Assiniboine Park Zoo visit with Little Z

walking around the zooThe weather got unseasonable warm a few weeks ago. So one Sunday when we had just Little Z we took him to the zoo.

I’m going to be honest. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Our zoo in the past was less than impressive. Lots of empty exhibits. They recently added the new Churchill exhibit where they take in orphaned polar bears. But since they added it the cost jumped 2.5x higher.

But I’m happy to report that we had a great time. While its not Calgary zoo, there has been some improvements.

Polar bear cubs eating at the zoo

Feeding time for the Polar Bear cub.

The weather was perfect. The animals were so active and we seem to get to several of the exhibits just at feeding time. The zoo keepers that were feeding the polar bears told us about the polar bears and answered several of our questions.

Lions at the zoo feeding timeAll of the staff were so helpful. Since the zoo has recently been changed we nearly walked right by the tiger and lion exhibit. The staff taking care of the camels redirected us and guess what, good thing too! IT was feeding time for them too.

seal swimming at the zoo

Little Z’s favorite animal at the zoo. The seal!

Now Little Z’s favorite exhibit was the seal area. If was like the seal knew too. As soon as we got there the seal started swimming and diving and putting on a little show. He was so happy to get to see his favorite animal in front of him.

 

Overall it was an awesome day! We enjoyed spending some time with just Little Z. The big kids have each had lots of time to spend with us alone, and while Little Z is usually with us alone on Sundays, we are usually just running errands.

We also took the time before we left to read about a few of the animals we might see at the zoo. And when we got home we read about others we didn’t know we would see. We used Firefly Encyclopedia of Animals to find what we wanted to know. I felt it had enough of select to find all the animals we needed to.

I think if you are able to visit a good quality zoo, that is respectful to the animals and supports conservation and research, it is enriching to your child’s life to go. It is so important to teach our children compassion for animals as well as respect. Its a lot harder to respect something you have never seen. But hands on experience at the zoo can help bridge this concept for your child.

What My Two Year Old and I Read Today. Mini NACD Update.

So its been a few weeks since we had our NACD assessment (The National Association for Child Development). With the holidays and everything we have had a slow start. But I’m already seeing some positive changes in Little Z. So I’m hoping once we get the rest of the supplies needed, we will see even more changes. Right now The Listening Program and Wes’s comprehension books are sitting at the border, waiting for my cousin to pick them up on his way home back to Canada.

 

Firefly AnimalsOne program we are working on right now is what I call the Modified Encyclopedic Knowledge program. We flip through either an Kids Picture Encyclopedia or a Kids Picture Dictionary and read random facts. As soon as we got our programs I ran to the store and bought a copy of Firefly Encyclopedia of Animals.

The point of this program is not to read the dictionary or encyclopedia from cover to cover. But to flip around and read random facts. This will teach Little Z that we can learn from reading. That words have meaning and they are not just there for him to play with.

Before we went to the zoo a few weeks ago, I went through this book with him and we found animals that we might have the chance to see on our visit. Then when we got back, we found some others we had seen but hadn’t read about before leaving.

Kids Dictionary and Encyclopedia Thing is, we need to mix things up a bit. After a while going through the same Encyclopedia for a few weeks becomes a bit boring.

So we went to the library and picked out a few more Encyclopedias and picture dictionaries for use to flip through. Today we looked though these two. On the way home I realized I should have looked for an encyclopedia on vehicles. He would have loved that too. Note to self.

I have kids picture dictionary coming in the mail. But I plan on  putting that away and continuing to use the assortment of library books. I want to have that one put away ready to go if we have to either a) go away on vacation and I don’t want to worry about losing a library books or b) if we can’t get to the library for some reason.

Another program we are working on is a simple one. We are doing a reading program. We have to sit down and read together 2 times a day. The only catch, it has to be new materials. Which can be a bit of a bother for Little Z. He has his favorite books and wants to keep reading them over and over again. But in his situations we need to keep offering him new materials.

So while at the library on Sunday, I went to the bin of suggested books of the month, and started flipping through.

I was looking for :

– books that had a story line

 

– books that were not too long or wordy

 

– books that were not  too short or had no words

 

– books that were non-fiction and not too wordy

 

– books that were not simple phonics or sight words books, (This is a cat. This is a red apple. Etc)

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We started with a book called Whoever You Are (Reading Rainbow Books). by Mem Fox and Illustrated by Leslie Staub.

It is a beautiful, yet simple story about how we are as cultures different in many ways, like:

                – Different skin color

– Different homes

– Different Schools.

But then the author goes on to explain that we are also very similar for example:

– We all have hearts

– We all smile

– We all cry

I was quite happy that this book was able to explain to young children common humanity and diversity.

cat and mouse in the rain

Then we read the story called Cat and Mouse in the Rain by Tomek Bogacki.

This is a cute story about a cat and a mouse who get stuck in the rain. Then they meet their new friend frog, who helps get them out of the comfort zone to try something new… playing in the puddles. 

George, the dragon and the princess

After we were introduced to a little mouse named George in George, the Dragon and the Princess.

This book would be perfect for a young child that feels like they are small and not good at very many things. George learns in this story that everyone is good at something. We just might not have found our special talent yet.

market day

 

Market Day by Lois Ehlert is a simple story about a family going to down to buy items they need and sell their wares. They tell the story using folk art.

 What are you reading with your child today?

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4 Magic Words When Dealing With Exhausted School Age Children.

angryWe’ve all been there. Its just after dinner and your kiddo just can’t keep it together. There is home reading and homework to do. Maybe swimming lessons, or piano practice. But everything is a problem for your child.

What is a parent to do?

Well the technique we use at home, when my 4th grader is losing his cool is quite simple. I say these 4 magic words.

“Its time for bed.”

Maybe we miss piano, or don’t get those last math problems done. But thats ok, doing so will not cause your child to be a high school drop out, or suddenly not able to play piano.

What it will do is help your child learn to regulate their emotions, and to know when they are tired.

Just to clarify myself, I’m not telling you to be cruel about this. What you should tell your child is:

“Sally, I can see your having a hard time controlling your emotions. You seem quite tired. Its time for bed.”

If your children are anything like mine, they will argue that they are not. But gently telling them that their actions are telling you they are tired. I let them know, that going to bed early will help make sure tomorrow they will feel better.

My oldest needs to be in bed for 8pm, 8:30 the absolute latest. But for a few weeks, I think he was growing and he was melting down right after dinner. We started sending him to bed at 7. Which meant we didn’t get all our NACD homework done one night, and we missed piano lessons another night. But he needed it.

You know what the kicker is? Now he recognizes when he is having trouble controlling his emotions due to being tired and will ask to go to bed early.

As a parent I always felt guilty by the thought of sending my child to bed right after dinner. I mean come on, I’m sure I can get him to cooperate. Sending him to bed at 6 or 7 would be just plain lazy. Right?

WRONG!

If your child is that overtired, things are not going to get better by keeping him up even later. You need to help set them up for success. If they are overtired and cranky, and you know they have school the next day, that extra hour or two will help them feel more rested and ready to have a wonderful productive day. Chances are it is just a growth spurt and they will get back to their regular bedtime.

If possible make sure to still go through your regular bedtime routine. Storytime, snuggles, bedtime prayers, whatever you and your child usually do. This will help them realize that this is not a punishment. Because it shouldn’t be. However, if my child was overly protesting early bedtime, I will ask them if they are too tired for bedtime activities(bedtime story and such.) Usually my son will stop protesting. There has been a time or two where is actions made the decision for him to go straight to bed. However I try to avoid this if possible.

The goal is to help your child learn to self regulate their emotions. I know as an adult if I’ve been pulling too many late nighters, I sometimes become short with my hubby or boys. So you know what I do? I go to bed early so I’m fresh in the morning. It might also help to share this with your child. That way they know this is what adults do too.

For now, do not strain your parent/child relationship. No one wants to go to bed angry at their child’s behavior, when you know they were just over tired.

Just say “It’s time for bed.”

New Years Goals/Bucket List

I do well when I set goals with powerful start dates. I’m not talking New Years Resolutions. I’m talking about solid written down goals or a bucket list.                                                                           I also don’t do well when my house is disorganized. After Christmas, my house was Chaos. I was nearly having anxiety attacks over it. So when you see goals that involve organizing my house, its because it is really important to my mental health. This is why they are on my list.

52 week check list. No particular order. Basically pick whatever I feel like doing that week.

I don’t want to let 2015 slip away. Hopefully with this I will get 52 projects or experiences done with my family. Wish me luck!

1) Clean and organize my bedroom closet and drawers.

2) Clean front entry closet and Linen Closet

3) Clean and organize all the kitchen cupboards

4) Create a clutter free kitchen.

5) Clean and organize laundry room and basement bathroom

6) Read 12 books. Children’s chapter books with my son does not count.

7) Clean out garage so we can park both cars in.

8) Donate 30 garbage bags worth of items to the Canadian Diabetes Clothesline.

9) Throw out or recycle 50 grocery bags worth of junk. (Day to day kitchen and bathroom waste do not count)

10) Organize all my bills and paperwork into binders

11) Finish my shutterfly photo book for 2014 and create as many books necessary to organize 2012 and 2013.

12) 52 week money challenge.

13) Banana island for one week.

14) Pay off $5000 on my line of credit

15) Get back on the Dave Ramsey Budget

16) Take my kids camping or to a cabin

17) Potty Train Z

18) Pay off and cancel my Sears Mastercard, after cashing out the points.

19) Crazy glue the tracks to the train table downstairs in my daycare area to an elaborate town.

20) Clear all the NAET autism kit for both boys.

21) Exercise 160 time in 2015 for 20-30mins.

22) Lose 20lbs

23) Take an online course about blogging. (Started Jan 6th)

24) Blog 160 times in 2015

25) Create 100 YouTube Videos.

26) Read 12 Chapter books WITH Wesley.

27) Get 150 Facebook Likes on Early Learning Mom Page

28) Get 200 Twitter followers

29) Give up fast food for 6 months. (Hopefully forever) Subway and Pita Pit are OK.

30) Try the one photo a day challenge

31) Get Wesley back on the allowance system and teach him how to handle money.

32) Make it out to Hawaii to visit my Online Bestie.

33) Learn to cook 20 new dishes.

34) Babysit one night for my local Bestie so her and her hubby can go out.

35) Organize and clean out the laundry room.

36) Attend the Hi Neighbor Parade and check out the strip.

37) Take the kids Strawberry Picking

38) Visit Penners Pumpkins and Scarecrow Forest

39) Take a ride on the Steam Train at Assiniboine Park

40) Learn how to make my own blog banners

41) Take the kids to the Snake Pits

42) Visit the Steinbach Aquatic Centre

43) Take the kids bowling

44) Visit the Farmers Market at Birds Hill

45) Set up the window bird box

46) Donate Blood

47) Help the kids create Christmas Shoeboxes for the needy

48) Get a Family Photo taken

49) Take Wes to Skyzone

50) Take Wes to do Archery

51) Take Wes for Ice Cream for the first time at Dairy Queen

52) Visit the International Peace Garden

What is on your 2015 bucket list?

Watch for blog updates on how I’m doing!

 

EarlyLearningMom.com Top 10 Posts of 2014

2014 has almost come to an end. For my family it was a great year. But I’m excited to see what 2015 will bring us. I thought I’d look back this year and see what the top 10 most popular post on Early Learning Mom were.

10) Toddler Tula Vs Ergo Carrier. My Experience with My Favorite Baby Carriers.

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#10 post of the year on Early Learning Mom was my post about babywearing. Which has helped keep me sane during 2012/2013/2014. I’m not sure what I would have done without it.

9) 9 Year old Piano Recital

Ok so post #9 was a little brag on Wes and his performance at the winter concert. This was a tough piece for him, but he did not give up.

8) Teach Your Baby to Read? Why You Should Do It? Here Are 4 Reasons Why You Should!

reading

#8 is a post about why you should teach your baby to read.

7) TouchMath for Homeschooler!! A Review

 

 

 

TouchPointPoster

 

Ok #7 is a post from 2013, but it still makes this years list because it was the 7th most popular post in 2014. This one I got to review the new homeschooling version of TouchMath.

 

6) Teach your Toddler with TouchMath

TOUCHMATHBLOG

 

This years #6 post was a fun one for me to write. In this one I shared how to modify the TouchMath kindergarten curriculum to teach your toddler.

5) Can TV Teach Your Young Child? Powerful tool, or Gateway Drug to TV addiction?

tv

 

#5 Post of 2014 was a post about using TV as a tool for teaching your young child.

4) BrillKids Learning System with Baby Z UPDATE

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#4 post of the year was a post about how we were using BrillKids software at the time.

3)Howie & Skip’s MonkiSee ABC Round Up

monkisee

 

The #3 post on EarlyLearningMom.com was my review on one of Howie & Skip’s Monki See videos.

2)Back to Afterschool

grade 4

 

The #2 most popular post this year was about Wes’s first week of school and our afterschool plans.

1) FarFaria Giveaway

farfaria1This years #1 post was a review/giveaway for an app called FarFaria.

Thank you so much to my readers. The last few months of 2014, I came back to my blog and got serious again, and my readers welcomed me with open arms. I have plenty of goals in place for 2015, so stay tune for a fun pack year at Early Learning Mom.

Have a safe and happy New Years Eve and all the best in 2015.

Your Baby Can Read: How to Select Books for Early Readers

So you taught your little infant, toddler, or preschooler to read a bunch of words, some couplets and you are working on sentences. What should you look for in a book for your little one?

Your Baby Can Read Flipbooks:

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I first started by using the Your Baby Can Read books that came with that companies kit. Now I do not own the whole reading kit. I actually bought each DVD on Amazon back in 2007 before YBCR really blew up in the mainstream. But I did find 4 of the 5 books at our local thrift store. Can you say score!!

Preschool Prep Sight Words books

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These were passed down to us a year and a half ago by a good early learning friend. Her little ones loved them, and so does Little Z. The words are on one page in bold black font. Perfect for little eyes. The pictures are on the other page. The best part is there are 3 sets of books with 12 books per set. Lots of fresh materials.

Meet the Sight Words – Level 1 – Easy Reader Books (boxed set of 12 books)
Meet the Sight Words – Level 2 – Easy Reader Books (boxed set of 12 books)
Meet the Sight Words – Level 3 – Easy Reader Books (boxed set of 12 books)

LeapFrog Book Sets

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These were also passed on to us from the same friend that gave us her children’s Preschool Prep books. While the writing is on the same page as the picture, they separate the two. The picture on top, words on the bottom, but not in the picture.

LeapFrog LeapReader Learn to Read, Volume 1 (works with Tag)
LeapFrog LeapReader Learn to Read, Volume 2 (works with Tag)
LeapFrog LeapReader Learn to Read, Volume 3 (works with Tag)
LeapFrog LeapReader Learn to Read, Volume 4 (works with Tag)

Little Champion Reader

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Reading Kit for Baby, Toddler and Kids – Little Champion Reader 3-Level Reading System

Little Champion Reader is a complete learning program for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. There are several books and flashcards that come with the series, that are awesome!. As you can see the words and the pictures are separate, making them ideal for little ones. Also, there are larger words and the sounds are colored differently to help a child sound out the words if they are at that stage in the game.

What if you can’t find books that have a clear print for your child to read?

2014-12-11 08.54.13A good friend of mine passed on this book to us. She covered the words with words she printed out. While they are still in the picture, the white background separates them enough to hold the child’s attention.

This is a great thing to do when you find a well-illustrated book at the library book sale, but the story is too long for your child.

What books do you use with your child? Please share them with me as we are always looking for new books to explore!

Sorry about the lack of updates this week. We had our NACD meeting last week and received our programs on Friday. I have been processing them, and working them into our schedule. I’m hoping to have figured them out enough this week to share what we are doing. (UPDATED NOV2020: in 2016 we switched to Doman International)

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What to Learn More About Doman International?

Click HERE to fill out a quick form and a representative from Doman International will contact you to set a FREE 30-minute consultation.

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Must have IOS apps for babies and toddlers

One of the most helpful tools I have used to teach Baby Z a lot of has been our iPad. From an early age I would sit him on my lap and we would spend a few mins going through some educational apps.


As he got older he would get excited to do his lessons. He could be running around playing, ignore me as I walked in the room. But as soon as the “Hooked On Phonics” app theme song would start playing, he would come running and sit in my lap.

I’m so sad this technology was not available when Wes was a baby. I feel this gave Baby Z such an upper hand. Baby Z does not let me videotape him often, but here are some videos of him working on his shapes and sight words at 16 months old. 

My top 5 must have ISO apps for babies and toddlers are(in no particular order):

Now some of these apps your child will not be able to do on their own. I did the hand over hand method with my son. I would guide him hand and talk to him about what we were doing and why we were selecting that answer. If he didn’t want me to guide his hand, I would just have him sit in my lap and I would do that activities and explain what I was doing. Eventually when he learned how to do it, I would feel his hand tug away from mine and he would answer himself.

app1

Baby Doesn’t Count

apps2

Any Preschool Prep app. We love them all!

app3

Teach Me Toddler. Afterwards we went straight to Teach Me Kindergarten.

app4

Hooked on Phonics

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Splash Math

What apps do you use with your baby or toddler? Why do you like them? Leave me a comment and share!

Prepping for the NACD

NACD Logo-Letters OnlyWell things are about to start getting interesting around here. This week the boys are having their evaluation with the NACD- National Association For Child Development via Skype.

The NACD is run by Glenn Doman’s nephew Bob Doman. They combine over 3000 methods of therapy to create the perfect program for your child.

I have looked at 2 other programs:

The Family Hope Center and The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential(IAHP). Both of them seemed awesome.

However the IAHP seemed a little to strict. I am not able to quit my job and do programs 10 hours a day. Also I am using some alternative treatments that are working well for my boys like NAET(Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Technique)

The Family Hope Centre seems very good too. I have watched some of there video seminars and have been very impressed. The one thing stopping me is the travel cost. The cost of paying for passports to fly into the states, plane tickets for 2 adults and 2 kids, accommodations, dining out while there, and missing nearly a week of work is just not possible for us right now.

I have been saving to do either the Family Hope Centre or the IAHP, but could never pull the trigger. Then I discovered the NACD. All assessment can be done over Skype, and if we want to go down the Minneapolis for an in person evaluation, we can hope in the motor home and be there in 10 hours. We could easily book a Friday appt, book Friday off of work and make it there and be back before work on Monday.

So this is a new adventure for my family. I’m so excited, as it seems so promising.

Stay tuned for more updates!!

Howie & Skip’s MonkiSee ABC Round Up

 photo monkisee.gif

As many of my long time readers know, my family and I are crazy about Howie & Skip’s MonkiSee videos. If you haven’t already, please check out my past reviews MonkiSee Reading Program(The First 3 DVDs First Words, Shapes and Colors), On the Farm, Around the House, and Action Words.

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Now I have the opportunity to review yet another awesome video in this series, this one is called “Howie and Skip’s MonkiSee- ABC Round Up.” Little Z is crazy about this one! Well he loves all the MonkiSee videos, but this one is new and fresh to him.

This video combines Glenn Doman’s method of teaching babies to read, with multi-media and several awesome songs and raps. A word is presented with each letter of the alphabet a in clear bold font on a white background. Then Howie, Skype and the creator Krista’s children show the kids what sound that letter makes and other words that begin with that letter.

What makes this DVD different than other ABC DVDs? MonkiSee uses a more expanded vocabulary. They don’t just say “A is for Apple”, they also use A is for Awesome. Other examples are like for H they use the word Habanero, or S they use spectacular. It is an awesome way to expanded your child’s vocabulary.

Check out my MonkiSee Vlog Review below

Would you like to win one of the MonkiSee Digital DVDs? Well Krista has agreed to allow me to do a giveaway! The winner gets to pick one of the MonkiSee DIgital DVDs! So please go and enter!

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