Sunday, August 28, 2011

Dinos for Dummies

Taking advantage of the back-to-school sales, I bought J a composition notebook to encourage him to spend more time doodling or writing his letters and numbers. So far, it's been pretty successful--much more so than giving him blank computer paper or construction paper and asking him to write.

Last week as we were drawing, we were talking about his favorite subject (aside from LEGOs): dinosaurs. J was recapping the latest episode of 'Dino Dan'--about a baby dinosaur who hatches from an egg and then chases the dog. I took the pencil and paper and this is what I drew.

And this is the conversation that followed:

J: What's that?
Me: A baby Pterodactyl.
J: There's no such thing as a Pterodactyl.
Me: Yes, there is. It's one of the bird-like dinosaurs.
J: No, Mom. There's no such thing called a Pterodactyl.
Me: Well, then what is this?
J: Well... there is a pterosaur called a Pterodactyl-US, but not a Pterodactyl.
Me: Oh. Then this is a baby Pterodactylus.
J: Cool.

Well, excuuuuse me, Mr. Walking Dinosaur Encyclopedia! 

And based on what I found after a quick Google search, the little stinker is right. I was shamed not only by my 4 year-old but also by this wikipedia entry that says that use of the word pterodactyl is strongly discouraged and is usually used erroneously by journalists. Damn! No wonder J was so emphatic about it!

Lest you fall victim as well to being uninformed about the modern advances in the field of paleontology, here's a round-up of some of our favorite dinosaur books: 

Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs by Byron Barton This was our first dino book and an excellent starting point for babies and toddlers.
Let's Look at Dinosaurs by Frances Barry Also nice for toddlers, or preschoolers. Lift the flap to find out which dinosaur is hiding on each page.
Dinosaur Vs. Bedtime by Bob Shea Not exactly a reference source on dinosaurs, but incredibly fun! Dinosaur can overcome a bowl of spaghetti and even bath time, but will he triumph over bedtime? Roar, roar, roar!
Dinothesaurus by Douglas Florian These dinosaur poems are clever, funny, and informative. The author includes a Glossarysaurus at the end of the book for older or more curious readers. The illustrations are fantastic. They have a child-like quality, but also contain incredible detail and texture. According to Florian, "the illustrations for this book were done with gonache, collage, colored pencils, stencils, dinosaur dust, and rubber stamps on primed brown paper bags". 

For more book suggestions, check out my Goodreads page.

What topics are your children experts in?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tell Me a Story

From a child to a parent, there may not be another request that warms the heart more than this one. In that one sentence, there is such simplicity and trust. Take me on an adventure. Let's use our imaginations together. There are no rules. There are no expectations.

I have to remind myself often of the latter. Although I am a children's librarian, I am not a born storyteller. I can build interest and excitement in a great picture book or even a mediocre one, but inventing a story--and delivering it simultaneously--is not my forte. My husband, however, is great at it. Even I occasionally ask him to tell me a story. I love the way he weaves a few little details from our lives into an otherwise fictional tale.

Telling a story is really a gift to the listener, isn't it? A gift of time and thoughtfulness and sharing. There is something magical about sitting back and just listening. There is an openness. Knowing this is not pre-planned or written down in a book somewhere. It is new and personal and alive.

Telling stories or reciting stories is also a precursor to reading. So when J asks me to tell him a story, I am reminded of what a fantastic opportunity it is to continue fostering a love of reading.

Last week at the playground, C and J randomly brought the story of The Three Billy Goats Gruff to life in their play. All J needed was to see that the play structure at Sharon Woods had a bridge before he asked C to play the troll living beneath it. I watched, smiling, as J tried to tiptoe across the bridge without waking the troll. Suddenly C leaped out and boomed, who's that tripping across my bridge? J laughed and then listened intently as C instructed that in order to cross to safety, he had to correctly answer three questions.

Watching them, I was so proud. Unexpectedly proud.

I had expected to see them run around and chase each other. I expected them to play hide and seek. I expected them to have fun and run off some of that 4 year-old energy.

But I didn't expect them to share such a creative learning experience. Role-playing, vocabulary, storytelling. It was all there. Things that are usually tied to books, storytime, or rainy day pretend play.

The inner planner in me was surprised to watch this all come about so naturally and effortlessly. It didn't take any planning. It was simple, but it was fun!

And I'm going to remember that the next time J says, Mama, tell me a story.


Do you have a favorite moment witnessing your child telling stories, or incorporating books and literacy into her play? Please share!

Friday, August 19, 2011

~thank you~

Many thanks to those of you who voted, tweeted and facebooked about the KidsLinked Best Parent Blogger contest. I hope to live up to the role in the coming months!

I'm very, very humbled by this experience. When I started this blog I didn't even imagine anyone reading it except maybe my husband. Seriously! It just seemed like a great creative outlet and a way to wrap my head around the idea of possibly sharing my writing. It has turned out to be a hobby I really enjoy and has enabled me to connect with people I otherwise wouldn't have--both locally and nationally.

I also would like to again thank KidsLinked and encourage you to check them out if you haven't already. I think it's wonderful that they choose to put on a contest like this to celebrate and recognize bloggers in the Columbus area. There is a great crop of bloggers in Columbus who are an incredible resource. Not only do they help alleviate in readers that sinking "am I alone?" feeling by writing from personal experience, but they also promote our city and provide an avenue for discussions, connections and friendships to form among Columbus residents.

Why not take a moment and thank your favorite blogger for a post or a share or a link that you appreciated? I think they'd love to hear from you.

Friday, August 12, 2011

In Celebration of Bloggers!

Hello friends!

Well, this is reeeeallly not my thing, but since there are prizes (for me AND you) involved, I'm going to step outside of my comfort zone.

I 'm honored to say that I have at least one devoted reader who lovingly nominated me for a Best Mom Blogger Award here in Columbus. So sweet, right?!

I'll include instructions at the end of this post in case you'd like to take 30 seconds and vote for me. I'm in among some amazing folks and feel so special just to have been nominated. (So cliche, I know, but it's actually true!)

What's cool about this blogger celebration (aside from the awesome prizes) is that it's sponsored by a local organization called KidsLinked, with whom I wasn't familiar until now. Am I the last to know about them?! I'm really impressed with the way they have organized kid-friendly events and activities, parenting resources and advice, as well as coupons and deals! Check them out.

The other cool thing is that KidsLinked is throwing a big Parent EXPO / Blogger Event at KDB Easton next Thursday. And you are invited! There will be food, games, kid-friendly vendors and giveaways. Check out the Facebook page for details and to RSVP. Giveaway donors include COSI, Fort Rapids and Tiny Turtle Photography.

So, in closing, thanks for your readership and support. It's hard to believe I am coming up on a 3 year anniversary with you all.

If you'd like to, voting can be done here, and apparently you can vote twice a day if you are so inclined! Voting ends Monday, August 15th.

Thank you!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Summer Reading

Though there's still almost a month of summer left, we are already thinking back-to-school and there are even Halloween decorations displayed at stores!

The kiddies have been little fishes this summer, spending lots of days at the pool. We've also been eating lots of ice cream, catching fireflies, and of course reading lots of books.

Here is a sampling of some favorites:

Sister by Rosamund Lupton--excellent storytelling; a suspenseful murder mystery; read it in a day. I gave this to my mom as well as a couple of friends who all agree it's terrific and slightly terrifying!

Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson--Amnesia sets in every night when Christine sleeps. She wakes each day not knowing who or where she is. When she starts keeping a journal at the suggestion of her doctor, she begins to make some nerve-wracking progress while sensing that she should not completely trust her husband.

Archie and the Pirates by Marc Rosenthal--really fun adventure story that J loved for a few weeks this summer. Archie is a monkey who wakes up on a deserted island. When pirates capture his new best friend, he puts a hilarious plan into action.

My Dad, My Hero by Ethan Long--I picked this up at the library right around Father's Day and it lay next to J's bed for weeks and weeks, being read every night. Like many 4 year-olds, he's pretty into superheroes right now, and loved this silly book. (It's pretty clever!)

What are you reading?