Category Archives: Preschooler (3 yrs – 5 yrs)

Quick Poll for my Mormon Readership/Friends

So some of you have probably heard from me about my enthusiasm for the way our family studies the scriptures with our very young children (5, 3, 1). I’m so excited that I’m in the process of writing a little ebook curriculum with our reading schedules in it.

The problem I have in writing this book is that I don’t know much about the experience of other families in studying the scriptures with young children. So I’m calling upon all the Mormons I know to do a little informal research study for me. If you currently have (or had in the past) young children (say, under age 6), could you answer these questions for me in the comments? (Or via email if you’d rather be private.)

  1. When did you start reading the scriptures with you first child? When did you require subsequent children to be present at family scripture study?
  2. What did you read for scripture study with young children? Did you use the LDS Scripture Stories manuals? The actual scriptures? Other scripture story books?
  3. Did you do any other studying activities (ie memorizing, journaling, etc.) on a regular basis?
  4. How consistent were/are you at reading with your children? What barriers exist to being more consistent?
  5. Any other comments, questions, problems related to studying scriptures with young children would be awesome.

Thanks in advance for your input on my quirky little project.

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Filed under Baby (9 - 18 mos), Early Elementary (6-9), Mormon Parenting Hacks, Preschooler (3 yrs - 5 yrs), Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)

Busby Family Rules

Drafted these tonight for Family Home Evening. My kids were so excited to have input on the rules, and to get the rules written down so they know what they are! Georgie has been going nuts because he feels like he never knows when he’s going to get in trouble, even though it seems obvious to me. But I guess not to him. Anyway, there are two sets, general rules and the table rules.

Busby Table Rules
1. No robots (or toys) at the table! – Robots in this context means anything with a screen that turns you into a robot instead of a real, present human being.
2. Try one happy bite of everything before you leave the table. – You don’t have to swallow if you don’t want to, but everyone tastes everything. Everyone also must have everything on their plate.
3. If you want seconds, eat your firsts (all of them). – If you want seconds of a favorite food, you have to eat your veggies. But otherwise, you can choose to eat however much you want to. Or not at all. But no short order cooking here.
4. No crazy noises at the table. – A necessary rule in a family of boys.
5. No interrupting, no talking with your mouth full of food. – We’re working on the basics of conversation here.
6. Leave the table with your plate (or to go potty). – Even a two-year-old can clear his dishes. It’s not that hard.

Busby Rules of Conduct
1. If someone is going to be hurt or something is going to be broken, tell Mom or Dad.
2. Otherwise, use nice words and voices to solve your own problems. – Yup, I don’t make my kids share.
3. If you try two solutions that don’t work, you can come ask Mom or Dad for help. – I will think of ideas for you, or give suggestions, but I will not solve your problem.
4. No screaming at anyone (especially parents at kids!). – This one is especially for me. Guilty, 100%. My kids get to send me to time out for this.
5. No hitting ever. – Rough housing is okay though.
6. Everyone does their chores. – I tried to add “with a smile,” but my hubby said that was pushing it.
7. Everyone gets an opinion, but Mom and Dad get final say. – I want my kids to know I will listen to their complaints about the rules and consider them politely.
8. Love each other. – This covers pretty much everything else, right?
9. Laugh. – About good times, about horrible times, always.

What are your family rules? Anything important we missed?

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Filed under Discipline, Early Elementary (6-9), Preschooler (3 yrs - 5 yrs), Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)

5 Ways to Adapt Grown-up Board Games for Children

So my oldest son is currently obsessed with board games. And not the little kid ones like Candy Land that I’ve let the kids tear up for years. No, he’s facinated by our “grown-up” board games, with the millions of cards and figurines. And why wouldn’t he be? They’re colorful, have lots of small, interesting pieces, and have exciting themes like trains and conquering the world. How can lame games featuring candy and slides stand up to that? Georgie is always begging to play Ticket To Ride or Dominion. The one thing he asked Santa for this year was Monopoly.

The problem is that he’s five. Georgie might, on a good day, be able to handle the mechanics of Monopoly but the strategy of it is beyond him. And clearly letting anyone under the age of 13 touch Dominion would result in disaster.

Or would it? As a result of enormous five-year-old pressure, I’ve embarked on a quest of adapting some of our exciting, grown-up games for little kid playability. And granted, I wouldn’t hand over these games to a kid who is still in love with chewing cards or playing 52 card pick-up. But I’ve picked up a few strategies along the way that have actually made things fun.

  1. Reduce options – Many adult board games, like Ticket To Ride and Alhambra, rely on allowing you to draw either one of the five face up cards or from the draw pile. Cut the number down to reduce the time it takes your child to pick his/her cards. Similarly, in games where you are working towards multiple goals, like the four diseases in Pandemic or the four treasures in Tobago, try cutting the number down by half. Your kids will be able to focus better and be more strategic if there are fewer things to compare.
  2. Remove elements – The fun part of many modern board games is trying to track multiple strategic elements at once. For example, in 7 Wonders, there are at least 7 different ways to earn points to win the game. You might try to remove some options until your child gets the hang of a few. For example, getting rid of the blue and green cards in 7 Wonders doesn’t change game play too much, and greatly simplifies the goals. When playing Alhambra, you might choose to ignore the different colors of money or the requirement that your city be walkable until your child gets a hang of the scoring system. Similarly, you could ignore missions in Ticket To Ride and just go for straight points and the longest route.
  3. Play “open-face” – In games with lots of cards, tokens, and other collectables, it’s difficult for your child to even hold all their cards, much less understand what they are all doing. In this case, it can be helpful to have everyone play at least one game with their cards “open” on the table. Playing with cards visible allows your child to observe the choices you make, see card organization in action, and understand your strategy. Playmats can also be helpful for this purpose. We love to use this one when we play Bohnanza. You can find playmats for other card games by searching on BoardGameGeek.
  4. Make it co-operative – When a game is truly too challenging for a kid to understand, get together and play as a team. Make up a co-operative goal: for Ticket To Ride, you could pick a mission card and work together to get there. The great thing is, kids don’t care if there isn’t a failure condition. Just pick a short goal in the game and achieve it! My boys also like to play against a “computer” or “bad guy,” especially in games like BANG where the theme lends well to it. Regular co-op games like Pandemic also lend well to you just telling the kids what to do.
  5. Add a time limit – Because, frankly, you can only Ticket To Ride with a five-year-old so many times before you go nuts. Before you start, let your child know the limits: “This time, whoever gets the most points in 15 minutes wins!” This might be helped by skipping ahead slightly in gameplay by dealing out more starting cards (Ticket To Ride) or starting at a higher scoring level (Alhambra).

What are your family’s favorite board games? Does your child ever want to play games above their skill level and what do you do about it?

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Filed under Early Elementary (6-9), Having Fun, Preschooler (3 yrs - 5 yrs), Tall Poppies

Library Hits – 4/17/2012

This week’s library returns and and what we thought of them.

Top of the Pile

Mouse and Mole, Fine Feathered Friends by Wong Herbert Yee
Awesome
I really enjoyed this early reader which won a Geisel Honor in 2010.  The Geisel Award is my new favorite award–it’s for best early reader books.  The books on that list were meant for kids like Monkey who learn to read early and need more content than picture books and less than a chapter book, but something that’s actually a story since they’re done with boring phonics concepts.  So many early readers are hit-over-the-head boring, but everything we’ve read off the Geisel list has been a huge hit.  Even if your child isn’t reading, these books are highly readable! Anyway, about the book: a friendship story with some serious emphasis on nature study (one of my new pet homeschooling topics). Continue reading

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Filed under Early Elementary (6-9), Library Hits, Preschooler (3 yrs - 5 yrs), Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)

Library Hits – 4/4/2012

(And we’re back from the dead.)

I’ve recently decided that lists on a blog is no way to keep track of books.  It’s not searchable, it’s not taggable, it’s not organized, gosh darn it!  In fact, given what we all know about me, I can’t believe I didn’t realize this earlier.  After a failed attempt at creating a spreadsheet (too much by-hand input required and still not searchable), I remembered a lovely book organizing tool I found back in college: LibraryThing!

So now I’ve been busy inputting recommended reading lists into the database (almost done with the Book Crush list, then on the the award lists) along with our recent library hits.  You can browse my database by heading over to my LibraryThing page. I hope this database can be useful to other people as, ideally, it will be made up of only truly awesome picture books without the drivel and the twaddle. (On a side note, “drivel” and “twaddle” are technical terms in my book, “drivel” referring to overly sentimental children’s lit and “twaddle” being overly commercialized pulp lit.)

Since I’m not really including the bad stuff in this database, I’ll limit my library hits reviews to the actual hits. Unless of course there’s something outstandingly bad enough that I just have to share and mock it.  :D

Top of the Pile

Question Boy meets Little Miss Know-It-All by Peter Catalanotto
Awesome
Our entire family adored this book, and that’s rare since reading picture books is the bane of my husband’s existence. The book is pretty much what the title suggests it is, with superhero costumes for all, even the garbage man.  The plotting is awesome and for once, the ending of a picture book is every bit as satisfying as a novel.  Illustrations are also spot on and hilarious.

The Stacks

Grandfather Twilight by Barbara Berger
Check-out
When this came up on the Book Crush list I was entering, I vaguely remembered the pictures of it from my childhood.  The pictures were just as stunning as ever, but the writing was a little weak.  I mean, it just sort of ends, with no elaboration on this little mythic world it’s created.

Zelda and Ivy by Laura McGee Kvasnosky
Buy
The beginning of a good early reader series.  I think the story of two sisters and how they interact and get along is interesting.  Probably would have been even more awesome were there any sisters in our household . . . .

Alphabetter by Dan Bar-el
Check-out
Decent alphabet book.  Story in the tradition of each person having what the next one needs, and so they all swap at the end.  The text on the jacket cover is misleading though; it’s not about them working together at all.

A Second is a Hiccup by H. J. Hutchins
Buy
I love a good educational book that’s actually readable.  This book, in a poetic way, gives kids a sense of the scale of different measures of time.

Rating Scale

In homage to Harry Potter, our rating scale contains no simple numbers, but is useful nonetheless, and largely self-explanatory:
Awesome
Buy
Check-out
Filler
Obnoxious
Terrible

Disclaimer: These reviews are not intended to be a review of the overall quality of any picture book, but are totally biased and based on their suitability for this mom and her two children reading together.  Your mileage may vary based on your children’s maturity, attention span, and interests.

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Filed under Library Hits, Preschooler (3 yrs - 5 yrs), Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)

Saturday Links – Stress-Free Parenting and Conversations About Drawing

Theory Links

Is Stress-Free Parenting Possible? – Yes, and yes.

Reflecting on How I Spend My Days – Amen to this list of ways to keep your days as a toddler parent joyful, rather than sad.

10 Ways to Make Your Homeschool Run Smoothly – If you’re not into the homeschooling vibe, don’t be put off. I find that homeschooling blogs are a great source for general, organized parenting tips.  Sure, some of this may not apply, but a lot of these are a huge part of making anyone’s day run smoothly.

 

Activity Links

Making Shapes – Beautifully simple homemade toy (popsicle sticks + velcro stickers) with huge potential.

Kids Art: Conversations About Drawing – I’m at this point with Monkey’s fine motor skills.  This is a good technique for dealing with the frustration of “not being able to do it”.

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Filed under Parental Motivators, Preschooler (3 yrs - 5 yrs), Saturday Five, Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)

Saturday Links – Two Videos and Fall Art Projects

Theory Links

Video: Are Your Family’s Routines Working? – This is exactly why we have routines for everything in our house.  Routines = expected, planned good times.  Lack of routines = panicky, chaotic frustration.

Video: Baby Teamwork – I’m working hard on letting my kids solve their own problems more.  When things like this happen spontaeously between a 1- and almost-3-year-old, it shocks me.  Check it out.

One-Sided Parental Vigilance – Although I’m not on the food hypervilance wagon, I have to agree that I would like to see more studies about kids and media characters.  Not all character play is bad, mind you–I spent a good portion of my childhood playing Sound of Music with a certain friend.  But it makes me sad when young kids are totally addicted to characters on everything they own by age 3.  Childhood (and adulthood) should be a little less branded.

Activity Links

Floor Block Puzzles – I really like the idea of free form puzzles.  Sort of an easy introduction to tangrams.

Display Seasonal Books on a Stuffed Animal Chain – Good enough to go in the family room, I say.

Fun Leaf Projects for Kids – A plethora of ideas for fall themed crafts.  I’m really loving the leaf mobile.

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Filed under Baby (9 - 18 mos), Family Culture, Infant (0 - 9 mos), Magda Gerber, Preschooler (3 yrs - 5 yrs), Saturday Five, Toddler (18 mos - 3 yrs)