Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Non-fiction Books

 The photos in this post are not related to the subject.

I have posted before about the variety of books that are always out for my kids to look at and have us read. Out of the many options, my kids have a strong preference for the non-fiction. They love looking at photos, instead of drawings and seem to remember and relate to the non-fiction books better than the fiction. Here are some of their favorite types of non-fiction books.

A real caboose!

Animal books are always interesting. My kids love the zoo and all animals, so reading about them is popular. We even subscribed to 3 different kids magazines about animals. The favorite, by far, is the one from the National Wildlife Federation. They have different magazines for different ages and while almost everyone has heard of Ranger Rick, my kids are still on the Wild Animal Baby stage. The second favorite magazine is from National Geographic. These also have different options for different ages and we are in the Little Kids stage. The other one we tried was through Zoobooks and while decent, it couldn't compete with the other two. That is the one we didn't renew. I guess I'm supposed to add that these are not paid endorsements, my kids just like the magazines.

Don't bother with him, look at me!

Biographies are an odd choice for this age, but my kids enjoy them. They are just starting to understand that different people have different experiences than their own. For example, as a baby, a child who likes strawberries assumes everyone likes strawberries. When, as a toddler, the child realizes some people don't like strawberries it causes a complete shift in their world. This is around the same time they realize that hitting feels different to the hitter and the victim. They lean they can cause reactions from other children and adults. They experiment with this and it often causes what adults perceive as behavior problems. Wow, I'm off topic. Ok, trying to bring it back. Biographies build off of this interest in the experiences of others. Reading about children in other countries and famous people help connect them to the world around them.

I just love photos of my husband and kids together.

We also use each holiday to read and learn. We are choosing to teach each major holiday in a variety of religions and national holidays from a few select countries. We selected the country we live in and the two other countries my husband has citizenship from to start. We live in a diverse area so there are many religious holidays that are celebrated locally and our kids enjoy understanding what is going on.

Wearing red and taking photos, is it February again?

What types of books do your kid seem to prefer?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Small Spaces

I've posted a lot about our playroom in past posts since that's where we spend a great deal of our time. Today I'm going to explain what happens when kids create their own spaces. We keep most (the goal is all) of the toys in the playroom and our living room is more adult centered. We are lucky to have enough room in the house to be able to do this. When our kids are in the living room, they have their favorite places.

Both kids love going into the corner between the two couches. Here you can see that my sweet daughter has brought in a red box to make it even smaller. She is not in time out. She brought the box over and sat like that for almost a full minute - an eternity for a one year old! She was perfectly happy and was proud of her own little space.

Another day both kids worked together to position their giant caterpillar so they could both sit in this corner. They love making small areas that are theirs. We have used tents and tunnels, but they prefer to make their own spaces. It may seem strange that they are creating a place when they have the run of the entire house. Imagine you are a small person living in a world of giant furniture. You would want to have someplace your size also. The ability to create the place offers opportunities for creativity, problem solving, and is self motivating.

We encourage our kids to use toys for multiple purposes. While you might have just seen a red box, my daughter saw the perfect place to sit. She even managed to talk her brother into pushing her around. This had gone on for awhile before I grabbed the camera, but it's still cute.

Another favorite place for my kids that is their size, would be the wagon. They aren't big fans of the stroller because they can't look around as much as they can in the wagon. This particular wagon also offers cup holders and even more importantly seat belts.

I ask, "What does the pig say?"
They answer, "Wee, wee, wee, All the way home."
Um... yeah, time to review animal sounds again. haha

Monday, February 13, 2012

Dress Up

Many children enjoy playing dress up. We have a large toy box full of dress up clothes, plus a place for them to hang their favorites with accessories. While adults look at this as being silly or just for fun, there are many beneficial learning opportunities in this game.

His favorite princess dress

Self Help Skills: Learning to get dressed is clearly an important goal. This gives kids a chance to practice on their own time when you are not rushing to get somewhere.

Pirate shirt

Fine Motor: Buttons, zippers, buckles, and ties are all great fine motor activities. The clothes designed for every day dress up play (not just Halloween costumes) are often made with larger, easy to manipulate fasteners. Large buttons with even larger button holes, zippers with large teeth to help with easy grip, and buckles that are easy to hook, help build confidence when learning.

A pilot and a ninja

Pretend Play: Acting out situations is great for improving social skills. Having costumes of various occupations, leads to conversations about what they each do at work. Having animal costumes allows for teaching animal sounds, movements, and interactions.

Not a costume, dressed for school photo day

Gross Motor: The most common ways of playing in costumes around here are largely gross motor. We crawl around like animals, we rush from person to person using the stethoscope to see if everyone is healthy, we swing the soft sword in the air yelling "yar!" and we can't forget the ninja moves. Yes, I said we. Getting down on your kids level and playing with them is important and fun.


While playing dress up may seem silly, it teaches many important skills that you child will need to learn as they grow older.

Ready for school picture day

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

More fun in the Snow

Here are some more great ways to enjoy the snow.

No sled or hill? You just need a laundry basket, dog leash, and enthusiastic person to pull the kids around!

Trying to walk on ice is always entertaining. Just make sure your kids are well padded. She loves the cold weather.

Make an ice wreath. Take a large bowl (a bundt pan works best) and let the kids pick colorful natural objects. My kids picked some of the red leaves that had recently fallen. If you are using a bowl, put a plastic cup with a weight on it in the middle. Fill with water and let sit outside until frozen. A quick dip in hot water will loosen the wreath and then just use ribbon to hang. This makes a great Science experiment also. Does it get bigger or smaller when it freezes? How long does it take to melt? What seems to change the rate of melting (temperature/sun/etc)?  The best part is if it melts outside the only thing to clean up is the ribbon.

A ride around the neighborhood is always fun. I love this photo because you can tell we live in an area where people don't go out in the snow.

We observed many icicles hanging from the roof and dripping. Bring in an icicle to feel. Does it melt faster where you are holding it? Can you break it? This is a fun Science experience. We talked about how and why they formed and guessed how long until they would melt or fall off.