Games and Activities for Toddlerhood (and Beyond!)

The following post is by contributor Emily Carter of The Pilot”s Wife.

I may have a degree in Early Childhood Education and years of experience in childcare and teaching, but I”m going to admit something today:  keeping young children entertained and occupied can be challenging!

My son is currently 2 1/2 and a ball of unending energy. I turn around for just a moment to fix a snack and find a trail of destruction through the house.

Adding to the frustration, popular media would have you believe that you constantly need something new and shiny every few weeks to keep up with your child”s developmental needs.

In my search for ideas, I”ve come across a few wonderful resources that will help you breathe new life into the things you already have in your home.

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Inspiring Readers in a Digital Age

The following post is by contributor Emily Carter of The Pilot’s Wife.

We live in a world that is changing constantly.  It seems I am just getting the hang of the latest technology when something newer and shinier comes along. Even my toddler has technology skills that astound me. I have trouble imagining the digital world he will live in as an adult, but I’m sure it will be incredible.

My concern, though,  is this: how do we, as parents and teachers, cultivate a deep love for reading when so many light-blinking-touch-screen-noise-making distractions call to our children more loudly than books with simple text and pictures?

Developing a Love for Books

There are some simple things you can do to encourage your children to pick up a book instead of the latest gadget.

1. Create a reading routine.

Even if only for 15 or 20 minutes, make time during your day to sit with your child and read. Bedtimes and before naps are our family’s typical routine, and my son knows instinctively to go find a few books during these times.

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Stress Free Flying with Infants and Toddlers

The following was written by contributor Emily Carter of The Pilot’s Wife.

Just the thought of baggage checks, long security lines, TSA regulations, and cramped airplanes has the potential to leave a person in search of a Xanax.  And that’s when you brave the airport alone, much less with babies and small children in tow.

However, flying with your family doesn’t have to be a stressful event.  As a an avid traveler and a pilot’s wife, I’ve spent a significant portion of my life traveling in airplanes, including twenty-five states and seven countries.  I traveled on a commercial airline by myself with my son when he was nine weeks old, and have continued to fly with him often in the last 19 months.

With a little bit of planning and a relaxed attitude, air travel can be a pleasant experience for everyone.

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Book Review: Bean Appetit Hip and Healthy Ways to Have Fun With Food

Some of my favorite memories as a child involve whipping up something in the kitchen with my grandmothers or mother.  And although I’m no chef, I look forward to spending quality time cooking with my son, as well.  So when I was asked to review Bean Appetit: hip and healthy ways to have fun with food by Shannon Payette Seip, Carisa Dixon, and Kelly Parthen, I was intrigued.

To be honest, many times cook books geared for children are a little cheesy, but I was pleasantly surprised by Bean Appetit.

The recipes are all extremely healthy; most of them using lots of fruits and veggies, as well as whole grains.  And since we live in a small town, I especially appreciated that most of the ingredients were easy to find.

In the introduction section, the authors recommend using the Bean Appetit Flour Blend which includes whole wheat flour, unbleached flour, wheat germ, and flax meal in place of regular flour, and their Chickpea Puree instead of butter which really boosts the healthy factor.

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What We’re Reading: Favorite Book Series

This week, Emily of The Pilot’s Wife shares her favorite book series with us:

As a  lover of reading, I have to tell you: I love a good series. There are times when I fall so in love with the characters in a particular book that I just hate to let them go after just one book.  For me, a few hundred pages is often not enough, and when I reach the end of the very last book, I go into mourning!  Of course, as a parent and a teacher, that’s exactly how I want children to feel about reading.

I have found that a really good series is a fantastic way to get a reluctant reader interested.  In order for children to improve their reading, they need to be actively engaged in their books.  Reading books that are too hard, too easy, or uninteresting will provide little in the way of improvement.

Luckily, there are some amazing series out there for children, and I want to share a few of my all time favorites with you today.  Some are from my own reading as a child, and others I discovered as an adult.

Little House on the Prairie books-  I know most of you will be familiar with Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books, but I just had to include them.  I can’t tell you how many times I read these as a child. My copies are completely worn out and thoroughly loved.

The Magic Tree House series- Mary Pope Osborne does a lovely job creating easy chapter books that are still engaging.  Children as early as first grade can enjoy the thrill of “the chapter book” in a format they can read with accuracy.

Cam Jansen Mysteries (David A. Adler) – Cam Jansen is a girl with a photographic memory who always has a new mystery to solve.  These stories are short and sweet.  Great for building comprehension on about a 2nd to 3rd grade level.

Junie B. Jones (Barbara Park) – Junie B. Jones is quite the little imp! Girls and boys alike find her misadventures in kindergarten and first grade completely engaging.

The Babysitter’s Club (Ann M. Martin) – If you were a young girl in the ’80s and ’90s I’m sure you’ve already heard of The Babysitter’s Club! Great stories for girls in the 4th – 6th grade reading level.  There are also The Babysitter’s Little Sister stories for younger girls.  Also, the nice thing about these books is that there are a TON of them, so if your girls love them, they’ll have lots of reading material.

Ramona Quimby (Beverly Cleary) – Ramona is another classic.  Although the heroine is a girl, both boys and girls will love Ramona’s antics.  These are not to be missed!

Although I appreciate good literature, some of the books listed above don’t necessarily fall into that category.  Sometimes it’s important for me to lay aside my ideals about high quality literature in order to get children interested in reading. Do I consider books about underwear-donning-superheros or cartoon characters quality literature?  Not really, but if children never find reading fun, they’ll never move on to the really good stuff.

Mine is such a short list, I know many of you will have your favorite series to add that I missed!