Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Baby To Big Kid Online Book Of The Week Club - Bug Buzz Assignment

Welcome to the first week of the Baby To Big Kid Online Book Club, I chose to start with one of my 9 month old's favorite online books. Bug Buzz, you can find this book at Mighty Books, where children can learn to read though free online games, books and puzzles.



The book starts out with a cute musical played by the grasshopper band. It fades into a colorful and beautifully animated Grasshopper talk show with lots of fun facts about grasshoppers! The words at the bottom of the page light up red as they are being read out loud by the grasshoppers in the book. Making it easy to follow along, and a perfect compliment to any baby reading program. The colors are bright and fun, the grasshoppers are funny and up beat. It's easy for me to see why my daughter likes this. I can also see how the story would be a big dry for some children. 

Assignment For This Week: Read the book Bug Buzz by clicking Here or on the link above. Then find a grasshopper (On your nature walk, at a pet store, at the park, etc.) or find some photographs of grasshoppers online! Make sure that while you are reading the online book you point out any words your child may know (if they aren't yet reading or showing signs of reading no worries). Try reading this book a few times. And, don't forget to comment on next weeks review post with how you liked the book as well as how your assigned went! Did your child like the grasshopper book and experience or were grasshoppers a bit "Icky" for them? Next week will be your chance to win!


This Weeks Prize: A Finger Puppet From Carter's Children's Clothing Store! Brand new with tags, and shipped for free. These little finger puppets are regularly $6.99 each! Animal or style chosen at random. 

1000+ Free Online Games For Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers

Here is a list of all the places my kids and I go to find free online games designed for children. We use them to reinforce ideas we've been learning (such as colors, matching, letters, reading, shapes, etc) learn new topics, or just give mommy a few minutes to sit down. Try some of them out and let me know which are your favorites!

Nick Jr.
Tons of free games to match their favorite shows! If they are learning about sharing on Wow Wow Wubbzy then you can go online and play a sharing game! Same with any topic taught on their shows!




PBS Kids
Games that match their shows. Fun little interactive games for babies 12 months plus (we play some of them with our 9 month old and she loves them). My daughter's favorite is the Clifford games!

Fisher-Price
This website offers a variety of games divided up into age groups starting with babies! My girls went crazy for the Peak-a-boo game from a bout 4 to 7 months, and after that they love the coloring game, and the ABC's game. Easy to use, and very entertaining.

Disney.com

Girls Games Now
Over 2500+ games (most of them for young kids, some are for older kids). Designed for girls but not all the games are "girly". I have played these with boys and they don't seem to mind the bright pink background!

Big Fish Games
This site has lots of games from various sites, and some of their own. They have hundreds of games, using popular characters like Dora the Explorer, Spong Bob Square Pants, and even Zhu Zhu Pets so if your children are old enough to play with general assistance and or have characters they are in love with this is a great site.

Random Brain Game- Lumosity
I found this on stumbleupon and my girls love it... honestly I do to! The game it's self is from Lumosity which is also listed below, you do have to create an account to play the games on Lumosity and it will tell you, that you get 5 days premium and then you are dropped down to a free membership with out paying. You can play all (we haven't come across any we can't play, although they may add some or there may be a few we haven't tried to play) the games on this site with the free membership.

Lumosity
You have to create an account here. These games are not specifically designed for babies, they are designed to increase brain function! You can even choose what areas you want to work on. The account is free, although it scared me at first because it said I had a free 5 day PREMIUM membership and then I would be dropped down to the free membership, however we've been able to play all the games with out paying for a premium membership.

Baby Gamer
I got a big lost on this site at first, but they have quite a few games for Infants and Toddlers. They also allow people to post other games they find! Which is awesome because you can check back to see what new finds there have been online for your baby or child (or yourself) to play! Night Animals is a great way to teach kids about the dark! It shows what animals look like in the dark and then you can turn the light on! Perfect for kids who get scared in the dark.

Ze's Page - ZeFrank
Go to interactive toys! So many fun things, these toys will keep you and your children occupied. Make sure you set a timer or you'll get lost in some of these toys and forget to make dinner!

Knee Bouncers
I love this website! SOOOO many fun games, that you can use to reinforce ideas you may already be teaching. Or introduce those ideas to babies and children! They also have an app for apple so if you have an iPhone or iTouch and would like to take your child's favorite games with you... you're golden!

Kodomo Games
These are flash games, a little choppy but their ABC game is really fun. This sight is free to use, however if you find yourself using it a lot you may consider donating a dollar or two to help with their hosting fees.

The Fungooms
This is a family of games (designed for toddlers to school age children). They have some fun concepts but it's defiantly for slightly older children. My 2 year old will play these games for a maximum of about 10 minutes. Where as she'll play some of the other games for hours on end if allowed to. On the other hand I baby sit an 8 year old whom I can't pull away from this site.

Crayola
Just like buying crayons you can draw, create and giggle all day long! Save the couch and the money... and just let your kids draw on your computer for awhile! While you're at it... quiz them on colors!

Mother Goose.com
Monkey Music is our favorite! Easy to use flash games, that often have a lot of sound in them. I will actually just play some of these in the back ground on a loop and let the girls dance to them. Most are single click so Infants and toddlers can do them with out much help.

Owlie
These games are sorted by what computer function they teach! It is awesome! My 2 year old and I play these together to help her understand how to treat a computer! Categories like "mouse function" and "keyboard function" are awesome for teaching children to use a computer nicely... the first step of being able to play alone.

Kiddie Games
This site has a good variety of games in languages other then English (as well as English) it's perfect for children working on learning other languages or getting introduced to other languages. Re-enforces what they learn on Nick Jr shows such as Dora The Explorer.

Toddler Toons
I haven't played this one much but it has been recommended by multiple people. They seem to have mostly flash games, that teach colors, and shapes.

Sesame Street
Recommended by a fellow blogger, and I just checked it out! They have some AWESOME games! Thanks for the comment!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Baby To Big Kid Online Book Of The Week Club - Introduction

Welcome to the online baby to big kid book of the week club. If you haven't already check out the post with over 3000 Free Online and E-books for children. We will be selecting our reading from these websites, which means there is NOTHING for you to purchase. 


Better yet, you can win all kinds of free prizes by participating and leaving feedback of what you and your child did with the weekly book plan. 

I will be posting a new book every Wednesday! As well as the review of the previous weeks book! All you need to do to participate is to read the book that is posted, follow any activity posted (or make up your own) and comment on the review of that weeks book to win! A winner will be selected by random each week, they will have until the next week to respond with their address, and their gift will be mailed out. 

In the mean time you and your child will have 4 to 5 books and weekly activities all planned out, and a deadline by which to report back on your progress! If you want to get an e-mail reminder on Wednesday to check that weeks book and activity, leave your e-mail address as a comment on this post, and I will send out weekly e-mails. 

Want bonus entries into the weekly prize drawing? Here's how you can get up to 5 entries a week! 

Mandatory: Comment on the review blog and let us know what and how you did this week! Even if you didn't get the entire assignment complete, just let us know what you did, and how you liked the story! (1 Entry)

Bonus: Share the baby to big kid book of the week club weekly post on Facebook or Twitter. (1 Entry)

Bonus: Recommend this blog to one of your friends though e-mail. (1 Entry)

Bonus: Recommend an online book or activity to go along with an online book for the weekly review. (1 Entry)

Bonus: Share the baby to big kid book of the week club on your blog, forum, or feeback site. (1 Entry)

Make sure you add in your comment which of the above you've done for credit towards drawing. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

How Do I Know It's Working

I get asked this all the time as a mother of two young children who are both learning math, reading, colors, shapes, sign language, and more! How do you know it's working when your child it too young to take a test? Well that's one of the hardest parts, you won't for a long time! You may notice little things though that give you clues it's sinking in.

Things you may start to notice after you start teaching your baby to read are:
- Your baby (or toddler) wants you to read to them.
- They look at books by themselves.
- They want to do whatever program or teaching ritual you use.
- They get excited over certain words.
- They start to point out letters, or words, while you are out. (even if they don't say anything).

It's hard to keep going everyday when you aren't sure if they are getting it. But the day your 14 month old points to a pet store banner and says "dog!" (when there isn't a picture of a dog just and adoption plea) you'll cry! Keep in mind though, even then you may go months with out seeing them actually read anything. Often toddlers and babies don't express their ability to read or understand the world around them vocally. They are still exploring. I still have days where I wonder if it's working with my 2 year old. But then I get little hints, days of success where she will read something to me and I just have to know that on the days she doesn't she's still absorbing information. PS. don't expect your kids to get 100% of what you teach. No matter how many times you go over it. You don't remember everything someone tired to teach you either!

Things you may notice when your kids start to understand math, colors and shapes:

- My oldest daughter got obsessed with certain 'amounts' she wanted 3 beans, 3 chips, 3 cookies, 3 toys, 3 everything! She never said 3 (not at first anyway) she just picked 3 out and put them aside, or would ask for more, or hand me one back. Why 3? I have no idea!
- My younger daughter lays things out on the ground and stares at them. I didn't recognize it at first but then I realized her brillkid math program would lay things out in a similar fashion and simply tell her how many there were to teach number recognition. When she's left to play on her own she will remove one item continue to stare, put the item back and stare on. Add another item stare... remove another item stare. I can't promise you she's practicing but it sure seems like it.
- They start to show a preference towards one color, or a few select colors. (In clothing, food etc.)
- They start to show preference towards shapes (patters on clothing, bedding, toys, etc.)
- They become particular to food of one color (either liking or disliking it).

Here's just a few things my kids have done, and low and behold as my oldest daughter has become more vocal she understood way more then I had ever imagined she would! One of the hardest parts about teaching young children is wondering "Are they getting this?" rest assured they get it!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Bribe Your Kids

Most people say the word "bribe" as if they are talking about Watergate, and the tone only goes down when you talk about school work and bribery in the same sentence. STOP IT! Your kids like to be bribed, it makes it exciting! Bribery does not have to be a bad thing... here's a few examples of good old fashion bribery!

Bribe Your Kids With YOU! 
My kids want my attention ALL THE TIME! I can't alway give it to them but when I can, I can use my attention as a reward for learning. "Come sit on my lap and I'll read to you" is way more inciting to my 2 year old then "Come tell me what this word says." Even if we read 1 or 6 books before she warms up and wants to start pointing out words she knows, it's SOOOO worth it! She can point to words in her picture books that she knows, and that is the first step in being an independent reader! All she wants in return for this irreplaceable reading practice is me to pay attention to her, and nothing else. I've also started bribing my older daughter every night before bed. If she'll help me pick up all the toys and books in her room before bed, I'll sit and sing to her while she falls asleep. Even though sang to her before she will work hard to make sure she gets her snuggle time. I've only ever left once with out singing to her. I still tucked her in, kissed her good night and told her I loved her but she just refused to help do anything that day. So I kindly told her "we'd try again tomorrow" I've never even had to threated to let her fall asleep on her own since that time.

Bribe Your Kids With Outdoors Time! 
Okay this sound silly right? Like how exactly does that work... but it works. Kids need time outside, it's so crucial but they don't know you know that! So bribe them to play animal sounds with you, on your way to get their bike out of the garage (or in our case motorized jeep). Get them to tell you what colors their balls are while pulling them out. Have them match up their balls or other toys to the colors of flowers, grass, the sky or other objects you find outside. Throw two balls and have them go get the "red one" (I promise this isn't playing fetch, okay maybe it is a little). Not only does this give their bodies the much needed exercises, and fresh air, but it also keeps them thinking about the world around them! So on those days they just can't sit and read, go outside and play color games, matching games, and animal sounds! Bribe them with going outside and it makes it into an extra special treat, meaning this homework is just that much more fun!

Bribe Your Kids With Bath Time! 
When my 9 month old refused to sit down and listen to story time for a week, I was ready to give up. Some days home work with little ones is frustrating! Finally a little light bulb came on in my head while she was sitting and splashing in the tub "My daughter is contained, and happily so!" I sent my 2 year old to fetch a story book... she brought me back Splat The Cat... "PERFECT" I thought to myself. I sat on the floor just outside the water's reach and started reading. My 9 month old stopped splashing, she stared at me, until the book was finished. Then when I said "yah Inara for reading time today" she splashed extra hard! Now when they just can't find it in themselves to sit still for reading time I simply say "Do you want to splash in the bath with Splat the Cat?" both girls get excited! We've also just recently gotten some "bubble books" which are water proof and perfect for bath time!

Bribe Your Kids With Helping You Make Dinner (or Desert)
One of my 2 year olds favorite things to do is "cooking" with me, so I made it a treat to get to come help me cook. If she counts the scoops of flour, sugar, etc we put in the bowel she can help me mix it. If she doesn't count then mom gets to mix it. Talk about an easy way to get her counting real world applications!

Bribe Your Kids The Old Fashion Way - With Treats! 
Yep sometimes it just takes a treat (it doesn't have to be sugar packed) to get little ones back on track. There's been weeks where either of my girls won't want to sit and do their reading or math programs. So I simply sit down at my desk with a cup full of fishy crackers and start with out them. Guaranteed with in 30 seconds they are on my lap asking for a cracker. Kids learn by watching they see you are going to do it anyway and they'll often give in even with out the crackers, but hey an added bonus never hurt!

Watch your kids for a few days, those little things that they love, that are just a little extra work for you... use those to bribe them into picking up their toys, doing their homework, learning their colors, counting, or anything else you are working on! I've even bribed my 2 year old with watching a TV show if she'd hold her little sister (just because she was having a hard time adjusting to having another little person in the house).

What sort of things do you use to bribe your kids? 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Free E-Books or Online Books

Here is a list of websites that offer free online books or free E-Books you can download to read to your children! Horay you don't have to go out and buy more books!



Disney Digital Books:
They have a paid and non paid plan you can still read quite a few books with out paying. Create a free account and add your child's birthday they have an awesome birthday program!

Barns And Noble Nook:
You don't need to buy the nook to use these just download the free Nook App to your computer!

Mighty Book:
This is a crazy amazing website! Check out all their games as well!

Magic Key Children's Storybooks Online: 
These are really cute short stories. Many of them are read out loud but some of them you'd still have to read to your child.

TumbleBooks:
They have some of the cutest books out there!

ICDL - International Children's Digital Library: 
I haven't used this one very much seems how we just discovered it but I have heard raving reviews!

PBS Kids: 
This is story books for their favorite characters  from most younger audience PBS shows.

Kids Games:
A very select small sampling of free online books, however they have online interactive games that match some of the stories!

The Reading Room:
This place doesn't have a lot of kids books, however they have some awesome poetry, and a selection of chapter books for young readers.

Storynory Free Audio Books for Kids! (added February 5, 2011) They have a ton of classic books on audio for kids! This is a great way to get them learning the classic stories if they aren't yet reading.


These are the one I currently use and if there are thousands of free books between these websites... if you know of any others let me know! If you find any problems on any of these or have any feedback I LOVE COMMENTS!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Puzzles For Math

Yet another great math skill you don't need to pull your hair out to teach! Math is all about matching, making connections, and finding patters... so what object that is most likely all ready in your home can you use to teach this? PUZZLES!

Not just one type either, here's a whole list of puzzle ideas to use with your kids!

Traditional Puzzles Made For Kids:
Shape Sorting Boxes and Cubes:

Empty Bottles and Lids:
Wait what? You can use all those old shampoo, body wash, and hair gel bottles to teach kids? YES YOU CAN! Just make sure you wash them out well first. Then take all the screw top lids off and let your child figure out which one fits no which bottle! Great problem solving! And, the best part is you don't even have to teach them to do it! Let them play with the bottles long enough and they'll figure it out! (Caution: this should be strictly supervised with kids under 3 and some lids maybe small enough to choke on.) 


Cookie Cutters: 
Here's an awesome idea kids LOVE! Make a bunch of cookies each from a different cookie cutter. Now have your kids match up the cookie cutters to the finished (baked and cooled) cookies! If they can find the matching one they can eat the cookies after dinner! :) Use Alton Brown's Sugar Cookie Recipe (its delicious) and while you're at it Use THIS TEACHING IDEA to get a little measuring math in! 

Fruit
My daughter and I have used fruit to play "which one doesn't belong" (you can use fresh fruit or pretend fruit from a cooking set). Place two bananas and an apple on the table (as an example), ask "which one is different" this teaches matching from "the other angle". It's an amazing skill, however don't be too upset it if takes them a little extra time to catch on. At first my daughter just wanted to name all the fruits :) I praised her for that but kept trying. We got to where she wanted to tell me the colors. She could tell she wasn't giving me the information I wanted so she moved on. She eventually got it! 


Here are a few of the tools we've used to learn matching, and patterns. But there are thousands of creative ideas out there. What are some of your favorite teaching tools you've used at home? 






Learn The Rainbow

So how do you teach a baby to recognize and name colors? Here's a couple of quick ideas! First off don't try to tackle them all in one day... learn the four most basic and common ones first, RED, YELLOW, GREEN, and BLUE!

Next YOU learn those four in sign language! It gives your baby another way to relate to them. Third use toys, food, and blocks that they already know and associate with! Memorizing something you don't understand is hard, memorizing something that already makes sense is pretty easy!

Here is the sign for GREEN

Here is the sign for BLUE

Here is the sign for YELLOW

Here is the sign for RED

Now that you know the signs go buy a bag of skittles (assuming your child is old enough to safely eat them) or M&M's and go to town... let me tell you from experience candy get's right to the heart of learning colors! Just only let them eat the ones they can tell you (or sign you) the color for! (You'll want to be very easy going and help them a lot at first, if it's your first day just tell them the colors and if they are old enough have them repeat them. As you start to see they know their colors, don't make exceptions!)

Baking Fractions

Search Amazon.com for measuring cupsMy 2 year old daughter knows quite a bit about fractions. How you say did we get into fractions? It was a complete accident! I started trying to teach her to "share" by braking things in half. When she asked me for a cookie, candy, roll etc. that could brake in half I told her "only if you share with me". Then one day I said "no" because it was right before dinner and she wanted a "pie of cake" (meaning piece of cake), she looked up at me and said "haf a cake?". I nearly fell over laughing! And, I realized just as my mom (whom homeschooled all 9 of her children) had, if you want to teach fractions there's no place like the kitchen!

Baking is probably the number one real life application for fraction use when you're little! Bake your favorite recipe and show kids that you need four 1/4 scoops to make 1! They think it's funny but honestly it sinks in! Teach sharing in halves, thirds, twelves if you have to!
Here's another great idea! Get a $3.00 set of measuring cups and give them to your kid to play in the bath with... before long they'll be using the smaller ones to fill the larger ones! Doesn't seem significant but it's a big step in math!



Recording Your Progress

One of the biggest things I've found that discouraged me, and I've seen it discourage other parents is not being able to see the progress your child is making fast enough! As parents we have conflicting beliefs about reading on one hand "reading is easy" on the other "how can I possibly teach something so complex to my child?" these conflicting thoughts make it hard for us to be patent and to make it easy!

We complicate it just by believing it is complicating! It's not... most kids learn to read with out much effort. The younger they are, and the more you make it a game, the more they won't even remember learning to read, and won't ever remember struggling with it.

As for yourself, record your progress! On your first day have someone take pictures, or video tape you reading to your baby. Move their finger along the page with the words as you read them. Then whatever program or where every you have decided to start record that too! Try to record every 30 days! You only need a 30 second clip, for you to be able to see progress!

And here's an awesome way to play it all back. At the end of one year (your one year anniversary) from starting to teach your child to read... take all 12 (you should have 12) clips that are 30 seconds to 2 minutes long and put them on one dvd. Then instead of having a show and tell with your child (because they don't usually enjoy being put in the spot light, and won't usually do what you want them to when every relative they have is staring at them) have everyone over for a "I can read" Party and play the dvd! You'll probably cry with how far they've come. Things you've totally forgotten they didn't know! And, not only can you see their progress but for most of us who have done this it gives you all the more excitement about doing it again though out the next year!

PS this isn't just for reading. Do it for counting (record them just watching you at first), math, geography, and any other subject you choose to teach them! Then when their older you can give it to them as a graduating present!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Getting Started - Just Reading

If you are looking for some specific age group then please check out my "getting started age related posts", however regardless of what age your child is if you want to start teaching your little one to read here are some great ways to get started. (Remember just because something didn't work for me, doesn't mean it won't for work for you, and vise versa.)


Learning The ABC's: 
We got a great set of foam alphabet letters for "bath time", which by the way bath time makes for great alphabet drills! Your child is contained, happy (okay mine liked bath time), and you have their attention (between splashes that is).





Flash Cards: 
I found that at home flash cards were cumbersome (although both cheep and easy to use), I almost always lost one out of every set I got. HOWEVER I downloaded a FREE ABC app onto my iTouch and later onto my Droid Phone and found that those were AWESOME for while we were waiting for food at restaurants, in the waiting room for portraits, stopped at stop lights, waiting in line and the grocery store, etc! If you don't want to buy flash cards, making your own with a simple pack of 3x5 inch index cards (or any card stock paper cut into cards) and a marker! 



Leap Frog Letter Factory: 
Yes we love Tad and his adventures at the letter factory! The reason I LOVE LOVE LOVE these DVDs is because not only do they teach the letters but also the sounds! They go in order and have an easy to follow progression, and are empowering to children! My daughter loves to sing the songs with the letters, and my husband and I find ourselves singing them to her in the car! This is one of those "you do nothing" tools, it really doesn't require any extra work on your part. While you're cleaning house, getting dinner ready, or just need a brake this is an excellent way to keep going and take a brake at the same time! 


Sing ABC's
This is a great activity, and it can be done, while washing dishes, folding laundry, snuggling before bed, having quiet time, in the car, at the park, on your way to check the mail, in the bath, (in the shower to yourself because you have it stuck in your head), or any other time you and them are both in the same room! Hint hint you don't have to "be able to sing" for your baby/child to like hearing it! But if you just "can't sing" youtube it and let your child watch a HUGE variety of ABC videos for free! 

Moving onto words, sentences, and books! You do NOT need to start with teh ABC's, however it is easy and inexpensive to start, and every child needs to learn the ABC's eventually so why not find the easiest starting point and go from there? 


Your Baby Can Read: 
This program was hard for me to use. It was expensive and when I purchased it it was not yet broken down into smaller packages so I ended up paying $200.00 for the entire program. It had a lot of smaller pieces (such as sliding words), and boxes of cards. I found we lost a lot of the pieces if I let my daughter play with them, and if I didn't let her play with them then she would get frustrated when I tried to get her to pay attention to them. Remember kids learn from touching, tasting, and exploring it's hard for them to learn from something that they can't touch! The program was well organized, and may work well for anyone who has a better system then I did. I would recommend putting your child in a high chair or booster seat if you want to use this program, it will make it easier for them to not feel the need to play with everything (and contain the few things you do hand them). The program was very well put together, it just didn't work well for us. 



Power Point: 
This is a great tool you can use simply and inexpensively. How you set it up to teach your baby to read is easy. Pick a word (any word) and make a slide with NOTHING but the word on it. The larger the font the better (but make sure it all fits on one line). 

1-- Write your word on the slide in our example we'll use the word "Table" as an example. 
2-- On the next slide put a picture of a table (one from your house or one from the clip art options)
3-- Copy the first slide. 

So you should have word, picture, word. Record your voice saying the word on all three slides, or plan on saying it as you run though them. Set them to change over (with out any animation) to 5 second intervals. You can set up lists such as "Things around the house", "Sports", "Animals", "Family" etc. and add 25 to 50 words into each category. You should run though about 50 words a day which is 250 seconds (or about 4.5 minutes) a day! The set up time on this method is significantly more then a pre-done options, however the expense (if you already have power point) is nearly nothing. Check back for a full post with a list of categories and words to start with! 


Hooked On Phonics: 
This is an AWESOME program. However each individual package lasts just a few months, and they seem to have a skip between "baby" and "kindergarten" there's no "toddler" packages, it goes right from 6 months old to 4 years. So I found that frustrating. The programs they have are very well put together, again just like with Your Baby Can Read there are lots of parts. The DVD's are fun and catchy, the work books are well above the level of a toddler (K-1) so you'd have to substitute parts of the lessons. (I have been told there is now a Pre-K edition but have not gotten to try it, I was unable to find that one when I was attempting to use them) I have saved the ABC DVD's and enjoy them. The beginning books they come with are just amazing so consider getting one to try when your children are old enough to start reading beginner books and using the work sheets! (or try the pre-k or baby editions).


This is the program I fell in love with and highly advocate for! IT DOES EVERYTHING! It's already on the computer (similar to the idea of a powerpoint) however there are over 270 lessons predone with many many more you can download for FREE! You can use it to teach colors, shapes, numbers, objects, etc. You can customize EVERYTHING, and you can create your own lessons. I haven't found anything that rivals this program as of yet! You can do a one time payment for it or pay per month. I signed up for the 12 month payment plan, with both 1st and 2nd semester and it cost me about $18.50 a month. I have created about 20 personal lessons for my daughter. Downloaded sign language, counting, piano note practice, geography, and other subjects for free. My daughter loves it, it is interactive, and it locks everything on your computer but the program so go ahead and let your baby touch yoru keyboard while the short lessons are playing. They feel engaged in their learning process, and get super excited about doing it! My daughter asks me to do it like its just a game, so we do it several times a day but it's not necessary! Click Here and try it for 14 days for FREE! 



Hopefully this helps you get started. And as always here's the 

BIG DISCLAIMER: 
Homework is not a grueling list of tasks for babies! Make sure your child is having fun OR STOP! If your baby just isn't doing it one day DON'T DO IT! If you get half way though the ABC's or just to D and their attention span is gone, STOP! If they get distracted and want to do something else DO IT! You're baby will learn with your consistency and they will surprise you when they come up and ask you to do "reading" with them or "1, 2, 4" with them! If your child is just not paying attention go ahead and continue, they are absorbing things even if it doesn't seem like it. But when they are done, you are both done! This is not a battle, it's a bonding, learning, loving time for you two or three or four to spend together

Getting Started 1 to 2 Years

This is a common place for MOST people to start. They are realizing their children are learning even with out them trying... so we think to ourselves "why not see how far they can go?" and then we pull up Google on our computers type in "how to teach my baby to read" and that's about where the overwhelmed crash kicks comes in! There's a thousand different programs, a million different ideas, a huge argument about weather or not it's natural, so we turn off the computer and go back to watching Nick Jr. 


Yep I've been there to, then after sleeping on it and the thought of "You NEED to do this" haunting me I finally went out and bought a program. Your Baby Can Read! It was alright, but honestly it took a lot of time, and the pieces kept getting lost. I am a pretty organized person but Evie would want to play with the sliding words and then I couldn't find them, and they got broken. It was a nightmare. 


Then I tried putting together my own powerpoints with the 200 recommended words. It worked great for a short time, but we ran though all the words and I ran out of ideas, and then my computer crashed and I ended up loosing all the power points I had spent 2 weeks putting together. It was an AWESOME start but after about 3 months we decided I just didn't have the personal dedication to keep making these things (Keep tuned though because I'm going to post the words I used so you have a starting point.)


After that I just bought a pack of "Babies First Words" Flash cards from Target. It only cost me $2.99 and we used those for a short time. But again we ran out of words after a month and they didn't just have additional packs of cards I could go buy that were all in order. I was beyond myself, I had at this point spent well over $300.00 and really aggravated myself! 


Now before I tell you what's worked for me, keep in mind that everyone operates differently! Just because I wasn't successful with one of the above options doesn't mean you wouldn't be. Each program works for someone, based on how they work. 


Finally I found Brillkids they have a program called LittleReader I wasn't thrilled about investing in another program that was going to cost me even more money; however my baby girl was about to turn 1 and I was determined to do something... So I signed up for the Free 14 Day Trail with very little intention of actually purchasing. IT WORKED! She loved it, I loved it, we didn't' loose the pieces there were 270 lessons, and more you could download! It just kept going. After using it for just a week I found where other members had uploaded personal lessons they had made, and I downloaded hundreds of them... then I figured out how I could make my own lessons! WOW You can also customize every pre-done lesson so that the pictures are objects in your own home, or so the voice over is YOUR voice (or how about this when dad cant' be home record HIS voice... now your child associates dad with being involved in their education!) Do a few lessons with aunts, uncles, grandparents voices too and BAM your baby knows who they can learn from! 


Let's skip right to the part where I bought the program, and the LittleMath program too! Then I found out you can download the littlemath lessons simply by using your Brill Kid points! I'll write a whole post on this. So for now let's just say you spend 5 to 10 minutes running though the Reading Program, and 2 to 3 minutes running though the math program a day... you have now invested a maximum of 13 minutes a day into your child's future and guess what? THEY ARE READING, AND THEY ARE DOING ARITHMETIC! I don't know about you but I spend more time a day flossing my teeth then this little activity cost me, and the best part is my now 2 year old, is starting to read. Keep in mind the number 1 thing  you can do to help your kids read... is to read to them! 


So once we figured out reading and math we started looking at other core subjects? 


SIGN LANGUAGE: 
Don't tell me this isn't a core subjects for babies! IT IS! Not only do they learn to communicate which alleviates crying, tantrums and the need for communication brake downs, BUT they also start to grasp the concept of communicating in other ways! Making the transition to new languages, math, music, and sociology very easy for them. But how do you teach something that most of us don't know? Find 3 things your baby wants or needs, now go HERE and look those three things up. Sign them to your baby when you are asking if that's what they want. (Example: do you want a BOTTLE?) when you say bottle, use the sign. Don't go crazy, find three! When you have those down so that saying it and signing it are second nature to you... add three more! Some babies will start signing back as early as 6 months. Let me tell you the day your baby signs "HURTS" instead of cries for hours, you'll cry with joy! If you do want to let your kids watch some entertaining and educational TV SigningTime is an excellent choice, (another option, is to go onto YouTube and make a Play List using about 30 minutes worth of their shorts, and stream it off the internet on your TV).



ART:
Let your child spend time every week coloring. Give them a crayon, a magnetic board, a piece of side walk chalk, paint, it really doesn't matter. Let them experiment with it (not eat it)! They don't need a coloring book, a fancy easel, or expensive acrylics. A pencil will do (as long as it's not sharp). If you have a box of crayons (you should have a box of crayons) then use this opportunity to introduce colors as well. Hand them one crayon at a time and tell them what color it is. Praise their art work, and if at all possible display it! The only art kids need to learn at this age, is that THEY are manipulating their environment in some way. That knowledge alone will help them though out life! Also NickJr.com has lots and lots of free coloring projects, art projects, and crafts for kids of all ages to do! All for FREE! 

NOTE: 
If your child isn't walking yet make sure they have plenty of time on the floor everyday! If they are already walking, go on short walks together! There is nothing that will teach them faster then going on a little Nature Walk and showing them colors, shapes, and words you can see outside your house! My daughter and I use to just walk from the front door to the end of the driveway looking for things that were "green" or "yellow" I'd point out anything we could find. We also would find animals and learn what the animals say... "the bird says 'chirp'" she loved it, I loved it and it was a great 5 minutes a day spent together! 

Time Brake Down Everyday: 
Reading - 5 to 10 Minutes 
Read to Your Child - 20 Minutes (if attention span allows for it) More about reading to your child Here! 
Math - 2-3 Minutes
Art - Depending on attention span I just let mine draw in their high chair to amuse themselves while I make dinner. 
Nature Walk - 3-5 Minutes (best done while going to check the mail, now you can multi task)
Sign Language - Done though out the day. 

Maximum Amount of Time This Should Take You: 38 Minutes 


THE BIG DISCLAIMER: 
There's a big debate about weather or not teaching babies is natural, here's the bottom line as I see it. Setting them down in a desk, and demanding they write "I will learn" 100 times before dinner IS NOT NATURAL! Watching a short video that teaches them reading, math, or any other subject (such as BrillKids, SigningTime, Your Baby Can Read, or SquareOne) is COMPLETELY NATURAL! Going on a nature walk and finding colors NATURAL, putting together puzzles with mom or dad NATURAL, coloring with crayons NATURAL, being told to do back flips because you think they should be walking already NOT NATURAL... you get the idea. Don't force your kids into anything and don't force yourself either. If you aren't having fun, they aren't having fun! So find a way that is entertaining, engaging, and fun for both of you. Homework is not a grueling list of tasks for babies! Make sure your child is having fun OR STOP! If your baby just isn't doing it one day DON'T DO IT! If you get half way though the ABC's or just to D and their attention span is gone, STOP! If they get distracted and want to do something else DO IT! You're baby will learn with your consistency and they will surprise you when they come up and ask you to do "reading" with them or "1, 2, 4" with them! If your child is just not paying attention go ahead and continue, they are absorbing things even if it doesn't seem like it. But when they are done, you are both done! This is not a battle, it's a bonding, learning, loving time for you two or three or four to spend together. If your life is busy, you work (from home or outside the home), you have more then one child, or you just don't feel you are organized enough to keep up with this then consider investing the $25.00 a month for the next year to buy BrillKid there you can download all the extras you need FOR FREE to literally do everyone of these things (except tummy time, and contact) for you. You can sit back let it play and enjoy knowing YOU are still teaching your child! Most of all make it fun for both of you!

IF YOU STILL FEEL OVERWHELMED:
Choose two items off the list and do those for one month. Then add one more item. Continue until you feel comfortable doing these activities with your child. This should not overwhelm you if it does your child will feel that and they will become overwhelmed with it too! Think about it this way if you ONLY taught your child to read before their 5th birthday they would already know what 18% off American children graduate high school with out knowing!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Getting Started 5 to 12 Months

Breath, it's okay! If you thought the first 4 months were easy and now you are headed into dangerousness, confusing, complicated, expensive waters; well you'd be wrong. Nope I'm not going to all the sudden tell you to run out and buy $5000.00 in baby reading programs, disown your in-laws so you have time to use them, and give up your shower time so you can prepare lessons. In fact I'd highly recommend against such actions. The money would be better spent on next vacation, the in laws will highly protest the lack of grandchild time (even if you wouldn't miss the in-law time), and you could probably use a shower every now and then.

So with that in mind, just what do you need to do to have a wonder baby?

KEEP LISTENING TO MUSIC:
If you didn't read the Getting Started 0 to 4 Month post, check out for a more information on this and the next 3 items.

KEEP CONTACT:
Seems how your child is getting bigger you may now want to carry them with you every second (or you might and that's awesome). But make sure you still provide contact (even if you're not breastfeeding) a few quick and easy ideas for this are: 1- Message your baby (not only does this give you contact time, but it also can alleviate growing pains and help them relax/sleep). Click Here to learn how to message your baby. 2. Play games such as the Grand Ol Duke of York, London Bridges, Pat A Cake, or I'm A Little Teapot or hundreds of other similar motion songs with them. This gives you contact time, music time, and face time all at the same time! PERFECT. Click on any of the titles of these songs to see them on YouTube (just in case you don't know the words.) You don't need to run out and buy CDs, books or anything! YouTube will guide you though every childhood song you can possibly hope to master!

TUMMY TIME:
Tummy time is still crucial to your child's development. See the Getting Started 0 to 4 Months post for even more information on this.

ABC's!:
Your child can not start learning to read, and there are tons and tons and tons of options. So let's start with the ABC's! There are again hundreds of programs to teach your child the ABC's but there are two that are absolutely WONDERFUL - the first one is YOU!!! Sing to them! Get a .70 cent package of 3x5 Index cards (or better yet find a sell on them and pay .25 cents) and a Sharpy Marker, with your best hand writing write all 26 letters in upper and lower case. You now have flashcards! Not sure you want to go to that much work? No problem here's a pack for pretty cheep already done up. Also most Wal-Marts, Targets and similar stores have flash cards next to the coloring books in the toy section for anywhere from .99 cents to about $5.00. The second amazing program we've found to teach the ABC's and their sounds is Leap Frog Letter Factory. Now this not only teaches your child their ABC's the sounds, and if you buy the second and third letter factory DVD's it also teaches them how to assemble words, BUT it also gives you a 28 minute brake. You can usually find the first DVD for about $9.00 to $10.00 in any Wal-Mart or on Amazon.com. So congratulations you now have your very first teaching investment to purchase! My daughters both love Tad and his adventures, and have learned a lot!


READING:
If you want to jump right into teaching them to read (don't skip the ABC's just do them in conjunction with reading) then the very best pre-assembled program I've found is BrillKids. I've used several now, and non of them are particularly cheep. I love BrillKids it costs me about $18.50 a month, however not everyone has the money to start out with something you have to pay for (or the desire). So if you are someone like that you can simply start by using 3x5 index cards and writing common words and using them as flash cards (hold the card up, read the word out loud and then move to the next card) or you can use Powerpoint to create 5 second slides of words! If you are going to make your own start with 200 words (you can do less but 200 is optimal) and run though at least 25 of them 2's a day. I will be writing and entire blog on great starter words, but optimally use words you think your baby will encounter. Brake up the words you choose into categories do 25 words from "around the house", 25 from "family", 25 from "outside", 25 from "shapes, and colors", etc.
AND AS ALWAYS READ TO YOUR CHILD!


MATH:
Math... what a nasty word! Actually math really is a lot of fun, and if you had been taught math correctly in school you'd totally agree! Math is a game, that's it. It's a big puzzle and you just have to make it all fit together. KIDS LOVE PUZZLES! So why make math anything other then fun? Okay so now that you know it's fun (and don't think I don't know you don't believe me) where do you get started? Well why not puzzles? After all we just established that's what math was right?

(This is one of my favorite puzzles)

There is also a brillkid program for math (which if you choose to go this rout then get them bundled for $25.00 bucks a month for both programs). These are 3 minute pre-done lessons with nothing for you to do but hit play, and sit back. Making them easy to remember, easy to do, and interactive for your child. Otherwise get out your 3x5 index cards again and write down the numbers 0 to 9 and start doing flash card drills. If you want your kids to pick up on counting quickly... start counting foods! Even if they do nothing but watch you, count out crackers, candies, scoops of formula, etc. The more you do it the faster they'll understand! Count bubbles in the bath, count strokes while brushing their hair etc. So you got all that? Puzzles, Numbers and Counting.


ART:
Let your child spend time every week coloring. Give them a crayon, a magnetic board, a piece of side walk chalk, paint, it really doesn't matter. Let them experiment with it (not eat it)! They don't need a coloring book, a fancy easel, or expensive acrylics. A pencil will do (as long as it's not sharp). If you have a box of crayons (you should have a box of crayons) then use this opportunity to introduce colors as well. Hand them one crayon at a time and tell them what color it is. Praise their art work, and if at all possible display it! The only art kids need to learn at this age, is that THEY are manipulating their environment in some way. That knowledge alone will help them though out life!


SIGN LANGUAGE:
Oh here's another one that makes parents run and hide in the closet! The response I get most often when I bring this up is "I don't know sign language"... well that is a problem isn't it? You may have heard of a show called SigningTime epic show, but again it's expensive. So how about you start by watching the short clips on YouTube? I've never purchased a SigningTime product and yet both my kids sign. Everything you need for this can easily be found online! Here's how you start... find 3 things your baby wants or needs, now go HERE and look those three things up. Sign them to your baby when you are asking if that's what they want. (Example: do you want a BOTTLE?) when you say bottle, use the sign. Don't go crazy, find three! When you have those down so that saying it and signing it are second nature to you... add three more! Some babies will start signing back as early as 6 months. Let me tell you the day your baby signs "HURTS" instead of cries for hours, you'll cry with joy! If you do want to let your kids watch some entertaining and educational TV SigningTime is an excellent choice, (another option, is to go onto YouTube and make a Play List using about 30 minutes worth of their shorts, and stream it off the internet on your TV).

Okay so again you're thinking this is going to consume your day, I can tell just by the way you are reading this you are overwhelmed. Let's simplify it a little...

Everyday:
Read To Your Child (10 to 20 minutes)
Read WITH Your Child, Flash Cards, BrillKid Program, Powerpoint ETC. (5-7 minutes)
Find A Way To Have Personal Contact With Your Child (If you're nursing you've already done this, if not it can be as little as 5 minutes)
Let Your Child Listen To Music (Do this while you're cleaning, sleeping etc.)
Sign Them The ABC's (2 minutes if you're a slow singer)
Count Their Toes (30 seconds)
and
Sign "Food", "Bottle" another common desire to them. (2 seconds)

Total Time Spent At The Most :33 Minutes 34 Seconds (that's if you don't multi task any of them!)

Then 2-3 Times A Week:
Find Time For Them To Draw or Color (5 to 10 minutes)
Name Colors To Them, In The Park, Their Crayons, Food etc. (5 Minutes)
Show Them ABC Flash Cards, or A Leap Frog (3-5 Minutes for Flash Cards or 28 Minutes for LeapFrog)
Show Them Numbers Flash Cards or Do A Program Like Brill Kid Math (2-3 Minutes)

Total Time Spent At Most: 46 Minutes (that's if you allow them to watch LeapFrog at which point YOU GET A BRAKE!)

THE BIG DISCLAIMER:
Homework is not a grueling list of tasks for babies! Make sure your child is having fun OR STOP! If your baby just isn't doing it one day DON'T DO IT! If you get half way though the ABC's or just to D and their attention span is gone, STOP! If they get distracted and want to do something else DO IT! You're baby will learn with your consistency and they will surprise you when they come up and ask you to do "reading" with them or "1, 2, 4" with them! If your child is just not paying attention go ahead and continue, they are absorbing things even if it doesn't seem like it. But when they are done, you are both done! This is not a battle, it's a bonding, learning, loving time for you two or three or four to spend together. If your life is busy, you work (from home or outside the home), you have more then one child, or you just don't feel you are organized enough to keep up with this then consider investing the $25.00 a month for the next year to buy BrillKid there you can download all the extras you need FOR FREE to literally do everyone of these things (except tummy time, and contact) for you. You can sit back let it play and enjoy knowing YOU are still teaching your child! Most of all make it fun for both of you!


IF YOU STILL FEEL OVERWHELMED:
Choose two items off the list and do those for one month. Then add one more item. Continue until you feel comfortable doing these activities with your child. This should not overwhelm you if it does your child will feel that and they will become overwhelmed with it too! Think about it this way if you ONLY taught your child to read before their 5th birthday they would already know what 18% off American children graduate high school with out knowing!

Getting Started 0 to 4 Months

Exactly how does someone get started teaching an infant reading, writing, arithmetic, sign language, art, geography, shapes, colors, and everything else they will need to know before moving out in just 18 short years? WOHHHHHH.... back up! 


Yep that's right BACK UP! Parents who are worried about teaching their kids, usually get a little carried away and try to do it all in one day (ask me how I know!) It was my very first mistake and the hardest one to overcome! 


You can start teaching your child from day one... but if you want to teach a baby EVERYTHING you're going to have to star by (drum roll) DOING NOTHING! Okay maybe not completely "nothing" but pretty close to it. 


HOLD THEM:
The best thing you can do to help your infant learn is to hold them! Study after study have shown that babies who get held develop stronger relationships, have better grades, have an easier time developing and keeping friendships, and sleep better... yes that's right THEY SLEEP BETTER! 


(For more on "In-arm" development check out this great article: http://www.naturesbabyblankets.com/page/1265475)


PLAY MUSIC:
After holding them then play music for them! If you aren't into classical music then just leave whatever type of music you are into playing though out the day. If you already have cable or satellite TV you don't need to make any purchase for this at all! Just tune into your music channels and let it go in the background. Even if you tune it out after awhile, or your baby falls to sleep and you think they aren't listening... they are! A study done in the early 90's showed that where only 2 types of music that DID NOT improve brain function, any guess as to what those were? 
Despite people's personal prejudiced the ONLY types of "music" that did not increase brain function were Rap, and Techno. Which is especially interesting because if you look up the definitions of these types of "music" neither are actually classified as music! Rap is classified as:  "spoken or chanted rhyming lyrics with a strong rhythmic accompaniment" and Techno is defined as: "Computer generated sound". So if your fix is rap or techno then perhaps find another genre to play around the baby, but if you just LOVE your country, rock, or even metal know that all of those will actually INCREASE yours and your babies brain function! 


SOMETHING TO LOOK AT: 
Those little mobiles you dangle above your baby's bead and wonder why because they can't even touch them yet, they actually serve two purposes! And, very important purposes at that! The first is: that your babies eye's are not fully developed yet, so by giving them something interesting to look at you are encouraging them to use those muscles which will not only help them develop but keep them strong though out life! The second is: you are giving them a reason to "reach up" which helps prepare them for crawling, walking, tumbling, and every other activity they will take part in, though out life! If you don't have a mobile or can't afford to go get one (or simply hate them) go here http://www.brillkids.com/free-download/infant-stimulation-cards.php and print some high contrast black on white posters to hang up on your babies wall, above their bed, in the front room next to the TV you watch when you snuggle them, or anywhere else in the house they will see them though out the day. Hey it's free


TUMMY TIME: 
You may not want to roll them over on their tummy and abandon them to the floor the first day they are born, but giving your baby ample tummy time a day is absolutely a MUST! My oldest daughter would fight tummy time tooth and nail! She hated it!!! She would do anything to get out of it, including screaming the entire time she was on her tummy! So we finally went to setting an alarm. I would set an egg timer for 10 minutes. I'd set her down on her tummy and lay next to her on mine... we'd talk (she'd cry) until the timer went off... I thought I was going to pull my hair out. So if your child is like this here's a few tricks I learned! Take the print outs from above, and set them on the floor just outside your babies reach. They will do ANYTHING to get to them! Not only will they crawl a lot faster from the effort they are putting into getting these papers, but they'll get distracted and forget to cry for a whole 2 minutes! Also balls and maracas or shakers are a great distractions. Even small children can push these around while laying on their tummies, making them great toys for kids who aren't yet sitting up! 


READ TO ME: 
Babies this young don't often care too much about pictures (some close to 4 months will start to). So read to them whatever it is you are reading! Just read it out loud! If you read Cosmo magazine (you might feel awkward but they won't) read it to them, if you are reading the Bathroom Reader 6th Edition while waiting for Everyone Loves Raymond to start then read that to them. If you read the newspaper that will not only give them the reading experience of hearing your voice, and starting to understand that what you are looking at means something, but they get a daily dose of social studies too (they might not care now but what they learn to love in the first 6 months often sticks around for life!) The bottom line is if you want your children to read, the number one thing you can do is to read to them! Nothing else will ever ever ever replace the time you spent reading! If you just can't find something to read to them check out this site!  http://disney.go.com/preschool/ or you can download the Barns and Noble Nook App onto your computer for free and read tons of free children's and adult books! Check it out here:   http://www.barnesandnoble.com/u/free-nook-apps/379002321/?cds2Pid=35700 Just get a free account and stick to the about 16 books you can read for free... until they care what you're reading them the same books over and over won't make any difference! 


READY SET GO! 
Now you're ready to get your baby started on a life time of learning! So far you shouldn't have had to spend too much if anything! And, the best part is you're baby is learning more then you can possibly know! Congratulations mom (or dad, or grandma, or grandpa, aunt, uncle etc) you are now homeschooling your baby! 


A NOTE TO SECOND TIME MOM'S OR THOSE WHO'S CHILDREN ARE ALREADY PAST 4 MONTHS OLD:
I know you're already freaking out thinking "I want to start now but there's something on this list I didn't do, what do I do now, I've already missed my chance" and about 200 other crazy thoughts! Take a deep breath I'm going to tell you a secret... IT'S NOT TOO LATE, YOU'RE A GREAT PARENT, CHILL OUT!  If your baby is already 4 months old, or you have another older child you're wanting to start with NOW, then you can just start on the "getting started" post that is age appropriate for your child. It's called "getting started" for a reason, if you already missed all window of opportunity to teach your child anything and they are now going to FAIL then I would have labeled these posts "getting started" I would have labeled them "You Already Failed!" 

Introduction

I knew before I had kids I wanted to homeschool them... so after I had my first daughter I sat down and thought to myself  "Why am I waiting 5 to 6 years to start school if she's not going anywhere but our front room anyway?" Little did I know that thought would change our lives forever!

It took me nearly a year just to get anything organized in my mind, on paper, and defiantly with the finances! Evie (our first daughter) started school just a 2 weeks before her first birthday, but it was a long long road. Most childhood teaching tools that you can easily find (especially for anyone under the age of 4) are extremely expensive! And, to be honest they aren't always that great! We've tried several out at this point, and most of them I found on sale, got free trials for, or had a friend who was willing to let me barrow theirs to try.

We made some mistakes, way over spent, and got so frustrated we nearly gave up... but 16 months later my oldest daughter is starting to read, and her younger sister... isn't too far behind! Now it doesn't take 16 months to teach a "baby" to read, if you know what you're doing. So I have started this blog to help all the other mom's like me get off on the right foot from day one!