The Patriot Preschooler

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Books Always Help

Whenever there’s a big cognitive concept to be introduced or understood in our house, books always help. Patriotism is no exception. How do you explain love of country to a child that doesn’t yet understand that living in the same town as Grandma and living in the same country as Nana mean two very different things? There are some that wouldn’t bother to try explaining – wait until he’s older and more mature – but kids have questions, and I try to answer them. I know I’m not alone when I say my preschooler has a million questions, about everything, and I could choose to ignore them, or stifle them with trite answers, but I try to maintain the patience to answer (most of them). For B, explaining patriotism came about because of his love of all things athletic. Attend an athletic event and you’ll most often find it preceded by the playing and/or singing of the star spangled banner, maybe even a color guard. When B asked why we stood up and what the song was before a basketball game, I didn’t take a “time-out” for a patriotism lesson. I answered that we were honoring our country and our freedom to enjoy the game we were about to watch, then I made a mental note to follow up on that question later, but how?

An Active Mind Notices

It wasn’t long before B noticed the flag flying in other places: in front of the library, at “Old MacDonald’s,” in front of the bank, at the rodeo, even behind the president during a news conference! He recognized the stars and stripes and we talked about the flag representing our country, and our country is the United States. He also noticed that the same song played at both basketball and football games, and at games in different locations. Now, The Star-Spangled Banner is one heck of a hard song, so I’m not teaching him all the meaning behind that one just yet, but we did talk about it being a song to honor both the flag and our country. Our backyard soccer games are now usually preceded by the requirement that we “hold the ball and stand in a line” while we “listen to” (or while mom sings) The Star-Spangled Banner. It’s pretty cute that he’s emulating his adored activities with such detail, but I’m also pretty proud that he is learning this tradition of patriotism.

Keep Your Eyes Peeled for a Good Book

Meet Our Flag, Old GloryI’ll admit, that after the first flag question, I didn’t run out and look up the perfect book to teach B about patriotism – I’m not that organized. But like I said, I tucked that question away, and when I stumbled across Meet Our Flag, Old Glory, by April Jones Prince, at our library, I snatched it up and brought it home to be my springboard. This flag-themed book is written in pleasant, bouncy rhyme and illustrated with collage-style watercolor pictures. It’s a child’s introduction to the flag, literally. Prince describes the flag with personification as though the reader might reach out and shake hands. B especially liked the page that reads, “Whenever I spy Old Glory I feel so strong and proud. I see her at the ballgame soaring high above the crowd.” His response was, “WE saw the flag at OUR game!” One page spread shows flags placed about a cemetery, and reads, “I place her near lost loved ones.” This was a great introduction to Memorial Day as well, which is why I decided to share it with you this week. The story ends with a connection to the 4th of July, which would also be an appropriate time to share this book – but I liked it for Memorial Day because the concept of celebrating patriotism and memorializing heroes is symbolized so much by the image of the flag. At the back of the book, there is a useful history of how the American flag came to look the way it does, as well as some background on its display and on the pledge of allegiance.

Appropriate for preschoolers, primary grades.

I’m linking up at Read Aloud Thursday and Feed Me Books Friday (hosted this week at Mom Tried It)! Go find some more great books there!
Saturday I'll be linked up at Meme's the Word if you want to go check out some other meme's!


Souvenir Books

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What do You Bring Home?
When you are lucky enough to find the time and money for a family vacation, the most important things to bring home are happy memories and strengthened family bonds, but beyond that, what makes the best souvenir? I’m a photo junkie, with big dreams of vacation scrapbooks. Right now those look more like vacation scrap-piles, but it’s a start. Kid’s souvenirs can be tricky… A T-shirt? A theme-park toy? Something local and authentic they’ll break before you get home? Something made in China they pick out in the gift shop? The answers depend on the kid, the parent, the trip, and the moment, but I’d love to hear what you think. We have established two traditions in our travels with child(ren) thus far: We write a postcard and send it home to each child (cool photo, written memory, local postmark) and we look for a book that is either about the location or about an activity we enjoyed there. In choosing and buying books, I’ve sometimes waited until we’ve returned from the trip to gauge what was memorable for B and seek out a book that will help him recall those memories.

My Lucky Toddler

Due to a serendipitous combination of circumstances, including my teaching schedule, an invitation from my parents, and a Christmas gift, B’s first vacation was a trip with my extended family to Hawaii. My lucky 18-month-old got to experience a plane flight, a Hawaiian holiday, and irreplaceable family memories. We got to introduce our toddler to the warm tropical ocean waters, see the sights, and have some help from the family along the way.
I wonder how many of those memories will stick with him – he still talks about it now, and I hope that by talking about it and jogging the memory with our souvenir book, he’ll continue to treasure those early vacation memories as he ages.

Take a Board Book Tour of Hawaii

Good Night Hawaii (Good Night Our World series)If you read my post on Good Night America, you already know I’m a fan of Adam Gamble’s Good Night World Series. After returning from Hawaii, I ordered Good Night Hawaii from Amazon because experience told me that it would be full of references to the tourist stops we enjoyed and pictures that would help B remember and articulate his experiences. I was not disappointed. While not every location featured in the book was familiar to us (no volcano exploration on that trip), it gave us a springboard for our memories of the places we did visit and has also generated some talk of plans for other trips (much like Good Night America).
Appropriate for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, on up!

Better than a T-shirt?
So am I a nerd for thinking books make great souvenirs? Or are there other bibliophile travelers out there? I never bought books as souvenirs before my kids were born, but I’m starting to wish I had!
I’ll be linking up with Ginny Marie’s Where in the World Wednesday at Lemon Drop Pie.


There’s a Pint-Sized Negotiator in my Bathtub!

Monday, May 24, 2010

It’s Just a Phase… Right?
This mom’s limits and patience are being tested – regularly. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the ability to negotiate solutions to problems is a social-emotional developmental milestone for preschoolers. To this I say, I must have a very advanced child! I say this in jest, but it can be hard to find the humor when the negotiation tactics are coming fast and furious. Everything – from what we have for breakfast, to whether it’s cold enough for a jacket, to what’s really on our shopping list – seems to be up for negotiation in B’s world. It’s a balancing act that every parent must navigate. In which battles do you hold your ground, and which aren’t worth the fight? How much control do you let your little negotiator (think) he has? When do you apply reason and logic, and when is it ok to answer, “Because I said so!” Personally, I strive to let B feel a sense of control in some decisions, while remaining firm on big-ticket items. I try to help him understand why mommy and daddy get the final say (because we want to keep him healthy and safe) so that when we do need to lay down the law, it’s a little easier to swallow. But like I said, lately we are reaching the limits of my idealism.

Encouraging or Making Light of Negotiating?

To the Tub
Peggy Perry Anderson’s To the Tub is all about a young frog’s negotiations to avoid the bathtub. When Joe’s father announces it’s time for the tub, Joe’s response is “Okay, but…” Sound familiar? Joe proceeds to collect all the toys he needs, and get in a little playtime along the way. I like that I can use the illustrations to discuss what Joe is really doing. Is he getting his ducky or playing on the slide? Is it okay to do both after Father told him it was bath time? Getting the ducky might be a reasonable request, but playing on the slide is frustrating for Father.

Eventually, Father becomes so overloaded with Joe’s toys that he trips on a beach ball, and all the toys end up in a mud puddle. Joe and his father solve this problem in froggy fashion, by enjoying a mudbath! In the end, it’s Mother Frog who ends up enforcing the bath – for both Joe and his father!

I’m kind of tickled by the fact that Mother ends up laying down the law – does that happen in your house, too? I don’t begrudge anyone a good mudbath, but I did talk with B about negotiations and decision making. Is it ok to ask to do what you want? Yes. Will you always get your way? No, and it’s not ok to do it anyway. To the Tub isn’t a heavy duty lesson teaching book, but I don’t really like those anyway. I like it when books lead the way to good discussions without feeling like lectures.

How do you handle negotiations at your house?

I’m linking up with What My Child is Reading this Week, and looking forward to some more good suggestions!


Paper or Clothes, Which Will You Wear? A Book and a Craft

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Craft Inspired by Laundry (and blogging)

B’s birthday is approaching, and several family members have asked what he might like. My soon-to-be-4-year-old wants clothes – but not just any clothes – “uniforms.” B loves to dress the part for playtime, which often means he is a soccer player, or a basketball player, or a baseball player, but sometimes he’s a gardener, or a “worker” (his term for wearing a collared shirt and sitting at the computer or working at the table). I’m getting a little tired of the laundry this involves, so I’m telling the family to buy him clothes – if he’s going to go through them like lightning, at least I won’t have to wash every day! But this week I was inspired by Christianne’s Little Page Turners: Rainy Day post. She did an adorable craft with her daughter that involved a paper doll printable. While the little girl with the umbrella wasn’t exactly appropriate for B, it did start the gears turning.

Dressing Up on a Smaller Scale

Let me tell you if you don’t already know… there are a lot of options out there for printable paper dolls. I’ll share just a few that I came across in a very quick search – I make no claim they are the best, just that they work and are easy to find.

  • I was looking for a boy doll, and found a simple version at Marilee's Paper Doll Page.

  • At Billy Bear, you (or your child) can “color” the doll and clothes on screen, then print your product.

  • Activity village also has a variety of dolls and more outfits to choose from, but not the “uniforms” I though B would enjoy.

  • I found my favorites at Making Friends. You can print out dolls in a variety of skin tones, and outfits are organized by theme.

You can print out outfits in color or outlines that your child can color in. The outfits don’t have tabs, (the site says they are made to be glued, or suggests using magnets) but since the purpose was for B to change clothes, and I didn’t have magnet sheets at home, I just added a couple tabs as I cut them out. Then I found a cute photo of each of the boys and cropped it down to fit on the doll, printed, cut, and glued. Voila! B can dress himself in any uniform he chooses! While I’m not deluded enough to think that this will totally eliminate B’s frequent wardrobe changes, I am hoping it distracts him long enough to get some laundry done.

A Book with Different Wardrobe Advice

Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?We brought Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? home from the library a while back, but this project reminded me of it, so we checked it out again. This is part of Nancy White Carlstrom’s Jesse Bear series, which are formatted as a series of verses that tell a story. In this one, Jesse Bear is asked what he’ll wear at different times of day, but rather than various “uniforms,” Jesse “wears” his activities: “I’ll wear the sun, on my legs that run, sun on the run in the morning.” The illustrations are detailed and endearing – and I love the way the rhymes and pictures illustrate the course of Jesse’s day.

More Than Just Fashion Advice

Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? made a great paper doll connection, but there are other great opportunities as well. When we checked it out before, we focused on the cognitive concepts of times of day and the various activities that take place in the morning, noon, and night. As a poetry fan, I also love the verses, because Nancy White Carlstrom’s rhymes go beyond the typical couplets of a rhyming book. Each page can be read as an independent poem, or as part of the narrative string. This style may make it easier for little ones to identify rhyming words because they don’t stretch from page to page. The other fun thing unique to this Jesse Bear selection is that we can discuss fantasy/reality as we read. Can Jesse really wear the sun? Or his rice? That’s debatable, but it’s what makes a good discussion! We like Jesse Bear, and we’ve read several of the series. Maybe if I’m inspired to create another activity, you’ll see another Jesse Bear post.

Appropriate for toddlers, preschool, primary grades.

I’m linking up with Janna at The Adventure of Motherhood for Feed Me Books Friday, and “Meme’s the Word” on Saturdays at Lemon Drop Pie.


I’m Dreaming of a Good Bedtime Book…

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Can You Plant the Seeds of Dreams?
It seems that my dreams are often populated by a mixed up conglomeration of the day’s events and the random thoughts or worries that crowd my brain before I drift off to sleep. B’s dreams often seem to be directly correlated to the books we read before bedtime, or sometimes to the stories Daddy tells. I think it’s been almost a year now that B has been able to remember and articulate what he dreams about, and to differentiate it from reality. This ability comes at different ages for different children, but it’s intriguing no matter what. Haven’t you ever gazed at your sleeping child and wondered what she is dreaming about? Babies are even more curious – as little grimaces and grins cross their sleeping faces, I can’t help but wonder what experiences could be prompting those emotions in their dreams.

My Totally Unscientific Theory
I have no studies or research to back me up here, other than my own parenting experience, but it seemed to me that if B could understand that dreams were not really happening, that might make any scary dreams a little less threatening. So we’ve talked about dreams a lot before bedtime. Sometimes we even make a plan to try to dream about something in particular. A few times B has even invited me to join him in his dreams, and I can only hope I get there! I am a sucker for a good bedtime book that might start out with a reluctant child but ends up with a peaceful sleeper (see my post on Mother, Mother I Want Another). So, when we came across Close Your Eyes, it fit the bill and then some. Not only does reluctant Little Tiger finally surrender to sleep, but Mother Tiger prepares him for dreamland along the way!

Handling Bedtime Stall Tactics

Close Your Eyes (New York Times Best Illustrated Books (Awards))Close Your Eyes, by written by Kate Banks and illustrated by Georg Hallensleben, opens with Little Tiger’s efforts to evade his nap. He complains that if he closes his eyes he won’t be able to see the sky or trees or birds, and Mother counters that they may be even more fantastic in his dreams. But when Little Tiger considers flying like a bird, some worries set in: what if he falls? Or gets lost? Mother Tiger assures him that she’ll catch him, or find him, so there is nothing to be scared of, so Little Tiger begins to imagine some of the amazing things he could do in his dreams. I love the secure feeling imparted at the end of the book, when Little Tiger asks if the dreams will be gone when he wakes. Mother Tiger answers, “Yes, but I will be here.”

What is the Difference between Imagination and Dreams?

The line between imaginary play and dreaming is hard to explain to a little one. Developing a vivid imagination is important to the ability to think abstractly which is crucial for understanding the relationship between symbols and meaning in reading. On the other hand, understanding the difference between fantasy and reality is important for safety’s sake and for handling the inevitable bad dream. One way to help make the difference a little clearer: talk with your child about the decision making involved. During imaginary play, she decides what pretend events occur, and when she decides to stop pretending, the game is over. Dreams are different, because they occur without that decision-making process, but when a dream ends, the experience is over just the same. Explaining this to B hasn’t completely prevented some late night cuddle sessions to console a bad dream, but I’m glad he knows that like Mother Tiger, I’ll always be there when he wakes up.

Appropriate for toddlers, preschoolers, primary grades.


I Blinked, and Six Years Later…

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Memory is a Funny Thing

Have you noticed that there are certain events that seem like they happened only yesterday, and yet you have trouble remembering what life was like before? Milestones, like graduations, moves, weddings, births, jobs; as another year rolls by, it’s hard to believe they happened so long ago. Yet at the same time, you ask yourself, “What did I do before?” The other night, my husband and I were driving home from a niece’s birthday party. B was singing along to a Wiggles DVD in the backseat, T was not happy to be in his car seat (getting a tooth and fighting sleep), there was an inflatable monkey squeaking between the travel high chair and the stroller in the cargo area, my husband J began humming along to the Wiggles tune with B, and as it was the eve of our wedding anniversary, I wondered to myself, “How did we get here?”

No Regrets

There is absolutely no negative connotation to that question. I am not disappointed or wishing for bygone days. Rather, I am amazed. Time really does fly. We all hear it from our parents, from our friends who have children before we do, but no one can understand the cliché until they’ve experienced it. So, here we are, six years happily married, two beautiful children, and as hard as it is to believe the time has passed, the memories of our previous life are foggy and distant; this is what is our life, now is the only thing that feels real. I can only hope that as time continues to whiz by and our lives continue to evolve, the changes that come will leave room in my memory for the happiness I am blessed with in this moment.

A Year in 32 Pages: The House in the Meadow

The House in the MeadowIn a coincidental parallel to our anniversary, we recently brought home Shutta Crum’s The House in the Meadow. Inspired by the counting poem “Over in the Meadow,” the story follows the life of a couple from their marriage to the completion of their home. “A bride and a groom and their best friends 10” celebrate their marriage in the meadow, then the countdown brings a myriad of workers and community members who contribute to the construction of their home, including masons, carpenters, and plumbers, right down to inspector number 1. The rhythm sometimes gets a little sticky with the construction vocabulary, but B loved talking about each worker and seeing the house take shape with each turn of the page. The illustrations are cut-paper collage, striking and bold. I appreciated that the workers represented various ethnicities and included women as the leaders of several crews. The home is completed the following spring, just in time for the couple to move in with their new little one. With my experience limited to home renovations rather than construction, I can only imagine that year would feel like an eternity, and yet at the end, that couple with the new baby would look back at their wedding and say, “has it really been a whole year?”

Sprouting Some Curiosity

Beyond the bouncy rhyme and counting practice, there are some good opportunities to stretch that cognitive development if you extend the discussion around the book. As I mentioned, the community represented is diverse, and you may want to highlight that with your child, emphasizing the choices he or she has. Though not the backbone of the story, the book also depicts the passage of time and seasons – a very tough concept for a young child. The illustrations help show the changes in the scenery, and if you live in an area with distinct seasonal changes, you might want to page through the story with a photo album near by and track the passage of a year in your town.

The House in the Meadow also offers an ever-so-simple introduction to the concepts of marriage and children, which you may choose to elaborate upon with your child if it seems appropriate. As I mentioned, the timing was coincidental, but reading the book gave us a segue to talking with B about our wedding, looking at a few pictures, and making our anniversary plans. Finally, you can extend the discussion further to the social domain by highlighting the importance of the various community workers in accomplishing the goal. Point out that each has a special talent that was important to the final product. Community workers are often a part of the social studies curriculum for kindergarten and/or primary grades (check the references page for links to academic standards) Check with your child’s teacher if you’d like to use this story to help your child make connections.
Appropriate for toddlers, preschoolers, primary grades.
Also linked up at:


How to Adjust to a New Baby Brother

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I’m a Proud Mama

Lately I’ve been admiring what an amazing big brother B is. Sure, we have frustrating moments, like when he needs me to find the race car with the blue stripes and the hood that lifts up right now, which is just as T has decided he needs to nurse right now. But by and large, he is one impressive brother! He is kind; if T is getting antsy on a car trip, B will sing him a song. He is generous; he has not complained, even once, about sharing a toy with T (we’ll see how long that lasts). He is protective; he checks the floor carefully before T plays to make sure there’s nothing dangerous he could put in his mouth. And best of all, he just likes to have his brother around; he begs for T to take a bath with him or lay in bed together while we read stories. I’d like to say this is all the result of some amazing parenting, but I’m proud, not arrogant, and I am just thankful that B has been blessed with such a lovely personality.

A Nudge in the Right Direction
I Used To Be the BabyThe one thing I can claim to have done to foster this big brother relationship is to prepare B for T’s arrival. We didn’t jump the gun – due to B’s age and lack of the concept of months, we didn’t even talk about the new baby until I was about 7 ½ months pregnant. Uncertain of how to make it comprehensible to him, I of course turned to books. We checked out about a half dozen library books about babies and pregnant mommies, and several were helpful, including Mama Outside, Mama Inside, I'm a Big Brother, and What Can Our New Baby Do? However, my favorite is one we came across by accident perusing the shelves: I Used To Be the Baby, by Robin Ballard. This book presents some of the possibly challenging sibling scenarios: sharing toys, car rides, feeding time, among others, and shows what a great big brother (or sister) can do to make things easier. For example, when baby is sad in the stroller, big brother holds his hand, and when baby tries to eat books, big brother gets out the baby books and reads to him! Love it! There are no shoulds here, just positive examples and great discussion starters.

Making your own Transitions

Books are excellent tools to ease transitions and help that social-emotional development along when children are facing a new experience or chapter in their lives. I Used to Be the Baby is a tool you can use with toddlers and preschoolers who are may be challenged to think about the needs of a baby, especially because developmentally, the world still revolves around them. The responses of the big brother in this book are not necessarily the only appropriate responses. I used this book to talk about options with B, and I asked him to come up with some of his own alternatives. One of his suggestions: instead of being quiet when baby is napping, we can play outside! No book will make a child a good big brother or sister – but the conversation generated by this one might help make the transition easier for everyone.

Appropriate for toddlers, preschoolers, primary grades.

What other transitions have you and your child been challenged by?

I’m linking up with Janna @ The Adventure of Motherhood for Feed Me Books Friday. Check out other great reads there!
I've also linked this post to "Meme's the Word!" on Saturdays at Lemon Drop Pie.


Comin’ Down to Storytime (‘Cause I Love My Library!)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Tradition of Treasures

You might think that with the obscenely large collection of books I’ve amassed in my home, we wouldn’t need to frequent the local library (or check out stacks of 15 or so books at a time). However, variety is the spice of life, we never know what treasure we might find, and the library has even more to offer besides great books! Before I had the opportunity to be a stay at home mom, B started attending library story time with his babysitter Rosi, and his best friend E (her son). His excitement began when I dropped him off on a library day, and by the time I picked him up, he had jubilant stories to tell. It’s a tradition I’ve happily continued, and introduced T to along the way. I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank Rosi for her influence on our library habit (among countless other positive influences).

Literacy Topped with Love
In my book, there are very few good reasons for missing our weekly preschool story time. Our children’s library staff treats the kids to great read-alouds, finger-plays, songs, flannel-board stories, rhymes, and opportunities to share, followed by a parachute song and a take-home craft. Coming recently from public school employment, I never cease to be amazed at what they can do with what I can only imagine are meager resources. Our three treasured ladies of the library exude joy as they lead the activities and interact with the kids, and they’re knowledgeable and helpful to boot!

Soakin’ up the Extras

In addition to the weekly story time, we check out tons of books, hang out in the children’s play area, and make use of the toddler-friendly computers every time we visit. We also try to take advantage of monthly special activities, including summer and winter reading programs, parent workshops, holiday crafts, and visiting storytellers and performers. B is always proud to share his reading log with one of the enthused staff members and thrilled to collect his prize of a special pencil, stickers, or even a new book! His favorite performance was a recent magic show – he’s just at the stage where he was amazed and enthralled and yet just a little wary of the tricks.

Singing Our Way to the Library
When I first came across Comin’ Down to Storytime, by Rob Reid, on our library shelves, I was immediately attracted to several things – adorable illustrations (by Nadine Bernard Westcott) of barnyard animals partaking in story time activities, rhymes set to the scheme of She’ll be Comin Round the Mountain with spot-on rhythm, and the inclusion of nearly every activity present at our treasured library story-time. B was impressed that this story was also a song, and we both loved the way the “yee-haws!” in the traditional song were replaced with contextually appropriate exclamations: “Itsy-bitsy!” for the finger-play verse, and “Mother Goose!” for the nursery rhyme verse, among others. The book has been returned, but the song stuck with us, and Wednesday mornings often include several verses of "Comin Down to Storytime" as we get ready for our library trip.
Sprouting in Every Direction!This book offers opportunities for growth in every developmental domain. Cognitively, the rhyme, rhythm, and repetition are all key pre-reading skills to emphasize and practice with your little sprout. Even without a tune, it won’t take many pages before your toddler or preschooler can fill in the blanks in each verse, which helps him or her correlate words and sounds with print in a fun and memorable way. Physically, use the activities highlighted in each verse to act out, developing large motor skills with “Skip-to-my-Lou!” and small motor skills with “Itsy-Bitsy!” To go for the Social-Emotional gains, use this book to get your child prepared and excited to join a story time group at your local library. Reading about and enjoying some of the activities in advance can help your child be more confident and outgoing in the social setting of a story time or playgroup.

Appropriate for toddlers, preschoolers, primary grades.
Little Page Turners

I'm linking up with Little Page Turners Love My Library. Hope Comin' Down to Storytime will encourage you to go check out your local library or if you're already a regular, I hope it gives you something to sing about!

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Subscribe to the Little Sprout feed!

Fine Print

I retain the copyright to all content and images. Should you desire to use either, please link back to me.

Booklinks are Amazon Affiliate links, and may earn a 4% commission for me.

Otherwise, I receive no compensation for the books I review, and all recommendations are made because we love them!

Subscribe via Email!

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

  © Blogger template Foam by 2009

Back to TOP