(Artwork from Marianne Richmond's If I Could Keep You Little...)
Spring has sprung! OK, so maybe not quite yet for everyone…but we're getting there.
Late last week marked the first day of spring. For some of us, the beginning of spring means it still feels questionably like winter outside. But do not fear. We are staying positive that this wintry feeling is on its way out here soon. Spring is finally springing—let's keep this positive thought in mind through the rest of March and into the beginning of April!
If you've been cooped up most of the winter, it's time to get inspired by the arrival of spring's longer, lighter, and brighter days. Get outside if you can; weather temperatures in the forties and fifties are totally bearable.
Five Activities (that you may have forgotten about!) to Get Outside and Enjoy the Simplicities of Spring:
1. Do your own rendition of the spring happy dance. Splash in puddles. Dance in the rain. Even though it's very possible the rain is still quite cold, children will love getting out all the rain gear that's been buried in closets—raincoats, boots, umbrellas. If everyone's bundled up, splashing around in puddles is such a fun and freeing activity. A spring celebration is a special occasion! Wet weather is better than frozen weather, don't you think?
2. Bust out the sidewalk chalk. Get as colorful as possible. Ask your kids if they remember how fun it was to draw and doodle all over the sidewalk and driveway. If there aren't any rain puddles to go hopping about in, this is a great alternative. Maybe you can get them to even practice their cursive or handwriting, or encourage them to draw all things spring (a butterfly, a rain cloud, a blooming flower).
3. Find a hill or nice grassy area and watch the sunset. This is an activity you just can't pass up as we're transitioning into brighter days. Get the whole family, pack a pre-dinner snack, and enjoy one another's company.
4. Practice spelling and ABCs with sticks in wet mud or sand. Grab a stick and use it as a writing utensil. Your children will love getting the permission to get a little dirty and play in the mud. See if they can write out their name or any other fun words you can think of.
As for the too-dreary-and-rainy-to-get-outside days, or the days that feel and look strikingly similar to our winter ones, stay in and read a book that celebrates spring. Read books with pastel hues or watercolor illustrations. Our author Marianne Richmond (who currently lives in Minneapolis and is likely dreaming of spring right about now) is known for her beautiful, blooming watercolor and pastel illustrations.
Check out the titles below for some spring-spiration and a warm reminder that brighter days are on their way.
Put Me In The Story's personalized books for spring that will get everything around you bloomin'!
I'll Never Let You Go Personalized Book
Personalize Put Me In The Story's newest release by beloved author and illustrator Marianne Richmond. Illustrated in watercolor with pastels and soft tones, I'll Never Let You Go is a wonderful story about growing up and letting go, while holding on with all of your heart. Show your child the meaning of unconditional love illustrated through the sweet, personalized story of your child's affection for their most beloved best friend, Blankie!
If I Could Keep You Little Personalized Book
Every parent has experienced the powerful feelings of watching their child grow up while wanting to hold onto every moment a little longer. Now this favorite bestselling picture book from Marianne Richmond, If I Could Keep You Little…, can be personalized for your child to express those heartwarming feelings in words to remember forever.
I Believe in You Personalized Book
Marianne Richmond's I Believe in You is a vibrantly illustrated children's book that expresses everything that your child wants to hear. I Believe in You encourages your child to see their own strengths and talents as you do. Personalize this meaningful book with your child's name, photo, and message, and let your son or daughter's uniqueness shine brighter!
Happy World Poetry Day! Today is the perfect day to celebrate children's books for their exceptional rhythm and rhyme.
Reading children's books is a fun way for the whole family to honor the poem in one of its most playful forms. We are so excited to celebrate World Poetry Day with you because we know how important poetry is for all of us!
Beyond its importance and usefulness as a learning tool for kids, it's beautiful, magical, and has the power to evoke feelings, memories, and more. Poetry also offers a unique space to express yourself, whether reading or writing it. Though these messages sound like abstract topics to teach a child, they're really things that just come naturally over time, as long as you commit to a reading routine. All the more reason to continue reading with your child as much as possible!
Introducing children of any age (babies and toddlers included) to poetry is an exceptional way to help develop phonological awareness and encourage children to read with the fun sounds and rhythm. Reading poetry aloud to your children (captivating illustrations are must) will enchant them into learning repetition and rhyme. And remember, nursery rhymes are a wonderful place to start for babies and toddlers.
What's so important about phonological awareness?
Phonological awareness is the ability to learn and understand letters, words, and their correlating sounds. Since poems and children's books are designed to rhyme, blend different sounds together, incorporate repetition, and entertain children, they're a great tool to understanding language and communication. Chanting, singing, or simply hearing poems is an effective way to introduce children to language patterns and how language and text connect. A child will then organically learn to identify sounds and parts of words, making natural connections. Poetry allows children to play with language and explore the many forms of speech.
We have a few ideas and activities for you and your children to explore the power of poetry! The tips below are best for children ages six and up, but don't forget to share a rhythmic book or nursery rhyme with your babies and toddlers today. (Yes, even singing counts!)
Tips to hop on the poetry wave with your kids:
1. Check out our very own Kenn Nesbitt's Poetry4Kids.com, a great resource for kids to explore a "funny poetry playground" and discover how fun poetry really is. You'll find a handy poetry thesaurus for reference (great for parents and teachers too), and tons of other great tools and lessons. Poetry4Kids is a helpful place to start for young boys and girls who may be reluctant toward reading and writing poetry.
2. See the poetry in things! For example, sing a favorite song with your little one and point out the fact that song lyrics are a form of poetry. Then write down the lyrics and explore the poem's structure, form, and perhaps repetitive nature. Or, use photographs to inspire poetry writing. Pull out old scrapbooks, family vacation photos, etc. and write down a line for what you see.
3. Take a poetry walk. Celebrate poetry by observing our beautiful world. Find a scenic or interesting location for a poetry outing where you can record various sensory images (an important part of poetry). Parks, museums, and historical spots produce creative results! You and your child can write down one line for each interesting happening, and at the end of the outing, put together your lines in a poem and see what fun you come up with! Be sure to display it on the fridge or bulletin board when you're done.
4. If you're a poetry enthusiast yourself, create a poem Mad Lib activity for you and your child to do together! Here's how: choose a poem that you especially love (and that's somewhat easy to understand for your child). Remove one or two words from each line, choosing words that represent a variety of parts of speech (nouns, adjectives, verbs, etc.), print it out on a new piece of paper, and fill in the blanks with new words that correspond to the command. Have fun with it, be silly, change it up! Remind your child that they're indeed a poet. If you love poetry, this activity is as much for you as it is for your little one!
5. Pick out children's books that celebrate rhyme, rhythm, and repetition! This is pretty easy to do because most children's books are written to be read aloud together. However, there are certainly books that rhyme or flow more rhythmically at a more obvious pace. So, read aloud today and celebrate beloved children's stories for their sound, sense, and expression! (This activity is appropriate for all ages!)
* Use coupon code POET20 to take advantage of this offer and receive 20% off our regular price shown on the website. Your discount will be applied to all titles on the Put Me In The Story website and will be calculated at the time of checkout. Shipping and taxes are excluded from the discounted amount. Offer expires 3/25/14 at 11:59pm CST.
(Artwork from My Name Is Not Isabella by Jennifer Fosberry and Mike Litwin)
With all the mounting possibilities and opportunities for women, what a wonderful time it is to be a young girl growing up! As mothers and fathers, we'll want to nurture our girls with love and encouragement, give them our time, and make them always feel supported and safe.
Lead the way by being their role model! Be transparent—let them see your strengths and even a few of your weaknesses. They'll most likely learn to follow your example at a young age, so make sure your setting a good one!
In honor of International Women's Day, we'd like to share a few tips to help your daughters grow up with positive self-esteem and a strong sense of self-worth. So they can, one day, go on to accomplish their biggest goals and make their dreams a reality.
1. Allow her to be curious and persistent—to voice her opinion, knowing that you're listening. In fact, require that she does! Demonstrate to her what it means to be true to herself: strong in her stance and confident in her own skin.
2. Urge her to dream big, play dress up, and be imaginative. Remind her that she can be anything she wants when she grows up: a dentist, a teacher, a scientist, a doctor, an author. Don't sugarcoat any of the work it takes to become one of these figures, of course. You'll still communicate to her that it takes hard work, but explain that this is what makes the experience so rewarding.
3. As she enters school, make sure she is forming meaningful relationships with female figures in school or outside of school. It's important for young women to have mentors outside of their home, too.
4. Help your daughter focus on who she is—defined by her heart, character, abilities, self-worth, those who love her—rather than her physical appearance.
5. Show your daughter how to set and track achievable short term and long term goals. You can show her how to start small and stay grounded in what she chooses to write down, but also make sure she doesn't limit herself. However, it is important that the goals are realistic to her abilities. Be sure to revisit these goals together as often as possible!
Your daughter's self-esteem and development is the most malleable and impressionable in the first three years of her life. Use this stage of her life to really teach her how to value herself, her thoughts, her mind, her heart.
Don't be hard on yourself though! Remember that some girls develop a sense of independence with more ease than others, and this is not a reflection on your parenting. It's never too late to start teaching your daughter self-worth, whether she's two or fifteen.
Every girl needs guidance, YOUR help with discovering her talents and abilities, and your support in the careers, goals, dreams, etc. she chooses to pursue. With your time, patience, and guidance, she will grow up to be an amazing woman!
We encourage you to share scientist Marie Curie's story with your little girl today to inspire her to plan a big future and chase after her dreams! Marie Curie was the first to learn how radiation works and the first woman to win the Nobel Prize. This blurb can be found, along with other amazing women who have changed history, in Jennifer Fosberry's personalized book My Name Is Not Isabella.
Show your daughters how to dream big with the two personalized books below!
My Name is Not Isabella Personalized Book
My Name is Not Isabella takes your child on a journey through time to learn about some of the amazing women who changed history. Your daughter will go on an adventure of discovery—and find out how imagining to be these extraordinary women can teach her the importance of being her extraordinary self.
Dream Big, Little Pig! Personalized Book
Turn Kristi Yamaguchi's New York Times bestselling picture book into a personalized hardcover keepsake that your child will always cherish! This customized book will make your story time an extraordinary experience you will both remember forever.
(Artwork from Marianne Richmond's Hooray for You!)
First and foremost, it's never too early to start reading aloud to your child, or even to the bump in your belly! Reading to your little one, or simply reading together, no matter your child's age, is one of the most organic ways to bond with your child.
Furthermore, reading aloud helps develop your child's literacy skills at a young age. From vocabulary to phonics to comprehension, storytelling, and interaction with the printed word, reading books to children is a powerful tool for any parent looking to instill an early love of reading and learning!
If your child is getting ready to enter preschool or kindergarten, reading aloud together is a great preparation for this big, exciting change in his or her life. By reading books and stories aloud as often as possible, you're already introducing them to the importance of reading and getting them ready to start on their amazing journey of education.
If you have a baby or children and you're still feeling a smidge nervous to read aloud to your child (yes, it's normal!), choose books with a natural rhythm or rhyme to them. Perhaps practice when you're alone if you think it would help, and make sure you put yourself in a comfortable situation. Despite any sort of nerves you may feel, your child will be delighted and enthralled by the sound of your voice, even if you stumble over words or mispronounce a character's name. Go for it! You'll get used to it and learn to love it, we promise!
Every Parent Needs to Hear Some Positive Reinforcement…
• Babies love, love, love the sound of your voice! They also love to look at colorful pictures. Reading a book with your baby in your lap is one of the easiest, and most natural, ways to bond.
• Even if you think your child is too old to be read aloud to, think again! Reading aloud is great for older kids who are just starting to read aloud at school as well as voice their opinions in class. Take turns reading chapter books aloud, or let your child read the chapter book to you. Your child is never too old to enjoy a good book read aloud. Even though they may fight it at first, fight back and read aloud anyway!
Before You Read
• Start by turning off all distractions. This includes phones, televisions, laptops, etc.
• Find a comfortable place to read—a special rocking chair, find a seat on your favorite comfy couch or chair, or make a nest by the fireplace. Find somewhere that you can call your special reading spot.
• Commit to a routine time (morning or evening) and do your best to fit in reading aloud whenever possible. Reading aloud for at least 15 minutes each day will really make a positive difference in your child's development, as well as enhance their willingness to learn and read as they grow.
• Before you start reading the book you or your child has picked out, ask your child what they think the book is about. Show them the cover, read about the author, and look at some of the pictures together. Let them observe the book's details before you start. Compare your hypotheses once you've finished the story!
While You Read
• Get into your reading character. Use the book's cues to dress up or dress down your voice as appropriate. It's important for your child to hear you reading with changes in your voice and at a varying pace.
• Remember to use the correct tone, volume, and animation as you see fit. Incorporate sounds if you feel so inclined! There's no reason to hold back! Read with confidence and expression! Reading in a funny, intense, or loud voice to accommodate the tone of the book will really help your child get into the story, and they'll love it!
• Make sure you read slowly enough so your child can still soak the story in and have enough time to process the pictures and artwork.
• Let your child hold the book and/or turn the pages. Urge your child to point out pictures they like or things they find interesting in the illustrations or words.
• Encourage your children to ask about the characters, pictures, or words. Or, if they're reluctant, ask them questions about the story. Take the time to discuss the story afterward by asking your child about certain parts of the books, especially if there is a prominent lesson or powerful message (in most cases there is!).
After You Read
• If you have time, scan the book before you and your child get together to read and see if you can find connections to your family's personal experiences. You can then discuss them after you've finish the story!
• If you end up reading a story your child is particularly familiar with or it's already one of their favorites, challenge your child to tell you the story and praise them for their retelling!
Reading stories aloud is such a productive and happy way to enjoy books on a personal level together. Happy World Read Aloud Day!
Recommended Reads to Light the Way in Celebration of World Read Aloud Day! Find Below a Few of Our Personalized Books with Repetition and Rhyme:
February 10th–16th is Random Acts of Kindness Week—a whole week dedicated to practicing kindness!
(Artwork from Marianne Richmond's I Believe in You)
As parents, we naturally want the best for our children. We hope our children will grow up happy, they'll be well-behaved, and that they'll have positive relationships and experiences in life. A pretty big project, yes?! We have to remember that life is a process—a journey that we're all on together. Let's start with kindness!
Random Acts of Kindness Week is all about building up compassion and showing others that you genuinely care about them. This week provides a great opportunity to take the big message of kindness and simplify it. It's the perfect time to emphasize to your little ones the importance of treating one another with kindness and respect.
How can we help teach this universal message of kindness to our children so that they really grasp it and practice it? Well, by starting small. Do some good with your kids, or teach some good to them! Find some ideas below to help spread kindness with your children and beyond.
1. Teach kindness in your words and actions. Provide an environment for your children that is built on kindness. Showing kids the value of kindness will help regulate their emotions and teach them to be more intentional in how they treat one another.
2. Encourage your kids to help you and be kind to you. Communicate to them that parents need help too—whether it be with the groceries, chores around the house, etc.
3. Tell your children when you need a hug, or when their little brother needs a hug! This is a simple way for children to start picking up on your emotions and know how they can help you feel better.
4. Send a hug to a grandparent or relative this week! Find a long enough piece of paper so that you and your child can sketch out your child's actual arm span. Have your child lie down on the paper and stretch his arms out wide so that you can trace around his full arm span (like a warm embrace!). Then, cut out the paper embrace and send it in the mail!
5. Remind your kids to say "please" and "thank you," to always express their gratitude openly. Suggest that they say "thank you" to their bus driver, or write a thank you note to their teacher.
6.Practice having a positive attitude during tough times, and watch how it can positively affect others around them. Ask your children what they observed during the process.
7. Share the greatness of a compliment. Try crafting Valentine's Day cards around offering each recipient a compliment.
8. As a family, brainstorm things you can do together that are consciously kind. Post the list up on the fridge and commit to doing them throughout the week!
9. Ask your child to have someone new over for a play-date, someone they wouldn't always necessarily ask to come over and play.
10. Take the weekend to clean out closets, sift through the kitchen for cans, and donate items to homeless shelters or communities that could really use them.
11. Donate old books or toys that are too young for your kids. Have your children write a kind note to stick in the books you give away.
12. Find ways to volunteer with the whole family right in your community! Go to the closest animal shelter and talk dogs together as a family, help a neighbor shovel her driveway, or perhaps visit a nursing home.
Be sure to remind your children that practicing kindness doesn't mean you should expect a reward, or something in return, but that you should feel fulfilled by making someone else smile.
What kind thing will you do today?