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Archive for December, 2011

Taking a Trip Down Memory Lane

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

Education.com recently got together for a staff baby shower. Everyone was asked to share their favorite children’s books to help start a library for the mom-to-be. We’re a group of perpetual kids at heart, so getting together this basket of children’s classics was a total blast. And since we just can’t get enough of these fantastic books, we also decided to share our picks with the community!

With child development gurus and expert moms among us, many opted to pick out a sensory baby book, filled with colors, textures, and shapes. Some top picks include:

If I were a giraffe (Aneta’s pick), Colors and Shapes (Jyothee), Colors (Daniel), Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfisterand (Candace), Peek-a-Who? By Nina Laden (Danielle), and That’s Not My Dinosaur (Amanda).

Richard Scarry’s word books (Denise and Lorri) were popular picks for verbal development, with images and words to match. Another favorite was First 100 Words (Seema).

Not surprisingly, many picked out timeless children’s books that many grew up reading and adored. These popular picks included:

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney (Alex)

Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina (Kristi)

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (Ron)

Are you My Mother? By P.D. Eastman (Vicki)

Love You Forever by Robert Munsch (Julie)

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey (Carol)

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans (Jenny)

The Hungry Little Caterpillar by Eric Carle (Yale, Beebe and Ariana)

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (Patrick)

The Little Prince by Antoine De Sant-Exupery (Seann)

If you Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff (Carlee)

Many of us grew up reading the imaginative poems of Shel Silverstein, so our staff pick was A light in the Attic (Jody), which is filled with his classic poems and drawings.

Some parents in the group highly recommend the Caldecott Honor Mo Williams’ Pigeon books, including Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! (Kat) and Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus (Todd), guaranteeing lots of giggles!

There were a handful of newer books that are sure to be classics in their own time, including the Caldecott Honor Book Zen Shorts by Jon J Muth (Bob), Olivia Saves the Circus by Ian Falconer (Jackie), and Duck! Rabbit! By Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld (Graham). Also a great way to read the classic fairytales and stories is to buy a new collection such as The Family Storybook Treasury (Jeremy).

Dr. Seuss holds a special place in many of our hearts. Our favorites were Green Eggs and Ham (Miguel) and One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish (Brandon).

Finally, a few of us picked out holiday classics, because the baby will arrive just in time for Christmas! The favorites included The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore (Johanna) and The Berenstein Bears Trim the Tree (Lauren).

Did we miss any of your favorites not on the list? Please share your favorite children’s book!

One way to keep your angels from becoming monsters this holiday season.

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

I have to admit it…I woke up kind of giddy this morning.  It’s December and that means it’s officially Christmastime! (I respectfully abhor disagree with the retail world’s attempts to have Christmas start two weeks before Halloween.  Sigh.)  Yes, I know it’s an overwhelmingly busy time of year.  And yes, I know I’ll spend too much money this month.  And no, I don’t know how I’m going to avoid gaining 5, 10, a lot of Seasonal Community Service: Five Ways to Help During the Holidayspounds in the wake of all the festivities.  But I don’t care.  I love it.  I love, love, love, love, love, love it.  I love the lights and the music and the smells and the…well…the giddy!

What I don’t love, is what happens to my children in the face of all the wonder that’s available to them this month.  It’s not their fault.  When else do I actually encourage them to sit down and write a list of every material thing their hearts desire?  When else do I allow them this much sugar and TV time? (I could watch that Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer every night of December).  So it’s not their fault, but it’s only December 1st and they’re already acting more like Halloween monsters than Christmas angels. (“I want….”, “I want….”, “I want…”). How do I turn them back into angels without taking away all the giddy?!?

Like so many of my parenting struggles, my solution has come from a quick phone chat with my fabulous sister-in-law.  Yesterday she introduced me to RACK (Random Acts of Christmas Kindness) and I haven’t been so excited about anything since I can’t remember when.

RACK is very simple…you just set a goal, with your kids, of celebrating the advent season with 25 acts of selfless generosity.  One kind act a day.  Doesn’t have to be complicated, shouldn’t be expensive, just a moment of their time to help brighten someone’s day, make them smile, and help them remember how delicious this season really is. Ideas my SIL suggested include gifting an extra coat to someone on the street who needs it, shoveling a neighbor’s walk, taping a quarter to a gumball machine, or buying a cup of coffee for a stranger.

To help us keep track of our Acts, I created a little calendar.  And to help make RACK contagious I made these simple cards to hand out to our “victims”.  (I chose not to include our names to keep the idea of doing good without getting rewarded).  I’ll share them both here.

I hope lots of you will join us in “RACKing December”.  Let me know how you put your own spin on this ideas and what Acts your kids come up with.  And happy, happy holidays!