I Spot

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Recently I played a fun game with Veronika just before bed flashing colors through scarves. Tonight, we put the flashlight to a different use!

Simply walk around and shine the light on various objects in your child’s room (or elsewhere in the house). For each item, say in a soft voice, “I spot a…”

I spot the light switch.

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I spot a treasure box.

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And so on. Sometimes, Veronika wanted to hold the flashlight and help. I spot a clock.

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Sometimes she wanted to reach out and touch, and sometimes just look. I spot an apple.

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This can easily become a cherished routine; if you repeat items nightly, it will reinforce the names of familiar and treasured items, and can also help lull your baby. Veronika loves it!

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Roly-Poly Pictures

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This rolling “book” is a fantastic craft to put together for your baby. It’s a toy and a book at the same time, with so many possibilities for play!

Cut out pictures from magazines that feature items your child will recognize.

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Good candidates include animals (big brother’s Ranger Rick is full of good pictuers!), foods (apples, veggies), everyday items (watches, shoes), or holiday and seasonally themed images (like pumpkins and leaves).

Veronika loved “going through” the magazines with me!

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I glued all of the pictures around an empty oatmeal canister. Any food box that is cylindrical would work just as well. Cover with a layer of clear contact paper to ensure your little one doesn’t rip the pictures right off.

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At first I just showed the cylinder to Veronika to see how she would interact with it.

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Next we played roly poly along the floor!

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But here’s where this toy gets educational. As it came to a stop, we talked about which picture it landed on.

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This becomes a great leaping off point to discuss colors, nouns, or little stories about the pictures. “Once upon a time there was a little cat…” The possibilities are almost endless!

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Out and About

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Instead of the usual verses of Wheels on the Bus, here’s a fun song I’ve taken to singing as I’m out and about with Veronika, to teach her about sounds that things in the world make.

First name the thing. It’s helpful to use the real word (think: dog instead of doggie), and then say the appropriate sound. You might sing:

The dog in the town goes woof woof woof

Woof woof woof

Woof woof woof.

The dog in the town goes woof woof woof

All through the town.

Repeat for every appropriate item in your day, varying the verses as needed! Here are some fun ones we found just today.

The tractors on the farm go brrrm brrrm brrrm.

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The guitars at the fair go strum strum strum.

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And the cars on the road go vroom vroom vroom.

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There are so many verses of this you’ll probably never run out! We finished with a read-through of a fun sound book at home! Try Vroom Vroom Garbage Truck.

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Fee Fi Fo Fum

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Grown-ups are likely all familiar with the common syllables “fee fi fo fum” from the giant in Jack in the Beanstalk. But there’s no need to include the scary giant as you introduce this word play to your baby! The syllables echo a baby’s babble at about 10 months old, so today, I recited this classic for Veronika… with a twist.

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Sitting in front of her, I said:

Fee fi fo fum,

Here’s my fingers, here’s my thumb (open your fingers and then your thumb).

Fee fi fo fum,

Fingers gone, so is thumb (tuck fingers and then thumb away).

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To add a little learning in, I then repeated the rhyme with a different first consonant. For each letter, I handed her the accompanying foam letter to play with – a little extra learning to absorb! So she played with a big foam B for “bee bi bo bum” and giggled over T for “tee ti to tum”,

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We also did the rhyme on “dee di do dum” and then finally on “mee mi mo mum.”

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A big hit, for little effort!

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I Spy Adjectives

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No doubt you’re teaching your baby a lot of nouns: mommy, daddy, cats and dogs! But don’t forget about adjectives. Here’s a cute way to incorporate them into your baby’s vocabulary.

As Veronika and I went for a walk today, I made sure to mention at least one adjective for each item I named. Although you don’t need to, I find it fun to say, “I spy with my little eye…” before each one.

There were tall trees.

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Big dogs (and some small ones we passed, too!).

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Cold bottles.

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Tiny things like clovers and bugs.

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And so much more! You can continue the game as you drive or walk around town; fast cars are a great one, or name the colors of cars or buildings.

And certainly keep it up at home. We had mommy’s long skirt.

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And a big bite of food for my big girl!

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Consider reading a book together that same evening that focuses on adjectives, like Mouse is Small by Mary Murphy or Big Little by Leslie Patricelli.

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What does your baby spy with his or her little eye? Please share in the comments!

Story Time with a Twist

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Story time is so important even with the littlest babies, but you may find at around eight months old that your baby is far more interested in chewing on the pages or playing with toys than paying attention to the words. This has definitely proven to be the case with Veronika, so today I made story time a bit more interactive, thanks to the help of a few stuffed animal friends!

How is it that babies amass such huge collections of stuffed animals? I’m not sure I’ve ever bought one, but through gifts, prizes, and more, we have quite a little community.

I pulled out a few and narrated a story. Veronika and her friend frog woke up and decided to go on an adventure through the forest.

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They set off for the forest, but a big noise made them stop. They looked around and heard a growl. But it was only their friend bear, who wanted to say hello. Hello bear!

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They kept walking and saw a stick move. It was their friend snake! Hisss, snake said.

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I had a few more creatures meet her and frog on the journey before the story ended and everyone went home for lunch.

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Veronika was delighted at all the colors and soft stuffies to hug, whether or not she was listening to the “story”.

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Next, I grouped some of her stuffed animals by category. Since we have a lot of dogs, I made up few stories around this puppy “family.” First, one puppy was lost, oh no!

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Could Veronika help mommy dog find her puppy? Hurrah, a family reunion. Next, the puppies went for rides in cars…

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…and then we had a story about a stuffed animal parade.

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Later in the day, we continued the fun with a “birthday party” for a few stuffed animals. I set them up with pretend food and sang the happy birthday song.

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Veronika loved this “story”!

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In sum, you can involve stuffed animals as actors in your baby’s story time in so many ways. What will your animals do next? Climb a hill? Go on a journey? It’s a little different than reading a book and will engage your little one’s imagination and senses.

Fun with Idioms

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Many Raddish lesson plans that accompany their recipes are quite involved, but this one was fairly straightforward. But it got lots of giggles and introduced my kindergartner to a new term and concept.

I sat Travis down and read through the silly poem “Losing Pieces” by Shel Silverstein, in which he talks about talking off his head, crying his eyes out, and singing his heart out. It concludes:

There’s really not much

left of me.

Travis giggled at the last line but I asked him what was going on here. Had the author really lost his head? Walked his feet off?

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Hmm… We needed more exploration. Travis is familiar with the book Parts by Tedd Arnold, but we hadn’t known there was a More Parts sequel. I showed Travis an online read-through, again producing giggles.

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Once the read-through was complete, I told Travis he’d been listening to idioms. In other words: a group of words that mean something different from what the words actually say.

Raddish also suggested a great clip with illustrations by children showing the literal meaning of an idiom (like ‘holy cow or ‘cat got your tongue’) and then a child steps in to explain what it really means.

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So now it was Travis’s turn! Check out the list of idioms here if your child needs help thinking of one to illustrate. Travis laughed when we got to “chip on one’s shoulder” so we stopped there.

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He drew a person and positioned a little yellow chip right on the shoulder. For fun, show your drawing to friends or family members and see if they can guess which idiom is pictured!

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Increase Baby’s Vocabulary: Onomatopoeia

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Today I focused on a few specific words with Veronika while dressing her and folding laundry… all words having to do with the sounds that clothes can make. In other words, many of these are examples of onomatopoeia, and they’re a fun way to expand your baby’s vocab!

First, of course, there are zippers. I ran a few up and down for her, and said “zzzzzip!”

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She wanted to reach out and touch the zipper and I encouraged her to babble the zzzz sound back to me.

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There are lots of other fun ones to try. Each time I snapped her clothes up, I said “snap snap snap”, and then let her hear the sound close to her ear.

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You can do the same for anything that clicks or buttons, even though these are subtler sounds.

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In sum, have fun when you dress your child. It will make the mundane tasks of daily dressing or folding laundry that much more enjoyable, and turn into a little lesson to boot!


Wave Bye-Bye

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The more you model the behavior of saying and waving bye-bye, the sooner your baby will understand this important gesture of human communication. Today, Veronika and I played a few fun “bye-bye” games.

For the first, I hid a toy inside a box, first saying, “Bye-bye toy!” I made sure to give a little wave.

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She eagerly reached right into the box each time to dig out the toy, and we repeated the process over and over until she tired of it.

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Another adorable version is to sit your child on one side of a door frame. With a big smile and wave, say, “bye-bye!” and then disappear around the corner. Immediately pop back into view and say, “hello again!” I remember this getting huge smiles from Travis as a baby, and now it was Veronika’s turn.

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Finally, say bye-bye all over the place throughout your day. You can do this when you leave a location (“bye-bye library!”) or a person (“bye-bye Grammy!”). Veronika looks like she wants to give a wave, and the more I model, the sooner she will.

On a personal note, we turn today to say “bye-bye” to our apartment, the only home Veronika has ever known. Here’s to new beginnings and many hellos to come!

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Banana Talk

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This quick game was an adorable way to play with Veronika at mealtime. It’s about concrete learning on the one hand – vocabulary, taste, texture – but also introduces a playful silliness that your baby can understand now, at eight months old. Banana phones are a classic of a reason!

I came over to Veronika’s tray carrying a banana up to my ear. Hello hello hello? I had a quick chat into the phone, and passed it to her.

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She looked at it in wonder and wanted to grab for it, of course.

Big brother wanted to have a quick turn on the phone call too!

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Next I turned back one edge of the banana peel and let her pull it the rest of the way down. Bananas are the perfect process food!

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She looked amazed as she worked her way around the whole peel – and then of course we broke off bites to eat and share!

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