Saturday, December 30, 2017

New Year's Reading Challenge

So I'll admit, I have a book buying problem.  I've been collecting books, particularly non-fiction books, since before Xander was born.  Garage sales, book fairs and book orders mean I can stretch my money, plus he always asks for books for his birthday and Christmas.  That means we have a lot of them.  
When Xander was a toddler, we did a 1500 book challenge, where we read 1500 unique books in one year.  I enjoyed the challenge, and knowing that he was being exposed to a huge number of words.  Now that our library has grown up a little, I decided to do an updated challenge with him.

A while back I posted about how our books are organized and how we use Libib to catalogue them online.  With the website, I printed an Excel Spreadsheet of all of our books and printed one very long list.  The goal is for him to read all of the books he owns in 2018.  (He has roughly 1100 books logged).  This challenge includes both board books he'll read to his future sibling, as well as his chapter books (which should provide more of a challenge to the timeframe).  I excluded his encyclopedias, though.

I put his list on a clipboard and included a little box for him to check them off as he goes.  I think finding the books on the list will be good practice with alphabetical order.  He can also highlight them if he wants.

I'm looking forward to the challenge and seeing if he accomplishes it!  I'll let you know what happens!

Monday, December 11, 2017

EL Reading For Parents: Brain Rules for Baby

Recently I posted my Maternity Reading List.  The first book I read from the list was Brain Rules for Baby by John Medina.  I have to say, it was one of my favorite parenting books (granted, I'm not posting about the ones I really didn't like).

All of the advice and information in the book is research based (definitely appeases the science teacher part of me).  The author gave practical tips, while still realizing that parents are human and need to balance brain development and regular life.  Topics ranged from pregnancy, to family relationships to raising happy, moral children.

Some Take Home Messages:
Notes: almost all of these are things I have read other places, but the scientific evidence to back them up is reassuring.

  • Face to face interaction with babies is the most valuable
  • Talk to your baby as much as possible
  • Praise effort, not intelligence
  • Model and teach empathy & emotions
  • Discipline consistently but with explanations

Friday, December 8, 2017

DIY Baby Teether

As I announced a few weeks ago, I'm currently expected our second little early learner.  I am so excited and have been busy planning all out fun activities!  Since my best friend is also expecting, we decided to have a girls night and make a baby craft.

This is what we came up with.  They're natural wood and silicone teethers.  The two round ones I plan on just giving to the baby either at home or in a stroller.  The two long ones I plan on hanging from a baby gym so the baby can practice reaching and grasping.  The black, white and red one I figured would be good to start with, for visual stimulation.

We ended up ordering quite a bit between us, but I made four things, she made five and we have lots left over to make more.  I figure, on a per item basis, it wasn't too expensive and it was a fun evening.

We got this kit, which came with a very handy little box.  It's where we stored all the extra beads and string when we were done.  We also got some hexagonal silicone beads and round silicone beads to augment the set.  I was glad we did.  Below are pictures of everything we have left after both of us finished our projects.

Stringing them was simple, although having a big needled helped tremendously.  We made sure to knot the string tightly, and secured it with some nontoxic clear nail polish.  The beads all all big enough, they shouldn't pose too much of a choking hazard, even if they were to break free.

I'd love to hear any ideas you have for DIY baby projects!  I still have 6 months to fill!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

DIY Magnetic Advent Calendar

This year I really struggled with Advent Calendar ideas.  We always do our book advent activity, where I wrap 24 of our Christmas and Winter themed books and Xander gets to open one each day (we've done this every year and he's still enjoying the activity at 7 years old).  

The last two years I've done a Lego Advent Calendar, but it required remaking the envelopes every year.  He liked it, but I was ready for something different, and slightly more reusable.

This is what I came up with:

I used magnetic spice containers (similar to these) that I got from the Dollar Tree.  I liked the Dollar Tree ones better because they were wider and shallower (and cheaper).  Then I use the bottom of the container to trace circles on card stock and filled in the "tree."

The containers are big enough to put a few fun sized candy bars.  This year I put in some mini Pokemon figurines I got super cheap on Amazon.  I put two in each container and Xander has loved opening them so far.  In the future I could put other little toys, or even something for Xander and something for the new baby.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Maternity Reading List

As I shared last month, I am so excited to start the early learning journey again with our new little one when he/she arrives!  To prepare I've already started making my reading list.  It has books I read already (so will likely skim) and new books I just got (thank you ebay!).  I was thinking I should jot down some notes on the takeaways I get from each one, so maybe I won't have reread them all for baby #3, especially considering there is likely to be a LOT of overlap.  I can share that in the future if anyone would be interested.

How to Teach Your Baby to Read by Glenn Doman
How to Teach Your Baby Math by Glenn Doman
How Smart is Your Baby by Glenn Doman
How to Teach Your Baby to be Physically Superb by Glenn Doman (only for crawling track directions
Marshmallow Math by Trevor Schindeler 
Baby Minds: Brain Building Games Your Baby Will Love s by  Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn
Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs by Ellen Galinsky
Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp
Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five by John Medina
Bright from the Start: The Simple, Science-Backed Way to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind by Jill Stamm
Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson
The Whole-Brained Child: Twelve Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegal
Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents by Christine Carter
Montessori at Home by John Bowman
Ability Development from Age Zero by Shinichi Suzuki

Another hand one that I have for reference, but won't fully reread before baby.
If Your Kid Eats this Book, Everything Will Still Be Okay: How to Know if Your Child's Injury or Illness is Really an Emergency by Lara Zibners

Are there any early learning books I'm missing or that you would recommend?

Friday, November 10, 2017

A New Little Early Learner

I am so blessed to be able to have more good news to share.  Last week I posted about my wedding last summer, this week I'm excited to announce that we have a new little one coming in May.  Xander is thrilled to be a big brother, although he's seriously pushing for a little sister.  I'm happy he will get a sibling to love.
Additionally, I'm incredibly excited to start the early learning journey again. I LOVED all of the learning activities I did with Xander when he was little.  That was some of the best bonding time, since it was focused one on one time.  I know so much more than I did when I started with Xander, so it should be fun to adapt things to the new one's personality.  Luckily, my husband is very supportive of my craziness and has even agreed to help when he can. I look forward to blogging about the new experiences and hopefully, making some new learning materials.

To prepare, I plan on re-reading a bunch of my reference books and probably getting some new ones.  I plan to make a place on the blog where I can organize parent and learning resources by age.  If you have suggestions, I'm always open to hearing them!  

Saturday, November 4, 2017


Some big changes have been happening around here as I've been away from blogging.  Most notably, I got married last August.  I am so grateful to have found such an amazing partner for me, and dad for Xander.  My husband is an audiologist, and probably an even bigger science nerd than I am.  He'll fit right into our EL household. :)

My dad was completely on board with letting Xander walk me down the aisle this time.  
 No word can express how happy this picture makes me!  Xander deserves a wonderful dad.  We are working on having Xander adopted, currently just waiting on the paperwork to go through. 
 Our new little family of three.

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