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.

UPDATED 12/6
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

Married

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.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Organizing a Homeschool Library


Disclaimer: We currently fall more under the category of "Afterschooling" family than "Homeschooling" category, but the library organization applies in either situation.  :)

While some women love to shop for purses, shoes, clothes, make-up, etc., my main shopping weakness is books.  I was the girl that dreamed of the library from Beauty and the Beast, instead of the prince.  Between garage sales, library book sales, Scholastic book orders and Amazon, we have accumulated quite the library of children's books.  Xander adores his books, spends hours a week (and sometimes a day) reading and rereading his books.  It's hard to feel guilty buying him more when I know they'll get put to good use!

However, with all the books we had, I was worried about some of them getting buried on the shelves, or not being able to find books we were looking for.  As soon as I finished my basement, I knew that new bookshelves were in order!  Since I also tend to have an obsessive need for organization, I needed to come up with a system of organizing those books!  After some research and some work, our new Homeschool Library was born!

There's an App for That
As I was deciding how to organize the library, I did quite a bit of Googling into apps and software to organize home libraries.  I finally landed on Libib.com.  Libib is a free cloud based database that lets me organize and categorize my books.  I can create multiple libraries and I can use my phone or iPad to scan barcodes, I can type in ISBN numbers, I can search for books or I can do a complete manual entry.  The vast majority of the books we own already had the information loaded into the website, I just had to add them to my library.  I can access the library anywhere I have internet (which will be handing when I'm at a garage sale and can't remember whether or not I have a particular book).  I can also export the library and its information into a spreadsheet.

The part of the app that was most valuable to me, though, was the tags.  For each book I was able to add tags, that I can use to search.  Just a few examples of tags I have are "Christmas," "Leveled Readers," "Weather," "Life Cycles", "Space," "Historical Figures," and "Character Development." Many books only have one tag, but many have several.  It took a lot of upfront work (which I did slowly over several weeks), but I am glad I did.  The power in it is that if we are studying a particular topic, I can easily type in a tag and find all the books we have related to that subject.  If Xander is interested in castles, for example, I can figure out all the books we have related to castles, even if they're not all stored together.  



On the Shelves
Luckily, there is  still quite a bit of room on the shelves.  Part of that is because I have chosen to store all of his chapter books on shelves elsewhere in the house.  I have dreams of someday having all the shelves together (and maybe even one of those beautiful IKEA corner shelving units with a ladder), but those dreams will have to wait for a bigger house.  Part of it is because I have not dug all of the board books out of storage, yet.  Someday we'll have more kids and then those shelves will be put to good use!

Below is the general way I categorized the shelves.  

I used to exclusively use those cardboard magazine organizers from IKEA, but they take up so much room on the shelves, particularly if they're not full.  I decided to still use those for our more seasonal books (holidays, seasons, toddler nonfiction books).  For the rest of the non-ficiton, I put them into categories separated by paint sticks.  I just used a fine-tipped sharpie to label the paint sticks.  They're cheap and easy enough that I can adjust the categories as our collection grows/changes.  The categories on the shelves do not necessarily match the categories in Libib (because Libib lets me have multiple tags).
Fiction
The categorization of the non-fiction is easy enough.  I struggled a little more with the fiction.  I ended up having one shelf of fiction completely random.  There's no system and Xander can take and put in books however he'd like.  Some fiction, however, I decided I needed to categorize.  For example, we have several books by certain authors or in certain series, that it just made sense to keep together.  We have a category for the Bear Books by Karma Wilson, another for the Aurthur books, one for Eric Carle books and another for the Llama Llama Books.  I also ended up putting together a section for books about Love and Family.

Cleaning Up
As of right now, Xander can get out whatever books he wants to read, but I am not having him put them away.  He's supposed to put them in a pile and I will put them away for him.  While I encourage his independence, he tends to shove books onto shelves, bending pages and covers in the process.  We're working on it, but until then, I'm ok with putting the books away for him.

Room to Grow
While this is the current system, and I am very happy with it, I also see it growing and changing in the future.  The grownups books need a better place than boxes in my dad's basement.  I would also love to have something like the picture below for a playroom for younger kids.  I'm also open to other ideas and suggestions the readers have to make it even more efficient!
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