Archive for July, 2012

July 24, 2012

Ride, Sally Ride: a children’s book character honors the astronaut

As astronaut is someone you look up to literally. Talking with your children about Sally Ride is a way to teach them about an important hero. You could start a great conversation about heroes. Young kids might share their own heroes, which will probably range from Batman to a Tyrannosaurus Rex if you were asking the question in my household. Older kids could talk about the pros and cons of looking at otherwise ordinary humans as heroes. One of the most profound dangers, of course, is that the more we turn our success stories into heroes, the more we make excuses for our own selves about why we aren’t following in their footsteps, the assumption of course, being that we are not heroes ourselves.

However, I think there is still something to be said for honoring the people that have made a difference. In the words of our President, ‎”As the first American woman to travel into space, Sally was a national hero and a powerful role model. She inspired generations of young girls to reach for the stars and later fought tirelessly to help them get there by advocating for a greater focus on science and math in our schools. Sally’s life showed us that there are no limits to what we can achieve and I have no doubt that her legacy will endure for years to come.”

The illustration above is by children’s author and  illustrator Micah Player. According to publisher Lara Starr, “the image features the character Lately, Lily an adventurous young girl who travels the world with her family. Her appreciation for Sally Ride’s boundary-breaking life is shared by many, especially the legions of young girls she inspired to study science and reach for the stars.”

So go, start a conversation, and bring your children that much closer to their own stars.

July 18, 2012

words + numbers = 1derful wumbers

One of the first words the Wizard of Why learned to read was “no”. This meant that everywhere
we went he had to ask what the “no” signs said. “No what?” he would constantly ask
from the backseat of the car, the jump seat on the double stroller, or just his spot walking
next to me on the sidewalk. Thus we spent a lot of his third–and so far all of his fourth–
year, reading things like “no parking”, “no smoking”, “no loitering”.

This book came along at just the right time. We are not quite learning how to read, but we are definitely recognizing a few words and intrigued by the idea that one day we might be able to read. This is a great book for that age. (And a lot of other ages, as I mention below.)

Title: Wumbers
Author: Amy Krouse Rosenthal
illustrator: Tom Lichtenfeld (of Sharks vs. Trains and Duck! Rabbit! fame)
Genre: Picture Book, Numbers
Ages: 3 – 7

Book Review and How to use this book with kids: This is a fun, whimsical book. It’s almost like a comic book–each page is a beautiful picture. Then each picture has a caption written in “wumbers”, a mix of words and numbers. For example: one picture shows two kids in the kitchen below a cookie jar. One kid says “Here’s the plan. I’ll climb to the s2l and go st8 to the cookie jar. You be on the lookout 4 mom.” The other one chimes in, “Okay, but I’m frigh10d“.

While the nonsensical spelling might be seem to be overwhelming to a young reader, I think it’s the opposite. It shows them how to look at each word for each sound on the page. It shows them that each word is made up of sounds and that some of those sounds may be familiar in other ways.

You could make a great game of this. How many words can your child think of that use the sound “8” or “2”? At my house, that would keep the kids in their seats at the dinner table for a few extra minutes at least.

Older children will like the book, too, and it will throw them off their reading game in a healthy way, making them stop to think about the words and the sounds. They will also likely laugh at the illustrations and the captions. You can go further with your challenges to older kids…how is the sound “8” spelled in different words? What about straight? trait? fate? weight?

If you are a teacher, or a babysitter on a rainy day, or the parent of kids who enjoy pen and paper work, you could easily have fun making up your own pictures and captains and before you know it you might have a sequel.

Remember, you don’t have to stop when you’ve read the book. You can play with it, talk about it, interact with it. Let me know if you try any of these ideas at home and if you liked them or didn’t or if you have ideas of your own to add! I love to read comments!

July 15, 2012

Linky Blog: Are parent-child date nights part of sexual education?

I read a really great blog this week. Which was great timing because the next few weeks is still filled with moving activities, and it’s a great excuse to link to something awesome.

Now, to introduce: I LOVE date nights with The Wizard of Why. They are really the best. He opens up, he’s willing to talk in a way he never is otherwise, and he laughs so much. Last night, he took his Dad on a date night to see Brave. (Isn’t a good empowered princess movie the BEST boys date night you can think of?) So tonight, he said he wanted to do something special with me. It was almost bedtime, so my suggestions had to be short. When I came up with “a walk around the block” he LOVED the idea. We waved goodbye to Dad and Gyroscope and headed out. We are staying in downtown apartment while we finalize the moving details (read: find a house) so the block was busy. We passed all sorts of things to talk about and laugh about. And on the final stretch, he turned to me and lifted his arms up in the air. I picked him up and he kissed me on my cheek. And then the other cheek. And then the other. “I LOVE you, mommy”, he said. *melt*

Which brings me to this blog, which posits another great reason for date night I had never considered: as part of a lifelong sex education for your kids, it teaches them that a date is a way to get to know someone, that you pay attention to your date, talk to them, and become their friend. You are modeling to your children how to behave and how a future partner should behave. I thought that was a really cool way to look at it.