Weekend links and actually doing something I pinned on Pinterest

Weekend links and actually doing something I pinned on Pinterest
One of the boards on the Sleeping Should Be Easy Pinterest account is a “crafts with kids” section, where I pin awesome activities I swear I’ll do with my toddler. Of course I always find some excuse: “But I don’t have tongue depressors handy… I lost the white crayon so now I can’t make the magic letters… He’s too young for that activity…” And so on. But I couldn’t find an excuse for this activity, from the blog No One Has More Fun than the Adams’: fun with pipe cleaners and a colander. After all, I actually had pipe cleaners (who knew they’d come in handy after all?) as well as a colander in the kitchen. So off we go, for our first ever Pinterest activity.

Weekend links and actually doing something I pinned on Pinterest
And what do you know, the little guy loved it. I figured he would, considering he likes figuring out how things work and was just bowled over at the shapes the pipe cleaners were making. I had to help him make poke the first end of the pipe cleaner, but he determined where he wanted to stick the other end to. He kept asking, “What’s this?” with the pipe cleaners, although he must have selective memory because I swear I showed it to him several months ago but was met with a “I’m not interested” shrug.

I liked this activity, however short it was, because we already had these two items and he was able to flex his fine motor skills with all that poking and aiming at the holes. I’m pretty sure he would have kept going if I had given him more pipe cleaners (and another colander).

Perhaps I can go find more orange pipe cleaners while you read a few links below:

  • The The LA Times cites that the U.S. ranks 25th of best places for mothers. The U.S.’s relatively low ranking compared to other developed countries is due to issues like risks in pregnancy-related deaths, child mortality, low political status for women, preschool enrollment and guaranteed paid maternity leave.
  • If that isn’t enough to get you excited about books, SSBE reader Ana from Mommyhood: From the Heart featured a link to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. If your child is between the ages of 0 to 5, he or she can receive one free book a month until they turn five years old. I haven’t signed up for this but Ana has been receiving her free books from this literacy program.

What Pinterest activities have you done recently?

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Weekend links and Festival of Books

Weekend links and Festival of Books
Imagine joining thousands of other book-lovers convening at a local university, all lining up to meet their favorite authors, listening to readings or purchasing books from small and large sellers alike. That’s what one morning looked like a few weeks ago as we attended The LA Times Festival of Books at USC. We watched a band playing children’s songs (I can’t get away from them!) and also bought a new book called Blue Goose. And while my toddler preferred to play lets-find-every-fountain-there-is-on-this-campus, this sort of event suits him quite well considering that he is one voracious reader.

This is one hobby that I hope my toddler will continue throughout his life, considering all the benefits I’ve already seen that reading has had on him:

  • He learns about things he otherwise hasn’t seen in person yet, whether it’s the seasons of the year (we don’t exactly have a “winter” here in Southern California) or the transformation of a caterpillar to a butterfly.
  • Books provide entertainment. He can easily sit by the bookcase for over an hour flipping through books.
  • Books expose him to new words. How often have you told someone, “And then I exclaimed…“? We don’t exactly go around saying words like “exclaimed” or “shuddered,” but because we read them in books, he has a storage of words that he probably wouldn’t learn just by listening to conversations.
  • He is starting to learn how to read. This may be a bit premature to say, but I think my toddler is starting to get the idea of reading. He knows that “N-O” spells “no,” so imagine my surprise when he saw the letters “T-O” and he said, “That spells ‘toe’!” Okay, so it’s not exactly “toe,” it’s really “to,” but I like that he put two-and-two together and ventured that “to” sounds like “no,” just with a T. And out of the blue, he said “‘Teeth’ and ‘tail’ start with ‘T’.” So cool!

In the past, I had tossed a few books because they were ratty, torn, and so out of shape. Now I mend them instead because I realize that they’re simply often-used, well-loved books by a little guy who can’t get enough of them.

For more information on how to encourage reading in kids, below are a few links and resources:

What benefits of reading have you seen in your kids? How do you encourage your kids to read?

p.s. If you liked what you read, you can subscribe and receive free full-text posts from Sleeping Should Be Easy in your email inbox. Or, tell us what you think about this post on Facebook and Twitter.

How to encourage early literacy with toddlers

We started reading to our toddler very early so that from the day he was born we’ve yet to pass a day without having read a book. Literacy—or rather, the love of reading and knowledge—remains a priority in our family. Below are some of the ways we’ve encouraged reading:

Reading in a relaxed environment
The kid isn’t going to want to read if it’s regimented and forced on him. We try to promote positive associations with reading by cuddling with him as we read, making funny noises and faces and treating reading as something enjoyable, rather than a chore or task.

Surrounding him with letters
One of the best toy purchases we ever made was a set of magnetic letters and numbers that we stick to our fridge. Before he could talk, our two-year-old liked moving the pieces around, and as he did, we told him what the letters were and the sounds they made. He started off saying the sounds of each letter, and as he gradually learned to speak, he began to say the letters themselves. The speed in which he learned his letters, numbers and sounds increased exponentially as soon as we introduced those magnets. We also have an alphabet rug, alphabet links, blocks with letters on the sides, and even block crayons with letters and numbers.

Setting his books so that they are visible and within reach
In our living room, we dedicate the lowest two bookshelves of our bookcase for his books and toys so that he can easily access them. In his room, one of his cubby shelves in the changing station is stocked with books. I still wish we had a forward-facing bookcase so the books seem even more attractive!

Making reading a part of his routine
His routine includes reading four books before bedtime and nap time. He also reads during bath time.

Labeling items and fixtures around the house
This is something I started doing just recently. I printed out large words such as “Door,” “Chair” and “Bed” and taped them to their appropriate items. My toddler noticed them and right away asked, “What’s it say?” before running to another label and asking the same thing.

Leaving crayons and paper lying around
What better way for an impromptu word-fest than to write whenever and whatever you want? We usually leave crayons on the floor or by his desk so that he not only develops his writing and motor skills, but we can also write words easily and sound them out for him. My toddler also likes his Magna-Doodle because he can erase what he writes.

Letting him see us read
We often read our own books (currently reading These is My Words by Nancy E. Turner) with him around so that he knows how much we enjoy it too.

Pointing out words not just in books
We might be taking a walk around the block and we’ll point out the stop sign and how those letter spell “stop.” Or we’ll be in the car driving and he notices the “55 mph” sign and say, “55.” Words are everywhere: tags, t-shirts, food packaging, at the grocery, coupons (he now grabs our Bed Bath and Beyond coupons and says, “20% off!”).

Moving our finger under words and sentences as we read them
When a kid starts learning how to read, he usually does so by moving his finger under the words and sounding them out slowly. We do the same with our toddler while we read to him. This helps him understand the basic fundamental of reading: that the letters are simply symbols for sounds. Nothing makes this clearer than moving your finger under a word and saying the sounds out loud.

The research on the benefits of reading is astounding. We want to impart a love of knowledge and present the immense opportunities and experiences that reading offers.

What other ways do you encourage reading in your home?