Guess Who Series

guess who zoo Kids love interactive books! We found a series of books that are so fun and catchy for little ones. The Guess Who book series by Howard Eisenberg includes Guess Who Zoo, Guess Who Farm and Guess Who Neighborhood. guess who farmThey are full of clever little rhymes that are engaging and keep children interested in guessing the animal, person or place. Starting the books are rhyming stories that introduce a character who the kids are helping guess throughout the rest of the book. guess who neighborhoodThere are clues with each rhyme until the answer is revealed. Even after your child has them all memorized, they will still love to read them over and over again. Having the answers and being right thrills them!!

guesswhozooCDThe Guess Who Zoo is accompanied by a musical CD that my 4 year old was OBSESSED with from the second she heard it. We had to listen to it over and over and over and over again in the car. In fat, she loved it so much that she preferred listening to it over watching a movie (which is a big deal for her)! The CD made our summer travels more bearable and I can now sing you every single song at the drop of a hat! When we go the actual zoo, the catchy tunes come up when we see the animals we sing about. And, again, even when your child knows what animal you are guessing for each song before the words even begin, it doesn’t take away any fun for them. They love it!

These adorable books can be purchased at a discount at www.guesswhozoo.com

Digital Media Tips

By Sherry Maysonave, Author, EggMania: Where’s the Egg In Exactly, www.maniatales.com

kid-laptopDigital devices are kid magnets. Fascinated by smart phones, iPads, tablets, and gaming devices, today’s tech-savvy kids can easily get overloaded by digital media.  One of the pitfalls of too much technology is the loss of imagination time which is key to keeping the genius factor alive and well in kids. Recent MRI studies show that the use of imagination activates multiple areas of the brain with increased blood flow, which is associated with neuronal activity. Interestingly, it was found that narratives were a primary imagination trigger, and this included stories in eBook format as well as traditional books and even oral story-telling.

 

Parents can employ the advantages of imaginative journeys by using “interactive” eBooks to satisfy their kids’ digital cravings.  Narrated and enhanced eBooks typically incorporate the three primary learning modalities—visual, audio, and kinesthetic—simultaneously. Multi-sensory and multi-dimensional experiences are like brain vitamins, by significantly increasing imaginative components and learning potential.

 

How can parents optimize and ensure that their children’s screen time, even with eBooks, is a beneficial experience?

 

Tips for using interactive ebooks to engage your kids:

1. Multi-Sensory Components — Visual, Audio, and Kinesthetic

Visual: To fully engage children visually and to stimulate their imaginations, select illustrated ebooks that are visually-rich, those having artful and colorful graphics beyond typical kiddy art.

Audio: Sound enhanced ebooks that have two modes of reading are best: a) Narration with music and sound effects; b) Read Myself. To optimize audio integration, allow children to enjoy and explore the narrated version with enhanced sound. Then, to practice oral reading skills, set up auditions for “the best narrator.” Use recorders or smart phones to tape children’s versions. Allow kids to create fun sound effects and add music to their narrations. For younger children who are not yet reading advanced vocabulary, parents may record for them. Involve them though in the nuances of your oral expression. Include their voices on the recording by having them read, speak, or repeat after you, some of the words or short sentences.

Kinesthetic: Encourage tapping and touching of the screen to activate kinesthetic and interactive components. Ask them to zoom in and out on art images, tap for duplication or animation of images, and tap words for definitions. iPad users can take screen shots of illustrations, then print them in black and white for kids to color, paint, trace, or copy. Hands-on activities such as these extend the digital world into their real world and offer more opportunities for kinesthetic application.

2. Emotional Elements

A. Discuss stories and illustrations with children; ask questions, “What is their favorite illustration? And why?”… Their favorite words, fun facts, etc. Avoid asking, “What did you learn?” Host a live chat or set-up mock television interview to make this more fun for kids and show you value their opinion. Allow them to express without making any answers wrong. This is an opportunity to learn more about what your children are thinking.

B. Support the hero in your child. Develop their subjective thinking skills by helping them analyze the subtler life lessons typically inherent in children’s narratives. Kids do not always integrate what we think they will. Help them come to positive conclusions by asking them questions about the main character or characters, asking what they liked about them/him/her and didn’t like about them. Ask how they would respond to the dilemma or conflict if they were that character. Set up a stage effect for kids to act out these components or the entire story. Family participation encouraged.

3. Language Development

Give kids a choice of two illustrations from an ebook or have them select two favorites. Then have them write a new story, poem, or song lyrics based upon the illustrations and what the images inspire in their imagination. Older kids can be required to have a lexical humor slant to their story, poem, or song. They may also want to choose a genre such as comedy, drama, true crime, romance, memoir, etc.

4. Family Fun

Extend the subject matter into family time to further develop and enhance kids’ imaginations. Play games, such as charades, using vocabulary-rich phrases and words from ebook narratives. A family/friends version of “Who’s Smarter than a Fifth Grader” can be played using the Fun Facts that some ebooks provide.

Why 30 Million Americans Can’t Read

By Will D. Rhame

Education and Literacy Advocate; Author and Founder, The Voyagers Series, www.thevoyagers.net

child-readingIf we take a moment to investigate our current state of affairs regarding scholastic achievement in this country, we quickly come across some alarming statistics. Allow me to update you with a few current facts, and then let’s consider some possible reasons why we have fallen so far behind other industrialized nations.

1.) The U.S. scores at the bottom of all industrialized nations scholastically!
2.)  Thirty million Americans can’t read!
3.)  Forty percent of 4th graders can’t read at the basic level!
4.)  China and India have more honor students than the U.S. has kids!
5.) The U.S. is at the top of the list when it comes to spending money on education!

What is happening to the United States when it comes to education? There are a number of factors, but for the purpose of this article, I am only going to focus on a few.

First, let’s look at the dynamics of our society’s employment culture. Over the past fifty years, the American family has become a dual-income structure. Problems often arise among children when a parent is no longer home after school to help guide and coach them.

Second, there is the exponential increase in technology. Technology is helpful in most respects but  can be very  distracting in others. Did I say distracting?  With  so many devices, games, computers, cell phones, TVs, videos, etc. vying for a child’s attention, it’s much more difficult for the average child to focus on learning to read and to later make the decision to devote time to studying.

Third, there  are the ever-changing teaching philosophies that are imposed upon teachers. Public schools teachers have little, if any, time to be creative. Instead, they are required to teach kids how to pass tests. Additionally, they have  often  had to become psychologists, disciplinarians, and in some cases, mother/father figures, due to the lack of parental participation in the home and at school.

Fourth, there is the positive option to embrace technology as a means of teaching. It is never going away, so let’s encourage teachers to use technology to help educate children. Kids love gadgets, and many of them are more knowledgeable than adults when it comes to computers and other devices.

That brings us to the heart of the matter    ̶READING. Reading is the foundation of any education, without which little else matters. If a student cannot read, there will be lifelong consequences. Getting children to embrace reading as a fundamental part of their lives is critical. In today’s environment, asking a child to read some of the greatest works of literature is becoming harder and harder. Let’s make it fun for kids to read.

Let’s take advantage of technology and use it to enhance reading skills. Let’s gain the attention of students, and just maybe we can change some of the horrible statistics regarding reading proficiency in our country that now exist.

Real Reading, Real Kids: The Who, What, and Why

By Susan Straub, Rachel Payne and KJ Dell’Anotonia

reading-on-the-porchReal reading, with real children, is rarely a picture-perfect process. Even a baby who loves to be read to isn’t going to curl up in your lap every time. Toddlers tear books. Twos throw them. Trying out an ebook or app? She’s all over every button or swipe of the screen, including those that shut the whole thing down or email your boss.

You may think books are for reading. Your baby sees that books are almost infinitely useful for playing peek-a-boo, experimenting with Newton’s Law of Gravity, and forming a bridge to allow the giraffe to walk into the plastic barn door.

It seems as if there’s an enormous gulf between what the two of you are trying to achieve: you’re trying to get to the end of Harold and the Purple Crayon, and your baby is trying to taste the book cover. You want to read; she wants to experience. Her experience, though, is really akin to your reading. She’s learning about the book: as an individual book, a part of a larger set of books, as a hard object, a soft object, a paper object, and, finally, something that causes you to make a given set of sounds.

Whether she’s mouthing Harold’s cover or using him for a hat, she’s happy. Isn’t that what you really want—creativity, experimentation, imaginative play, talking and laughing and doing something together? Let go of the goal and savor the experience. You probably already know how it ends, anyway.

The Classics

Twenty-five Picture Books for Every Child’s Library

These are great books—books you’ll find in every library, every preschool, every bookstore. You’ve probably heard of many of them; some you may remember from your own childhood and some you may read to your grandchildren someday.

1.     Blueberries for Sal, Robert McCloskey. This simply illustrated glimpse of the past resonates with any child who’s lost sight of Mom as Sal does during blueberry picking.

2.     Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Bill Martin Jr., Eric Carle (illus.). Many kids can “read” Martin’s predictable and comforting text before they even learn their letters.  Carle’s simple animal collages are iconic.

3.     Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys, and Their Monkey Business, Esphyr Slobodkina.  A wonderful, timeless tale of copying and cleverness.

4.     Carrot Seed.  Ruth Krauss, Crocket Johnson (illus.).  For more than half a century, this beanie-sporting boy has had faith that his carrot would grow, despite his family’s doubt.

5.     Chicka, Chicka Boom Boom,  Bill Martin Jr., John Archambault, Lois Ehlert (illus.).  In arguably one of the most memorable and playful alphabet books ever, lower case letters and their parents, the capital letters, cavort up and down a coconut tree.

6.     Clifford the Big Red Dog, Norman Bridwell. Yes, it’s a television series; yes, it’s a franchise…but the original books are really good and perfect for babies and toddlers. Big, red dog. Need we say more?

7.     Corduroy, Don Freeman. A lovely story of a little girl’s kindness and empathy for a teddy bear who needs a home, with realistic illustrations.

8.     Curious George, H. A. Rey. The story of the little monkey, so like a toddler in his curiosity and impulsiveness but so much more capable, is one kids love. You’ll probably notice now that George’s removal from the jungle isn’t the most politically correct thing ever written, but your child won’t mind.

9.     Freight Train, Donald Crews.   This multicolored train has been crossing trestles, going by cities, and going through tunnels for over thirty years.  Now there is an app that was created with Crews’ input.

10.  George and Martha, James Marshall. The hippos have an admirable friendship, so real that it’s full of pranks, hurt feelings, and make-ups. Marshall produced tons more brief stories about them, but this is the first. Arguably the story “Split Pea Soup” is a legend all by itself. Fun for the whole family.

11.  Go, Dog. Go!, P. D. Eastman. Simple books meant for beginning readers can make great books for beginning talkers.

12.  Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown, Clement Hurd (illus.). The old-fashioned setting, the simple rhymes, and the cozy illustrations make this a nighttime must read for many toddlers.

13.  Guess How Much I Love You, Sam McBratney, Anita Jeram (illus.). Big Nutbrown Hare can one-up Baby Nutbrown Hare’s declarations of love every time, but this baby doesn’t give up.

14.  Harold and the Purple Crayon, Crockett Johnson. You may remember Harold, but you probably didn’t think of him as a book for babies. In fact, he works very well—simple illustrations and many moons.

15.  Harry the Dirty Dog, Gene Zion, Margaret Bloy Graham (illus.). Harry needs a bath—and after he’s run away from one, he gets so dirty his family doesn’t recognize him. His ultimate return and his family’s recognition make for a very satisfying resolution.

16.  Hop on Pop, Dr. Seuss. A wonderful introduction to rhyme.

17.  The Little Engine That Could, Watty Piper. This tale still resonates, and always will. The original illustrations are fun, and if the words (definitely a little on the sweet and cloying side) begin to get to you, you can always edit a bit.

18.  The Little House, Virginia Lee Burton. Most of us remember the poignant illustrations in this story of a little house in the country that becomes surrounded by city before sympathetic owners move it to the country again.

19.  Pat the Bunny, Dorothy Kunhardt. The mother of all interactive baby books.

20.  The Napping House, Audrey and Don Wood.  In this fun, cumulative tale, a nap goes awry due to the antics of a “wakeful” flea.

21.  The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle. Kids love putting their fingers through the holes and pulling the pages to watch the hungry caterpillar eat his way through an uncomfortable assortment of food.

22.  We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Michael Rosen, Helen Oxenbury (illus.).  A family, a journey, a bear, and lots of great sound effects from Rosen and lively watercolors from Oxenbury make this read aloud irresistible.

23.  Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak. Sent to his room for being a wild thing, Max travels to the forest and conquers even wilder things before realizing that home is best.

24.  Where’s Spot? Eric Hill. Plump, yellow Spot and his wonder at discovering the world around him have spoken to children for decades.  Also available as ¿Dónde está Spot? in Spanish, and in many other languages.

25.  Whistle for Willie, Ezra Jack Keats. A whistle will call Willie the dog, but Peter can’t whistle until practice finally pays off.  Refreshingly warm collage illustrations.

Excerpted from: cid:image004.gif@01CE4C07.68260FD0Reading with Babies, Toddlers and Twos: A Guide to Laughing, Learning & Growing Together Through Books (Sourcebooks; ISBN: 978-1-4022-7816-7; Parenting; April 2013; $14.99 U.S.; paperback)

The Very Important Preschooler

by Jennifer Dewing

It’s a personalized book made especially for your child! It is so fun for your child to see his/her name on every page, incorporated into the story and the illustrations. This book introduces some of the basics of preschool and makes preschool exciting! Of course the illustrations are adorable and the book is very high quality. I See Me! Inc has a whole list of personalized books to choose from.

$29.95: http://www.iseeme.com/the-very-important-preschooler-personalized-book.html

the very important preschooler

Make The Potty Training Process Easy and Enjoyable With These Five Tips

When it comes time to say goodbye to diapers, it is important that little ones are developmentally ready for success.  Once parents are certain their children are prepared for this milestone and they, themselves, are willing to devote the necessary time and energy it takes to potty train, it’s time to start the process.  Lilly Cueto, spokesperson for SoapTime®, an action-packed hand soap dispenser and SmartBase™, offers the following tips to help transition children from diapers to the bathroom:

potty chartPotty Charts:  Potty charts are very helpful during the training process.  Before you begin teaching your child, set up a chart and hang it in the bathroom.  Personalize the chart by letting your child color and decorate.  Once completed, explain that every time they successfully use the toilet, they will be given a sticker to put on their chart.  Knowing they will receive a fun sticker after each potty break will encourage them to go more often.

Incentives:  One way to conquer potty training is to offer incentives to your child.  Fill a reward bag with small treats and once your child has finished using the bathroom, let them choose one item out of the bag.  Providing children with small rewards and positive verbal encouragement will stimulate ongoing use.  When praised for their achievement, they will begin to recognize the importance of using the toilet.  As children begin to accomplish each stage of potty training, parents can slowly reduce the amount of praise and incentives they give.

soaptimeSoapTime®:  A great way to coach children to use the potty and also to teach them proper hand washing habits is to provide them with SoapTime for hand clean-up after they are finished.  This electronically enhanced product encourages children to use the bathroom more often because it gives them a fun and engaging experience at the sink.  SoapTime’s hand washing system consists of three uniquely shaped bottles: ABC, Earth and Elephant set in a SmartBase®.  Each bottle is recognized by the SmartBase and has a distinct educational theme narrated by its own Professor Goodhabits.  The themes include unique songs, factoids and LED light shows.  To use, a child simply pushes the dispenser and for 20 seconds they wash their hands while learning and enjoying their time at the sink.

Four-piece kit including a SmartBase, ABC, Earth and Elephant bottle is $16.97 each.  Visit mysoaptime.com.

Water Colors:  Turning potty training into a fun game can further entice little ones to use the toilet.  One way to do this is to dye the toilet water with blue or red food coloring.  This way, once the toddlers use the potty, they turn the water into an orange or green color.  Children will get a kick out of changing the color and will be more eager to join parents in the bathroom for potty training time.

Books:  Giving children books to look at on the potty will help them feel more comfortable sitting for a longer period of time.  After your child is sitting down diaper-free, provide him or her with a potty training book, as many have been written on this topic, along with any other favorite books of their choice.  Potty training books available on amazon.com include A Potty for Me by Karen Katz and Once Upon a Potty by Alona Frankel.  They start at approximately $5.

It is important for parents to remain patient as they go through the potty training process.  Taking the time each child needs to learn this new skill is essential and with these engaging tips, it can be a fun learning time, too!