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Archive for April, 2012

Awesome Authors!

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Hi everyone!  First, let me say thank you for the comments on my posts!  It really makes my day to read your thoughts and interact with you this way.

I have a serious addiction to children’s books.  I’ll be blatantly honest.  It’s a bit problematic when our living room bookshelves have more children’s books than big people books.  Well it might be problematic for some, but I am perfectly content!  This week, I’m going to share 2 fabulous authors with you, and a great activity for having fun with language.  I hope you enjoy!

~Liz Comparetto

BOOKSHELF ESSENTIALS

Instead of highlighting one book this week, I want to highlight one of my all-time favorite children’s author/illustrators, David Shannon.  He has written and illustrated more than a dozen of what I would consider ‘bookshelf essentials.’  I’m sure you’ll recognize some of the titles from the ‘David’ series; No, David!, David Gets in Trouble, and David Goes to School.  The recurring character, David, is actually modeled after the author as a child.  My favorite *secret* about Shannon’s books is that his dog, Fergus, makes an appearance in almost every one.  In fact, I have yet to find one that doesn’t have Fergus hiding somewhere in its pages!  That’s his picture on the side in case anyone wants to go searching!  One of his lesser known books, A Bad Case of Stripes, is a wonderful way to reinforce to your children that being just like everyone else is no fun.  Duck on a Bike is a hilarious tale of a bunch of farm animals who borrow bikes from the neighborhood kids and go cruising… nothing beats a horse riding a bike!  The last book I’ll mention (though I could go on all night!) is Alice the Fairy.  It’s a tale of a little girl, who happens to be modeled after Shannon’s daughter, that finds pure magic in everything around her.  She even imagines her bathwater as Jell-o!

FAMILY FUN

One thing I have learned through my years teaching in the classroom, and also as a parent, is that having fun with language is the ALL-TIME BEST way to foster a love of literacy in children.  I could very well go all ‘teacher-ish’ on you and give you all the formal research, but that would be really boring to the average reader!  What I will tell you is to play.  Play with sounds, letters, intonation, meanings, and metaphors.  One of the current favorite language games we play at our house is with first sounds.  Vinnie (our 4 year old) is learning all of his sounds and letters and he’s starting to put together words with their beginning sounds.  We take an ordinary word or name and change the first letter/sound in order to make it as silly as we can.  For instance, if we take his name, he can tell us it starts with a V.  He’ll tell me another letter and I’ll change the first sound of his name accordingly… Vinnie becomes Finnie, which becomes Binnie, and then Zinnie.  He ends up rolling on the floor with laughter and coming up with plenty of his own in the meantime.

Another great game to play is with voices and intonation.  Instead of just saying, ‘Put away your toys, please’, I might say it in a laughing voice, a scary voice, or a singsongy voice.  I’ll put emphasis on words that don’t necessarily need emphasis in a sentence, such as ‘away’ in ‘put AWAY your toys, please’.  It makes it fun.  It makes the mundane enjoyable.  And above all, it makes kids eager to play along.  The more experience they have playing with language, the more they’ll appreciate it and enjoy it!

The book pictured above is The Z was Zapped by Chris Van Allsburg… an amazing book for older children that makes the alphabet really fun and interesting, even if they’ve known their ABC’s for years!

 Ask Liz

As you may have noticed, I really like language.  I deeply enjoy teaching language and I love playing with language.  I promise this section won’t be as long as the last two… I do tend to be a little long-winded, especially when I’m really passionate about something 🙂  I am using this week’s Ask Liz to highlight another author/illustrator that has me as a devoted fan… Shel Silverstein.  His silly poems have been delighting children (and adults) for more than 30 years now.  He has a knack for making language fun, which you obviously have guessed by now, I am a big fan of!  I just have to share my absolute favorite Silverstein poem, My Beard from his compilation of poems, Where the Sidewalk Ends.

-Liz

Bubbling Bonuses

Make sure to head over to our Summer Camp post to find out more about all of the fun camps that CHS is offering this year!

Our sister-blog, Diary of a Museum: The Story of Savannah Children’s Museum is a great behind-the-scenes scoop on what we’re doing to get Exploration Station ready for opening day!

Thank you! Until next week,

~Liz

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Incredible Insects

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First, I have to give all of you an enormous apology for not doing a post last week!  Wednesday came and went… and no new post for all of our loyal followers 😦  I’m sorry!

Second, I have to tell you that I was up in the air about this week’s post topic… until about 5 seconds ago, literally.  I looked up from my laptop and noticed my big furry cat, Henry, batting at the largest millipede I have ever seen in person.  I rescued it from the curious claws of sweet Henry and knew in an instant I had to write about insects!  I’ll be honest.  If they are physically ON me, I can’t stand insects; but I absolutely LOVE watching them.  They’re fascinating!  I have made sure to teach this philosophy to our son as well.  Look but don’t touch.

~Liz Comparetto

BOOKSHELF ESSENTIALS

Insect (DK Eyewitness Books) By: Laurence Mound

ISBN-10: 0756630045

DK Eyewitness books are always a wonderful resource to have available to your child, especially if they are particularly interested in a certain subject.  They offer such a wonderful array of information and pictures that will captivate even the youngest of children.  I like Insect for those very reasons.  My son inherited his Mama’s curiosity when it comes to nature, so this book provides him with some fascinating information (even though, at 4, he’s more interested in the beautiful pictures.)  Older children can use this book, and others in the series, as a school resource or to indulge their curiosity.  Even if you don’t have this one in your collection, it’s definitely worth picking up from the library when your child starts asking about all the creepy crawly things they’re noticing!

FAMILY FUN

Bees.  Even hearing the word can strike immediate fear in some people.  Children, in particular, have an ingrained sense of danger when they see a bee.  Hands start swatting at the air and feet begin running in aimless circles.  Sound familiar?  A good dose of ‘bee learning’ will do the trick, I promise!  I highly recommend taking your family to one of the fabulous bee-hives we have in Savannah.  Savannah Bee Company on Whitemarsh Island has educational hives, as does Oatland Island.  There, trained beekeepers will teach you all about the AMAZING bee!  I can vouch for the power of ‘bee-learning’ as I was privileged enough to accompany a group of Girl Scouts to the Savannah Bee Company’s hives earlier this year.  As you can imagine, a group of squeamish little girls is hard to keep calm when they know there are bees around.  I watched with wonder as these young ladies learned and grew to respect bees during their visit.  They learned how to carefully observe and how to behave around bees so to not get stung.  By the end of our hour long visit, not one of the girls was scared of bees.  NOT ONE!  In fact, it was a little difficult to get them to leave!!

The first picture above is of a beautiful worker bee (workers are female, and the ones with stingers) who explored my hand and tasted my salty skin with her proboscis.  Super cool!  The second picture is of a drone bee (drones are male and do not have stingers) who was getting all fat and happy on a spoonful of honey.  His chubby little body was literally dripping in the stuff!

Trust me- it’s worth a trip.  Honest.

 Ask Liz

Dear Liz,

I was hanging out with a group of friends the other evening and the mosquitoes were starting to come out.  I was mindlessly swatting at them and apparently I swatted a ‘mosquito eater.’  One of my friends stopped me and told me they literally eat mosquitoes… is this true?  If so, can I breed them and keep them as pets? LOL!

-John (Savannah, GA)

Hahaha!  Great question, John!  ‘Mosquito Eater’ is a nickname for an insect called ‘Crane Fly.’  There are lots of other nicknames for them as well: ‘mosquito hawk’, ‘gallnipper’, and ‘gollywhopper’ are a couple of the regional nicknames for this insect.  Unfortunately, no, they don’t actually eat mosquitoes.  They don’t even harm them or bother them.  I found out that the only relation they may have to mosquitoes is that Crane Fly larvae will sometimes eat mosquito larvae, but they don’t search for it or only eat that.  Crane Flies also don’t bite humans, or bite anything at all for that matter.  Once they reach adulthood, they basically reproduce and die.  They’re really interesting to watch though… they are not graceful in the least, kind of flopping around as they fly.  They look like horribly overgrown mosquitoes, so I think lots of people immediately assume they are and kill them.  Honestly, though, there’s no reason to kill a Crane Fly.  They just want to reproduce and die.  What a life, huh?

-Liz

Bubbling Bonuses

Make sure to head over to our Summer Camp post to find out more about all of the fun camps that CHS is offering this year!

Our sister-blog, Diary of a Museum: The Story of Savannah Children’s Museum is a great behind-the-scenes scoop on what we’re doing to get Exploration Station ready for opening day!

Thank you! Until next week,

~Liz

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HOP RIGHT IN!  

So, normally, I keep this blog about the kids; Fun family crafts, book recommendations for children, and child-related questions and answers.  This week, however, I decided to focus on the people actually READING this blog… the adults in children’s lives!  I’m not sure about you, but this has been an especially stressful spring for me so far.  I want to share some tips and tricks for staying sane during these hectic times.  Relax and enjoy!

~Liz Comparetto

BOOKSHELF ESSENTIALS

Real-Life Stress Busters for Moms on the Go

By: Jenelle Valentine Davenport

ASIN: B0058CX5Q6

I had to share this resource with all of you out there… this isn’t just for Moms, even though the title makes you think otherwise!  Anyone that is around children and gets stressed out can benefit from this handy Kindle book.  Yep, it’s a Kindle book… and it’s only $3.99!!!  How’s that for cheap?!  Plus, you can carry it with you wherever you might need some de-stressing inspiration.  You may think that there would only be the ‘obvious’ de-stressing ideas in here, like scheduling a hot bath ALONE; but it offers a lot more than that.  Trust me.  I have tried everything I can think of to de-stress, and this gave me some new ideas to try!

FAMILY FUN

The best way I have found to de-stress as a family is to schedule in very specific family time into our week.  It helps to keep us connected, relaxed, and generally pretty content with the chaos in our lives.  My advice is to check out the local scene.  There are so many fabulous resources available in our community that are free or low cost… and worth every penny.  I know it feels like you’re actually making your schedule more hectic, but taking a time-out to spend with your favorite people will actually make the rest of your schedule seem a lot less insane!

If you’re looking for something fun to do this holiday weekend, take a look at EGGstravaganza, powered by Coastal Heritage Society!  It’s only $10 per person, but that includes an egg hunt, fun activities you can do with your child, and even a train ride!  Click on this LINK for the event details and for registration information.  Hope to see you there!!

ASK LIZ 

My day typically looks a little something like this: alarm, snooze, alarm, snooze, alarm, wake up, check email, get ready, wake up kid, get kid ready, feed kid, take kid to school, go to work, run around like a crazy person, pick up kid from school, go to store for random (but apparently necessary) item, get home, say a quick ‘hi’ to the husband, unpack from the day, take care of animals, make dinner, attempt to eat dinner if time allows, get kid ready for bed, put kid to bed, work on grad school stuff, work on work stuff, finally trudge up the stairs and go to bed myself.  Only to start it all again in a matter of hours.  UGH!!!  If you’re relating to me at all here, please head over to our Pinterest board called “Stress Relief for Adults” for some great ideas, tips, tricks, and products to help you make YOU a priority!

http://pinterest.com/savannahkidschs/stress-relief-for-adults/

While you’re at it, follow us on Pinterest.com: SavannahKidsCHS!

-Liz

Bubbling Bonuses

Make sure to head over to our Summer Camp post to find out more about all of the fun camps that CHS is offering this year!

Our sister-blog, Diary of a Museum: The Story of Savannah Children’s Museum is a great behind-the-scenes scoop on what we’re doing to get Exploration Station ready for opening day!

Thank you! Until next week,

~Liz

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