Thursday, December 29, 2011

The potty training book our family LOVED - Toilet Learning by Alison Mack

Our family has reached a wonderful milestone -- our youngest son has mastered use of the potty.  It was the best Christmas present of 2011.  One of the tools, and perhaps the primary tool we used for potty training was this book, Toilet Learning, the picture book technique for children and parents, by Alison Mack.

Originally I heard about this book on a parenting forum and sought it out on  The book is divided into two sections, the front for the parents, and the back part, a picture book for parents to read to their children.  The picture book is excellent, it explains very nicely to children about using the potty and includes a lot of details that are interesting to children.... things like.... there are bathrooms almost everywhere you go...  and.... that everyone uses the bathroom.  The drawings feature a child that can be described as a boy or girl and the author recommends using the words for pee and poop that your family uses to describe them.

Happily, our third child's potty learning was the quickest and easiest of all our three kids. I don't know if we're getting better with practice, or if he's just caught on better.  But this book has been a staple for all our three kids and we loved reading a book so much more than watching a video.  Mr. Rodgers' book is also nice and we had some Elmo but this book was our favorite.  I hope your children enjoy it too.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

O Christmas Tree

This year, we decided to make all of our Christmas ornaments as a family.  The goal is to spend some time together creating.  We started tonight, with no special supplies or plans, just what we had on hand, which was some construction paper, scissors, glue stick and we're doing big, chunky super-fast paper chains, that's it.  The boys worked in a bit of a rush but we had all the kids around the table.  It was nice.

Seymour Simon VOLCANOES

We were just reading this book at bedtime and my oldest, Alek (age 7) pointed to a couple of the books on the back cover and asked for additional titles. This book is part of the Smithsonian series by Seymour Simon.  We have at least one other Simon book, which is the Seymour Simon book of Trains.  For now, let's talk about the Volcanoes book.

This book has been in our stash for a while. I like reading nonfiction titles to the kids, they are curious about the world and are very interested in many topics, space, ocean animals, science, etc.  It's great to read to them and they sit quietly, and really listen to what I'm talking about.  These books are geared toward slightly older kids, grades 1-5.  My kids are 7, 5, and 3 now, and even the little guy pays attention.  Right now I read to them, but I like that the books have a long life and later on the boys will be able to read the books again themselves.   The text has great vocabulary, it's great to have the boys hear unique and interesting words as we read together.

The photographs are stunning, and the book has many details about volcanoes, along with specific examples of volcanoes around the world and various eruptions (which reminds me we have another volcano title called Eruption, by D&K)  This book has greater detail, is a bigger format and has more dramatic photos.  I like the map that shows the Earth's plates.

The book is 32 pages and includes a glossary.  Tonight we didn't make it all the way through before bedtime, but it was a great reading experience.  We're getting a few more books from this series for Christmas, I've chosen Lightning, and Earthquakes (the one my son requested).  I expect they will be great reading experiences as well.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Dusting off...

I've let the blog go idle for... a long while... we have been thoroughly enjoying family life!  My oldest son is now age 7 and beginning to read independently, which is extremely exciting and we have been enjoying a lot of great books through our elementary school's library days.  I will try to stop in occasionally and share our very favorites. Best wishes to you and yours!  --Karen

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas shopping!

Small update:  My two oldest are now in K and 4K -- it's been good so far!  My oldest is starting to learn to read.  Awesome.  Love our teachers, love library day every Wednesday -- the kids have been bringing home some great books!

I am doing last minute shopping and wanted to share this link -- I'm using it for reference to add some picture books to our collection -- this was a wonderful list to work with!!!

Happy Holidays!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Butterfly Kit

We're going to try a butterfly kit this spring!  A friend who homeschools her preschooler son has done this and they loved it. 

Update on the butterfly kit:  it was a very interesting experience.  A little traumatic for me when one of the butterflies was caught up and struggling in getting out of the chrysalis and ended up not making it.  I blame myself for not removing enough of the stringy fibers around the chrysalis when transferring to the net container. Lessons learned through experience.   I would approve of repeating the experience, the kids would love to do it again also.  

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Dinosaurs! The Complete Guide to Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Reptiles

My 5 year-old-received this book as a gift, and it is AWESOME! I had 
looked online for a while to find a good dinosaur book and didn't ever 
find one that seemed right for a preschool-kindergarten age child. We are so lucky to have been given this book because it is wonderful -- 
the perfect dinosaur book for children!

The reason our family loves this book is the wonderful illustrations -- 
as the cover states -- "more than 250 superb illustrations". Dinosaurs 
of all types come to life, with great visuals, size references to adult 
human beings, and helpful pronunciation guides. The book is oversized giving plenty of room for the rich visuals inside.

Who knew there were so many dinosaurs -- at bedtime my 5-year-old will ask to browse a few spreads and talk about these fascinating 
creatures. It's wonderful to share and learn together, and I'm pleased to recommend this book as a great family exploration or as a great gift to share.

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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Baby Danced the Polka

First, I want to thank my friend Susan for recommending Karen Beaumont's book, Baby Danced the Polka!  This is a sweet book with wonderful text, artwork and lift-the-flap details that make it a delightful book to read with our own children or to share as a gift.

Baby Danced the Polka tells the cute and fun story of a couple with their little baby living on an old-fashioned farm.  The farm is an interesting setting, and ma and pa are trying to do their chores -- interesting chores, like starching long johns and fixing chow...  and baby is supposed to be taking a nap... but... baby wants to DANCE!!!!  And so, baby dances all through naptime with a variety of toy animals, cat, pig, cow and sheep.

In the end, the whole family dances the night away together.

Nearly every page has a lift-the-flap that shows baby dancing and dancing.

I love this book for the great words and lift-the-flaps and also the happy family relationship, along with the real and very familiar situation of mom and dad tring to get some things done during naptme.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

What we are listening to: Junie B Jones

The boys and I trekked to the library this morning after preschool.  Library visits with three children 5 and under are interesting.  I am thankful that the librarians are easygoing about the four of us getting a little crazy in the children's section (which is open to the whole library).  The boys enjoy library visits, but baby Mark was having a little too much fun opening the audiocassette and CD cases in the audiobooks shelves.

Alek found magazines and he decided to check out one Highlights and two copies of Boys Life.  (Unfortunately he was suckered in immediately by the toy advertisements and now wants an age-inappropriate marble run for Christmas.  It's not happening.)

Getting to the point, we have been exploring audio books as something to do instead of watching TV. The boys are mildly interested.  We checked out The House at Pooh Corner a few weeks ago, and now we found Junie B Jones on tape.  Alek and I started reading a copy of Junie B Jones recently (about a farm trip) and the reading is holding his interest.  I think it's nice that Junie B is about Alek's age and she's precocious and I think he relates to that and finds it funny.

That's what we're listening to this week!

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What we are reading: The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin

Halloween is coming up! Last year we checked out and shared a great collection of poems -- It's Halloween! This year, our family borrowed a copy of The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin from the library and want to share notes about this cute book.

Spookley is a cute little story with a basic message -- it's OK and even valuable to be different from everyone else. The plot is like a Fall version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer... Spookley is a pumpkin who is square. The round pumpkins make fun of him until one night during a storm, Spookley saves the day. The farmer realizes how special Spookley is, and decides to plant his seeds in his fields the following year, which leads to a magical kind of surprise -- pumpkins of all shapes, colors and sizes!

The book comes with a bonus CD, which we listened to and enjoyed as well. Spookely is a cute book that our kids enjoyed very much. My oldest talked about Spookley a lot after reading the book.

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