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Viewing Blog: Getting Monkey Ready to Read, Most Recent at Top
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Follow along as my little monkey becomes Ready to Read. I will share book and activity ideas to help your little one become Ready to Read too!
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1. "Where did the cat go?"

This weekend we visited my parents in Canton. Vacant of plans we took time to explore some of my childhood haunts including Sippo Lake. Stark Parks has done a tremendous job revitalizing this park. I remember fishing, nature walks, and paddle boat rides ~ all of which is still possible; however, there are additional opportunities for exploration and education, including the new Perry Twp. Branch Library overlooking the lake.


Ava loves being outside and it was a beautiful day to explore. We looked for turtles and toads and pointed out all of the pretty flowers. But most confusing to Ava were the cat tails.

Looking out from the bridge leading to the walking trail Ava could see hundreds of cat tails growing out of the swampy part of the lake. My mom and I explained to her that the soft brown things groing straight up were called cat tails. Unfortunately, we couldn't reach one to show her up close or to touch. "Do you see the cat tails?" I asked. With a look of concern Ava looked up and asked, "Where did the cat go?" This became her new mission: to find the missing cats whose tails were left behind.

Funny. So the question begs... how do you explain cat tails to a toddler?

1 Comments on "Where did the cat go?", last added: 8/8/2009
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2. "My kitty!"

We have a new addition to our little family! While visiting the vet to pick up medication for our dog, my darling husband fell hard for a 7 week old kitten that had been abandoned. One donation later and Kris brought home "Ava's early birthday present."



Ava was thrilled with the new kitty. She has desperately wanted to be friends with our cat, Moxie, but it has taken a long time for Moxie to warm up to the idea of a small child. We choose the Maisy for the kitty ~ it's cute and Ava has no trouble saying it. She loving carries Maisy around by the neck. When Maisy meows Ava pats her and says, "You're fine." Maisy even gets rocked as Ava sings Rock-a-bye Baby.


I love the idea of Ava growing up with pets. She has never been bothered by animals and shows a loving interest. Maisy has become comfortable and grown on even the most hard-hearted (Moxie Cat). I guess Kris is just a sucker for a cute face!

Favorite kitty books:
  • Ballet Kitty by Bernette Ford
  • Kitty Up! by Elizabeth Wojtusik
  • Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes
  • Kitten Red, Yellow, Blue by Peter Catalanotto
  • The Color Kittens by Margaret Wise Brown
  • Cookie's Week by Cindy Ward

2 Comments on "My kitty!", last added: 7/17/2009
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3. Ava Grace is Two!


My sweet, sweet girl is two. It is so hard to believe how quickly the time has flown. Truly is seems like yesterday we were wishing for her. When I dreamed about being a mother I hoped my child would be healthy, happy, and smart. Never could I have imagined a child this amazing. Ava has been a pure joy.

At two, Ava Grace loves books, singing songs, art, playing pretend in her kitchen, and Elmo. When she laughs it almost seems as if it comes from her toes. Every new experience clicks in her little mind and gives her a fuller understanding of the world. Ava loves red shoes and her babydoll. My girlie girl gives the best hugs and the sweetest kisses.

Happy Birthday Baby Girl!

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4. Ava Grace Around the Web

Lately my little monkey has been popping up around the web!

Recently we had an amazing photo session with Jessi of Everyday Studios. Jessi gave us a little preview of the session!

As we prepared for the big birthday, I purchased an adorable birthday shirt for Ava from Chakra Pennywhistle's lovely Etsy shop and was so excited to see Ava's photo on her blog!

And to our surprise we were gifted with this fabulous accordian album!

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5. Celebrating Art

This past weekend was the Columbus Arts Festival. Ava and I made a special trip to enjoy the sites and sounds. Her favorite booths featured clocks in the shape of cat faces, wooden toys, unique birdhouses, and any booth feature purses or bags. Ava loves being outside and has always been comfortable around different groups of people. She was very interested in the art we were viewing and enjoyed exploring.


Ava is at the age were she is extremely interested in creating her own art whether drawing, painting, or playdough. There was a great area set-up with activities for children but she is still a little young for what was offered. Maybe next year she can take advantage of the children's area.

We shared a delicious dish of Jeni's Ice Cream and danced to the music of a jazz band.

To celebrate a weekend of art, we are reading new picture books that feature exceptional illustrations.
  • Moon Rabbit by Natalie Russell is a story of friendship with simple but sweet illustrations.
  • Hello, Baby! by Mem Fox and illustrated by Steve Jenkins pairs simple rhyme with beautifully executed cut-paper collage.
  • The Secret Circus by Johanna Wright shares a secret circus performance through dreamlike illustrations.
Sharing stories with appealing illustrations will help foster Print Motivation in your child. For older children you can extend the connection by creating art in the style of the illustrator.

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6. Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

In honor of the good Dr. Seuss' birthday Ava paraded around this morning wearing her cat hat. It thrilled her to pieces once she realized that her hat and the one the cat wears are identical! She has been caring around the Cat in the Hat for a couple weeks and is currently her favorite. I find that plush book characters help to extend the story beyond the pages and really encourage building Narrative Skills. Ava's cat has been involved in all sorts of adventures including a trip through the Ikea store in Cincinnati.


All week Ava and her friends will be enjoying stories and activities that celebrate the work of Dr. Seuss - green eggs and ham for breakfast (Green Eggs and Ham), making hats, feet painting (The Foot Book), apple prints (Ten Apples Up On Top), and decorating fish (One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish). There are many other fun activities to help make the stories pop off the page. Visit Seussville for even more fun!


Of course no celebration would be complete without the great books by Dr. Seuss. Here is a brief list of our favorites:

And to Think that I Saw It on Mulberry Street
The Cat in the Hat
Fox in Socks
Green Eggs and Ham
Hop on Pop
Horton Hears a Who
The Lorax
My Many Colored Days
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

These books have endured generations because of the impact they have on young readers. Not only are the silly and memorable but they pave the way for success as readers.

Happy Birthday. Dr. Seuss!

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7. A is for Ava


Lately we have been enjoying all things ABC! Ava has taken an interest in pointing out letters (and numbers) and to my great pleasure she has begun recognizing several with frequency. One of her favorite toys at home is the magnetic alphabet letters. The set we have has the chunky letters and numbers which are perfect for little hands to manipulate. The set also comes with word cards indented to insert the letter for the beginning of each word. We name the image and sometimes spell the words. This activity has spilled over into our reading habits.

There are many, many alphabet books. Some that are excellent and many others that are not. At 20 months we are focusing on alphabet books that prominently feature the letter and one image. While reading we trace the letter and talk about the imagine (this also includes making the appropriate animal sounds). When looking for ABC books for my toddler I am looking for interesting illustrations that lack clutter. The ABC books on our shelf right now are Bruno Munari's ABC, Little Bird's ABC by Piet Grobler, and Eric Carle's ABC.

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8. Double the Fun!

Ava and I shared a fun day at the Franklin Park Conservatory a few weeks ago and we hope to return very soon! Especially now that we are members. This will be a fun place for us to get out of the cold and enjoy some green! Last weeks Garden Storytime inspired me to share these photographs. As our day was ending, we came across a giant mirror. Ava had tremendous fun playing with the baby in the mirror!










Sharing the experience of being at the indoor gardens helps make the connections of the stories we have been reading encouraging Print Motivation. Some of our favorite garden books are Muncha, Muncha, Muncha by Candace Fleming, Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens, Planting a Rainbow by Lois Elhert, and Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Elhert.

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9. You Can't Ride in My Little Red Wagon

For Christmas Ava received a red wagon. Kris was very insistent that this was going to be her big gift this year. It was so sweet watching him assemble it on Christmas Eve and attach a big red bow. I think he was more excited than anyone else this year. Ava was thrilled with her gift (which only added to her daddy's excitement). She wanted to sit in her wagon to open all her other gifts and then all day we took turns pulling her around the house. Fortunately the day after Christmas was beautiful - warm like a late Spring day. We were able to get outside for a walk and to play with Ava's new red wagon.
As we were walking through the neighborhood a favorite storytime song popped into my head - Little Red Wagon. We love the Wiggleworms CDs! Lots of great songs to get you moving and that is so important with a toddler running around. Music is an excellent way to help get your child Ready to Read prompting Phonological Awareness. So during the winter months we can pretend we are riding in Ava's wagon by singing along!

Just for fun! Here is a link to a video of a different version that works really well with older children. Little Red Wagon.

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10. Decorating (and redecorating) the Christmas Tree



Decorating the Christmas tree has always been one of my favorite holiday traditions. While this is Ava's second Christmas it was her first experience decorating the tree. She was very serious about the process. Thoughtfully she choose each ornament and tried very hard to hang them. Most of her ornaments were laying across a small section of the tree and as she turned to choose her next ornament I would hang them from a nearby branch. My beautiful little girl continued until all the ornaments were carefully hung always under the careful watch of our decorating supervisor, Moxie Cat.

Every day since the tree went up Ava has removed a few ornaments to rehang. And I look forward to the excitement on her face as we come down the stairs in the morning to see the tree all lit up.

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11. yes... no... maybe... sometimes...

Lately we have been hearing "no" much more often. Typically Ava uses the word correctly as a response to a question. She is also attempting to add the universal signs for the yes and no - a nod or a shake. I can't help but giggle as she tries to match the action to the word. Sometimes I worry she might get dizzy.

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12. Red is Best!

All summer long we battled over wearing a hat to block the harmful rays of the sun. My beautiful, fair haired child refused to keep a hat on her head. I feared that this battle would continue into the winter. Now that the temperatures have turned colder Ava loves the process of putting on her coat, hat, and mittens. We zzzzzzzz-zip the zipper (great for Phonological Awareness). After the first mitten goes on Ava claps and then again after mitten number two.  Ava then starts saying "Hat. Hat. Hat." as I prepare the last piece of her winter gear. And surprisingly she keeps it all on!

Even though there has been a bit of snow we have not yet been out to play. Hopefully the next snow fall will see a little red dot bouncing against the stark white.  

Our favorite books about mittens and winter are keeping us warm as we cuddle together to read: Red Sled by Patricia Thomas,  One Mitten by Kristine O'Connell, Under My Hood I Have a Hat by Karla Kuskin, My Red Mittens by Candy Crocker, The Three Little Kittens by Anna Alter, The Mitten by Alvin Tresselt, A Hat for Minerva Louise by Janet Morgan Stoeke, The Mitten by Jan Brett, and Red is Best by Kathy Stinson.

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13. Happy Turkey Day!


The holidays are always an exciting time. Add children to the mix and the excitement multiplies! While this is Ava's 2nd holiday season it all feels new again. Thanksgiving was relaxing and we enjoyed the day with Ava's paternal grandparents, great aunt Martha, uncle Kevin, aunt Claudia, and cousin Emilia. She had a blast playing with her cousin. The girls read books, played with the Learn & Ride School Bus, climbed into the toy box together, and emptied and reorganized grandma's tupperware cabinet. Ava just recently started using her own fork and loved being able to eat Thanksgiving dinner with her special utensil. Her favorite dish? Sweet potatoes and mommy's tiny cherry pie.

Ava wore a special turkey shirt made by mommy!
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14. Bedtime Stories

At times we are often very relaxed in our routine. We let Ava set the pace without controlling our lives and this has made for a very happy household. However, when it comes to the betime routine we have been pretty strict. I believe this consistency is what has helped foster the positive experience bath and bedtime have become. When told that it is time for a bath, Ava stops what she is doing and heads to the stairs.

Daddy typically takes the lead with bathtime and getting dressed. I do all the prep work (laying out jammies, straightening the crib, searching for pacifiers). We take turns with the the bedtime story. Sometimes Ava chooses who she wants to read.

Lately there has been a clear favorite when it comes to book choice - Dinosaur vs. Bedtime by Bob Shea. This is an excellent picture book with fun, simple, modern illustrations. The story flows well when read aloud and captures the listeners imagination. This book is excellent in reinforcing Print Motivation. If Ava is having a "toddler moment," all we have to do is ask her if she wants to read the dinosaur book and the outburst is over. Last night Kris observed her reading the book to herself. Each time she turned the page she would point and say, "Roar!" This is a new sound and later in the evening we were able to apply it to pictures of lions.


Our favorite bedtime stories include:

I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt
Hush Little Ones by John Butler
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Snuggle Up, Sleepy Ones by Claire Freedman
Dinosaur vs. Bedtime by Bob Shea
Ten Tiny Babies by Karen Katz
Song of Night by Katherine Riley Nakamura

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15. My Future Librarian

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16. Little Red's Halloween Adventure


Halloween was so much fun this year! Dressed as Little Red Riding Hood, Ava strolled through the neighboorhood carrying her basket and smiling at everyone!  Many of you are aware that this was not Ava's original costume.  However, I believe this costume worked out perfectly and she is much more suited to be Little Red rather than a duck.

Ava enjoyed taking candy out of the giveaway basket and adding it to her stash.  All was going well until Little Red encountered the Big Bad Wolf at the very end of the evening.  Two teens dressed in full costume approached; one dressed as a Storm Trooper, the other as the BBW.  Kris said, "Look Ava it is the Big Bad Wolf!" and she freaked!  She calmed quickly once inside and seemed excited to enjoy a few more stories before bed.

My favorite version of our heroines tale is Little Red: a Fizzingly Good Yarn by Lynn Roberts.  This telling sees Red as a boy uses quick thinking and a jug of ginger ale to bring the story to its happy end.

We also enjoyed a few Halloween stories.  This years favorites were Ghost Eats it All by Janee Trasler, Where is Baby's Pumpkin by Karen Katz, Sheep Trick or Treat by Nancy Shaw, Boo Bunny by Kathryn Galbraith, and Where's My Mummy? by Carolyn Crimi.

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17. Flip Flopin'

October offered some beautifully warm days that allowed us to revisit our summer attire one last time.  Most importantly this gave us that chance to wear our Havaianas to walk around the neighborhood.  Ava received her Havaianas for her birthday but had such tiny feet that she was not able to wear then until now.  So we relished in the opportunity to have her march proudly in her Baby Pets!

We love the fun rhymes in Baby Shoes by Daska Slater, Shoe Bop by Marilyn Singer, and Flip Flop Bop by Matt Novak.  These fantastic picture books help to build both Phonological Awareness through rhyme and Print Awareness through the fun, eye-catching layout of the words.

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18. Hi!

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19. Put Down the Duckie

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20. Go Bucks!



Today kicks off the College Football Season and the whole family is geeked out in their Buckeye gear. A couple weeks ago Kris took Ava to OSU to walk around and take pictures. They had a great time and it was a special day for daddy and daughter. Ava loved mirror lake and watching the ducks (see previous post for photo).

I think Kris' favorite part was the time they spent exploring the stadium. Above is a photo of Ava in front of Ohio Stadium ready for Game Day. Our hope is to try to attend a pre-game session with TBDBITL (Ava's second favorite thing is music) as a fun family outing.

Today will be a great day to introduce new vocabulary words - she is already familiar with "TOUCHDOWN!" Some fun Buckeye books we will be sharing: Go Buckeyes: My First Ohio State Words by Connie McNamara, Ohio State Buckeyes 123: My First Counting Book by Brad Epstein, Buckeyes Big Game by Tom Kearney, and It's Fun to Be a Buckeye by Amy Wurth Fowble.

Game Day Prediction: Ohio State 28 Youngstown State 3

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21. First Steps!

Ava has been cruising around the furniture for months now. Recently she started taking a few steps here and there but remained pretty stubborn about just taking off. Tonight she finally took her first real steps. After bathtime Ava walked between Mommy and Daddy taking up to a dozen steps at a time. She was laughing the entire time and was visibly proud of her accomplishment. Daddy was able to catch the video below!

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22. I Scream, You Scream, Ava Screams for Ice Cream

A couple of weeks ago we spent a beautiful weekend afternoon in Utica at the Velvet Ice Cream Factory & Olde Mill. Ava got to see goats, an 11-day old calf, a horse, and lots of ducks. There was a band playing and festive atmosphere.




We sat down to enjoy some ice cream - Kris had Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup, I had Mint Chocolate Chip, and Vanilla for Ava. She loves ice cream! It is a treat she has very rarely so it is fun to see the excitement on her face as she rediscovers the taste. I gave her a taste of the Mint and she went crazy! Vanilla was a distant memory. Her focus shifted. Ava would take a bite, sit up straight, and very seriously signed for more.

It was a great afternoon!





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23. Book Lover!

Ava has always been surrounded by stories and books. Before her birth she could hear the stories I was sharing with children during storytimes and school visits. In the hospital she was cuddled close and heard about the adventure of Curious George only to arrive home to be surrounded by images from his stories. Since then Ava always has a pile of books within reach.

At her fingertips are picture books, board books, lift-the-flap books, pop-up books, touch & feel books, and more. We have subtly worked to encourage Print Motivation. And to my excitement Ava loves books! Yesterday she sat for 30 minutes on her own and looked through a pile of library books. I then joined her on the floor for an additional 30 minutes of reading.

As a mom, my heart skips a beat knowing that I am giving my girl a great head start. As a librarian, it just validates the work we are doing to spread the news about Ready to Read.

There are many favorite titles in our house but right now Ava is drawn to a nonfiction book, Face to Face with The Duck by Pascale Hedelin. Each time she turns the page she alternates with either "Duck!" or "Quack! Quack!"

Above is a video of her reading Touch & Feel Home. There is a mirror at the back which Ava gives a kiss to baby. Enjoy!

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24. Can We Do it?



Ava has been showing an interest in tools lately. Recently we visited a friend who had a play tool bench and she had the best time! Without any guideance Ava uses the tools correctly reminding me of the power of observation.

She has watched a deck being added to the back of our house, a room addition to her grandparents house, and many other projects involving tools. Ava stole a small wrench from PawPaw while he was assembling a table and took it to "work on" her riding school bus. She pretended to turn the wrench on bus and when her work was complete Ava lifted the seat and stored the wrench inside. We will be adding a toolbox to Ava's Christmas wish list!

My mother-in-law has a small collection of books for the grandchildren to enjoy. In the pile Ava found 2 Bob the Builder board books - one shaped like a hammer and the other a saw. These fun little books are excellent for Print Motivation. After reading the story Ava can pretend to work like Bob making the story come to life. We are also enjoying Tools by Taro Miura, Tools by Byron Barton, I Love Tools by Philemon Sturges, Whose Tools are These? by Sharon Katz Cooper, Monkey with a Tool Belt by Chris Monroe, and The Toolbox by Anne Rockwell.

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25. Sensory Experiences



Sensory experiences can give children a hands-on sense of the world around them and helps them to develop many skills. Ava has amazing fine motor skills and these skills continue to become more refined because of the many different things she is exposed to. Early on Ava was exposed to simple scientific principles through sensory play; such as the different states of water and measuring solids.

Ava enjoys playing with a bowl of ice cubes, splashing in a water table, and scooping flour into a measuring cup. By exposing Ava to these real world items she learns how to travel through life with every day items.

Board books are wonderful! From infancy, children are able to have the sensory experience to prepare them to become readers. However, it was important to me to expose Ava to picture books with paper pages and teach her how to handle and treat books. She has yet to destory a book by tearing out pages (there have been some chewed on board books). The difference between the experience my child has had and that of other young children became very clear to me at a recent family gathering.

Two of Ava's cousins and grandpa had birthdays at the beginning of October and we planned a large family celebration. I brought a bag of new picture books to share with the children that would be in attendance. A few of the books were scattered on the floor as Ava sat down to look at one. About 5 adults gasped and got up to take the book away from her out of fear that she would tear the pages. I'm not sure they knew what to make of my 15 month old that sits sweetly and looks at books for extended periods of time. That's just how life is at our house.

The overwhelming favorite of the weekend: Ten Tiny Babies by Karen Katz.

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