Teaching My Baby To Read

Home » 2014 » February (Page 2)

Monthly Archives: February 2014

Your most important teaching tool is YOU!

For younger kids.

A daily Morning Message is really powerful.

Sometimes I feel like I need to spend money so that my kids can have educational materials that will give them a heads-up in life. But that really isn’t true.

Many of the most meaningful learning opportunities are completely free. Take Morning Messages for example. (More info here.)  Writing a daily Morning Message with your children is one of the easiest ways to teach them to read.

For younger kids.

For younger kids.

In this first example you can see my four-year-old is working on: phonics (dentist, it, fun), sight words (are, is, be, to), and the sentence pattern “We are going.” That’s  a whole lot of learning in five minutes of mommy and me time!

For older kids.

For older kids.

My eight year old son is already a competent reader, so he doesn’t need a Morning Message to reinforce phonics. A little help with other friendly reminders can’t hurt though.  😉

Sometimes Teaching My Baby to Read reviews rebooks or materials that cost money, but I hope that readers understand how committed I am to my mission of helping families from every social and economic background give their children educational advantages.

You, paper and a pencil can take your kids far!

Try to ignore this while eating breakfast. I dare you!

You can learn vocabulary while eating breakfast.

You can solve math problems in creative ways.

You can solve math problems in creative ways.

You can make your own personal dictionary.

You can make your own personal dictionary.

Truly, the most important learning tool you can give your children is YOU!

Why I’m buying a Wonderbag

That's my Crock Pot in the trash.

That’s my Crock-Pot in the trash.

Today my Crock-Pot almost caught my hair on fire. I woke up early this morning, chopped up a nice beef stew, and plugged it in to cook. I didn’t notice that the cord was frayed–until sparks shot out past my hair, the wall sizzled, and the fuse blew.

I stood there a few moments panicking, frantically feeling my hair and checking the counter to make sure nothing was on fire. (Oh, and there might have been some loud shrieking.) 😉

I am still very rattled. I use my slow cooker all the time.

So today I’m ordering a Wonderbag Portable Slow Cooker with Recipe Cookbook.

Have you ever heard of a Wonderbag? They are like the Toms Shoes of slow cookers. American women buy one for their homes, and somewhere far away, an African woman gets one too. Wonderbags are just starting to break into the American market. I first heard about them from a friend from England.

The Wonderbag goal is to help women, save fuel and save the planet.


Check out the Wonderbag website to be inspired. I’ll be posting about my new purchase in the future, so you can follow along to see how well it works.

In the meantime, please check the cord on your Crock-Pot!

Judy Blume Mocks Homeschoolers

First off, I looooove Judy Blume. She was one of my favorite authors growing up. But somehow (motherhood, perhaps?) I was unaware that there was a new Fudge book, until I picked up an audio copy of her 2007 book Double Fudge from the library.

Blume reads the book herself and does a fantastic job with character voices and expressions. Both the plot and her narration are very entertaining.

However… a huge part of the book revolves around mocking the Hatcher family’s homeschooled relatives. Blume doesn’t give the homeschooled characters guns or religion, but she gives them every other stereotype in the book, right down to matching lavender prairie dresses (in 7th grade!) Two of the girls break out into spontaneous song, the little brother bites and licks people, none of the family watches television, and the parents have never even heard of the Weather channel.

I’m not a homeschooling Mom, but if I was I would be livid.

As it was, I had a lot of guilty moments listening to this book in the car. By the time the homeschooling bash-fest began, my children were too invested in the book to turn off the CD.

If the story had been making fun of people from different religious, ethnic, or economic backgrounds, I of course would have turned off the book immediately. But since this was Judy Blume we are talking about, I kept thinking there would be a redeeming moment at the end where the main character felt guilty about judging homeschoolers so cruelly.

In retrospect, I’m not sure how a moment like that would have helped.


New Muzzy vs. Old Muzzy

New but not better

New but not better

Muzzy has changed, but not necessarily for the better!

When my son Bruce was 2, 3 and 4-years-old we were big Muzzy fans. Our local library had Level 1 Spanish on DVD, and I purchased Level 2 VHS off of Ebay for about $100.

Muzzy was part of my very intense $2,000 effort to teach Bruce Spanish. (You can read more about that journey here.)

I’ve also used Muzzy a little bit with my daughter Jenna, but only in an edutainment kind of way. Partly that’s because I’m still smarting from my mistakes with kid #1, but also because our Muzzy DVDs were scratched.

So I was pretty excited to see that our local library system has invested heavily in Muzzy for all languages.

But oh, the disappointment!

It turns out that Muzzy is now redone with computer cartoons instead of the old fashioned type. That would be no big deal except on the Spanish Level 1 version, the sound-track isn’t linking up properly with the voices. The songs are two beats off from the words.

If you had never experienced the original Muzzy you might not notice. Or, maybe you’d think it was really bad sound quality and quite cheesy. But I noticed and so did my kids. Something’s wrong!

The songs were never spectacular, but they were catchy enough. Now they’re just weird.

If you are interested in Muzzy, first check your local library to see if you can get the program for free. Next, try Ebay. If you still have a VCR, VHS might be the best way to go.

Winning the Super Bowl and other milestones

I’ve never lived in a city that has won the Super Bowl before. It’s pretty intense. Everywhere you go and everyplace you look you see Seahawks paraphernalia. About 20% of the houses in our neighborhood have blue flags with the number 12 on them. A lot of people even put up blue and green Christmas lights.

The drive-through espresso stands have Seahawks cookies for sale. The grocery stores look like one big Super Bowl party.

Last night after the Super Bowl, the roads were packed. It was like work traffic, times ten. All of the DJs on the radio were going nuts. One station even played the same two songs over and over again on repeat: the Presidents of The United States of America’s song “This is a Blitz” and Macklemore’s “Can’t Hold Us”. (Ben Haggerty is from Everett, Washington, btw.)

I’m not a big football fan, but the joy was contagious. I think all of Puget Sound was celebrating.

Speaking of joy, here’s my “I Brake for Moms” column from yesterday’s Everett Herald: Both joy and sadness follow parenting milestones.

I hope you’re having a happy day too!