December 26, 2014

2014 Year-End Post

It's no secret that I like words. Cards and letters from friends near and far are one of my favorite parts of the holiday season. I also enjoy the process of reflecting on my past year and preparing my own annual update. I do resist writing a typical letter. I greatly enjoy providing a relevant update embedded in some creative format (here are examples from 2012 and 2013). 

For this year's update I made a word cloud using Taxedo (you may be more familiar with Wordle).

As you'll see if you scan the word cloud, a major personal highlight of the past year was our family's experience traveling to Spain and having Pablo, our "Spanish son," return to the U.S. with us for three weeks this summer. (Our decision to host an exchange student in 2013 has enriched our life in so many ways, not the least of which is the wonderful friendship we have developed with our new extended family in Spain).

I've had many professional highlights in the past year as well, but the most rewarding work has been the volunteer advocacy effort I've been involved with to strengthen the school libraries in our local area. I also treasure every opportunity I've had to engage with young readers during author visits at local schools and libraries and via Email and Skype (as well as good old fashioned snail mail)! Thank you friends and colleagues, for supporting and encouraging my work, and for sharing my books with the children you love. You've helped me make a small difference in this world. 

In addition to preparing our annual holiday card, I also enjoy working on an annual craft-y project with my kids. In recent years we've made holiday decorations, scarves, hand & foot scrubs and scented fire starters. This year we made Love Rocks as a way to honor a family in our area who has endured an unimaginable loss. I don't know the family personally, but the process of making hundreds of Love Rocks and sharing them with others helped me stay grounded and focused on the treasure of time spent with friends and family. 

Thanks to each of you who have contributed to my blessed "world of words" in 2014. You are a gift to me. Here's to the adventures that await us in the coming year!

December 8, 2014

Top Tips and Tricks for Signing with Your Baby or Young Child: Tip #3

Today's tip for signing with your baby or young child is, "Follow Your Child's Lead."

Take a moment to consider what your child is most interested in communicating about right now. Is your child fascinated with the candles on your table or the train you've set up in your house? Maybe you have a tree inside or there is snow or rain outside that has captured you baby's attention? What are your child's favorite activities or objects. Does your baby love eating bananas? Is your toddler preoccupied with balls or books? These are the signs to focus on in the beginning.
Image Source Here

Interact with your baby around these interests just as you ordinarily would. By this I mean, continue having conversations throughout the day that sound something like this:

"Look at the train. Here it comes again. Whoo! Whoo! You like that train, don't you?"

"Where is the ball? There is the ball! Yay! You found the ball!"

"Who wants some bananas? Yum, yum. Do you want more bananas?"

Express yourself verbally just as you normally would. The only change to your communication is to casually add a sign for key words, such as trainball, or banana. Also, as you identify particular interest-based words you want to place additional emphasis on, make a point to incorporate these words into the songs you sing and your playtime activities with your baby.

Before long, your baby or young child will actively point to objects of interest and use eye contact and grunts to let you know that they want labels for more and more of the things around them! Offering word labels will be fairly easy for you because it is something that comes naturally. ("That's a kitty. Do you want to pet the kitty?"). As you notice yourself offering word labels, make a point to look up the sign for key words, so you can easily add a sign label to that conversation the next time (and the next time) it occurs. Here are a couple of helpful online dictionaries to turn to:

Signing Savvy


Signing Time

As your baby sees you signing more often, he or she will gradually develop a signing vocabulary as well. Watch out for the FUN to come!

Feel free to reach out via the comments section below or the contact form to the left with specific questions or good news stories as your child develops a growing signing vocabulary. Also, get in touch if you would like YOUR BABY'S PICTURE to be featured in an upcoming blog post.

Happy Signing!