Friday, September 28, 2012

Top Book Picks for Babies and 1 Year Olds

I love to read.

To myself. To my kids. To the kids I tutor. To the kids we teach on Sunday mornings. To the adults I teach on Saturdays. To my husband. To friends. And to anyone else who will listen.

I did get a masters degree in literacy, and by golly, I'm going to use it as much as I can. Even if I'm not a full time paid teacher :)

I've had several friends ask me for children's book recommendations. Hence, this very teachery post.

Thought I'd focus on baby and early toddler age books today, and then move up with recs for older age ranges. There are thousands of great books that are a great fit for 2 year olds and older, like the Hungry Caterpillar and Are You My Mother?. But for the infant to 1 year old age range, I'd stick to very short and interactive books.

One thing I'll say is that babies and one year olds vary in their ability to attend to text very long. Their listening perseverance can be built up with daily reading time. At first, and once they learn to be mobile, very few kids want to sit still for more than a minute. It's nice to know that going into reading time.... so you don't expect a 14 month old to sit through an entire book. Some WILL be able to of course, but not all. If your kid hasn't been great at listening to books yet, even at age 3 or 4, I suggest starting with these itty bitty interactive books that will help build their listening perseverance. It is a worthwhile investment.

Stick with books that have one or two lines of text per page in the beginning. Wordy books are not for this age group or for kids who aren't in the habit of listening to books.

Even If your kid just listens to one or two pages and then runs off to play with other toys, just go ahead and finish reading the book aloud. Many time kids are actually listening while they are playing. Pick a daily reading time, like before bed, and try a short book like the ones I list below. You'll build up their perseverance, their vocabulary, and their general understanding of books (concepts about print). So so huge in the reading process!!! Don't let board books like this fool you into thinking they are ideal for a one year old. This book is little and cute, and while its content is wonderful and even a favorite for a later age range, the length is much more suited for a 2.5 year old or older.

The books I would suggest for babies, 1 year olds, and kids who don't love reading time yet.

By the way, it just about kills me to have to pick which ones to recommend, because there are hundreds that I read to my kids when they were 1 and under that taught them so much and were so enjoyable but didn't mention here. And tons more that I have yet to learn about. HOWEVER, I chose 10 of our favorites for the sake of brevity.

1. Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Eric Carle. And Polar Bear, Polar Bear, and Panda Bear, Panda Bear. All of those have the same patterned text and colorful pictures that very young readers enjoy.
Charlie is sleeping with the Polar Bear, Polar Bear book as I type.

2. Nursery Rhyme books. Lots of them out there. As long as they have pictures, or flaps which are even better, you'll be doing a huge service to your kids by reading nursery rhymes to them.

3. Counting books. For this baby age, I would stick to books that just go up to 5 for attention's sake. Use your finger to show them how to count the objects on each page, using your finger and pointing from right to left or top to bottom. I am still doing this with Charlie because he hasn't mastered the counting one-to-one matching skill yet.

4. Pat The Bunny, found here on Amazon, and all the other ones in that series. Your kids will love them! Very old school, but very interactive.

5. Animal Sound Books. I've found several of these books in a 'tall' board book version. Little hands seem to love their unusual shape and little ears very much enjoy hearing their mom or dad make animal sounds. Charlie and Annette both gravitated towards animal sound books for a pretty good chunk of time. Here is our favorite version found on amazon. I love amazon because I have a prime account and it's 2 day free shipping no matter the cost. This is dangerous for me. I just bought a 5 dollar book yesterday in like 3 seconds right after I saw it in a kindergarten classroom being devoured by little hands.

6. Peek a Who by Nina Laden. Very quick read and great for building phonemic awareness with all those oo words. We have worn our copy out.

7. The noisy peekaboo books by Discovery Kids are a huge hit with one year olds. My kids ripped off the flaps they played with it so much, but I just kept taping them back on. The sound effect eventually quit working, but the kids still love these books.

8. I Am A Bunny. Teaches kids about the seasons and has that 'tall' thing going for it that seems to attract little ones.

9. Mom Created books. Yep. I make my own books sometimes. It switches things up on your kiddos and they are more motivated to listen usually when they are intrigued. I made the book about colors in the photo above. Here is a peek at the inside. Simmmmple.

10. 5 Little Pumpkins. And any other very short finger play type book. It rhymes and has cool sound effects (when the reader does it right;). And it's perfect for the current season! My kids have this one memorized we've read it so many hundreds of times.

Other classics that I can't stand not mentioning that should be read at age 1 or sometime before kindergarten in my opinion...
Goodnight Moon, Quick as A Cricket, Puppy Love, and Where is Baby's Belly Button? are simply amazing as well. In the top 20 for sure.

Can't wait to do another post about the books that are perfect for the next stage!!

If you had any favorite books that fit the short (one or two lines of text per page), sweet, and somewhat interactive category, please share with me! With baby number 3 on the way, I have an excuse to use that Amazon prime account some more :)

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Reuse. My favorite way to be green. (Know I need to work on those other two R's)

I get a kick out of reusing things I've already got laying around.

I like a bargain, and Im a last minute kind of girl, so this hobby just makes sense for me. And truthfully, I thrive on the moments I get to be resourceful and creative.

Painting things such as old encyclopedias white for these built ins, slip covering chairs, using shutters as a headboard, and those type things are what I call fun.

I've been working on a few other recent projects around our house trying to get the kid bedrooms looking cute and ready for our upcoming arrival. More posts on those later.

Today, while I was waiting for some clothes to finish in the washer, I decided to reuse this door hanging from last fall. Guess you could say I got a hankering to do something crafty while my kids were at pre-school.

Liked this hanging thing pretty well when I found it on sale last year at Shoppes On Woodlawn, but decided I wanted it to have polka dots on it this year. Saw one kind of like this new version in a store window the other day, and thought.... I can turn my old pumpkin over and paint the back!! 

Thought I'd have to paint the back orange first, but when I flipped it over, I was pumped that it was already orange. 

I used an old coffee cup lid to make my circle forms and then painted the circles in. Does it get any easier or faster?? I used just a bit of old paint I had from another project, so that it wouldn't seep through to the other side... in case I ever decide to flip it again to use the original side. This plan worked perfectly. And I finished before my clothes even got finished washing. 

I hung it up wet :)
And I need to probably take that black ring doo-dad hanger thing off and move it to the new backside, but I'm not really into details like that. Maybe I'll make myself finish it up right another day.

My next project is to paint/use the two side boards to Annette's old crib as twin head boards for A and C's shared bedroom. I'm excited:)))

We will see if I can make them look like twin headboards instead of crib ends.
Happy reusing....


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

In Full Swing

We are back in full swing.
The more scheduled Fall swing that is.

Been busy playing catch-up since our beach trip. Thought I'd use my iPhone camera roll to document our latest smatterings.

Also threw in some (lots of) beach pics that I took with my phone and forgot to post on my last entry.

Annette's impressive art using stickers---totally independently. Proud of my little artist.

I printed off lots of Pinterest road trip activity ideas, stuck them in a binder, and hoped they would make the long drive to the beach a bit easier. They were pretty effective for a handful of minutes at a time, which was about all I could ask for. Like I said on the beach post though, the kids shocked us by being easy to handle on the road.

Loved George's Restaurant in Alys beach, right near Rosemary. 

MY kids. BOTH looking at the camera. AND smiling. That's a rarity. Too bad they aren't in matching smocked clothes :)

We had fun visiting with our friends who were back in town from North Carolina.

It never gets old seeing Charlie in a jon jon on the beach. 

We started dance back up. Annette is in heaven there. 

I also never tire of Charlie's tan lines. 

Seeing how much fun my kids had feeding the seagulls was worth the annoying side effect.... of birds lurking around for hours/days afterwards.

We went to Fayetteville for the Alabama game right when we got back from beach. Even though we were slaughtered, we managed to have a good time. 

Passed my glucose test the other day. Whew. The kids came with me because I forgot about the appt until literally the last few minutes/hours. They handled the hour and a half appointment much better than I would have expected. Thankful for the little play house in the waiting room. 

Just about wraps up our little lives lately. Well the above, plus Community Group, and several Bible studies, and teaching Reading courses on Saturdays, and a fishing trip for Isaac, and getting the kids 'shared' room ready, and some furniture painting projects, and yadda yadda yadda :)

~ morgan

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sandy Smatterings

We went to the beach last october, fell even more in love with the beach at that time of year, and decided to plan an early fall beach trip again this year.

SO glad we did. Our kids really were the perfect ages for the sand and waves this year.

My lovely sister came with us, which was an enormous blessing.

Isaac played and built and refereed and entertained and fed and once again WON the best dad award. Lauren did the same, winning best aunt award. 
While I got about half of 4 books read and sat my 6 month pregnant self down lots of the day. It was niiice :)

Soccer was a hit with the kids. Especially Charlie. Random people started clapping for him he was so surprisingly good (for a 2 year old.)

Our kids..... plus my never-met-a-stranger husband... made instant friends with the families on either side of us. We all had kids about the same ages which was super fun. They played together every day.

Charlie would like to spray every bottle he sees until they're all dried out. This cactus spray came in reeeal handy when those biting flies came around about once a day. 

Lauren watched the kids while Ike took me out to dinner at Paradis one blissful night. Isaac grilled two nights. (I have an amazing husband.) And we went to George's and Cowgirl Kitchen the other nights. We walked almost everywhere, which is one of my favorite things about staying in the Rosemary Beach area.

It was WONDERFUL. The kids enjoyed the beach as much as we did and were far easier than we expected. Probably some to due with our low expectations and more to do with our beautiful surroundings and close company. 

It's a trip for which we are ultra grateful and one we hope to redo again next summer. 

Now, back to the busy days!