NEW Subscription Box COMING SOON

Hey there moms!

Does Pinterest totally overwhelm you?

Do you see an awesome at home activity for your little one but then cringe at the idea of having to go to a separate store to buy all the supplies?

And what are you going to do with all that extra baby oil? You have zero use for baby oil.

I am here to save you.

I am launching a subscription box this winter. you choose the age of your child (birth – kindergarten) and I send you a box each month with 2-3 activities that you can do together at home. You will also get access to an exclusive group where parents and caregivers chat about activities that they’re doing at home, tips and tricks about keeping your kiddos engaged and suggestions for games/activities.

I also will include an activity guide with your box. It will explain in depth HOW to do the activity and WHY you are doing the activity. It will also give you suggestions on how to differentiate it if your child isn’t feeling the intended purpose. Abandoning is not always necessary!

To keep up with my progress (including information on a local to Naperville, Illinois focus group), please enter your email here. Keep a look out for your confirmation email in your junk or promotions tab!

I couldn’t be more excited about this launch!

An Open Letter Of Apology To All The Moms I Used To Judge

To the mom who just hardly made it to the grocery store looking halfway presentable herself, with her toddler’s hair out of whack, no shoes and socks on (because she took them off in the car and you didn’t feel like fishing around for them) and dirt on her sweet little pink pants. I apologize for thinking you didn’t care enough to get you and your kid dressed and ready for the grocery store.

To the mom trying to leisurely stroll through the aisles of a clothing store while her toddler handles her cell phone like it’s an indestructible dog toy, just so she can get some peace while shopping, I apologize for thinking you are careless and spoil your kid because you are allowing her to play with your cellphone – your lifeline.

To the mom who hands her preschooler an iPad during dinner at a restaurant because it’s the only way you and your husband can enjoy some peace and quiet because you can’t afford a babysitter or have no family to help you. I apologize for thinking “why don’t you just have a conversation with him?”

To the mom who turns on the TV for her kids from 7am – 5pm just so she can have some time alone or because she doesn’t feel like “momming” that day. I apologize for thinking you should really just spend time with your kids.

To the mom who dropped her kid off at daycare when she very clearly had the day off, I apologize for thinking you should be keeping him at home and spending time with him.

To the mom who “allows” her kid to climb into bed with her in the middle of the night or who climbs into his bed when he needs her because of a bad dream or just to fall asleep, I apologize for thinking you were just spoiling him – when in reality, that was the only way to get him to go back to sleep and at 3am, you do what you have to do.

To the mom at church on Christmas or Easter with her son in dress pants and a dress shirt but ratty old gym shoes because he refused to put on the nice ones you bought because they were “too tight,” and that’s just not a battle you chose to fight that morning. I apologize for thinking you should be coming to church every Sunday and your son should have something much nicer on his feet than ratty old gym shoes.

To the mom running errands with her toddler (who can clearly walk) strapped to her back in a carrier because if you allowed her to walk, she would tear through the store like a tiny tornado. I apologize for thinking you should let her explore and learn how to walk properly through a store.

I apologize to all of these moms because I am that mom now.

My toddler’s favorite activity is tossing her shoes, socks and hair tie around the car on any trip longer than 30 seconds.

My preschooler spends more time in front of the TV than I’d like to admit so I can get stuff done and he won’t bother me.

I have handed my toddler my cellphone while it plays music so she’ll sit still in the cart at the store.

I have a carrier in my car at all times for quick errands when I don’t feel like allowing her to run around like a crazy person.

I don’t wear jeans simply because “baby weight” is now my normal, even though my kids are almost 5 and 2, and none of my jeans fit anymore. I don’t want to spend the money on new ones and can’t bear to go shopping, finding out what my true size might be.

I have “allowed” my oldest to climb into bed with us in the middle of the night because he “needed to.” I lay with my son every other night until he falls asleep because he “needs it.”

My kid will spend hours in front of the iPad watching ridiculous YouTube videos so I can get stuff done or just not have to answer one of his 4000 questions of the day.

Now that I am a mom, we are all on the same team. So I don’t judge you anymore – I salute you. I am happy that you found a way to get through your days with still keeping your sanity. Let’s keep supporting each other because you don’t know what happened in that mom’s house 15 minutes prior to the activity that you’re judging. And she knows nothing about yours.

Taking Time For Yourself – Yes, It’s Necessary!

Yes, taking time for yourself is necessary. No, it’s not always possible. But I’m here to help you figure out how.

Last year I wrote a post about how to beat the Stay at Home Mom Blues. I laid out some of my favorite things to do to stay on top of it.

When I was working full time, it actually was a lot easier to take time for myself then now that I’m not working. I would run to get my nails done while Dylan was still in daycare when I got off early. I would drop him off early at school and go to the gym before work. I feel like you hear more often than not that it’s more difficult for stay at home moms to get that alone time.

But it’s just as necessary as working moms. Now, when I say taking time for yourself, I do NOT mean working that full time job. I mean doing something solely for yourself. While grocery shopping for the family alone or sitting at the pool reading a book while your kid has swim lessons is a nice break, it’s not for YOU.

It may seem like this is impossible. But to make sure it is possible, the first thing you need is support. You need your spouse to be on board with alone time. People aren’t mind readers. So you have to tell them you need alone time. Make your plans and let them know you are peacing out for a few hours. If not (or if you are a single parent) you need support elsewhere. A family member, babysitter, neighbor, daycare, nap time, whatever. You have to free yourself of the responsibility of being a parent to get something done for yourself.

Once you’ve figured that out, find what makes you happy. Reading, shopping, creating, crafting, sewing…the list goes on. I reached out to my lovely mom group and asked them to hit me with their most favorite alone time activity or selfish habit. Everyone deserves one!

It is also so, so important that you SCHEDULE this alone time. I have found that if I don’t write it down or schedule it, it isn’t less likely to happen – it just flat out doesn’t happen. And that sucks.

  1. Direct Sales – It’s something for YOURSELF. Yes, you are helping other people by giving them products in which you believe but some people truly enjoy it. They are sharing things that you love. (Side note, think about that next time you roll your eyes at someone’s direct sales post on Facebook 😉 )
  2. Gym – This is a pretty popular one. When I go to the gym, I drop off the kids and lose all sense of adultness. I turn my music up as loud as it goes (Samsung, stop telling me it’s bad for my ears. I don’t cuuurrr) and I just move. Run, steps, bike…just go. To be totally honest, I’m not there 100% for the work out. I’m there for the private shower. I’d say it’s about 50/50 for me. I also enjoy going to a class or 2 during the week.
  3. Massages – OH MY. If you don’t do this AT LEAST once a year for your birthday, you are missing out! I think the best part about my massages is I have to disconnect from the outside world. Phone stays off and in the purse for a whole hour. That’s huge for me. But I’m okay with it! It feels nice to just turn off.
  4. Take a bath – This was also a pretty popular one. I know some moms who do this at least 2 times a week. Put some baking soda and/or bath bombs in there too! Just make sure to lock the bathroom door if the kids are awake 😉
  5. Girls’ Night – Yes, this is a must as well! I have 2 friends that I see probably once a month. We get together for dinner. We plan it for later (like 6:30ish) because I have to wait for my babysitter (read: hubby) to get home from work. Plan something monthly for dinner with friend(s) – maybe the first Tuesday of every month or something. It’s nice to just chat with an adult not about kids and not about work.
  6. Pampering – Mani/Pedi is a popular one, too! Again, another time to just sit down and unwind. Let someone else do all the work! And you get pretty nails at the end.
  7. Write – Part of the reason I started blogging was to do something for myself. I always used to journal growing up and I missed it so much. So I started writing and you know what? It feels so good to just sit at my computer and type, type, type.
  8. Sleep – Also possible. Go to bed right after you put the kids down. Toys don’t need to be picked up right now. Laundry doesn’t need to be folded right now. Just go to bed at 8:15. Try it.
  9. Skin Care Routine – No, this is not a sales pitch 😉 I have a friend who has a 10 step skin care routine each night. 10 steps. I am way too lazy for 10 steps, but she loves it. She literally told me “it’s my me-time.” Get you some, girl.
  10. Take a day off work – if you are a working mom, take a day off. You have personal days for a reason. Take a day off to sit at home in your jammies. Send the kids to daycare/school and do not feel guilty about it. You even can spend the day cleaning. If that’s what relaxes you. I don’t judge. If you’re a stay at home mom, your spouse gets personal days too. He/she can use them on you. Take a day off and handle the kids while you do your thang.

Lazy Mom Cleaning Hacks

Cleaning – does anyone actually enjoy it? I absolutely do not. So I decided to compile a list of lazy mom cleaning hacks for you. Check it out, and print it so you can have it on hand when you feel like you should probably tidy up a bit.


lazy mom cleaning hacks

(This post contains one or more affiliate links)

I am lazy. AF. During the day, the last thing on my list is cleaning. I’d like to say it’s because I spend so much time with my children that I just can’t bother with it. Truth is, I just hate it. I do the necessary things – sweep the floor when things are getting stuck to my feet, vacuum under the kitchen table when Reagan can muster an entire meal from the “crumbs” (I miss my dog), laundry when Dylan has to break into his whitey tighties, clean the toilet when….I’ll spare you the rest of that one.

I do have a few cleaning hacks that I use so I reached out to my Facebook group of moms and asked what their hacks are. Because let’s be honest – we all have at least one. AT LEAST!

Meal planning made easy!

I compiled them for you in a nice little list (you can print it out at the end, too.)

Cleaning Hacks to Keep Life Mostly Under Control
(You see what I did there?)

  1. Sprinkle baking soda in the garbage can (and diaper pail) before putting in the new garbage bag, but after you take the full one out.
  2. Essential oils in the air filter for your house to drown out the smell of stinky kiddos/animals.
  3. Put the toilet bowl cleaner in the toilet bowl before cleaning anything. Do your other cleaning, them come back and do the toilet. It has sat there for so long that it has already done most of the cleaning for you. So much less scrubbing.
  4. Baby wipes. You’d be amazed at how well they clean.
  5. Take a bath with baking soda – good for you, good for the bathtub.
  6. Fill one of these bad boys with 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 dish soap. Keep it in the shower and clean the shower while you’re showering. Mind. Blown.
  7. Clean your bathroom mirror and/or counter while you’re brushing your teeth or swishing with mouthwash.
  8. Dryer sheets on the back of a fan to bring a fresh scent into the room.
  9. After cooking something in the microwave with water, wipe away the grime and caked on food with a cloth right after you take out the food. The steam from cooking the food helps loosen up the yuck.
  10. And the obvious – cleaning lady! Treat yourself!

Download and print the list here.

Are you looking for laundry specific hacks? Check out Keri’s post about Life Without Laundry.

Happy “cleaning!” 😉

My new Favorite Planner

I am an unorganized mess. Part of it stems from the fact that my brain runs 100 miles a minute. I will have an idea and then run off to Hobby Lobby for all the supplies, only to get home to realize I had 3 other things I needed to get done.

Story of my life.

I wanted to start blogging again and I knew with blogging and mine and Gina’s other website ( – shameless plug. Completely shameless), I was going to need a planner and it was going to need to be good.

For my 32nd birthday (ha!), I was determined to find the perfect planner. I needed something with the following:

-Week at a glance
-Month at a glance
-Monthly goals
-Weekly goals
-Yearly goals
-Monthly tabs
-Monthly notes section (on the month at a glance AND at the end/start of the month)
-Perpetual calendar

That is a needy list. So I set off to Etsy, because planners that were already made were just not working out for me.

I had no idea what to search for so I just started searching and sending messages asking if they had a planner with the aforementioned sections.

Finally, like a light at the end of a dark, 5 year, random post-it note filled long tunnel, I got a response from Erika with Write it Down Books. She was so patient with me and answered all of my ridiculous questions before I placed my order.

I am only a few weeks in, but I am obsessed with this planner. It has everything I needed and more. Each month there are places you can write things you need to do, things you’d like to do (because we all know those are 2 totally different things), a place to doodle, and some writing prompts (which is great for bloggers). You can also have her start in any month you want.

It fits perfectly in my every day purse and matches great with my notebook I snagged up at Wal-Mart before I bought the planner.

Doesn’t this picture make you want to just plan everything?! AHHHH!

I don’t think I could have created a better planner. Honestly. I have tried 😉

This planner is the horizontal planner – so the week is laid out horizontally in the book instead of vertically. Here is the week at a glance list….

While browsing her shop, I went ahead and added a password/address book and a bookmark for my planner. You can customize pretty much anything – and for planners that can be customized, her prices are on point – trust me, I’ve done research for years.

I love that she puts your name on the front too!

She also has an option of printing your own planner. Oh, and you can print out a few of her styles and try them out for a week or so before you order. FOR FREE.

Here is my little trio that follows me around the house – besides the kids obviously – my planner, my notebook and my Kindle.

Erika was kind enough to give us a coupon code for the next week. 10% off of your order in her shop and it expires on 4/20/17. The code is MOSTLYUNDERCONTROL10. I encourage you to use it! Seriously, I cannot tell you how much I am in love with this thing.

So take advantage of this code, people. You will NOT regret it.

The Second Child Guilt

A friend of mine came to me with the need to vent. She loves her 2 children absolutely dearly and there is no denying that. But sometimes she is brought back to when life was much easier…with just one child.
Moms who have more than one kid – do you ever think how much easier life was before you added kid 2, 3, 4, etc? 
Oh, no? 
Yea, no me either…
Okay, all bullshit aside, here is some real talk.
I do. 
I honest to Pete (whoever Pete may be) think about how easy life was before kid 2, but then I instantly feel a pang of mom guilt. Why, you ask? Well, for starters, I am the QUEEN of mom guilt. And because I seriously am in love with both my kids. I love my first with the fire of 1000 suns, she is smart, kind and hilarious. My second is my last, and I have never felt such contentedness, he completes me and our family and I never knew I had enough love for two kids. So now that I’ve convinced you I truly love my kids, and equally at that, I will be honest and give you the promised real talk.
I waited a long time between my kids. My first was 3 and a half when her brother arrived, she was potty trained, she slept through the night, she was in preschool and semi-self sufficient. I selfishly waited because I couldn’t fathom 2 in diapers or 2 not sleeping through the night, but I also had no interest in changing the amazing groove she and I had. Our little family of 3 had it all, we had fun, we enjoyed each other, we did so much together! But, alas, baby fever reared its ugly head and even though I thought I was content with my perfect daughter, I needed another. I didn’t care if number 2 were a boy or girl. I just couldn’t wait to smell, touch and hear a newborn.
We got pregnant quickly, and my whole second pregnancy was a whirlwind. Suddenly, my due date came and so did our son. Our son, all 7 pounds 6 ounces of him, was perfect and I swelled with love just like I did when we met our daughter. The first 2 months were long and filled with lots of tears and a lot of spit up, medicine, doctors, tests and hospital visits. It was hard on all of us, and I was exhausted, emotionally and physically. I thought in my head “things have to get easier” and they did. Or at least I thought they did.
A week or so ago my husband and I had just my oldest in tow while we ran errands (our son was napping at grandma’s) and it was so easy. I had no diaper bag, no diapers, wipes, extra clothes, or any other kid paraphernalia that takes up a giant bag. There was no fussing because I was containing a child in a God forsaken cart. It was a pleasant afternoon out.
Then, a few days later, my parents took my oldest over night just because. Bedtime was a breeze with just my son. No whining about only having to choose between the 2 pink nightgowns because the purple one is getting washed. No trips up and down the stairs a million times because she “wasn’t having a good night.” No complaints of dyer thirst as if she’d run a marathon in a desert. With only my son it was some milk, a knocked out kid and that was that.
Each time I only had one, I thought “Holy shit! What the hell, why is this so easy!?” then very quickly I regretted that thought. Then my brain went to “I miss my baby” and had a good ole dose of mom guilt. Life was easier with one, life is easier if I get a break from one, and things are most definitely less overwhelming. But, life is amazing with 2. My kids love having each other, and I most definitely love having them. My brain may not fire correctly, I may not remember when my last shower was, and I honestly don’t know how I get through a bad day sometimes, but it is amazing. Things have changed, life has changed but all for the better. I could never imagine my life with only one. My sassy but sweet, quick witted daughter and my destructive, lovable son have made me realize that being a parent was the one thing in life I never knew I wanted and that feeling only came after my son. It is hard, amazing, fulfilling, exhausting and my biggest accomplishment yet and life with 2 is definitely better than 1. 

Beating the Stay At Home Mom Blues

I became a stay at home mom on accident. I instantly rushed and tried to find a job when I lost my job. I thought there was NO WAY I could be a stay at home mom. I knew I wanted to, but way down the road. This one kind of came out of nowhere.
However, I was pregnant. Visibly pregnant. So finding a job was difficult. After I had my daughter, I sort of grew to enjoy staying home and had just started this blog. So I just went with it.
But, as they say, the grass is always greener on the other side. Working mom seem to want to stay home and stay at home moms seem to want to have jobs (not all the time though). I get it. I’ve been on both sides. With staying home often times comes what I call the Stay At Home Mom Blues. I have compiled a list of things to do to beat the Stay At Home Mom Blues.
Wake up before your kids.
This one may sound ridiculous but trust me, it’s worth it. I have shows that I like to watch that have been DVR’d and I used to watch them on my lunch break. Well now that I stay home, lunch breaks do not exist because my oldest gave up napping 1.5 years ago.  So I wake up when my husband leaves for work (around 6am) and knock out my shows then. My true happy place is on the couch, watching my shows, with my hot cup of coffee before the kids wake up. It truly makes me feel great about my day starting because I’ve already accomplished something before the kids are up and I’ve gotten in my trashy TV.
Do something for YOURSELF that brings in money.
Yes, this includes direct sales. You may seem them as annoying, obnoxious posts, but think about what they mean to the seller. They mean swim lessons, basketball practice, zoo trips, lunches together. And they are people that believe in the products. No, this is not a pitch for your to join my Rodan + Fields or 31 team – go join someone else’s if you want. I don’t care. I just know that I love having something for myself that brings money in. It makes me feel a lot less guilty about taking the kids to the train restaurant for lunch every now and then. You could also sign up at to walk dogs, post on garage sale pages to get out and do odd jobs around people’s houses, grocery shop for seniors, etc.

Join mom groups.

I used to think I had no need for mom groups. “I have my own friends. I don’t need more.” Well, I was wrong. Some of my friends were in different places in life. So someone added me to a mom group after Dylan was born. At first, it was just a place where I would ask a question, then I planned on leaving. 3 years later, these girls are my saviors (along with my “real life” friends..haha). It is a nice place to go at the end of the day and unwind. Answer questions, give advice, get advice, laugh. It really is such a great resource.
Read a book.
Ha, if you’re like me, your first thought was “when?!” We went on vacation and it required a 12 hour road trip. I grabbed some books off our shelves that I had received for Christmas a few years ago and never got around to reading. I am so glad I brought them. I didn’t get through them, but I started one and now it’s making me WANT to finish it! You can get a few pages in in the pick up line when you pick up your kids from school, take a bath after bedtime…make time for it. Think about how often you sit around and scroll Facebook. Replace a few of those sessions with reading a good book.  Bump it up a notch and join a book club on Facebook!
Get dressed, make your bed.
I know, crazy, right? But I truly feel like I get more done even if I don’t leave the house, on the days that I get dressed and make my bed. I feel more motivated! Even getting the kids dressed. When I first became a SAHM, Dylan and I had PJ days pretty much any day unless we were leaving the house. But lately, I have been trying to get dressed in the morning even if I don’t have plans to go anywhere. I feel more ready for the day.
Plan monthly girls’ nights.
My friend Melissa and I started monthly girls nights (it lasted maybe 3 months and then she went and got a job…dumb 😉 ) and it was one of the best decisions. I get to get out once a month and not feel guilty. The kids are at home, sleeping and Dan gets a night to himself as well. He works hard during the day and plays super heroes like the best of them at night. He enjoys a night by himself from time to time, too. You get out and have adult conversation, face to face, with someone other than your husband.
What do you like to do to beat the Stay At Home Mom Blues?

Emotional Regulation Children’s Books

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you purchase any of the books I’ve linked or anything else in that shopping trip from that link, I will receive a small kick back at no extra cost to you.

Emotions are tough to deal with when you’re a kid. They’re even tougher to deal with when you’re the parent – am I right? At least that’s how it is in our house.

True story, I was screamed at one time because I was asked for juice, but upon presenting said juice to my master (ie, 4 year old), I was informed that the cup I brought was the wrong cup. The cup I gave him was wrong because “I can’t see the TV when I drink out of it. I need a skinny cup with a Superhero top.”

Oh, hell no.

I lost it. Needless to say, the juice was promptly put back into the refrigerator to try again tomorrow. So now I was being followed by the angry 4 year old while he screamed “I’ll drink the juice, I’ll drink the juice!” Too little, too late. So after the TV was shut off and he was asked to clean up his toys, the rest of the night was pretty much downhill and I decided we were ready for 4 year old boot camp.

As he followed me around the house, I cleaned (with the little one crawling around following me which is pretty much what she does anyway) because it was all I could do to keep from laughing at his requests (“I don’t want water! I want something funner! The only thing that will cheer me up is juice! My knee told me my legs are broken! I can’t clean up my toys by myself! I can’t stand up” etc etc).

After the meltdown(s), I actually sat down with him and asked him how he felt. Frustrated, sad, upset, angry, what? He seemed very confused so I thought about writing a post about emotion regulation books for littles who are learning about their emotions. If your little is struggling with handling emotions, these are a good idea to teach them about their emotions. It’s not enough to just ask them “are you angry?” because they don’t necessarily know what that means or what that feels like. That’s why we have children’s authors 🙂

I’ve highlighted some of our favorites (that our library had) and broke them down a little bit for you.

The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen
This book is about a grumpy fish who is just a miserable ocean dweller. He doesn’t have a reason to be awful – at least they don’t give it in the book – and I like that. I like that they’re saying sometimes it’s ok to not know why you’re upset. Everyone tries to cheer him up and ask him why he’s so mad. He doesn’t have answers for them. Finally, a mysterious fish (think “pretty blonde in a sparkly dress”) approaches him and simply gives him a kiss. All of a sudden, he feels better and starts spreading the love. I like that. All he needed was some love!

Finn Throws A Fit by David Elliot
This book pretty much describes life with a toddler. A kid is pissed with no reason why (must be friends with Pout Pout Fish) and then after he completely destroys the house like a hurricane, he decides to calm down and eat his peaches. And the parents are just hiding for their lives until he finishes. Case closed. Like I said, daily struggle in life with a toddler.

Glad Monster, Sad Monster – A Book About Feelings by Ed Emberley & Anne Miranda
Love this one. It covers most emotions and what you want to do when you feel those emotions. It also explains what makes the monsters feel this way, which I think is so important because it connects an activity / occurrence with the feeling. And also that all of these feelings are ok. It also comes with some masks that you can tear out and use and a little pocket in the back of the book to store them.

When Sophie Gets Angry – Really, Really Angry… by Molly Bang
This one (like the others) is about anger AND how to deal with it. Sophie gets ticked off because her sister steals a toy and mom takes her sister’s side (I got you, Sophie. I hate that too) and when she’s stomping off, she trips over a truck and gets hurt. THE WORST! So she goes for a walk and sees some calming things and returns home all good. I am not sure I would encourage walks all alone, but you get the idea.

The Feelings Book by Todd Parr
This one was suggested to me by a friend who is a social worker (thanks, Kim!). They describe different feelings (including feeling like a kissing a sea lion…which I want to do daily ;)) and how you should share your feelings with people you love. This is so important! I want my kids to know that they can tell me what they’re feeling, especially when we’re having a hard time connecting and understanding what is going on with them.

So, take your pick and let me know how they do in your house. Or let me know if you use other ones!


Dialogic reading: How to Facilitate Extra Conversation With Your Child During Story Time

Dialogic reading is the process of expanding on the words you are reading to your child. It is so easy to do and is also a great way to get a little bit more out of that time you have together.
Dialogic reading is the process of reading to your kids but adding in extra info or asking questions while reading to get their minds to think a little more. It is a great thing to add to your daily story time routine to exercise those little minds. #dialogicreading #readingtogether #readingwithyourkids #readingwithbabies #whyshouldwereadtogether #reading #circletime #storytime

One of my most favorite parts of teaching (besides watching their little brains expand and of course sensory play) was circle time. Circle time requires lots of skills for preschoolers. Following directions, listening, reading comprehension…to name a few 🙂

Reading comprehension is a big part of circle times. They are often centered around a book. Depending on the curriculum, it could be the same book each day for a week or a new book each day. I really enjoyed doing the same book all week. Why? Because kids learn by repetition. By Friday, the kids can recite the entire book. But each day you’re doing something different with the book.

On Monday when I would introduce the book, I read it using dialogic reading. Dialogic reading is a great way to get preschoolers more involved in what you’re reading to them. It’s asking follow up questions or precursor questions about the book. “What does it look like will happen next? Is that dog wearing swim trunks? Do dogs wear swim trunks? Where do you think he’s going in those swim trunks?” You can expand on their answers and ask more questions. You can rephrase their responses to gain more information and insight from them. In a way, you become the listener, and he becomes the reader.

Before I dive into the specifics of dialogic reading, I am going to give you a list of the benefits of reading to your kids. It truly does so much for them (and you) that you may not even know.

Benefits of reading with your children

  • They learn how to sit still! This can be a tough skill to teach and I think parents don’t realize how easy it is. When you give kids something interesting to do, sitting still can be much easier for them to accomplish.
  • Bonding – this is super important. If you get nothing from reading with your kids, get this! It’s one on one time that is easy and beneficial for everyone.
  • Following directions – work on following directions by telling them when to turn the page.
  • Taking turns – take turns with them when you’re turning the page or (if they’re older), reading certain words.
  • Reading – I am convinced my oldest learned how to read so early because we read at least 3 books a night to him.
  • Exploration – Reading teaches your kids about the world around them – a world that they may otherwise never even be aware of.
  • Emotional developments – Children oftentimes learn about emotion through books. They learn that there are emotions out there that they didn’t know about, and how to deal with them. Side note, here is a list of emotional regulation books you can check out

Dialogic reading helps challenge kids to think outside of the book. It assists with verbal fluency, conversational skills and abilities and narrative skills (story telling).

Even now as a parent, when we get a new book from the library, I never just read the words. I ask lots of questions to see what my kids predict from seeing pictures and me reading the text.
It’s also a really cool way to cater to 2 different ages when reading a book. You can take a younger book and make it more exciting for your older child by adding more prompts with dialogic reading. We do this all the time with our books! When my 2 year old has a book she wants to read, I will often call over my older kiddo to help us and expand a little bit on each page. My 2 year old also has a slight speech delay so it’s a great way to get her talking as well.

Dialogic reading is broken down into 5 different types of prompts – CROWD.

Completion Prompts:
You read a sentence to your child and leave out the last word. These are very popular for books that have repetitive lines or rhyming lines. Your child completes the sentence.

Recall Prompts:
These prompts help the child remember what was just read or what was read at a previous time. So you could ask them in the beginning of the book “what does the caterpillar turn into after he eats all the food?” if he has read the book before. If he hasn’t read the book before, you would ask the question at the end of the book.

Open-Ended Prompts:
These are my favorite. We would call these “picture walks” of the book. These prompts focus primarily on the pictures. You could say “what is happening in this picture?” “Where do you think that little boy is going?” “What do you think the next food he eats will be?”

Wh- Prompts:
These are the questions that begin with “what,” “where,” “when,” “why,” and “how.” These are also focusing on the pictures. “What is that toy?” “What color is that?”

Distancing Prompts:
These are prompts that encourage kids to connect the book with their life outside of the book. “Remember when we saw that caterpillar yesterday in the backyard? Do you think he was going to turn into a butterfly? Do you think he ate salami?”

Distancing and recall prompts are for the older kiddos (4 to 5 year olds) and are often the more difficult of the 5, so don’t feel discouraged if your smaller ones don’t really grasp those.

Depending on the vocabulary of your little, you may want to feel them out with questions and see what they can and cannot answer.I challenge you to try it at story time tonight, then come back and let me know how it goes. I never read a book without prompting questions any more! Click here for your printable, or just grab it below! 🙂 Have fun – can’t wait to hear from you!

Paint Swatch Number Activity – One to One Coorespondence

At the risk of sounding so completely cheesy and cliche, my favorite part of teaching (and one of my favorite parts of parenting) is seeing kids “get it.” Seeing their eyes light up when they understand that 11 comes after 10. Seeing them get so excited when they write their name properly (still trying to find a fun activity to get Dylan to write his name!). The joy in their faces is amazing (to me at least) and the idea that I had a hand in them understanding that is indescribable. I miss it so, so much!

We have been working on numbers with Dylan and he has a book from Usbourne called “1001 Animals to Spot.” Each page has a different habitat and tells you how many of each animal to find. He is currently obsessed with it (he goes through phases where we read the same 2 books every night for a few weeks) and can recognize all the numbers 1-10 (that’s as high as they go). But he doesn’t quite have the one-to-one correspondence yet, which is fine. He has some time!

What is one-to-one correspondence, you ask? It’s the ability to actually count items. Kids Dylan’s age can count, but they’re not actually counting when they learn numbers. They are essentially memorizing the numbers and their order. Children with one-to-one correspondence demonstrate that they understand that this duck is 1, this one makes 2, this one makes 3, etc. Right now Dylan will point to the animals as he counts which is a start, but he does that because we do it. He sometimes skips ducks or counts a duck a few times.

You can also use this activity a step further by adding and subtracting, and I’ll show you how at the end.

I took paint swatches from Home Depot (free, but I always feel like I have to do it discreetly) and leftover glass gems I had from 2 other projects. I wrote numbers on each color and would hand him a certain amount of gems. Then I would tell him to count the gems and show me on the paint swatch how many he had. He started to place the gems on the cards if he could.

(It is impossible to get an in action picture of this kid that isn’t blurry)

If you want to work on addition, you can take two paint swatches and a plus sign (I wrote it on a larger paint chip, along with an equals sign), and find the paint Swatch with the answer. Easy enough, right? 🙂

He really loved playing with the gems and even telling me which number was which. He always surprises me when I give him these activities. He goes right ahead and does them on his own – making up his own rules. 

Happy teaching!