Board Books – Not Just For Teething

My daughter loves going to the library with my son and me . She sits happily in front of me while I crane my neck to the side and find books that I could use in a post, or the lone fire truck book we’ve never borrowed before. But her favorite part by far is when we get to the board books where she can grab, lift and chew. So today’s post are a review of 5 books she grabbed and yes chewed at the library . She’s got pretty good taste!

Jet-Set Babies Wear Wings by Michelle Sinclair Coleman is a cute book all about traveling babies that is really more for the adults reading it than the babies.  It’s cute and simple but not really simple enough for infants or toddlers to grasp why adults like this book. That said it’s so important to read to your baby that I think there is a great market for books like this. If parents like reading them, find them amusing they are more likely to read to their babies who are still too little to voice obvious opinions. My daughter thought it was tasty and I appreciated the white text on black pages , the high contrast was obviously attractive to my 6 month old. There are a ton of other books in this Urban Babies Wear Black Series

In My Tree by Sara Gillingham is such a sweet book I wish my daughter would let me read it to her . The book is all about a little owl and what that owl does in it’s tree. The novelty is that the pages have cut outs in them and the owl is a finger puppet that is in the middle of the cut outs . My daughter who at the moment is 6 months old, only wants to grab and try to bite the owl. Do not let this turn you off, it’s such a pretty little book and my 4 year old loved it. Perhaps when my daughter is done teething I will read it to her again!

Beddy-bye, Baby: A Touch-and-Feel Bookby Karen Katz is a cute bedtime book for the baby crowd.  I like the rhyming text and that it’s a feel and touch book  but with the exception of the final page the textured pieces are too small . Fumbly flappy infant hands have a a hard time hitting the small textured sections. Ideally they would be larger so the child can explore as the adult reads. It’s not a huge complaint and I love Karen Katz so I would still recommend this book for families with little ones.

The Busy Little Squirrelby Nancy Tafuri is a great book for babies and toddlers. The readers follow along with a squirrel as she gathers nuts , seeds and berries for the winter. As she hunts for her treasure she encounters many animals who all make their respective sounds and ask her to play, of course she is too busy and continues on.  Even though the idea is not groundbreaking  I like that this book can be used to introduce animal sounds without simply sitting down with let’s say flash cards and teaching them to your toddler. Even if you have no real animals near by books like this one are a great way to authentically teach very young kids.

Bye-Bye Time by Elizabeth Verdick is a great book for toddlers who are anxious about separation.  It goes through drop off time at school between a little girl and her dad. When I worked in a childcare setting bye bye time was a huge source of anxiety for many students, books like this one are such great tools for parents and teachers. There are wonderful tips at the back that in my experience are all great advice. This book is just one of many by the same author that are all wonderful tools for families and classrooms. My favorite being Teeth Are Not for Biting and Words are Not for Hurting

iPad Giveaway from Target

Read to your kids. I have talked about my commitment to reading to kids over and over. I write my book reviews so my readers can walk into a library with some idea of where to start. I am giddy to  work with Target to share their commitment to reading with you today along with a chance to win an iPad and a selection of books to make it easier for one of you to read books online and off.

Target has launched a program called Target Read With Me to help promote reading , specifically reading proficiency in children by 3rd grade. What’s so special about 3rd grade ?  Research * shows that 3rd grade is the turning point when children begin learning by reading not simply learning to read.  The same study has shown that close to 3 out of 4 children with below grade level reading abilities in 4th grade never catch up.

Never catch up. We can’t let that happen.

That is why Target along with many partners have made a commitment to reading and education. By the end of 2015, Target plans to donate more than $500 million to support education, doubling its support to date, for a total of more than $1 billion. They also have collected wonderful easy to navigate resources on their Target Read With Me site to make reading with your kids easier. My favorite is this Build A Home Library from American Library Association.  It doesn’t just list books, there are short synopsis as well. I stayed up way too late last night reading it, as giddy as a kid in a candy shop.

I am also giddy that they are offering one lucky No Time For Flash Cards reader a prize package to make reading to your kids online and off a cinch:

Target Read With Me Prize Package consisting of a 16 GB iPad with Wi-Fi for reading books online, along with a selection of age-appropriate books for your children.

All you have to do is leave a comment telling me :

What’s your favorite time and place to  read with your children ?

Fine print from Target:

This sweepstakes is only open to U.S. residents 18 years or older. A winning commenter will be drawn at random, using, after the sweepstakes closes on Thursday, Jan. 20 at 12:00am EST. The winner will receive a 16GB Wi-Fi enabled iPad and a selection of children’s books, a prize package valued up to $599. After the winner is notified, he or she has 48 hours to respond with their mailing address, phone number and ages of their children, so that Target can ship the prize and select books appropriate for their children. If the winner does not reply in that time frame, he or she forfeits the prize and another winner will be drawn at random. Please note that we cannot ship product to a P.O. Box.
I am working with Target, receiving compensation from Target for running this sweepstakes and Target is providing a prize consisting of 16 GB iPad with Wi-Fi and a selection of books for one reader.

*EARLY WARNING! WHY READING BY THE END OF THE THIRD GRADE MATTERS Voices for Virginia’s Children and the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Reader Q&A

Tara Asked : What is your monthly crafty budget?

In all honesty I don’t have one.  When I brainstorm ideas and need specific supplies , like the apples and acorns in my Back To School Sensory Tub I try to balance those out with crafts that I don’t have to buy anything for . Also when I brainstorm I open my horrifically messy art closet and look at supplies so I use what I have before running out to buy more of what I don’t. I try to do this for readers too, using the same supplies over and over for different activities so that if they have gone out and bought a more costly supply that they too will get a lot of use out of it.

That doesn’t answer your question well though, if I had to estimate I would guess $20 a month, with some being $0 and others $35 or $40.

Casey asked : Are you sending your son to public school, private school, or homeschooling? What factors influenced your decision?

I will be sending my children to public school.  To be frank it wasn’t a hard decision for me, I am a true believer in public education and while I support any parent’s desire and will to homeschool I have no personal desire to be my children’s teacher. We live in an area with good public schools and are planning a move to a district that we are even more impressed with our options.  Both my husband and I had wonderful public educations and experiences going to public schools so that influenced us for sure. Deciding which route to go depends on so many factors and the individual child but at this point public is our plan.

Allison asked : What are the best crafts and activities to keep a 2 year old entertained and help them learn colors, shapes and letters?

The average 2 year old wants to move, explore and is not really into staying still or working on detailed long activities at a table. So get up, get moving and find active activities that can incorporate their need for movement and independence and your desire for teaching.  My favorites :

Nature Color Match

Gold Hunt

Sound Safari

Also as far as crafts go stick to more open ended activities until they show a real interest in it, then try some more structured crafts with firm steps.  A fun easy way to teach colors is to let them choose their paint colors, spend time mixing colors to paint with too ! Here are a few fun ones:

Animal Tracks

Pot Scrubber Painting

Open Ended Painting

Jennifer Asked: What do you do with your sons craft projects once completed?

In general I recycle what I can and throw the rest out. I do take pictures of them and put them together into photo books though.  However this year was the first year that he went to preschool and I save all of that and made a scrap book with big binder rings and heavy weight construction paper. I can’t take credit for that though , that was a planned project at a parent night for his school.

For those of you looking to limit what your child asks to display a suggestion I have is to have a display area ( fridge, clothes line, frame) and simply make a one in one out rule. If you are looking to keep everything the giant ziploc bags are great, you can throw everything in there and pop it under a bed, or even in a garage, as long as it’s sealed things won’t get damp.

Jennifer Asked : What type of activity is the most important ( besides reading) for a one year old?

Personally I think that sensory activities are the most important if I had to choose just one. At 12-24  months children are exploring their world through their senses in ways that we simply do not.  It’s important we provide them with all different experiences to taste, touch, smell, hear and see. I would stay clear of structured crafts in general at this age , focusing on open ended experiences that are focused only on the process. Don’t forget to talk to them while playing, so often caregivers are quiet and really it should be the opposite. Narrate as you explore , label items you are using, colors, letters and speak for them too . Language development is a huge part of this age group and if you don’t talk to them how will they learn?

She also asked : How much time should be spent reading for older children?

I wouldn’t make a minimum time so much as find a way to fit reading into your daily schedule in at least two places. The reason I say 2 is because if your schedule is disrupted you will likely still manage to hit one of the two reading times even with a disruption.  In our house we read at nap time and bedtime ( on no nap days we read at lunch or bath time)  and randomly in between as well.  3 books minimum at each. For an older child who is reading on their own you can make a time requirement during these times , I would double their age for minutes at each reading time ( 12 minutes for a 6 year old, 20 for a 10 year old etc…) that is the minimum.

Thanks for your questions , if i didn’t get to yours  I will pop it in the next Readers Q&A !

Read Read Read ( and win)

Our Summer Reading Challenge is well underway but that doesn’t mean that if you haven’t participated yet you still can’t get in on the action! It’s so simple and all about spending time reading with your kids.  Read 10 books or more with your children each week, fill out this form ( one per child), and you are automatically entered to win not just the weekly Alphabet Crafts eBook but also the gift card giveaway at the end of the summer.  How simple is that? Oh and if your child is like mine and likes reading the same book over and over that’s not a problem, just list it more than once in the form. The goal is time reading not how many different books you read ( although that is great too!).

Congrats to this week’s winners!

Rachelle Ferris, Dionne Johnston , Beth Latshaw, Michelle Mark and Rebecca Stegall.

Wondering what they won? They won a copy of my Alphabet Crafts eBook just for participating in our Summer Reading Challenge. It’s not too late to join in, check out the details here.

Thanks to all the participants – we have read almost 5000 books with our kids so far this summer and it’s not even July yet!