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A really important literacy exercise for parents. (It’s so not what you think.)

Hey! It’s Free-for-All Friday! Is everyone in your house standing tall today? Sitting tall? Walking tall? Acting tall?

it's friday picIf not, well, you must have missed this week’s Wacky Wednesday post. And my cheer-along song to help all ages toward boasting each person’s own best! Yes, check out that cheer-along song!

Which reminds me of an aside question posed by a blog follower. Yes, previous posts are, indeed, currently available to you. Just scroll down to read the past two weeks of posts. Then click on “Archives” in the right side column for prior posts.

Okay, on to Free-for-all-Friday’s frolicking fun. You’ll remember that I mentioned yesterday how we’d take yet another look today at recycling. So we will do that….

But…since it’s Friday and only two days yet before Father’s Day, let’s step outside the norm and do something totally different today.

Let’s focus on YOU, the parent or caregiver. WOW! Let’s call today Parent’s and Caregiver’s Day!

Recycle!Now, as I think about parenting and giving care to children, I’m reminded of my own role as a parent, a parent who stands…in time…between my children and my own parent. WOW!

That kind of THINK-THINK-THINKing some years ago took me to thoughts about how parenting roles actually get recycled! WOW!

With those thoughts in mind, I wrote:

Recycled Respect
For years they thought we knew it allmom & girl clipped pic,dad and child's hand pic
for they were short
and we were tall.
And we used words they hadn’t heard,
and met their needs as each occurred:
We answered whys and hows and whens
and helped them make amends with friends.

As years went by, our wisdom waned:
we answered whys, and they complained.
They pushed to have the final word
and liked us to be seen, not heard.children picgrandpa and boy walking pic
No longer did we know it all,
for we were short
and they were tall.

For years they thought they knew it all,
but now they come around or call
to ask us what, or why, or how,
for they’re like us–
they’re parents now.

Copyright © 1993 Babs Bell Hajdusiewicz. First published in Grandmother Earth Creations I, 1995.

nurse picAnd still more THINKing about the roles we parents get to play…took me here:

seamstress pic

Nurses nurse
Nurses nurse
and teachers teach
and tailors mend
and preachers preach
and barbers trim
and chauffeurs haul
and parents get to do it all.

Copyright © 1996 Babs Bell Hajdusiewicz
First published in Familiarity Breeds Children, Meadowbrook Press, 1996

WOW! Time to do something real quick-like with me…are you ready?preacher pic

Here’s all you do. Lift either hand up above your head. Now, take that hand around behind your neck to touch the back of your shoulder. Got it there? Okay, now pat that back of yours a few times! We each just gave ourselves a wee bit of thanks for all that each of us does for our child! WOW!

Have a great day TALKing Tall with your child!

Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there! And a special shout-out to Nelson and to Tall Paul and Chance who are all celebrating this, their very first Father’s Day as daddies! Double WOW!

Hey! Tune in here on Funday Monday to see what’s up for an all-new week of literacy building with your child!

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WOW! It’s THINK-THINK-THINKing Thursday w/Babs!

"The Thinker" by Rodin is THINKing on my desk!WOW! Time to put on those THINKing caps. Might even want to adopt a pose like that of “The Thinker.”

I'm THINKing! I'm THINKing!Rodin’s (pronounced RO dan) statue is yet another visual stimulation I keep around me as I work.

You know…he keeps me THINKing!

And, as is often the case, today I’m in need of some help with my THINKing.

That is, I need some help to come up with the proper names of those real wild animals who came visiting at Lilac Elementary last Friday.

So, I’ve called on Kiera’s teacher Jeri to put me in touch with the animal trainer. That connection is in progress. I promise to report back later.

Meanwhile, here’s a link to a video of that day’s events:

LilacSchoolAuthorVisitByBabsBellHajdusiewicz?feat=directlink

And now, since it’s THINKing Thursday, I just did a quick THINK and decided to search my writing around the word think

WOW! I found tons of “think” poems in my files.

Seems “The Thinker” has done its job to stimulate my thoughts…and then some!

One poem, “A Hog’s Life,” carries an original date of 1996. Yep! It’s been hanging around for some time now…in hopes of seeing daylight.

WOW! THINK about that! Whether a piece of writing is tucked away in one’s brain cells, a file cabinet, or it’s buried deep inside a computer system (as was this poem), it just might be longing to see the light of day.

(Guess you can tell how I THINK about and consider each piece I write…it’s one of my “babies” with feelings and all…)

So while you’re THINKing, THINK and TALK with your child on this thought. When I use the figure of speech “seeing the light of day,” I’m meaning as in getting to be viewed by eyes…and maybe even lucky enough to get read aloud on tongues.

So, go ahead. Read this one aloud to your child of any age:

What's a hog's life, anyway?

A Hog’s Life

My sister hogs the bathroom.
My brother hogs the sink.
Our baby hogs my mommy’s lap.
Hmmm…
I live with hogs, I think.

Copyright © 1996, 2009 Babs Bell Hajdusiewicz

WOW! You and your child can have some THINKing fun with that poem today…in any way you like, actually.

However, if you’d like a Parenting 4 Literacy tip to add to your own ideas for THINKing and TALKing about that poem, here comes one…or more.

TALK about the word fun of THINKing about “hogging” space.

Give your child a look at the size of that pictured hog. WOW! A hog takes up a whole lot of space!

Or try innovating on my text to change sister or brother or baby to personalize names and titles around those who live in your home.

Hmmm. What new poem will the two of you create?THINKing up a thought!

Or THINK and TALK about why “It’s a Hog’s Life” has dates for two years preceding my byline.

If your child shows interest, you might say that the older date is there to protect this poem from way back in time when I first wrote those thoughts…and the newer date is there to protect my poem now as it’s being first published.It IS a hog's life!

WOW! There’s yet another tip to THINK and TALK about…you might help your child own the word byline as the name of the person who creats a piece of writing or other creative original work.

You and your older child may also get into some THINKing and TALKing about the fact that the byline and copyright protect a person’s ownership.

Rodin’s “The Thinker” is similarly protected as Rodin’s unique and original creation.

WOW! I’m now THINKing as a parent and educator…I’ve been there, done that.

So I can hear what’s coming in this conversation of yours! Your child wants bylines and copyrights to claim full rights and ownership on this or that possession!Go ahead...find with your child a THINKing Thursday...and a Free-for-All Friday!

Hmmm, now you’re likely onto the territory of trademarks. (Hey, I once wrote a children’s story about trademarks.)

Anyway, if the two of you can’t amicably settle rights and ownership issues that come up––well, maybe it’s time to call in the intellectual property attorneys.

WOW! Maybe the hog knows!

Tomorrow is Free-for-All Friday…wonder what’s waiting for us tomorrow!?

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Another Wacky Wednesday w/Babs! WOW!

It’s Wacky Wednesday, which takes my thoughts to tons of wonderful wackicobra picness last Friday with the Lilac Lizard parents and staff.

Storybook Treasury of Dick and Jane and FriendsBut first, I need to tell what happened when I got sent to the principal’s office. I wasn’t in trouble, was I?

Sitting there, I found myself feeling right at home. Know why?

Because my eyes spotted something familiar! On Principal Shannon’s desk lay the Storybook Treasury of Dick and Jane and Friends.

You can see here how that samMore books around my deske book sits near my desk.

I didn’t have anything to do with this book’s writing, though.

Actually, I was about to start school when Scott Foresman first published the original Dick and Jane stories.

It’s just that those Dick and Jane stories were my first reading successes. Thus, each story represents a treasured memory.

And, as I shared in an earlier post, seeing that book on the principal’s desk took my thoughts to California.

But, wait a minute! I was in the principal’s office…in California. WOW!

Familiarity. It carries with it such a great sense of comfort. Such a sense of comfort is one of the reasons your child asks to hear you reread the same poems and stories. Or that same ol’ book.Kiera & Me w/Welcome poster signed by Lilac students

Indeed, familiarity and that accompanying comfort feel mighty good.

Oh, a giraffe!Which brings us to today’s Parenting 4 Literacy tip. Today’s tip helps you score big with your child. WOW!

Yes! Here’s what you do the next time your child is not feeling up to par physically or emotionally.

You bring on some favorite and oh-so-familiar books, songs, stories, and poems. And guess what!

Your child will perk right up!

Recognizing the power inherent in familiar print, I made sure as a teacher that I had in my hand or on my tongue a few known favorites before a new student crossed the threshold to enter my classroom.

WOW! Familiarity and comfort…two basic needs each of us wants to get met when we’re faced with a new or challenging situation.

Okay. Back to Friday’s wackiness at Lilac Elementary. That entire day, by the way, was more than “Kiera’s Invited Babs the Author-Day.” Kiera, twin Bridget, sisters Kelsey and Jadine, her parents, her grandmother, and me

Friday was also Teacher Appreciation Day. And, oh, my! There was still more in store for us.

Many students came dressed in their pajamas! And you could tell that some of Lilac’s parents had dressed themselves that morning.

They wore wild clothing! As in wild-animal-looking clothes.

And those wild-animal-looking parents had painted faces that made them look more like wild animals than parents!

Yes, even the principal was in disguise. WOW! No wonder I got sent to her office!Yikes! It's a jaguar!

And no wonder if was such a wacky and wonderful day!

Tomorrow is THINKing Thursday, so I hope I’ll have done some thinking by then…enough to have thought up the correct animal names so I can show and tell about the real wild animals who dropped in on the Lilac Lizards and me last Friday.

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TALKing Tuesday w/Babs! WOW!

It’s TALKing Tuesday, so let’s talk. TALK is just words, after all. So let’s say words. Which words will you say today in this TALKing fun? It all depends on your child’s age.

baby girl in pink picIf you have an infant or toddler, say nouns/naming words–and emphasize each as you say it. Nouns name tangible or real things you see and can touch as you name them…right where you find yourselves at any given moment.

I see the chair. I move this table. We touch our car. I pick up the carseat. This is your shoe. Here is your teddy. I’ll get a diaper. I answer the phone. We read the book. Here’s a spoon. I open the newspaper. Here’s your cup. Look at the camera. WOW! Imagine the hundreds of items you’ll name with words you say today!

At other times with your infant or toddler, play the Verb Game, emphasizing the action word (verb) just as you emphasized the naming word (noun): I run. We walk. I hop. They swing. We read. You swim.

WOW! The Lilac Lizards in Valley Center CA are likely looking for ways to be all kinds of catalysts like our Catalyst Kiera. And I wonder how many students at Lilac have made abrupt stops on the playground or tried to look most debonair like they heard me telling in my poem, “Mr. Bear.”

Maya at Wild Animal ParkIt's a lizard, it is!Maya, what word games did you play with your family this weekend? Natalie, how about at your home with your family members?

(Shout-outs for 2nd graders who have been consistent pen pals with me…and who tell me they will be reading this blog with their parents. Girls, you and your family members–and anyone else–can respond in the comments section at the bottom of this or any post in this interactive blog.)

Okay, so, if you live with a preschooler or child of primary-school age, you’ll want to spend a few minutes each day playing those Noun and/or Verb Games.

For a fun variation of the Verb Game with these ages, take turns saying action words in any tense or form: run, running, giggle, ran, walked, hop, fly, swim, play, readWords, Words, Words by Babs Bell Hajdusiewicz, drink, ate, wrote, talked, and so on until you just seem to run out of verbs. For exhaustive lists of such words, check out my book, Words, Words, Words (available at <http://www.ilikeme.com/words.htm&gt;).

Are you ready for this? These same word games entice older kids. Yes! And even high schoolers easily get pulled into such word games. The difference lies in the kindWords and More Words by Babs Bell Hajdusiewiczs of words the two of you throw out there. And in the challenge you present to one another to see just how long you can keep the game going.

Although my Words and More Words book (available at <http://www.ilikeme.com/words.htm&gt;) contains lists of nouns and verbs that can keep the Noun or Verb Game going far beyond both your bedtimes, this book will also tempt the two of you to branch off into naming synonyms, antonyms, homophones, metaphors, similes, parts of speech, rhyming words, prefixes, suffixes, palindromes, commonly misused words, commonly misspelled words, and much more.

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WOW! It’s another Funday Monday w/Babs!

It’s Funday Monday already? WOW!

It's California!I’m posting late in the day, you say? Okay. Truth is I’m still on West Coast time. Though I’m physically back home in Atlanta, I surely left my head in Valley Center CA with all those lizards. Omigosh!

Even had my picture taken with a giant lizard whose proper name I actually need to clarify before I dare post its photo. So, we’ll talk more about it tomorrow on TALKing Tuesday…and focus on individual words you use as you TALK in conversation with your child.

Today, on Funday Monday, think of a book you read as a child. Name that book that made an impression on you. Got it in mind?

Now, tell your child a story about how and why that book became special to you!

Then ask your child of any age to name a favorite book. Ask your child to tell you a story about why that book is a favorite.Dick and Jane stories

My own childhood book is actually a series. And there’s a story about the lasting impression that series of books had in my life.

It's Indiana, land of Hoosiers!Now, you may remember that I was born and reared in Indiana. It snows there! Brrrr!

But Dick and Jane and Sally never wore heavy coats. And they often took Spot and Puff outside to play…in sunshine.

“So,” I asked my teacher Mrs. Lee, “where’s the snow?”

Now, in one of those story books, I apparently noted palm trees. And what must have happened is this…Mrs. Lee (or my classmate who’d traveled far outside of rural Indiana) must have told me the Dick and Jane stories took place in California. 

The reason I think that is because I loved those stories so much that I expected to grow up and live there…in California. I wanted to live where the sun shines all the time. With palm trees arouAnother palm tree!nd me. Yes! I thought I’d live right where my favorite stories took place.One of my desk's bookshelves

That’s one reason a copy of the Storybook Treasury of Dick and Jane and Friends sits in the row of books on my desk. Every glance at its cover takes me to California.

That’s my book’s story. WOW! The power of a book!A book can take me ANYwhere!

What’s your book and its lasting impression on you? And what’s your child’s book and story? Tell us! Go ahead. Post a comment at the end of this post.

Tomorrow, on TALKing Tuesday, and all this week, actually, we’ll take virtual visits to Kiera’s school. You might review some prior posts to meet “Catalyst Kiera” face-to-face.

And what a charming catalyst we found in 2nd grader Kiera! We have her to thank for causing it all to happen last Friday…what a memorable author visit it was!

Yep! I was there. At Kiera’s Lilac Elementary School in Valley Center, California.

This week, you’ll meet Kiera’s teacher and her classmates. And Kiera’s twin. And her entire family. You’ll meet tons of Lilac Lizards (with lilac here and lizards there) including Maya and Natalie…and their fabulous teachers and administrators.

You’ll meet parents disguised as furry and scaly creatures! WOW! Get this…then real furry and scaly creatures showed up! What a zoo!

You’ll also learn why I felt right at home when I got sent to the principal’s office.

No, I wasn’t in trouble.

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Free-for-All Friday w/Babs & Lilac Lizards! WOW!

This Free-for-All Friday finds me in sunny southern California visiting Kiera’s school. If you don’t know the back story of my trip here, view last Friday’s post in this blog. CA map

There, you’ll find a song to sing with your child. About a rainbow. You’ll learn how two cultures describe rainbows. And, relatedly, you’ll see a rainbow-covered cornfield that sits next to my birth home in Indiana. You’ll also meet 7 yr old Kiera face-to-face.

Before I lizard pichead off for a day of literacy fun with Kiera and her fellow Lilac Lizards, let’s stimulate a whole lot of THINKing and TALKing today with your child…and explore this question Kiera’s teacher posed: “Where do you get all those ideas you write about?”

First, let’s THINK about your child who is…or is destined to become…a fabulous reader and prolific writer. How do I know that about your child’s present/future literacy skills?

I know because you are tuning in to this blog each day. You’re looking to learn yet another easy, fun, practical, and doable literacy tip you can put to use while spending time with your child. At-home time. In-the-car time. At-appointments time. Wherever-time.

WOW! Your child will be a super reader and writer because you are TALK-TALK-TALKing together.

You’re TALKing with your child because you know that TALKing spreads a rich buffet of language and knowledge.

And you know that TALKing ensures that your child can choose to own all that language and knowledge you own.

You also know that it doesn’t matter whether you, the parent, left formal schooling in 8th grade or went on to earn graduate degrees. To your child, your bank of knowledge is what it is…HUGE.

And all you need to do is THINK and TALK in order to share with your child every morsel of knowledge you own…every word and every idea embedded in each word. Your own bank of language and knowledge comes from your own life experiences. And your child wants to hear it all!

So, on this Free-for-All Friday, let’s extend on the THINKing and TALKing we’ve been doing this week…and respond to Kiera’s teacher Jeri’s question of how writers get ideas.

Like for most writers, life experiences present me with more ideas than I could ever write about in a lifetime. In my roles as a parent and a teacher, I’ve recognized how one’s life experiences cause us to form ideas and values and opinions…about ourselves and others.

WOW! THINK about that powerful fact. And how it follows that the more we TALK and READ about ideas with kids, the more choices kids have as they’re forming their own ideas, their values, and their opinions about themselves and others.squirrel pic2

Another fact: Writers know there is more than one way to tell a story. Otherwise, how would it be that thousands of writers have written in thousands of ways on any one topic, such as Abe Lincoln or dinosaurs!

So, here’s a fun way to stimulate THINKing and cause a whole lot of TALKing with your child today. Take any experience the two of you are sharing.

Have you sighted a squirrel? Are you searching for a missing shoe? Are you cleaning up a milk spill? Okay, how might you tell that life-experience story?

Will you begin with words, such as “Once upon a time…” or “Neither of us could find it…” or “And there it was!” WOW! There are tons of ways to begin, aren’t there.

So, while the two of you are marveling, searching, or cleaning up, start TALKing to name different ways your story of this shared life experience might begin.

By the time you two have TALKed a few beginnings, guess what? WOW! You’ll be on to yet another life experience to TALK about. Then at another time or on another day, TALK some of the many middles or endings a shared life-experience story might include.

WOW! Look at yourselves there…just living life…and all the while helping your child TALK toward becoming an incredibly imaginative writer. Or a super reader who reads to comprehend…that is, can pick out in a flash the beginning, middle, or ending of a story or article.

Yes, writers live life, TALK about it, and then write from those very life experiences!

Tune in here on Funday Monday for another literacy tip…tied, no doubt, to some tales of my life experiences with the Lilac Lizards. WOW!

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