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.

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)

Who Runs Your House – the kids or you?

by Karen Phillip

Taken from chapter 12 of “Who Runs Your House – the kids or you?”

 

kid-helps-raking-the-leavesHow many parents do you know that complain their child does nothing around the house or that they are so lazy or hopeless. Who is the smart one here? The child, of course.

 

Perhaps they were not given the opportunity of learning how to do independent things. Perhaps they had everything always done for them. Suddenly, asking them to now do it is like a red flag to a bull.

 

Little children love to help, love to do and learn new things, and love to be ‘big enough’ to help. Learning these things when they are little enables them to carry them on as a normal function when older. So stop doing everything for your little children. Allow them the opportunity to learn to do things independently for themselves. This way you are teaching, and they are learning the vital things for life. If started early, it is just so easy to have your children do their jobs. No problem and no complaints, they just do it as it is expected. It becomes a normal part of their life, like using the toilet and eating and washing hands. It is just what you do, doesn’t everyone?

 

A two-year-old child can learn to pack away their toys and items (with help), maybe not brilliantly yet with some assistance they can. They can find their shoes and socks, attempt to put them on, place dirty clothes into the hamper, and use a dustpan and brush (a bit).

A three-year-old child can do all the above better plus much more. They pack all toys and items away correctly, they can fold and place clothes into correct drawers, toilet themselves, organise boxes of toys, sort their shelves, start using utensils correctly, dress themselves, place items in correct places, and wipe over benches or tables. They love cleaning up with you.

A four-year-old child can also set the table, collect dirty utensils, plates, cups, and place them in the sink. They can wash basic items at the sink, maybe standing on a small stool, tidy up better, manage their own self-cleaning, dressing themselves, pour a drink, make a basic sandwich, learn how to use a knife and fork correctly, use their DS and the TV, and start learning to make their bed.

A five-year-old is a little person and should be fairly independent doing all the above, including make their own bed such as pulling up their sheets and quilt. They can start placing spreads, cheese, meats on to sandwiches or plates, setting the table, then clearing away the salt, pepper, sauce, and so forth, after dinner, putting placemats into the draw, and so on.

By six to eight years, they can assist cutting up vegetables or salad—under supervision. They love helping in the kitchen or shed and they can do a lot outside too.

 

Children love to wipe clean and polish, they can sweep or vacuum, pack items up outside. They can do it. Just look at the Junior Master Chef shows on TV, my goodness, those ten-year-olds are cooking like superb chefs. They can only learn that by doing, from instruction, by being allowed. Children can be so very clever. Honestly, who would have thought a ten-year-old can make a Welsh pie or Pavlova the way these kids can? It’s amazing. Just shows if they can do that sort of complicated thing, they sure can pack away toys, pick up their wet towels, fold their clothes and place them into the drawer, put stuff on or off the table, and help mix, cut, and prepare things in the kitchen. Let them try.

 

Raise the bar, and you will be surprised how well they can rise to the challenge. Set the bar low, then it is low you will receive, set the bar higher and higher is what they should strive towards.

And think about the older eight-year sibling in third world countries, raising their younger siblings, comforting them, collecting food and water, preparing meals. Scary thought in our world, but they do all this because they have to and because they can.

 

Children, therefore, can start looking after their belongings and doing basic little jobs from two years. The older they are, the more competent they become. Allow and expect them to, and they will.

 

So many parents complain because their child will not do anything or help out at home. If you encourage and show your child these jobs from the start, it will become a matter of course in their day, an expected behaviour like brushing their teeth. While it can be tricky to have them start from the age of eight to ten, it can certainly be managed and mainly by exchanging their required jobs for their sport or friends visits. Start, therefore, as young as you can and as soon as you can. Teach them how to do things properly, and they can learn this fast. If they object, then take something they want away; whatever they may want that you provide them. It may be a cooked meal so dish up perhaps a raw vegetable meal because you couldn’t be bothered actually cooking it. They will not like a raw meal as much as you do not like them refusing to do their required tasks. A compromise can be then be reached. I will when you will. Just like rewards, they work very well.

 

If your child starts to go to the big toilet you give them a stamp, no wee, no stamp. Is this not exactly the same?; yes it is. They need to do something in order to get something. We all do. If I did not want to go to work, I would not get paid. If I refused to do my assignment, I would not pass. If I didn’t pack away my toys, Mum would take them away from me. If I refused to do my jobs, I would not receive a nice hot dinner. For littler children, even keeping the bubbles or toys out of the bath for one night can give them the message.

Never, however, take away or remove your love, kisses, or cuddles. These are as unconditional as your love to them. Just because their behaviour may be difficult they remain the same gorgeous child as always.

The child is not the behavior; the behavior is the behavior.

 

Enable your child to become independent and self-reliant. They will be that way forever. They will be independent at school, at their friends place, at sport training, and everywhere. Your child will learn to rely on themselves through your guidance and opportunity.

How to Childproof Your Home

by Louie Delaware

The author of this book is known as the “Home Safety Guru.” His book provides parents with sensible and fact-filled advice about the most common (and often overlooked) risk factors in homes, the products professional childproofers use, and, most importantly, installation tips to help you bring do it all without a hitch.

The Root Word of Discipline is Disciple

by Muriel Drake Ryan, author of The Innkeeper’s Wife

Are you a toaster parent? You watch your child approach something or do something and hope they don’t get hurt.  You hop up to get involved at the last second while you are a little hot around the edges.

Are you a teakettle parent? You keep whistling in their direction and slowly your tone gets louder and then you find yourself boiling over with anger.

Are you a remote control parent? You keep speaking in the child’s direction from a distance and hope that they will instantly do what you want. You keep sending the same message without moving in their direction.

Do you ever find yourself parenting like a microwave?  You count on saying something briefly and only once as you hope you can teach them instantly.

The good news is that by looking at these bad habits we can learn new, stronger parenting skills. The toaster parent waits too long to get involved. You should know where your child is, what they are doing and who they are doing it with. From toddlerhood to teen years, this is a must. Rushing to rescue at the last minute is not good parenting. Be vigilant at all times. Set boundaries which contribute to a safe environment. This includes everything from baby proofing the outlets to setting a curfew for teens.

The teakettle parent waits too long to communicate those warnings and expects anger to communicate. Make your rules clear in your house. They look to you to set the standards. Give the warnings in a strong calm voice.  Make sure you can look eye to eye. Hold those shoulders, but no shaking. Don’t blow. Take control.

The remote control parent thinks once is enough and that shouting orders from a distance works. Much more effective is that eye to eye communication. Children have lots to learn and need direction. Sometimes they need the same direction over and over. Inconsistency in your example or applying those rules undermines that learning. Sticking to the rules lets them know what is expected. Children need a clear picture of what is expected. The clearest picture of how to behave in your family should be you.

The microwave parent thinks parenting gives instant results. Children need guidance and direction every day. They need years of discipling and direction. The good news is that with ingredients of time, patience, guidance and good role models of Godly behavior, children are rich blessings.

It is said that from birth to age five, effective parents get 50 percent of the work done in terms of setting their child on a positive forward course in life. The next 45 percent of the work is done in the years from six to 12.  So start early and stay the course. Effective parenting is worth the effort. Each day, disciple your child.
About the author
Born in Terre Haute, Ind., Muriel Drake Ryan grew up on a small farm with working parents. She attended Indiana State University and graduated from University of Indianapolis, IUPUI, Indiana University and the University of Minnesota with honors. She served in public education as a teacher, principal, and superintendent. After retiring in 1992, Ryan founded Families by Choice with her husband, Bernard Ryan in 2006. Families by Choice provides basic needs to people who are at a distance from their family, either geographically or emotionally. The homeless shelter Ryan and her husband started now has three locations in Indiana and all net proceeds from her books will go to the work and expansion of Families by Choice.

iPhone Fun for Your Little Ones

tech pet

Almost everyone has an iPhone or an iPod Touch these days…and our kids love to play with them! You have surely downloaded plenty of Apps for your children to play on your device, but we found a “toy” that takes it one step further. An App and a different way to interact with the device, in pet form!

TECHPET was named one of the Top 25 Inventions of 2012 by TIME Magazine. TechPet from Bandai is a virtual pet that comes to life with your iPhone® 3/4/4s or 4th generation iPod Touch®.  Just download the free TechPet App from the App Store and your pet comes to life with the following features:

  • Voice/Motion recognition:  Moves, sings, dances and has voice playback in your voice and in a fun puppy voice
  • Nurturing:  Feed, play and groom; the better care you take, the more features are unlocked
  • Customize: Accessorize with digital bows, glasses and more
  • Face Morph: Upload any photo to create fun on-screen morphs
  • Games: The more you play, the more games are unlocked
  • Play Music: Play from your iTunes® playlist and your TechPet virtual pet sings and dances along
  • Bluetooth® Compatible: Up to six TechPet virtual pets can sing and dance together

My 2.5 year old had fun playing with our TechPet, but an older child would be able to get even more out of all of the App’s features. This is a great “toy” for your child to play while using your iPhone or iPod (and you can even feel comfortable that your device is safe). For tech savvy kids and families, this is a perfect addition to your App collection!

Tips For Teaching Toddlers To Swim

teaching kids/babies/toddlers to swimTips For Teaching Toddlers To Swim

Swimming Educator Reveals Kids Can Survive

Rita Goldberg can’t believe some people still teach kids to swim by proverbially throwing them in the water to see if they sink or swim instinctively.

“Many parents and even some traumatic swim programs still use that ancient and ridiculous method of introducing children to swimming by throwing them into the water without any knowledge about swimming whatsoever – and all they are doing is teaching their children how to be terrified of the water,” said Goldberg, a former national swimmer in Great Britain, owner of a swimming school and author of the children’s book I Love to Swim (www.ilovetoswimthebook.com). “These advocates claim they are teaching survival, but I believe teaching survival can be – and should be – gentle and fun.”

Goldberg’s lament is that too many children drown needlessly every year, and too many parents are either resistant to teaching their toddlers to swim, or teach them the wrong way.

“No child, and I mean no child, has to ever drown in a swimming pool again if they are taught how to survive in the water the right way and at the earliest possible age,” she added. “Drowning is actually the second leading cause of accidental death in the country. It is leading in Florida and a few other states, and the real tragedy is that most every child who drowns could have been saved by simply being taught to swim correctly. Traumatizing them only teaches them to fear the water, and who among us makes the best choices, or can even process calm thought, when we are afraid? Children are no different. They need to be given the tools to survival and draw their confidence in the water from that knowledge. We want kids to respect the water, not fear it.”

Goldberg’s tips for teaching kids to swim include:

  • Start Young — New studies show that the best age to teach a child to swim is between the ages of six and twelve months. Just as parents are learning this is a good time to teach children how to read, they are beginning to understand this is a time when children are able to absorb information like sponges. Teaching them to swim at this early age is a great way to make swimming second nature to them.
  • Float to Survive – As a supplement to safeguarding your kids through extra vigilant supervision and a safety gate around the pool, focus on giving your child the best lifesaving tool you could offer them – the ability to survive in the water. The first gift I give children when I teach them is the ability to float on their backs. This is the most important survival skill of all. This enables all swimmers to rest, breathe and call for help, thus alleviating the “silent” danger of floating face down.
  • Gentle and Fun – Swimming will come more naturally to children who are taught gently, without trauma, and with a sense of fun. You cannot teach a 2-year-old not to go near the swimming pool. You cannot teach them that the pool is dangerous. Parents see the swimming pool as a potential death trap for their kids, but all kids see is a big, wet playground. You’re not going to change their opinion, so stop trying. Focus on calm, gentle fun, and your kids will take to their lessons like fish to water.

“Parents need to understand that playing in a swimming pool is the same as playing on dry land to children,” she added. “It’s all play to them. While it’s important for them to feel confident in the water, we need to help temper that confidence with a strong sense of safety and good judgment. Adhering to those rules as parents will serve to reinforce those rules, however, the best way to pull it all together is to start them young. Once both swimming and safety are second nature to them, they’ll be safer and your supervision of them in the water will be more fun for everyone.