Thursday, June 23, 2011

A poem a day...

Okay, every single morning I read my girls a Bible story and a poem. And every night I read them a book (chapter books for Betsy, a board book and a picture book for Felicity) and then another poem. I'll do another one of these for my favorite bedtime books, but today I want to talk about the poems.

I firmly believe that every single person in the world would benefit from reading at least one poem every day. Poetry, in my world, opens my eyes to things, says things in ways that I sometimes just couldn't wrap my arms around otherwise. I am not all that great a poet myself, although I do like to think that I learned at least a few things in my creative writing class in college. But I love and admire many, many different kinds of poetry and I want to instill a love for that in my kids, just the same way I want to instill an appreciation for art and music in them.

With Felicity, who is 3 years old, I stick mostly with nursery rhymes. My favorites are:

1. Animal Crackers edited by Jane Dyer. I love love love this book. It is full of all different kinds of nursery rhymes, and Jane Dyer's drawings are beautiful. I highly recommend this, and I think that it makes a great baby shower gift too.

2. Lucy Cousins' Book of Nursery Rhymes. Lucy Cousins' writes the Maisy books. I love all of her books because she uses such bright colors. They really resonate with the girls.

3. A Pop-Up Book of Nursery Rhymes by Matthew Reinhart. This is a special book that has to be put on a high shelf. But it is lovely to look at.

Now, Betsy is 6 and a half years old, so we have moved on to harder poetry. Here's what we love:

1. A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson, illlustrated by Tasha Tudor. I was introduced to the world of Tasha Tudor through this book. It goes without saying that eveyone should have this book, and most people do have it in one form or another. But I love this one especially because of the beautiful pictures that Tudor adds.

2. A Family of Poems edited by Caroline Kennedy. This is a great book of poems, with pictures by Jon J. Muth, who is a fantastic illustrator.

3. Where the Sidewalk Ends and A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein. Must-haves. They are perfect for Betsy's age. They are a wonderful, funny way to introduce poetry to your kids.

We have some more, including some seasonal poem books, like poems for winter and poems for Thanksgiving. I've never really found a poem book that I didn't like. Now for bedtime we do two different things. Felicity gets her poem from one of 3 books, which I just cycle through all the time. They are Animal Crackers Bedtime (this is a board book version of Animal Crackers), Care Bears Book of Bedtime Poems, and Mother Goose Bedtime Poems.

With Betsy I use Good Night, Sleep Tight: A Poem for Every Night of the Year edited by Ivan and Mal Jones. I like this one because it gives you a new poem for every night of the year (there's even one for February 29). We've read it so many times we have our favorites. (I think that I've read it to her since she was 2.) I intend to start reading this to Felicity eventually, but some of the poems are long and wordy, so for now I'm sticking with the easier ones for her.

I hope that this inspires you to read a poem to your kids. It's easy and fun and I think that it's so beneficial to them...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Books and breastfeeding...

Okay, to start, I am fully and one hundred percent behind breastfeeding. I breastfed my own kids until they were each 2. However, I try very hard not to be a bully about breastfeeding-my sister does not breast feed at all, and that's okay. I can reem off lots of facts about it, and why I chose it, but I realize that it's not for everyone.

That said, there are precious few books that portray breastfeeding as natural, so far as children's books go. I was adament that we have at least a few, since my children were each only given a bottle a handful of times. These are the best of the paltry bunch:

1. I'm Made of Mama's Milk by Mary Olsen-this is a board book, seemingly made of fuzzy digital photos. This is the absolutely only board book I could find on this topic. It's a, really, but my girls liked it and we read it until basically each of them had given breastfeeding up.

2. We Like to Nurse by Chia Martin-again, this book is a little odd. There are all kinds of different animals shown nursing, and the text basically matches the picture. Not great, but okay.

3. Only the Cat Saw by Ashley Wolff-this is one of my favorite bedtime books with the girls. It is about all the things that the cat sees at night while the family is sleeping. I am including it here because there is a nice, normal picture of the mom nursing the baby included near the end.

4. Michele: The Nursing Toddler by Jane M. Pinczuk-Michele is pretty much a normal toddler and this book is about many normal things she does. She nurses one time near the end of the book. Again, it's okay, since there isn't much out there on the topic, but it is by no means great.

5. Maggie's Weaning by Mary Joan Deutschben-I really like this one. Maggie is an older sibling telling all about how she breastfed for a long time, and then eventually gave it up. This helped in our house with the transition to not nursing any longer. The pictures are all black and white, but beyond that it's a good book.

And that's pretty much it. Like I said, it's a kind of weird lot. But if you're looking for these books, this is bascially the best you can do...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Just like a merry-go-round...

Okay, we have started something new this summer as far as discipline goes. We have adopted a behavior wheel. This is nothing new, as most schools have something at least similar. But it is the first time that we have tried it. It is working well.

Green means good. (I'm sure that there is a much more psychologically sound way of saying that, but, for all intents and purposes, it means good.) Yellow is a warning. Red means a 15 minute time out. Blue means you get no dessert. And gray means you have to give up a dollar of your allowance for the week.

And so, we start the day with everyone's clips on green. Then, if there is a behavior problem, your clip moves. We have a list of rules, but it basically boils down to-no hitting, no yelling, no whining, pick up your mess...that kind of thing. We have been as far as blue on one particularly bad day, but most days not.

I also instituted a reward wheel. If the girls end up the day on green, they are allowed to spin it. (It's from Twister and the colors coincide with the reward.) There are 4 rewards: go to the Dairy Duchess for a treat, have a popsicle, get your toenails painted, or get to stay up an extra 10 minutes. (To my quite sheltered kids, these are big time rewards.) They decided that they like to do things together, so they only spin the wheel one time and they both get the thing (unless one is not on green, then she does not get to participate in the reward).

Anyway, it is working out well. They are behaving well, I am not having to yell, and best of all they pick up their stuff without being asked several times.I'm liking it...