Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Audio Books

We all know that reading to and with our children is VERY important. Not only for the literacy skills but for the bonding that happens. But as a busy parent I know that it's not always easy to put aside supper preparations or paperwork or ...... to take time to sit and read with your child. In our home we have special "book times" set aside so that we always get a chance to read. Sometimes we all sit on the couch or in the rocking chairs in the living room and read our own books, sometimes we all sit together and read books out loud. Before bed is a great time to read books. Sometimes on Saturday mornings we all snuggle in our big bed with our jammies still on and read some books. I've found that if I make a special time to read books that happens every day then my daughter is more likely to read to herself while I'm making supper than demand that I drop everything and read with her. One fun thing I've started doing is collecting books on tape and CD. You can get them from your library, you can get them from online audio book clubs. Once a week or so I do a google search for free children's audio books that I can download. I don't always find good ones but now and then I find a few gems.

My daughter is now at an age where she likes to listen to the book while looking at the pictures, this is great for in the car or when I'm trying to get something done around the house. If you have an iPhone or iPad or iPod touch you've probably seen the reading applications you can download. Barnes and Noble now has a kids book app that reads the books to the kids (unfortunately it's only for the iPad) and has lots and lots of kids audio books, some of which also have the pages kids can look at. Many of the Dr. Seuss books have been made into interactive books on iTunes. I did a search for interactive children's books on iTunes last week and there so many I had to stop looking. Some are free some are inexpensive, and some cost quite a bit.

A really fun and easy to use free program offered through Dakota County Library is Tumble Books. These are eBooks for eKids! A new collection of animated, talking picture books that also includes puzzles, games, audiobooks, and language learning.  These books aren't portable but are still fun and a great way for kids to learn to enjoy reading.

 When I was growing up my dad was in the Navy. He was deployed for 6-9 months at a time with 2-3 months between deployments. One of the best things my mom did was have Daddy read books onto tapes and then send them to us. She'd send a box with books and tapes and he'd record them while he was on the ship and then send the box back. Nothing beats going to bed at night hearing a loved voice. You don't have to be deployed to do this:
  • Record yourself and or your spouse reading some of your child's favorite books and then play them when your children are going to sleep.
  • Have grandparents or other relatives who might live far away record some books for your child to listen to.
  • Have an older sibling or cousin record books to listen to.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Homemade Lunchables

So I introduced you to Muffin Tin Meals a little while ago, here is another great idea. Does your child NEED to have a lunchable when you pass them in the store? Do you buy them when heading out to a quick play date at the park or head out on the light rail to a Twin's game? Do you pack your own lunches on car trips? Here is a great healthy alternative to the highly processed and allergen packed pre-packaged meals.

I think that one of the reasons kids love lunchables just like they enjoy the muffin tin meals is that the food is in fun shapes and colors, and comes in fun little compartments. So take a little extra time to cut the cheese into circles or squares or any other shape you can think of. Cut your bread to match, or make it a different shape all together. You can find crackers in different shapes.....This is one way you can make sure your child is eating healthy, it's still convenient, and for those with children' who have food allergies, your child can have what everyone else is having but still be safe when eating!

I'm definitely going to be doing this when I take my daughter to South Dakota to Grandma's house over Spring Break!!!   ~ Erica Triebenbach

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Fun Recipe Websites

I'm always looking for new recipe websites as well as new actual cookbooks. Because I have a food allergy as does my daughter I have to make many things from scratch because we can't use all the fast and easy boxed and canned meals. So not only are we eating healthier (not as many preservatives) but I'm always on the lookout for meals that will entice but also be easy to adjust to our food issues.

Here is a fun site I came across in  the Scholastic Parents & Child magazine:  There are many illustrated recipes submitted by readers (adults and kids). Not only are the recipes good but they are fun to "read" and my daughter is entranced by some of the magical beings cooking in the kitchen. ~ Erica Triebenbach

The Real Fake Tortilla

Monica Bruna; Cuneo, Italy