Category Archives: Kids

StoryMob Fun

The kids and I recently did a recorded read-aloud for World Read Aloud Day and StoryMob’s Mini-Mob Mania. So.Much.Fun.

Click over to our videos on YouTube below—one French read-aloud and one English read-aloud. We invited a friend to join us in the making of our read aloud videos. We had a ton of fun doing this. The kids came up with so many great ideas for how to act things out and what to use for props. It was imaginaction at its best.

Don’t forget to share your videos and send them to StoryMob at storymobs@gmail.com by February 19 to be included in their World Read Aloud Day Mini-Mob Mania!

DjabouNDawDjabou N’Daw – Un conte d’Afrique en Français: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rFlunNu8Cs

 

 

 

BedtimeIsCanceledBedtime is Canceled – A fun bedtime story in English: https://youtu.be/tmjqruE-p3o

 

 

Who Says Women Can’t be Cabinet Members?

At my house lately, we’ve been reading books about real life people and their stories of courage, hard work, and determination.

The first book we read was Who says Women Can’t be Doctors?Book cover

Big Sister’s reaction? (Keep in mind, she’s not quite eight.)

—”Why wouldn’t women be doctors?”

I explained the history of it to her. But she didn’t get it. She just didn’t.get.it.

In her world, girls can do anything they set their minds to.

I grew up with a similar understanding, but I learned it. My daughter just knows it. I understood that there was a time when girls had fewer opportunities, fewer rights. My daughter doesn’t get that. Girls can do and have the right to do what boys do. And in her mind, that is how it has always been.

I didn’t watch our new Prime Minister get sworn in. But I have read a few of the articles, the headlines and news briefs that have come out since he chose his cabinet, half of which is represented by women. And in one small, succinct statement, he summed up why his cabinet was equally divided between genders:

“Because it’s 2015.”

And that, just that.

This man, this new Prime Minister straight out of my generation, gets what my soon-to-be 8-year-old daughter gets at a level that is instinctive.

How can it be any other way at this point on our timeline?

It’s time to move on from the past. Everyone, regardless of gender, has something to offer. The kids know it. It’s time for the adults to really know it.

We’ll see how things play out with our new Prime Minister. But it certainly seems to me that, ideologically, he’s the guy to get us to 2015, because—you know—it is.

 

The Reading Road

Last year, I started a game with my kids called the Book Can Contest. It was an incentive to read. They both love books, but our busy life and technology always seemed to get in the way of a good book.

I admit, that although I consider myself to be an avid reader, I wasn’t exactly setting the right example for my kids. We read bedtime stories every night and sometimes even sit down with a book mid-afternoon, but I wasn’t doing much reading of my own. My kids rarely, if ever, saw me reading my own books. (I tend to read in bed before going to sleep.)

In this age of technology, screens, too many toys, and way too much distraction, the way to raise a reader is to read to them, with them, and on your own in front of them.

It was probably a lot easier to establish a reading habit—and therefore a love of books—when I was a kid because my parents had less to contend with. There were fewer things competing for my attention.

This generation of kids needs a very clear example and lots of guidance to get them to the same state of book loving.

Enter the Book Can Contest.

When we did this last year, every time my kids read a book, they got to fill out a ballot to put in the Book Can—a can I decorated with pictures of books and sayings from our favourite books. I’m a book geek. What can I say?

On the ballot, they would record the name of the book, their name and the date they read the book. For Big Sister who is into reading novels, she would also record the chapter that she had read. (One full chapter qualified for a ballot. The objective was to get them to read of their own accord, so small successes were celebrated. We worked our way up from there.)

On Friday mornings, we would draw a ballot from the can and the winner would get a prize. The more you read, the more ballots you had in the can and the more chances you had at winning the prize. My husband and I got involved, too, which made the competition a little more interesting.

Prizes included a new book, 30 minutes with Mommy to do whatever the winner wanted, same deal with Daddy, winner’s choice for dinner, 30 minutes of TV during the week, a chocolate bar, free pass on a chore, a trip to the dollar store with $2 to spend, dessert during the week, staying up late one day on the weekend, a lollipop, among other things.

We tried to come up with prizes that didn’t add more “stuff” to our lives. Experiences, free passes on chores and screen time (my kids get very little to begin with), decisions they weren’t usually in charge of making; these were the things we wanted to encourage them with. Your imagination is the limit when it comes to these kinds of prizes and the possibilities are endless.

To make the prize fair, I also wrote all the prize options on ballots and put them in a separate bag. Whoever won the Book Can Contest that week would then get to draw the prize for next week’s contest. We posted all this on the wall above our kitchen table so that it was visible all the time (a great reminder).

We had fun reading and winning for about five months, but then contest fatigue set in and we missed the draw a couple of weeks in a row. Then summer came and life became less routine and more relaxed. And that was the end of the Book Can Contest.

I was sad to see it go, but sometimes we have to move onto the next best thing.

For a while, we didn’t have a reading incentive—and that’s not a bad thing. Both my kids love books. One’s a reader already and the other one is in the phase of grasping reading concepts like letter combinations and decoding and that words represent visuals and are used to tell a story. He’s doing really great at it. No sense rushing him through this phase.

It can be such a fun phase if you allow the time for it. He loves to tell me about the stories he has “read” and though he describes them mostly the same every time, his powers of observation are slightly more improved or different each day and sometimes the story he tells from the book he has “read” is more elaborate and detailed because he has noticed some new thing in its pages. But generally speaking, he’s telling the story that is actually depicted in the pages of his book. Actually reading the words will follow closely on the heals of this step. But I’ll miss this phase once he can read. We are having so much fun telling stories from the pictures!

With his new-found appreciation of books and stories, he recently suggested that we revive the Book Can Contest to track how much we were reading. I thought maybe we should try a new incentive game or chart. So, I came up with the Reading Road chart.

The Reading Road is a picture I drew (very crudely in Microsoft Paint) that looks like a road, and along the road there are lines on which to record the titles of the books one is reading. The reader starts at the beginning of the road and works his or her way to the end of the road. Once there, the reader is entitled to a prize set out at the beginning of the reading journey. Because my kids love books so much, they usually choose a new book as their prize.

It has really taken off. I also plan to use the Reading Road charts to encourage reading on specific topics. We’re big into our local library and visit a couple times a week at least. Often, a particular topic catches Big Sister or Little Brother’s interest and we’ll stock up on books that feed that interest.

What sometimes happens, though, is the books will come home and get put in our library pile and only a few will be read (the ones they like the most). Despite encouragement from me, the other books will languish in the pile until their return date. By using the Reading Road chart, there is an incentive to read all of the books they picked out on that particular topic at the library. I know it’s not a big deal if a book is borrowed from the library and not devoured voraciously, but to me it’s akin to buying food and letting it rot in the fridge. Why would you do that? My motto is: if you’re not going to use it, don’t take it.

So here’s what we use to track our reading (and practice our penmanship for those of us still in the early learning stages):

reading road chart

Here’s the PDF of the Reading Road Chart. Feel free to use it for your kids. If you do use it, let me know how it goes in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter. Use the hashtag #LTOReadingRoad.

Happy reading!

Of Pumpkins and Kids

As my husband said, “No guts, no glory.”

Or should that be “No guts, no gory“?

The carving was not the epic success I imagined. Both kids are into it, of course, and of age to handle a knife (a small one). But their attention span is short…and toys were beckoning.

They did manage to draw faces on their pumpkins and clean out the guts. Following those tasks, Little Brother spent most of his time harassing Big Sister with pumpkin goo. And harassed she was.

She was a good sport about it, though. We were all having a good time.

Big Sister, who was once so cool with the slippery, icky work of cleaning out a pumpkin, spent most of her time trying to get away from Little Brother.

Halloween15_2Mid-way through it all, the kids disappeared and we were left with two pumpkins to carve and seeds to clean and toast. (Thank God for my husband.)

As he rammed the tiny pumpkin carving saw over and over again into the seemingly tougher than usual pumpkin, he said, “Next year, we’re only getting one pumpkin.) Because this…

Halloween15_1…smiling faces, eager attitudes…didn’t last long…and one pumpkin is enough work for busy parents.

My daughter the mover

Told Big Sister she couldn’t re-arrange the furniture. To say the least, listening is not her strongest skill.

She moved all of the toy bins from where we had them arranged under the breakfast bar over to where she wanted them near her chalkboard.

Her dad came home at the end of the day and moved them back while the kids and I were at the park.

hell hath no fury

Great and limitless

Each day in my Inbox, I receive inspirational quotes, poems and sayings.

Today, I received this one: Continue reading

Reflecting

I haven’t written in this space for a while. Life has taken over again.

But this I must put down in writing somewhere and I do not have my notebook with me today.

On the way to daycare drop-off this morning, my sweet little girl was in one of those moods. She grumbled and whined all the way to her babysitter’s house. She wouldn’t let go of whatever it was that was turning her beautiful smile upside down.

Normally, this would irk me. I would let it get to me and it would force my smile upside down. Which in turn would make my daughter worse and my little boy a grumpy or sad mess.

I’ve read tons of parenting magazines, books, articles, blogs, etc. Many of them give fantastic advice. Some of them are ridiculous (they’re good for a laugh, though). But one piece of advice that I have read over and over in my lifetime (and not just from parenting “experts”) is that how other people treat you is not a reflection of you, it is a reflection of them and their circumstances.

Until this morning, I never really applied that to my children. I often think of it in terms of the adults in my life. But I have always taken more of a I-control-how-my-kids-feel attitude toward the little people in my life.

But today, my little girl was grumpy and whiny and I looked up at the grey sky and thanked God for her, grump and whine and all. And my gratitude reflected back to me and I felt good. All the way to daycare.

And when I dropped them off, she gave me a wonderful kiss and a hug. And she walked happily over to her friends. Perhaps my gratitude for her shone some light into her and cheered her up.

Whatever it was, for the first time, I did not feel like her mood was my problem. People get grumpy sometimes. All we can do is stand by and be there when the sun comes out for them again.