home with my children and also feel that giddy excitement at the announcement of a 'snow day'.  However, as we are in our third day of confinement, I find myself wondering how many days I can actually maintain the sanity of our household!

We have now exhausted every outdoor snow activity that we could dream up and frankly my toes can't handle another frigid moment outdoors. So we're ready to try this fun recipe and bring the 'Snow Day' fun into the warmth of our own house.  I'll let you know how it goes!

1.  Collect 5 cups of FRESH snow Don't pack it, you want it light and fluffy.
2.  Combine the first three ingredients until the sugar dissolves.
3.  Slowly add the snow into your mixture while stirring.
4.  Continue to add snow until the mixture is thick and creamy.
5.  Eat right away! 

 *Good vocabulary to use with your child. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Indoor Snowball Fight

Indoor Snowball Fight

If you live in the midwest as I do, you know about cold temperatures and snow during the winter months. Children need to move their bodies throughout the year, but a park is not very accommodating during the winter. Here's an idea of a fun AND educational way to play together on a cold winter's day.

An Indoor Snowball Fight

You can make "snowballs" with various items:

* White socks that have lost their mate
* White paper
* Cotton balls or pom poms
* Panty hose stuffed with paper or fake snow or anything else lightweight (you will tie off the panty hose in a knot and cut off the extra hose to create a "ball").

Children receive developmental benefit in almost any sensory activity - enhanced even more with parental involvement. As you are having your snowball fight, think how you are preparing your young child for life as a learner:

1. Planning: Involve the child in preparing for the snowball fight. They will need to think about the needed items and plan accordingly. They mig
ht want to take out blankets or sheets to cover furniture as a fort. They will also need to make an adequate number of snowballs. You might discuss how many they think they will need.
Simply seeing a project from start to finish will help a child understand a process, and gain the perseverance and patience to see a project to completion.

2. Math Concepts: As you make your fort, the child will need to find the appropriate-sized covering for the table/furniture. Comparing pillow cases and sheets will give children an idea of area and a concept of size.
Additionally, while making snowballs, you can count the snowballs. You can also make snowballs of different sizes and categorize them in your forts - making sure that each competitor has an equal number of snowballs.

3. Fine and Gross Motor Development: Whether you are stuffing stockings or wadding up paper, children will need to use their hands to squeeze, stuff, rip, shred and cut. They will definitely use their bigger muscles as they run around the house throwing the snowballs. For an added element of fun and development of eye-hand coordination, you could have
children hit the snowballs with their hand or a racquet.

4. Creativity: The open-ended play of the snowball fight is limited only by a child's imagination. You could make igloos, plan creative forts, make different types of snowballs, etc. You will also be increasing your child's awareness of the world as you talk about eskimos, igloos and arctic habitats.

The benefits of play are immense. Enjoy making a dreary winter day into a day of fun and learning!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

It's the Best Time of the Year...Right?

If you're like me at this time of year, you are bouncing from one 'festive' obligation to the next. Only to get home at the end of an exhausting day and realize that you haven't put a dent in your ever multiplying to-do list.  All you want to do is get off your feet and take those Hershey Holiday White Chocolate Candy Cane  Kisses to your warm, comfy bed.

But...the kids need dinner, probably a conflict mediator and maybe a good scrub behind the ears.
So tell me again, where does that quality time fit into this Holiday picture?

In the essence of saving time, I'll cut to the chase...

Below is a fun recipe to try with your children that will not only help prepare them for kindergarten, but also give you a much needed dose of relaxation.

Warm Vanilla Steamers



  1. Combine milk and sugar in a medium saucepan over high heat.  Stir frequently until sugar has dissolved and the milk begins to simmer.
  2. Remove from the burner, add the vanilla and allow it to sit for 4 minutes.
  3. Whisk vigorously to form a thick layer of foam on top of the milk.  Divide into 4 servings, topped with a dollop of the foam.
  4. Sprinkle with a pinch of ground cinnamon.
=Good vocabulary to use with your child.

Besides the Social/Emotional growth that your child will gain from this bonding experience, cooking with children incorporates many different domains of early childhood development:

Language & Literacy

  • Encourage your child to help you read the recipe.  
      • If you can find recipes with pictures (like on the backs of most brownie boxes) children can confidently help you interpret the recipe.
  • Use vibrant language that describes what their senses are exploring.
      • 'fragrant aroma of chocolate chips melting into the dough'
      • 'the gooey, sticky marshmallows are clenching to the sides of the pan'
  • Use common vocabulary in context
      • spatula
      • sifter
      • degrees
      • whisk

  • Encourage your child to count
      • Count with your child as they add ingredients
      • Ask them to give the mixture 20 stirs  
  • Use common vocabulary in context
      • 1/2 cup
      • dash of salt
      • 400 degrees


  • Point out cause & effect
      • Watch the cookies rise as they are heated in the oven.
      • Predict what will happen to the liquid jello when you cool it in the refrigerator.
  • Use common vocabulary in context
      • liquid
      • solid
      • mixture
  • Allow your child to explore with all of their senses

Enjoy LEARNING with your Child!

Thank you Ellen Booth Church for the fabulous recipe:
For more of her warm drink recipes visit: