Adventures of a K-5 Academic Technology Teacher & New(ish) Mommy

The Epic Saga of the Corn and the Ice Cream Cone

Family dinner sure was fun tonight.

Lately I’ve been having a hard time falling asleep because thoughts of how few vegetables Hayes is ingesting have my mind reeling. For some reason (his parents don’t eat vegetables regularly, his parents are not consistent when it comes to offering him vegetables, he prefers fruits, his mother can’t seem to figure out ways to make vegetables more appealing to anyone, etc. etc.) our little guy has more of a penchant for strawberries, watermelon, blueberries, apples, grapes, plums, raspberries, blackberries, kiwi and bananas (sometimes), grains, and anything with cheese.

Today I made my mind up early that I would be serving a vegetable at dinner. That was a challenging thing to do seeing as though I could only find canned green beans, black beans, and corn in the pantry. Corn it was…Weak, I know. I put two heaping scoops of corn on Hayes’ plate along with homemade meatballs (yay!), watermelon, and grapes. “I don’t like corn,” was his response to my prompting, “How’s your corn, Hayes?” The watermelon and grapes were virtually gone at that point, and he had already asked for a second helping of meatballs.

A short time later we started reading Hayes’ “I’m full” signs–pulling off the bib, chewing on his straw, booster chair restlessness–and we must have been simultaneously thinking the same thing: dang it, not a single piece of corn has made it into his mouth tonight -and- What clever get-your-kid-to-at-least-take-one-bite strategy are we going to try? Daddy creatively put a piece of corn in front of each of his top teeth and asked if Hayes could make his own “corn smile,” and I placed a single kernel of corn on each tine of his fork to make a “corn tree” and told him he could make his own tree once he had eaten the four I had put on the fork. Nada.

I guess out of desperation and mainly because I never in a million years thought he could or would ever do it, my last attempt at a corn victory was: “Hayes, if you decide to eat every single piece of corn on your plate, then Mommy will make you an ice cream cone.” What?!

At first, Hayes tried to negotiate: “Three, Mommy?” “No, Hayes, you need to eat all of your corn.” (Whiney whine whine). “Hey, bud, it’s OK. There will be another night for an ice cream cone. No big deal.” “This and this, Mommy?” (pointing to watermelon and remaining piece of meatball) “Nope, not those buddy, we’re talking about your corn.”

So, he literally sat in his chair at the table for at least 20 minutes growing more and more determined–we could see–to eat the corn. We cleared the items on the table around him as he sat, and even tried to clear his plate when we thought that he was finished. Oh no, he wouldn’t have any of that, asked whined for his plate back, and began trying to eat the corn. It was messy, and there was a bit of gagging here and there, but it became apparent that our son had actually made up his mind that he was going to win that ice cream cone. As he got closer and closer to a clean plate (I was actually offering him the spoonfuls of corn at this point so I could ensure that the kernels were going in) he said, “I think Daddy is going to cheer…and maybe clap for me!” Shortly, we were down to two more bites, and it took what seemed like 5 minutes to chew and finally swallow them, but you know what? The kid did it. The corn had been eaten. Yes, we did cheer, we did hoot and holler, and we did clap like maniacs because we were proud that he had stuck with it. And shocked.

Way to go, bud!

Here is our cute little corny victor with ice cream on his upper lip:


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Woman to Woman

If you are a mother, you have undoubtedly been on the receiving end of many-an-unsavory-comment while carrying your child(ren)…in utero, that is.

Yesterday marked the 6-ish-week countdown to due date mark for baby boy number two, and in celebration of that fact, I had the most wonderful conversation with a colleague. It went like this:

Colleague: “Wow, you are SO BIG!”

Me: (turning red–hopefully subtly) “Yeah, tell me about it.”

Colleague: Nothing.

Me: (walking away)

Such a meaningful, uplifting conversation, right?! It didn’t sit well.

Woman to woman, especially mother to mother, we should really have kinder things to say to one another. Supportive things. We are on the same team in this motherhood thing, regardless of how long it has been since we’ve been pregnant. We need all the help we can get when the weight is piling on, sleep is evading us, getting dressed is a challenge, we’ve slowed our pace, painting our toenails and shaving our legs has become near impossible, our bodies are tired and sore, and we’re just plain ready, right?

Instead of this:

“Wow, you are SO BIG! Man, you’ve really popped! Goodness, how far along ARE you? Geesh, that is one big baby! Are you having twins? Wow, when IS your due date?”

We might try this:

“You look radiant! What a beautiful profile! You must be so excited to welcome your new addition! How cute are you?! Dress that bump, girl! Beautiful mommy, lucky baby.” You get the point.

Words are powerful, so woman to woman, let’s use them wisely.



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When I say “voki,” you say, “huh?”

One of my favorite Web tools to use with students is Voki–personalized avatars to which students can add their voices. And now, with the addition of Voki Classroom, I love it even more. I used it with my third graders earlier this year as a part of their reading unit investigating character. To keep it brief, the children adopted the role of a character in a book they had recently completed and crafted a script to help their audience better understand that character’s traits, motivations, hardships and successes, etc. I was proud of their finished products.

Today, Voki kindly posted a short interview I gave explaining what I love about using Voki with my students, some tips I have for making the avatar-creation process a little easier, and some items that fall on my Voki wishlist. I hope you get a chance to check it out!

Before I go, here are a few other ideas that have been brewing in my mind for incorporating Vokis into my curriculum again soon:

  • Set up a back-and-forth ping-ponging conversation between two individuals (two characters in a read aloud, two figures from history, two family members, etc.) Invite the children to create a Voki (or multiple Vokis!) to represent their side of the conversation.
  • Set up a debate: Create Vokis to represent the opposing teams or differing viewpoints.
  • Use a Voki to assign a project or explain an activity as a way to keep it exciting in the classroom!
  • Encourage a student to create a Voki who can explain the steps needed to solve a multi-step problem in math.
  • Use Vokis to encourage children to practice their fluency in the foreign language classroom.

What ideas do you have for incorporating the use of Vokis in your classroom?

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Off the Top of my Head – Tech Integration Ideas

A sweet colleague came to me earlier this week asking for fun and easy ways that she could get her kids using their laptops more often in her classroom. Coming from her grade level (and her exactly room, actually) I reflected back on the ways that I enjoyed integrating technology with my students when I was involved in the 1:1 laptop program in fourth grade, and I passed along a few ideas very, very quickly. I decided to record them here in case I want to put them into practice myself in the computer lab setting.

  • Have them each check the daily weather and lunch menu on their individual computers when they arrive in the morning (time permitting). Then, after announcements, draw a student’s name from a hat and have that student share what is on the menu for the day and what is expected weather-wise at recess time. My kids always loved doing that, and I would have them write their findings on the SMARTboard for everyone to read.
  • Encourage them to use the Stickies application to write notes and reminders to themselves–i.e. “Left off on paragraph 3, go back and edit” or “Do S.L. 6.2 for homework tonight.” What a great way to promote organization and personal accountability!
  • Begin a long-term project where students create websites (perhaps using your own school webpage as the host–our teachers use Weebly to build their webpages and Weebly makes is very simply for students to create their own pages). Student-created webpages could turn into cool ways for them to showcase the things they’ve been working on and want to share publicly. This might be a nice thing for students to work on when they say, “I’m done.” 😉  When I was in the regular classroom, my students used iWeb to accomplish the same task and I managed the publishing process.
  • Use Inspiration, this tool from, or to promote brainstorming and webbing prior to drafting writing pieces. Print and tape webs into Writer’s Notebooks when necessary.
  • Encourage children to create book review or reading response videos using PhotoBooth when they finish reading chapter books for your class. This would be a great way to check comprehension. They can be shared with classmates, or even with next year’s students as book talks!
  • Begin a “website of the week/month” routine where you encourage children to share cool sites that they find either at school or at home that they’d like to showcase to the class. Start a collection of the sites shared and add them to your webpage for easy access.
  • Go on a mission for misspellings. [We did this in my classroom a few years ago and the kids (and I)–loved it!] Basically, be on the lookout for misspelled words–anywhere–on signs, websites, in the newspaper, on menus, at the gym, etc., and take pictures when you see them (iphones, ipod touches, ipads, etc.). Teach them how to upload the pictures to the their computers and email them to you. Create a slideshow on your webpage of the misspellings collection and give credit to the children who found them.
  • Use Quizlet or Word Dynamo to put vocabulary words you are learning into sets that the children can study and practice with online. Both sites require a login name and password, but are free.
  • Teach them how to create QR codes for their writing pieces during a particular unit of study in writing. They can record themselves using PhotoBooth or Audio Recorder talking about the behind the scenes work it took to publish that specific piece, turn it into a QR Code, and then you could hang the QR code next to their writing piece out on your bulletin board.  When scanned, the QR code would link to the student’s video/audio file.

Hmmm…when can I get back into the classroom?!

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Just One of Those Nights

…you know, the kind of night where you fall to your knees to thank God for the amazing blessings he has given you.

Hayes is now 21 months old, and being his mommy is just plain awesome. Every day is better than the one before, and I wanted to take a second to write down some of my favorite things about *life as of late,* –things from today and from everyday.

  • He has started to say “Mommy, Daddy! I love you!” unprompted (like today at the park while getting into position to slide) It sounds like Mommy, Daddy, luh you!” We’ll take it.
  • He repeats nearly everything, clear as day. Case in point: the words “french fries” (pie pies) and “attention” were two that came out of his mouth today, making Brad and I stop, point at each other incredulously, and ask, “Did you teach him that?” He also said his last name this morning, which brought huge smiles to our faces.
  • School is getting better, slowly but surely. He attends a PMO program on Tuesdays from 9-12:30, and even though he still fusses at drop-off (and even before pulling into a parking spot at the church), there was a note on his bag today that said “Hayes had an awesome day today. No tears!” When I stopped by for a quick hello to check-in with his teachers today, he wanted to show off his teachers and his toys, and when I had to dash away to get back to work, he took his sweet nanny’s hand and said “play?” We’re making progress.
  • He loves to point out tractors, busses, trucks, cars, etc. Today he even pointed to “three busses” as they drove by and he has started to differentiate between a plain old tractor and say, a bulldozer or an excavator. Such a boy.
  • He still LOVES to read and is intentional about the books he chooses to have read at bedtime in the evening. Lately it has been “Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site” and “Llama Llama Misses Mama.” One of his PMO teachers recommended the latter since he’s had trouble with drop-off on Tuesday mornings, and it has been interesting watching Hayes respond to the plot of the story. He seems to really understand what it means when mama llama leaves her son at school at the beginning of the book and when she comes back toward the end.
  • We have been working on cleaning up our toys at the end of the day, and thanks to the song “It’s Clean-Up Time” from Mr. Al’s Sing me Some Sanity album, Hayes has started “helping” us (mostly his daddy) pick up his toys at the end of the day. He has learned that the faster he cleans up, the sooner he gets to dance in the living room–free from puzzle piece, instrument, or car and truck obstacles. It’s also been helpful that our music class instructor (Ms. Holly @ The Music Studio of Vinings) has a clean up song that he loves, too. Daddy makes clean-up time so much fun and Hayes knows it, so as soon as Daddy gets home from work, Hayes shouts, “Daddy! Dance!”
  • He is becoming fearless–slides, couches, ottomans, chairs…you name it, he’s climbing it.
  • He does well with recognizing letters of the alphabet, the numbers 1, 2, 3, and 8, and he’s doing better and better with colors. Our favorite thing on this front right now is that he says, “Green–Go!” and “Red–Stop!” at stoplights and  chimes in to say “S-T-O-P Stop sign!” at stop signs. For whatever reason, he finds the word “stop sign” hysterical.

Being a mommy is just the best, best, best thing ever. Seriously.


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SMART Notebook ’11

My colleague and I are doing a quick SMART Notebook ’11 tutorial for our teachers at a faculty meeting breakout session next week, and some of the things we are putting together are suggested ways for K-1, 2-3, and 4-5 grade teachers to customize their toolbars to make the Notebook software more user-friendly and grade-level specific. I thought I’d share this printable resource (below the snapshot) in case you find it useful. If you’re looking to customize your own toolbar, click on “Customize Toolbar” from the “View” menu in SMART Notebook.




















K and 1 SMART toolbar

2 and 3 SMART toolbar

4 and 5 SMART toolbar

Some of the newest features in the newest version of SMART Notebook are pretty awesome. Personally, I’m most excited about the ability to add a ruler and protractor to the toolbar, being able to change the display to transparent mode so I can write on top of anything, and the crayon pen tool. Doesn’t take much to excite me. 😉 Also worth mentioning is the shape recognition pen which is perfect for our youngest students.

Happy Friday!


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Laurie’s Got a Pig on Her Head

At our house, we love Laurie Berkner. She is our all-time favorite artist for babies and toddlers (at least that’s true for me). Jen Nolf, if you are reading this, THANK YOU for introducing her music to us; the party favor from Cooper’s 2nd birthday was played on repeat until it finally dawned on us to make a Laurie Berkner station on iHeartRadio and enjoy more of her songs–yay! I was quickly sold and spent a Barnes and Noble giftcard solely on her CDs. Have a listen!

The band’s music is silly and fun, perfect for dance parties in the living room or be-bopping in the car on long road trips. She writes original pieces, like the song that inspired this title for this post, and she puts her funky twist on familiar songs like the ABCs. We have five of Laurie’s CDs: The Best of the Laurie Berkner Band, Rocketship Run, Victor Vito, Buzz Buzz, and Whaddaya Think of That. Hayes’ favorite songs are “Moon Moon Moon,” “The Goldfish,” These Are My Glasses,” and his most favorite (which he calls “Oooh Wah”) is “Walk Along the River.”

My favorites (I am not ashamed!) are “I’m Not Perfect,” “Five Days Old,” and “Mouse in My Toolbox.” Ooops, and I can’t forget: Brad’s favorite is “Fast and Slow.” 😉

I feel strongly that singing and dancing with young children is very, very important to language and vocabulary development, balance, rhythm, confidence, and happiness. We are forever singing along to the iPod and making up our own songs, and the result is a little man who dances around the house, hums himself to sleep, and drums and hits rhythm sticks together (and on the floors, walls couches) whenever he has the chance.

We ♥ you, Laurie Berkner Band!

Join me in inviting the band to make a trip to Atlanta!


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Out and About

I know it’s only July 16th, but I already feel like my summer is over. We leave soon for a week in Hilton Head, and the day after we get home I begin 4 days of technology training with fifth graders who are new to our school. The week after that is teacher pre-planning. I  my job, but ugh. Why does summer always go by so quickly?

We’ve been combating the impending beginning-of-school doom by staying super busy with all the fantastic summer activities that Atlanta has to offer.  I’m hoping I can still be this active and energized with more than one child because it has been so much fun spending time away from the house with Hayes, especially since he is down to one nap (most days). We spend the morning wearing each other out and then head home for lunch, a nap, and chores (for mommy).

Zoo Atlanta – We have a lot more fun at the zoo now that Hayes actually enjoys a stroller ride. I usually try to get there when it opens at 9:30 so we can make our rounds before it gets too hot and too crowded. Hayes loves the pandas, monkeys, giraffes, and bush dogs, but his favorite is the train ride.

Catch Air – Someone once told me that Catch Air was like a cooler version of Kangazoom, and they were right! Talk about inflatables and activities for kids; they have it all! Hayes enjoys the light-up floor, the pint-sized treadmill and exercise equipment, and the foam building blocks. It’s $5 for all-day admission, but if you “like” them on Facebook, they post 50% off “secret codes” a few times a week.

Imagine It! Children’s Museum – My coupon book has a buy one get one free ticket that we plan to use sometime soon. This place is awesome! There are so many different sections and exhibits that we just bounced from one thing to the next. Highlights were the water station, climbing and sitting on the John Deere tractor, pushing a shopping cart around, playing with the train table, “driving” the grocery truck, and playing with the hand puppets. The Children’s Museum is also where I discovered the wonder of moon sand (mentioned here).

Georgia Aquarium – We’ve been here several times now, but on our last visit, we took advantage of the dolphin show and are so glad we did! I was afraid Hayes was too little to sit still long enough to watch the whole show, especially since we had to find a seat 30 minutes in advance, but he did great and was mesmerized throughout the entire thing. Why wouldn’t he be–it’s really no dolphin show: it’s more like a Broadway-ish performance complete with lights, water cannons, music, dancing and choreography, and of course, trained dolphins. I love that Hayes gets in free at the aquarium and that the dolphin show is included in the general admission ticket price, and I learned on our latest visit that if you hold on to your receipt, you can apply the price of one visit toward the purchase of an annual pass. The only thing that could make a trip to the aquarium better would be a 50% off coupon. Living Social folks, are you holding out on us??

Food Truck Park – I’m not sure I totally understand the whole food truck craze, but I do like a picnic and a playground, so we’re headed to Taylor Brawner Park on Atlanta Road tomorrow at 6pm to partake in what I hope will be worlds better than concession stand food. We’re always looking for a fun and inexpensive activity to keep us busy!

Tanglewood Farms – Thanks to a fabulous birthday gift from Aunt Eenie, we took a mini (literally) road trip up I-75 to Canton and visited a place called Tanglewood Farms. They call themselves a “Town of Miniature Farm Animals,” and it was just that: a cute little Western town with a maze of animal pens containing miniature ponies, goats, jersey cows, chickens, turkeys, pigs, llamas, donkeys, and cats. Word to the wise: wear pants and tennis shoes, leave the stroller at home, and dress only in clothing that you wouldn’t mind getting splattered with mud or animal poop. Seriously though, this was SUCH a cute and fun place to visit…not super cheap ($10 unless you’re under one). Closed Monday and Tuesday.

Roswell Spraygrounds – Hayes loves the water, so the spraygrounds have been the perfect summer activity. I put him in a swim diaper, pay $1, put a wristband on him, and off he goes.  The last time we went I packed a lunch and we spent even more time eating and playing on the playground so the sun could dry us off. Love this place!

What summer activities have kept you busy?

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Anytime Toddler Fun

Lucky for me, Pinterest makes “fun mommy” status a bit more attainable, and thanks to some wonderfully creative mommies and pinners out there, I have been trying out little activities with Hayes at home this summer.  I am really into sensory activities, and I think Hayes has been enjoying himself, too. Here are some of the things we’ve tried and one thing still on the to-try list. We love inexpensive fun!

Colored Ice Cube Chasing

H loves a bath, and I’d say we end up bathing him 6 out 7 days of the week because he’s a dirt magnet. His feet get stinky in his little Keens and Crocs. To liven up bath time, I found a little organizer and lid at Goodwill that I thought would make a perfect ice cube tray for this project. Less than a buck.

I filled it up with water and put two drops of food coloring in each section. I let it freeze overnight and got it ready by running it under warm water as I filled up the tub for Hayes’ bath. When the colored cubes loosened from the tray, they spilled into the tub and the chase was on! I was surprised at how quickly they melted, but H seemed to enjoy trying to catch them, “writing” on the walls of the tub with the cubes, and feeling the chill of the ice. They did color his skin and the tub just a bit, but it was nothing that I couldn’t clean up with a washcloth. We’ll be doing this again soon.


Moon Sand/Cloud Dough

We first experienced moon sand at the Children’s Museum downtown. I liked the texture and how it was easy to brush off my hands, and Hayes loved how it made a big mess if you threw it around. I mixed 4 cups of flour with 1/2 cup of baby oil in a large mixing bowl with my hands, and the more I worked the mixture, the more it felt like the stuff we had played with at the Children’s Museum. It actually sat in a ziplock bag for about a week before I pulled it out, but I’m so glad I did. Hayes had a blast balling it up and then smashing it down like a pancake, running items through it, wiping his hands through it, and running through it and leaving moon prints all over the garage–speaking of garage, there is some serious clean-up with this stuff. I laid it out on a piece of butcher paper on the floor of the garage, and I ended up sweeping the entire garage and hosing off H’s shoes when he was finished.

Hmm…what is this stuff?

I like to walk through it!

  See it on my face and neck?

The Moon Sand was worth the clean up!

Learning Our Colors

Currently, it seems as though H’s favorite colors (and the only colors he names consistently) are green and purple. Since we clearly need to be working on the colors red and black, I thought we’d again set up the garage for some educational fun. I have a nice square table that sits low to the ground, so I set Hayes up to do some coloring on a long piece of butcher paper at the table while I rigged up some color squares–basically, square shaped pieces of that same butcher paper that each contained a shape of a certain color and the name of the color written along the top (i.e. for pink, I drew and colored in a pink heart and wrote “pink” above it.) When I had red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, black, pink, and gray, I took painters tape (and then some packing tape) to adhere them to the floor of the garage. I turned on some of our favorite silly songs, and we marched and hopped around from square to square, naming colors. I would say, “Hayes, where’s red?” and he would point at the different squares, step on several of them, and by process of elimination find the correct square, in which case I would cheer and clap and he would puff up and laugh with pride. Maybe we’re learning our colors? We’ll see come football season, won’t we?


Who knew you could buy glycerine at the drugstore? (facial soap aisle, bottom shelf, generic label, completely inconspicuous). I feel like I struck gold with this recipe because we go through bubbles like nobody’s business: right, Mia? Hayes would literally spend his entire day chasing and popping bubbles if we had the patience to hold the wand to our lips for that long. His extra-strength, super-duper Gymboree bubbles had been long gone when I discovered this recipe, so I was thrilled to mix up a whole new batch of bubble solution that will last a while week. Water + Dawn dish soap + glycerine. This solution produces Gymboree-quality bubbles, and we now have an entire pitcher-full. I say “bubble,” Hayes says, “Pop!” 🙂


Homemade stamps

I’ve been saving the lids from our plastic bottles and jugs with the plan to someday soon make some fun stamps like the ones in the picture for H to play around with.

Stay tuned!

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Hayes’ Top 10 Books

Hayes loves a good book. His mama loves a good book. His daddy loves a good outdoors or handyman magazine. 😉 So, I wanted to document and remember some of the books that are Hayes’ current favorites—a couple of newer ones, but mostly some old faithfuls that he goes back to time after time.

First things first, my students during the 2010-2011 school year and their families gifted us with an insanely gorgeous bookshelf as we awaited Hayes’ arrival, painted blue and decorated with clouds to mirror the cover of my favorite children’s picture book by Sarah L. Thomson, Imagine a Day. Check it and its companion books out here. In addition, my students lovingly filled his bookshelf with their favorite books from toddlerhood. I will never forget their kindness and generosity, and the emotion I felt when receiving the gift. It was so very special.

Hayes’ bookshelf is now filled to capacity with tons and tons of books. Board books, hardback picture books, anthologies, paperback picture books, collections, etc. He definitely enjoys pulling all of his books off the shelf, but we’ve recently started working on putting the books back up on the shelf. Hopefully he’ll inherit his mommy’s appreciation for all things orderly. For the most part, we have to stay away from the hardback and paperback books because he doesn’t quite understand the idea of being careful with the pages, but when the timing is right, we do enjoy our Curious George hardback anthology or our nice copy of Love You Forever (when we can get through it without crying!)

Right now we mostly read board books, and we have a lot of them. Here is what I think are 10 of his favorites:

10. Baby Faces, from DK Publishers, the same publishers who make those awesome hardback nonfiction books that teach about everything from Vikings to Jewelry. We love this book because of its simplicity; each page shows a baby’s face portraying an emotion or illustrating a characteristic (happy, crying, tired, dirty). We’ve read this one so many times that when we say, “Hayes, can you show me surprised?” he puts his hand over his wide-open mouth as though he’s in shock. So cute. I learned early on that babies love to look at others’ faces*, and this is most certainly true.

*sidenote: we hung a picture board above H’s changing table so he could study faces when he was very little. The photos we hung were of our sweet friends and family who came to visit during the first few weeks of H’s life. Now, the picture board is a great conversation piece during diaper changes or the bedtime routine.

9. Pajama Time by Sandra Boynton. Love her.  We love the “pajammy to the left, pajammy to the right” dance. It is the perfect naptime or bedtime book, we promise! Hayes now likes to talk about what his pajamas look like, mimicking what they do in the book…”some are red and some are blue, some are old and some are new.”

8. Goal! My Soccer Book by David Diehl. This was a gift from a friend who knows all about daddy’s distinguished soccer career.  There is one soccer-related term per page (cleat, throw-in, header) and the story told through the pictures leads up to one player scoring a goal. We make sound effects and motions on the pages like “trap” and “bicycle kick,” and on the last page, we chant together, “Goal!” with our arms raised in the air. Since the players in the book have numbers on their jerseys, we’ve also been able to point out what numbers look like while talking about soccer. It’s a win-win, especially in daddy’s eyes. P.S. We are watching the Italy-Spain EuroCup final as I write. P.P.S. Spain ends up winning, 4-0. Olé!

7. On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman. This one was a gift from a sweet friend on the evening of our book club baby shower (thanks, Cheryl!). We love the rhythm and cadence in this book, and we’re teaching Hayes to whisper his name at just the right time. The illustrations are lovely, and it’s just a gem. Wish I had it in hardback.

6. Mrs. Mustard’s Baby Faces by Jane Wattenberg. Yep, baby faces again. This accordion book folds out, and half the pictures are photos of babies laughing and smiling while the other half show babies who are sad and crying (one particularly distraught baby even has a bubble coming from his nostril!). We love to make up a unique laugh and cry for each of the babies. It’s actually kind of hard to do, but Hayes has fun!

5. My New Friends, A Funny Finger book by Karin Blume and Brigitte Pokornik. There is text in this book, but the fun part is taking your fingers and making a dog’s wagging tail, a bird’s wing, a little boy’s legs pumping on a swing, etc. We all enjoy the interactive nature of this book.

4. The Very First Christmas by Suzanne Berry (a Hallmark recordable storybook); Hayes’ Papa and Mia recorded themselves reading this Christmas story before he was born, and it became a big hit (once Hayes figured out it was not his grandparents actually reading in that moment, but rather their voices coming from the speaker). He likes to turn the pages, hear his Papa and Mia’s voices and squeal, “Pa-pa!” “Ma-Meen!” These books are such a cool way to connect people when they can’t actually be together.

3. I Love You Through and Through by Bernadette Rossetti Shustak; this book is just a wonderfully sweet way to tell your children just how much they mean to you. We love to point to Hayes’ head, feet, fingers, and toes when we read, and even though he’s just a little guy, it helps us show him that we love him unconditionally–even when he’s angry, when he makes a mess, etc. As parents, we ready do love everything about our babies, don’t we?

2. The Belly Button Book by Sandra Boynton. Obviously, we love Ms. Boynton’s silly rhyming books. This one is no exception; it’s fun to say “BE BO!” for belly button, and Hayes loves to point out the page with the balloon (see video). This book has peaked Hayes’ interest in his and others’ belly buttons; it makes for an interesting situation when Hayes searches to find our “be-bo’s” when we’re out in public.

1. I Touch by Rachel Isadora; thank you, Mrs. Irvin for this wonderful book that teaches babies how to describe what they are feeling with their hands! I really think Hayes learned the word, “hot” by listening to us read this book (“I do not touch the cup; it’s hot.”), and he is now able to tell us when his food is too hot, that the oven is hot, and that the temperature outside is hot—which is really REALLY is right now! This book talks about how leaves are crunchy, lollipops are sticky, newspaper crinkles, etc. So powerful for learning.

And just for fun, books that don’t quite make the bedtime routine every night, but are a close 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, and 15th:

Moo, Baa, La La La by Sandra Boynton (thanks Jenny and Mairn!)

Halloween Has Boo! by Harriet Ziefert

My First ABC Board Book, DK Publishers

That’s Not My Monster (a feel-and-learn book) by Fiona Watt

Waddle (a scanimation picture book) by Rufus Butler Seder

Happy reading and toddler snuggling!

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