How To Read to Your Baby and Toddler

Research shows the value of reading to your baby from day one. Infants are taking in language from books and hearing the rhythm of language as they do from conversation, activating brain cells that lead to eventual understanding and using words learned.

As your child enters the second half of his first year, he is on the move and listening to books of interest. Chose books that are appropriate for his age. Certainly try anything that will hold his interest. Some children will listen to a bit of a story but usually at this age they need catchy rhythm, repetition of words and phrases, simple rhyming lines about babies’ favorite subjects: love, hugs, body parts, toys, daily routines, animals and of course themselves. Clear simple colorful pictures hold their interest and relate to the words being digested.

When I was visiting Caroline, I fell in love with two of her favorite books that Continue reading

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

Grandma Must Be Coming–First Words

Reading books to toddlersI realized I am a full-fledged Grandma, known to the kids as Sheshe, when I packed my bag for North Carolina and had only a few items of clothing and the rest of the bag was filled with a baby doll, doll accessories, play diaper bag and doll accessories.

It’s fun to see my toy tester, 10-month-old Caroline, mouthing and exploring all her toys. As much fun as she has playing with her little Fisher Price piano and Learning House, she is just as happy crawling over to the book shelf and helping herself to a nibble of her parents’ books while ripping out the pages.

I am often asked how do you know when your child is saying her first words? Continue reading

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Children’s Authors’ Blogs Encourage Creativity

I love to expose kids to great authors and the stories behind them. Many authors have terrific blogs and websites with activities related to their books.

One of my favorites is Mo Willems’ blog  where today’s entry is all about his painting his dining room walls with chalk paint so the family could illustrate at whim. Who paints their dining room walls in chalk paint? Someone who is creative and inventive. Check out the pictures that his family contributed. Mo Willems’ website is a wonderful collection of activities related to his books, with PDF files to download. Go to the Barnes and Noble interview of the author and get the background to his genius. He was raised by immigrant parents and loved books by a certain illustrator. Since he didn’t understand the language, he “read” the pictures. He said he wants his books “to be played more than read.” 

Kids get it. I was with a 4 year old who is already starting to read. She ran upstairs to get her collection of first readers by Mo Willems and asked me to read for the Elephant while she was the pig! In her squeaky voice, she loved every minute of reading I Love My New Toy.

So check out his site and print out some activities to enrich your child’s reading experience. 

What websites of authors do you like or use with your kids or in the classroom. Let me know.

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

Educational Toys–The Best of New York Toy Fair, 2009

Step2 play picnic tableI wanted to share some observations I made as I viewed my favorite booths, specializing in educational toys, books and games for the birth-8 year old set.

  1. In keeping with the economy, I saw some “downsized” versions of old favorites that are just as much fun but more affordable. Playmobil is introducing a pirate ship about 2/3 the size of the large version as a good price. 
  2. To add value to the toy, I saw companies advertising 2-steps to infant toys, Continue reading
Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, Babies, Birth-3 year-olds, Elementary School Age, Games, play, Preschool, Strategies to Encourange Language Development, Toys | 2 Comments

New Educational Toys, Books and Games at the Toy Fair

New York Toy Fair 2009, Blue Orange ToysWow! Talk about a kid in a candy store–try spending the day at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City, being captivated by all the new toys created for this year’s International Toy Fair. I am going to write a series of blogs on my impressions, new great finds in books, toys and games and some fun stories about the inventors and creators of the toys and games.

I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be photographed with my friend, Pengoloo as well as Blue Orange president, Julien Mayot. As you know, I love games from Blue Orange, a toy company who values creative play as well as the environment, donating two trees for every one that is cut down to make their innovative, charming wooden characters and toy pieces.

This year’s newcomers for the younger set are “Chickyboom” and “Gobblet Continue reading

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, Elementary School Age, Games, play, Preschool, Strategies to Encourange Language Development, Toys | 1 Comment

New Award Winning Books from ALSC


Mo Willems, Are You Ready to Play Outside? children's readerThe Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) presents several awards to new books, including the Newbery Medal that honors the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children and the Caldecott Metal which honors the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. Many other medals are awarded including The Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal that “honors the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished contribution to the body of American children’s literature known as beginning reader books published in the United States during the preceding year.” This year’s winner was Are You Ready to Play Outside? by Mo Willems.

The ALSC recently announced its newest award winners and they are listed on their website.

I am in the classroom a lot since I service some of my kids within the class. I see that teachers are using wonderful childrens’ literature to teach writing skills, critical thinking, vocabulary and themes. This month is Black History Month, so teachers are searching for great read-alouds to teach about individuals, their culture and experiences. If you are a parent of educator–teacher or therapist–use this list as another resource for good books to read to your children.

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

Free Kids’ Valentines–For Home or Therapy

I will admit that Valentines Day was not my favorite holiday when my three boys were growing up. Guys just didn’t look forward to “”making” valentines and it was like pulling teeth to get them to print the names of their classmates on all the envelopes. I hear that now the teachers have gotten wise and told kids not to put names on the outside so it’s simpler to put them in random bags for the students in the class. 

Anyways, as I have worked with preschool and elementary aged children this week, particularly the girls have loved my bag of art supplies–red glitter blue, foam hearts, stickers and valentine pictures. Here are some free downloadable valentines that were a big hit. If you don’t have a color printer, there is a black Continue reading

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, Birth-3 year-olds, Elementary School Age, play, Preschool, Speech and Language Delay | 1 Comment

How To Motivate Your Preschooler to Practice Speech

First of all your preschooler should not be told he has to practice speech or any other direct way of implying that there is something wrong with him that he needs to change. I figure I am doing things right when I hear a squeal of delight when I ring the doorbell, or my little client thinks I am his playmate, bringing exciting toys, games and books each time. Speech practice should be play and above all FUN. 

Your speech therapist should give you specific things to work on that your child is now able to do, whether it is to make the sound of a car going, a /p/ sound or use correct pronouns. Practice is for repeating tasks that your child has begun to master. The therapist’s job is to introduce and teach concepts, the parent’s job is to reinforce things learned. Learning a new word to use, or place to put his tongue when speaking takes many repetitions before it is generalized Continue reading

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, Apraxia, Articulation, Birth-3 year-olds, Preschool, Speech and Language Delay, Strategies to Encourange Language Development | Leave a comment

Designer of Playmobil Figures

Playmobil little people, pirates, knights, soldiersCall me crazy but I find the obituaries in the New York Times each weekend fascinating. There is a special story behind the people who shape our world.

Friday’s paper included the obituary of Hans Beck, the designer of the little Playmobil figures. My kids and I have spent countless hours creating stories around the pirates, policemen, Indians, soldiers, life guards and knights. These little people and their minute accessories provide the start for every child’s imagination.

Mr.Beck was the original designer of these captivating figures. According to the article, Beck was originally a cabinet maker and was “hired as a toy maker after showing executives there the model airplaines he had designed.” In the early Continue reading

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, Elementary School Age, play, Preschool, Strategies to Encourange Language Development, Toys | 1 Comment

Early Diagnosis of Apraxia of Speech

Recently I seem to be getting calls to test kids from 2 1/2-3 years old who have had a history of speech therapy for about a year. Their original diagnosis had been “apraxic like speech” or apraxia. Now that they have improved their ability to imitate and produce sounds at will, they don’t fall into that diagnosis.

I have also treated children starting at 16 months and older who appear to have motor programming difficulty in that they have trouble coordinating the movements of their body related to speech. They have difficulty imitating or initiating sounds, syllables and words that they want to make. In most cases, after several months of therapy, these children have been able to program the movements needed for speech and start to present as simply “developmentally delayed articulation,” meaning the child follows the typical sequence of sound development but at a slower pace. I say this because I think sometimes as therapists we are quick to label very young children as apraxic or apraxic-like when in reality we have to work with them for several months to determine if they truly are having difficulty with motor programming for speech.

That being said, there is a certain segment of the pediatric population that truly does have childhood apraxia of speech which is defined by The American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) as:

“Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) is a motor speech disorder. Children with CAS have problems saying sounds, syllables, and words. This is not because of Continue reading

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, Apraxia, Articulation, Babies, Birth-3 year-olds, Speech and Language Delay, Toddler | 2 Comments