Sunday, December 19, 2010

What We're Singing Right Now

Let it Snow!

Oh the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
And since we've no place to go
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

It doesn't show signs of stopping
And I've bought some corn for popping
The lights are turned way down low
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

When we finally kiss good night
How I'll hate going out in the storm!
But if you'll really hold me tight
All the way home I'll be warm

The fire is slowly dying
And, my dear, we're still goodbying
But as long as you love me so
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

What songs are you singing right now? Post a comment and let us know!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tips for Happy Bedtime Stories

Baby L loves her bedtime stories - but it wasn't always that way. From about 6 months old to 9 months old she went through a phase where she rolled around, pulled at my clothes, grabbed at anything nearby, and would just glance over her shoulder when I turned a page. Daddy B and I persisted though, and continued to read bedtime stories for every nap time and bedtime and our consistency, we think, has won her over! She's a huge fan of the bedtime story now! She snuggles in and helps turn pages, and points to parts of the picture, sometimes even "talking" about the pictures. When L talks, she gets the main sound of a word, like "tsss" for "necklace." If it's an animal she'll imitate the sound that it makes. Like "ack ack" for "duck/quack" or "ooo ooo" for owl (which she also says for "towel" - pretty cute).

Here are a few tips that my teacher and mommy friends have given me, to help out with bedtime stories. I've tested these out, and they work!

1. Find a quiet place. Turn off the radio, and the television. Close the door or do whatever you need to do to find a quiet spot to snuggle up and read a few books.

2. Be patient. Your child might not be a fan of bedtime stories tonight, but kids change quickly. Try to be consistent and read at least a few pages each night. You'll eventually establish a routine that will foster a love of books for the rest of your child's life!

3. Have fun! Use silly voices, gestures, tap the pictures with your fingers. Be goofy!

4. Try reading aloud books in themes. Reading books that connect by topic or by character is fun for kids. They love noticing when something is the same from one book to another. Baby L loves books that have animals in them. It's so exciting for her when we read her Baby Animals book and she has her Old MacDonald book with her that contains some of the same animals!

5. Act parts out. Baby L never gets tired of my sound effects and gestures for Goodnight Moon. We meow for the kittens, and pretend to put on mittens. We wave goodnight to each page, then wave goodnight to everything in her own bedroom.

6. Take turns with other grown-ups or read bedtime stories all together as a family, so it's not just mommy who reads.

7. Talk about books. Baby L often checks out books from the library that have beautiful pictures, but far too many words for us to get through in a bedtime read. So we talk about the book instead, by pointing to things in the pictures and naming them.

8. Try reading a favorite book many times so that it become familiar. Some babies like to have the same book each night because it becomes part of the routine, and routines help babies feel calm and safe. For a long time, Goodnight Moon was part of our routine, but recently Time for Bed has taken its place. Other babies enjoy more variety. Experiment to see what your child likes.

9. Spread out three or four books for your little one to choose from. Even the littlest babies will point to or pick up one book or another!

10. Respond to your child's cues. If she loves a particular book, read it again! If she's crying or upset, read as much as you can, but try again next time.

Good night everyone! Have fun reading!

Monday, November 29, 2010

How to Survive the Longest Car Ride Ever with a Toddler

Baby L, Daddy B, Indigo, and I just got home from a SEVEN hour drive, coming back to Brooklyn from northern Vermont, and man am I tired!

Baby L hasn't slept in the car for quite a while now, so we figured we'd make the drive during the day when the two grown-ups had a little more energy. It was a good plan, I think. Much better than the seven hour drive in the middle of the night earlier this week, when Baby L didn't sleep much more than the last forty-five minutes. I think we learned our lesson from that one!

How to Survive:
1. Read lots and lots and lots of books to your child.
2. If there are two grown-ups, one person can sit in the back to entertain the little person. It makes life better for everybody!
3. Pack lots and lots of snacks that aren't too messy, and several bottles and sippy cups.
4. Allow your child to feed the dog her snacks, even though you usually don't.
5. Allow your child to watch TV shows on your iPhone, even though you usually don't. In fact, you don't even have a TV.
6. Don't stop unless you absolutely have to. If you absolutely have to, stop as soon as possible.
7. Three words: Music. Together. CD. (If you don't know what I'm talking about click here.)
8. Bring a big blanket so you and baby can hide under it from time to time.
9. Don't bring toys that make annoying sounds!
10. Don't plan on your child sleeping. It's probably not going to happen. But it might. If you are lucky. Really really lucky.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Leaf Collecting With Your Tiny Scientist

On your next walk outside, collect some leaves!

Try to gather up a variety of shapes, sizes, colors and textures. Your little one will have fun noticing the tiniest details.

Set up a box somewhere in the house where your tiny scientist can have fun taking leaves out and putting them back in. Babies love filling and emptying!

And for grown-ups here are some great sites for identifying trees! Once you look up your tree you can try using the name of the tree as you talk about leaves with your little munchkin:

What Tree Is It?

LEAF Tree ID Key

Tree ID App for iPhone

Make sure to use lots of descriptive vocabulary to talk about the size, color, shapes and textures while you're talking with your baby about the beautiful leaves you collected! Talking to your little guy or gal is a great way to keep them interested and immerse them in the world of language and words that scientists use.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Baby's Favorite Color!

The next time your little one is playing with her blocks, watch closely. Does she rummage through the box, taking out only the blue ones?

That's what Baby L does! Blue is her fave right now!

If you pour all of her blocks out, you can see that the blue ones are scratched and banged up, while the red, green, and yellow blocks are practically new. Personally, I think it's just about the coolest thing I've ever seen! Early on, babies will sometimes start to develop preferences and favorites. And it's not limited to colors. Just a few examples include favorite sounds, favorite toys, and of course favorite foods!

At first I wasn't sure if L was choosing the blocks because of the color blue, or if it was because of the shapes. So I started watching her more closely, to see if there was a pattern.

At bathtime, Baby L digs through the foam letters in the bath tub to find the blue ones!

When she plays with her links, she gnaws on her blue links and carries them around with her, casting aside the others haphazardly!

Before dinner, we always read a couple books. Of these three books, guess which one she picks?

You guessed it. The blue one!! As a matter of fact, 123 New York is one of her all time favorite books. Right up there with Where's Baby's Belly Button and Good Night Moon.

Preferences are a sign that your baby is beginning to form categories for things. That is, L. recognizes "blue" as a category. She can discriminate non-blue things from blue things; an early and important step in her life as a learner. Just as a scientist observes, classifies, and sorts his or her specimens, Baby L is beginning to notice that not all blocks, links, or books are the same. Sorting and categorizing objects by color is just one step on her long journey toward developing an understanding of the world around her. Go Baby L!

So have fun watching closely and listening carefully to your little scientists. See what you notice. Post a comment and share!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Our Newest Game: "Where's the..."

"L, where's the monkey?" I asked Baby L, pointing to her toys.
L grinned a big toothy smile and crawled over to her basket of stuffed animals.
"Aaah! Aaah! Aaah!" she shrieked (like a monkey).
"Yes! That's right! That's your monkey!" My heart swelled. My little baby was talking!
"L, where's the owl?" I asked. She turned immediately back to her stuffed animals, all business now.
Five seconds later she found what she was looking for.
"Oooh. Oooh. Ooooh," she hooted, pointing at her favorite stuffed owl--the one her babysitter made her for her birthday a few weeks ago.
"That's right!" I cried, "That's your owl that Ruby made for you! Can you find the other owl?"
L cocked her head at me, as if to say, "Huh?"
"The other owl, you know, the old one?" L dug through the stuffed animals. She cast aside a doll, a teddy bear, and two doggies. Finally, she held the owl she was looking for above her head and hooted, "Oooh! Oooh Oooh!"
"Oh, L, you are the smartest baby in the world!"

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Where Is Baby's Pumpkin?

October is almost over--can you believe it?!

For Halloween this year, Baby L is going as the baby from her favorite author's book, Where Is Baby's Pumpkin?

The book:

The costume:

The pumpkin:

L. is participating in a family tradition of dressing as favorite characters, including the time I dressed as Harry Potter when I was teaching fifth grade, and when I dressed as Mrs. Wishy-Washy when I was teaching first grade, and the time I dressed in all orange, along with my whole fifth grade class so that we could all be the entire cast of Louis Sachar's Holes. There was one year when I dressed as the M, from MSV-- but that's another story (and only reading teachers will understand it!).

Are you dressing as a character from a book this Halloween? Post a comment and share your costume ideas!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Birthday Books!

It's hard to believe Baby L's first birthday is just a few days away! People always say ,"Seems like it was just yesterday..." but it REALLY seems like it was just yesterday that she was born.

As you can imagine, Baby L is definitely getting a couple books for her birthday. Daddy B and I are thinking of making it a tradition to get her some birthday books each year. We'll write a little note in each one so that as she gets older she'll have a birthday book collection. Here's this year's birthday book list:

Where's Baby's Pumpkin by Karen Katz
As you already know from previous posts, Karen Katz is L's favorite author, and has been since L was just a few weeks old! So it only makes sense that Where's Baby's Pumpkin is on our list. L already owns Where's Baby's Birthday Present, or that one would be on the list too! (Side note: L is going to dress up as the baby from WBP? for Halloween-- how cute is that!?)

Birthday Monsters by Sandra Boynton
Baby L also goes by the nickname L-Monster so it was perfect that we found Birthday Monsters for our own little monster!

The Birthday Box by Leslie Patricelli
Baby L and her nanny checked this book out at the library, and the more times we read it, the more L enjoys it. BUT... L really loves it because the baby in the book is wearing a party hat. She points to the pointy little hat and says "Doo doo..." (which is her "word" for "look, look" or "this...this...") Ever since L's neighborhood birthday party a few weeks ago, she had been obsessed with party hats. Funny, right? What a crazy thing to be obsessed with, but it's true. When she sees the party hat in the book, I say, "L, where are your party hats?" And she crawls over to her toy box and brings one back! (FYI: Where's Baby's Birthday Cake also has party hats).

Do you have some favorite birthday books? What are your birthday traditions? Post a comment and share!

Here are some of the other books Baby L got for her birthday:
On The Day You Were Born, by Debra Frasier, Duck and Goose Find a Pumpkin, by Brooklyn Local Tad Hills, and My First Halloween Book published by my fave nonfiction publisher, DK.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Playing With Food Words!

If one of my neighbors were to walk by our front door at breakfast time, this is what she might hear. "Ba-na-na! Ba-na-na! Ba-na-na! Yaaaay!"

Later at lunch, she might hear, "Zu-chi-ni! Zu-chi-ni! Zu-chi-ni! Yippeeeee!"

And at dinner, "Spa-ghet-ti! Spa-ghet-ti! Spa-ghet-ti! Woooo! Hoooo!"

It all started yesterday when Baby L was eating bananas for breakfast. She looked a little distracted, so to get her attention I started to "cheer" for bananas by tapping on her highchair tray for each syllable. Ba-na-na. Bang-bang-bang. L smiled in delight and banged her tray right along with me!

As I clapped and tapped the syllables to banana, the teacher part of my brain kicked in and realized that this is exactly what we do when we introduce new word wall words each week. We clap them, we tap them, we write them over and over, we say them over and over and cheer for them. The repetition of the clapping and cheering helps children develop phonological awareness (familiarity with units of speech that includes syllables, words, rhymes, and individual sounds)-- and it's fun! Give it a try. Go bananas!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Song for a Happy Rainy Day

It's a rainy day here in Brooklyn. We haven't one in a while. It feels good!
If all of the raindrops
Were lemondrops and gumdrops
Oh what a rain that would be!
Standing outside with my mouth open wide,
Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah
If all of the raindrops
Were lemondrops and gumdrops
Oh what a rain that would be!

If all of the snowflakes
Were candy bars and milk shakes
Oh what a snow that would be!
Standing outside with my mouth open wide,
Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah
If all of the snowflakes
Were candy bars and milk shakes
Oh what a snow that would be!

If all of the sunbeams
Were bubblegum and ice cream
Oh what a sun that would be!
Standing outside with my mouth open wide,
Ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah ah
If all of the sunbeams
Were bubblegum and ice cream
Oh what a sun that would be!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Fingerpaint Debacle

I should have know better, right from the start. Baby L had been grumpy all morning long. She protested getting her diaper changed, she refused her pieces of french toast, even when I dipped them in yogurt, and she arched her back and tried to escape when I bundled her into the baby carrier for a walk with her doggy, Indigo.

But then, while she took her nap, I discovered a grocery bag full of baby-friendly non-toxic finger paints hanging on our coat rack. This is the answer to Baby L's cranky mood I thought.

When L woke up, I plopped her in the high chair. "Guess what I have for you!" I announced gleefully. She didn't look very interested.

I squeezed a small dab of blue onto her highchair tray. She looked at it, stuck her finger in it and pushed it around a little, and then looked at me as if to say, "Yeah, so...?"

So I added some yellow. Still no big reaction.

So I added some more... and some more...

I don't know what I was thinking, really. She's only eleven months old, after all. I should have seen trouble coming... but I added one more squirt. And Baby L, with the swish of her tiny little fingers had a mouth full of fingerpaint.

Needless to say, I freaked. I immediately stuck my fingers in her mouth and scooped out as much paint as I could. I grabbed a nearby wash cloth and cleaned out her mouth, with L screaming at the top of her lungs, of course.

Moral of the story: Paint looks just like food to babies. Next time, I'll just use food.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Baby Sign Language!

It's obvious how much Baby L loves her doggy, Indigo. When I call Indigo from across the room, I make a kissy sound and pat my lap and he comes running. When she was just a few months old, Baby L started doing it too! The first time she did it I could hardly believe it! She couldn't sit up by herself, but she could make kissy sounds and pat her lap to get Indigo to come running!

The kissy sound and patting was really L's first sign. Now she also makes a panting sound when she wants to tell me, "doggy." She'll be in the middle of playing with blocks and she'll look up, break into a big smile and pant, and then look around for Indigo-- brilliant!

The jury is still out on the benefits of teaching your baby to sign, but according to the research I've seen, it seems to help babies communicate and lessen frustration. No to mention, that it's a fun way to play with words, and it's SOOO cute!

In the past month or so Baby L has learned all the most important signs: "dog" "food" "cup" and "milk." What else could a girl want? I think we'll work on "book" next!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Bedtime Routine

When Baby L was about twelve weeks old we started to have a routine at bedtime. We would start with a bath, then lots of singing along to her favorite music while L got her fresh diaper and jammy's on. And then, of course, we would have a bedtime story.

When L was a tiny baby she would lay peacefully next to me on the bed while I read to her. She'd pat the pages and coo happily.

When she was about six months old, she started to point to specific details in the pictures, and would turn to me and say, "Gaaa!" or "Ma-ma-ma!" She started turning the pages herself and screetched with delight when something was especially funny or surprising. At some point we started reading the same two book for every bedtime and nap time. Even now, it's always Goodnight Moon, or Mommy Hugs.

Now that she's nearly eleven months old, we still lie down on the bed together to read her bedtime story, but her favorite thing to do while I read is to roll around, crawl all over me, and get just plain silly. She occupies herself with giggling wildly as she pats my knee, or sucks on my elbow, or tugs on a blanket or piece of clothing. I read, and Baby L happily plays around me, looking over her shoulder each time I turn a page, or laughing when I drag her back over to me.

When the story is over, I always say "The End," and L reaches her arms out to be picked up. I hug her tight, and sing the ABC song a few times with the lights out before Baby L goes in her crib, and I go out the door.

Who knows what the next three to six months will bring. Baby L and I will have to check back in and share our new routine when Bedtime 4.0 arrives!

What's your bedtime routine? Has it changed over time? Leave a comment and share!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Back to School

Happy New Year!

Time to gear up for the new school year.

It's time to shop for pens and composition books, backpacks, highlighters, post-its, hole punchers and tape-- all my favorite things!

Baby L is too little to go to school. But that doesn't mean she can't still join in the fun while mommy shops for school! Plus you can never start too early when it comes to immersing your little one in the world of lettters and numbers, words and books. So L. has some "school supplies" too.

She has her brand spankin' new alphabet sippy cups:

And her new sign language books:

And of course, foam letters and numbers for the tub!

We're ready for the new school year!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Music Together

Alee galloo galloo, alee galloo gallee, Allee, galloo galloo gallee. WHEEE! (Dance around, pick your baby up high and have fun).

About a month ago, Baby L and I started going to Music Together, a music class for babies and grown-ups. Our teacher, Jeff, began with this song, Allee Galloo, and we were sold. L and I already loved to dance around the apartment, but now we were in a whole room full of grown-ups and babies dancing around, singing, and clapping. L was in heaven!

Music Together is an early childhood music program with classes all over the United States. Maybe there's one near you? The basic idea is that all of the grown-ups sing, dance, and play instruments like shakers and drums. We model enthusiasm for music for the babies, and the babies learn to mimic and even invent their own singing, dancing, and instrument playing. Each "semester" the class uses a list of about twenty songs over and over, so that we get to know the songs really well. We sing them in class, and we have a CD and a songbook to listen to and read at home, and in the car.

Recently, our family just did a very long road trip with lots of little trips once we got there--from Brooklyn, to Underhill, VT, to Stowe, VT, to Monkton, VT, back to Underhill, then to Boston, MA, back to Brooklyn. For short trips around the neighborhood, Baby L usually just entertains herself in her carseat. But for this trip, we had to pull out all the stops. Daddy B and I took turns sitting in the back, playing with every toy we could find, playing every game we could think of, and nothing seemed to work. Until we put on the Music Together CD! L is such a music lover, she does a little dance as soon as she hears a familiar song. Why didn't we think of it sooner?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Road Trip Mix Tape!

I love a good road trip. Road trips include little traditions, routines, and rituals that I find comforting. Picking out books to read on the way (or some trashy celebrity magazines), digging out the bean-shaped neck pillow (I love my little neck pillow), and of course making a MIX TAPE (well, okay, it's an iTunes playlist).

This time, I not only made myself my own special mix of music for the road, but I also made Baby L a playlist.

Here's a sampling what Baby L's been going to hear on her way to Vermont, then Boston:

Elizabeth Mitchell (You Are My Flower, You Are My Sunshine, You Are My Little Bird)
Jerry Garcia and Dave Grisman (Not For Kids Only)
Bob Marley (Legend)
The Beatles (The White Album, Abbey Road)
Nina Simone (Miscellaneous)
Louis Armstrong (Miscellaneous)
Ziggy Marley (B is for Bob)

Baby L loves to hear the same music again and again. She bangs her little hands against the carseat to play "drums," shakes her rattles and shakers, kicks her tiny feet, and sings at the top of her lungs "Ahhhhh!" to her favorite tunes.

Bon voyage!

Monday, July 26, 2010


This morning the weather is BEAUTIFUL here in sunny Brooklyn, so Baby L and I went for an extra long walk with Indigo to enjoy the breeze and the sun. And on the way, L made a new discovery--TREES!

Every tree we passed was reason to stop, look up, wave to the branches, touch the bark, feel the leaves, and for Baby L, to say an approving, "Aaaah."

If hadn't been for L's coos, it would have been just a regular walk around the neighborhood, but she reminded me to stop and appreciate the trees. It's so easy to take them for granted, isn't it?

The next time you go for a walk in the park, a stroll down the block, or a hike on the trail, maybe you'll stop and appreciate the trees with your tiny readers. Talk about the height, the shapes of the leaves, the colors, and the names of the trees if you know them. Doing this gives your little ones experience with science, the outdoors, builds vocabulary, and models that trees and the environment are worth appreciating and thinking about.

Like they say, stop and smell the flowers-- and the trees too!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wallwisher! What is it? Read this and find out!

Looking for ideas for fostering a love of reading and writing with babies or little kids?

This is so cool. You can go to this link to see my Wallwisher wall where my blogging friends have been helping me gather up great ideas for reading and writing with tiny readers and writers. Plus, while you're there, you can add your own ideas to the collection.

No further explanation needed! Maybe you'll even make a Wallwisher page of your own? If you do, leave a comment so we can go and visit it.

Happy Reading and Writing!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Show Tunes

When I was a little kid, I wanted to be a singer on Broadway. I took Tap & Jazz dance lessons, and I knew all the words to Annie, A Chorus Line, Cats, and The Wizard of Oz. My mom and my grandmas would take me to see musicals at the local theater, The Flynn Theatre, whenever a good musical was showing, and I had a whole collection of the book-versions of the stories that went along with each show.

Of course, as the years passed, my dream of being a Broadway singer was replaced by other dreams: being a Broadway singer turned into being a musician, and I learned to play the clarinet and saxophone. Being a musician turned into being a writer, and I would spend hours making my own magazines and writing stories with animals as characters. This eventually grew into a short phase in which I wanted to be an artist, which eventually changed to wanting to be a teacher, among other things...

I had all but forgotten about my love of show tunes until I recently discovered the TV show Glee! Friends of mine know that our family does not own a TV, and we don't have cable. But, I figured out how to download seasons of certain shows using iTunes, so that I could keep up with my favorites--and Glee! is now one of my favorites, not because of the storyline, but because of the nostalgia that the songs spark.

Show tunes can be like old friends. No matter how many years go by, when you hear a song that you know all the words to, it's like the song has always been there.

After watching Glee! I decided that Baby L. needs to have some show tunes in her repertoire, so that someday she could also sing along to all the words. I figured out that if you make a Lion King station on Pandora, it plays lots of kid-friendly musicals like Mary Poppins, Beauty and the Beast, and Wicked. So now, L. and I spend our mornings listening to show tunes, and singing along, gleefully.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Summer of Loving Reading

This week I'm teaching at a five day reading institute for teachers, so I've been thinking a lot about how to help kids--and teachers--develop a love of reading. Let's be honest, if you don't really like to read, than it's going to be hard to get the kids in your life to love reading!

Here are a few ideas to spark a love of reading, for yourself:

1. Stop buying the books that your best friend, who was an English major, recommends. I know it seems counterintuitive, but forcing yourself to read things that aren't interesting (to you) is tedious. Next time you're at the book store, don't just shop for books your friends are reading--ask the staff for help. Tell them what kind of books you like. If you aren't sure what kinds of books you like, tell them what you don't like.

2. Open up the book and read a page or two before you sign it out from the library or pay for it at the book store! Don't force yourself to read things that are boring! Put it back, and find something else. There's a whole wide world of books out there!

3. Don't be afraid to try young adult literature. Some of my favorite books are on lots of middle school or high school reading lists! Especially if you've been in a reading slump, a good YA book can help jazz up your reading life.

4. Think about what's going on in your life. A new baby? Thinking of getting a dog? Going on a trip? Search for books that will help you learn about a topic that's relevant and interesting to you. Or find a good story that takes place in a setting that you have a good reason to be interested in!

Good luck! Happy reading!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Indestructible Books!

Baby L absolutely loves, loves, loves all books. Especially to eat! In the early days, I didn't mind so much if she slobbered a little on the pages, until one day while reading I found a chunk of The Wheels on the Bus in her mouth! Worried about ink poisoning, or choking, or who-knows-what, that was the last time a board book touched her lips.

But then, yesterday L. and I made a trip to our favorite bookstore, WORD in Greenpoint, and got ourselves some of these awesome indestructible books! The pictures are absolutely gorgeous-- just one animal per page to look at and talk about. They are slobber-proof, chew-proof, and you can wipe them off with a sponge! What could be better than that? Lily can really sink her three teeth into these books!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer at the Library

Baby L. and I went to the library and guess what we found?

Board books for summer!

The library is the perfect place to hang out on a hot summer day. It's air conditioned, they have comfy seats, there are plenty of people for
Baby L. to watch, and there are tons of books. What more could you want?

We read a stack of books together, but came away with two summertime faves:

Splash! by Flora McDonnell is an absolutely adorable little book with elephants, tigers, and rhinos on a hot, hot, HOT day--just like the day we had today! Baby Elephant figures out how to cool everybody down.

Beach Day! written by Anahid Haparian and illustrated Kristin Sorra was the perfect book for us today. With just two words per page, L. could turn the pages just as quickly as she wanted. No waiting around for mommy to read the words--instant gratification! Plus the book is the perfect read to help us imagine the beach and do some wishful thinking--when we can't get in the car to drive there.

While we read our board books, there were plenty of other babies and kids in the library. Baby L. spent just as much time people-watching and socializing as she did looking at books! Everybody wanted to say hi--not that I blame them. She is irresistibly cute!

L. was especially enthralled by watching two brothers playing with a wire and bead toy. When they got up to pick books from a nearby shelf she studied them, watching their every move. When they turned and waved hello she nearly exploded with excitement! (Luckily our library isn't the totally-completely-silent type of library).

What are your favorite things to do with a baby or toddler at the library? Leave a comment to share your ideas!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Summer Reading Life for You and Baby

This is the time of year in schools when the teachers and I start talking with kids about their summer reading lives. Kids look back over their reading logs and reading notebooks and ask themselves questions like: "What kind of books do I like best?" "Which genre was my favorite?" "How much time and how many pages can I read in one sitting?" "What do I want to read more of this summer?" "What skills and strategies do I tend to use most? Least?" "What do I want to work on as a reader, and how will I do it?"

Some kids decide on a series they want to read, others make a goal for themselves, such as reading 40 minutes every day, or reading books on a topic, like volcanoes, or dogs, or soccer! Lots of teachers take their classes trips to the local public library to make sure everyone has a library card, and some teachers even send books home with kids for the summer.

As for me, one of my many summer reading projects is to read several books at each reading level from level G to level Q (that's from about first grade to third grade). Knowing the books will help me be an even better reading teacher, and will give me lots to talk about with kids and teachers this fall! I'm partnering up with my colleague, D.D., and we're going to meet a couple times to swap books and talk about them!

And, for Baby L, this summer we're going to do a couple things to make sure she has plenty of reading in her life too!

1) I've been working on videotaping myself and Daddy B reading her favorite books. That way she can listen to us read when we're at work and she's at home with the babysitter!

2) Baby L is turning pages now! So when we read, I've been letting her practice turning the pages.

3) When we read, I let her spend a long time looking at each page, so she can notice as much as possible in the pictures.

4) When we read, we read a couple books in a row. When she seems uninterested we stop. She usually is happy and engaged for 3-4 books now. Who knows how many books we'll be up to by September!

5) Our goal is to read every day, no matter what!

What are your summer reading projects? Leave a comment!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Baby's First CSA

Baby L and I went to our first CSA pick-up of the season today!

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. We belong to the East Williamsburg CSA. You sign up for a share of vegetables, or fruits, or flowers, and then once a week you go and pick up your food. The food comes from a local farm (ours is Hearty Roots Farm), and is grown organically. A quick Google search will probably help you find a CSA near you!

But what does this have to do with reading, you ask?

Well, research shows that background experience and vocabulary are huge factors in children's literacy. Why leave Baby L with Daddy in the apartment when we can all go to the community garden where we pick up our fresh vegetables? Baby L watched and cooed and screeched while I picked out our spinach and broccoli and turnips. I gave her a big red radish to play with, and then we walked around the garden and talked about the flowers that had just been planted. A perfect June experience for Baby!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Car Talk

Question: What does Baby L. like to do best in the car?
Answer: L. loves to look at herself in her carseat mirror. Babies love mirrors! Faces are one of the first categories of information that the brain begins to understand. Did you know there is actually an area of the brain devoted just to understanding faces? Baby L.'s mirror also has a colorful pattern border around the edges of it, and fun silky tags for her to grab onto, for developing her fine motor skills.

Question: When L. starts to get a little grumpy, what do you do about it?
Answer: I sing to her and tell stories! She especially likes songs with silly voices, or storytelling songs like Little Bunny Foo Foo. Literacy researchers agree that immersing children with stories and songs from the littlest age helps foster a love of literature and an understanding of text structure (how stories tend to go). Stories that contain dialogue, rich vocabulary, a problem/solution, and are told with expression and fluency are especially great. But if you can't come up with a good one on the spot, don't worry! Sometimes I just retell our day, step by step. "First we went... then we did..." The sound of my voice calms her down, and she's learning sequencing and all kinds of other important literacy-related skills.

Question: What about poosplosions?
Answer: Definitely pull off the highway, find a decent enough rest area, or at least a fast food restaurant (they always have changing tables) and spend some time cleaning up. I always pack a back-up set of clothes!

Friday, May 21, 2010


Let me tell you about Baby L.'s latest craze! She is totally into all forms of peek-a-boo.

Peek-a-boo, in case you didn't know, is just right for Baby's developing sense of object permanence. That is, babies are still in the process learning that just because you can't see something, it doesn't mean it's totally gone. So, when you cover up a toy with a blankie--Baby is likely to think it disappeared, like magic. That's why peek-a-boo is so much fun. It's like magic to babies!

One way that L. and I play peek-a-boo is this: I use a blanket, burp cloth, or toy to cover my face and I say, "Wheeeeeere's mommy?!" L. giggles and screetches. Then I uncover my face and shout, "There she is!"

We also play peek-a-boo on the changing table. On the changing table, I put L.'s jingly toy lion on her eyes and I say, "Wheeeeeere's Lily?!" She screetches and laughs and I say, "Peek-a-boo!!!"

The third and final form of peek-a-boo is L.'s (and my) favorite. We go into the bathroom, where there's no outside light, and we look in the mirror. We turn out the lights, which is a little bit thrilling for a seventh month old, and I say, "Uh-oh..." and then I turn on the lights and say, "Peek-a-boo!!" She goes crazy for this one! She reaches for light switch now!

Post a comment with your favorite peek-a-boo games!

Monday, May 17, 2010

There's An App for That

I just discovered a whole new genre for babies -- iPhone apps. Yes, that's right. iPhone apps for babies.

I downloaded one app called "Animal Show" just to see what it was, and once I had it on my phone I was dying to try it out, to see what L. would do.

Animal Show, in case you don't know, is just like it sounds. Simple pictures of animals. When you baby touches the screen it switches to a new animal. You can choose between two modes: real or cartoon.

I sat down with Baby L. and I was amazed. Right away, instantly, she understood that if she touched the screen it "turned the page" for her. Amazing!

We played Animal Show for a few minutes and then I put away. Something about the iPhone felt suspiciously like television or video games. I felt guilty sitting with her staring a screen with all her real-life toys and our real-life dog sitting right next to her.

But, the next time we're on the subway, or stuck in a waiting room, those iPhone apps for babies might just come in handy. Leave a comment with your favorite iPhone application for babes so Baby L. and I can try it out the next time we need a little entertainment!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Biscuit and the Baby

Okay, so I have had a crush on Biscuit for a long time now. Not only is he a cute little puppy, but he's also a character that first graders can follow across a nice easy series of books. As a teacher, the Biscuit books are my favorite series of books to help kids move on up into what we call the "watershed levels" of reading. If you're a little kid, and you're reading books at level F/G/H, there just aren't that many series books to choose from. Thank goodness for Biscuit!

Now I have a whole new reason to crush on Biscuit. Baby L. loves the Biscuit books! It's the repetition. Not only is there a pattern to the text (Not yet Biscuit! Silly puppy...), but I read the books over and over so often that L. lights up when she sees a Biscuit book now. Lily loves familiar books and songs. Whichever books I read the most-- those are her favorites.

The best part is that my dog, Indie, loves the Biscuit books too. Whenever I'm reading to Baby L., his ears perk up when I read "Woof! Woof!" He watches us reading Biscuit, with his head cocked to one side, wondering why I'm barking (especially since I tell him not to). Between Baby L. lighting up, and Indie's quizzical expressions, the whole scene is just adorable.

For Mother's Day, I'm hoping somebody gives me Biscuit Loves Mother's Day. The perfect combo for Baby L.: Biscuit the puppy, AND flaps to lift up, all in one book.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Poetry All Year Long!

Why limit poetry to just poetry month?

Here are a few ideas to add a little poetry to your life, and the lives of the kids around you:

1. When you come across a poem you love, share it! Read it aloud to somebody, stick it to the refrigerator with a magnet, put it on your bulletin board at the office.

2. Look for children's books that are written in the form of poems, and read them over and over again. Babies and young children LOVE repetition.

3. When something new or important happens, write a poem about it! Keep a notebook or a file on your computer to save all your poems, so that you can reread your writing from time to time, looking for themes or big ideas that pop out at you.

4. Poetry is everywhere! Keep your eyes peeled. You'll be surprised at all the places where you see poetry in the neighborhood. On billboards, written in graffiti on buildings, taped to lamp-posts, on display at the public library, at the grocery store even!

Happy poetry year!

Friday, April 30, 2010


I had this idea,
that I could write a poem,
and give it as a gift.

And I knew that
nobody else
would appreciate it more
than kids,
and teachers,
readers and writers,
who live and work and teach and learn,

So this is my gift to you.

* Day 30 (the final day!) of the KidLitosphere Poem-A-Day Challenge for National Poetry Month. Dedicated to NYC teachers, administrators, literacy coaches, and most importantly, KIDS in the amazing schools where I work. I wrote a poem-a-day this month for YOU!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Readers' Best Friends

Clifford and Harry.

Walter, Benji, Willie,

and of course,

* Day 28 of the KidLitosphere Poem-A-Day Challenge for National Poetry Month.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Drenched in butter and
Salty, crispy edges

* Day 27 of the KidLitosphere Poem-A-Day Challenge for National Poetry Month.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Multiple Choices

What would you like to do today?

A) Take a test
B) Take a test
C) Take a test
D) Take a test

* Day 26 of the KidLitosphere Poem-A-Day Challenge for National Poetry Month.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Baby Testing

There isn't a test for drooling skills.
Or an assessment for how well she can roll from side to side.
There isn't a quiz on thumb sucking-- that I'm aware of.
Or any evaluation on how well she can
coo, or gurgle, or screetch with delight.

Maybe we ought to start cramming, though.
Just in case.
Start preparing.

We could practice sitting up.
Maybe teach some strategies for choosing the best teether,
when presented with three choices.
Or maybe give her points for each nap she takes,
Or bite of peas she eats,
Or on the quality (and quantity) of poosplosions per day?

* Day 25 of the KidLitosphere Poem-A-Day Challenge for National Poetry Month, with thoughts of tomorrow's New York State ELA Test on my mind.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Different Kinds of Cries

There's the
fire engine,
you know,
the five alarm fire?

Sometimes it's a
"Hey!" type of cry.

There's the rolling,
sort of lazy cry,
not really crying,
just complaining.

Sometimes there are syllables
"Ning ning ning," or "Raa raa raa,"
a tiny lion roaring in her den.

Then there's the
real cry.
The scared, truly hurt, in pain cry.
That one
makes me cry too.

* Day 24 of the KidLitosphere Poem-A-Day Challenge for National Poetry Month.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Baby L. Looks In The Mirror

Her eyes meet her own eyes
Her hand meets her own hand

She flashes a smile and giggles.
Hey, I know that person!

We move in and out of the picture frame,
Playing peek-a-boo with ourselves.

Who's that looking in the mirror?
It's you!
It's me!
It's us!

* Day 23 of the KidLitosphere Poem-A-Day Challenge for National Poetry Month.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Poem For Earth Day

Dear New York,

If it isn't too much trouble,
would you please
put your litter in the trash cans?
Also, it would be much appreciated
if you recycled a bit more.

And while you are thinking of it,
would you mind taking the subway
instead of driving?
Or at least carpooling?

It would also be nice
if you could bring
your own bags to the grocery store.

And could you please
bring a reusable mug to Starbucks?
And maybe, just maybe,
stop buying bottled water.

The Earth

* Day 22 of the KidLitosphere Poem-A-Day Challenge for National Poetry Month.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How To Read At Six Months Old

Look at the pictures.
Take your time, if you can.

Touch the pages.
Scritchy scratch across the pages.
Try to pick the pictures right off,
and discover that they are stuck.

Maybe drool a little on a page or two,
Maybe chew on a corner, or two.

Giggle with delight at the sight
of a familiar book--

Brown Bear Brown Bear,
Or Goodnight Moon,
Or The Peace Book,
Or Where's Baby's Belly Button?

Help mama turn the pages.
Put your hands on top of hers.
You can even close the book,
before mama's ready...

That's how to read at six months old.

* Day 21 of the KidLitosphere Poem-A-Day Challenge for National Poetry Month.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Coffee and Writing

Of java

Bitter and chocolaty,

And writing
Go hand in hand.

* Day 20 of the KidLitosphere Poem-A-Day Challenge for National Poetry Month.

Monday, April 19, 2010

So Much To Read, So Little Time

Racing through pages,
Running across chapters,
Flying through texts of all kinds,

There's smoke coming out of my ears,
I'm reading so much,

I've got articles and books,
Websites and blogs,
Poems and stories,

So much to read, so little time.

* Day 19 of the KidLitosphere Poem-A-Day Challenge for National Poetry Month.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Favorite Foods

on the


Grilled cheese
french fries
and a




Juicy pork bun
M. Shanghai,




and a
glass of


lots of



out of the

* Day 18 of the KidLitosphere Poem-A-Day Challenge for National Poetry Month.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Overheard in a Kindergarten Classroom

I can make my stars shine
Falling, here on my paper
They shine

I can make the stars shine
Look, here
The stars are shining
On my paper

* Day 17 of the KidLitosphere Poem-A-Day Challenge for National Poetry Month.

Friday, April 16, 2010

In love with...

the sound of a page turning,
the way fonts have personalities all their own,
the smell of ink,

fancy paper,
my extensive pencil collection,
starting a new notebook,


bookmarks of all kinds,
reading lamps that attach to your book,
and of course,
last but certainly not least,

post its.

* Day 16 of the KidLitosphere Poem-A-Day Challenge for National Poetry Month.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Babies Love Reading: A Google Poem


I made this myself using Google Search Stories!
* Day 15 of the KidLitosphere Poem-A-Day Challenge for National Poetry Month.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Stubbed Toes and Other Minor Ailments



charlie horse
paper cut
black and blue

pins and needles
thorn in my side
pain in the neck
burden to bare

* Day 14 of the KidLitosphere Poem-A-Day Challenge for National Poetry Month.