Feed Me Books Friday: My Pick for Labor Day

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Week Early So You Can Find It!

Yes, I know Labor Day Weekend is a week away, but I found this book some time ago and wanted to share it with any of you moms who might be interested in teaching your sprouts what Labor Day is all about. For many of us, it signifies the end of summer, but it is also a tribute to the “social and economic achievements of American workers” (Dept. of Labor website). So what does that matter to a preschooler? In B’s mind, it will be a special day because Daddy will be home from work. But we’ll also talk about the history of the day and I have no doubt he’ll appreciate the message of honoring the various workers of our country.

Trying out the World of Work

I’ve shared before how much B enjoys dressing up and role play. One of the most precious things he said recently was when we were talking about where people work. He knew Gramma works in a classroom, and his uncle works at a car mechanic, and when I asked where Daddy worked, he said “a helping place.” Daddy is the manager of his department, and the best way we have explained managing is that Daddy helps other people get their jobs done. So, Daddy works at a helping place! Love it! B likes to pretend he’s going to work like Daddy sometimes. He packs a lunch, puts on a collared shirt, and heads to his computer desk, where he “sends email” (which consists of typing in a word document).

What do we Celebrate?
Gary Paulsen paints a lovely picture in words of workers everywhere with his book, Work Song, and his wife’s pastel illustrations make the book a beauty to see as well as hear. The text is sparse, long sentences of rhyming phrases spread over several pages that tell what the work song is. Some of my favorite descriptors include, “towering buildings that were not there, hanging suddenly in the air,” and “resting short but loving long, resting for the next day’s song.” There are several trades and professions featured in the book, and while it is certainly not an encyclopedia of jobs, it does highlight the beauty in the variety of work in the world around us. This Labor Day, I will celebrate the workers who provide for the many aspects of a life I am grateful for, and I will celebrate that my first labor day as a stay at home mom who couldn’t be more appreciative of the work I do every day.

Appropriate for: toddlers, preschoolers, primary grades, everyone!

Share your Labor Day plans in the comments and/or link up with a book recommendation of your own! I’ll be sharing our “end of summer” book next Friday.


Play with Logic and Spatial Skills

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

You’re Getting Warmer…
Hide and Seek and Peek-a-boo are timeless games around any home with children, and here is no exception. The warmer/colder game is a fun twist on hiding play. Sometimes B (or more often Mommy or Daddy) gets tired of hiding under the stifling blanket and waiting to be found (especially in the heat of summer)! We take turns with B hiding objects inside and out:

On the bookshelf...
In the couch cushions...
On the bed...
Even in the bathtub!
...and in the garden.

Then we give clues to find them: “You’re getting warmer, warmer, now colder, warmer, hot!” Sometimes we also practice spatial cues, including higher, lower, left, right, near, and far, for an extra cognitive challenge. B loves to be the clue giver as much as the hunter, and I love that he’s practicing academic vocabulary while he’s having a good time. Sometimes we hide several objects at once, sort of like an easter egg hunt, and it becomes a memory challenge as well. Occasionally B gets so caught up in finding good hiding spots, that the object disappears for a day or two until we come across it again in another game!

Hide and Seek in ColorsSesame Street First Look and Find: Hide & Seek Near & Far
Backseat Hide and Seek
I’ve capitalized on this interest in searching for hidden objects to make car rides and waiting at the doctor or restaurant more fun as well. There are several great books that introduce kids to the concept of searching for hidden pictures without being quite as complex or challenging as the famous Where’s Waldo? We enjoy the Little First Look and Find series for independent play/reading because they’re sturdy board books and each page has a picture bank of items to find, so word recognition is not required. Some of the I Spy series has this feature as well, and B enjoys the more challenging I Spy Books when he has a grown-up to help with the reading. We recently purchased Hide and Seek in Colors, which has a magnifying glass on a ribbon that tucks in the front cover; and while it isn’t really necessary, it makes the seeking more fun, and having a physical object to seek with allows us to practice our warmer/colder game.

Appropriate for toddlers, preschoolers, primary grades (depending on complexity and independence)

Come Play at the We Play link up at Childhood 101

Stop by Friday and share a book or two at Feed Me Books Friday!


Big Fun, Little Guy

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Playing with the Big Guys

My son, like many 4-year-olds, vacillates between feeling he can take on the world and being afraid to enter his own dark bedroom alone. My husband (shout-out to a super dad!) tries to include B in many of his activities. It accomplishes two things: first, Daddy gets projects done and spends quality time with B at the same time; second, B gains a real sense of pride at being able to do grown-up things. He loves to work on projects around the house or yard with Daddy (and thanks to Papa he has kid-friendly versions of all the requisite tools). He accompanies Daddy to the driving range to practice his golf swing. He’s even tagged along for a couple of casual lunches with Daddy’s colleagues. Unfortunately, sometimes B’s sense of big-boy entitlement goes a little too far, and he has to be reminded that Mommy and Daddy make the rules, and not all activities are appropriate for kids.

It’s a book! It’s a toy! It’s a souvenir! It’s a lesson!

I’ve shared my affinity for books as souvenirs before, and as anyone whose read my last two posts knows, I just returned from some family vacation time. Most of our time was spent blissfully unscheduled, relaxing at the resort pools and recreation areas, but we did fit in an aquarium visit. B’s souvenir from the aquarium trip was a fun book by William Boniface, The Adventures of Max the Minnow. First of all, the book caught B’s eye (and proved entertaining on the car ride home) because of the googly eyeballs protruding from the cover. A rigid clear ball encases each greed-irised “eyeball” which glide and jiggle and are weighted such that no matter which way you turn this board book, the pupils continue to “look” at you! Now, while Minnows weren’t exactly the feature creature at the aquarium, I think a book about fish is enough of a connection to jog our memories and discuss our vacation excursion.

Braun vs. Brains
Max the Minnow Picture Book (Wiggle Eyes)
The story of Max the Minnow is told in rhythmic couplets – iambic septameter to be exact. Unnecessary terminology, I know, that’s the Lit. major in me coming out. What that means to the reader is that every other syllable is accented in slightly shorter lines than Shakespeare wrote most of his works. It makes the text very bouncy and light. The illustrations are bright and cartoonish, and holes through to the back of the book allow a different creature to show off the googly eyes on each page. Max begins the story frustrated that little guys (remember he’s a minnow) must hide and watch the big fish at play. Inspired by watching blowfish puff up, he sets out to try to become bigger by eating malts, pizza, and noodles, but discovers his new pudgy size makes him the target of some clownfish teasing. His last stop is Sharky’s Diner, where his new plump physique makes him a target for the shark chef. He’s sure hope is lost when he discovers his size has slowed him down, but remembers in the nick of time that “brains mean more than bulk” and finds a space just large enough for him (but not the shark) to escape. When children experience frustration because they’re not allowed to do grown-up things or because they’re not physically big enough to do certain activities, this story is a great way to start a discussion about all the special qualities they do possess or privileges they have.

Appropriate for: toddlers, preschoolers, primary grades

What special activities make your child feel grown-up? Hope you’ll share in the comments and/or add your own link to share a recommended book!


Why Sharing Books is Great

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Solution for a Sad Boy

Proud B with his blooms

Back in April, B got a little kit from the library for earth day to grow a sunflower. They packaged together a repurposed water bottle, some soil, and two sunflower seeds. We started them on the kitchen counter, and when they were tall enough to transplant, moved them to a pot on the patio. He was so enamored by their rapid growth that we added a few more seeds to the pot to see how fast they’d catch up. When his sunflowers bloomed, he was delighted. But now that the first planted have begun to wilt, he is distressed. The fragility of life and the passage of seasons are hard cognitive concepts for preschoolers (and their mommies). A book comes to my rescue again! And this time, it is thanks to all the great sharing and recommendations that flow among my book-loving blog pals.

Blog + Library = Perfect Book
Sunflower House (Books for Young Readers)
A couple weeks ago, Ginny Marie shared Eve Bunting’s Sunflower House over at her blog, Lemon Drop Pie. I was attracted to it simply because of the sunflowers on our patio, so I put it on the request list from the library. It arrived just in time for the wilting incident. A few days ago, we went to play out back and B discovered the leaves were drooping and turning brown on his two tallest sunflowers. I tried to explain that they couldn’t last after the summer, and that we could plant more, but he was hardly placated. So that afternoon at naptime I retrieved Sunflower House from the library bag and we sat down to check it out together. Bunting’s tells the story of another boy’s sunflower garden in soft, conversational text that rhymes without becoming too bouncy. The boy and his father plant sunflower seeds in a circle, and he and his friends are able to enjoy the house it creates all summer, pretending to be animals, having picnics, and even camping out. When the sunflowers wilt and bend, the friends attempt to fix it with string, sticks, and glue, all to no avail. Then they realize they can harvest the seeds from the puffy blooms to save for a new house next spring. My favorite line from the book: “It’s neat to think when something’s gone a part of it goes on and on.” B and I harvested a few seeds from our sunflowers, and the positive message at the end of the book was a real help to me in quelling his disappointment.

Have you ever come across the perfect book at just the right time?

Appropriate for: toddlers, preschoolers, primary grades

(I’m still on vacation, but if I have internet access, I’ll be linking up with What My Child is Reading this Week)

Come back Friday to link up your recommendations at Feed Me Books Friday!


Feed Me Books Friday: Vacation Reading

Thursday, August 12, 2010

See You Soon!

As you read this, we’re away enjoying our summer vacation (don’t call me a procrastinator…) with the boys and their Gramma and Papa. If I don’t respond to your comments right away or get around to visit everyone’s links until I return, you have my deepest apologies. We’re not sure yet what our internet status will be while on vacay, and truth-be-told, I will choose quality time with my family over blogging and catch-up later if necessary. In honor of our trip, I thought I’d share one of my favorite vacation-themed books. I also thought I’d share some of my other travel related posts, including travel plans, souvenir books, travel preparation, travel manners, and travel entertainment.

A New Meaning for House-sitting
House Takes a Vacation
The humor in House Takes a Vacation, by Jacqueline Davies, is just as, if not more, enjoyable for adults as it is for children. If you’re reading it with little ones, you may want to pause to explain some of the wordplay, or you may choose to let the humor go over their heads. If your child has shown curiosity about figures of speech or confusion due to literal interpretations, this book would be a fun way to go about explaining some of the silliness of language. Upon being left alone by a vacationing family, the house decides it will go on a holiday of its own. The different parts of the house want to go different places that appeal to their personalities (the sun porch longs for the beach, but the basement is a stick-in-the-mud). Davies' word play, puns, and figurative language come fast and furious as the front door leads the way to the seashore. Antics ensue, but the end result is much like any family’s return from vacation: happy memories coupled with warm fuzzy feelings when returning home. The house makes it home just before its occupants, who are puzzled by the hints of adventure (seaweed on the roof) still decorating the house. The story ends with the house planning its next adventure, which is a great invitation to a story or artwork for your little one!

Appropriate for: toddlers, preschoolers, primary grades

Hope you’ll share some of your recommended reading this week! We’ll be ready to load up at the library when we return from our trip!


Books for Little Fingers

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Within Reach and Not on the Floor

Between six and ten months, most babies learn to enjoy the “drop-it” game. You hand them a toy, a sippy, your keys, etc. They drop it, then fuss. You pick it up. Repeat ad nauseum until you get sick of it. It really does have a purpose. They are developing the cognitive understanding of cause and effect, as well as a physical understanding of the space around them. However, there are times and places that developing this particular understanding is not exactly ideal: like in the shopping cart at the market or cruising the neighborhood in the stroller. Enter attachable toys. You’ll find them in many varieties: links, magnetic bands, clips, velcro. As a mama fond of reading and desirous of a childhood attachment to books, I am all for attaching books to (ok not really) but near my child! T is in a stage where he’s not real patient to listen to the stories, but loves to flip through the pages.

Variety Close at Hand
Baby's First Library
Soft Play publishes sets of baby-friendly books on clip-able rings that are just the right size for little hands. Each book is about 4 inches square, and my favorite set comes with two board books, two cloth books, and 1 bath book (no ring). The cloth books have dimensional animals on the front, and are great for babies in the chewing stages. I’ve successfully laundered the cloth books after they’ve lived in the diaper bag for a while. One of the board books is touch and feel, and the other has sparkly patches in the illustrations, both highly entertaining. The bath book has a squeaker in the cover. Each features a different animal and has short rhyming text on each page. The stories are not prize-winners, but they’re fun and entertaining when you’re in line at the grocery store or the bank. This is one of my favorite gifts to buy for baby showers because of the variety and the fact that they are appropriate from infancy on with the soft cloth books and small size.

Appropriate for: babies, toddlers

Come Play at the We Play link-up!

Come back Friday with your book recommendations for Feed Me Books Friday!


Welcome to the New Home of Feed Me Books Friday!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Feed Me Books Friday was one of the inspirations for my start as a blogger and for Little Sprout Books, so I am honored and grateful to give it a new and loving home. Originally the brainchild of Janna at The Adventure of Motherhood, Feed Me Books Friday has become a beloved and informative weekly meme. Though it will always be Janna’s baby, it has grown up and left the nest. She will nurture new and valuable projects over at Mommy’s Piggy Tales. I hope you’ll continue to make Feed Me Books Friday an event that inspires and evokes a love of reading and brings book-loving bloggers together!

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If you have Janna’s button on your blog, (or even if you don’t) I hope you’ll grab the new one from my site that will bring others here to share their books and get great recommendations.

Comfort for Big Changes
B with Care Bear in the airport.

Making changes for Feed Me Books Friday and trying to make long-time contributors feel welcome reminded me of the anxious feelings that arise during any transition. Many children have a lovey, a comfort object, a blankie, or a baby that brings them comfort in times of anxiety or change. My blankie from childhood is up in my attic, and it still imbues a sense of calm when I come across it. B has been attached to both a care bear and a baby, and had a brief affair with Mickey Mouse and Cat in the Hat. The comfort that a lovey provides is inexplicable to anyone else. A grubby toy or tattered blanket is priceless to its owner while seemingly undesirable to others. A lovey is a healthy tool as children mature in their social-emotional development, and many adults continue to find comfort in a special object, be it a favorite chair, a worn in t-shirt, or a treasured book.
B's baby even makes it into photo-ops!

To Each His Own

Where's My Teddy? Big BookBoth the value and individual importance of a lovey are conveyed by Where’s My Teddy by Jez Alborough. In this bouncy rhyming tale, Eddie has lost his teddy in the woods. He finds it a little creepy and is anxious to find his beloved Freddie and get home. He finds a teddy that resembles Freddie in every respect escept that he is enormous! As Eddie is trying to figure out what happened to Freddie and how he’ll get him home, a real (very large) bear approaches, clutching a tiny teddy (the real Freddie). Eddie and the bear are equally startled by one another and equally overjoyed to find their own teddies. They retrieve their beloved teddies and retreat to their beds, safe and comfortable at last. The rhymes and anticipation of the story will make this book a page-turner, but go back and spend some time studying the illustrations – there are many details to be discovered in the forest scenes.

Appropriate for: toddlers, preschoolers, primary grades

I hope you’ll link up with a recommended book post this week, or leave me a comment to tell me about a book you love, or maybe share your own lovey story.


Baby-Proofing: Where Do You Draw the Line?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Protecting Little Explorers

My house has been reasonably child-proofed years longer than I’ve had children. We always wanted our home to be a welcoming and safe place for friends and family with little ones, so breakables are up high, chemicals are locked away, and outlets are not exposed. When B came along, we added a baby gate here and there (mostly to corral him so I could accomplish something in one room) and the brick fireplace hearth got a foam bumper. T has been crawling for months, but he gets speedier by the day and he’s recently taken up “cruising” along the couch and cabinets so I know it won’t be long before he’s off and running! In my mind, there is some gray area between protecting your child from obvious hazards and letting him explore the world around him. Err on the side of caution or watch baby like a hawk? Depends on the situation.

Cruising the kitchen

A new view of the exersaucer

How Often Do You Tell Your Child No?

I’m not of the camp that believes “no” is a dirty word, but I also don’t want it to be the only word my sons hear all day. I’d rather have a kid-friendly home than fancy furniture and gallery displays, so my kids have pretty free reign in the house. In fact, a guest recently commented, “There are toys in every room!” I’m not sure whether she was amazed that we allow the toy sprawl, or merely surprised, but toys in the kitchen mean dinner gets cooked, toys in my bedroom mean laundry gets sorted, toys in the dining room mean we get to eat after we feed the kids. B knows his boundaries by now, but even 4-year-olds forget the rules and go for the occasional bounce on the couch or climb up the counter. T is just learning the boundaries, and testing them every time I turn around. Babies only begin to grasp the meaning of “no” around 7 months, and don’t have the cognitive development to fully process its use until nearly 18 months, so redirects and distractions are the most successful for T, while B usually gets a question to remind him he knows better. (Where do your feet belong?) That doesn’t mean “no” goes unspoken, but I try to reserve it for dangerous or urgent situations in hopes that it doesn’t fall on deaf ears.

Off Limits for Exploring
Don't Touch, It's Hot (Touch-and-Feel)
I’m not sure if B is naturally very curious or if I created the “why” monster myself by trying to explain actions and expectations – it’s one of those which-came-first kind of situations. I hope that he (and soon is brother) is more likely to follow rules if he understands the reasoning behind them. Sometimes his insistence for an explanation is a little infuriating, but that’s part of the age, right? A book that was first B’s and has been passed down to T is Don’t Touch, It’s Hot by David Algrim. It came from a discount store, but the message is great and the touch and feel, scratch and sniff pages are very entertaining! Each page features a food or cooking area that may be too hot to touch. The oven is hot, but the smell the tasty pepperoni when the pizza cools! The boiling pot is hot, but blow on the curly, stringy spaghetti and it’s ready to enjoy! The repetition in the text both drives the message home and allows pre-readers to learn the pattern and read along. B still thinks this book is a lot of fun and now he’s the experienced teacher issuing the “Don’t Touch” warnings.

Appropriate for: babies, toddlers, preschool

Linking Up With:
Tackle It Tuesday
What My Child is Reading this Week

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