The Big Switch

We have WAY too many books. Way, way, way too many. We are extremely lucky to be in such a fortunate position, but Violet’s books are literally everywhere. She reads them all day long, and we are still working on learning to put them back on the shelf/in the bin.

Every few months, we do “the big switch” — we store previously read as well as unread books away in a closet, and when we feel it’s time, we switch out our current books for old favorites, or books we have yet to explore and discover. This keeps things fresh for both of us, it challenges Violet to grow through new content, and it allows us to “recycle” books without having to always buy new ones. All of this being said, we are *happily* over run with books.

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Our books come from a variety of sources:

  1. My school: I am a public school English as a New Language teacher in a low-income school. Teachers are always cleaning out their inventory, and my first inclination is to send extra books home with my students — their shelves should be full too, but if there are any left over, or if there’s a book that I think would be of particular interest to her, or addresses something we’re currently working on, then I’ll bring it home for her.
  2. Hand me downs from friends and family: When my daughter was born, my sister-in-law sent us home with a ton of well-loved books that her daughters were finished with. We came home with a treasure trove of great books, and we’re still working through them. Another great way to ensure a constant flow of new books for everyone is to organize a book swap with friends. Exchange books with kids of a similar age, and everyone can enjoy your old faves.
  3. Barefoot Books: I am also a Barefoot Books¬†Ambassador. I love working with this company because they have beautifully illustrated diverse and inclusive books for children. Of course, as an Ambassador, I purchase books at a discount — I joined in part because I knew that I’d be able to stock my daughter’s library sat a great price! We *love* our (ever growing) collection of Barefoot Books!
  4. The library: The public library is an awesome resource for free (temporary) books. I’ll admit that I was never the best at a timely return of library boos, but our library’s online renewal system is awesome. ūüôā
  5. Bookstores: We LOVE to spend time in bookstores. Of course, it’s the most expensive way to stock your shelves, but there’s something about a book store that we both just can’t resist.
  6. Amazon: I know I’m not alone here. With prime shipping, relatively lower costs, and an endless selection, Amazon is definitely one of my weaknesses.

 

 

Making New Year’s Resolutions with Toddlers and Preschoolers

For many, the new year represents an opportunity for reflection, change, and growth. Many of us will set New Year’s resolutions around health, money, and relationships. This year, I set out to set family resolutions, and to help my two year old daughter begin to understand the concept of goal setting (and reaching!) as well. This is sort of an abstract concept to her at the moment, so I put together a worksheet that helps her to reflect on the year and think forward to the next.

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(This is a preview, download the freebie for the whole printable set)

Here are some guidelines for setting goals or resolution with children from parents.com:

  • As with adults, or even more so with children, goals should be realistic and attainable. The last thing that we want to instill in our children is that they are unable to reach a goal. Because children change and grow so quickly, this should be easy, but might take some guidance for a dreamer or a child with lofty ideas. ūüôā

 

  • Set out to learn new things: Children are picking up new things left and right — talk out a milestone that is just on the horizon, or a big accomplishment¬†that is likely ¬†to follow. Work with a child’s interests: my daughter is *constantly* asking me to draw babies and animals, so a great goal for her is to master some simple drawing skills.

 

  • Make some of your goals academic:¬†A good family goal to set is to help your little one improve their school-readiness skills: holding a pencil, cutting with scissors, getting the numbers or letters down.

 

  • Work together on improving eating habits:¬†of course there likely isn’t reason to put a child on a diet, per se, but sharing and talking openly about healthy eating habits is a great practice.

 

  • Exercise: file this one under a family goal: there are all kinds of fun exercises that families can do together! Stay tuned for next week’s video on yoga, mindfulness, and meditation practice with young children!

 

  • Give, give, give: put charitable giving on your list: do good *and* teach your child the value of sharing¬†all in one fell swoop.

 

  • Have fun!: You can also set goals around play: visit a museum once a month, get outside and to the park more, or master building a lego tower! And be sure to celebrate any accomplishment with a party, a special treat, or a hug and high-five!

A few more thoughts:

  • Be resolution role models
  • Keep a positive approach to resolutions
  • Narrow down the list
  • Take small steps towards big resolutions
  • Follow up in a supportive, non-judgemental and non-nagging way
  • Make family goals together
  • Make goal setting a new year ritual

Don’t forget the free download of our New Year’s Resolution¬†Planner for Families with ¬†Young Children. Find it here.

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Our favorite craft supplies for toddlers and preschoolers!

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I blogged a few days ago about our craft center organizer, and as promised, here is a list of my favorite craft supplies for young children.

When I set out to create the craft center, I wanted to be sure that we would have a good amount of craft supplies, to both instill a love of art and crafting in my daughter, but also to help her to grow developmentally and cognitively. We searched around on the internet, asked friends what craft supplies their children love, and we’ve come up with this comprehensive list (with links!).

  • Beads (wooden beads and pony beads)
    • Beads are great for making sensory bottles, stringing on yarn (or pipe cleaners for the younger set), collages, jewelry making, and the list goes on. Wooden beads have a neat effect when painted with watercolors!
    • Wooden Beads: http://amzn.to/2hBnNaR
    • Pony Beads: http://amzn.to/2hBlX9L
  • Chalk Markers
    • Chalk markers have an awesome opaque quality that shows up nicely on both white and dark paper. Try them on leaves!
    • Chalk Markers: http://amzn.to/2hrued8
  • Glitter Glue
    • Who doesn‚Äôt love glitter? But traditional glitter can get *very* messy. Glitter Glue is a great alternative.
    • Gitter Glue: http://amzn.to/2hJSB5h
  • Sponge shapes
    • Sponges make painting easy, are a cinch to clean up, and double as academic and school readiness for practicing geometric shape names.
    • Colorful Sponges: http://amzn.to/2hiGAqt
  • Washable Acrylic Paint
    • Watercolors get mixed and discolored¬†easily with young children ‚Äď acrylics are washable and hold up a little better. ‚Äď I like neon!
    • Acrylic paints: http://amzn.to/2gx2FO4
  • Pipe Cleaners/Chenille stems
  • Colored Tissue Paper
    • Tissue paper is great fun for toddlers, and an awesome fine motor and sensory experience. Crumple it, tear it, glue it on color collages – the fun never stops!
    • Tissue Paper: http://amzn.to/2hrqdp7
  • Straws
    • Cut up straws for all kinds of projects — thread yarn through them for a necklace, add to collages, use for a variety of art projects..
    • Colorful straws: http://amzn.to/2gHXlLb
  • Yarn
    • Great for jewelry, wooden peg people hair, stringing up artwork in a ‚Äúgallery‚ÄĚ, making garland, cutting and gluing, making pom poms‚Ķ
    • Yarn: http://amzn.to/2hJNMJk
  • Safety Scissors
    • There are so many options out there, but be sure to choose a safe pair for your little one to practice cutting. With supervision, children as young as 2 years old can start on this skill.
    • Safety scissors: http://amzn.to/2hJSxT4
  • Toilet paper rolls
    • Many kid‚Äôs crafts use toilet paper rolls as a staple, and they‚Äôre *free*!
  • Pom Poms
    • Pick up pom-poms in a variety of shapes and sizes ‚Äď use on collages, art projects, and color and size sorting activities.
    • Pom poms: http://amzn.to/2hrz0HE
  • Washi Tape
    • Like stickers, but great for decorating and adding a pop of color to art projects.
    • Washi Tape: http://amzn.to/2gHZAOt
  • Dot Paints
    • Dot paints are a great, no mess way to introduce painting to young children.
    • Dot paints: http://amzn.to/2hKEPU6

 

Craft center organizer

I shared our brand new craft center in last week’s video, and I wanted “zoom in” on our craft center organizer.

I originally bought this toolbox¬†to keep organized in my classroom, and decided it would be the perfect addition to our craft center. I’ve loaded it up with my favorite craft supplies (I’ll share these in a future blog post), and created downloadable, printable¬†labels¬†for it to give it a nice, clean look. ¬†I’m thrilled with how it came out!

We’ve seriously increased our crafting by a *ton* since we set up this space — having the materials organized and accessible has really helped us step up our art game!

Take a look:

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Links:

Buy the toolbox by clicking here.

Download the craft organizer labels here. Get the bonus “favorite craft supplies” with the download!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arts & Crafts Center – check!

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I am *so* happy to have put this arts and crafts center together. I love crafting, and am thrilled to have been able to put together this space for Violet and I to craft together. I am on a mission to both enrich our daughter’s life with story and art, and to streamline, organize, and simplify our life — I’ve¬†hit on both of these with this project!

This space in our apartment¬†has been sitting empty for a while — it sits across from our living room couch, and is right next to the entrance. There was formerly an armoire there that has a new home in our bedroom, and it’s been begging for something to fill it’s space!

We repurposed Violet’s table and chair set that was formerly¬†near her play kitchen, picked up a Billy bookcase from Ikea, hung a magnetic dry erase board, paper holders, ¬†some of Violet’s art, an inspirational quote for, well, inspiration ;-), and filled the shelves with our favorite arts and crafts supplies (more on that in a future post or two!).

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(Check out the Inspiration blog post here.)

We’ve stowed many of the smaller supplies in this nifty toolbox¬†— I originally bought one for my classroom supplies, and loved it so much, I decided to add one to our craft center. I added these craft supply toolbox labels¬†to give it a clean, put together look, and I love the way it came out. I’ll be putting together a couple of posts for both a closer look at the labels as well as my favorite craft supplies for young children in the very near future.

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Our craft center has been set up for just a few days, and we’re ¬†already crafting more now that our supplies are organized, that we’ve got a designated creativity zone, and that everything is within reach.

Without further ado — the video!

 

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Some Inspiration!

I am having an awesome time developing materials to go along with our videos, blog posts, and of course, for my own home and classroom use. ¬†I’ve just recently dove into a tiny bit of (very basic) graphic design, and I’m excited to share these with you!

This set of printable inspirational quote posters includes illustrated inspiration for kids, including quotes by Maya Angelou, E.E. Cummings, Roald Dahl and Picasso.

These quotes contain all original artwork, and would be great for the classroom, home use, a baby nursery, or an art center.

The 6 posters/quotes included are:

.Dream big

.Every child is an artist -Picasso

.Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud – Maya Angelou

.It takes courage to grow up and be who you really are – E. E. Cummings

.If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely – Roald Dahl

.Be brave, be creative, be kind, be happy, be thankful, be you

You can find the downloadable, printable posters here.

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Be on the lookout in the next couple of days to see where I used these posters in our home, but for now, I’m please to share this with you!

 

Links:

Download the posters in the Peace, Love, & Literacy Resource Store

 

 

 

Raising global citizens & SALE!

I wanted to announce this sale as soon as possible, as it’s only going on for the next 2 days!

Barefoot Books is honestly one of my favorite resources for diverse and inclusive literature for a range of ages. For 2 days only, they’re having a 30% off sale on their (already discounted) World Atlas & Cities of the World Memory Game set, making it easy (and cheap!) to give the world to a child for the holidays! (offer ends 8:59 am EST on Friday, December 9th, 2016 — which also happens to be the shipping deadline for economy shipping in time for Christmas!)

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While you’re at it, be sure to take advantage of the FREE Barefoot Book of Children with a $50 order with the code warmheart. (Offer ends 12/31 at 11:59 pm)

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Links:

Shop the World Atlas & Game Set Sale

Shop the Barefoot Book of Children

Let your voice be heard!

 

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I am polling readers over in the Peace, Love and Literacy¬†Facebook group¬†and I’d love to hear from you. (There’s lots of great stuff going on¬†over in the group as well, including things that will never make it to the blog — don’t miss it!)

I’m looking for input on content that parents and educators would like to see on the blog and in our¬† videos. Head over to the Facebook group by clicking here and request to join if you’re not already a member to weigh in, and thank you for your support!

 

Best Magazines for Toddlers and Preschoolers

You might have seen in our recent video that I *love* Magazines — the glossy pages, the photos and images, the variety, the frequency. New reading material every month, with little effort! Getting a subscription in the mail month to month is such a treat. ¬†Now that I’m a mother, I admittedly have absolutely not enough time to devour magazines like I used to, but with the holidays coming up, and Violet having just turned two years old, I wanted to give her the chance to fall¬†in love with magazines just like I did.

She and I hit up Barnes and Noble last week, and went a little wild. We came home with a stack of magazines, read and vetted them, and picked out some jewels to share! I’ll review¬†my favorites here and add¬†links if anyone *needs* to get their hands on them.

Baby Bug & Ladybug

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Baby bug is the first in a series of magazines, published by Cricket Media. Baby bug is for the youngest set, and it’s my favorite of the two (Ladybug is best for preschool and early elementary). ¬†Baby bug is perfect for little hands – it’s small, square shape makes it easy to handle for young children, the pages are thick and durable (but it’s way¬†lighter than a board book, so it would be the perfect thing to throw in your bag for reading on the go), and it’s got a lot of short stories inside for it’s small size.

Each issue of Baby Bug has a “Kim and Carrots” story inside, which could be your child’s first introduction to a “series” — something they’ll become familiar with in school — score! Familiar characters to fall in love with, and school readiness bundled into one!

The magazine has short stories, poems, rhymes, and the topics are relatable and relevant to children’s lives, focusing on simple things like playing, preparing for family visits, cooking in the kitchen, napping, tumbling in the grass, etc.

I *love* that there is a guide in the back for parents and caregivers, giving tips for reading with children and talking through the content.

All in all, this magazine is awesome for the 0-3 set.

Chirp!

Chirp is a themed magazine, published by Owl, that has a great¬†mix of stories (both fiction and non-fiction), games, arts and crafts activities, recipes, rhymes, jokes, physical activities, and the list goes on. The age range says 3-6, but Violet, at 2, loves it, and it can definitely last her through early elementary, with it’s range of content.

In my classroom, I teach in themes — this is the best way to introduce children to new concepts, vocabulary, reading skills, all under the umbrella of a familiar topic. It gives studies continuity, and the fact that this magazine is themed is fantastic. Each section is based on the same theme, and it makes the magazine a joy to read. What’s more, each issue has a preview of the next theme on the last page, so if you’re really together and with it, you could even gather some other books, materials, and activities on the same theme and immerse your child in a theme month to month. (pinterest!!!)

We’ve already gotten our subscription!

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National Geographic Little Kids

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We all know that National Geographic has fantastic content for adults and school aged children, so I was thrilled to find out that they have a “Little Kids” magazine. As my favorite non-fiction publisher, this is definitely on our subscription list.

Each issue covers important cognitive development areas, such as rhyming, finding differences and similarities, critical thinking, solving mazes, seek and find, inferencing, etc. Every issue has tear out “collector cards”. All of these features, of course, feature the stunning photography that National Geographic is known for.

Each issue is all about animals in an easy to handle small square format.

And, at a $15 price tag, the subscription is the least expensive of the bunch. Sign me up!
Curious Jane Magazine

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Curious Jane is really a magazine that is more for our enjoyment, with awesome activities for “girls who like to make things”. Well, that’s me, and hopefully it will be Violet too! Most of the activities are out of the age range of young children, but with support, there are a few activities included that would be great for young kids, in this issue they featured making fun shaped gummies with silicone molds, and DIY playdough.

The images are gorgeous, the typography is fun, and this is a very high quality magazine.

 

Chop Chop:

I didn’t pick up a copy of this magazine, but upon further research I fell in love.

Each seasonal issue is built around a theme, with recent topics including global stews, vegetables, and family dinners.  This is a family cooking magazine, definitely something to be enjoyed together.

Chop Chop is endorsed by the American Academy of pediatrics, is a 2014 parents’ choice gold award and a scholastic pick for best magazine elementary and preschool.

What’s more to love? Each subscription helps pay for a subscription for families in need.

 

Links:

Baby Bug Magazine

Chirp Magazine

National Geographic Little Kids

Curious Jane Magazine

Chop Chop Magazine