Book Review: The Great Fuzz Frenzy by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel

great-fuzz-frenzy.gifViolet, the dog, innocently drops her tennis ball down a prairie dog’s tunnel, setting off the “fuzz frenzy.” “Boink, thump, rumble, and plunk” is just the beginning of this delightful journey of a fuzzy ball through the land of prairie dogs, filling your child with rich vocabulary and delightful drawings. Bossy Big Bark is the control freak who wants everyone to stay away from the questionable object while Pip Squeak ventures forth for a look. The new found fuzz is stretched, tugged, spiked and twirled into creative hats, belts, rabbit ears and Indian headdresses. Children learn that language is fun when combined in tangles like “fuzz fiesta,” and “fuzz fandangle.” Naturally there is competition over who will get this new green fuzzy treasure and Pip Squeak is mortified that he had started a battle over the fuzz. Big Bark returns, having stolen all the fuzz, only to be plucked up by an eagle in need of a meal. The prairie dogs rally to save one of their own and Big Bark returns in his protective role over the pack.

Children like to match the drawings with the descriptions: “top dog, corny dog and frilly dog.” Take some time to make a list of your child’s descriptive words for Big Bark (bossy, ornery, inconsiderate, impatient) and Pip Squeak (inquisitive, kind, leader). Building good descriptive words will prepare your child for writing interesting stories. Do they have a friend like Big Bark? Or is their friend more like Pip Squeak? One little girl that I read this book to was having a little trouble with a bossy friend. What an opportunity to work through issues with peers.

Before turning the page of The Great Fuzz Frenzy, make a prediction about what is going to happen. Parents try it too and see what a variety of options you come up with. One little boy saw the sky go black and predicted a storm was coming. All guesses are good and encouraged. This helps your child think creatively, expand on stories, and strengthen his language skills.

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Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, Birth-3 year-olds, Book Review, Books, Elementary School Age, Preschool, Strategies to Enhance Language | Leave a comment

Toy Review: Freddie the Firefly by Lamaze®


If you thought fireflies were only fun at night, you haven’t met Freddie. Freddie the Firefly provides lots to talk about as your baby explores his colors, textures, sounds and activities. Babies are hard-wired to learn language, but their language is stimulated when you talk to them. You need to choose toys with many features that are flexible, so as your child picks up the toy day after day, you have plenty to chat about.

Take advantage of Freddie’s language-enhancing features to stimulate your baby.

• Find a Friendly Face: Great language toys always have a face. Babies, attracted to faces at birth, talk more to faces. When a toy has a face, it becomes animated so you can feed it a meal, take it for a ride or have a chat. The black and white contrasts on Freddie’s back attract your newborn who loves to look for patterns in darks and lights. Talk about the dots, circles and wavy lines. By three months, your baby can distinguish most colors so Freddie’s bright contrasting colors are a feast for baby’s eyes.

• Colorful Contrasts: Explore Freddie with your baby, describing the colorful contrasts: red, orange, purple, green, turquoise, and black.• Feels Good: Give names to the textures: soft, furry, white ball; smooth, shiny green bump; fuzzy turquoise pocket; hard, bumpy red ladybug; smooth shiny, peek-a-boo mirror; slippery antennas and hard circular rings.

• Sounds Alive: Freddy sounds alive with his squeaker, crinkly wings, rattle, and clinking rings.

• Take Action: A good language toy is flexible with moving parts so you can vary your play with your child. Freddie is ready to play peek-a-boo with his mirrored wing and hide and seek with his ladybug under the wing and in his pocket. Offer Freddie a snack, fly him around the room, or let him take a nap perhaps with a washcloth for his blanket.

As your baby starts to pick up Freddie the Firefly and explore his features, you should describe what he is looking at. Research shows that when you follow your child’s attention and talk about what he is looking at, he takes in more language. At first you will be holding Freddie and describing his features to your baby. But, as he starts reaching and selecting a toy that interests him (5-6 months), you will want to stop directing the commentary and follow your child’s lead. Talk about what he is looking at, mouthing, or feeling.

Moms have told me that Freddie is a good friend for a long time.

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Book Review: Max’s ABC by Rosemary Wells

max-abc.jpgTraveling through the alphabet with Max is quite an adventure. Our beloved Max, who managed to empty the contents of his room into his pocket in Max Cleans Up, is at it again. This time, his Ants escaped looking for Birthday cake and manage to follow a trail down Max’s pants in search of anything sugary like Cranberry juice, making their way through the house with Ruby in pursuit. Unlike many other alphabet books that highlight a letter with a word on each page, this clever storyline links the letters of the alphabet so seamlessly that it can stand alone as a storybook.


Young children’s literature should have rich stories, stimulating concepts within the content, and a storyline your child can relate to. Max’s ABC introduces large colorful letters on each page but also presents a story full of concepts appropriate for your preschooler. Ants climb “on,” juice is poured “onto,” pants come “off” and “on,” popsicles are “in,” ants try to nibble “through” and a trail goes “underneath.” Words that describe spatial relations are all part of a preschooler’s world as she explores inside and out. And what child isn’t fascinated with bugs?


One reason Rosemary Wells’ books are so popular across age groups is because she pours lots of content into a short text. I have seen a two-year-old and a six-year-old enjoy the same book because as the child gets older he is entertained by the humor and innuendo in her books. So your eighteen-month-old can enjoy the bright colors, vivid pictures and two to three lines under each picture, while your 3-year-old will be drawn in by the whimsical illustrations, letters to learn and adventure.


Parents are often proud when their child knows his letters but the next step is to know that a letter represents a sound. As you are reading Max’s ABC, you can point to the word beginning with the highlighted sound and spend a little more time making that sound. A two-year-old can have fun imitating your sounds while a four or five year old can have fun thinking of other words beginning with that sound too.


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Posted in 3-6 year-olds, Birth-3 year-olds, Book Review, Books, Preschool, Reading, Strategies to Enhance Language, Toddlers | Leave a comment

Top 12 Games for 3-6 year-olds

  1. Mystery Garden” by Ravensburger, 4 years and up
  2. I Spy Bingo” by Briarpatch, 4 years and up
  3. Hisss” by Gamewright, 4 years and up
  4. Race to the Roof” by Ravensburger, 5 years and up
  5. Cariboo” by Cranium
  6. “CooCoo the Rocking Clown” by Blue Orange, 3 years and up
  7. Goblet Junior” by Blue Orange, 5 years and up
  8. Zingo” by Think Fun, 4 years and up
  9. Elefun” by Hasbro, 3 years and up
  10. Froggy Boogie” by Blue Orange 4 years and up
  11. Diggity Dog” by International Playthings  3 years and up
  12. Funny Bunny” by Ravensburg 4 years and up
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Book Review: Baby Can’t Sleep by Lisa Schroeder

baby.gifPersonally, counting sheep has never put me to sleep and the delightfully entertaining ones in Baby Can’t Sleep will keep you awake too.

First-time author, Lisa Schroeder takes on the challenges of the bedtime ritual. After kissing baby’s head, “Mommy says ‘Good Night!’ and goes to bed.” Now a tired Daddy takes over and suggests counting sheep. These magical sheep have the opposite effect intended as baby perks up watching sheep chasing fireflies, riding in a jeep, and “playing in the pool-wearing suits that look real cool.” Dad is getting tired but baby won’t snooze so mom takes over and promptly falls asleep.How many times have you found yourself dozing off as you finish that last book for your child at bedtime? Even the family dog gets in the act, bringing a toy sheep to comfort the baby at the end of her day.

Often I am asked to suggest books that Mom or Dad can read to their baby and older sibling together. This is one of those books because children of different ages are entertained on different levels. Babies are attracted to the lively rhythm and rhyme as well as the bright, exciting illustrations in this book. Toddlers relate to the story of Mom and Dad’s efforts to get them to bed, and are entertained by the goofy sheep dancing, floating and swinging. Plus, this is a counting book. Two to four-year olds will enjoy this book for the fun of counting, the familiar story line, and clever antics of the sheep. With a three or four-year-old, try to add on to the story with more adventures with the sheep. Provide a first line and let your child finish it like, “eleven sheep on a hike, wishing they could ride a ____.” Progress to giving them just the first phrase and see if they can complete the rhyme. Or have fun simply saying rhyming words like “sheep, beep.” Because the understanding of rhyme is a precursor to reading, it is important to look for books like Baby Can’t Sleep that tell their story cleverly in rhyme. Having fun with rhyme teaches children that sounds and language are exciting. It encourages them to be creative story tellers.

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Posted in 3-6 year-olds, Birth-3 year-olds, Book Review, Books, Preschool, Strategies to Enhance Language, Toddlers | Leave a comment