Today begins “Week of the Young Child,” (WOYC) an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). WOYC was established in 1971 and through fun-filled activities it’s a way to focus attention on young children (birth-age 8), their teachers, families, and communities. The official WOYC was April 13-17, during Zion Lutheran School’s spring break, so my daughter’s school is celebrating this week with daily themes and dress up days.Today was Music Monday. When children sing, dance, and listen to music, they develop their language and early literacy skills while being active and encouraging movement. My family of three enjoyed making music together!
Dance- My daughter takes dance class so she chose to dress up in her leotard. During the quarantine, her dance studio has been providing virtual dance class where the young dancers are taken on a trip around the world. Tonight they visited France.
Musical Books- We read a variety of musical books throughout our day. I have so many favorites it was difficult to pick which ones to read! We love Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin by Lloyd Moss. This award winning musical counting book introduces young readers to different types of instruments and musical groups from solo, trio to octet! CLICK HERE to read Zin! Zin! Zin! a Violin. The Music in Me was new to me but it was relatable as a little boy navigates his place in a family full of musicians. CLICK HERE to read The Music in Me. by Jane Pinczuk. Hey Diddle Diddle by Eve Bunting is a playful rhyming book with animals playing various instruments. CLICK HERE to read Hey Diddle Diddle. Olivia books are a staple in picture book libraries all over the world. Join Olivia as she forms a one person (pig) band in Olivia Forms a Band by Ian Falconer. CLICK HERE to read Olivia Forms a Band. Tubby the Tuba by Paul Tripp is about a tuba who grows tired of playing accompaniment and wants to have a solo part in the orchestra! CLICK HERE to read Tubby the Tuba.
Making Music- My husband and I are both active musicians so our daughter has grown up attending our concerts and sitting in the balcony at church while mommy and daddy play their instruments. Today we let her play. With our help she played a few notes on the trumpet and on the clarinet. Our daughter has a basket full of percussion instruments that she pulls out and plays on a regular basis. The jury is still out on what band instrument she will play but for now percussion is her favorite!￼￼Make Your Own Instrument– Look around your house and make your own instruments out of recyclables. Make a shaker by filling something with rice, beans or rocks. Make a drum by decorating a plastic container or tub. Full glass bottles with various amounts of water, blow across the top and hear a note. How much water do you need in the bottle to make a low note or a high note? Have a parade and march around the house playing your new instruments!
Musical Vocabulary– We listened to various pieces of music and moved our bodies to match what we heard. We danced quickly when the tempo was presto and moved slowly when the tempo was largo. We danced on tip toes when the dynamic was piano and stomped our feet when the dynamic was forte!
Our day began like a typical Sunday in isolation with our family of three gathering by the big screen to worship together. Little did we know the excitement that awaited! The day was filled with adventure… a new hymn, a multi-generational family reunion on Zoom and a surprise from our favorite baseball mascot, Fred Bird!
An Anthem During Isolation– We sang a new hymn in church today. “Christ Our Hope in Life and Death,” is a modern hymn that expresses the comfort and assurance that flow from trusting Christ, who has conquered death and guaranteed our future by his resurrection. Written by the modern hymn writers, Keith and Kristyn Getty, the words we sang reminded me to trust in God during this time of isolation and uncertainty; through the troubled storms, trials and fear, God is good and the blood of Christ is our hope in life and in death. CLICK HERE to listen to the song on YouTube and CLICK HERE to view Zion Lutheran’s worship service.
Family Zoom Reunion- My husband participated in a Talley family Zoom with his father, most of his aunts and uncles and some of his cousins. There were 20 family members in attendance and they represented 8 different states! My daughter, the third generation, enjoyed waving to her extended family. The conversation for this week centered around the old house on the family’s homestead in rural KY. It had recently been torn down and the first generation had a lot of memories to share. Filled with family history and updates from the present, these virtual family reunions are becoming a weekly tradition!
A Parade For Heroes– During our Zoom call imagine our surprise when we heard a commotion coming from behind our house! From across the pond we heard horns honking, music playing and saw a parade for our medical heroes being led by our favorite baseball mascot, Fred Bird! Louie, the St. Louis Blues mascot, also joined in. They were heading to our local hospital to surprise the staff and thank our medical community for the hard work and great effort they are putting forth during the pandemic. They happened to take a detour behind our house along the way! My daughter has been blessed to meet Fred Bird, the mascot of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team, multiple times in her short life. (5 times if I’m counting correctly) I’ll never forget how excited I was to have an up close and personal chat with him in the Cardinal Club. I told my daughter how lucky she was to meet Fred Bird and how I only dreamed of such a meeting when I was a child. My daughter, three years old at the time, replied, “Well, you’re getting to see him now!” A year ago Fred Bird was a special guest at a birthday party we attended and more recently he made an appearance at her school. My daughter had won a contest where Fred Bird came to her school to surprise her! He visited with all of the children but extra special attention was given to my daughter. The photos show that special day in December 2019, when all of the preschool students and their teachers happily gathered in the commons area. Fred Bird has been part of my daughter’s life so it should come as no surprise when she said, “Fred Bird drove past our house because he knows me!” Thank you Fred Bird for putting a smile on our faces during this time of isolation!
A photo captures a single moment in time, a framed slice of reality shot by the photographer. A good photograph can conjure emotion, take the viewer to places he or she has never seen or create a memory for the future. Photographs are wordless ways to share and document life but they never tell the whole story. As you view my blog and the photos embedded within, note that the photos I choose to share simply capture fleeting seconds during hours of isolation. Our days during this pandemic are far from picture perfect, filled with a storm of emotions represented by the good, the bad and the ugly. Along with the struggle, fear, disappointment, frustration and anger, God has blessed us with beautiful moments of tenderness, love, joy and laughter. When all of this is over the carefree moments that brought us closer together as a family, a community, and a nation are the memories I want to remember.
The Many Faces of Lillian Clare– I took Easter pictures of my little one in our backyard and got a variety of facial expressions!
Showing Love for Curious George?- Although this photo shows a smiling little girl sitting next to my beloved childhood friend, Curious George, the introduction was anything but cordial. When she saw my vintage Curious George she refused to hold him, let alone hug him! To get this adorable photo I had to bribe her with candy!￼￼
In Isolation– Taken moments before virtual circle time (with her preschool class), this picture shows the frustration, uncertainty and disappointment we have all experienced during the pandemic. My little one finds comfort cuddling with her favorite blanket, affectionately named Nae Nae.
Today was a good day and at first glance it looked like a typical spring day with a preschool child and her stay at home mom. The weather was perfect, lending itself to lazy walks and carefree exploration. My daughter had early childhood chapel and this Noteworthy Mommy went to happy hour where I laughed until I cried with some of my best girlfriends! When you take a closer look you’ll see that although some things are indeed the same, they have been altered; filled with unexpected adaptation due to COVID 19.
Outdoor Fun– Observational walks around the pond in our backyard have become a staple on peak weather days. Today we heard the chirps and splashes of spring frogs as they quickly jumped into the pond, protecting themselves from our anticipated arrival. We were lucky to discover a big frog, camouflaged among the murky waters, hoping to go undetected. The picture of my daughter blowing seeds off of the season’s first dandelion is accompanied with talk of the abrupt shift to virtual learning. I am brought back to our new reality when she says, “I wish I could go back to school, I really wanted to plant lettuce. I could plant lettuce with you but it won’t be as special.”
Gary the Puppet– The early childhood classes at my daughter’s school have chapel every week and Gary the Puppet often makes a special appearance. My daughter participated in chapel today where she learned that as Christians we continue to celebrate Easter and sing our Alleluias! CLICK HERE to learn how to make an Alleluia Shaker. Even though COVID 19 has shuttered the doors of her physical school, she continues to hear the message of Jesus’s love through weekly virtual chats with Pastor Rouland and Gary the Puppet. She finds joy and comfort in them and seeing familiar faces is a highlight of her week. This will become a cherished childhood memory. CLICK HERE to view this week’s message.
Noteworthy Mommy’s Happy Hour– Occasional happy hours with my girlfriends are cherished but during our busy lives they unfortunately are few and far between. In the midst of the pandemic I am reminded how important it is to spend time with my girlfriends, enjoying a glass of wine and sharing a few laughs! Our happy hours are now more frequent (weekly) and have become virtual with iconic Brady Bunch squares, funny stories and glasses (some weeks, bottles) of wine. Taking the time to relax with friends, even virtually, is helping me navigate the weeks upon weeks spent in isolation.
The day welcomed us with rain but we didn’t let the rainy day get us down! Polka dots brightened our day and the smells of Nana’s homemade banana bread filled our home and our tummies with sweet comfort. Purposeful play is a focus everyday but even more so on rainy days. So we took our play outdoors and joined the American Robin by splashing in rain puddles.
Polka Dots– This week is virtual spirit week and today was polka dot day at Zion Lutheran School. My daughter looked through her wardrobe and dressed herself in a polka dot shirt and polka dot jeans. She used her Scented Juicy Fruits Dot Markers by Do-A-Dot-Art and made a colorful polka dot painting. These are the best dot markers I have found and the fruit scents add some extra fun! And they last forever! We also incorporated some math by making patterns with the DO-A-Dot-Art markers!
Robins, Rain Puddles and Rain Art– The last time we had a rainy week in quarantine we discovered my daughter had out grown her rain boots and rain coat. We ordered new rain gear and she couldn’t wait to test it out! Before we headed outdoors we visited a website dedicated to the American Robin and learned a bit more about this busy bird. Since mommy robins are busy building nests, we put some yarn in our yard for them to use as nest building supplies (pet hair, yarn and string are all good). Then we played in the puddles and took a neighborhood walk where we bird watched and counted 14 American Robins! Our fun in the rain ended by making some rainy day art. We used cardboard and washable markers and made some colorful rainbows! CLICK HERE for more details.
Banana Bread– My daughter and I followed my mom’s award winning recipe and made homemade banana bread. The secret ingredient is chocolate chips! CLICK HERE for Nana’s Banana Bread recipe. My daughter loves to be in the kitchen. Through baking, children learn how to follow directions, measure and be patient. The best reward is eating the yummy results!
Purposeful Writing– If you read my blog regularly you know how much I value play. Children process their feelings, thoughts and learning through imaginative, unstructured, play. Towards the end of the day I discovered my daughter had made a trap for her daddy on the stairs, leading to her room. She prefers that mommy conduct her night time routine and wanted to make sure daddy didn’t come in! She labeled the traps with the words “Daddy No!” on sticky notes. She used print for a meaningful purpose, without prompting and without asking how to spell; writing the words conventionally on her own during purposeful play.
Today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the annual celebration of the environmental movement. With a national pandemic and a social distancing ordnance, this historic Earth Day is one we will be celebrating at home.
The Earth Book– We began our Earth Day activities by reading The Earth Book by Todd Parr. This charming book shares many easy things we can do to help our Earth. From using both sides of the paper, to planting a tree to shopping with reusable bags. CLICK HERE to read the book.
Cleaning Up Our Earth– My daughter and I walked around the pond in our backyard and picked up trash. We filled up a large trash bag with trash and junk. We enjoy the pond and know that many animals do too. By picking up the litter and trash we can keep our pond clean and green for everyone to enjoy!
Earth Day Activities– We spent most of the day outside enjoying the Earth. We went on an Earth Day scavenger hunt in our backyard and wrote about picking up trash; something we did today and can do everyday. Indoor learning was taken outdoors when we watched a recycling video on the tablet and played a math game.
Reusing Old Toys– Earth day is the perfect time to go through toys and books and pass on the ones we are no longer using. My daughter selected a few items and we delivered them to a nearby friend. The family was overjoyed and knowing they will bring new life to things we no longer play with brought a smile to all of our faces!
When I was a child I loved the outdoors! My parents practically had to drag me into the house for dinner and then afterwards, I immediately returned outside and a confrontation to get me indoors and into the bath ensued.
Today was a throwback to my childhood because the weather was gorgeous and my daughter and I spent our entire afternoon outside enjoying spring! As we engaged in the activities below we unplugged for a few hours, leaving the stresses of the world behind.
Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt– My daughter rode her Big Wheel and then her scooter around the neighborhood and we used the card below to play Neighborhood Bingo! Along the way we stopped to say hello to our favorite pup (Lady) and rescued some worms from getting fried by the sun. My daughter giggled when she decided to follow the “bird poop trail!” Anyone who thinks boys are the only ones who are obsessed with bodily functions must have never raised a girl!
Outdoor Picnic Lunch– What a delight it was to eat lunch on a blanket in our backyard. While eating. we read some favorite books and closed our eyes and listened. What sounds do you hear? (lawnmower, birds, dogs, a siren). The ability to differentiate sounds is the beginning tier of phonological awareness, an umbrella term that incorporates phonemic awareness (differentiating sounds) and a range of oral language skills necessary for reading and writing development.
Wildflowers and Mud Pies- The highlight of the afternoon was playing in the mud! One of my fondest five-year old memories is playing in the mud with my best friend. We were covered from head to toe in wet gooey mud and were having the best time. Our carefree play captured the eye of a local photographer and he snapped a photo that appeared on the front page of our hometown newspaper. When we returned to kindergarten the next day we were instant celebrities!
Although my daughter didn’t get anywhere near as messy as I did at her age, she certainly had fun scooping up dirt, mixing it with water and adorning her creations with delicate wildflowers carefully handpicked from the pond behind our house. The simplicity of it all made my heart happy. While playing she commented that today was the best day ever! Then she asked if I would like one of her mud pies and I enthusiastically replied, “YES, please!”
We have a case of the Monday Blues. Spring break is over and daddy went back to work. COVID 19 has caused his company to move to a work one week, off one week schedule for awhile. We are happy he will be making an income but sad at the same time as we have grown accustomed to having him around! To brighten our day we tried some of the activity suggestions sent by my daughter’s teacher.
Alphabet Exercise– We used these alphabet exercises to get moving! Children can spell words or their name to engage in the physical activity that accompanies each letter. We pulled letters out of a “mystery bag” and after naming the letter and making the sound, we did the exercise. CLICK HERE to go to The OT Tookbox to learn how to do each alphabet exercise.
Writing a Story- My daughter’s preschool class loves to write! They had just completed a project on writing a book prior to the quarantine. The culminating activity was working together to publish their own class book (a fairytale) and then having a book signing party. Her teacher used School Mate Publishing and turned the book written and illustrated by Mrs. Stanglein’s preschool class of 2019-2020 into a published book! My daughter created the skunk character who sprayed the princess. Every child got to illustrate two pages. Our family of three have happy memories of the book signing party where we visited with her teacher, talked to other parents and watched our daughter joyously play with her friends! With an abrupt stop to attending school in the physical sense, with her teacher and friends, the book and book signing party is a sweet preschool memory we’ve been dearly holding onto during this time of isolation.This week my daughter’s teacher assigned the task of writing an original fairytale. We completed Step One: Brainstorm ideas by writing or drawing characters, a setting, and a problem and a solution for your story.
Family Game Night- Two of our favorite games are the Sneaky, Snacky, Squirrel Game! and the Hoot Owl Hoot Game. The Sneaky, Snacky, Squirrel Game! (ages 3-5) was our daughter’s first board game. The game reinforces color learning and develops strategic thinking, hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills while using the squirrel shaped squeezer. This is a fun game that develops memory skills, matching, sorting and counting in an engaging way. The Hoot Owl Hoot Game (ages 4 and above) is a cooperative matching game that develops strategy. Players work as a team to get the baby owls back to their nest before the sun comes up. Although my family of three wasn’t successful at returning all of the owls to their nest; we had fun trying and the best reward was spending quality time together! ￼
Before the COVID 19 isolation my husband would often get his girls donuts on Saturday mornings from Donut King, a nearby independent donut shop. Hands down, this place has the best donuts around! Their signature donut is the Chop Suey, a gigantic mound of dough with cinnamon and sweet icing, but our little one thinks the donuts with sprinkles are the best! After being closed for three weeks we were delighted to discover they were opening for the weekend and would be providing curbside service to their loyal customers. In an attempt to support a local favorite, we placed an order online and my husband went to pick it up on Saturday morning. While there he saw some familiar faces from Zion (Lutherans really love their donuts) and was told that some customers waited over an hour for their orders! Over run with a tremendous response from local patrons, the small donut shop was unable to fill all of the orders and he retuned home without any donuts. Although disappointed, I viewed this as glorious news because we want our local businesses around after the quarantine is over! Donut King asked that he return on Sunday morning and our family of three happily enjoyed our favorite fried doughy delights while watching church in our pajamas. ￼
Alleluia Shakers– The week before Easter my daughter’s teacher recommended we make Alleluia shakers. My daughter enjoyed making the Alleluia shakers so much we had extras that we shared with family and friends when we delivered Easter meals. And we all enjoyed shaking them every time we said Alleluia on Easter morning! This Sunday Pastor Rouland (our senior pastor) reminded our congregation about Zion’s Alleluia shaker tradition. He suggested various ways one could construct an Alleluia shaker (toilet paper tube, beans, rice, coins) and encouraged everyone to make one if they hadn’t already. Earlier in the week I came across our Alleluia shakers and questioned if I should pack them away. Time got away from me and they remained on the end table next to our couch. Pastor Rouland reminded me that Alleluia shakers aren’t just for Easter. Instead of packing them away with the Easter baskets, continue to shake them as we rejoice and shout Alleluia for our risen Savior, Jesus Christ!
I love children’s literature and quality picture books hold a special spot in my heart. So do cats. So when I stumbled across The Alycat Series by Alysson Foti Bourque, I was filled with excitement!There are currently four books in the series about the adventures of a cat named Alycat and her furry cat friends. I ordered Alycat and the Monday Blues for my daughter’s Easter basket. In this book Alycat is having a case of the Monday blues. But when she helps a friend in need she turns her blue day into a new day! The author created a song to go with the book. CLICK HERE to listen to the song. I also ordered the adorable Monday Alycat stuffed doll that is wearing a dress with a musical note print! The attention to detail is amazing!Last week my daughter and I participated in a livestream FaceTime chat with The Alycat Series author, Alysson Foti Bourque. Bourque read her newest book, Alycat and the Tournament Tuesday, a charming book about learning to trust in yourself and your own abilities instead of relying on luck. It will be our next addition to the series since it takes place on a golf course! After reading, Bourque described the publishing process. Being a former elementary school teacher and attorney, her presentation was informative while being appropriate for young children. My daughter loved seeing the Alycat costumed character (she kept waving to her during the reading) but enjoyed meeting the author’s real life cat even more! Bourque is hosting weekly storytime events on Facebook that I encourage you to check out!CLICK HERE to order your books and stuffed cat dolls! The Alycat Series is having a special promotion that I was thrilled to receive…25% off of any purchase and a free Bugsby stuffed doll! Bugsby is the main character in the newest book. Thank you Alycat and talented author, Alysson Foti Bourque, for bringing my family of three happiness during the COVID 19, quarantine blues!