Friday, December 12, 2008

Decorating (and redecorating) the Christmas Tree

Decorating the Christmas tree has always been one of my favorite holiday traditions. While this is Ava's second Christmas it was her first experience decorating the tree. She was very serious about the process. Thoughtfully she choose each ornament and tried very hard to hang them. Most of her ornaments were laying across a small section of the tree and as she turned to choose her next ornament I would hang them from a nearby branch. My beautiful little girl continued until all the ornaments were carefully hung always under the careful watch of our decorating supervisor, Moxie Cat.

Every day since the tree went up Ava has removed a few ornaments to rehang. And I look forward to the excitement on her face as we come down the stairs in the morning to see the tree all lit up.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

yes... no... maybe... sometimes...

Lately we have been hearing "no" much more often. Typically Ava uses the word correctly as a response to a question. She is also attempting to add the universal signs for the yes and no - a nod or a shake. I can't help but giggle as she tries to match the action to the word. Sometimes I worry she might get dizzy.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Red is Best!

All summer long we battled over wearing a hat to block the harmful rays of the sun. My beautiful, fair haired child refused to keep a hat on her head. I feared that this battle would continue into the winter. Now that the temperatures have turned colder Ava loves the process of putting on her coat, hat, and mittens. We zzzzzzzz-zip the zipper (great for Phonological Awareness). After the first mitten goes on Ava claps and then again after mitten number two.  Ava then starts saying "Hat. Hat. Hat." as I prepare the last piece of her winter gear. And surprisingly she keeps it all on!

Even though there has been a bit of snow we have not yet been out to play. Hopefully the next snow fall will see a little red dot bouncing against the stark white.  

Our favorite books about mittens and winter are keeping us warm as we cuddle together to read: Red Sled by Patricia Thomas,  One Mitten by Kristine O'Connell, Under My Hood I Have a Hat by Karla Kuskin, My Red Mittens by Candy Crocker, The Three Little Kittens by Anna Alter, The Mitten by Alvin Tresselt, A Hat for Minerva Louise by Janet Morgan Stoeke, The Mitten by Jan Brett, and Red is Best by Kathy Stinson.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Happy Turkey Day!

The holidays are always an exciting time. Add children to the mix and the excitement multiplies! While this is Ava's 2nd holiday season it all feels new again. Thanksgiving was relaxing and we enjoyed the day with Ava's paternal grandparents, great aunt Martha, uncle Kevin, aunt Claudia, and cousin Emilia. She had a blast playing with her cousin. The girls read books, played with the Learn & Ride School Bus, climbed into the toy box together, and emptied and reorganized grandma's tupperware cabinet. Ava just recently started using her own fork and loved being able to eat Thanksgiving dinner with her special utensil. Her favorite dish? Sweet potatoes and mommy's tiny cherry pie.

Ava wore a special turkey shirt made by mommy!
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bedtime Stories

At times we are often very relaxed in our routine. We let Ava set the pace without controlling our lives and this has made for a very happy household. However, when it comes to the betime routine we have been pretty strict. I believe this consistency is what has helped foster the positive experience bath and bedtime have become. When told that it is time for a bath, Ava stops what she is doing and heads to the stairs.

Daddy typically takes the lead with bathtime and getting dressed. I do all the prep work (laying out jammies, straightening the crib, searching for pacifiers). We take turns with the the bedtime story. Sometimes Ava chooses who she wants to read.

Lately there has been a clear favorite when it comes to book choice - Dinosaur vs. Bedtime by Bob Shea. This is an excellent picture book with fun, simple, modern illustrations. The story flows well when read aloud and captures the listeners imagination. This book is excellent in reinforcing Print Motivation. If Ava is having a "toddler moment," all we have to do is ask her if she wants to read the dinosaur book and the outburst is over. Last night Kris observed her reading the book to herself. Each time she turned the page she would point and say, "Roar!" This is a new sound and later in the evening we were able to apply it to pictures of lions.

Our favorite bedtime stories include:

I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt
Hush Little Ones by John Butler
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Snuggle Up, Sleepy Ones by Claire Freedman
Dinosaur vs. Bedtime by Bob Shea
Ten Tiny Babies by Karen Katz
Song of Night by Katherine Riley Nakamura

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Little Red's Halloween Adventure

Halloween was so much fun this year! Dressed as Little Red Riding Hood, Ava strolled through the neighboorhood carrying her basket and smiling at everyone!  Many of you are aware that this was not Ava's original costume.  However, I believe this costume worked out perfectly and she is much more suited to be Little Red rather than a duck.

Ava enjoyed taking candy out of the giveaway basket and adding it to her stash.  All was going well until Little Red encountered the Big Bad Wolf at the very end of the evening.  Two teens dressed in full costume approached; one dressed as a Storm Trooper, the other as the BBW.  Kris said, "Look Ava it is the Big Bad Wolf!" and she freaked!  She calmed quickly once inside and seemed excited to enjoy a few more stories before bed.

My favorite version of our heroines tale is Little Red: a Fizzingly Good Yarn by Lynn Roberts.  This telling sees Red as a boy uses quick thinking and a jug of ginger ale to bring the story to its happy end.

We also enjoyed a few Halloween stories.  This years favorites were Ghost Eats it All by Janee Trasler, Where is Baby's Pumpkin by Karen Katz, Sheep Trick or Treat by Nancy Shaw, Boo Bunny by Kathryn Galbraith, and Where's My Mummy? by Carolyn Crimi.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Flip Flopin'

October offered some beautifully warm days that allowed us to revisit our summer attire one last time.  Most importantly this gave us that chance to wear our Havaianas to walk around the neighborhood.  Ava received her Havaianas for her birthday but had such tiny feet that she was not able to wear then until now.  So we relished in the opportunity to have her march proudly in her Baby Pets!

We love the fun rhymes in Baby Shoes by Daska Slater, Shoe Bop by Marilyn Singer, and Flip Flop Bop by Matt Novak.  These fantastic picture books help to build both Phonological Awareness through rhyme and Print Awareness through the fun, eye-catching layout of the words.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Sensory Experiences

Sensory experiences can give children a hands-on sense of the world around them and helps them to develop many skills. Ava has amazing fine motor skills and these skills continue to become more refined because of the many different things she is exposed to. Early on Ava was exposed to simple scientific principles through sensory play; such as the different states of water and measuring solids.

Ava enjoys playing with a bowl of ice cubes, splashing in a water table, and scooping flour into a measuring cup. By exposing Ava to these real world items she learns how to travel through life with every day items.

Board books are wonderful! From infancy, children are able to have the sensory experience to prepare them to become readers. However, it was important to me to expose Ava to picture books with paper pages and teach her how to handle and treat books. She has yet to destory a book by tearing out pages (there have been some chewed on board books). The difference between the experience my child has had and that of other young children became very clear to me at a recent family gathering.

Two of Ava's cousins and grandpa had birthdays at the beginning of October and we planned a large family celebration. I brought a bag of new picture books to share with the children that would be in attendance. A few of the books were scattered on the floor as Ava sat down to look at one. About 5 adults gasped and got up to take the book away from her out of fear that she would tear the pages. I'm not sure they knew what to make of my 15 month old that sits sweetly and looks at books for extended periods of time. That's just how life is at our house.

The overwhelming favorite of the weekend: Ten Tiny Babies by Karen Katz.

Can We Do it?

Ava has been showing an interest in tools lately. Recently we visited a friend who had a play tool bench and she had the best time! Without any guideance Ava uses the tools correctly reminding me of the power of observation.

She has watched a deck being added to the back of our house, a room addition to her grandparents house, and many other projects involving tools. Ava stole a small wrench from PawPaw while he was assembling a table and took it to "work on" her riding school bus. She pretended to turn the wrench on bus and when her work was complete Ava lifted the seat and stored the wrench inside. We will be adding a toolbox to Ava's Christmas wish list!

My mother-in-law has a small collection of books for the grandchildren to enjoy. In the pile Ava found 2 Bob the Builder board books - one shaped like a hammer and the other a saw. These fun little books are excellent for Print Motivation. After reading the story Ava can pretend to work like Bob making the story come to life. We are also enjoying Tools by Taro Miura, Tools by Byron Barton, I Love Tools by Philemon Sturges, Whose Tools are These? by Sharon Katz Cooper, Monkey with a Tool Belt by Chris Monroe, and The Toolbox by Anne Rockwell.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Book Lover!

Ava has always been surrounded by stories and books. Before her birth she could hear the stories I was sharing with children during storytimes and school visits. In the hospital she was cuddled close and heard about the adventure of Curious George only to arrive home to be surrounded by images from his stories. Since then Ava always has a pile of books within reach.

At her fingertips are picture books, board books, lift-the-flap books, pop-up books, touch & feel books, and more. We have subtly worked to encourage Print Motivation. And to my excitement Ava loves books! Yesterday she sat for 30 minutes on her own and looked through a pile of library books. I then joined her on the floor for an additional 30 minutes of reading.

As a mom, my heart skips a beat knowing that I am giving my girl a great head start. As a librarian, it just validates the work we are doing to spread the news about Ready to Read.

There are many favorite titles in our house but right now Ava is drawn to a nonfiction book, Face to Face with The Duck by Pascale Hedelin. Each time she turns the page she alternates with either "Duck!" or "Quack! Quack!"

Above is a video of her reading Touch & Feel Home. There is a mirror at the back which Ava gives a kiss to baby. Enjoy!

I Scream, You Scream, Ava Screams for Ice Cream

A couple of weeks ago we spent a beautiful weekend afternoon in Utica at the Velvet Ice Cream Factory & Olde Mill. Ava got to see goats, an 11-day old calf, a horse, and lots of ducks. There was a band playing and festive atmosphere.

We sat down to enjoy some ice cream - Kris had Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup, I had Mint Chocolate Chip, and Vanilla for Ava. She loves ice cream! It is a treat she has very rarely so it is fun to see the excitement on her face as she rediscovers the taste. I gave her a taste of the Mint and she went crazy! Vanilla was a distant memory. Her focus shifted. Ava would take a bite, sit up straight, and very seriously signed for more.

It was a great afternoon!

Monday, September 8, 2008

First Steps!

Ava has been cruising around the furniture for months now. Recently she started taking a few steps here and there but remained pretty stubborn about just taking off. Tonight she finally took her first real steps. After bathtime Ava walked between Mommy and Daddy taking up to a dozen steps at a time. She was laughing the entire time and was visibly proud of her accomplishment. Daddy was able to catch the video below!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Go Bucks!

Today kicks off the College Football Season and the whole family is geeked out in their Buckeye gear. A couple weeks ago Kris took Ava to OSU to walk around and take pictures. They had a great time and it was a special day for daddy and daughter. Ava loved mirror lake and watching the ducks (see previous post for photo).

I think Kris' favorite part was the time they spent exploring the stadium. Above is a photo of Ava in front of Ohio Stadium ready for Game Day. Our hope is to try to attend a pre-game session with TBDBITL (Ava's second favorite thing is music) as a fun family outing.

Today will be a great day to introduce new vocabulary words - she is already familiar with "TOUCHDOWN!" Some fun Buckeye books we will be sharing: Go Buckeyes: My First Ohio State Words by Connie McNamara, Ohio State Buckeyes 123: My First Counting Book by Brad Epstein, Buckeyes Big Game by Tom Kearney, and It's Fun to Be a Buckeye by Amy Wurth Fowble.

Game Day Prediction: Ohio State 28 Youngstown State 3

Monday, August 18, 2008

Pigeon... Duck... Pigeon... Duck...

Recently I received a poll in my inbox asking the number of words my toddler recognizes - the choices were None, 1-5, 5-10, & More the 10. As I mentally began to list all the words she recognizes I was amazed at how vast her vocabulary has become. She use 2 and 3 word sentences with ease and seems to have little difficulty with comprehension. If you ask her to do something she responds, "I did."

Vocabulary size aside, the battle of words (better yet - wills) continues on when defining Ava's feathered friend. Pigeon has become a new favorite. We work very hard at giving her the words to define the world around her but she is stuck on the word duck. If you were to stumble on a typical conversation between mother and daughter, this is what you will undoubtedly hear:







And on and on and on until one or the other finally gives up (truth be told it is usually me). If after all this banter I ask Ava to kiss the pigeon, she immediately gives Pigeon a kiss - complete with sound effects. I am comforted in her ability to associate the word to the object regardless of her unwillingness to cease with the word duck. Until then we will continue giving her the words to help build her skills as a pre-reader.

Our favorite Mo Willems Pigeon books include: Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, The Pigeon Loves Things That Go!, and The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!
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Monday, August 11, 2008

Baby Laptime - SPLASH!

Since I had to work all weekend I wanted to have some special time with my little monkey this morning. So we made the trip to Main Library for Baby Laptime. The theme for today's storytime was SPLASH! and prominantly featured... you guessed it... DUCKS! Talk about creating experiences for your child! As soon as the duck puppet came out Ava started yelling "Duck!" She was in baby story heaven.

She of course loved the duck story and puppet but she relished in the chance to play and explore with the other babies at the end. I am always the proud mama when my child is interacting with others. Ava is such a happy child and it comes through with everything so does. She shares, doesn't throw tantrums, and takes back what is stolen from her.

We will be building our narrative skills as we repeat the fun duck fingerplay that we learned this morning!

Books we added to our duck collection: It's Quacking Time! by Martin Waddell, Do Like a Duck Does by Judy Hindley, and Ducks Like to Swim by Agnes Verboven.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Ducks! Ducks! Ducks!

As Ava's vocabulary continues to expand there are certain words that become favorites for a period of time. Currently she is obsessed with the word duck. Everything is a duck. Words that she is already proficient in using have been replaced with duck - any animal with a beak is a duck, the dog is a duck, the cat is a duck, even daddy is a duck.

Her obsession does not end with the word. Our house is overrun with small rubber ducks! Most times Ava has a duck in each hand as she cruises around the family room. Last week she was sitting on the couch with two ducks making them have a conversation, "Quack, Quack, Quack, Quack," was all that could be heard.

We look for opportunities to indulge Ava's interest in our feathered friends. Last friday I took her to the park and watched the ducks in the pond. She quacked and quacked and expressed great displeasure when it was time to leave. Then on Saturday her daddy took her to OSU and they watched the ducks at Mirror Lake (the above photo). These experiences allow her the chance to make connections between the work, the image she sees in books, and the real animal. You are able to increase reading readiness by simply creating experiences for you child!

Duck books currently on our shelf: Ducks Dunk by Lynne Berry, Quack, Quack! by mike Jolley & Emma Dodd, Ten Little Rubber Ducks by Eric Carle, Find the Duck by Stephen Cartwright, What's Up, Duck? by Tad Hills.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Beach Baby Books

Recently we vacationed to the beach with all the babies - 12 month old Ava and her 9 month old cousins, Nora & Emilia. Along with our sand toys and swimsuits, we took along some of our favorite beach books!

The Smithsonian has recently published My Shell Book and My Beach Book by Ellen Kirk. These books have excellent photographs from the beach and help build Vocabulary skills. Ava was able to see the images in the books and make physical connections to words while we played in the sand and surf.

We also enjoyed Beach Babies Wear Shades by Michelle Sinclair Colman. Another addition to the Urban Babies series that shows the babies loving some beach experiences.

My beach baby refused to wear shades or a hat but she had a great time!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Begin Smart

Begin Smart is an excellent new series of board books amid at our youngest readers (you can find an extensive list at - search Keyword: Begin Smart). This series has many great features; the books are compact and easy for the child to handle, they have bold, bright colors, and feature a Ready to Read component. Each book has a note to parents and extension activities that fit perfectly with the 6 Ready to Read skills!

We have been enjoying this series at home and many of my colleagues have started using these books in their storytime line-ups! Our three favorites are Look at Me!, All Gone, and What Does Baby Do?

*Warning: while we encourage babies to chew on books these books tend to damage easily! They are very soft and not as sturdy as traditional board books. In a 10 minute car ride my little monkey ate all the way through to the spine! Her new favorite book, Look at Me!, will now be a permanent part of our at home collection!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

Even before our little monkey was born she was hearing stories daily. It was not our practice to read to my growing belly but being a librarian who shares stories with children of all ages throughout the day, Ava had the benefit of hearing lots of different books before her birth.

This photograph of a 2 day old Ava being read to by her daddy is one of my favorites. We have been committed to reading to Ava every day. She has been able to associate the love of reading with cuddles and hugs. Books are all around and Ava always has access to her favorites.

In celebration of Father's Day we will be sharing some books about Daddies at our house, including, My Daddy and Me by Tina Macnaughten, Daddy Hugs by Karen Katz, Daddy Kisses by Anne Gutman, When Daddy's Truck Picks Me Up by Jana Novotny Hunter, and Spot Loves His Daddy by Eric Hill.

Happy Father's Day, Daddy Monkey!

Curious Little Monkey

Our little monkey will be turning 1 in a couple weeks and it is hard to tell where the time has gone! Every day I am amazed by all the new things she learns and absorbs.

Ava has lots of favorite books but she is most taken with Curious George. Probably because we have completely surrounded her with his image. The nursery is lovingly decorated with paintings created by my mom of scenes from the classic H.A. Rey stories. When we are picking out books at the library she instantly becomes animated when she sees that happy little monkey.

We are currently enjoying 2 of the newer board books that feature the "movie" George, as my husband likes to call him. This is also the same upadated image that is featured on the PBS cartoon. Ava loves the Curious George Good night Book. There is a wonderful little poem/song at the end that I like to say to her at night - "Hush, hush, little monkeys must close their eyes so they can grow up to be curious and wise."

We are also having fun with Curious George at the Zoo: a touch and feel book. Ava loves looking at the animals and repeating their sounds. Sharing animal sounds is an excellent Ready to Read activity to share with your little one. Hearing and manipulating sounds helps them to develop Phonological Awareness - getting your child one step closer to being Ready to Read.