Cardboard box, anyone?

Today’s post is all about the power of a cardboard box!  I have had many fellow mamas ask about how I went about moving with a toddler, unpacking with a toddler, or even how to I get ready in the morning with a toddler.  Most days, it is all about a cardboard box!  The cardboard box has bought me time in the morning to enjoy some coffee and even take a quick solo trip to the bathroom all while providing my little boy with brain building and language building moments.

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What you need:

  • cardboard box big enough for your little one to fit inside, but small enough to still fit nicely in your house somewhere 🙂
  • crayons
  • stickers
  • enthusiasm and imagination

When I first introduced the cardboard box to my little one, I was over the top enthusiastic calling it his car.  We pretended he was driving it, we read car books while he was in it, etc. He was honestly so excited about his “car” that he pointed it out to anyone who came over to the house.  What is your child into: cars, trains, bikes, horses…you can make your cardboard box anything your little one is interested in.

We then decided (with my lead 🙂 ) that we needed to decorate his car.  I gave him crayons and stickers and supervised this activity because to my little one, crayons and stickers are still delicious.  I started off writing/drawing in the car and then we could talk about where to stick  a sticker or what color to draw a smiley face.  After a few times doing this with him, my little one got the hang of it and can do this time…with me close by to supervise those delicious crayons and stickers.

It is a fun activity we can do together, but also a structured and wonderful activity for him to explore on his own (while I get coffee, put a load of laundry in the wash, do the dishes, or just sit and watch him learn).

Not sure how to get the conversation started with your little one?  Here are some suggestions:

After talking about what the cardboard box is…car, bird, train, boat…sit your little one in the box and draw something.  For this example, I will draw a steering wheel.

  • Hold out two crayons (different colors) and say, What color should we color the steering wheel?  Label the color your little one picks.
  • Should we put the stick above or below the steering wheel?  Model the locations as you say them.
  • While just coloring for fun (scribbles are totally acceptable), talk about this make believe magic cardboard box.  If it is a car:
    • Where are you driving the car?
    • Are we going to the grocery store?
    • Is it sunny or rainy out?

Modeling the language is the important part to this!  You will find that once you do this a few times, your little one can be more independent and you can facilitate the brain building and language building conversation more easily from either right next to your child (while you are enjoying your coffee) or from across the room (working out).

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Have you used the magical cardboard box?  How has is worked for you?  Anything else to add?

Music, development, and little ones

I am not sponsored by Music Together or any other music program.  I am simply a parent and a SLP who appreciates music.

I have long been a student of music.  I have memories of my dad playing guitar to my brother and I when we were preschoolers.  As a child, I walked around with a microphone at all times.  Through my school-age years, I participated in many choirs and took as many singing lessons as I could.  In college and after college I had the pleasure of singing with an amazing Gospel choir.

Becoming a SLP, I have the amazing opportunity witness the positive impact music has on development.  Music has a predictable rate, rhythm, and tone.  It makes it an excellent tool for not only young children or for those learning to play instruments, but for those who have experienced a traumatic event (i.e., stroke, traumatic brain injury.

The tune “Happy Birthday” helped a client who just suffered a stroke begin to communicate requests again.  I have preschool students who learned behavior expectations and routines through songs I made up on the fly….my Cameron colleagues will no doubt remember my “We Are Walking” song to the tune of Frère Jacques.

IMG_3841When I was pregnant with my son, I was singing as a proud member of my church’s Gospel choir.  I remember feeling him move and groove with the beat.  When my son was born, music was a source of calm for him (and me HA!).  I started looking for organized music classes early on.  I found Music Together !!  Backed by research and a glowing endorsement from a friend who is a music teacher, I enrolled my son when he was 4 months old.

No…he could not fully participate, but I knew the exposure to music and the observation of the social interactions were fabulous for him.  We continue to attend Music Together classes and I share my love for this program with whoever will listen.  I have watched my son go from a 4 month old lap baby staring at the activity to a 16 month old who eagerly engages in the activities, claps and dances to all music, and interacts with peers.  In our last Music Together class, we would joke that my son was the class greeter.  He would grab an instrument and walk up to the other children to say “hi” or to play the instrument.

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My child is not unique in the way music has impacted him.  Music plays a significant role in child development.

Researchers from the University of Washington (UW) suggest that exposure to music positively impacts speech/language processing.  

Researchers from UW examined the effects of music and speech processing on 9-month-old infants.  47 infants participated in the research and we randomly assigned to the intervention group and the control group.  Infants in the intervention group were exposed to music (triple meter) to the tune of familiar children’s songs.  While exposed to this music, in a group setting, the caregivers of the infants tapped out the beat either by hand or with an instrument (e.g., shaker).  The control group infants were grouped together and participated in social interactions, but with no music.  The study lasted for 4 weeks.  During the 4 weeks, participants attended 12, 15 minute sessions.

When the intervention sessions were complete, the participants’ brain processing was tested in music and in speech.  It was found that music intervention the brain’s temporal structure for processing not only music, but for speech, too.  The researchers hypothesize that the intervention also supported the infants in their ability to extract temporal structure information and prediction.

 

For the complete research article: http://www.pnas.org/content/113/19/5212.full#abstract-2

 

 

Tuesday Tip

This Tuesday Tip is fantastic because it is so easy to implement today!

Tip: When decorating a child’s room or play space, be sure to put books, toys, blankets, and pictures (that are intended to be used by your child) AT YOUR CHILD’S LEVEL.

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I bought this cute canvas picture of the alphabet for my little guy’s play area.  I mounted it to the wall at eye level for my toddler.  He interacts with it daily, points at the letters, and it naturally facilitates conversation about the alphabet….hello early literacy!

What have you done to your child’s room or play space to make it more child friendly?!

Love for all moms

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While my little man took a nap last week, I was browsing through Facebook…taking a break from unpacking boxes from our recent move.  One of my amazing, strong mom friends posted this article from madison.citymomsblog.com.  The title of the article read “Can I Be Honest? Sometimes, I Get Jealous” and it started off with “Dear Stay-At-Home Mom”.  I was curious so I started reading…

Now, I’m a Mom who works part time and a Mom who stay at home part time.  I put the Mom part first because during these short 15 months of actually having “Mom” as my title, I have realized that I am MOM at all times!  Not only am I Mom when I am home and we are reading books or playing at the park, but I am Mom during my therapy sessions, most involved assessments and reports, and during my toughest meetings.  I am also Mom anyway of the week, anytime of the day.

I went back to work, to a career I love, when my little man was 4 months old.  I was so blessed to have the 4 months I had with him, but longed for more time at home with him.  On the flip side, when I was on maternity leave, there was a little part of me that was concerned that I was letting my career I had worked so hard for slip.  While I was going through this internal struggle (and it is ongoing…I hear it just keeps going on and on and on 🙂 ), I was also receiving tons of “advice” from random people about how to parent my child!

It is one thing to get advice from family and friends…people who love you and love your child and want the best for you both.  It is completely another thing to get “advice” from a random lady in Target when you are on a rare outing with your colicky 3 month old who is having a meltdown and you are trying all your techniques to soothe your baby and her advice is “have you tried feeding him…maybe you aren’t holding him right…try this” hmmmm hands off the baby.  Or a lady at the mall who sees your little man sleeping soundly in his baby carrier and proceeds to come up and tell you how he needs to be home and sleeping.  It goes on and on and thankfully I have honestly forgotten most of the “advice” because at the time it was just too overwhelming and had me second guessing everything.  I kept thinking that these people must have good intentions, but this isn’t advice at all…this is judgment!

I am being judged for my baby crying too much, crying too loud, being too skinny, being too chunky, sleeping too much, not sleeping enough, and it goes on and on.  Then when I went back to work, that opened up a new flood gate, “How could you ever leave your adorable baby?”  “Aren’t you sad you are going to miss milestones?”…

So when I read this article, I thought it was going to be an empowering article for Moms who stay at home, which I was eager to read because Moms who stay at home deserve tons of praise and support….but ALL moms need praise and support!  Then I got to the second part of the article, where the author addressed Moms who work.  The article is written as a letter to Stay a home moms from Working moms and then to Working moms from Stay at home moms.

Both “moms” say…

I guess I just wanted to let you know that I see you, and I recognize the sacrifices you’re making for your family.

I see you, and I support you. Keep it up, girl!

YES!!!!!  Let’s SUPPORT each other!  Let’s EMPOWER each other!  Let’s help each other along in this crazy and wonderful world of motherhood!

Thank you, Kim from madison.citymomsblog.com for posting this article.

All MAMAS OUT THERE….I SEE YOU!  YOU ARE AMAZING!  I SUPPORT YOU!  GO YOU!

Do yourself a favor and read the whole article:

http://madison.citymomsblog.com/can-honest-sometimes-get-jealous/#lightbox/0/

Tell Me About Your Day

Have you ever had a hard time getting your school-age child to talk to you about their day?  This is a really common issue parents share with me.  I have the opportunity to work with wonderful, involved, and creative parents who share the different ways they try to ask their child about their day, but their attempts are usually met with one word responses…PARENTS WANT MORE! 🙂

 

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At the beginning of most of my speech/language sessions, I pull out my WH questions cards.  These cards are made on cardstock or flash cards and I wrote “What”, “Where”, “Who”, “When”, and “Why” on the cards.  I start with all the cards facing up with the question word showing.  I ask the students to tell me one thing they did over the weekend/last night/today in school…but just one thing.  The student might say, “I went out to dinner”.  I then tell the other students in the group that it is our job to be detectives and use our questions to find out more information.  Each student takes a turn picking a “WH” question, asking the question, listening to the response, and turning the card over after the question is answered.  We continue until all the cards are flipped over.  If we have more questions, we can go for another round of asking questions or we can move onto the next student.

The students love this because it feels like a game.  Parents/teachers find value in it because not only are you getting great information about your child’s day, but your child is working on asking/answering questions, developing listening skills, social skills, and more.

Try it at home and make it part of your routine…before homework, at dinner, before bed…

Let me know how it is working for you! 🙂

5 Christmas Book Suggestions for Little Readers

My family celebrates Christmas.  I have fond memories of sharing Christmas stories on Christmas Eve with my parents and my siblings.  I’m so excited that it is MY turn to start these memories…traditions…with my family.  With some of the books, I have shared some related activities.

Here are my Christmas book suggestions…

Consider these for car rides/plane flights…nightly or weekly traditions…Christmas Eve traditions…stocking stuffers…

Click on the titles to bring you to the Amazon pages for the books 🙂

Christmas Book Suggestions

5.  That’s Not My Santa

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I love a good touchy feely book!  This is a book in the line of books I find myself ALWAYS recommending!

4.  Elmo’s Merry Christmas

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I don’t know about yours, but my little guy LOVES Sesame Street.  He will be so interested and engaged in this lift the flap book.

3.  Christmas In The Manger

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A great way to introduce little readers to reason for the season.  I look forward to sharing this book with my little man 🙂

2.  How the Grinch Stole Christmas

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A loved story!  You can start a tradition with this book!  Read the book, talk about the pictures, etc.  Later, make a movie night with your family and watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas while snacking on some Grinch Popcorn like this amazing idea from Two Sister Crafting

 

1.  The Polar Express

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A CLASSIC!  While this might be too involved with not enough interaction for our little ones (under 2), I still plan starting this book as part of a Christmas with my little family this year.  Remember there are multiple ways to “read” with little ones.  You don’t have to read the actual text…paraphrase and make up your own words, just talk about the pictures, etc.  You can later make a movie night with this adorable movie!  Activity-mom.com has some fun activity suggestions!

5 Winter Book Suggestions for Little Readers

We are in such a fun time of year to share with our little ones.  Seasons are changing…they can see it, feel it, hear it, and taste it.  Plus, we get to share or start family traditions…I love it!

(My Christmas suggestions are coming soon!)

Click on the titles to bring you to the Amazon pages for the books 🙂

Winter Book Suggestions

5.  That’s Not My Snowman

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This book is out of my favorite line of touchy-feely books.  You and your little one go on a tactile (feely) adventure to find YOUR snowman.  Not only will your little one get to experience different textures, you will be working on key language concepts!

4.  That’s Not My Penguin

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From the same line…it’s a great line…I’m telling you. 🙂

3.  Biscuit’s Snowy Day

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Follow the adorable Biscuit through a snow day filled with sledding, snow angels, and spending time with loved ones.

2. Little Polar Bear: Finger Puppet Book

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Finger puppet and an adorable polar bear.  A fun way to keep a little reader engaged!

 1.  Time to Sleep

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With beautiful and colorful illustrations, this book goes through different animals getting ready to sleep…hibernate.

 

What are your favorite winter books for little readers?

Happy reading! 🙂