Thursday, December 19, 2013

Activity Wall

One of the great space savers in our house is to hang toys that can done standing up or on a lap on the wall. When we bought our house, I installed a long flat board (very cheap and ready to go from Home Depot) on a long wall we have between our kitchen and eating space. I put scratchy Velcro on the board and then attached soft Velcro to all the toys.

My kids use these toys all the time, but we don't have anywhere to put them for easy access. Displaying them like this on the wall makes them attractive to use and fun for kids who come to our house to see. Since I use Velcro, kids can pull the activities off the wall to use them in a different part of the house. Then, I just hang them back up on the wall when it is time to clean up, which seems like never at our house.

I like to hang toys that help support early literacy development on the wall. As you can see, my kids are developing their writing skills, vocabulary, fine motor skills, comprehension skills and storytelling skills. I will be adding more activities soon since we just had our first round of Christmas with my in-laws.

Since M is learning how to walk, she likes to stand at the wall to do the activities.

 I try to change out the felt board with seasonal activities. I got the ornaments ready to cut and put sticky Velcro on the back from Mel's Desk. I made my flannel board by wrapping a large piece of felt I already had on hand around an old scrap of foam board. I secured the felt to the back of the board with duct tape. I used the removable sticky stuff for hanging hooks to hang the board on the wall. This one has stayed on our wall for about a year and a half and shows no signs of falling.

M is very obsessed with our Melissa & Doug latch board right now. A has mastered the latches and is now using it to recognize his numbers and counting. This activity is a mainstay and I have never switched it out for something else. They never seemed to get tired of working with it.

M loves to scribble. This is the activity that gets pulled off the wall the most. We still have the magnet shapes that go with it, but since they are a choking hazard, I have put them away until M is older. A is also practicing his writing skills, but he stills prefer pretending to be a truck or a race car over learning writing and drawing skills.

We have a lot of different magnets that migrate between this cookie sheet and the refrigerator. The kids don't use this as much as the flannel board, but they still enjoy the animals and learning the different names and sounds of each animal. I should probably switch out the animals soon with something like construction truck magnets.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Parenting Resources

These are some parenting resources my husband and I have employed in our own household. I recommend these books and the CSEFEL website at the library all the time. My husband and I are definitely not experts when it comes to child rearing, but as we like to say, we try our best and we keep an open mind so we can keep learning about parenting every day from our kids, our parents, our friends and the resources we know are available.

Book CoverI cannot stress enough the usefulness of the book Beyond Bedtime Stories: A Parent's Guide to Promoting Reading, Writing, and Other Literacy Skills from Birth to 5 by V. Susan Bennett-Armistead, Nell K. Duke & Annie M. Moses. I read this book and then had the opportunity to see Nell K. Duke talk at a professional development lecture series at the University of Denver. She really walks the talk. She has wonderful ideas for daily interactions and making your home a learning environment in every room. Please read this book if you have not. It will help you at work as a librarian and at home with your young children.

Book CoverAnother book my husband and I swear by is Brain Rules for Baby by John Medina. This is a great book for parents with children of any age. It talks about how having a healthy relationship with your partner is the foundation for a child's brain development. A child must first feel loved, secure and safe in order to learn anything. One of the things we learned in this book is that your children need to see you being nice and loving to your partner. This loving foundation is what stimulates brain development and will help your children do all the early literacy activities early on and the learning activities in school later in life.

Pyramid Model
One more resource my husband and I use is the CSEFEL website. We go to parent trainings on the Pyramid Model in order to support our children's social and emotional development better at home. This website is full of practical strategies, research and ideas for social and emotional development, which are tools your children will use the rest of their lives. Please browse this website if you have not. You will learn about child development and what you can be doing to enrich the lives of children.