Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Playdate with Play-Activities.com

Today we are having a playdate with Melitsa over at her place, Play-Activities. I love her tag line: Parent + Kids = FUN! And on days when you're wondering HOW to make that equation work, just hop over to Play-Activities and have a look around. You're sure to find something to spark your play.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Musical Monday: Herman the Worm

Today's song and video come from Allie at No Time For Flashcards. With a background in elementary education and a passion for working with little ones, Allie always has terrific ideas for crafts, games and books that bring learning to life. And she is one animated singer...

Herman the Worm

Sittin' on a fence post chomping on my gum

( chomp chomp chomp)
Playing with my yo yo

woo woo
When along came Herman the worm
And he was THIS big
And I said " Herman WHAT happened?"
And he said " I ate my sister! "

The next 3 verses substitute in brother, mother and father.
The final verse is as follows:

Sittin' on a fence post chomping on my gum
(chomp chomp chomp)
Playing with my yo yo
woo woo
When along came Herman the worm
And he was this tiny
And I said " Herman what happened?"
And he said " I burped."

{Thanks for visiting, Allie! You can find our current favorite song over on Allie's site. Go check it out!}

Friday, March 27, 2009

Physical Friday: Let's Get Baking!

Today we'll head into the kitchen and mix up a batch of cookies! This is my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe ever. Whenever I talk about cooking with Sammi, I typically hear these responses: It takes so much longer to cook with kids helping; It is so much messier when the kids help; I don't know how my kids can help.

Here are some ideas to combat those potential setbacks:
  • Set aside extra time to bake. Think of this as any other play activity. Let it take as long as it takes!
  • Plan for messes. Keep paper towels, washcloths, or sponges close at hand to quickly wipe up the messes. It's so much easier to clean up as you go so it's not so overwhelming when you're done.
  • Making cooking a play activity takes a little extra prep, but it's worth it!
  • Give your kids wiggle room. Let them practice pouring, scooping, stirring. You'll never know what they can do until you let them try.
Cooking promotes motor development. Kids are practicing fine and gross motor movements: holding a measuring spoon and pouring it into a bowl, stirring, scooping flour or sugar with a measuring cup. As long as you are standing right there, almost anything you do your child can do also (as long as your willing to deal with a little bit of mess!)

I have to credit my husband with this, but since we started cooking with Sammi, she can now crack an egg, open it and dump the egg into a bowl. To top it off, she rarely gets any egg shells in with the egg. I know that the only reason she can do that at 2 1/2 years is because we trusted her enough to let her try. I cleaned a lot of egg up off the floor, but now she has a lot of confidence in her abilities and loves to cook.

If this is your first experience letting your child cook with you, I caution you to not expect it to go perfectly. It may not even go smoothly! But, if you remember that it's play and the process is the activity, then it can be a lot of fun. Your kids will be so excited to do something they've never done before, especially something they see you do all the time.

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies (from Crisco)
3/4 C (cup)Butter flavored Crisco shortening
1 1/4 C firmly packed light brown sugar
2 T (tablespoon) milk
1 T vanilla
1 egg
1 3/4 C all purpose flour
1 t (teaspoon) salt
3/4 t baking soda
1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 C coarsely chopped pecans (optional)
  1. Heat oven to 375° F.
  2. Combine shortening, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in bowl. Mix until well blended.
  3. Beat egg into creamed mixture.
  4. Add flour, salt and baking soda. Mix into creamed mixture.
  5. Stir in chocolate chips and pecan pieces.
  6. Drop by the spoonful onto a cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 min. Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet 1-2 minutes. Remove cookies from baking sheet and place on cooling rack.
Enjoy with a glass of milk! (I give Sammi the beater to eat while I drop the cookies on the baking sheet. Her attention span for this activity is pretty much up once the chocolate chips come out!)
I'm also over at I Never Grew Up today sharing one of our favorite games. Come check it out!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thinking Thursday: Fostering Language and Literacy

We are continuing our look at early literacy. We've already looked at three pre-reading skills: print motivation, print awareness, and letter knowledge. We'll cover the last three skills in May. To wrap up March, I've invited my friend, Rebecka Wright, to share some thoughts on encouraging literacy in young children. Rebecka is a student at Utah Valley University (UVU) and was able to attend (and participate in) the Forum on Children's Literature at UVU a few weeks ago. And now, the post!

Hi, my name is Rebecka Wright. I’m a junior in the UVU elementary education program. I’m married to Barry and we have three children; Sammy, 14; Emily 12; and Steven 10. Our children have always been very verbal and in western societies this is a characteristic that is associated with intelligence or being smart. Sometimes people ask us what we do (or have done) to bring this to pass. Usually I’m at a loss, “I don’t know. We were just lucky.” And to some extent this is true, our children are who they are before they come to us. This semester I’m taking literacy methods and I’ve been learning how language and literacy are fostered. There are two specific things that are correlated to future success in school that I want to share today. The first is parent talk, the second is books, books and more books.

Both the quantity and quality of talk parents direct at infants and toddlers is important. The more verbal a family is, the more of a foundation children have to build on. One study shows parents who talk less use their talk mainly to control and guide students. Parents who talk more do this and offer approval, affirmations, descriptions, and explanations. Language is best developed in one on one conversations where children talk with an adult about things that are important to them and experiences they have shared. When I began to learn this in school I thought, “Oh, this is something we did!” Barry and I talked a lot to our children, explaining and eliciting their participation in the conversation.

The number of books children are exposed to in their home is correlated with literacy development and success in school. Parents who are readers often have children who are readers. You probably already know this, I did. What I didn’t know are some of the things my children were learning when we shared a story book. The first things children learn are concepts of print. They learn that a book is upside right when the binding is on the left and the pages on the right. They learn that the title and author are on the front cover, and that the cover gives us clues about what’s in the book. They learn that we read from left to right, and that letters make words and that words contain messages and stories. Most important they learn that reading is enjoyable and useful.

So what can you learn from my reflection?
  • Talk a lot to your children. Give running commentaries and descriptions, explanations and praise.
  • Talk with your children. Ask them how they feel, what they saw, what they like, and why, etc.
  • Fill your house with books and let your children see you reading for fun and for purpose.
  • Read with your children; encourage them to pretend to read and to recite their favorites. Tell them what you think of what you read together and ask them what they think.
Amber mentioned that I attended the UVU Forum on Children’s Literature. It was a fabulous experience and I met some incredible authors, illustrators and educators. Below are links to some of the speaker’s blogs and websites. I hope you enjoy exploring them.

One of my favorite authors, Shannon Hale: http://www.squeetus.com/stage/main.html
I’ve never had favorite illustrators before but these two gentlemen are my first, Robert Nuebecker and Guy Francis:

Thanks for letting me visit, Amber.
{Glad to have you, Rebecka! Today I'm posting over at Make and Takes so come check it out!}

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Parenting Dilemma: Setting an Example

I have seen it so often in other families where the older children are coaxed into a certain behavior with the explanation: "You need to set a good example for your younger sibling." I've never been much of a fan of this type of coaxing, but I will tell you, when nothing else has worked, I've been tempted to use it!

It got me thinking, though, about the kind of example I'm setting. I had a great day the other day where two parenting moments where juxtaposed in such a way that I was forced to acknowledge my inconsistency. First, Sammi wasn't listening and not listening and finally I raised my voice and yelled, "Stop grabbing your sister's arm! Please!" Then, not 10 minutes later Sammi yelled "No!" at me and I heard myself say, "Please don't yell. We don't yell in our family." We don't? I forgot to tell myself that same thing just moments earlier!

While contemplating what type of example I was setting for my children, I attended an amazing lunch with Mom It Forward's Jyl and Carissa. We listened to women speak on finding balance in various aspects of our lives. Muffy Mead-Ferro spoke on Balance in Parenting based on her book Confessions of a Slacker Mom. She spoke of the example we set for our children and it completely changed my perspective!

As a writer, Muffy needs time to write. She blocks out time in her day to write and she tells her children that she needs to be left alone so she can write. As she explained this principle, she also shared some of the criticism she's received. Namely, people gasp and ask how she can ignore her children while she writes! Aside from it providing an opportunity for her kids to learn to entertain themselves, she explained the example she was setting for her children by following her passion. By setting aside time for her writing and by enforcing that she be left alone to work, she's showing her children a part of who she is and what's important to her. She's setting an example of how to succeed at something she wants to accomplish.

By focusing on the positive example I want to set for my children, I've found fewer instances of my own bad example. It takes more work, since I have such little ones, to plan how they will be occupied while I pursue interests and hobbies. We've had success, though!

For example, I really wanted to make a vision board which involves a lot of flipping through magazines, cutting and gluing. I knew that Sammi would be all over that and I would find it difficult to stay focused on what I wanted out of the project. First, I did all my flipping and cutting at night when she was sleeping. But once I finished the cutting, I was too excited to put it together to wait for another night. So, I cleared off the table, found three magazines just for Sammi, a pair of Sammi-safe scissors, and a glue stick. I taped a large strip of butcher paper to the table and sat her in her chair. I let her go to town on the cutting and gluing. These are usually heavily supervised activities so she was thrilled to cut and glue as much as she wanted. Then I put my large piece of paper on the other end of the table. I was able to lay out my whole vision board and get all the pictures glued down before Sammi lost interest in her own project!
We were able to work side by side, which is toddlers' favorite form of play (parallel play), and I was able to show her that Mommy does her own projects, too. So often the projects we work on are just for Sammi or she's the only one who has a finished picture or what ever at the end to show for our time. So, I will continue to monitor the example I am setting for my children and try to focus on setting positive examples that encourage independence and creativity.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Musical Monday: Ultimate Blog Party 2009!

Ultimate Blog Party 2009
Hello and Welcome to Because Babies Grow Up. We're excited to have you stop by our party. While it's just me blogging here, I tend to talk in the plural because my two darling girls are in every part of what I do and write. So, while I catch you up on what's going on here, grab yourself a slice of my famous pumpkin bread-turned bundt cake:

I'm Amber (@ajpassey on Twitter), wife of Brent, mother to Sammi (2 2/3) and Elli (6 months). I love Brent and appreciate him more each day. Our girls light up my days (and often my nights!) with their enthusiasm for playing, learning and discovering. While I was preparing for this party, Sammi started walking around the house chanting, "It's a party! It's a party!" She's a social butterfly and always excited to "show-off" for a crowd! Elli is following in the family footsteps of becoming social and talkative. If there's ever a moment of quiet she pipes in with her own squeals and babbles.

Here at Because Babies Grow Up we focus on the under 5 crowd. I studied Human Development in college and then worked with infants doing developmental assessments. I learned lots of interesting things, but the best part is seeing it in action in my own children! I share activities, songs, and anything else that encourages early childhood development.

As an only child I have an image complex: I hate looking stupid or unknowledgeable. But, in the spirit of the party, I have put together a blooper reel from our Musical Monday posts which typically introduce songs that kids love! It's probably time to offer you a drink, so enjoy a tall class of milk, but don't laugh it out your nose!

I hope you'll excuse/understand my fine table linens! With little ones running rampant at this house all my nice Austrian linens I've been storing for 10+ years are still in a box under the stairs. I tried to find them, but it's a bit jumbled under there! Enjoy the video!

Thanks to 5 Minutes for Mom for hosting The Utlimate Blog Party 2009. This is my first year attending the party and I'm lovin' it! I'm also lovin' all the prizes they are giving away! My top picks, should I get the awesome chance to pick, are
I'd also be very happy with #66, #106, #125, INTL #10 and USC #11 or anything baby/toddler friendly or PR related. The prize list is long; happy hunting for your faves!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Getting Ready to Party!

This is one busy week at Because Babies Grow Up! Check out this line up!
  • Monday: Ultimate Blog Party 2009 hosted by 5 Minutes for Mom. Join in the fun. Check out the details here and the prizes up for grabs here.
  • Thursday: I'll be posting over at Make and Takes so come visit me there. Here we'll have a guest post by Rebecka who attended the Children's Literacy Conference at Utah Valley University last week.
  • Friday: I'll be posting over at I Never Grew Up. Don't worry, I'll have a snack idea for you here that will get you in the kitchen with your little ones.
Okay, so it's turning into a busy 30 or so days!
  • I'll be posting at Mom's Marbles on April 1st (no joke, it'll be good advice on how to take the monotony out of repetition!)
  • I'll be reviewing It's Hip Hop Baby! a DVD for teaching letters, colors and such to young children through family-friendly hip hop music!
  • I'm throwing a "real-life" playdate introducing Baby Einstein's new DVD and CD World Music.
  • We're flying to Tennessee to house hunt!
Yippy Skippy! I better run along to bed, it's going to be an early morning :)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Physical Friday: Shape Sorters

A shape sorter, to me, represents childhood. It's one of the earliest toys I remember playing with. I like them because they bring together cognitive development as well as motor development. It takes brain power to match the shape with its hole and it takes motor skills to actually put the shape through the hole.

Shape sorters help little ones work on gross and fine motor skills. Picking up the shape and moving it to the sorter requires gross motor skills to move the whole are. Then, once the shape is at its hole, your little one must then rotate and manipulate the shape to get it to fit just right through the hole. This takes fine motor skills.

I feel strongly that every little one should have access to a shape sorter! There are so many companies producing a variety or styles of shape sorters so you're bound to find soemthing in your budget! Check out these shape sorters on Amazon.com.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thinking Thursday: Emergent Literacy #3

Emergent Literacy #1: Print Motivation
Emergent Literacy #2: Print Awareness
Emergent Literacy #3: Letter Knowledge
Emergent Literacy #4: Vocabulary
Emergent Literacy #5: Phonological Awareness
Emergent Literacy #6: Narrative Skills

The first two pre-reading skills, print motivation and print awareness, are great for any age from babies on up. As babies grow up they are ready for more challenges and experiences which broaden their understanding and prepare them for what's yet to come. Each stage of development has a past, present and future.
  • Past: The current stage is the end goal of a previous stage. Holding a fork is the end goal of developing a pincer grip.
  • Current: Each stage is a skill itself that needs to be mastered. Using a fork to eat food.
  • Future: Each stage is a predecessor for a stage yet to come. Holding a fork is a precursor to holding a pencil and writing.

Now on to…
Pre-Readng Skill #3
Letter Knowledge

Letter Knowledge means knowing that letters are different from each other, that each letter has a name and that specific sounds go with specific letters. Here are some ideas for introducing letters to your little ones.
  • Highlight a letter each day or week.
  • Letters are just complex shapes! Help little ones match the same letter on a page in a book, or a sign. Then look for it everywhere you go.
  • Begin with the letters in your little ones' names. Use the starting letter first.
  • Draw pictures our of the letter that start with the letter (I draw the letter S which is the first letter in Sammi's name and turn it into a snake.)
  • Say the letter and then the sound and an object around the house that starts with that letter/sound. "T, tuh, toilet"
  • Find Alphabet books at the library. Ask a librarian to help you find them. At our library they are all grouped together so it's easy to choose ones that will work for us and our current interests.
Some Alphabet Books suggested by our librarians:

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Going Pink for Saint Patrick's Day

After two girls, my new favorite color is pink! I'm as drawn to it as my two and a half year old. So, when I decided it was time to look for some new makeup, I'm not surprised that I was drawn to the many shades of pink.

Why would I need new makeup, you ask? Well, it's not because the last time I bought makeup we were still in the 20th century, although that is true. No, it's because one day I was careless with my makeup bag and came upon the following scene: Sammi sitting in a circle of my makeup supplies. There was powder, red blush dusting the carpet, the mascara wand was in the lipstick tube and she was just pulling the lipstick wand out of the mascara tube. Every bit of makeup I owned was open and I could see the results of little curious fingers moving from one item to the next. Lipstick was smeared in the eye shadow, the sponge from the compact had joined forces with blush (hence the not-so-light dusting of blush on the carpet.) It was a sight to behold. And all I could do was kick myself for leaving all of my makeup in one place and that place being within Sammi's reach. Grrr.

Okay, I admit it, this actually happened last November! So why now? Why did I need new makeup this weekend? I went to a Mom It Forward luncheon last Thursday. In my mind I had remembered that I had salvaged something of my makeup. But Thursday morning when I was getting ready for my social outing, I realized I had saved eye shadow that was smeared with lipstick. It was too late to get anything so I went to this luncheon without any makeup. Obviously this is completely new to me! I rarely wear makeup, but I had wanted to make a good impression on the amazing women I was about to meet. And there were some amazing women there. And they all looked so beautiful and I felt so plain. That was a new feeling for me and I decided it was time to take action.

Friday morning I headed to the Clinique counter at Macy's ready to be beautified. A friendly lady named Valerie helped me choose a shade of pink that brought color to my face. Just to be sure, we tried a neutral/brown combination on the other eye. I was shocked at the difference. The brown I made that side of my face drab and uninteresting while the eye with the pink combination brought my skin to life. I was immediately sold.

I was going to opt for a pink shade in a two-color compact, but Valerie stepped up her non-aggressive sales approach and told me about the gift-with-purchase deal coming up. All you have to spend is $21.50 (or more) and you receive the most generous gift: a cosmetics bag and a companion bag, moisturizer with SPF 15, moisturizing lotion, lipstick, mascara, and a blushwear cream stick. Now, the gift doesn't start until March 31, so you haven't missed your chance. I prepurchased my four-shade eyeshadow set (to meet the minimum purchase amount) and now I am anxiously waiting for March 31 to go pick up my eyeshadow and gift! Thanks, Valerie!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Musical Monday: Shape Song

Basic shapes are the foundation for so many things that little ones learn. For example, a precursor to writing is drawing shapes. Children have to master moving the pencil deliberately to create something before they can fine tune that to make letters. Shapes are a precursor to advanced drawing. If children can see how complex figures are made up of simple shapes, then they can draw them by combining basic shapes into something complex. Recognizing shapes is a precursor to literacy. Letters are just more complicated shapes.

Here's a fun song to introduce shapes and their definitions. You can use objects with your child as you sing the song to show a real-life example of the shape.

Shape Song

from CanTeach Shapes

(to the tune of: "The Farmer in the Dell")

A circle's like a ball,
A circle's like a ball,
Round and round
It never stops.
A circle's like a ball!

A square is like a box,
A square is like a box,
It has four sides,
They are the same.
A square is like a box!

A triangle has 3 sides,
A triangle has 3 sides,
Up the mountain,
Down, and back.
A triangle has 3 sides!

A rectangle has 4 sides,
A rectangle has 4 sides,
Two are long, and
Two are short.
A rectangle has 4 sides!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Fitness Friday: Yoga...Is It Real Exercise??

As part of the Wii Mommies Blog Swing, I'm excited to introduce today's guest blogger, 3boyzmom, who blogs over at Save Your Money Mama where she tells us all about giveaways, coupons, new products and more to help us stretch our budget. Here's her post...

Yoga…four little letters with a lifetime of fitness results! Most people are familiar with yoga, they know what it is; but that’s where their knowledge ends. Yoga is thought by many to be great for flexibility and for your nerves…but not for real fitness. I mean…how can rolling around on the floor stretching your body in weird poses make you stronger or help you lose weight right? WRONG!

Yoga CAN help you lose weight and get fit! But there are specific types of yoga that are designed to maximize your weight loss! Yes! There are even specific yoga poses that will help you melt your fat away!! AND of course, you still get all of the regular benefits of yoga too, like the relaxation and soothing natural energy. Some refer to it as “Power Yoga”. And many experts agree that its fat and calorie burning can be equal to OR BETTER THAN regular aerobic exercise! And so much more calming and relaxing don’t you think?! (I’m quite biased though…I HATE aerobics of any kind!!! If it wasn’t for Yoga….I’d become a full fledged couch potato!)
What is Power Yoga? Power Yoga is an Americanized version of the traditional Yoga techniques, a spin on traditional yoga that incorporates vigor and whole body fitness. It is inspired by Ashtanga yoga, which means “eight limbs”. It’s Power Yoga that got people thinking that maybe yoga IS a way to lose weight and keep fit! Check out a video introduction to Power Yoga by none other than my Yoga idol…Rodney Yee.

So…how do you DO Power Yoga? Power Yoga is done by flowing through a series of yoga poses and synchronizing your breathing patterns with your movement. It may LOOK soft, light, and free flowing….but you are actually receiving a complete, heart pumping, blood flowing, calorie and fat burning exercise!!

I have gained and lost 60 pounds TWICE (I’m working on my 3rd time currently) And when people asked me HOW I lost the weight….they always looked flabbergasted when I said “Yoga”. But it’s true…..yoga is the ONLY exercise program I was using…and I didn’t even change my eating habits!! Once I started Power Yoga…..the weight just came melting off…literally. Some believe this is because many of the poses massage your thyroid gland, and cause your metabolism to be faster and more efficient. It’s also thought to be so fat burning because of the strength you are getting in your muscles…I’d say it’s a bit of both. Now I’m not trying to say that it’s easy and doesn’t require hard work and dedication…it does. But for me…it’s enjoyable. 20-30 minutes of Power Yoga 5 times a day….you will be shrinking so fast people won’t recognize you!!!

Now….if you are new to Yoga…you want to become familiar with yoga poses and develop some basic strength before attempting Power Yoga. Once you can comfortably do full yoga poses, you are ready to begin!

So next time hubby looks at you while doing your lovely yoga pose and says…”Aren’t you going to do real exercise?” You can say…..I AM!!! DUH!! (Ok..you don’t have to add in the Duh part…but I sure would☺

Don't forget, I'm over at The Good Enough Witch talking about Snack Time. The Good Enough Witch is over at Tree, Root, and Twig talking about A Whole New Mii. The Blog Swing is in full motion. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Thinking Thursday: Emergent Literacy #2

Emergent Literacy #1: Print Motivation
Emergent Literacy #2: Print Awareness
Emergent Literacy #3: Letter Knowledge
Emergent Literacy #4: Vocabulary
Emergent Literacy #5: Phonological Awareness
Emergent Literacy #6: Narrative Skills

Kindergartners are asked to identify the front and back of a book, the title page, the difference between a letter and a word, right-side up from upside down, among other things. How do they learn all that? Through experience with books!

Pre-Readng Skill #2
Print Awareness

Print Awareness means knowing how a book works and being able to recognize print. There are many things we can do to help our little ones become aware of print. They range from formal instruction to silly games! Here are a few:
  • Always read the title page! I was surprised this is something kindergartners are expected to know. I did this with one of Sammi's books. Now every time we read The House That Jack Built she adds in "Simms Taback" who is the illustrator.
  • Use your finger to underline the words you are reading. This helps little ones realize the words you're saying come from the print on the page, not the pictures.
  • Hold the book upside down and begin to read. It's so fun to see little ones flip out because it's not right! Look for them to turn books right-side up when they are exploring books on their own.
  • Read anything you come across: cereal boxes, street signs, clothing labels. Point at the words as you read them and talk about them.
  • Do letter scavenger hunts. We always look for and find the letter "S" because it's the first letter in Sammi's name.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Saint Patrick's Day Streamers

Along with the shamrock, the rainbow is a symbol of Saint Patrick's Day. The leprechauns are hiding at the end of the rainbow with their pots of gold. Instead of chasing rainbows or, worse, waiting for a rainbow to appear, we made our own rainbows at a recent playgroup. These rainbow streamers are a fun project for even the littlest ones. All you need is a small paper plate and the colors of the rainbow. You can use crepe paper, ribbon or even construction paper cut into strips.

Cut the center out of the paper plate. Cut the crepe paper, ribbon or construction paper strips into lengths ranging from 12-24 inches, whatever suits your supplies. Staple each color to the paper plate. We folded the ribbon over the inside edge of the plate and stapled through both layers of ribbon. Arrange the colors to match the rainbow. Remember Roy G. Biv? Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet. We omitted blue and only used one purple color. Anything goes!

After we attached the rainbow to the plate, we turned on some music and danced around. You could also have a parade across the yard or down the street. Happy Saint Patrick's Day. We hope it's a lucky one for you.

I'm posting this today instead of Friday because we are having our first guest post on Fitness Friday! We'll be hearing from 3boyzmom from Save Your Money Mama. I'm excited to hear what advice she gives on fitness and health. This is part of the Blog Swing for the Wii Mommies Twitter Party this Saturday. Check it out and register to win a Wii Fit from AceBeach.com

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Parenting Dilemma: Spanking

I know parents, and people in general, have strong, even passionate, opinions about spanking as a form of discipline. I have not been opposed to spanking when used removed from emotion and in conjunction with an explanation. Recent experiences have begun to change my mind, though.

Spanking, if used at all, should only happen when the parent has stepped back from the situation and chooses, rationally to use a spanking to discipline. I recently read in one of my parenting magazines a statistic that astounded me. It said parents who spank are more than 50 % more likely to move on to more severe forms of corporeal punishment. Shortly after reading that I had an insightful conversation with a neighborhood mom.

I mentioned spanking Sammi for some reason and she responded that she did not spank, anymore. She had found that when she spanked her son it was easy to give in to that anger and spank maybe harder or more times than were necessary. Her words resonated with me. I have cut spanking out of my discipline for very similar reasons, especially once Sammi was potty trained and no longer had the protection of a diaper on her bottom.

It's hard to admit that I have a temper and I'm not perfect. But facing that truth head on has changed the dynamics in our home. Sammi still gets in trouble and I still get frustrated. But now we each take a time out and come back together to talk about it. Sometimes I don't think time-outs are very effective, but as I look back on it, neither is spanking. I'm a better mom as I learn to control that anger and not give in to it. Don't get me wrong, I've never gotten to the point where my reaction was abuse, but I could see how easy it would be to fall down that slippery slope and become part of that statistic, being more than 50% more likely to use more severe forms of physical punishment.

So while I may not be opposed to spanking itself, I am wary of the consequences for the parent of spanking. I don't want my children to be afraid of me or my temper and the only way to ensure that is to cut out anything that allows me to give in to my anger. I think the next component of my discipline that needs work is my scowl. I want my children to remember my happy eyes, not my wrinkled-up forehead!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Musical Monday: Rhythm Ribbons

Rhythm ribbons: doesn't that just sound fun? They are! My daughter loves to jump/run/dance around the room with her ribbon in hand to just about any kind of music. The concept is quite simple: move the ribbon to the music. This is great because it doesn't take any kind of musical genius or even rhythm to have success with rhythm ribbons. It's a chance to connect body movement with the music.

Watch for the crawler at the end who makes a dash for an abandoned ribbon. So cute! Music in the video is At the Bottom of the Sea on For the Kids Too!

I know you're just jumping at the chance to put rhythm ribbons to work in your playtime so here are some resources to get you going. First, you need the ribbons. This project was so incredibly easy to make. In fact, I was able to make them while my toddler crawled all over me trying to get a better look and help any way she could. Second, you need to choose some magical music to get the party started!

Making Rhythm Ribbons
Materials: craft sticks, ribbon, Tacky glue

Directions: Cut ribbon into 3 1/2 foot (42 inches) lengths; Apply glue to one craft stick; Smear glue from first stick onto another craft stick; Place one end of the ribbon on the stick about 1 - 1 1/2 inches. Place the other craft stick (glue side down) on top of the craft stick with the ribbon; Press sticks firmly together; Place on wax paper, cover with wax paper and place a heavy book on top while glue dries.

Once the glue dries, your rhythm ribbons are ready to use! Sammi danced around the table asking if they were dry yet for about 10 minutes. (I was very impressed with her attention span for waiting for the ribbons!) Finally I gave in and checked and they were dry! We turned on some music and started spinning, zigzagging and waving our ribbons around the room.

Choosing Music for Rhythm Ribbons
Since using rhythm ribbons is about moving the ribbons, it's a great way to introduce children to classical music. What would otherwise be boring to just sit and listen to now provides a dynamic, engaging background for exploring rhythm ribbon movements. Once caution on classical music: The songs can get pretty long. If the song is too long children may lose interest in the rhythm ribbons and you may run out of ideas for different ways for them to move the ribbons around. Look for songs that are two to three minutes long to start with and then increase the length of song from there. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Baby Einstein: Traveling Melodies Available on The Baby Einstein Music Box Orchestra & Strauss - Baby Einstein: Traveling Melodies
The Bumble-Bee (from 'The Legend of Tsar Saltan') Available on iTunes Itzhak Perlman - Itzhak Perlman's Greatest Hits - Flight of the Bumble-Bee
William Tell Overture (Finale) Available on iTunes André Rieu - Tuscany - William Tell Overture

Friday, March 6, 2009

Physical Friday: Becoming a Toddler

A most anticipated motor milestone is walking. We anxiously wait and wait for our little ones to start walking. And then we wish we hadn't wished so hard because that means child-proofing, chasing them when they try to escape, and so on.

Despite all that, I was so excited for Sammi to walk. Now she could follow me from room to room. She was much happier about keeping up with me, too. It was obvious, though, why newly walking children are called toddler! Her balance was inconsistent. Sometimes she could walk across the room and other times she fell over after just a few steps. Even when she was walking, she had the "characteristic gait of the child who has not fully mastered the skill of walking." That does nothing to explain how cute it is to see them waddle like a "duck out for a jog!"

It takes about 6 months from the first step to the coordinated smoothnes of an adult's walking motion. It takes 6 months of practice regardless of the age of the child at the first step! Balance appears to be the factor that affects the smoothness of a walker's motion. As a child practices and improves balance, steps become more symmetrical and there is less hesitation between steps.

Here's a video of Sammi's first full day of walking. What a riot!

The song is Animal Crackers in My Soup by Joanie Bartels' album, Sillytime Magic.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Thinking Thursday: Emergent Literacy #1

Emergent Literacy #1: Print Motivation
Emergent Literacy #2: Print Awareness
Emergent Literacy #3: Letter Knowledge
Emergent Literacy #4: Vocabulary
Emergent Literacy #5: Phonological Awareness
Emergent Literacy #6: Narrative Skills

I've mention it before, and I'll probably say it again in the future: I love the library. It's always been a happy place for me. To pass that along to my little ones, I love to take them to the library. And I must admit, the library makes it easy by providing programs appropriate for little ones.

The other day I had the opportunity to go to the library all by myself to participate in a program appropriate for me! I am a laptime teller at the library. (Laptime is one of the programs for little ones.) Each year the library offers a series of workshops to help us be better tellers. This year the first two workshops are devoted to Emergent Literacy. Literacy is such an important part of growing up and succeeding as an adult so I thought I'd share what we are learning about how to encourage and motivate little ones in their literacy development.

Pre-Readng Skill #1
Print Motivation

Print Motivation means thining that books and reading are pleasant. How do we do that? We make going to the library a pleasant experience. We create a cozy environment for reading with our little ones. We share our own passion for reading. We let our little ones choose their own books from the library.

Some new things I learned about Print Motivation: Use nonfiction books to help children understand the word around them. I've actually done this, unkowingly! Sammi watched construction crews work on our road for days last summer. She asked me "What's that?" a thousand times. She was not satisfied with my answers, "It makes the road flat." "It digs." "It pours the asphalt." She wanted names and she wanted them FAST! So we went to the library and found some books on construction vehicles and learned all their names. Now she has learned (1)books have information and (2)when Mommy doesn't know, go to the library! What great lessons to learn at such a young age.

The goal here is to help little ones have successful experiences with books and other forms of print. They will look forward to spending time with books.

What have you done to create a pleasant experience with books in your family?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Musical Monday: The Grand Old Duke of York

Get ready to get up (and down) and move! This song is just plain energizing and a bit silly. You'll see what I mean in the video. We also love this song because it's easy to adapt with little ones: again, in the video! So take a look and get ready to get movin'

Oh, the Grand Old Duke of York
He had ten thousand men
He marched them up to the top of the hill
And he marched them down again
Oh, when you're up you're up
And when you're down you're down
And when you're only halfway up your neither up nor down!
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