Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Caution: Change Ahead!

Change is all around us. The leaves are gone and have left bare trees swaying in the wind.  I'm going to have to re-write the date a few dozen times until I finally remember to write 2014  2015.  My first tiny newborn will be a grown-up 4 year old in just a matter of weeks!

I'm sure you see changes daily as well.  You and your little one have learned new signs.  You've learned about, watched for, and met all kinds of milestones.  You're a better mom, dad, grandparent, caregiver, etc. than you were yesterday.

Change isn't always easy.  Sometimes it's scary.  Sometimes it's exciting.

I am elated to be able to share some very exciting changes coming in 2015!

As of January 1, 2015,  I will be coming to you via Signing With Miss Steph, LLC! 

Let me first assure you that there will be NO CHANGES to the content of the classes I am offering. The Signing Smart Beginner Play Class, the Signing Smart Workshop for Early Communication, and the Signing Smart Workshop for Long Term Learning will continue to be the same wealth of information they have always been.
So, what is changing? Here are some of the highlights:
  • New, more affordable, pricing for private groups
  • Expanded private class/small group availability
  • Baby showers
  • Birthday parties
  • Fundraising for your organization
  • 1:1 tutoring for play class and workshop graduates
  • And More
One other important change will be a new e-mail address. From here forward, please use SigningWithMissSteph@Gmail.com to reach us via e-mail. Other contact info will remain the same:

Come see how much fun we have while we learn! Join us for a FREE preview class January 10 at 9:30 at Footnotes Dance Center - 9433 Olde Eight Road Northfield, OH 44067.  You can learn about what Signing Smart has to offer families and caregivers, hear about what's coming in the new year, ask questions, meet new friends, and have lots of fun! You will also have the chance to register for the 8 week play class starting January 17 at a reduced rate! (RSVP to SigningWithMissSteph@Gmail.com)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Festive Autumn Cookies

As I was preparing some fun Thanksgiving cookies for my boys to take to their pre-school Thanksgiving luncheons, I was thinking that it could have been a fun activity to let them participate in.  Now, I needed several dozen of these guys, and they needed to be consumed by people outside of my immediate family, so I chose to complete the project without help this time.

I definitely held onto to all of the extra parts and pieces so we could pull this out as a fun activity over Thanksgiving break, though!  I even convinced Mr. I. to let me take pictures of him signing most of the ingredients.  Even though Thanksgiving has passed for this year, these are signs that might come in handy if you're doing or enjoying some holiday baking!

I decided to make two different kinds of treats for the FEAST this year:  turkeys and acorns.







The acorns were super simple to make and wildly popular at the preschool luncheon. The hardest/most time-consuming part was unwrapping all the chocolate kisses!

They're made with 3 ingredients and held together with icing: mini vanilla wafers (COOKIE), chocolate kisses, and mini chocolate chips (CHOCOLATE).

The C makes a small circle on the top of your opposite hand.

Your hand rotates twice in the palm of the other hand.

I used store-bought icing and placed it in a piping bag with a writing tip attached.  I used the smallest tip I had.  (After trying a larger tip, I realized that too much icing would just squish out and make a mess.)

Once all the kisses were unwrapped, I "glued" each one to the flat side of a mini vanilla wafer.  I needed a whole bunch, so I just did the whole bag worth of chocolate kisses....it would be just as easy to do only a few too, though!

Once all the kisses were attached to the cookies, I went back and did the same to the rounded side of the cookie with a mini chocolate chip. ( A little trick I found helpful was to set the icing bag in a cup when I wasn't using it - it seemed to help it from "leaking.")

It took a bit of time for the icing to set - putting the tray in our cold garage helped!  These don't need to be refrigerated, but we found that keeping them in the fridge or garage helped keep the acorns from sliding apart as the icing warmed and thinned.


This treat was a little more complicated to put together, but well worth it for the smiles they brought.

This project used chocolate sandwich cookies with "extra stuffing" (COOKIE), candy corn, and malted milk balls (CANDY). To decorate the faces, I used store bought white icing, red "writing icing" and food-safe markers.

The first step was cutting the malted milk in half so they had one flat side.  I thought a serrated knife would work best for this, but found that knife chipped off much of the chocolate coating.  In the end, we found that the long, thin knife from our butcher block worked best.

Next, I stuck 5 candy corn "feathers" into the icing of each cookie. If any of the cookies popped off, I just used some icing to stick them back together.

Once everyone had feathers,  it was time to go back to the halved malted milk balls - our turkeys' faces.  I used the same tiny icing bag tip for this.  When I tried a larger tip, I found that icing leaked around the sides, and it looked pretty messy.

After that came the most tedious part of the process - creating orange beaks.  I used the white tips from extra candy corn and a food-safe marker.  (This step is MESSY - I had orange fingers for the rest of the day.)

With a return of the bag of icing and the itty bitty tip, it was time to glue the "beaks" onto the "faces."  Many of my beaks laked icing onto the face it was glued too. You can use a toothpick to clean up the look a bit, or just cover the white icing with a red waddle.  (I thought about using chocolate icing after the fact which might be less noticeable.)

All that was left to do was a little bit of decorating.  Two dots of white icing for eyes and a red waddle.  The very last thing I did was add black dots to the eyes with a food-safe marker.  This extra step was pretty quick and made the turkey faces look a little less creepy to me.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Chips in Her Bib

I was having a conversation with another adult while driving in the car recently.  In the back seat were my boys, ages 3.5 and 1.5. 

We were discussing a race a family member had recently run.  At one point in the conversation, we were commenting on how improvements in technology had allowed us to see the family member running and crossing the finish line even though we were unable to attend the race to cheer her on in person.  I mentioned that it all had to do with "the chips in the bib."

It was at this moment that I realized there had been a little giggle in the back seat.  At hearing this statement, my older boy just couldn't hold it in any longer.  "Chips in her bib?! That's silly!" The image that immediately came to my mind when I heard his comment? An almost 30 year old lady running on a bridge trying not to get squashed by trucks (a misconception about the race we'd cleared up earlier in the day) wearing a baby bib covered in chips.  No wonder the poor kid was trying to stifle his giggles in the back seat.  He probably thought mom had finally gone over the edge!

This experience reminded me how our little guys and gals see the world.  Their experience with different concepts and the language we use talk about them is not the same as ours. It also affirmed for me the importance of continuing to sign with our kiddos long after they start relying on their spoken language for communication.  Having the ability and the know-how to stop and think about what their understanding is and how to relate that knowledge to something new is a priceless tool.  Using the skills from the Signing Smart Workshop for Long-Term Learning don't infiltrate my daily life as much as the tools for early communication do with my younger son.  However, I am so thankful to have what it takes to make the world a much less scary, crazy, unknown place when I need to!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Detective Eyes #7a

Did you try your hand at figuring out the signs in the most recent segment of "Detective Eyes"?

If not, I encourage you to take a peek at that post first, and see how you do.  When you're done, come on back to this post to see if you were right!

Now without further ado.....

Mr. I. is signing FROG at 18 months old.

Mr. I. is signing LION at 16.5 months old.

Mr. I. is signing WHAT at 16 months old.

Miss M. is signing MORE on her 2nd birthday.

How did you do?  Do you feel like you could use some more practice? Here are links to the prior practice posts:

Detective Eyes #4 (find the answer in the comments)

Do you have pictures of your little one signing that you'd like to see in a future posting about Detective Eyes?  Please e-mail me at StephanieBowlin@SigningSmart.com

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Detective Eyes #7

It's been a while since I've had some practice for your detective eyes.  As my boys get older, it's getting harder and harder to catch them signing on camera.  (Do you have pics of your little one signing you'd like to share, please e-mail me at StephanieBowlin@SigningSmart.com)

When I was digging through some photos for a family project, I found a few that had gotten buried.  Can you recognize these signs?  Check back soon to see if you were right!

Mr. I . - 18 months

Mr. I. - 16.5 months

Mr. I. - 16 months

Miss M. - 24 months

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Kids Country - Childcare With One More Reason to be Called Fabulous!

  • you are a member of a family who has chosen to take advantage of all the wonderful benefits Signing Smart can afford your whole family
  • you are a member of a family who also needs to make use of daycare providers, babysitters, or other caregivers
  • you know that having your child in the care of non-signing caregivers won't harm your little one, and it won't affect the success you experience using Signing Smart strategies at home
  • you are a bit concerned about working with well-meaning caregivers who aren't using 100% American Sign Language (ASL) vocabulary

There are a lot of stresses we take on as we search for the perfect care settings for our sons and daughters.  There are the things that almost go without saying: safety and security, cleanliness, caring and patient staff, healthy and nutritious meals and snacks. Other aspects of the care environment are more subjective - class size, age ranges, academics, activities, indoor and outdoor play spaces, extracurricular activities available, etc.  When it comes down to it, nothing will be the same as being home with mom and/or dad.  When that just can't be, though, we look to find the next best thing while getting the best value for our tuition money.

Now imagine the simple, successful Signing Smart strategies you use at home to empower your little one with early communication are extended to their classroom.  There's one less thing for you to stress about!  I got to help create this exact scenario recently.

By teaching 22 Kids Country staff members the research-proven tools and strategies offered by Signing Smart, I helped them create classrooms in each of their centers where children be more empowered than ever to communicate with those around them.  Kids Country's goal is to inspire the hearts, minds, and imaginations of their students.  Now, even the youngest children that come through the doors of these 5 daycare centers will have every chance to participate in that vision.  As these passionate, excited, and knowledgeable teachers become more and more comfortable using American Sign Language as part of their interactions, recognizing the earliest attempts at expressive signs they see, practice capitalizing on all kinds of Signing Smart Opportunities, they are going to soar!

I can't wait to check back in with in a month as well as a year from now and hear all about the success they are experiencing personally using ASL with their young charges, but also abut the success stories of those charges and their families as well!

Do you have your child in a childcare setting and would like to see them incorporate Signing Smart into what they offer?  I would love the chance to work with more child care providers!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sweet Dreams!

*This post is not expressly about signing.  However, it is about something developmental that many older toddlers and preschools experience. *

Recently, my 3 year old has been having some sleep troubles.  While he won't say that he's afraid of something, thinks there are monsters hiding under his bed, or trolls in his closet, he's obviously anxious about being alone in the dark.  As a Signing Smart kid, though, he's been able to articulate quite a bit to help us determine the problem.  Now, Mommy and Daddy have our detective hats on once again - not to decipher language, but to determine and solve the root of the problem.

It started off with what seemed like stalling going to bed.  He'd act silly brushing his teeth, pretend he didn't know how to put PJ pants on, mull over every book we owned before choosing a bedtime story....that sort of thing.  A few nights later, though, he insisted on having his lamp left on. Then he'd wake in the middle of the night crying over and over for Mommy or Daddy.  Once his cries for help were heard and responded to, he'd request something simple like turning a light on, retrieving a dropped stuffed animal, or the chance to say goodnight to whichever parent didn't read to him that night.

We tried the things we knew to reduce his night time fears: avoided any scary things we could - books, TV, things in the store (not always an easy task during Halloween!), allowed him to sleep with his lamp on when requested, gave him a child's flashlight, encouraged his choice of a stuffed animal to snuggle with ("Hold him tight, and keep each other safe" would be Daddy's message.), but nothing seemed to really do the trick.

Sleeping with the light on seemed to alleviate whatever fears our kiddo was facing, but left him still tired and grumpy in the morning.  Attempting to turn the light off after he was already asleep was never a success. We were frustrated for our growing boy!  That's when we started doing a little more research online and talking with our own parents about what to try next.

What we learned about nightmares:

  • It's likely we were dealing with nightmares which happen during the second half of the night when dreams tend to be more intense. (Sometimes similar-looking night terrors tend to occur earlier in the night.)
  • Nightmares are part of normal development. As children’s imaginations develop and children begin to understand that there are things that exist that can hurt them.
  • By about preschool age, kids begin to understand that a nightmare is only a dream — and that what's happening isn't real and can't hurt them. Knowing that doesn't prevent them from feeling scared, though!
  • No one knows exactly what causes nightmares.
  • Most times nightmares occur for no apparent reason. Other times they happen when a child is experiencing stress or change. ( We found that even a minor change like our recent addition of a box spring to Mr. I.'s "big boy bed" can be enough to invite nightmares.)
  • Themes of a nightmare tend to reflect whatever the child is going through at that age.

We were re-assured by the number of things we were doing right:

  • Go to your child as quickly as possible.
  • Assure her that you are there and will not let anything harm her.
  • Allow her to keep a light on if it makes her feel better.
  • Once your child is ready, encourage her to go back to sleep.
  • Have him stay in his bed. Don't encourage your child to get out of bed. He should stay in bed and find out for himself that he really is safe so that he can learn to overcome his fears
  • Maintain a regular bedtime and wake-up time.
  • Follow a bed-time routine that helps your child slow down, and feel safe and secure as they drift off to sleep. (We always brush teeth, read stories, then turn on "Kenny G. Frog" and instrumental music before final kisses and "goodnights.")

We also came across some suggestions we hadn't thought of yet:

  • Hang a dream catcher over your child’s bed which helps catch the “bad dreams”
  • Do your magic. . You might be able to make the pretend monsters disappear with a dose of pretend monster spray. Go ahead and check the closet and under the bed, reassuring your child that all's clear.
  • Label what's happened
  • Help your child become attached to a "security item" such as a stuffed animal or blanket he can keep in bed with him.

What did we do with all this new-found information?

Nana helped us find this cute "bug" called " A Light in the Night" which came with a story about how he does his job. Mr. I. named him "Bugsy."

We also took time to have Mr. I. make his own dream catcher and hang it above his bed.

Above all, we started talking about all the good things he wanted to dream about.  Together, we made a verbal list of all the fun or silly things Mr. I. wanted to dream about that night.  I think his favorite was dreaming about Nana scrubbing the floor (I think that might be on Nana's bad dream list, though.)

The first night was so much better than the ones prior, but not a complete success.  Mr. I. woke at normal time, but cried...convinced it was the middle of the night and his new tools had failed.  Once he had a minute or two to wake up, we praised him for sleeping through the night and made a big deal about what a good job his dream catcher and "Bugsy" had done helping him.

After two more nights, Mr. I. woke much happier and excited to share the GOOD dreams he'd had the night before! This probably won't be the end of our battle with nightmares. Now that all three of us have a better understanding of what's happening, and how to help, though, I think we'll be in a much better position to battle them next time around!

*Talk to your doctor if nightmares often prevent your child from getting enough sleep or if they occur along with other emotional or behavioral troubles.

Here are the websites I used to help me prepare this post:

  • http://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/preschool/Pages/Nightmares-and-Night-Terrors.aspx
  • http://sleepfoundation.org/ask-the-expert/children-and-bedtime-fears-and-nightmares
  • http://kidshealth.org/parent/growth/sleep/nightmare.html

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Beautiful Landscape and.....a Tantrum?!

This is the view from one of our local playgrounds.  Often, as we play here, we get the chance to see a train drive by (plenty far away to be perfectly safe!) and hear the gratifying "toot toot" of its horn. This is often the highlight of our trip for my 18 month old, who LOVES trains right now.

Normally, it's "out of sight, out of mind," and once the train passes we go back to playing and having a great time.  On one recent trip, though, Mr. L. was more obsessed with the train than usual.  After the end of the train passed, he stayed seated in the mulch where he'd plopped himself and pointed in the direction of the train track.

Without the blessing of early communication that Signing Smart has brought to my family, this might have been the beginning of the end.  This situation could have quickly turned from enjoying the train to pointing to whining to full on melt down and tantrum.

Luckily, we have been blessed with the gift of communication, and I was given a window my little one's mind - in a way that is well beyond what he is ready to share verbally. Here's how our conversation went:

Mr. L: signed TRAIN (which is always accompanied by a verbal "choo choo" right now).  

Mommy: Oh, the TRAIN is ALL-DONE now, buddy, it went BYE-BYE.  Let's go back to playing.  Do you want to slide?

Mr. L: TRAIN ("choo choo")

Mommy: ALL-DONE.  The train went by.  It's ALL-DONE now.

Mr. L. MORE ("mo")

Mommy: I'm sorry bud, I can't make more train.  It's ALL-DONE for now; it went BYE-BYE We'll see one another time.  

Mr. L: ALL-DONE ("ah duh")?

Mommy:  That's right bud.  It's ALL-DONE for right now.  Let's go play.

This time, my re-direction was successful.....mostly.  He did get back into playing on the playground equipment, but there were a few more times that he stopped and asked about the TRAIN ("choo choo.")  After one final request in the car on the way home, he seemed content to wait for another day.

Signs are such an important part of the way that I communicate with my boys that it's hard to play "what if."  "What if" we didn't give this awesome gift to our boys (and ourselves)? "What if" I had to rely only on what Mr. L. was able to verbalize? In this instance, I probably would have surmised that he was talking about the train we'd just seen. The rest....I'm not sure.  I do know that we would not have been able to have as complete and in-depth of a conversation as we did.  I do know that many tantrums spark as a result of frustration when a little one is unable to communicate his or her thoughts successfully.  I do know that I'm glad I don't have to find out the hard what what the answers to those questions are.  Signing Smart saved my day once again! :)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

National Grandparents Day

I decided that celebrating grandparents for just one day wasn't enough, so I've been shining a light on them all week long via my Facebook page!

This post is dedicated to some very important men and women in the lives of little ones, big kids, and even some fortunate adults.  Even those who are not lucky enough to meet these special people are, none the less, touched by their legacy.  Whether right next door or thousands of miles away, grandparents hold in their hearts enough love for as many children, grandchildren, and even younger generations as they get the chance to know.

During my time teaching the Signing Smart curriculum, I've had the pleasure to meet a few of my pupils' grandparents.  Many more, I didn't get the chance to meet in person, but I did hear about them in bright-eyed stories shared by moms and dads during class.

Thank you to all of the grandparents who have shared stories of wisdom, passed along traditions, and loved all those who came after them the best way they know how!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

That's Not What I Expected!

How many times have you found yourself saying "that's not what I expected" today?  What if you counted up all the times you've said that this week?  This month?  I've lost track by now!

One (unexpected...haha) lesson I've learned as a parent is that expectations are often fruitless.  Trying to figure out when my baby will sleep, what he'd like to eat for dinner, or guessing which book he'll pick for bed-time reading is almost always.....WRONG.  Sure, he may have slept, eaten, and read the same thing at the same time all week.  Today, though, is different!

Even with slightly older children, things often end up different than what we anticipate.  In my house this week, we got the chance to see a local high school marching band's preview show.  My 3 year old loves marching bands, and was super excited for this trip.  My 18 month old doesn't remember the marching bands we saw last fall, but we catch him jiving to any bit of music he hears.  I expected they'd be dancing and excited throughout the show.  Instead.....

No one screamed and tried to get away.  In fact, they were both glued to the musicians and silently engrossed in the show.  But neither boy even cracked a smile.  Not at all what I expected!

The same can be true when you are a Signing Smart family.  Based on Dr. Lindert and Dr. Anthony's research, we have some idea about when babies and toddlers might start signing back. We have some idea as to when subsequent signs might show up, too. So often, though, our calculations are off.  

Occasionally, babies sign back much earlier than we expect.  That's always exciting! When this happens, it's easy to second guess what we're seeing, though.  It's a very natural reaction to say to ourselves "it's much to early, that can't be a real sign."  (It can be, and it probably is!)

Other times, it takes longer than predicted for our little ones to reach that first sign milestone.  It can be frustrating when this happens.  There are lots of factors that can affect when we see that first sign. (Developmental readiness, motivation to communicate, other impending milestones, consistency, etc.) Regardless of all the good reasons that can affect timing, when we're excitedly anticipating that milestone and it doesn't happen as timely as we'd like, it's still a disappointment.  

Expectations are an important and necessary part of daily life.  I certainly don't suggest walking though life completely unaware of what might be around the next corner.  However, I do recommend you temper your outlooks with a grain of salt.  It's important to know what to be on the lookout for, but I hope you can learn from my experiences - don't put too much weight on your expectations.  Just when you think you know what's going to happen - it won't!  Perhaps that's part of the fun of life with small kids...they always keep you on your toes!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Detective Eyes #6a

Did you check out Miss C. and her signs?

Were you able to recognize these signs coming from those tiny hands:



If you got them right, great job! If not, take a moment to go back and check out the pictures again.  Now that you know what to look for, do you see these signs? 

Recognizing approximations for signs, especially out of context, takes lots of practice.  Keep working at it and you'll be a pro in no time!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Detective Eyes #6

Can you recognize the signs Miss C. is using at 20 months old?
Miss C. what's your favorite animal at the zoo?

Who do you see?

Miss C.  do you want more dinner?

Check here to see if you were right!

Thank you to this adorable signer's family for sharing these photos!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Preview at Baby Sweet Pea's Boutique

Yesterday I had the chance to meet an awesome bunch of mamas and their kiddos.  We gathered for a preview of the Signing Smart Beginner Play Class at an adorable cloth diapering and natural parenting store called Baby Sweet Pea's Boutique.  (Thank you, Morgan, for welcoming us into you store when you're not typically open!)

During our semi-structured play time, we sang "3 Little Monkeys," played with bubbles, learned some new signs and talked about what Signing Smart is all about.  The group of kids from infant to "big kid" all seem to have fun playing with a variety of LIGHT and MUSIC toys among other playthings.  I saw more than one new sign come from those tiny hands, and lots of young eyes taking in all the new experiences.

We were a large group in a small space, so our play and chatting got a little noisy.  In the thick of the hubbub, though, I saw lots of important things happening beyond language learning.  I saw mamas making connections.  I saw little ones playing together.  I heard some laughter, and most importantly, I saw parents of infants and toddlers coming together to support each other - in learning language, in diapering, in using carriers, and so much more.  In a society where I often see moms criticizing and tearing each other down, it was magnificent and refreshing to see just the opposite.

In fact, so much good was happening, I didn't even think to stop for a minute to take some pictures. Instead, I'll include some pictures of past fun with MONKEY and MUSIC.

Are you in Northeast Ohio and want to attend a Signing Smart preview or class of your own?  Like my Facebook page or check out my website to stay up to date with all the latest offerings.  Or, contact me about scheduling one!

What song or activity would you be most excited to see at a Signing Smart Preview class?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What Do I Do When I Don't Know What to Do?

Picture this...you recognize the perfect Signing Smart Opportunity...your baby is happy and engaged...you're poised to insert a great concept into play time and then *breaks squeal*  *car crash*  your realize you don't know the sign for what you;d like to label!

Now what?

Do you break the continuity of play time to go look up the sign? (No way!) Do you give up on taking advantage of this Signing Smart Opportunity? and just wait for the next one? (You could, but you don't have to!)

Think about it this way...when you're telling someone a story about your day and you can't think of the word you want to use, what do you do?  You probably substitute a different word or describe the object you're talking about.  We actually do that pretty naturally in our native language.

Here's an example:  Mr. I. is 3. On a recent trip to a local zoo, he had his first carousel ride and LOVED the experience.  The next time we were there, he wanted to ride again, but just could not remember what it was called.  The conversation went something like this:

Mr I:  Mommy, I want those animals.

Mommy:  We'll see all the animals, Buddy.  Let's go this way first.

Mr. I:  No, I want to go on the animals.

Mommy:  We can't touch these animals, Bud.  They might hurt us.

Mr. I.:  No, Mommy.  The animals that bounce.

Mommy:  Ah!  Do you mean you want to ride the carousel?

Mr. I:  Yeah!  The carousel!


I didn't happen to use any signs in that conversation, but I certainly could have!  (Where/what signs would you insert?)  But, Mr. I.'s experience with Signing Smart paired with the innate desire to be understood helped him re-word his request until he got his point across.

Now, let's go back to the scene at the beginning of the post.  *old fashioned VHS rewinding*  Take a deep breath, and remember the options you have.  For now, use a generic sign you know along with the spoken word for the concept you want to highlight.  Keep this new concept in the back of your mind and look it up later.  It will probably come up again.  (Do you remember the post about repetition?)  SUCCESS!

If you've learned the 4 Keys to Signing Smart Success, you've go the tools you need.  Don't let yourself panic in the moment because you don't know/can't remember a sign.  You know what to do.  You've got this!

If you haven't learned the 4 Keys to Signing Smart Success yet, what are you waiting for?  These simple, successful, research-proven strategies for signing with your infant or toddler are perfect for any of the special people in a child's life - parents, grandparents, extended family, teachers, caregivers, and more!  (Ask me about the beginner series of classes!)

Did you learn the 4 Keys to Signing Smart Success, but feel like they no longer fit the needs of your talking toddler or preschooler? It sounds like it's time to shift your point of view on those strategies and continue using American Sign Language to support your child's spoken language growth and conceptual development.  Ask me about the advanced workshop!

Above all, take a deep breath and remember the words of Benjamin Spock: "Trust yourself.  You know more than you think you do."

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Repetition (Detective Eyes #5a)

Did you see Mr. L. signing WHERE?

This has become a favorite game in my house right now.  As soon as anything or anyone is out of sight, we see the sign for WHERE.  This is always followed by someone asking "Where did it/he/the xxxx go?!"  When we find the "missing person/object" there's always lots of giggles.  Mr. L. especially enjoys playing the game over and over (and over!) with the same object.

Babies and Toddlers Learn Through Repetition

In addition to helping them learn cause and effect (my fork falls and makes a great sound every time I throw it on the floor), repetition helps our little ones build their memory skills and remember new information.  This also builds trust as s/he correctly anticipates what is about to happen.

Practice Makes Perfect!  

Just like us, our little ones like the feeling of success. Once they've mastered that new skill they've been practicing for so long, they may continue to repeat it for the excitement of continuing to be successful.  The excited fussing of mom, dad, or whoever else is around doesn't hurt either!

You can support this love for redundancy without feeling like your day is a broken record!  Read stories and sing songs a couple of times, then take a break before singing them again.  Find activities that let your little one experience doing things over and over like playing with a bucket of rice/sand/blocks/etc. and cups or boxes that can be filled and dumped.  Use this love to your benefit - create routines around meal time, bath time, and bed time.  It will help both you and your little one know what's coming!

Here's a website that helped me prepare my post today: http://www.earlymilestones.com/ones-why-repetition.aspx

What does your little one love doing over and over (and over!) right now?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Detective Eyes #5

Here's a quick video of Mr. L.  - can you catch his sign?

Also - we talk frequently about finding situations where your child is happy and engaged.  I'd say this is a pretty good example of that too.  Do you see it?  (Check HERE to see if you're right!)

If you answered "no" to any of the above questions, please let me help you change your answer!

Check out my website for all the upcoming classes and info about how to schedule one of your own!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Obvious Signs of Understanding

Sometimes, especially when a family says they're not seeing their child sign back or when their list of new signs seems to have stalled, we look for "obvious signs of understanding."  What exactly does that mean, though?

Take a look at this video of Mr. L.  He's in the middle of a favorite game "all fall down" when Mommy asks him to show his muscles.  Do you think he understood the request?

Signing with your child can produce some fabulous results - even when they aren't signing back!

What favorite games is your little one loving right now?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Evening Walks

On father's day, the man we were celebrating requested a trip to a local park to walk one of the wooded trails there.  We, of course, honored his request.  It turns out we loved that walk so much, we've gone out several times a week since then!  We've challenged ourselves to find a variety of new trails to try out, and have had lots of fun exploring our city.  It has become a way to exercise, spend time together as a family, and unwind from our day; it's something we all look forward to when the weather cooperates.

In creating this new tradition of "going for a walk in the woods" we have carefully selected our locations.  We always choose a route that is 1.5 - 2 miles.  While the boys cooperate, for the most part, sitting in their stroller and taking in the scenes, their good moods last only so long.  They each will get out here and there to walk a bit - especially loving to cross bridges on foot. We don't force their little legs to carry them farther than they want, and always have their "seat" ready for them when they tire of providing their own transportation. We also choose to only walk where we'll encounter a playground for the boys to play for a while.  That part has definitely helped them deal with the more boring parts when our walks seem too long!

Most of the time, our walks are anything but boring, though!  There's always something to see. This is often where we've capitalized on Signing Smart opportunities.  Mr. I. especially enjoys pointing out all of the squirrels we see - and there are no shortage of them!  Just about every evening, we run into some slightly more "exotic" animals as well.  One evening we even ran into Miss Deer eating her dinner.  She must be used to people on the path, because she didn't run off.  She kept her eye on us as she munched away, but we were able to observe her for quite some time before continuing on our way!

Here are some signs we've been able to use on our recent walks:  WALK, TREE, SNAKE, DEER, EAT, TURTLE, DUCK, BIRD, and BOAT.

What fun summer traditions does your family love?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Father's Day

Please excuse my tardiness in wishing all of the dads out there a Happy Father's Day.  My family spent much of our beautiful weekend outside celebrating our family, so I wasn't near a computer to share blessings with you timely.  My gratitude to all fathers out there, is no less heart felt in my belated thanks for all you do every day.
Here's a look at some of the things we did together to celebrate and the signs that were part our fun:
We started our weekend off right away on Friday evening.  Instead of returning home from daycare, we detoured to have a picnic and play at a local park.  After that, we attended a city ice-cream social where we ate some treats, listened to some music, and got to check out a couple fire trucks and see how the fire hoses/hydrants work! (WATER, ICE CREAM, MUSIC, DOG)
We spent one morning at the local zoo.  We go to the zoo pretty frequently because it's something we all enjoy.  I especially like the fact that the experience, while familiar, is different each and every time. 

During this visit, Mr. L. came nose to nose with a snow leopard (through glass, of course!), we saw lots of sun-bathing animals, visited the petting zoo, and even climbed a pirate ship. (CAT, BUTTERFLY, TRAIN, GOAT, BIRD)

Mr. I.'s approximation for BUTTERFLY

Riding the TRAIN

On Sunday, we went to church then visited Grandpa for lunch.  After a nap in the car, we went for a walk in the woods.  After that we went home for a spaghetti dinner and a chance to unwind from our busy weekend!  

What fun things did you do to take advantage of the beautiful weather last weekend?