Thursday, February 5, 2015

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5 Facts About Teaching Boys (and Girls)

This week, I listened to a fantastic webinar put on by Woody Robertson of CollegePlus (I know – you have toddlers – stay with me) and taught by Andrew Pudawa of the Institute for Excellence in Writing ( about the differences between teaching boys and teaching girls.

It was FASCINATING! And, as parents to toddlers and preschoolers, you might appreciate knowing some of this stuff before your kiddos get too far along. I sure wish I had known…

There are several factors that make the learning style of boys different from girls, which I will give a little detail on here. I do encourage you to visit the IEW website and look for their free download about teaching boys. It will be very helpful.

There are several physiological differences between boys and girls such as:
  • · Boys hear at a difference frequency, which is why they are SUPER LOUD. I know this. I have four boys and the youngest two are mind-numbingly noisy. So to teach them it may not make sense for them to sit quietly and listen to soft voices. You might need to make some noise too.
  • ·Boys see colors differently. It has something to do with the rods and the cones in their eyes. This is why when they color, they tend toward bold colors and may even color all black. Girls tend more toward pastels.
  • ·Boys like it colder. They are wired to withstand cooler temperatures than girls so when you are teaching your young son, turn down the heat and put on a sweater. This also explains why my 6-year-old insists on “Shirts-Off” learning during our homeschool day.
  • ·Boys do better when they are moving or at least standing. Making a boy sit all day at a desk may actual hinder their ability to hear and process. If possible, allow your son to move, borrow into a fort, stand at a table instead of sit or some other creative form of movement. My son moves the entire time we are doing oral work and I truly believe it is putting the words literally into his mind and body.
Another interesting difference when your child starts drawing, writing or telling stories, they pointed out a difference between boys and girls that was stunning to me and SO very true. Boys draw and write in “action” or in “verbs” – like bullets whizzing and people moving and dragons chasing people and such. Girls draw “nouns” or “things” like ponies and princesses. (I know this to be true too – I have a daughter as well). So, when your boys are drawing all kinds of crazy stuff, let them tell you the story they are creating and ask them to add more “action” if you want to draw more out of them. 

Also, to help exercise memory muscles and get stronger at recall and story-telling, have your children tell you the entire story about the activity they just did – like if you go to the zoo, ask what happened first, and next and then after that. This helps kids learn to remember details and understand sequence better.

These are just a few ideas presented at the webinar. If you need more information, please check out the IEW website and HAVE FUN with those boys (and your girls too!)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

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Best Kid Music...According to Me

This post was difficult to start because it's so hard to narrow down the best music for kids that's out there. So, I've tried my best to give you the music that has stood the test of time in our house as well as one newcomer. I hope you'll comment about your favorites so I can write a new post with your feedback!

Laurie Berkner Band - You may have seen her band in between shows on one of the children's cable stations. These songs are the songs you are singing to yourself while you wash the dishes or fold clothes. They just get STUCK in your head which, in my opinion, is the sign of a good song. We have a dvd of her music, which is really fun because she and Susie and Adam dance around and just look like they are having a total blast. My favorite (not sure what the kids would say...) is "You're a Mess" - we sing that song all the time.

Thanks and Giving All Year Long - This is a little bit of a cheat because it's music AND stories. It's Marlo Thomas' follow up to her album you probably heard as a child: Free to Be You and Me, this time with some heavy hitters like Jimmy Buffet, Sheryl Crow, Wayne Brady, Jennifer Aniston, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rosie Perez, Kevin Bacon, James Earle Jones and many others. It is a fabulous cd to keep in the car's cd player because the songs and stories are very short but memorable and highly entertaining. I would encourage you to also consider the companion book. It has much more content than the CD as well as the music for all the songs so if you play piano or guitar or another instrument, you can play these catchy songs for your children. My kids and I have had tons of fun singing "Give it to me" over and over. And of course the best part is that 100% of the proceeds go to the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Here Come the ABCs - This is one of They Might Be Giants' children's albums, filled with fun tunes about all kinds of educational subjects - vowels, countries and the Higglytown Heroes theme (maybe that last one's not so educational but I did like that show). They now have a follow up to this called Here Come the 123s as well. I've always loved "E Eats Everything" - here's a link to a video for this song to give you a taste.

Lemonsquare - This is a new one to me from just recently but you will love it! The music is so bouncy and catchy, you will find yourself tapping your toe along to it while your little one will be bopping in the backseat. If you go to the website, they have the songs playing along while you browse so you can get a good feel for the music. I just love it!
Honorable Mention: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - scary movie/fabulous sing-along music; Cars soundtrack - familiar artists like James Taylor, Rascal Flatts and Brad Paisley so you'll like it too; Happy Feet soundtrack - a little dark as a movie but some soulful toe-tapping music including Prince.

Monday, March 8, 2010

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The DS is the Bane of My Existence

First off, I have absolutely nothing but respect for the Nintendo DS - this is not a product bashing post. This is a "me-bashing" post - I simply cannot manage the presence of the DS in my house. It is the bane of my existence and it's all my fault...

I have five kids - one son too old to care about DS, one girl (who is mildly interested and has started saying she wants one - God help me) and then three boys, under 10, who are driving me completely crazy!

We now have 2 DS units because one was going to cause me to jump off a tall building. My 9-year-old was the original recipient of one two Christmases ago. He doesn't share this device well so when my 4-year-old would want to play, the older one didn't want to relinquish control. Not only that, he becomes completely deaf when he is playing - oblivious to all, which makes my head explode. The littler one then got upset because he wanted to play and didn't get to so....

This past Christmas, he got one.

Now, it is a way to entertain them and I suppose that's ok. But I also have a toddler...

It's now an exercise in stealth to play the DS in our house because once the baby spies the dreaded device, he demands to hold it. He has no idea what it does, but he knows it's important, makes interesting noises and is in demand. Like a cat, he already understands the value of having something someone wants but he doesn't want to give it up. And I think deep down, he's ok with buggering his brothers by not giving back the DS.

So, here I am, in the middle, trying to keep the DS away from the baby and let the others play theirs, keep the tiny game chips accounted for and not getting sucked up in the vacuum or run through the wash because someone stuffed one in his pocket (that did happen!).

I understand this is self-inflicted. It's my fault. I've gone down the slippery slope and there's no going back up the rabbit hole. I only hope my experiences may help save the reader some heartache 0r maybe you all can send me some ideas on how to manage this better, because I am failing and getting more grey hair by the day. Help.

Monday, February 15, 2010

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Busy Mom's Guide to Twitter

I read a funny tweet the other day about a mom tweeting with one hand because her son was sitting on her lap while she sat at her computer. That is my life too so I thought I'd share a couple of tips about how to be most efficient when (and if) you get to tweet.

First of all, Twitter may seem like a colossal waste of time - what you just ate, that you're sitting in the doctor's office, etc. To me, Twitter has almost completely replaced my need to watch the news and is a fabulous resources for anything you may be interested in - specifically, raising kids as a mom.

Not only can you follow all the major news outlets, you can also follow people who have the same interests as you do. There are many, many moms groups on Twitter. One of the biggest is Twitter Moms @twittermoms - with over 357,000 followers! Check out Twellow for specific people who have listed themselves into categories. Here is the Preschool/Toddler category link to find others who most likely tweet about kid stuff. There are over 2,300 people listed in this category!

A great application that can save you a ton of time is Hoot Suite. This application allows for you to centralize your social outlets in one place - your Twitter account(s), LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. Then you only have to log in to one place. The functionality is not 100% that of the actual direct application but it is SO easy to check all accounts, tweet for any of those accounts with one mouse click as well as schedule tweets for later. So if the baby is napping, you can type out your tweets and slowly tweet them throughout the day.

I use Hoot Suite a lot because I tweet for @TeachingToddler as well as my personal Twitter feed @mnewtontinlin and my business @SunriseBusiness. The best part is that I can choose which account to post specific tweets to, or I can tweet to all of them if I think it's a general and important topic that all those followers would be interested in.

Other ways to simplify the process is to link your Twitter account to your Facebook account so when you tweet, it posts to your Facebook page, or vice versa. I have also done this with my LinkedIn status - because it's a business-oriented networking tool, I have hooked my status to the @SunriseBusiness feed so I can post interesting information to both my personal network on LinkedIn and to my business network on Twitter. All of this allows for one less window to manage and "kills two birds with one stone" so to speak.

If you are going to post links (and I recommend you do) you should use a shortener so you can fit more commentary into your tweet. There are many; I particularly like If you set up an account, you can track how many people click your link, when and what country they are from. It's fascinating for a numbers geek like me! Hoot Suite also allows you to shorten as well, and then track the clicks. Shortened links in tweet are an extra reason for people to retweet you as well since it leaves room for their additional commentary.

If there are specific people you really like to hear from, you can create lists of topics and then add those people to the lists - like nutrition, attachment parenting, good deals, etc. This is a great way to filter specific information you are looking for. You can also set up mobile notices for those tweeters you REALLY like. It will text you their posts whenever they add something new.

So, link your account together with Hoot Suite, use Tweet Later for convenience, find others interested in what you are interested in through Twellow and use shorteners to allow for more commenting and a better chance of being retweeted, make lists or set up mobile notices of your favorite tweeters. This will help you maximize your time on Twitter while your little ones are running around (or sleeping, if you're lucky!). Happy Tweeting!

Monday, January 25, 2010

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How I Taught My Toddler Shapes & Colors

I am not getting paid to write this, first of all - but I felt compelled to post this because I feel so strongly about these books:

The way I have been teaching my toddler his shapes, colors, numbers and letters is through a book collection called "My Books" from Southwestern Publishing. There are four books in the series - shapes, colors, numbers and words. The books have bright colors, fun illustrations and are in both English and Spanish for all the words. The books also include large tear-out posters in the back of the different elements from the books.

My son absolutely LOVES these books. We look at them multiple times as day. He is 21 months and knows his shapes, knows about half his colors and he also can identify all the single-digit numbers and half the alphabet. I'm not a trained child development expert - just a mom of five - but to me, that's pretty early and I credit these books.

I took the posters to FedEx/Kinkos and had them laminated, which was not cheap but SO worth it because he loves looking at the posters too. I say "Where's the stars?" and he'll point to all three places on the poster that has stars.

Now here's the kicker: Southwestern is actually a publishing company that focuses solely on helping college students make money from door-to-door sales. They do not sell on-line! Here's the contact form so if you are interested, you can find out when the Southwestern sales people will be in your neighborhood. They have a finely-honed sales pitch that could be off-putting if you hate being "sold" but if you can appreciate the quality products they're hawking (and there are many for all levels of child) and that you are helping a college student build their sales business and make money for the summer, then you'll be very happy with the result.

I can tell you we are.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

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Top 10 Must-Have Baby Items - and one to forget!

I have 5 kids in my life; my youngest is 21 months - and there are a few things I've learned over the years that you just have to have, and a few things you can forget!

Must have:
1) Cloth diapers - while you may choose to use cloth for your actual diapering needs, I used them for spit up towels, to wipe noses and faces, burp clothes, etc. You can get big pack for less than $5. And you don't feel bad when they get gross.

2) A jogger/stroller - if you have a stroller, you have no excuse for not exercising. I'd recommend finding one with a tray and a cup holder. While it may seem like a pain to drag along with you, it makes it so much easier to keep your little one in one spot and comfortable.

3) White noise machine - with all our other kids being older, it is great to have a white noise machine to keep the toddler's room "sound-proof" while the others get ready for bed or if they get up earlier than him. It also helps your child go to sleep as it cues a calm and quiet environment. Our is from Brookstone but there are many out there from other places.

4) A & D Ointment - While I am not a doctor, I believe this mild ointment is a cure-all! I use it for chapped skin, flaky lips, red bottoms, cuts, whatever. It is very much like Vaseline, which I also love. I kept both tubes - A&D and Vaseline in my diaper bag.

5) Triple Paste - every mom has her favorite diaper rash treatment. I have tried pretty much everything and this is the one I think works the best. It's a little expensive but I say it's worth it because it does not seem to sting and it works very fast! I do have to say that Burt's Bees is by far the very best smelling!

6) A floor "arch" play area - if you ask for any toys on your baby registry, the floor play place is one you will definitely use for a while. This is the kind that has a mat they lay on and then the toys are suspended above. This helps with tummy time, hand/eye coordination, discovering their hands and feet and much more.

7) A "bouncy seat" - I particularly like the kind that vibrate - like the car or the dryer (which are tricks for putting baby to sleep). This is a great place to let your baby be comfortable and safe while you change the laundry, brush your teeth or let the dogs out. Always make sure you keep it on the floor so when your baby wiggles, they don't fall off the counter in the chair.

8) Binky clip/Glow in the dark Binky - you really need a way to make sure the pacifier does not fall on the ground and a clip works great - tack it to their shirt. Also, a glow in the dark pacifier is great because you can find it in their crib in the middle of the night when they wake up.

9) Emory boards - for their little fingernails. I learned the hard way that the nail clippers are just too "variable" meaning it's too easy to clip their little finger tips. Using an emory board is much safer and less challenging. I always used to file their nails after they had drifted off to sleep to reduce the "wiggle" factor.

10) Saline drops - again, not a doctor but my doctor did recommend this many years ago. The drops and eventually the spay keeps their nasal passages irrigated which is really important during the winter months when you are inside, or when you live in a dry place like we do here in Colorado. My older kids still use their spray every day and I'm convinced it helps keep colds away and helps keep noses less stuffy when they do have a cold. It's like a neti pot for little people.

One to forget -

Wipes warmers - is that really necessary? The wipe is only on their bottoms for a couple of seconds.

I hope these tips were helpful for you. Please check out my website for more ideas of what to do with your toddler as they grow! Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

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Solve Your Homework Struggles

I know this blog is supposed to be about toddlers, but I have something that is working SO amazingly well for getting my elementary kids to do their homework: study carols!

I got the idea from a recent issue of either Parenting or Family Fun - I'm sorry I can't reference the specific article. I went to Office Max and bought the 3-panel presentation stands (the kind your use for the science fair displays or table-top presentations for a trade show). I also bought cork board, dry erase boards, a pencil holder and some various school supplies so each kid would have her/his own stuff.

I let them decorate their own with stickers, pictures, etc and I posted their "No Excuse" words and other reference materials on push pins in the cork.

Before they get home from school, I set it up in our dining room (a room that's out of the way of the traffic of the rest of the house) and they come in, get a drink and snack and immediately sit down to knock out their homework. No struggle! No tears! No push back! It works so well and since we started it at the beginning of the year, they're in the habit.

There's still time for your kids - just get them going now so they'll be used to it for the rest of the year!