Yes, Boys are Different From Girls

Okay, I’m going to go out on a limb and not be politically correct. Boys are different from girls.

I was working with little 3 year-old Clara today–who by the way had to be dressed in her bright pink platform heels–when her older sister ran in the room sobbing. Her mother immediately detected the problem and took her into her arms saying, “Are you so sad because it is the last day of school?” Her daughter nodded explaining that she would miss her teacher terribly over the summer.

I tried to remain composed but did manage to tell the mom that I had NEVER experienced anything like that with my three boys. The cheers could be heard from down the block as they got off the bus for the last time for summer vacation:)

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, Elementary School Age, Preschool | Leave a comment

Taking Your Toddler Outside to Learn Language

As soon as the temperature rises, the birds start singing and the squirrels chase each other, a whole new world of language opens up to your child. I am constantly reminded of this as I try to work with kids inside on a wonderful summer day. If we are near a window, invariably the conversation turns to the critters moving around outside.

Little David , 2 years old, is fascinated with the bird nests that were built in the bushes outside his kitchen. No matter what we are doing–painting, blowing bubbles or putting little figures down a play slide, if he remembers the nest, we are headed outside!

Research shows that when you follow your child’s “focus of attention” meaning what they are interested in and talking about, they take in more language. As I stepped outside and followed David’s directives about the nest, worms, babies, and mama, he began to talk more and put some words together like “bird nest.” I climbed up on a patio wall and peeked in the bush to report on the babies being fed by the mom. Then I paused to let David reply. He went on and on, telling me about the bird and nest in his single-word format. It is amazing what one can understand when spoken to that way!
Always remember to pause and let your child respond to what you have described, that he is so interested in. Often, as parents, we tend to keep talking and forget to pause and let our little ones excitedly reply to the situation. If it is of interest, as this bird nest was, you will find your child speaks more and expands on what you have said.

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, Babies, Birth-3 year-olds, Preschool, Strategies to Encourange Language Development, Toddler | Leave a comment

No More Pacifier! Help is on the Way

Okay, you’ve seen Nanny 911 where she packs up the pacifiers and waits for the “Paci Fairy” to sneak in at night, take them away and leave some goodies in return. Or maybe you’ve tried wrapping up the pacifiers and “giving” them away to your friend’s new baby. In any case, getting rid of the beloved pacifier is a challenge.

In their new book, No More Pacifier for Piggy, authors Bernadette Ford and Sam Williams weave a social story aimed at the toddler set. Ducky engages his buddy, Piggy, in a game of peek-a-boo, and finds that his friend is inhibited by the pacifier plugging his mouth. How can he smile, laugh or answer his friend with that pacifier in his mouth? But can he give it up? Even when it falls to the ground, he has reserves in his pocket. Finally he sets it aside and realizes all the fun he has missed.

Sharing this book with your toddler might be the extra tool you need to launch her to the next grown-up stage.

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, Birth-3 year-olds, Books, Preschool, Strategies to Encourange Language Development, Toddler | Leave a comment

Happy Father’s Day Books

As we honor dads on Father’s Day, you might want to give Dad a book to share with your child. Here are my picks:
Daddy and Me by Karen Katz: This lift-a-flap book emphasizes prepositions—in, under, and behind—while building “guy” vocabulary. Sorry if that’s not politically correct but more guys play with tools than girls. The simple story of making a project together, introduces the tools and materials necessary to finish Henry’s doghouse.
Daddy Hug by Tim Warnes: This picture book for 3-5 year-olds is packed with great adjectives to describe Daddy. Jane Chapman’s beautiful illustrations (she illustrated Bear Snores On) capture the differences between animal daddies—spiky, fluffy, creaky or slimy. But best of all, tender daddies keep us safe and snug with plenty of hugs.
My Father the Dog by Elizabeth Bluemle: This picture book for 4-7 year-olds stacks the evidence against Dad—he must be a dog, not a human. The facts can’t be ignored. From scratching his itches, fetching the morning paper, growling when he’s startled from a nap, or fetching balls, he’s clearly only pretending to be human. His loyalty and love for the family are his best dog traits yet!

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, Birth-3 year-olds, Books, Preschool, Toddler | Leave a comment

“Mamasource,” A Great Resource for New Mamas

With social networking sites becoming so popular, it’s no surprise that I found one just for moms, Take a look at the range of questions moms are posing to each other in the last 2 days–allergies, getting your child to sleep, kids bullied, disciplining a 2 year-old, 3 month-old won’t take a bottle, breastfeeding, a diet for a child with ADHD, choosing a jog stroller and potty training a 2 1/2 year-old. I am impressed with the encouragement moms are giving each other as they try to help solve common parenting challenges.

In addition, you can research topics, ask a question, answer one, and find a local business from party goods, kid’s clothing, and employment to fertility services.

So check it out. It’s free and connects you to other moms.

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, Babies, Birth-3 year-olds, Elementary School Age, Toddler | Leave a comment

Toy Review: eeBee’s Adventure Play Mat and Activity Play House 6 months-3 Years

eeBee’s Adventure Play Mat and Activity Play House

Every now and then a toy comes along that I get really excited about. This is one. Maybe because I had an older brother and he was always making forts out of our couch cushions and planting me inside with the bowl of popcorn!

This colorful set of foam sections, invites your child to make a house and climb in. Every day they can make a new creation and peek out at the family though the curtained window. See my full review at the Parents’ Choice website.

Posted in Birth-3 year-olds, Strategies to Enhance Language, Toy Reviews | Leave a comment

One Special Girl

I can’t tell you how many times I learn a great lesson from a child–one that inspires me. Here goes.

Yesterday when I was talking to a friend, she mentioned that her daughter, Becca, had befriended a peer with autism. She shared about their weekend trip to the beach and how her daughter takes time to explain things, change course when her friend gets “stuck” in a behavior, and even slows down her speech to be understood. Clearly it is unusual and praiseworthy that this second grader has the compassion, patience and confidence for a friendship with this little girl.

Apparently there is a cost to this friendship because Becca is being teased by other girls in her class for befriending her peer with special needs. That hasn’t stopped Becca. Planning her birthday party, Becca placed her friend at the top of the list of invitees. Good for her. She will reap the rewards of going out of her way to learn and care about someone just a little bit different than herself. Becca is taking a risk and she will be the winner here.

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, Autism, Birth-3 year-olds, Elementary School Age | Leave a comment

Best New Children’s Toys and Games Awarded by Parents’ Choice

Last week, Parents’ Choice Foundation announced their 2008 Toy Awards which includes new games, puzzles and toys.

Preschool: Topping the list was my favorite, “eebee’s Adventure Play Mat and Activity Play House” by Every Baby Company. This play house is begging to be put together for a child from 6 months to 3 years. What kid doesn’t like to build a fort and play house in it? When I brought this to a family’s house to play with their 2 ½ year-old, mom sat his 6 month-old sister in there too and they had a ball. The thick soft panels stick together with Velcro for endless possibilities for creative housing. For my full review go to the Parents’ Choice website.

Several new games made the list for the preschool set. Cranium introduced creative games that promote learning through activities your little one experiences every day-“Let’s Play Stamp and Mail”, “Let’s Play Measure and Cook” and “Let’s Play Neighborhood Sounds Bingo.” These are creative, fun games that I saw introduced at the International Toy Fair in February.

5 Years old and up: Games for the slightly older set, 5 years and up, that have been winners with the kids that I have played with include “Animal Soup” and “Clothespins! Game” by Briarpatch. With “Animal Soup”, every player gets a flip book with variations on their cartoon-style animal. Each picture varies with the addition of a scarf, tiara, jeweled necklace, lei, or varied hats. It’s a race to be the first one to match your picture to the figures on the game board so the winner can collect an animal disc out of the soup bowl. Kids love this game, not realizing that while they’re madly looking for their animal match, they are building their visual discrimination, memory, and fine motor skills. See my full review at the Parents’ Choice website.

“Clothespins! Game” is like a kid’s Gin Rummy where the player decides how to collect items of clothes to hang on the line—by color and pattern (stripes or polka dots) or by type of clothing (pants, shorts). Collect at least three of the same cards, put a pole at the end and no one can steal off of your line! See my full review at the Parents’ Choice website.

Babies: One of the products that received an award is the “Taggies First Touch Ball.” These soft, fuzzy balls dotted with taggies to touch and explore are easy for baby to squeeze and grasp and even for big brother to throw and catch. See my full review at the Parents’ Choice website.

8 years and up: For older kids the award-winners look really great. Try “Chocolate Fix” by ThinkFun Inc that garnered the gold award. Players place chocolates in order on a tray according to clues provided in a puzzle. Sounds yummy to me!

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, Birth-3 year-olds, Games, Preschool, Toddler, Toys | Leave a comment

Game Review: “Animal Soup” by Briarpatch Ages 5 and up

Animal Soup Game

Kids beg to play Animal Soup again and again. It’s a game of match as players race to find their animal dressed in different garb—a lei, scarf, baseball hat or tiara—on the game board. The winner collects an animal disc from the soup bowl! See my full review at Parents’ Choice website.

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, Strategies to Enhance Language, Toy Reviews | Leave a comment

Game Review: “Clothespins! Game” by Briarpatch Ages 5 and up

Clothespins Game

Clothespins!, This game of strategy requires the player to collect items of clothing by pattern—polka dots, stripes or wiggly lines, or by type—pants, tops or shorts. Finish three laundry lines with three matching articles of clothing and you win. But don’t let the bird steal your laundry! See my full review at Parents’ Choice website.

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, Toy Reviews | Leave a comment