28. 08. 2014
I have this gift certificate on my desk that keeps looking at me and begging me to be used. It was a very generous gift certificate from my in-laws for a family photography session.  I was so excited when they gave it to us and figured we would use it right away for a newborn session once lil H arrived. But then lil H came, and life happened and we working hard to keep up with our two boys under two!  So we are going on 4 months here and I think we've pretty much past the window of time in which we could have done a true newborn session.  BUT it is on my radar to set this up and get it going in the next week or so, and in prep for that, I wanted to collect a bunch of photo ideas.  I hate showing up to photography sessions without any ideas and then feeling like I missed out on some great shots afterwards.  Even though I'm a big fan of capturing spontaneous moments, I like to have some ideas to help *push* those moments into life. Here are a few that I'm dying over... Brothers Photo Ideas

via BabyCenter

Family Photo Ideas

via CabinsForEveryone

family photo ideas

via Concrete Jungle

family photo ideas

via Pinterest

Family photo ideas

via Pinterest

family photo ideas

via The Better Mom

family photo ideas

via Pinterest

father son photo

via Love This Pic

father daughter photo

Via Pinterest

family photo ideas

via Pinterest

family photo ideas

via Pinterest

siblings photo ideas

via Pinterest

siblings photo ideas

via Pinterest

baby photo ideas

via Pinterest

I mean.... So adorable, right??! I'll have to share some of our photos once they're done!

27. 08. 2014

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Record stories for your children on your iPhone! Best. Quick. Project. It's like kindle for your kids! Such a great children's activity! This seriously took me 5 minutes to do since all you need is a book and your iPhone (or some other recording device). I came up with the idea because I started to notice that my oldest son  seems to be a budding auditory learner. While he is still very young, he appears to do his best work (aka play!) when there is music or various sounds and talking in the background. We love listening to music and have some GREAT stations that we enjoy on Pandora, however, I've been craving something new lately. Then it dawned on me that I should make my own listening material and record my voice as I read some of our books. I did a quick search and discovered the QuickVoice App for my iphone at the app store. It’s super simple, straightforward and it’s FREE! Free and easy? Yes please! All you have to do is download the app and start recording! There is a “title” button which is awesome because you can label all your stories and easily select which ones you want to play. Also, since it's on your iPhone, you can take the stories anywhere and/or play them with a bluetooth speaker!  You can also just play them straight from your phone and crank up the volume. The result is that my son loves listening to these stories and thinks that I am a super cool mom (well, I kinda just inferred that last part).  He was also really curious about what and how this was happening. I love projects that make my son curious! It means they got him thinking.  So I then got the idea to record a story together. You guys! Genius! He loves it. He can’t read yet obviously, but I picked out books with a lot of sound words and included him by asking him to make the sounds ("Ok H, say BOOM!" Or "Here comes the train, say choo choo!"). He loved the process of recording the stories, and of course, as a 2 year old who thinks the world revolves around him, he loved hearing himself in the stories even more. Aside from being fun, this is a GREAT literacy activity for a young one! Works on his listening skills, reading comprehension and imagination, as he has to follow along with the stories as well as create his own illustrations in his mind of what is happening without the support of a book in front of him.

index(I used these two Little Blue Truck books by Alice Schertle for my first recordings since they have so many great sound words)

And because I was on a roll, I decided to have my husband record several stories. He travels a lot so it will be great to be able to play his stories while he is away so my son can still hear his voice. I'm also going to get my in-laws and parents to record stories onto my phone next time I see them! What are some stories that you think would be good to record?
25. 08. 2014

Toddler Art

It's chaotic. It often requires more time to set/clean than time spent playing. And it all just kinda seems like one big mess.  But by allowing children to be artists, we help them grow and thrive on so many levels. It develops and refines their coordination and motor control,  it is a means of self-expression, and it allows for endless opportunities to explore, experiment, mix and create.

While I know all of this, I often still struggle with how to structure, respond to and clean up toddler art projects.  I find it especially hard after particularly short art sessions where I feel like the only thing accomplished was getting paint everywhere but the intended target for the project.  Below are some great resources that I turn to when I'm in need of assistance in thinking through how to set up and structure an art project for maximum enjoyment and enrichment, and minimum clean up!

Resources for structuring and responding to children's art

- 7 Tips for Making Art With Children. Great, quick piece with a few pointers and reminders

- What Do You Wish You had Known About Making Art with Children. Wonderful article, a must read I think for all parents. Key points - Process over product, be flexible and open-minded, embrace the mess, be present and organize your materials

- 8 Questions to Ask Children About their Art. Thoughtful questions to ask your child about their art to get them thinking deeply about their work and expressing it verbally

- 10 Questions to Ask Your Child About Their Art. Another list of open-ended questions to ask children about their art to get them thinking and talking

Resources for cleaning up after the fun:

- Cleaning up Activities. Incredibly helpful tips and tricks for what to use to clean what (crayons on the wall, anyone??)

- Cleaning up Messes Sticky Hands for Kids. GENIUS idea for getting kids excited about cleaning up

- Tips on How To Clean Up After a Creative Session With Kids. LOVE all these tips. Key points - Use music to signal clean up time, be organized so children know where to put things back to, use a timer, create a space for projects still in process and involve children in cleaning up

- Art Tips for Cleaning up Art Messes with Kids. Another list of great clean-up ideas. Key points - clear bins with labels, cleaning supplies handy, make it fun, break it down into easy to follow steps, be strategic about where you create, where a smock!