Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sign Language

First off I have to say . . . I have been enjoying just reading all of your posts, Marianne. But, I will take your little nudge to post again and go with it.
Seriously, I always enjoy parenting ideas, and you have some great ones. I, on the other hand, feel like a non-swimmer in the deep end of a pool with no life guard, and so many out there are such great swimmers. Parenting is such a trial and error experience. It is much harder than I ever imagined, but there are so many resources out there to help, so much information out there to fill this world-wide-web thing to the brim. The trouble is sifting through it all and deciding what to hang on to and what to let go. Anyway, I am glad you started this blog to share what works for you. I hope other mothers find this blog, then give and take. I think that is the most important thing to remember:

Find what works for you and your family and go with it.

Just because your mother/sister/aunt/friend/inlaw/bff says it works and is the hottest thing since sunburn doesn't mean it will be the best choice for you. Ya know? So take advice from EVERYONE. Just because you take it doesn't mean you have to use it. :) You can tweak it until it is a custom fit for your family.
Wow. Just slap me and tell me to stop rambling already... I know you are all wondering why this post is titled "Sign Language" and I haven't even mentioned it. Oops.

And now, for the real info, not just the babble spilling out of my head.

First, a little background- When KTOM was working with Corban a few years back we were advised to use/learn/teach sign in our home to encourage his communication skills. To this day Corban loves sign language, though now his vocabulary is quite extensive. He loves the Signing Time DVDs and if I had the money I would buy them all. We used to rent them from the library constantly. They made it so easy to build a basic vocabulary in ASL.
I was searching online for ideas since I am the mildly crazy (hey-you-older-kids-aren't-singing-I-already-know-what-a-dork-I-am-stop-looking-at-me-like-that) Singing Time Lady in my ward. I love using sign language to keep the kids attention and help them memorize. Well, I found these little jewels hiding right under my nose- HYMNS and Children's Songbook. They are ASL videos of select songs. Even if I don't teach the entire song I can use certain words to help prompt the kids. Other ASL resources from the LDS church.

Other resources I use- (Both have videos to show you how to do different signs.)

Inhibitory Control

One of the many things I've learned from Kindermusik is the importance of inhibitory control. Kids are great at wiggling around, especially when they're told to, but something they're not always so great at is stopping the wiggling. This comes easier to some than others. N is one of those others. When he first strarted going to Kindermusik classes I noticed he was often the last child to stop doing an activity. I'd never thought about the need to teach him inhibitory control (Yeah, I'm the world's greatest Mom. Good job, Marianne), but I learned it is an important step in learning how to sit still, among other things (Hmmm, maybe that's why he has a hard time at church?). Kids need to learn to control their physical bodies.

The way they teach this at Kindermusik is they'll play stop and go games. These are easy things to do at home. If you're dancing around with your kids, say STOP and have your kids freeze in place until you say GO. Or, if you're dancing to actual music, hit the pause button so your kids learn to stop when they hear the music stop too. That's good for their aural skills too. Basically, you can do this with any physical or musical activity. My kids love it. N is so much better at controlling himself. Sometimes he starts moving again before I say go, but we're working on it. C loves these kinds of games- they always make her smile. Hopefully learning this now it will help her not have ants in her pants when she's N's age.

So, if you have a wild child like mine who can't sit still for more than two seconds at a time, this would be a good activity for you. Anything to help you not go crazy, right? God speed.

5 Ways to Fill Your Home with Music

1. Cut Loose. Ditch your inhibitions by starting music play with a wild kitchen dance or some loosey-goosey movement.

2. Sing Out. Anywhere, anyhow, anytime. Kids learn by repetition, so incorporate songs into your daily routine.

3. Feel the Rhythm. To help pre-walkers (and even older kids) catch the beat, gently bounce or tap your child's body while you sing or listen to music.

4. Shake, Rattle, and Roll. Keep a basket of shakers, whistles, bells, tambourines, drums, harmonicas, and xylophones on hand. And take them out of the basket — often. (Here are a couple of sites where you can buy musical instruments: mindysmuskids and kindermusik or you can check out your local music store) *Also, I'd like to add that ANYTHING can be a musical instrument, as we've all learned as we watch our kids play drums with pots and pans. Let your kids explore different timbres, tempos, and dynamics.

5. Give Them an Earful. Expose kids to the sounds you love — not just children's music.

*The original article can be found at

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Cute Blog and A Cute Book

I really shouldn't be posting at this late hour, but I was just introduced to the cutest blog! I was on Shannon Hale's blog (another good one), and she wrote about a blog with her favorite review of her graphic novel Rapunzel's Revenge. The blog (man, I've said that word a lot!) is called Bookie Woogie, and the writers are a dad and his three young kids. Every Monday they review a book and create some accompanying fan art. Their review on Hale's book was the stinking cutest thing I've every seen! What cute kids and what a great dad they've got! You need to read this.

I wanted to tell you all about this not only because it's darling, but it's a great idea! They read a book together and make their own art work about the book. That's such a simple but fun thing we can all do with our kids. I'm excited to try it with N tomorrow. He loves to draw, so I'm pretty sure he'll have a lot of fun trying to depict what he reads in a book.

Now, I'll give my own review of Rapunzel's Revenge. We actually checked it out from the library today. I got it for me to read because I LOVE Shannon Hale, but when I opened it and saw all the pictures (it looks like a comic book) I realized N would probably like it too. I was right. While I was feeding C some dinner, N grabbed the book on his own and started reading it (by reading it, I mean he looked at the pictures and imagined his own story in his mind). He "read" the whole thing (it's not that short), cover to cover. Then, after C was in bed, he wanted me to read it to him for real. We haven't finished it yet, much to his disappointment, but we'll definitely start up again tomorrow. I'm glad he's interested in it because it's totally different than anything I've read to him. It will give him a whole new experience in reading. And I'm so excited to have him do some fan art when we finish it.

So, check out the blog and check out the book! And have fun with your kids!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

FHE Lesson: Helping

Gathering Activity: My Hands (Children's Songbook, p. 273)

Opening Song: Sunbeam (Children's Songbook, p. 60)


Picture: p.62 in Nursery Manual (or use your own- something that shows people helping others). Talk about how we should always help those in need because it makes them happy and makes us happy too.

Scripture: Deutoronomy 22:4 (something I've found that helps N get excited about scriptures is I have him read it. By that, I mean I whisper the words in his ear and he repeats the words. He loves this and always has to be holding his Book of Mormon too. He even graced us with his own reading of the scriptures. It made no sense and for some reason he read like it was Chinese- from right to left. Anyway, moving on...) Briefly explain what the scripture is saying.

Role Play: I had Dad carry some papers across the room and drop them. Then N and I helped him pick them up. Then I took a turn and dropped some books and N and Dad helped pick them up. Of course N wanted a turn to play. He was much more dramatic about it. When he dropped his books he threw himself on the floor too. It was pretty cute and funny.

Song: A Happy Helper (p. 197) or When We're Helping We're Happy (p. 198). We sang the latter one. We sang it holding hands and walking in a circle.

Testimony: Mom and Dad bore brief testimonies about helping others.


*We hold FHE in the family room. Usually we clean up toys beforehand, but not this time. We purposefully did not clean up toys because we wanted another opportunity to teach helping. N seemed to enjoy putting the toys away a lot more because he understood better that he was doing something good that made him feel good too.

*I always try to help N recognize when something makes him feel good. Like, after he helped clean up the toys, we asked him, "Don't you feel good inside?" He enthusiastically said, "Yeah!" Then we reiterated the moral of the story- helping makes us happy.

What was your FHE Lesson this week? Please share!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sacrament Meeting Tips

Is this a good example of how your kids feel at the end of church?

Now, is this a good example of how YOU feel at the end of church?

I hope I'm not the only Mom who's felt like this after church. I'm pretty sure I'm not, which is why I'm posting on the subject of church and children. I don't have a lot of experience in the area, and heaven knows I have a lot to learn. Even still, I do have a few tips to share. But I'll be expecting plenty from all of you!

  1. Don't take the whole play room to church. I've learned that kids aren't better behaved if they have tons to play with. Here's what I take: a sandwich bag of cereal, N's "My First Book of Mormon," N's mini magna-doodle OR a notebook and pen, and 2 or 3 little board books for C. That's it!
  2. Books and Treats AFTER the Sacrament. I learned this one from a friend. Her kids have to sit reverently during the sacrament. Then, if they're good, they are rewarded by getting their books and treats. *I'm not very good at this one, but I'm working on it.
  3. Leaving the chapel is NOT fun. If we had to take N out we tried to make it not fun. It wasn't time to play. I'd try to find an empty room far from the chapel (since he's VERY vocal) and make him sit in a chair until he was ready to go back. *We have to take C out now, but she's still too young to be punished for being irreverent. She doesn't know! So, take your child's age into consideration.
  4. Teach them at home. FHE is the perfect place to reinforce reverence. Teach them to sit and listen at home, and it will help them do the same at church.
  5. Be clear and consistent. When we've been clear and consistent about our expectations, the results have been better.
  6. RELAX! C is starting to get the age where she's hard in church, but I feel much more relaxed about it than I did with N. Since I've gone through this once already, I understand better that children are not wired so that they sit perfectly still and listen intently, so we can't get too angry when they don't. They have to learn it, which they will...eventually. Some kids are more wiggly than others, so it may take longer to learn, but they will. Just relax. It will end...eventually.

N isn't perfect, that's for sure. But now that he's older, which also makes a huge difference, he's a lot better than he used to be. I actually enjoy church now! The biggest struggle with him, though, is that he is still pretty wiggly and does not sit on the bench. He does sometimes, but most of the time he's on the floor or on my lap. I'm looking for a way to cure that. I think a lot of it is his age and personality, but I would like to help him learn to sit on the bench instead of the floor. Any advice?

I hope these tips help. If you have any other tips to add to mine PLEASE do!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Book Spotlight

If Animals Kissed Good Night
by Ann Whitford Paul, pictures by David Walker

This will be your new favorite bedtime book. So cute!