How stopping bedtime stories too early can damage children’s literacy: Those who are read to are more likely to enjoy books

Oxford University Press surveyed 1,000 children aged seven to 11
Half of young readers said they’d enjoy reading more if parents helped
Many parents abandon reading with their children from the age of eight
Half of eight and nine year olds were ‘rarely or never read to at home’
By Daily Mail: ANDREW LEVY

Parents are damaging their children’s literacy by abandoning reading with them too soon – typically by the age of seven – according to research.
Around two-thirds of six year olds enjoy bedtime stories or other recreational reading with an adult.
But that plummets to 44 per cent among children who are just a year older as mothers and fathers assume their help is no longer needed.

Yet experts said continuing to read together for pleasure throughout primary school was ‘vital’ for their development.
And nearly half of young ‘reluctant readers’ said they would enjoy reading more if their parents sat with them.

The findings, in a survey by Oxford University Press, follow studies which show children who read for pleasure are more likely to do well at school and thrive in the work place.
James Clements, a former headteacher at an outstanding primary school who worked with OUP on the study, said: ‘All the research proves that reading for pleasure is inextricably linked to attainment and benefits all aspects of children’s lives.
‘Parents need to understand the huge impact reading with their children can make and how vital it is that reading for pleasure doesn’t stop at the school gate but is continued at home.
‘Just ten minutes of reading with their child every day is one of the best ways they can support their education.
‘Reading together six days a week means an extra hour of support for a child. It’s definitely cheaper than an hour with a tutor and it could make a much bigger difference.’

The survey of 1,000 children aged seven to 11 also found half of eight and nine year olds were rarely or never read to at home. Just a third of ten year olds spent time reading books with an adult.
Clements said tips to keep children interested in reading throughout primary school include exposing them to a variety of books, taking it in turns to read, ensuring the child understand new words and discussing the plot.
Additional research from The National Literacy Trust found pupils are 13 times more likely to read above the expected level for their age if they enjoy books for pleasure.
A spokeswoman for the trust said: ‘Parents are really important reading role models and our research shows that children’s attitudes to reading improve the more they see their parents read, so we’d encourage all parents to make time for enjoying a good book themselves.’

Continue reading...

When should I get my toddler out of night-time nappies?


Children usually take longer to be dry at night than in the day. But once your child is reliably potty trained in the day, you can try leaving his nappy off at night.

Once he’s woken up with a dry or slightly damp nappy for a few mornings in a row, it’s a sign of readiness. Explain to him what you’re doing, and why. Remind him that means he can’t wee at night unless he gets up to do it in a potty or in the toilet.

Once you’ve decided to start night-time training, put a waterproof sheet or mattress protector under your son’s bed sheet to protect the mattress. Or buy disposable bed mats that contain absorbent materials similar to those used in nappies. Though these can be expensive if your child has lots of wet nights.

Your son will need to use the toilet or potty last thing before bed. He needs to be able to get out of bed and reach the bathroom easily in the night or the early morning. Or leave a potty in his room so he doesn’t have to go far. You could put a night-light on in his room or on the landing to make sure it’s safe and simple for him.

Some parents carry their child to the toilet at night when they go to bed themselves. This is called lifting. Some parents find it a useful way of getting their children to be dry at night. However your child needs to be awake enough to have a conversation, to avoid just teaching him to wee in his sleep. You could try it for a couple of nights and see what happens.

In the morning, remind him to use the loo first thing, whether he’s dry or not. If he is dry in the morning, be full of praise and encouragement. But be prepared for it not to work straight away. Not all children are mature enough at three years. So you may need to try again in a few months.

Plenty of children age three years and four years still need a night nappy, and bed-wetting is considered to be normal up to the age of five. One in six five-year-olds wets the bed either occasionally or regularly.

Pull-up disposable nappy pants are an option at night, just until your child is trained. They’re easy to use and encourage independence. They tend to be slightly more expensive than regular nappies. But they will save you from endless washing and prevent your child from that unpleasant feeling of waking up in a wet bed.

Continue reading...

Cute Things Kids Say


One of the joys of parenting is reveling in the cute things kids say. Here’s a sampling of some true originals!

JACK (age 3)
was watching his Mom breast-feeding his new baby sister. After a while he asked: ‘Mom why have you got two? Is one for hot and one for cold milk?’

MELANIE (age 5)
asked her Granny how old she was. Granny replied she was so old she didn’t remember any more. Melanie said, ‘If you don’t remember you must look in the back of your panties. Mine say five to six.’

BRITTANY (age 4)
had an earache and wanted a pain killer. She tried in vain to take the lid off the bottle. Seeing her frustration, her Mom explained it was a child-proof cap and she’d have to open it for her. Eyes wide with wonder, the little girl asked: ‘How does it know it’s me?’

SUSAN (age 4)
was drinking juice when she got the hiccups. ‘Please don’t give me this juice again,’ she said, ‘It makes my teeth cough..’

DJ (age 4)
stepped onto the bathroom scale and asked: ‘How much do I cost?’

CLINTON (age 5)
was in his bedroom looking worried when his Mom asked what was troubling him, he replied, ‘I don’t know what’ll happen with this bed when I get married. How will my wife fit in it?’

MARC (age 4)
was engrossed in a young couple that were hugging and kissing in a restaurant. Without taking his eyes off them, he asked his dad, ‘Why is he whispering in her mouth?’

TAMMY (age 4)
was with her mother when they met an elderly, rather wrinkled woman her Mom knew. Tammy looked at her for a while and then asked, ‘Why doesn’t your skin fit your face?’

JAMES (age 4)
was listening to a Bible story. His dad read: ‘The man named Lot was warned to take his wife and flee out of the city but his wife looked back and was turned to salt.’ Concerned, James asked: ‘What happened to the flea?’

And the last of the cute things kids say examples…..

The Sermon one Mom will never forget:
‘Dear Lord,’ the minister began, with arms extended toward heaven and a rapturous look on his upturned face. ‘Without you, we are but dust…’ He would have continued, but at that moment one mom’s very obedient daughter, who was listening intently, leaned over and asked quite audibly in her shrill little four year old girl voice, ‘Mom, what is butt dust?’

Enjoy the innocence of children. Revel in all those adorable, wonderful, cute things kids say!

Continue reading...

The Learning Power of Lego


On January 28, 1958, a patent was filed that would change family floors forever. On that fateful day, the Lego brick was born. Since then, over 400 billion Lego elements have been made (an unbelievable 62 bricks for every person on the planet!), and approximately 7 Lego sets are sold each second.

Bricks today still have the same bumps and holes, and can interlock with the bricks made 50 years ago. And they’re still just as popular among kids and adults alike. This year, Lego turns 50, begging the question: what’s the big deal with these things?
The Power of the Brick

Colorful and easy to use, Lego bricks have withstood the test of time because of their unlimited open-ended possibilities. There is not just one way to play with a set of Legos.

The classic Lego brick was designed by a Danish carpenter named Ole Kirk Christiansen in the 1940s. Christiansen began to make wooden toys after losing his job, and was soon designing an interlocking brick that would mimic the stacking ability of regular blocks, but allow for more creative building possibilities. He named his product “Lego” after the Danish phrase leg godt, or “play well.”

True to its name, Lego pieces allow for an astonishing range of creative play opportunities. Beyond the fun factor, for younger children, the brightly colored pieces and easily interlocking combinations provide hours of patterning practice and fine-motor development. Looking for just the right piece strengthens sorting skills, a key part of the kindergarten math curriculum. And for all kids, Lego teaches how to think in three dimensions– a precursor to physics. Children of all ages also hone creativity, problem-solving, and teamwork through Lego play.

Newer Lego product lines, which contain complex kits for building robots, helicopters, pirate ships and other elaborate constructions, have been criticized for swapping creative freedom for step-by-step construction guidelines and limited scenarios. But parents who bemoan Lego’s cross branding (with popular series like Batman, Harry Potter, and Indiana Jones) can stick to the classic colored bricks, which are still on sale.
For the Serious Lego Lover

Some kids stack their love of Lego to the next level. Junior First Lego League, for kids ages 6-9, and First Lego League (ages 9-14) are international competitions where teams of kids are challenged to build Lego robots and other inventions. Judged not only on their invention, the kids involved get assessed on their teamwork and presentation as well.

“FLL has been a great experience for my kids,” says Trish Smith of Lexington, Kentucky. “Not only have they learned excellent problem-solving and technical skills, it has helped them develop an important inner confidence and hone team-building abilities. The FLL value of ‘gracious professionalism’ allows them to strive for their best and enjoy their achievements without losing the larger picture of fair play and fun.”

Continue reading...

Our Family TV

What a great way to display your family photos! Kids can make their very own vintage TV to keep on a shelf, Mom or Dad’s desk, or anywhere the family thinks it will look great.

Mother’s Day is the perfect opportunity to create beautiful crafts and homemade cards just for Mom! Treat her to special recipes and bond with printable activities as well.

What you’ll need:Our Family TV
1 empty cereal box
3 sheets tan or brown construction paper
Copy of a 4×6 photo
2 plastic lids from milk or juice containers
1 gold chenille stem
Brown marker
Zipper sandwich bag filled with rice, beans, or sand
Glue stick
White craft glue

How to make it:
Place the sandwich bag filled with rice, beans, or sand inside the empty cereal box. Tape the top of the box closed.
Use glue stick to completely cover the box with the brown or tan construction paper. (See photo.) Lay the box down on the work surface.
Trim your photo to have rounded edges in the corners. If you photocopied or printed your photo onto white paper, trim around the edge of your photo, leaving a small white border around the picture. Use the glue stick to attach the picture to the upper right section of the box. (See photo.)
Use white craft glue to attach the two drink lids to the left of the photo for the TV knobs. (See photo.)
Use a pen to poke two holes in the side of the box, above the photo (which will be the top of your TV). Cut the chenille stem in half and insert each half into a hole. Add a little craft glue to the hole to keep them in place. (See photo.)
Use brown marker to write your family name across the bottom, such as “Smith Family TV”.

If you prefer, you can use a color copier for your image, thought the black and white looks more vintage and matches the design of the TV.
For a more futuristic looking TV, use black construction paper instead of brown, cover the lids in foil, and use silver chenille. A color photograph and white craft pen will finish off the project!
To simplify this project, instead of using a cereal box, just use construction paper glued to a piece of cardboard or poster board. You can also use buttons or pennies for the knobs.

Continue reading...

How picture books boost your child’s vocabulary

How picture books boost your child’s vocabulary: Stories with no words help because toddlers ask questions about what they see
The study looked at 25 mothers as they read to their children at bedtime
Mothers use a more sophisticated form of language when they picked a picture book compared to a book with words

Books with no words are actually best for boosting children¿s language skills, a study has found

Want to help your child develop their vocabulary? Pick a picture book for their bedtime story.

Books with no words are actually best for boosting children’s language skills, a study has found.

Experts said parents who turn to wordless storybooks end up spending time discussing the pictures and answering their toddler’s questions – exposing them to complicated words.

The study looked at 25 mothers as they read their children a set of bedtime stories.

Psychologists from the University of Waterloo, Canada, found the mothers used more advanced language when they picked up a picture book compared to a book with words.

Study author professor Daniela O’Neill said: ‘Too often parents will dismiss picture storybooks, especially when they are wordless, as not real reading or just for fun. But these findings show that reading picture storybooks with kids exposes them to the kind of talk that is really important for children to hear.

‘Mums frequently used more forms of complex talk when reading the picture storybook to their child than the picture-vocabulary book.’

She added: ‘Books of all kinds can build children’s language and literacy skills, but they do so perhaps in different ways.

‘It’s exciting to find even wordless picture books provide children with exposure to sophisticated language that lays the foundation for reading.’
The researchers were especially interested in looking at the language mothers use when reading both wordless picture storybooks and picture vocabulary books to see if parents provided extra information to children like relating the events of the story to the child’s own experiences or asking their child to make predictions.
Prof O’Neill said: ‘When reading the picture story, we would hear mums say things such as “where do you think the squirrel is going to go?” or “we saw a squirrel this morning in the backyard.”
‘But we didn’t hear this kind of complex talk as often with vocabulary books, where mentioning just the name of the animal, for example, was more common.’
The researchers said the study results are important for both parents and teachers because vocabulary books are often promoted as being more educational.
Prof O’Neill said: ‘Books of all kinds can build children’s language and literacy skills, but they do so perhaps in different ways.’


Continue reading...

Children who get a good night’s sleep ‘have better memories’


The findings could explain why children who do not sleep well do not do as well at school
Researchers found that children were more effective at converting ‘implicit’ knowledge into ‘explicit’ than adults after a good night’s sleep

Children who get a good night’s sleep have a boosted memory according to new research.
The findings could explain why children who do not sleep well do not do as well in school.
Children were more effectively able to convert ‘implicit’ knowledge into ‘explicit,’ which often happens in learning, than adults according to researchers from the University of Tuebingen, Germany.
Explicit knowledge is information stored in the mind while implicit knowledge is being able to go about doing something without necessarily knowing how.
Implicit may be converted into explicit, and vice versa, but the effects of sleep on memory have not been studied extensively, especially in children.
Dr Jan Born and colleagues at the university trained twenty eight children and adults to press buttons on a panel in a particular order using a trial and error method.
After a night’s sleep, the participants were asked to explicitly recall the sequence of button presses.
Children performed better on this explicit memory test than did the adults, according to the findings published in Nature Neuroscience.
The researchers noted the children had slower wave activity in their sleep, and this quantity was linked with explicit memory performance.
The deepest stage of sleep is characterised by brain patterns known as slow wave activity – electrical waves which wash across the brain, roughly once a second, 1,000 times a night.

Slow wave activity is believed to be critical to the restoration of mood and the ability to learn, think and remember.
Dr Born said although sleep-dependent benefits have been shown in several other memory tasks in children, most of these effects are smaller or comparable to those seen in adults.
He said: ‘When sleep followed implicit training on a motor sequence, children showed greater gains in explicit sequence knowledge after sleep than adults.

‘This greater explicit knowledge in children was linked to their higher sleep slow-wave activity and to stronger hippocampal (major part of the brain) activation at explicit knowledge retrieval.
‘Our data indicate the superiority of children in extracting invariant features from complex environments, possibly as a result of enhanced reprocessing of hippocampal memory representations during slow-wave sleep.
‘The conversion of implicit experience to explicit knowledge seems to be a specific advantage of children’s sleep.’

Sleep tight: Researchers found that children who slept well had a boosted memory which could explain why children who do not sleep well do not do as well in school

Continue reading...

Danger of bringing up ‘a little princess’

Danger of bringing up ‘a little princess’: Top head teacher warns parents who constantly praise daughters risk raising girls who ‘can’t handle failure’


Nicole Chapman, head of leading girls’ grammar school, says some families treat daughters as if they ‘can do no wrong’

‘Being constantly praised is not necessarily a good thing,’ she says

Creates girls who won’t take risks because they are are afraid of failure


Parents are turning their daughters into ?little princesses? who can?t take criticism, the head teacher of a leading girls? grammar school warned yesterday.

Nicole Chapman said some families treat daughters as if they ?can do no wrong? and constantly shower them with praise and presents,
As a result, many lack the ?resilience? to deal with failure or criticism, she said.


Mrs Chapman, who is head of one of the best selective schools in the country, spoke out ahead of a conference at her school in Chelmsford, Essex – attended by parents and other school leaders – about educating teenage girls.

?What I try to address with my parents here is the concept of what we call the little princess, which is one where a child, once she?s satisfied her parents? ambitions to get into the school, she can do no wrong,? she said, ?She?s constantly praised – and that is not necessarily a good thing.?


Mrs Chapman, who has a grown-up son, said that ?the little princess? always wants to please and gets ?a lot of rewards? for her troubles.

She said: ?For some of them it?s just praise, but with others they can have more or less what they want.
?Their parents shower them with presents.?

She said some parents ?never exposed? their daughters to any negative feedback.

This made girls into ?perfectionists? who would not take risks in case they failed.

Instead of excessive praise, she said, parents should ensure their daughters were ?strong individuals? who could cope with failure and grow up to be leaders.
?Our girls are bright and therefore, they will be leaders,? she said.


?As a leader, you?re not a princess. As a leader, you?ve got to have strength, belief, resilience.
?You have to have the right principles – you must be principled, but you must have knowledge.
?All those things don?t necessarily go with being a princess because a princess is a bit fragile.

?A princess receives information, learns it, regurgitates it, but never gets truly challenged.?

Mrs Chapman is head of the 900-pupil Chelmsford County High School for Girls, where 88 per cent of pupils pass their GCSEs with As or A*s last summer.
Her comments were echoed by Dr JoAnn Deak, author of Girls Will Be Girls: Raising Confident and Courageous Daughters.


Speaking at the conference yesterday, she said many parents ?tend to go overboard on praise?, making girls ?feel precious? and that they?re ?the centre of the universe?.

Praise should be ?specific and earned? instead, she said.

Referring to daughters, the American psychologist said: ?As a parent, you?ll obviously offer general praise to her sometimes, but if you do it too often, your opinion will not be valued.

?Remember too, that the more she focuses on self, the more selfish she will become; whereas the more she focuses on doing and on others, the more she will increase her self esteem.?

Earlier this month a leading psychologist warned that praising children with phrases such as ?well done darling? could damage their confidence.

Stephen Grosz says ?empty praise? such as ?you?re so clever? or ?you?re such an artist? could cause children to be unhappy as they feel they cannot live up to the false expectations, and can even hinder their progress at school.

Mr Grosz – who has practised as a psychoanalyst, a type of psychologist, for 25 years – cites research showing that children who were heavily praised were likely to perform worse in maths problems and even tended to lie about their results.

Instead he advises parents and teachers to bestow compliments less frequently and use phrases that congratulate children for ?trying really hard?.

Continue reading...

20 Best-Ever Potty Training Tips

20 Best-Ever Potty Training Tips
Trust us — we know these top tips work! We tapped the experts — readers, who swear by each and every one.

By Lauren Wiener from Parents Magazine


Are you counting down the days to the toilet transition? Or maybe you’ve already dabbled in a few less-than-successful attempts? Either way, we heard one thing again and again: Your kid has to be good and ready. And don’t worry, he will be someday. “No child is going to graduate high school in diapers,” says Carol Stevenson, a mom of three from Stevenson Ranch, California, who trained each one at a different age. “But it’s so easy to get hung up and worried that your child’s a certain age and not there yet, which adds so much pressure and turns it into a battle.” Once you’re convinced your kid’s ready to ditch the diapers (watch for signs like showing an interest in the bathroom, telling you when she has to go, or wanting to be changed promptly after pooping), try any of these tricks to make it easier.


All About the Bribes
Two words: Mini M&M’s! Promise that each time your kid goes potty, she gets two or three, but if she wipes herself (a huge challenge for us) then she gets four or five. This makes a big difference since I think one of the reasons kids don’t like to go is because the business of learning to wipe is kind of yucky.
— Donna Johnson; Charlotte, North Carolina


I wholeheartedly recommend bribery as potty training motivation: We kept a small plastic piggy bank in the bathroom and rewarded every success (one penny for pee, two for poop). Our daughter was entranced — she would shake the piggy with a gleam in her eye and remark how heavy it was getting. When she was all done, we took her potty windfall and turned it into quarters to spend on rides at the mall.
— Lisa Spicer; Los Angeles, California


Daddy Does It
After a couple of failed attempts, I tried a new technique while Mom was away on a well-deserved weekend with her friends. We covered the couch and chairs with plastic and bought “manly-man” underwear — just like Dad’s. We spent the weekend in underwear and T-shirts, making a game every hour or so to see who could go to the restroom. There were very few accidents and just blocking out a weekend made for very little stress. It’s still one of my favorite memories.
— Scott Smith; Mount Washington, Kentucky


Target Practice
Getting my son to learn the standing-up thing was hard, so we turned it into a game. I put five Cheerios in the potty and told him to aim at them when he peed. Every time he did it right, he got to pick out a prize from a bag of goodies I picked up at the dollar store. — Erika Cosentino; Lawrenceville, New Jersey


Heap on the Praise
I’ve heard all the tricks — stickers, bribing with toys, special underpants. But you have to pick something that’s consistent with your parenting style. I didn’t use rewards elsewhere, so I didn’t want to start here. What did work: Lots of undivided attention, positive reinforcement, love, affection and pride when my kids were successful. Making a big deal about small steps of progress is key.
— Diane Hund; Elmhurst, Illinois

I didn’t use any special stuff — no kiddie toilets, potty rings, or even pull-ups — because the local YMCA where my daughters attended didn’t believe in them. We even had to sign a contract stating that we’d follow their potty training policy at home. I was instructed to just put the kids (they were around 2 1/2) on our regular toilet throughout the day when I thought they had to go. After a week and lots of “Yeah! You did number two!” and “Good for you! You made a wee-wee!” they were done, with barely any accidents. All told, I think they were just developmentally ready.
— Sandra Gordon; Weston, Connecticut


Little White Lies
My middle son was stubborn when it came to #2 on the potty — absolutely refused, no matter the reward. So I finally told him that when we flush, the poop goes out to the sea to feed the fish — so if he didn’t go, then the poor little fish wouldn’t have anything to eat. My son, being the compassionate, sensitive little do-gooder he is, felt it was his mission to poop to “save” the fish. (After all, Nemo and Dory were counting on him!)
— Liane Worthington; Simpson, Pennsylvania


What’s the Frequency?
I wish I could take credit for his training, but the amazing teachers at his daycare did the hard stuff: Putting him on the toilet every 20 minutes, without fail. We just followed their lead at home. And I think the fact that he saw his classmates going on the potty made him want to also.
— Roberta Perry; Phoenixville, Pennsylvania

We found that our son simply was not interested in remembering to go on his own, so we found the Potty Watch, which he loved. You program this wrist watch to play songs and light up at 30-, 60-, or 90-minute intervals; then it resets itself and starts the countdown all over again.
— Heather Ledeboer; Athol, Idaho


The Naked Truth
Once my kids were interested in the potty concept — around 2 to 2 1/2 — we let them run around naked before bathtime and encouraged them to use the potty. Then I let them go sans pants at home for extended periods of time (they did really well remembering to go as long as they didn’t have any clothes on). After they mastered naked-potty use, we worked our way up to clothes (first just underwear, then eventually pants). This method was extremely painless — very few accidents or setbacks.
— Jennifer Walker; Cleveland, Ohio


Figuring Out the Fear
Our first son began peeing on the potty at 18 months, but he was scared to do “the other.” After offering many rewards and becoming very frustrated, we turned to the doctor, who explained that some children view bowel movements as a literal part of themselves and are afraid to watch them flush away. (This made so much sense because he was a very analytical child.) After showing him a children’s anatomy book and explaining how the digestive system worked, he started going #2 the very next day!
— Ginny Graham; Collegeville, Pennsylvania


Sticker Shock
Every time each of our toddlers used the potty, I decorated their outfits with stickers. At the end of the day they showed off their rows of stickers (which looked like an army general’s stars) to their father. So they got double the praise for their potty training successes, and I got an inexpensive and easy way to reward them.
— Jen Singer; Kinnelon, New Jersey


Patience Is a Virtue
When I thought my daughter was ready (around 26 months), we went to the toilet every 10 minutes — even if we were out. We slowly worked up to 15 minutes, 20 minutes, etc., and after a day or two, she could pee on her own. Poop was a different story — I had to goad her with M&M’s!
— Elissa Murnick; Fairfield, Connecticut

My son mastered peeing on the potty pretty quickly, but nailing #2 took some extra effort. At first we had to watch for his “cues” to tell he was trying to go poop and then bring him to the bathroom. Because it took a while (sometimes more than a half-hour) we started reading to him to make the wait more fun. But above all else, patience, patience, patience is the key!
— Karen J. Wright; Mankato, Minnesota


Find the Right Bribe
We tried Cheerios, M&M’s, potty charts, cheerleader rants and screams, but nothing worked. My son has always been obsessed with cars and trucks and luckily, the movie Cars had just come out. My husband scoured the local stores to collect all the figurines featured in the movie. We saw the movie, then we told my son that every time he went potty he’d get a car. It was magical. After 15 cars, he was totally potty trained. I’m sure Disney would be so proud.
— Darlene Fiske; Austin, Texas


Go for Broke
Just go cold turkey. My 2-year-old seemed ready for potty training but none of the “tricks” were working. We picked a Saturday, put him in big-boy underwear and braced ourselves. He went in his pants four or five times within the first hour; we kept changing him and telling him that he needed to use the potty instead. After a really long day, he got the hang of it and was all potty trained by Monday. He still had the occasional accident, but making the switch once and for all really seemed to work.
— Pamela Scott; York, Pennsylvania


Location, Location, Location
We found that the kiddie lids that go on top of the toilet were too intimidating to use right away. (Plus, since they usually need a step stool, it can take too long for children to reach the toilet in time.) So I started my 2-year-old daughter with a mini-Elmo potty seat, which we kept in the living room, since she spent the most time there. We gradually moved it closer and closer to the bathroom, and eventually worked our way up to a Dora seat that went right on top of the toilet.
— Tracy Burton; Grand Ledge, Michigan


On the Road
My daughter was terrified of the automatic flushers in public restrooms, so I started doing this trick. Put a Post-It note over the sensor and it will prevent the toilet from auto-flushing. After she’s all done, wiped, and left the stall, you can remove the paper to let the toilet flush.
— Tracy Marines; Lancaster, Pennsylvania

We travel with a small toilet with a removable seat to help my daughter feel more comfortable on the “scary” big potties in public restrooms.
— Christine Louise Hohlbaum; Paunzhausen, Germany

Continue reading...

Make a Paper Tree from Little Hand Prints

Make a Paper Tree from Little Hand Prints

Make a Paper Tree from Little Hand Prints



Make an adorable Christmas tree from your child’s handprints. This makes a nice decoration to put on a door or a great bulletin board in a classroom.


Supplies needed:
A lot of green construction paper
A piece of brown construction paper (for the tree trunk)
A piece of yellow construction paper (for the star)
A large piece of brown paper (or use another color)
Optional: Glitter, glitter glue, or paper ornaments to glue on the tree


hand print tree 1

Trace the child’s hand on a piece of green construction paper.
Cut out the hand print. Fold the wrist over.

Make a lot of paper paper hands (the number you’ll need depends on the size of your tree). If this is a class project, you may want to put each child’s name on his or her hand print.

A nice touch, suggested by Peter Hesselmann, is to have each child write a Christmas wish for themselves on one paper hand, and a Christmas wish for the world on the other. Peter also did not tell his students why they were making the hands; he put the tree up, which surprised and delighted them. Peter also had the teachers and staff each write a wish for the world on a circular piece of construction paper – these were used for baubles on the tree.

hand print tree 2 Draw a tree shape on a large piece of paper.
hand print tree 3

Cut out a small rectangle of dark brown paper (this will be the tree trunk).
Glue the rectangle below the tree.

hand print tree 4 Glue the hand prints together in a tree shape, gluing the folded part of the wrist to the background. hand print tree 5
Start at the bottom of the tree. Starting with the second row, make the fingers overlap the next hand a little bit.
hand print tree 6

Cut out a yellow star for the top of the tree. Glue it on the tree.
Write a Christmas message around the tree.

hand print tree 7

Optional: Decorate your tree with glitter, glitter glue, or paper ornaments.
You can also make the tree on a triangle shape (so there is no background showing).


Continue reading...