Thursday, July 15, 2010

My Favorite Alphabet SOUNDS Song

I love the Sounds like Fun CD by Barbara Milne and have been singing these tunes to my children for over 19 years! The Alphabet Sounds Song by Barbara Milne is a nice quiet time or bed time song and is the first song that I use to introduce phonics to my children.
When I sing my babies to sleep, I follow The Alphabet Sounds Song with Barbara Milne’s I Love You So Much. This song became a comfort song to each of my children. When my toddler wakes up frightened, he asks me to "sing the I Love You song" to him. I still have the original Discovery Toys tape cassette  Sounds Like Fun, which includes these two songs as well as  many other learning songs interspersed with nursery rhymes, sung in the same sweet, calming manner. If you have a child who likes to fall asleep listening to music, or if you like to have background music during play time, this is a wonderful CD.

Discovery Toys now sells these songs under the title Sounds Like Learning, but I have to admit that I liked the original title better. I think the new title probably appeals more to the Baby Einstein crowd, but  for a limited time you can buy the original CD for $15.00 or buy it in a bundle, along with 4 other Barbara Milne CD’s for $25.00 at IQ Boosters.

I now use Barbara Milne's CDs to keep my toddler in bed in the evening. I allow him to listen to a CD only if he stays in bed and it works like a charm! And it feels so much better as a parent to say, "If you stay in bed, you can listen to music" than  "If you get out of bed, x will happen".

Oh, and your child does not care if you can sing in tune or get the lyrics right. Sometimes when I am singing without the CD, I get to a letter and cannot remember what word I am supposed to sing, so I just improvise. And I cannot carry a tune. At all! I am so bad that once my kids are older and have had some musical training, I can use singing as a form of punishment. Seriously. However, my babies love for me to sing to them for the first 3 -5 years of their life (the one who stopped liking my voice at 3 has perfect pitch, but even he liked it up until then).

This post has been linked to Things I Love Thursday at The Diaper Diaries.

Disclosure: I am not an affiliate and  have not received any compensation or products. I am just sharing this with you because typing this post is more fun than folding laundry.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fun with Numbers and Top 10 Counting Books

My son loves numbers! One day after reading his favorite counting book, Chicka, Chicka 123, I helped him create his own apple tree for the numbers to climb. He really enjoys doing art projects based on his favorite books, so while it is not fancy, it was lots of fun, easy, and inexpensive.

We just made a rough cut out of a tree that he glued to a piece of paper with a glue stick. He did his best to cut different color circles to use for apples. Then he drew numbers “climbing” the tree. If he did not like trying to write numbers so much, I would have given him number stickers to use.

Since my son likes numbers so much I asked him if he wanted to help me create a list of his 10 favorite counting books. He had a hard time reducing his favorite books about numbers to 10, but here are his final selections:

1. Chicka, Chicka, 123 (After we read this book, we flip to the last page and count to 100.)
2. Fish Eyes (This teaches the concept of +1.)
3.One Naked Baby (This could be a biography of my son.)
4. Ten in the Bed ( Sweet book that my kids have all enjoyed acting out.)
5. Miss Spider’s Tea Party: The Counting Book
6. One Duck Stuck
7. Ten Little Rubber Ducks (introduces the concept of 1rst, 2nd, 3rd, etc)
8. Mouse Count
9. Ten Little Dinosaurs
10. Five Little Monkeys Sitting in a Tree (All Little Monkey books have been banned at one point in my son’s life. Consider yourself warned.)

What are your favorite counting or number related books? Do you have any favorites that I have missed?

The post has been linked to Top 10 Tuesday.

Disclosure: I have linked the books to amazon, where I am an affiliate, so you can read a description if you wish. However, I encourage you to check these books out at the library, since your child might not turn out to be quite as numbers obsessed as my little guy.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Reading To Wiggly Children

I often overhear parents say, “I would like to read to my child more, but he/she (let’s face it, it is usually a he) just won’t sit still”.  As a former reading lady and mother of several wiggly children, I thought I would link up to Works For Me Wednesday to share some of the tricks that I use to read to wiggly children.

First, I start reading to my children long before they can escape (within days of birth). The earlier you start reading to your children, the more likely it is to seem like a regular daily activity like eating or bathing.

Be animated! Be silly! Make sound effects:
June2010 204 My husband gasping while reading “Two beetles gasped and ran away” from Miss Spider’s Tea Party: The Counting Book.

Alternate reading with an action song. When my son is wiggly, we follow  Miss Spider’s Tea Party: The Counting Book with the Itsy Bitsy Spider, then read The Very Busy Spider and follow it up with several rounds of Old McDonald’s Farm.

Engage them. Ask them to point to pictures. Being willing to stop and discuss a picture or concept they find interesting:
June2010 210 My husband pauses to let my son count the tea cups. BTW, real men read stories about tea parties to their sons. :D

If they don’t want to sit on your lap, don’t make them. Read like the reading lady: Turn the book outward and let your child move about the room while you read. They will look up occasionally to see a picture and they will hear and retain much more than you think possible. Last week my son said, “You keep reading. I will be back; I am going to climb under the bed”.

Take advantage of the times when you have a captive audience. Read during meal times. Have an older sibling read to your toddler while he is strapped in the car seat.
HPIM0766 My husband reading to the children at dinner time.

Let them act out a book while you read a book like Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed or Ten in the Bed.

Children are more likely to want to hear a story that they were involved in choosing. Let them pick out a book at the library or thrift shop.

Give them a choice between reading and something you know they don’t want to do. I sometimes ask my toddler, “would you like to read a book or clean your room?'” Let them bamboozle you into reading “one more book” before bedtime. Once they are “reading”, let them sneak a little extra reading time before they fall asleep. Nothing is more enticing than a forbidden activity!

I realize the ideas in the last paragraph are somewhat controversial. Some people may view them as deceptive or encouraging deception. You did read the title of this blog, right? Covert Teaching sometimes requires subversive methods.

How do you read to your wiggly children?

GreadingtoA (2) My second oldest wiggle worm reading to my youngest wiggle worm.

Disclosure: I have linked the books to amazon, where I am an affiliate, so you can read a description if you wish. However, I encourage you to check these books out at the library.

Edited to change wriggle to wiggle after realizing that not everybody has teenagers who like to imitate Gollum in their household.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Easy and Inexpensive Homemade Book To Make With Your Child

One of the best ways I have found to encourage my children to write and draw is to help them make their own book. The directions below are for the first book I help my children make. It is fast, easy, and only requires 8 x 11 paper and scissors. If you are a perfectionist, you may want to use a ruler and a pen, if not, just eyeball your cuts.

1. Take 6 – 10 pieces of  8x11 paper and divide them into 2 equal stacks.

2. Fold each stack in half so that they are 5 1/2” x 8”.

3. Unfold, and mark a 1 inch line on both ends of the center fold (you just have to do this on the top paper of each stack):June2010 177 4. On one stack cut on the lines:June2010 179 5. On the other stack cut on the fold between the lines, being careful not to cut on the lines:June2010 178 6. Take the stack of paper on which you cut on the lines and loosely roll them:May 2010 2507. Insert the rolled paper, through the gap in the other stack of paper:May 2010 251  8. Gently unroll the paper and insert the uncut portion into the notches: May 2010 252 9. Fold the paper and you now have a blank book for your child to start filling up:June2010 192Andrew is filling his book with pictures of his favorite things.

How do you encourage your children to write and draw?

This post has been linked to Frugal Friday at Life as Mom.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Reusing Containers as Paint Pots

This falls under the heading of “can’t she just throw some things away?” If you have ever read my blog Premeditated Leftovers, then you know the answer to that question is no.

To make paint pots for my toddler, I started with a mixed match assortment of empty plastic containers and then cut a hole in the lid:April 2010 499
I poured a little washable paint in the containers, put the lids on, and let my son go to town:April 2010 504 If the paint pot tips over, the lipped lid prevents the paint from running all over the place.

I use an old salad container to hold all of the paint pots:
April 2010 501 I don’t empty the paint out of the pots; I just let them slowly dry out inside the salad container. Since the paint is water based, I just add a little water and mix it in with a paint brush when he wants to paint.

How do you minimize arts and craft messes with your children?

For more frugal ideas, visit Frugal Friday at Life as Mom.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Alternate Use for an Aquadoodle Pen

My son had an Aquadoodle set, but one day when I wasn’t paying attention he took crayons and markers to the Aquadoodle paper. I was unable to repair the paper and when I discarded it, I almost tossed the pen too but then I had an idea:April 2010 254 I filled up the pen with water and encouraged my son to try  it on colored construction paper. It works quite well and it doesn’t matter if  my son decides to take crayon and marker to the construction paper. It is easily and inexpensively replaced.

For more frugal ideas, visit Frugal Friday at Life as Mom.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

C is For Cookie

The most memorable way that we introduce letters and their corresponding sounds to children is through songs. One of our favorite songs  to change to fit each letter of the alphabet is C is For Cookie. The lyrics are short, easy to adapt, and provide just enough repetition to allow the child to make the association between the letter and its corresponding word/sound. We often sing this song during bath time, using bath letters for visual reinforcement.

Here is a YouTube video, in case you don’t know the tune:

When we first started doing this, my husband and I would choose a word for each letter to sing to Andrew.  As my son became more proficient we would sing A is for ____ and let him fill in the word. Two syllable words work best with the tune, but the emphasis should be on fun. So we make words that my son knows work no matter how many syllables or if they rhyme, especially if he makes the suggestion!  Here are some suggestions to get you started:

A is for apple
B is for baby
D is for dirty

We do not sing all of the letters each time we do this! It is important to keep it enjoyable and even more important to stop while your child is having fun, so they will want to play this game again. This is how it would play out at my house:

I pick up a W and sing (in my very best Cookie Monster voice), “W is for water, that’s good enough me. W is for water, that’s good enough me. W is for water, that’s good enough me. Oh, Water, Water, Water, starts with W”. Then my son picks up a letter. I ask him what letter it is. If he answers great, if not, I say, “You found a D. D is for ________ (again if he answers great, if not I fill in a word and sing ) D is for Daddy, that’s good enough for me….”  We will do this for 3 or 4 letters and then I say, “It is time to wash up, we’ll play with letters some more later”.  This is just a very small portion of the entire bath time, with most of the time devoted to boat races, fishing, and playing with rubber ducks. However, a couple of minutes here and a couple of minutes there adds up!

Do you have some fun ways that you introduce letters to your children?