You're in good hands.

We've been working on The Eency Weency Spider in my Family Time classes. No matter where you are from or what your age, most people know this very familiar nursery rhyme. It's impact, however, goes far beyond just being fun. Finger play activities like this one enhance fine motor skills that will later help your child use a fork, brush their teeth, hold a crayon, or cut with scissors. Other activities that help to enhance fine motor skills include:
  • stacking blocks (start with soft items, such as a sponge, if your child has trouble with traditional blocks.)
  • playing with play dough, sand, and finger paints
  • puzzles or shape sorters
  • stringing beads or other items (start with large openings)

Watch me go!

Aaaah, those precious first steps. How anxiously we await them. Children will typically take 2-3 unassisted steps around their first birthday. Walking soon becomes running, and by age two, you may even be seeing your child's first attempts at standing on one foot or tiptoeing. This is also the age where your child will begin to jump with both feet off the ground. It has always amazed me that the little helpless bundles we bring home from the hospital become a running, jumping, tiptoeing bundle of energy in such a short time!

So much to say - so little time

From birth, your child is capable of communication. Listen to a newborn cry, and there's no doubt she is trying to communicate a need. However, very soon that cry turns to other sounds, and around 5 months old, she is probably beginning to babble. At her first birthday she will likely have at least one word in her repertoire of sounds. Then, over the next year, she will add at least fifty more words to that repertoire and should be able to make simple, three-word sentences. The year between the second and third birthday shows the greatest growth in expressive language. She will begin to ask and answer questions and will gain an expressive vocabulary of 300-1000 words. I love this age in particular. It's so fun to hear what's going on inside those expressive little heads!

Watch me grow!

We've been talking a lot in class about the different developmental milestones our children will reach. It's amazing how quickly they grow from newborns, who can not even sit up on their own, to walking, talking toddlers! Over the next few posts, I am going to be sharing some of those milestones and the typical age ranges that they are reached. Let's start with cognitive development.

  • A 6-9 month old can play "peek-a-boo" and will look for a family member when named.

  • At 18 months, they can identify 1-3 body parts and correctly point to four animal pictures when named.

  • A two year old should be able to follow two-part directions and enjoys matching shapes, colors, and identical pictures.

  • By age three, your child should understand most common action words and can complete a 3-4 piece puzzle.

Please remember that these are typical age ranges, and every child develops differently. If you have concerns about your child's developmental milestones, you should discuss them with your pediatrician or other health professional.

Little readers

I was doing some research on reading and the young child. I thought it was interesting that the single most important factor in encouraging future reading was a language rich environment. That means not just reading to your child, but involving them in other language activities, such as singing, reciting nursery rhymes, and listening to music. Hmmm... Sounds like a Kindermusik class to me. :-)

According to the Zero to Three website, "there are a number of studies that show that when children hear a good deal of 'live' language, when they are spoken to often and encouraged to communicate, they are more proficient with language than children who have more limited language exposure. For example, Janellan Huttenlocher, University of Chicago, found that at 20 months of age children of "chatty" moms averaged 131 more words than kids of 'non-chatty' moms and by age two the gap had increased to a difference of 295 words. Only live language, not television, produced these vocabulary-boosting effects (Begley, 1997)."

***Dean Jones***

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. This is music that you hear in your head when you're sitting on your front porch, miles from your nearest neighbor, watching the sky change colors as the sun goes down. Besides having THE absolute best album title of the year, Dean Jones' Napper's Delight is very appropriately named, as this is not a bedtime CD, but a CD to listen to before an afternoon nap, when you and your kids can contemplate the drowsy music and thought-provoking imagery of the words.

Those familiar with Dog on Fleas' work will recognize lead Flea Dean Jones' playful, cosmic lyrics, tenderly sung by Jones and guest vocalists Elizabeth Mitchell; fellow Flea Debbie Lan; and Amy Poux, founder of Working Playground, Inc., and High Meadow Arts, Inc. In fact, Jones showcases a mindboggling array of Hudson Valley talent, including the aforementioned voices, the pedal steel of Fooch Fischetti, and fellow Flea David Levine's fiddlin'.

The slightest touches of electronica mixed with the sounds of mbiras (thumb pianos) and balafons (marimba-like instruments), especially on "Tiny Fishes", make the music on Napper's Delight both now and timeless. And listen to how Dean quietly and slyly works Steely Dan into the lyrics of "Sally Ann". "Wheelin' and Dealin'", cowritten with NYC's Emily Curtis, would be a lo-fi electrotrance hit on any college radio station, and the Elizabeth Mitchell-sung "Grow Little Flower" would fit in just nicely on Neil Young's Harvest Moon.

Other highlights include the 5/4 - 3/4 verse/chorus of the Vince Guaraldi-influenced "Needs", the mournful trombones of the call-and-response antebellum-sounding waltz "Filly and Dilly", and the uniquely Dean Jones lyrics of "Hush Little Baby". Dig these tasty lines from "Hermit Crab": Minnows swim in minnow school / Stand askance of tidal pool / Swim on swishy beaucoup fishies / Pesky little Pisces settle down nicely". Cool.

What's going on here is more than pretty little folk songs: The album as a whole is all about observing, understanding, and caring for your world, including the people around you. It's not enough to live in it, you have to be a part of it.

This is music, man. If anyone in the universe wants to jump in and get their feet wet, well, c'mon. Everyone's invited, Dean Jones ain't keepin' nobody out.

Hi Ho Peanut!

My oldest daughter recently celebrated her birthday. Our tradition is for the birthday person to pick a special treat for the family to do together. Her choice this year was horse back riding. There aren't a lot of places that offer trail riding in the area, so I was unsure of what we might be getting in to. I've ridden some poorly mannered horses at rental facilities in the past, and certainly didn't want that experience for her on her birthday.
We chose to go to R&R Ranch in Lithia. It is across the street from a wildlife preserve with horse trails. They gave the girls a mini-lesson in the arena, then we went on a guided trail ride. There is also a petting area there with rabbits, ferrets, and chickens to enjoy. I could not have asked for a better experience! If you would like to schedule a ride or want information about riding lessons, their number is (813) 653-3819. Thanks for a great time Debbie!

Extra! Extra! Read all about it.

If you missed the article about my program in The Brandon News last week, you can see it here.

Yikes! Has it been a week already since my last post? I was sick over the weekend, and I guess I have been playing catch up ever since.
I started reading a book last weekend, that is definitely my pick for "book of the month". It's called The New Birth Order Book by Dr. Kevin Leman. It explains the role that your birth order plays in shaping your personality, choice of jobs, and even who you marry. It has been fascinating.
Here's an excerpt:
Which of the following sets of personality traits fits you best? (Pick the list that has the most items that seem to describe you and your way of operating in life.)
A. perfectionist, reliable, conscientious, list maker, well organized, hard driving, natural leader, critical, serious, scholarly, logical, doesn't like surprises, loves computers
B. mediator, compromising, diplomatic, avoids conflict, independent, loyal to peers, many friends, a maverick, secretive, unspoiled
C. manipulative, charming, blames others, attention seeker, tenacious, people person, natural salesperson, precocious, engaging, affectionate, loves surprises
D. little adult by age seven; very thorough; deliberate; high achiever; self-motivated; fearful; cautious; voracious reader; black and white thinker; uses "very," "extremely," and "exactly," a lot; can't bear to fail; has very high expectations for self; more comfortable with people who are older or younger.
A, B, and C listed character traits typical of the oldest down to the youngest in the family. List D describes the typical characteristics of the only child. I am the baby of my family and exhibit many of the characteristics of a last-born child. However, I am the first born girl, and Dr. Leman describes how this has given me a few first born characteristics as well. How did you measure up on the list?