“But I’m Not Tired!”

boy asleep with bookThe bedtime story already has been deeply planted in the early literacy landscape, the collective nostalgia and routines for tricking little ones into falling asleep. We have heard the benefits of reading to your baby bumpkins and terrible twosers daily touted near and far, but does the time of day a child is read to actually make any difference?

The answer is, um…well, probably. Maybe. Depends?

While there is some research on that question, obviously everyone is different. Personally, I am a big fan of the bedtime story, so what follows will be my case for the institution.

For one thing, your children are put to bed every day, so there’s a built-in “reminder” that allows reading to easily become part of a routine that’s already necessary. Plus, “bedtime story” rolls off the tongue a lot easier than, say, “after-school snack story.” If you have a snugglebunny or two who land closer to the reluctant side of the sleeper spectrum, sometimes a calming routine can help. According to chair of the Early Childhood Committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Peter Gorski, M.D., the most cognitive benefits from reading are reaped when the child’s experience with books is enjoyable and associated with love, safety and comfort. Well, what is more loving and comfy than being tucked in, surrounded by a beloved stuffed animal or two, while mom and/or dad tell you a story? Letting your nugget choose the story they want to hear can be both a bedtime selling point and encourages a positive association with being read to. Continue reading

Going on a Picnic

I love to sing. Not everyone loves it when I sing, but that’s okay. My son likes it when I perform the tune “Going on a Picnic” by Lynn Freeman Olson, which is known as a zipper song. What is a zipper song? I am glad you asked! A zipper song is any tune where you take out one word and “zip” another one in. This word-swapping is entertaining, the possibilities are endless and the fun can go on FOREVER. Give it a whirl:

Picnic by chatirygirl via Flickr

Going on a picnic,
leaving right away.
If it doesn’t rain,
we’ll stay all day.
Did you bring the (sandwiches)?
Yes I brought the (sandwiches).
Ready for a picnic, here we go!

When singing this song, my family likes to keep listing all of the words we’ve added in the previous verses, trying to remember the order, going from the newest item to the oldest. What a workout for your brain! If you are not sure of the melody, stop by the library, and I will sing my off-key version. Or you can just check out Raffi’s performance of this song on “The Corner Grocery Store” CD.

Rhyme Time: Mother Gooney Bird

Are the kids bouncing off of the walls?  Try to tire them out with this active song.

Mother Gooney Bird

(Tune: Father Abraham)

Mother Gooney Bird had seven chicks.
Seven chicks had Mother Gooney Bird.
And they couldn’t fly,
And they couldn’t swim,
They could only go like this:
Right wing (Right arm bent in “wing” position, flaps up and down.)

Repeat, this time add:
Left wing (Left arm goes along with right wing.)

Keep repeating; add one body part each time: Continue reading

Rhyme Time – Bath Time!

Bath time doesn’t have to be just about getting clean. Connect with your kiddo, and have fun singing songs while you scrub. Take an old song and change some of the words to make it playful:

Row, row, row your boat.
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream!

Row, row, row your boat.
Gently down the stream.
If you see an alligator,
Don’t forget to scream! AAAHHHH!

This variation on an old favorite is great fun, especially if you don’t mind hearing your child scream! Try substituting in different animals to hear your child squeal with delight. Continue reading

How Story Time Saved My Life

Don't Cry, photo by Pedro Klien on FlickrOkay, perhaps saying that story time saved my life is a wee bit of an exaggeration. However, attending a story time did save my sanity and the eardrums of my fellow travelers on a recent trip I took with my two young children in tow.

Picture the scene. We have been awake since 6 a.m., and the 2-year-old refuses to nap during the flight, instead choosing to use mama as a jungle gym. None of us has eaten anything but pretzels and weird processed fruit snacks for hours. We finally land after more than seven hours of road and plane travel, and when I turn on my cell phone at baggage claim, there is a frantic voicemail from the friend who is supposed to be fetching us saying that she is going to be at least 30 minutes late. Continue reading