Category Archives: kid safety

Parenting 4 Literacy tips around children’s safety for children from birth to age 8.

How to put the environment to work for literacy. And build a home library on a budget.

It’s Funday Monday! And as I’d predicted last Friday, there were some garage sale signs that grabbed my time and attention over the weekend.

Garage sales. Hmmm. That idea easily takes my thoughts to literacy.It's a garage sale, Dainty Dinosaur!

First of all, a garage sale needs good signage. And that idea takes me to one aspect of early literacy known as “environmental literacy.” This literacy generally begins to reveal itself long before your child is even talking.

So today’s tip for you and your child of any age is to take stock of what is all around you. What print do you see? How is it meaningful to you? What kinds of TALKing together can the two of you do around that print? Let’s explore that…

Early on, you know environmental literacy is at work when your young child shows awareness of print all around. Signs and symbols, colors and shapes, numbers and letters. WOW! All sorts of unique combinations of those pieces of print begin to take on meaning for your child.

Yes! You know it’s happening when, blocks in advance, you’re made aware that you’re approaching a McDonald’s. Or a little pointer finger picks out that store or gas station your family frequents. Yep! Right over there. Or you witness pure joy emanating from your little one who’s just glimpsed a favorite book’s cover…or merely its spine.

WOW! Children learn to read whatever environmental print holds meaning for them. In my own children’s case, by age 2, they could spot a garage sale sign, regardless of its style or script. That’s because, nearly every Friday morning, we were out cruising the neighborhood streets. To see what we could see.

Dainty Dinosaur series of 12 books by Babs Bell Hajdusiewicz

Dainty Dinosaur series of 12 beginning-to-read books by Babs Bell Hajdusiewicz

Here’s a tip for you and your older child who see garage sale signage: TALK about that print. What is it saying? Is it legible? What do you think? Large enough to read from a distance? Does it serve its purpose fully? How might a sign, for example, be better worded to make its point? What about that billboard over there? What’s its point? How does its advertising work? Or not work?

Garage sales also take me to thoughts of literacy as I think about inexpensive resources for building a child’s home library. New and nearly-new children’s books are in abundance at many neighborhood garage sales. Your child’s personal library serves as an ongoing on-site encouragement and support for building that daily habit of reading for enjoyment. WOW! It also provides great pride of ownership.

A well-stocked home library provides plenty of children’s books to stock those containers all around the house. Yes! A container of books in every room. And a bag of books in the car. A home library also ensures there’ll always be a book to read in bed at night.

Building and maintaining your child’s home library is an ongoing challenge. Your voracious reader needs an assortment that includes many titles for each reading and interest level. And your home library must grow and change as your child grows, and interests change. You’ll also want to add in some age-appropriate magazines.

My family reveled in the discovery of garage sales as a book resource. Though the library was an excellent resource and just down the street, library books had to be returned. And the library wasn’t always open when my kids were in need of a new book.

WOW! It's true!And, they often worried, what if the librarian wouldn’t allow us to renew that favorite book yet again? I’m told that young readers Ryan, Scotty, Maddie, Benjamin, Colin, and others have worried similarly. Yes! Research and experience tell us that good readers often choose to reread and reread again their favorite books.

My family also looked to garage sales for added book buys before and during our many long-distance road trips. We often wished for library interstate lending policies since our avid young readers too often announced they’d finished their entire stash before we’d even crossed the state line. And with many states to go!

I often get writing ideas from garage sale experiences. Yes! In What is It, Dainty Dinosaur? characters experiment all the way home with their garage sale thing-a-ma-jig. To see what it can do…or can’t!

Coming full circle, I find the idea of environmental print and garage sales connect right here at my desk. On the wall here hangs this plaque I simply couldn’t resist at a recent yard sale. WOW! Environmental print is right here telling me a fact: Right side up or upside down. WOW! I’m a MOM!

Yes! Environmental print is everywhere! And it offers you and your child lots of totally free conversation-starters! Have a Funday Monday! And tune in tomorrow on TALKing Tuesday to…well, you’ll want to tune to find out how your Tuesday will be filled with TALK-TALK-TALKing with your child!



Filed under adult literacy programs, ages 3 and 4, ages 5 and 6, ages 7 and 8, ages 8 and up, community involvement toward building children's literacy, early literacy, family literacy, infants & toddlers, kid safety, kids, kids of all ages, read-aloud

It’s Free-for-All Friday w/Babs! WOW!

Hey, it’s Free-for-All Friday. (Sorry! I posted this last night, or so I thought. Guess it got delayed somewhere on the spinning globe of cyberpace.)

So let’s do a take-off today on one of those What if...ideas from yesterday’s discussion.

Okay. What if…what if there were peaceful people everywhere? WOW! What a peaceful thought! WOW! What a peaceful world we could have!

Peaceful People
What do peaceful people do?
They use kind words.
They’re honest, too.
They don’t begin to fight or shout.
They talk to work a problem out.
Instead of acting mean or mad,
They talk to say they’re feeling sad.
They look for ways to help someone.
They don’t hurt others with a gun.
I like what peaceful people do!
I’m learning to be peaceful, too!

Copyright © 1999 Babs Bell Hajdusiewicz
from Peaceful Me: Poems and Activities to Help Children Resolve Conflicts Peacefully. Copyright © 1999, 2002 Babs Bell Hajdusiewicz

Peaceful Me is endorsed by Sarah Brady, Chair, Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, Washington D.C.

Peaceful Me is endorsed by Sarah Brady, Chair, Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, Washington D.C.

So, where does peace begin? Hmmm.

Regardless how one might answer that question, today’s Parenting 4 Literacy tip (for kids of all ages!) offers to you and your child some nutritious food…as in peacefully powerful words…for thought and TALK.

Yes! For kids of all ages! And today’s tip also builds on your child’s LISTENing skills. Those listening skills are critical for success in reading and writing…and for all of learning!

So here’s what you do…as one way to help peace live in your home! WOW!

Ask your child today…and every day…two questions:

  • Question #1: What kind words did you hear today?

Then listen to your child’s response.

A tip: It’s helpful with any age child to follow up with words like, “So you heard these peaceful words today: [words your child said]. WOW!”

Then go on to encourage your child to talk a bit about why those words felt peaceful to her/him. To do this, you might ask, “How did it feel to hear those words?”

I should mention here that your child may turn it around to pose to you that same question. WOW!

Or, depending on your child’s age and mood, it may take several days of your modeling before you’re put in the witness chair.

Either way, when this same conversation seems ripe for new input, go on to ask the second question.

  • Question #2: What kind words did you say today?

Again, you’ll want to listen carefully to your child’s response so you can follow up with words like, “WOW! So you said these peaceful words…[repeat the words your child said]. WOW!”

Peaceful Tip: That double “WOW!” there? It lets your child hear how happy you feel to hear that s/he spoke such peaceful words today.

Be at peace!Now ask, “How did it feel to say those peaceful words?”

Gosh, just look at all the productive conversation the two of you are having! WOW!

No more of those going-nowhere attempts to communicate with your school-age child, including your high schooler.

Yes, you’ll recognize this all-too-familiar parent-child Q&A:

“So what happened at school today?”

Yes! Productive conversation is now happening in your house. And guess what? You now have a definitive answer to my earlier question:

Stop! It's a garage sale!“So,” I asked you. “Where does peace begin?”

And now you know! WOW! Peace begins in your home!

And, with daily peaceful practice of this particular Parenting 4 Literacy tip, peace will not only live in your home; it will extend far beyond.

Yes! Peaceful words will be heard and spoken wherever you and your child are! WOW! Double WOW!

With repeated practice, extend this activity to ask your child…and yourself…how the other person might have felt when saying or hearing you say those peaceful words.

By the way…ff your child is not yet talking, you two can have this same powerfully-peaceful conversation!

I know you’ll recall my recent tip to ask and answer your questions. Your child is always LISTENing…and learning how language works!

Hey, tune in on Funday Monday for some garage sale fun! I hope to find time to check out a few garages in my neighborhood by then. Anyone else love shopping at garage sales?

I picked up that interest during my childhood. How about you? Click on the word comment below this post…and tell all!

Leave a comment

Filed under adult literacy programs, ages 3 and 4, ages 5 and 6, ages 7 and 8, ages 8 and up, author school visits, community involvement toward building children's literacy, early literacy, family literacy, infants & toddlers, kid safety, kids, kids of all ages, parenting around kid behaviors, peaceful kids, poems for kids, read-aloud

It’s Wacky Wednesday w/Babs! WOW!

NEWS FLASH! Step back a few days to last Thursday’s post.

Read along and then click on the pictures link. You’ll then be better able to connect to Peacock Dena’s comment on Tuesday’s postHmmm...Dena & python and Babs. WOW!

Here’s her news!


I was the Lilac mom dressed up like a peacock. I have the names of the animals. Tega lizard named Tyrone; Capachin monkey named Mojo Jo Jo; Hedgehog named Casper; Ferret named Mercedes; Burmese Python named George of the Jungle; Chinchilla named Dusty; Parrot named Genral Confussion.

Thank you for the great web site!!!


Thank you, Dena, for helping me hold that heavy snake! And to you and your animal-dressed parent-team for all those enticing foods on that jungle lunch buffet!

And hey! It’s good to have all the real names of those wild, wild animals…along with their “stage names.”

WOW! Today is Wacky Wednesday already!

And though I’d promised that we’d be meeting three young ladies named Grace today, I have to report that two of those three aren’t quite ready for their pix to be posted.

Gracie grins!My mother Gracie, however, was captured on camera when she did what she always does whenever there’s a smiley face around. Gracie grins!

So it was a grateful grinning Gracie when she received this smiley basketball a couple of years ago.

And Gracie’s grin, along with Smiley’s grin, begged for a camera’s snap.

Know what? Gracie uses that basketball! She even put up her own goal!

It's a basket!This week, however, Mother Gracie is grinning between groans. Most unfortunately, she fell, broke a hip bone, and had her second major surgery this year.

But I could already hear her grinning over the phone today! On her way to recovery. WOW!

So she can bounce and throw that ball into the hoop!

Wish her well, won’t you!

So, when the other Gracie ladies’ pix come in, then we’ll circle back to have more fun with the sound of /gr/. That’s for another day in the near future.

But, today’s is Wacky Wednesday. So let’s do more sound play with words, like Wacky Wednesday. Words that begin with the same sound. It’s called alliteration.

And it trains ears and tongues to the sounds of language.

WOW! Go ahead and call it by that long name…alliteration…whenever you hear it: Bouncing basketball. Weeping willow. Wonderful Wednesday. Creepy Crusty Crud.

Take it to the hoop!Have fun modeling how to simply make up two or three words that begin with the same sound. Then call out that sound.

Note I said, “call out that sound that makes words alliterative.”

Yes! Even with your child as young as 2 or 3, hearing an alliterative phrase like grateful grinning Gracie, wants to get noticed as being special––and not just because this grinning Gracie happens to be my mother, either!

No, do call out that repetitive sound. Doing so models listening for words and phrases that sound special.

Not the letter or letters that represent that alliterative sound. No!Focus on the sounds! Not the letters!

We’re not stopping to recognize the letters with a young child. And maybe not with an older child.

That is, unless that child of yours is already confidently whizzing through those books from school and is grinning when reading is mentioned and is relishing free time to curl up for some pleasure reading.

Right! Point out the sound to your child. Listen for the alliterative sound!You are modeling. And modeling. And modeling. And being patient.

Patient because your child will show you when you’ve modeled enough. You’ll know because your child will begin calling out alliterative sounds being heard!

Yes! Only when you are positive s/he can respond successfully, will you be expecting that your child will call out an alliterative sound.

WOW! Very important literacy tip there. If a child dreads reading, it’s generally because reading is such hard work that the child feels prone to failure.

Who among us ever wants to fail!?

So you the parent (or any citizen spending time with any child!) will want to spend lots of time engaging children in rich conversation.

Why? Well, during such conversation, you two can focus on specific oral skills. Yes!

Gaining oral mastery––that’s what’s happening. Just like in today’s fun with calling out alliterative sounds in wacky phrases or not-so-wacky phrases! book opening pic 4

And yes! It’s a very important reading skill that leads toward successes in decoding (reading) and encoding (writing)!

Such conversations also make learning feel all wacky and fun. Plus…those conversations you have with your child help you realize far more…

WOW! You are “connecting” with your child!

Yes! Nobody loses. Everybody wins!

Tune in tomorrow for THINKING Thursday. Till then, enjoy getting wacky with words!

1 Comment

Filed under ages 3 and 4, ages 5 and 6, ages 7 and 8, ages 8 and up, author school visits, community involvement toward building children's literacy, early literacy, family literacy, infants & toddlers, kid safety, kids, kids of all ages

Hello on this TALKing Tuesday! WOW!

Though today’s picture book is for young children, our topic for this TALKing Tuesday focuses on you and a question to ask your child of any age. In a word (or two), your child is never too young nor too old for you to ask this important question: “So when you grow up, who will you be?”

Though you’ll likely hear career language initially, ask the question often and you’ll be amazed at how much language and knowledge you…and life…have (or have not) been “spreading on your child’s buffet.”

Keep on asking, “So when you grow up, who will you be?” and you’ll hear more ideas around how your child is THINKing about and processing his/her life experiences thus far. With your not-yet-TALKing wee oWhen I Grow Up covernes, do what I always recommend: Ask the question and then answer it…using the very words you’d like your child to say someday soon!

So, as you repeat this question to your TALKer, you’ll hear THINKing and then some language around ideas, like growing into a grown-up or adult. Becoming a dad, friend, grandparent, aunt, step-mom, neighbor. A reader, writer, listener, THINKer, TALKer,….

And, as developmentally-fitting with your child’s age, you’ll hear value words and ideas. You know, the ones you’ve continually “spread on that buffet” of language and knowledge. The words and ideas you’ve modeled and TALKed.

WOW! Your child will TALK of growing up to be a happy person. A peaceful, kind, giving or generous person. A sharing, hugging, empathetic, cooperative, tolerant person. A loving or affectionate, grateful, supportive, cheerful, optimistic, patient, tranquil, compassionate, tender, relaxed,….

WOW! Just THINK how much TALKing you can do with your child today! That’s right. It’s never too early. And totally never too late.

On to some back story of the picture book. When my two were 4 and 3, I heard our son declare to his younger sister how he couldn’t be a fireman when he grew up. You can bet I tuned in to hear his reasons why not.

“Because,” he said, “I’m gonna be a daddy.”

That vignette prompted at least one story (though on THINKing Thursday, this week, I’ll share another). Later, I wrote When I Grow Up, a popular little book for beginning readers…and preschoolers, too. With your infants to 8 yr olds, sing this book’s poem to the “Twinkle, Twinkle” tune:

Pages from When I Grow Up by Babs Bell HajdusiewiczWhen I Grow Up

When I grow up,
Who will I be
besides the person
who is ME?
I might bring mail.
I might play drums.
I might drive trucks.
I might grow plums.
I might fight fires.
I might trim trees.
I might type letters.
I might fix knees.

When I grow up.
I think I’ll be
a worker who works
but I’ll still be ME!

Copyright © 1996 Babs Bell Hajdusiewicz (Available at

WOW! Amazing how many distinct roles one person can and does play in one lifetime!

Enjoy this TALKing Tuesday while you’re taking note of what it is that you’ve been modeling and TALKing while in the company of your child. And what roles you’re wishing to add to that buffet of language and knowledge you’re spreading as you TALK.calendar

Okay…double WOW! The good news is this: Even if your child is about to leave your protective parental hovering, you have tons of time to keep on sharing that unique language and knowledge which embodies your every hope and dream for the kind of person your child will contribute to this world! WOW!

Now for you, the parent…here’s my question to you: “So when you grow up, who will you be?”

WOW! You can THINK on that just about any ol’ way you choose! And stay tuned for this week’s THINKing Thursday when we’ll THINK and TALK some more on this same topic, with yet another piece I wrote from that same experience of hearing my little one TALK about who he might become one day.

Here’s a heads-up! THINKing Thursday’s piece is for two voices. Gather round so that those TALKing voices can be yours and your child’s. WOW! In the interim, check out Wacky Wednesday’s post tomorrow to learn about some interesting lizards I’ll be visiting later this week.

Leave a comment

Filed under author school visits, early literacy, family literacy, kid safety, kids, parenting around kid behaviors, peaceful kids, poems for kids, read-aloud, Uncategorized

WOW! ‘Tis Babs on THINKing Thursday!

Okay, remember how I mentioned a few days ago that today on THINKing Thursday we’d do some THINKing about how you can give your young or not-so-young child those much-talked-about (and tested!) comprehension skills. So, when we talk about comprehension skills, it means that your child needs to comprehend, or get it, when s/he hears or reads language.

Yes, every word carries meaning for your child. So today, we’ll focus on one tip for how you can help your child grab knowledge from the  words you two use today as you TALK to each other and to other people you meet up with.

man talking picBuilding comp skills (as we in education call them) means you’ll be TALKing a whole lot today, just like on TALKing Tuesdays…and on every other day with your child!

Why? Because each time you TALK, you have two eager listening ears. And when you have those ears listening, then there’s THINKing happening. THINKing in order to make sense or comprehend or get meaning from all those words you’re saying.

So let’s TALK Comprehension™ today. How do you do that? One way is to ask a lot of questions, questions that you know your child can answer. So let’s say you and your toddler to age 5 child are crossing the street at a green light.

Ask, “Hey, why do we need to have traffic lights like that green one?” (Give the answer if your child isn’t actually talking yet.) Ask, “Who gets to go on a green light? Who has to stop at a red light?” For each response, ask your child, “Why?” traffic light pic

With your older child, ask, “What could happen if we had no traffic lights?” or “When do you think traffic lights were invented?” That last question is sure to get your child THINKing and ready to do some research with you when you get home.

(A quick search suggests there are some who would say the first traffic light with three colors was in place in Detroit, Michigan in 1920. Others dispute that claim, however, so check it out and you and your child will be gaining comprehension of new knowledge today!)

Enjoy THINKing Thursday…and building your child’s comp skills by asking lots of questions about anything and everything viewed and heard around you two. WOW! Then tune in tomorrow for yet another language-and-knowledge-building tip on Free-for-All Friday!

™TALK Comprehension is a trademark of Babs Bell Hajdusiewicz.

Leave a comment

Filed under author school visits, early literacy, family literacy, kid safety, kids, parenting around kid behaviors, poems for kids, read-aloud

WOW! ‘Tis Wacky Wednesday with Babs!

You can’t say I didn’t warn you we’d get all wacky today. Let’s start off with the idea of time. Time past, time now, and future time.



If you haven’t grabbed up “Today’s Song” (and sung it over and again with your child of any age) from one of my earlier posts here or from my site at, now’s the time to do just that. You’ll also find (with the song on my site) fun activities to do around the song.

We’ll begin today with wacky language and knowledge for your kids 5+ years, so “Today’s Song” will help younger kids grasp some of the time concept we’re talking about here.

Even so, stay tuned if you have kids who are younger than 5. There are ideas here today for you, too. Ideas besides the reminder to TALK and sing “Today’s Song” today and every day!

All that said…we’re now gonna get wacky…and begin by going back in time. To a day some 20 years ago. A time before home computers and the Web and search engines, and cable and satellite stations, and such.

I sat at my kitchen table, very much into my always-and-forevermore morning ritual of reading the newspaper. And an idea came to mind.

How, I wondered, might newspaper headlines read one-hundred years from now? One-thousand years? A million? In googol years?

I know, you’re thinking Babs is getting doubly wacky. One, she’s misspelled googol and two, she’s thinking newspapers will exist in future times.

newspaper picBut poetic license lets me go anywhere with my thoughts and words. And keep in mind this story idea came to me back in time. Time when hard copy newspapers were still the #1 media for news. And on that day (Google it or ask any 12 year old), googol was and is not misspelled.

Nope. A googol is a very large number (1 followed by 100 zeroes). The search engine took poetic license to name itself. Likewise, this poet takes poetic license often…like whenever certain story ideas come to mind.

So my thoughts that back-in-time morning landed on all sorts of things that might/could happen in:

Googol Time

What’s the future hold in store?
Let imaginations soar–

Frostiwaves for instant freezing
FBI reports on teasing
Robots trick or treating ghoul-ness
Gauges measure awesome cool-ness
Faxing people through the air
Automated underwear
Self-destructing secret notes
Schools with alligator moats
Beaming up your enemies
Toddlers earning Ph.D.’s
Just-add-water instant housing
Credit card required for browsing
People living googol years
Babies crying colored tears
Toilet seats with self-close lids
Beds that make themselves-for kids
Watches read out body weights
Trap doors on all children’s plates
Moisture-sensing windshield wipers
Automatic-changing diapers
Cupboard shelves that wash the dishes
Press-a-button come-true wishes
Bottled Love for sale in stores
Household pets do household chores
Crime extinct, the courts declare
Peaceful people everywhere

Be it silly or sublime,
What might be in googol time?

Copyright © 1987 Babs Bell Hajdusiewicz

(“Googol Time” was first published in Poetry Works: The Second Stanza, Modern Curriculum Press/PearsonLearning, 1992; available at “Googol Time” is also available in full-color 11×14 format that’s matted and ready-to-frame. For pricing and details, email

Here’s a puzzle for TALKing and THINKing about the poem with your child (ages 5+): TALK to identify one of those wacky ideas of “then time” that’s already here in “now time.” (Ask me if you two haven’t yet experienced this yesteryear’s idea of wacky.)

Go ahead, add more wacky ideas to the poem. Remember, you don’t have to rhyme. Though you might find it easy once you’re into this poem’s rhythm.

Now, if your child’s a bit young to handle the language and knowledge in “Googol Time,” then sing “Today’s Song” and follow up with TALK about one event that happened yesterday, one event of today, and one planned experience for tomorrow. Yes, keep it simple. To make it more concrete for your little one, jump backwards for the concept of yesterday, stand still for the concept of today, and jump forwards to depict tomorrow. On another day, point to a calendar as you say each concept word.calendar

With kids of all ages, including your 4’s, make up wacky ideas that would just never happen. You might name this particularly fun TALKing and THINKing activity something like: “WOW! Let’s get all wacky with Ms. Babs!”

Enjoy and tune in tomorrow, THINKing Thursday, to THINK and learn about how you and your child can TALK comprehension skills. See ya!

Leave a comment

Filed under author school visits, early literacy, family literacy, kid safety, kids, parenting around kid behaviors, peaceful kids, poems for kids, read-aloud