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!