Early Childhood Homeschooling Made Easy

Taking teaching and your child's future into your own hands.

A Summer Full of Reading

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My daughter absolutely loves books. I was one of those pregnant women that not only talked to my baby while she was in the womb, I would occasionally read to her too. From the time she was born, I would read to her at night before bed. Of course when she was a newborn and infant, she would mostly just look at the pictures, try to eat the book, and stare at me while I read. The older she got, the more she started to get excited when I got out a book. From the time she could crawl, she would bring me books. I would be sitting on the couch in the middle of the day and she would crawl over to the coffee table, pull one of her books off the table, and push it back to the couch while crawling. It was pretty funny to watch. The moment she learned to walk, she would bring me book after book to read.

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A few months before her 2nd birthday, I started taking her to storytime at the local libraries. She was in love. She would get so excited when we would walk into the building and she would see all the books. She would listen intently to the librarian read the books during storytime, and she would clap and cheer when the story was over. The librarian seemed to get a kick out of her enthusiasm.

After storytime, they encourage you to stay in the children’s area and let your child explore by playing with the other kids and picking out books. The first few times we attended storytime, I found it interesting to watch Kayla. While the other kids would run to play with puzzles, games, puppets, blocks, etc., Kayla would gather up a few books and sit down to look at them. She’d go into one of the reading cubbies, or climb onto a rocking chair, and she would just sit there and look at books. The other kids would be laughing and playing, while Kayla would be completely caught up in all the books. She would walk around gathering books to look at, and for me to read to her. She quickly caught onto the fact that we could check these books out and take them home with us. Once she figured that out, she would load up the basket on her stroller with books. Eventually, she did notice that there are toys and activities to do in the library as well, and she now plays with the other kids. She usually starts out playing with the other kids, then goes around looking for books to check out. We typically leave with a stack of 8-12 books, all for her.

I am a big reader myself, so I am overjoyed to see Kayla’s love for books. We read books together at least once a day, if not two or three times. On average, we read 10 books a day. And as she gets older, the books are becoming longer and with more words.

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A couple of weeks ago, I took Kayla to our local library. When we were checking out our books, the librarian asked Kayla, “are you going to read all of these books?” Kayla’s response was, “yeah…I love books!” The librarian laughed and asked her, “are you going to sign up for our summer reading program?” Kayla happily responded with an enthusiastic “Yes!” The librarian said “great,” and provided me with some information on the program.

It had crossed my mind in the past that I should sign her up for one of the summer reading programs, but I wasn’t sure what was required and how old you have to be to participate. Although I worked at a local library in the children’s section when I was a teenager, I couldn’t remember all the rules and requirements. It was nice to find out that these reading programs through the libraries start from birth. You can have your child participate at any age. And most of the libraries either allow you to set your own reading goals for the summer, or they set a very low goal for young children. They make it very easy for even busy parents to be able to help their children accomplish their goals.

After some thought and research, I ended up deciding to sign Kayla up for several summer reading programs at different libraries. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been to three different libraries on six different days. The more I thought about it, I figured why not sign up for programs at a few libraries and use the books we check out from each library for their particular program. Each library will be hosting their own summer events to get the kids involved at the library, and they are offering different prizes and incentives. The first program we signed up for gave out “Dig into Reading” t-shirts to the first few hundred people. Kayla also got to color a few pictures, put her name on them, and have them hung up in the library. She was so proud. The library staff convinced me to sign up for the adult summer reading program, and I received a convenient re-usable library bag. Sure, I already carry a few re-usable bags in my purse for carrying library books, etc., but it was still nice to get one that has a picture of someone reading a book on the front.

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My husband, who isn’t a reader, has always been surprised by Kayla’s love of books. I think he was downright shocked when I told him the other day about how I asked Kayla where she wanted to go (when we were leaving the house), and her response was, “to the library…to get books and see kids.” He doesn’t really understand it, but he does encourage it.

I personally enjoy our time reading together each day. It is such a great way for Kayla and I to bond on a daily basis. I love to see her eyes light up when we read a book that she likes. There is nothing like having her snuggled next to me in bed (or on the couch) while we read a book that warms the heart, makes us laugh, or starts a conversation. One of my new favorite things is when Kayla wants to “read” to me. She will go page by page telling me a story based on the pictures, or what she remembers from the book. Sometimes, she even has parts of books memorized. It brings a smile to my face every time. She is already showing several signs of being ready to start learning how to read. I can only imagine how her love of books will grow even more when she is able to read to herself. But even then, I will look forward to our daily time spent together reading.

Please, if you are looking for something for your kids to do this summer, consider signing them up for a summer reading program. It’s worth it.

After storytime last fall.

After storytime last fall.

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Healthy Banana Ice Cream that is perfect for little kids

This is super creamy and good.

This is super creamy and good.

If you’re like me, you’re always looking for ways to add a few healthier food items to your child’s daily menu. I love ice cream, but it’s something I shy away from most of the time now because it’s not always the healthiest dessert option. And when I do eat ice cream, I tend to get the ones with half the fat, or I simply opt for sorbet instead. But sometimes…I just have to have a bowl of ice cream to satisfy the craving. Not to mention, I love the pure look of joy on my daughter’s face when she is eating ice cream and saying, “mmm, this is yummy…it tastes goooood.” That cracks me up every time. Especially when she adds her little happy dance. Pure joy.

Okay, so this is going to be the easiest banana ice cream recipe you have ever seen. Seriously, it is so easy my toddler could probably do it. (Well, she does help do half of it.) There is only one ingredient. I’m not kidding. All you need is bananas (and a strong blender).

Banana Ice Cream Recipe

– Frozen bananas

This is as healthy as ice cream can get. There is nothing else added. All you have to do is peel a couple of bananas. But them in a freezer safe container and freeze them for 2-4 hours. Take them out of the freezer and let them sit on the counter for about 5 minutes. I wouldn’t let them sit out for longer than 10 minutes. Put them in your Vitamix (or other high powered) blender on Variable 2 or 3 and blend for 30 seconds to a minute. All you want to do is blend it until it becomes the creamy consistency of ice cream or custard. It will become very creamy. This is a cold, refreshing treat on a warm day. It tastes like you made homemade banana ice cream, but without any added ingredients. This is super healthy, and kids love it.

We could barely stop eating it long enough to take pictures.

We could barely stop eating it long enough to take pictures.

This is really just the base of the recipe. You can add other frozen fruit to the blender to make different types of ice cream. Try frozen strawberries to make a strawberry banana ice cream. My daughter likes when I add peanut butter to it and make a peanut butter banana ice cream. You can also add your favorite toppings. I like mine with dark chocolate syrup. Yum! Of course, adding a special topping may make it a little less healthy, but considering the fat and calories you are saving by not making this with cream, sugar, and eggs…I think you can allow yourself to add something special on top. Maybe some caramel and/or crushed nuts. When you’re making the ice cream, try adding some oreo cookies to the blender for a take on cookies and cream ice cream. There are so many combinations you can use to make this delicious, healthy treat.

With dark chocolate syrup on top.  This was my bowl.

With dark chocolate syrup on top. This was my bowl.

My recommendations are to always use frozen bananas as your base, and if you are adding other fruit you should freeze it first. Other ingredients you may add to the blender don’t need to be frozen, such as oreos and peanut butter. Have fun with this recipe, and let your kids help make this with you. They will love being able to get involved and help make their own ice cream creations. And it’s so good that they won’t miss the “real” thing. Enjoy!

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