What We’re Reading Wednesday: Spotlight on Sandra Boynton

Happy What We’re Reading Wednesday!

I wanted to take a moment this week to spotlight one of our family’s favorite authors.  Our oldest daughter’s fifth birthday is in a few weeks, and I am feeling particularly nostalgic this month.  I’ve been going through old pictures and videos and thinking back on all of the things that have made her earliest years so much fun.  At the top of this list is our collection of books by Sandra Boynton.

Each page of Boyton’s books are filled with animals and incredibly fun and silly stories.  Once you’ve read a Boyton book, there is no mistaking her unique illustrations and engaging way with words.  She is gifted with the ability to turn the most normal and routine aspects of life into absolute celebration!  One of my own personal favorites is Pajama Time, a book which invites us all to “Get yourself set to pajama-dee-bop!”

Our oldest daughter’s first ever favorite book is Boyton’s Moo, Baa, La La La.  The public library we frequented regularly when she was a toddler had an oversized version of Moo, Baa, La La La and Dacey chose it nearly ever week to take home with us.  I even found a picture of her reading it at twelve months:

2-21-06 003a

Another book from Boyton’s collection that is particularly meaningful to me is Blue Hat, Green Hat. Dacey had a severe speech delay in the first three years of her life, and she was extremely non-verbal.  She smiled and giggled a lot when she was happy, but the first time we ever got to experience a full-on belly laugh was when her daddy read Blue Hat, Green Hat to her.  For some reason, this story of the little turkey who just couldn’t quite dress himself the right way amused her so much.  The “Oops!” that punctuates every other page of this book caused her to explode into unstoppable belly laughing every time she heard it.

Other favorites for our family are Doggies, Barnyard Dance, and The Going to Bed Book.

Boyton’s sense of rhythm and rhyme pervades every book, and so it is no surprise that she some of her books come with accompanying CDs.  In 2009, Boynton released One Shoe Blues – a storybook, song, and musical short film featuring legend B.B. King (and lots of sock puppets).  You can read more (and watch videos!) about One Shoe Blues at Boynton’s website.

There is little doubt why six of Boyton’s books appear on the Publisher’s Weekly All-Time Bestselling Children’s Books list!

In our part of the world, winter lacks color.  Bring some much-needed color and fun and silliness into your home with a selection from the Boyton collection.  I promise you there will be smiles all around!

Does your family have a favorite Sandra Boynton book or story you would like to share?

January 9th: Weekend Links

snowman Photo by woodleywonderworks

Winter has fully descended where we live!  Is it cold where you are?

If you have a little free time in the coming week, would you take a moment to read through the Simple Kids Showcase FAQ page?  You may just be inspired to share something from your family with the Simple Kids community in the weekly Showcase!

Grab your mug of hot tea (or cocoa!) and settle in from some weekend reading:

Simply Practical

Throughout January 2010, Mandy of Organizing Your Way is running an amazing series called 31 Days of Organizing for a Better 2010!  Click on the link to see topics she has already spoken to as well as what is coming up.  She has invited some of your favorite bloggers to join her in sharing wisdom on each topic.  This may be all the practical inspiration you need for the entire month!

Simply Delicious

angry chicken: bread of the monkey
itty bitty fish: a meal for the new year
The Picky Apple: Homemade Tortillas

Inspired Projects

red bird crafts: art boards
Playful Learning: Bird Watching Station
Family Fun: Fan-Tastic Snowflakes

Inspired Images

davejenbarnes: Project 365 (2)

Inspired Words

Handbook of Nature Study: Fresh Thoughts on Nature Study
A Holy Experience: When Your New Years Resolutions Feel Like Trying To Walk on Water
Steady Days: Start the New Year with a Child’s Heart (column from Angie of The Creative Mama)

Happy January! Stay warm!

How to Create Flexible Family Routines

coloring Photo by Vince Alongi

Our family has enjoyed over two weeks of living life out of our normal routines.  We have spent entire days in our pajamas, we’ve stayed up late many nights and slept in quite a few mornings.  The housework has been neglected while games have been played.  It has been a delightful break from the ordinary.

As this first week of the new year begins, however, I am quite ready to get back into our normal rhythms and routines of life!

Some families find that lots of structure and a consistent schedule works wonderfully while other families like to keep things spontaneous.  As babies grow into toddlerhood and as toddlers become preschoolers, a sense of routine allows them to have a confidence that comes from knowing what comes next.  I will never be a person who can run my home by the clock, but I do know that we have very predictable routines that provide for stability and order while making way for lots of flexibility.

This topic came up recently in a parenting discussion forum, and one mother from Texas shared her ideas on some routines she wrote up for her family.  She wrote, “We do not follow this religiously, but it’s something I have on hand if I am noticing too much chaos/disorder, out of whack kiddos, shrieking/whining/boredom – then I tighten things up again. We also have “off” days where I pretty much do nothing but let them run around like wild creatures.”

With her permission, I am sharing her ideas on flexible routines:

Each morning, allow some time for waking up, a little snack or drink, perhaps a morning TV program – whatever works best for your family.

8:00 AM
Mommy Officially Awake
Breakfast
Get Dressed
Brush Teeth
Brush Hair

9:00
Kitchen/Dining clean up
Small Motor Activity at table (see ideas below)

10:00
Snack
Outside – Nature/Large Motor Activity OR Foray (see ideas below)

12:00 PM
Lunch
Clean Up Lunch

12:30
Toddler Nap
Reading/Workbook
Computer game

1:30
Free Play – Indoor Small/Large Motor/Sensory (see ideas below)

3:00
Snack
Art/ Music OR Foray

4:00
Outside – Nature/Large Motor/Sensory (see ideas below)

5:00
Bath

5:30
Dinner Prep & TV Show

6:00
Dinner
Free Play

7:00
Clean Living Area
Clean Bedrooms
Bedtime Routine

7:30
Bedtime

Forays
Library
Playgroup
Church
Groceries
Park
Daddy Outing
Splash Pad
Children’s Museum

The Arts
Puppets
Arts/Crafts
Musical Instruments
Classical Music
Folk Songs
Hymns

Reading
Poetry
Books
Foreign Language
Bible
Nursery Rhymes

Indoor -Small Motor
Color
Paint
Paste
Cut/tear paper
Clay
Building blocks
Puzzles
Stringing beads
Lacing Cards
Pouring
Bubbles

Indoor – Large Motor
Dance
Chase
Hide and seek
Tag

Indoor – Sensory
Playdough
Shaving cream

Outdoor – Nature
Woods adventure
I Spy
Collection for nature box
Journal
Scavenger Hunt

Outdoor – Large Motor
Run
Walk dog
Games
Sports
Trampoline

Outdoor – Sensory
Sand
Water

Of course, the general structure of the daily routine and the activities are just suggestions. Each family will know what works best for them.  As this very wise mama shared, some days we may just need some ideas on how to answer the question, “Now what?”  (I want to say thank you again to this generous mama for sharing her ideas with us!)

For more suggestions on sensory activities, check out the article 99 Sensory Activities For Any Child from Mommy Poppins.

What do routines look like for your family? Do you tend to be more structured or less structured? How do you get your family back on track after many days of being out of routine?

Simple Kids Reader Favorites 2009

candlereflection Photo by Serge Melki

Tonight, the sun will set on 2009, and we’ll welcome 2010 with enthusiasm.

I wanted to take a moment to tell you all thank you so much for making this year such an incredible one for Simple Kids.  It’s hard to believe it has been nearly a year since Simple Kids launched in January 2009!  This community has been such a powerful encouragement to me.  Thank you.

Here are some of the most popular discussions from the past year:

The Need for Nature

Let Go and Go with It

Separating Yourself from Your Children’s Stuff

The List: Children’s Literature We Love!

Come On: Get a Little Muddy!

6 Peaceful Solutions for Hitting and Anger

Finger Food: 11 Ideas for Breakfast and Snacks and Finger Foods: More Ideas for Toddler Meals

Celebrating Our Unique Families

Again, thank you so much for reading and participating and building such an amazing community of like-minded parents and care-givers.

Happy New Year and best wishes for you and your family in 2010!

Special Edition Showcase: DIY Robot

Last week, a blizzard and an internet outage and holiday travel combined to prevent me from sharing a weekly Showcase with you.  However, my friend Rachel of Small Notebook emailed me a Showcase idea that I absolutely cannot wait until this Friday to share.

The week between Christmas and New Years often allows for lots of downtime for families – downtime that can be both a blessing and a challenge.  I think the spirit behind this project may inspire some DIY fun in your home:

It started innocently enough. My husband Doug sat down with Lane to practice writing letter L’s, but soon they grew bored with that and drew a robot instead. Doug didn’t realize that at 6:30 the next morning, she would insist on making that robot.

With only a little coffee to help get him started, he looked around to assemble robot parts: pennies for eyes, a rubber band mouth, canning jar rings for feet, and lots and lots of tape. Soon Lane had a new BFF for tea parties, nap time, and even a trip to Home Depot.

“Why do we buy toys?” my husband wondered.

The next day she wanted to paint. Most of the time when she asks to paint, I try to think of any reason not to, so as to avoid the cleaning up. But this time, following my husband’s lead, I said, “of course we can paint!” and she went to town decorating her robot with muddy browns and purples.

20091219 - Lane and Doug drawing

20091220 - Lane and robot

20091220 - Robot

Isn’t that so much fun?

When our older daughter carefully constructed puppets for a puppet show using just brown bags and markers, my husband also wondered why on earth we buy toys for them.

May this week bring much creativity and innovation to your home!