Monday, November 29, 2010

Favorite Books for Preschoolers

Whether you are a parent, a teacher, or a grandparent, you are now thinking about what your special little ones would like for Christmas. Those of you who have been following Bringing Up Baby for a few years know of my interest in supporting literacy growth in young children. You know that I support books as gifts for children.

Last week I shopped for Christmas gifts for my little grandsons--books of course! In a large bookstore, I was overwhelmed by the choices and wondered if readers here in our community could help me out by sending me a short paragraph describing preschoolers’ favorite books.

Here is what I would like you to do. If you are a parent, teacher, child-care provider, or grandparent please write a preschool book review and bring it to the news office. This should include the title of the book, the author, your name, and your preschooler’s first name. Tell me in a few sentences what your preschooler seems to love about the book—what tickles the funny bone or catches the eye. Please give me permission to use your name and portions of your ‘book review’ in the next few columns before Christmas.

The news office will have a musical wooden toad and the Toad Song for you as a Christmas stocking stuffer. But please don’t wait! I will need all book reviews before Friday, December 10th. Thank-you for helping choose books for children.


ABC, See my teacher

1,2,3 Teaching me

Reading stories,

Painting pictures,

Eating healthy,

Making Friends

ABC, See my teacher

1,2,3 Teaching me

Rock gently from side to side. Pantomime or use sign language for the letters A,B, and C. and 1, 2, and 3.

This is an original song from my teaching career. The picture was created by my friend, Steven Baye. You can learn this song on the website.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Toddlers #4

Somewhere after your child’s third birthday, you will realize your chubby toddler is gone forever, replace by an ever busy, ever questioning preschooler. He has learned that he is capable of conducting his own life and he is his own person. Give him the space to learn and make his own decisions about those aspects of his life that you do not need to control. Your reward for giving him this power is that he will be more amenable to listening to your reasons for things that you need him to do. Those days of “me and mine” are replaced with the desire to please you. Three year olds love to do the right thing.

If your child is in a child care or preschool program, the teacher will hear a pretty close approximation of your conversations about rules, “My mommy (or daddy) says…..” When he comes home from school you will have the fun of hearing your child’s teacher’s voice about school rules.

Today’s Twinkletime song can give your toddler or preschooler more practice in imitating your gestures or sign language. is the online sign language dictionary I suggested last week for you to learn simple signs.


I’m thankful for mama

I’m thankful for papa

I’m thankful for family

I’m thankful for me.

I’m thankful for my grandma

I’m thankful for my puppy

I’m thankful for my nice toys

I’m thankful for me.

This lovely little song is augmented with the use of sign language for the word thankful, mama, papa, family, and me. In the second verse use children’s choices of what they are thankful for. Being thankful is a difficult concept for preschoolers. Using this song and having moms and dads and grandparents say “I love you and I am so thankful you are my child,” is one way of giving meaning to this difficult concept. Another wonderful way is for parents and grandparents to tell their little ones “thank-you” when the child tries to please by doing what the parent asks or by showing kindness.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Toddlers #3

From one to two years our toddler is refining his fine motor skills. He works hard at building his block tower even though at one year of age the tower might be just two blocks high--but what an accomplishment! He has integrated his vision and hand control in order to grasp the block. Then his whole body gets into the act, balancing himself in sitting position while he sets one block on top of another. When he accomplishes this feat he looks up at you with unabashed pride. “I did it!” is written all over his face. As I said, you’ve just got to love toddlers.

He will continue to practice his block building ability and probably be able to stack five blocks by the time he is two years old. He will also be working on other equally fascinating activities such as marking a piece of paper with a crayon and scribbling as if writing his own grocery list.

Between these two birthdays he will also start to turn pages of books one at a time. He knows, if you have been reading to him that books are not for eating, but for a different meaningful exchange with his parent. By age two, you can have safety scissors available. He has the skills because he can now use his fingers and thumb to grasp. However, you need to monitor the use of the scissors because he is not safe with them. It would be very easy for him to poke his eye or experiment with cutting his hair or books.

The Twinkletime song in today’s column can give your toddler practice in refining his fine motor skills by imitating your gestures or sign language for some of the words. One sign language dictionary you can access online is


Thank-you for the world so sweet

Thank-you for the food we eat

Thank-you for the birds that sing

Thank-you, for everything.

Pair the words ‘thank-you’, ‘world’, ‘eat’, ‘sing’, and ‘everything’ with simple sign language. This is a lovely song to sing each day before meal times.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Toddlers #2

Let’s explore how toddlers gain control over the fine movements of hands and fingers in today’s column. The newborn is able to put his fist into his mouth and sometimes his thumb. The six-month-old fists food into his mouth and at about one year of age, the baby can begin to rake or roll cheerios into the palm of his hand from his highchair when he wants to feed himself.

Soon after this, the index finger will start poking into the holes of the cheerios or pushing into pieces of cheese. Whatever sticks goes into his mouth. Whatever falls off he will try again and again to rake the pi

eces into his hand or roll the pieces into his palm. He does not yet have the fine control to use what we call the pincer grasp. That will come in time with practice.

When you give your toddler safe opportunities to practice rolling small objects with the side of his thumb and forefinger, he will gain control and refine his grasp. Either hand is working. Hand dominance comes in much later, in the kindergarten or first grade year.

One important role of the fine movements of our hands and fingers is to be able to feed oneself. Our brains are wired to do this. This is why safety is extremely important at this age. Babies and young toddlers are going to put everything they pick up into their mouths! A word to the wise is sufficient.

When you make little fingerpuppets for today’s song, you will provide the opportunity for older toddlers and preschoolers to practice fine motor control. Directions and fingerpuppets to print are available at

Song (tune of Five Little Ducks)

Five little turkeys hid in a tree

Quiet, quiet as can be

Mama turkey said, “Gobble, gobble, gobble

Four little turkeys went waddle, waddle, waddle.

Repeat for four, three, two, and one

After no little turkeys went waddle, waddle, waddle, then sing,

Papa turkey said “Gobble, Gobble, Gobble.

Five little turkeys went waddle, waddle, waddle.

It is fun to have fingerpuppets available to use for this song. Laminate paper turkeys and cut a hole or slit so children can put two fingers under the little feet. Then they can make their turkeys walk and waddle.

Toad House Publishing

Twinkletime Rhymes to Print