The 10 Best Unconventional Alphabet Books: What we’re reading

The 10 Best Unconventional ABC BooksI am so sick of “X is for xylophone.”

I get it. There aren’t many words that start with x. And “X is for xenopus” will likely garner blank stares from the preschool set.

But when you read books to kids nonstop, the tedium of alphabet books can become A is for aggravating.

So here is me being H is for helpful. Nab these unorthodox alphabet books the next time you’re at the library. You and your kids will love breaking free of the predictability of A to Z. Read more

St. Patrick’s Day preschool activities: Rainbow curriculum

True story: Along with Radiohead’s Creep and Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Around the World, Kermit’s Rainbow Connection is one of my go-to karaoke jams.

So naturally, when it was my turn to host our co-op homeschool preschool this week, I wanted our St. Patrick’s Day lesson to include lots of activities with rainbows!

If you’re looking to infuse your fun with some St. Patrick’s Day luck, or get all rainbow-y on a regular day, here are some activities from me as well as links to additional ideas. Happy St. Patty’s Day! Read more

Our favorite children’s books: Shapes

SHAPES!Some of my earliest memories feature my great-grandmother, whom we all called Pretty Grandma and after whom Peeper is named. I sometimes watched Hollywood Squares with her—for whatever reason, she loved the trivia and cheesy banter. It was all over my head, but that’s the first thing I think of when someone says “shapes.”

Peeper, and probably your preschooler, doesn’t automatically envision a celebrity tic-tac-toe gameshow, though.

To help little ones learn about squares, triangles, circles—and even quatrefoils, add these books about shapes to your reading rotation. Read more

7 animal noises you’ve been messing up

Along with swaddling a squirmy baby, changing a diaper without smearing poop over every surface and operating on practically no sleep, making animal noises is a skill absolutely necessary to parenthood.

Between songs like Old MacDonald and books like Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?, moms and dads become pros at mooing, quacking and cock-a-doodle-dooing. As a child ages, though, the animal sounds parents must make become more complex.

But when was the last time you heard a toucan? And do you go all-in with genuine elephant trumpeting, or do you cop out and say “toot toot”?

In addition to these pressing questions, I am going to bet you’ve been making a handful of animal noises completely wrong.

So let me (and YouTube) enlighten you. Go ahead and click play (though not if your dog is in the room—he might will definitely freak out) to step up your animal noises game.

Animal sounds // noises you do wrong // kids and family // Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Advice for my daughter (that you’ll definitely want to read, too)

Advice for my daughter // raising girls // Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Last week Peeper received a package from her Aunt Bootsie, and the book inside was one of the most touching gifts she’s ever gotten. Each page contained one piece of advice for my daughter, and as you can see, Peeper—and anyone else lucky enough to read it—will definitely be the wiser from it.

Advice for my daughterEach page contains a snippet of wise (and sometimes wise ass but true) advice from her sage aunt. In fact, the pearls are timeless enough that I found myself nodding along. (Was some of the advice secretly for me, too?)

Advice for my daughter Read more

Our favorite children’s books: Books about being afraid

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“Too noisy!”

Peeper’s complaints about noise, and the genuine fear loud sounds inspire in her, continue unabated in these parts, and we’ve learned to adapt. I make cookie dough when she’s asleep. I look ahead to avoid loud things like lawn mowers or steam trains in our path. And we are patient when her conversations repeatedly steer back to the fact that something—a seal, tractor, Jeep—is “too noisy.”

Alas, we haven’t yet found a book that deals with fear of loud sounds, but we like these other books about being afraid. At some point, she might become afraid of the dark, or of getting sucked down the bath drain, or of vampire zombie bats living under the crib. (Who knows? She has a vivid imagination already.)

If your little one is spooked, these books about being afraid might help. At the least, they will say he’s not alone in being afraid.

Read on for a little courage—or at least encouragement!

When your child is scared, books about being afraid can lend a little courage. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Our favorite kids’ books: Singable stories

We sat cross-legged in a circle on the classroom’s thin-carpeted floor. I leaned forward toward Mrs. Weineger, my kindergarten teacher, and her spot in front of us eager 5-year-olds. I could barely contain myself in the moments before she opened the book.

Instead of simply reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, she sang it. Later, she posted pictures of the colorful animals around the room, and we incorporated the song into our sing-alongs.

I think of Mrs. Weineger—her wide smile, the crinkly skin behind her large glasses, her fluffy orange hair (which, incidentally, made her look a lot like the teacher in Eric Carle’s book)—every time I sing this book to Peeper.

Our little bookworm loves it, and no surprise there: It combines two of her favorite things, books and song.

Here are a few of our other favorite singable stories. Clear your throat and make sure the windows are closed—you’ll want to sing these books over and over! Read more