Friday, August 31, 2012

Keep Them Moving for Toddler Time

Toddler programming is a real challenge.  Honestly, two-year olds are a challenge anytime, anywhere--dressing them in the morning, getting them to eat, sitting behind you on an airplane, at the table on the other side of the restaurant....  They are wonderfully cute and charismatic, and give back lots of energy, but...arggghhhh.

Even a baby program can go more smoothly than a toddler time.  Parents work so hard to engage their babies, and babies are such a (sigh) captive/sleepy/passive audience.  While preschoolers, especially older 3s and 4s, are more socialized and have longer attention spans.  They can follow directions, and they happily engage in questions, activities, and songs.  Programming for these age groups isn't easy, but there are a lot of great books, rhymes, or songs--and even not great ones--that will keep them engaged.

But toddlers.  There is no room for error there.  A book either sinks or swims, and it better be short.  Rhymes have to be simple, but fun, and the more physical the better....they are going to be on their feet anyway so you might as well direct their play and activity a little.

I discovered Michelle Nelson-Schmidt's picture book, Cats, Cats, published by Kane/Miller, for the first time the other day.  My friend was reading it to my daughters, and the girls were cracking up.  Rhyming, sing-song text, bright images that begged for petting, poking, and tickling, and a very silly voice all made for a short, but brilliant read-aloud.  I've found a few other short books, and some very simple, silly rhymes to help you survive your next toddler time, and probably earn you a bunch of hugs at the end, too.  If all else fails, ask children to act like some of the cats described in Nelson-Schmidt's book: sleepy, hungry, brave,etc.  They may never want to stop! Then bring out the coloring pages for Cats, Cats on Kane/Miller's website.  Good luck!

PROGRAM (20 minutes)

Intro Song of Choice

Fingerplay (Repeat twice)
5 Little Kittens
5 little kittens, all black and white (hold up fist)
sleeping very soundly all through the night
Meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, (stretch up a finger on each word)
Time to wake up now! (wiggle fingers)

Courtesy of Storytime Kids Wordpress Blog.  Thank you!

Cats, Cats by Michelle Nelson-Schmidt

Fingerplay (Repeat twice)
Cat Chant
(Kidstuff 4:7)
Big cats. [hold up hand over head] 
Little cats. [hold hand at knee level] 
Fat cats. [curve arms, hold out at sides] 
Skinny cats. [bring arms almost together] 
White cats. [point to something white] 
Black cats. [point to something black] 
Brave cats. [puff out chest] 
Fraidy cats. [look scared] 
Sleepy cats. [put head on closed hands]
Courtesy of Addison Library.  Thank you!  View their Cool Cats & Cuddly Kittens PDF here.

Me and Meow by Adam Gudeon ...A very cute, and very simple story about a girl and her cat.  It's a nice vocabulary-builder that just enjoys being silly and fun.

Repeat 5 Kittens above twice more

Usborne's That's Not My Kitten  ...Let everyone get up and take turns enjoying this touch-and-feel.  

Closing Song of Choice

Monday, August 13, 2012

Babysitter Wanted...

Anyone looking for an affordable babysitter that entertains your children of different ages, while teaching them math skills and building awareness of geography and history?  Maybe you just need an hour of peace-and-quiet so that you can finish an email to your boss, the last chapter of your book, or want to publish a blog post.  Or perhaps you need a nanny-type to keep everyone in their seats at the restaurant while you chat with your spouse like two mature humans?   How about someone who magically appears just when you need them, and instinctively disappears when it's time to sit down to dinner.  Well, yes, you could send a letter up the chimney.

Or you could try  The Usborne Big Book of Things to Spot, my new favorite babysitter... in the car, rainy days on camping trips, at the airport, in restaurants, at home when I'm trying to make dinner or email my publisher.

My five and two year old love this book.  They scour the pages, make up stories, scribble notes in the margins, and make up counting games.

I bought it on a whim for a birthday present b/c my five-year old likes the hidden pictures in the Highlights magazine.  But this lovely book turned out to be a lot more.  Children have to find multiples of different objects in each illustration, so children are practicing counting and I can throw in impromptu lessons in addition or subtraction if I'm so inclined (We need to find 7 monkeys and we have found 2.  How many more do we need to find?...)  The colorful illustrations take a child from the chicken coop to the desert, to ancient Egypt, to the Court of Louis XIV, to modern day Scandanavia, prompting questions and conversations about people and places far and wide.  If you still have a summer getaway to survive with your children, please take this book with you!  If not, the holidays are just a hop-skip-and-a-jump me you will want this, book...on hand.

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