Monday, July 21

The Nanny Reads: A book about a Patient Crocodile and His Prankster Friend.

This is a story that had been waiting for just the right publisher and just the right time to come into being. The illustrations by Giuliano Cucco are bright and interesting, with a genuine nostalgic feel because they were created in the early 1960's. 

Author John Miller creates a story about the friendship of the patient crocodile, Winston and Winston's prankster friend the crocodile bird George. 

Author John Miller doesn't stint on descriptive and fun use of language.

"I...I thought I saw a danger prowling through the jungle," George stammered. "A dangerous danger, a very scary dangerous danger."

With a great read aloud flow and kid friendly topic (preschoolers through second grade  love creatures with sharp teeth!) the story will keep kids interested until the end. 

Sometimes it's hard to have a friend who finds humor at another's expense. Kids who think practical jokes are funny will understand the message and take it to heart without the story seeming preachy or moralistic. The friendship between the two creatures is just endearing enough that I hope there are more Winston And George books to come. 

A good length for bedtime reading, with an great read aloud quality, this is a book I would recommend for the keeper shelf.

Thursday, July 17

What Is Dapoppins about?

As promised last year, I've been in the slow process of trying to change the direction and focus of my blog, and in some ways my life.  I've never really kept this space as a personal diary, but instead posted things I wanted to share, with an audience in mind.  However,  it's always been random things connected to my life and my passions.

I'm passionate about a lot of stuff, people.

I had a meeting with a person who looked at my blog and offered some really helpful tips.  It's always nice to have a 3rd party with unbiased eyes look at your work.  It was a positive experience.  But, true to form, as soon as someone told me what to do, I suddenly didn't want to do it any more.

I know there are other people out there who do this.  We look for advice on a project, reassurance we are headed in the right direction, and as soon as we get it, all the motivation drains away. Since blogging isn't a job, and I'm accountable to no one to get it done, I just kinda, frittered away my time schedule.   Gahh!

Procrastinate much?

Change, Procrastination, Dapoppins

My intention, because I feel a need to explain myself, is to turn Dapoppins into a brand of sorts.  What does Dapoppins offer?

My  Point of View: which hopefully is occasionally inspiring and entertaining.

Nanny life and loves -things like books, kid-items, and crafts that I do with kids.

Kid book reviews.

Some paper-craftiness thrown in, because it is one of my Passion's that I love to share.

My blog is about telling stories.  Telling the stories of my life, my career, my passions, and encouraging others to tell stories.  With a more than 20 years of "Umbrella Magic"  and Nanny wisdom thrown in.

My husband made the new header for me.  Poor guy.  We looked forever for free fonts.  Then I told him I wanted water color splashes.  First the umbrella was too big.  Then too black.  Then I didn't like one of the color splash colors.  I'm a "I'll know it when I see it," kind of person.  He is a, "Can we just finish this," kind of person.  But we finally got it to the point where I felt satisfied.

So, that's my FOCUS for 2014. And the FOCUS for Dapoppins.  Thank's for reading.

Monday, July 14

Teaching Storytelling and The Writing Process to Preschoolers - Nanny Activities

Storytelling is a great skill that can be taught to preschoolers that will help them later in life. Having been a Nanny for ten years before having my own kids, I discovered some of the early childhood skills that would help for later development. Storytelling is one of those fun, easy skills that can be learned and shared almost anywhere. 

One of the things I have done with three and four year old's as their scribbles turn to shapes is write down what they tell me they are drawing.  This is one of the first steps of teaching them to tell stories. 

While I am always  sharing stories by reading aloud, parents and Nannies can encourage creativity, confidence, communication and an understanding of cause and effect by making story telling a game.  

Storytelling is a required skill in third and fourth grade, and it can be intimidating.

Teaching storytelling for toddlers, games, activities, stories, writing, 3rd grade
From Stephanie at 3rd Grade Thoughts

This graphic doesn't even include third grade requirements for strong adjectives and verbs, limited use of the to-be verb, and progression that includes a beginning, middle and end. 

By exposing preschoolers to some of the steps of the writing process at an early age,  Gathering Ideas, Developing an Idea, and Publishing The Idea, children will begin the process with creativity and confidence already at their disposal. 

I came across this wonderful little "Tell A Story" game while working as a Temp Nanny for a local family. 

Not only did I think it was a great idea, I loved the graphics and sturdy chipboard pieces. The product description on Amazon says it " a game for two to four players, participants spin for a hero, treasure, rival, means of transport, helper, magical object or fairy tale places. The person to collect them all first wins and gets to use all the elements in a story."  The three of us played it twice before bedtime. 

This company also makes story cards, which can be used somewhat the same way, or as a creative idea starter.  (I discovered the cards while with a different nanny family!)

+Children's StoryBook originally shared this link to 50 Story Telling Ideas  from Inspiration Labs.  It is a great comprehensive list of links, many on how to make your own story cards, (or story shakers, story stones, etc!)  For parents and Nannies who need sit-down, calm, and transitional activities for Preschoolers during the day, this is a must save list of links.

Practically speaking, I know that little girls, who tend to communicate earlier than little boys, may seem more inclined to storytelling activities than boys.  Which is why this skill is doubly important for teaching to pre-school boys.  If we listen, little boys have plenty to say.  (They can be absolute chatter boxes. I have actual proof of this!)  Boys may not want to sit, draw, and craft, but if you hand them blocks, cars, and army men, you have just given them a story to tell.  Many boys are drawn to physical and action based learning. I have found if we act out the story first, they don't mind writing (with my help) and drawing afterwards, just so they can remember and share it later.

If you do one of the activities, already have the Fairy Tale Spinner game, or just want to share a story with me, let me know in the comments!  I love to hear how other people share stories. 

Monday, July 7

Nanny Reads : Eric The Boy Who Lost His Gravity

Eric the Boy Who Lost His Gravity
By Jenni Desmond

(I was worried about copyright laws so decided not to post any of the cover pictures that I found.  However, here is a link to Amazon, if you want to check out the cover and first few pages.)

I always judge a book by it's cover. It's the first thing I see, the first thing that makes me pick up a book. The soft pastels of the cover, highlighted with the drawing of a clearly angry boy in a bright red shirt upside down on his ceiling caught my attention and I automatically added the book to the pile. Jenni Desmond's illustrations have that scratchy, childlike quality, balanced with adult expertise, that I'm always drawn too. Inside, the story's font is accompanied by handwritten words reminiscent of a second grader. 

Aimed at ages three to six, this is a simple, cute story about the frustrations of siblings. I think the idea of Eric loosing his gravity, (instead of his temper,) is a creative and fun twist. 

But the story does not go beyond it's simpleness. The author makes little use of complex, interesting words, and instead has chosen to write at the level of her audience. With an average of one sentence per page, and the sentences are short, and there are few opportunities to build vocabulary skills, practice listening, or challenge the young mind. 

As much as I like the added handwritten words highlighting the drawings, as an adult reading out loud, they add a clumsiness to the flow that could be frustrating to parents who find reading aloud a challenge. 

This story is cute. Parents of siblings may want to buy a copy, but, to be honest, there are better stories about siblings out there that make for better bed time reading.

Thursday, July 3

Forth of July in Washington (the other Washington)

For four days every year my city sounds  a lot like what I imagine a war zone sounds.  Yes, it's that special time of year where we celebrate blowing things up.  No, that's not right.  It's that special time of year where we celebrate Independence by blowing things up.

vintage find credit

The rockets red glare, blue, green and gold shoots right over the top of my house.

The mortar shells leave blast patterns on the pavement.

Dogs get PTSD.

Cats, well.  Cats are born needing therapy, aren't they.

Washington has quite a rage of legal fireworks compared to the neighbor state of Oregon.  And if that isn't enough, the local Indian Reservations sell fireworks that, while legal on the reservation, are not legal anywhere else - this doesn't stop everyone from buying them and using them, however.  It's a manly, red-neck, white-collar challenge to acquire enough explodage to shake the neighborhood and concuss the brains of babies everywhere.

I love celebrating my country.  I love remembering battles fought and won.  I love honoring the freedoms and protections granted by our Constitution, (and thankfully not it's too altered, yet, by our Federal Courts.)

But I don't understand the amount of money spent to get the thrill of the BOOM in your very own front yard.

vintage find credit

And it will crescendo about midnight on the Forth.

Happy 4th of July people.   Eat lots of watermelon and pie. Stay safe.  Lock up your pets in sound proof rooms.  Don't blow anything off. 

Monday, June 30

Scrapbooking Old Family Photos - Making My History Pretty

My mom sent me a box of photos to put in scrapbooks. She sent it over a year ago and I'm still working my way through all the lovey memories.  I have two albums for her -mostly finished- one for family and one for her travels.  But there were so many photos.  I'm not sure yet if I am going to start another album for her, or just keep an album for myself.

My mom, (formally known as The Mom Stalker- because she reads the blog and never comments) likes purples, floral patterns (preferably in shades of purple) and fairies.  I was able to make some of the photos she sent fit her purple standard, but old photos are so difficult to frame and match colors and theme.  Despite there being loads of wonderful vintage themed scrapbook papers, I still struggle with pairing papers with photographs from the 60's and 70's.

I love this new shabby, messy, photo-journal style of memory keeping that I have seen on lots of blogs. It seems to fit the older photos. (I still like clean, cute and slightly cluttered of course, but I trying new things is always fun and challenging.)

dapoppins, childhood photos, 1970's photo

I use a mix of old and older supplies.  Almost everything I buy is on sale or from a discount place.  I love,, and  Also, my local JoAnn Fabric, may not have the best selection of recent paper releases, but they always have a 40% off coupon or something on sale for 40% off.  

childhood, 1970's photo, dapoppins, scrapbooking

childhood, 1970's photos, dapoppins, scrapbook page

childhood, 1970

That pink frame under the baloons is a Hambly rub-on.  It must have gotten hot at some point, because it was fused to the clear sheet, so I just cut it out like a transparency.  When Hambly closed their doors the rub-on's went on sale.  I made sure to buy some (okay, as many as I could afford.)

I've noticed fewer companies are making rub-on's now. Or at least not making as wide a selection.  And I love them!

ugliest couch, Mom & me, scrapbook, dapoppins

The splotches on the page are on purpose.  My husband was kind of mystified by that, but I liked the idea of some messy texture.  There are some swipes of gesso at the bottom and top of the photo block too.  A special touch to this page is vintage flocked wallpaper I bought off of etsy.  My grandmother had flocked wallpaper.  I know some people thought it was gaudy even then, but I loved it.  I thought it was so very elegant. Now it reminds me of my childhood. 

ugliest couch, Mom & Me, old photo's, dapoppins

I have a lot of photos of my brother and I seated on this couch!  I'm sure I'll be posting more of them.

How have you scraped your old photos?  I would love to see!

Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, June 25

The Nanny Reads: Reading aloud is important. Reading the right kind of book makes it easier.

One of the things I have been thinking of doing for months now is adding a tab on the top of this site called, "Nanny Reviews,"  which would mostly include reviews of children's picture books.

Despite all that is awesome and modern in electronic books and electronic book readers in this century, there is nothing better in story telling then the old fashioned hard copy picture book.  It's one of my fears that as walk-in book stores close, and e-books become cheaper and more accessible, that families will loose the interactive tactile experience and page turning wonder of reading books together.

read a loud

I have posted before HERE on reading out loud to children and others we love. Everyone should and can read out loud. We should begin reading to children when they are still babies, and continue even after when they can read on their own.  We should read out loud to our spouses.  We should read out loud to our grandparents, and have our kids read out loud to us and others.

1. Reading out loud increases vocabulary familiarity in both the reader and the listener.

2. Reading out loud is a bonding experience for both the reader and the listener.

3. Reading out loud builds communication skills.

4. Listening to books teaches children to use their brains in imaginative ways.

5. Listening to books teaches children to listen for details, keeps them from tuning out, helps them focus, and
    enhances later skills related to listening.

This is just a few things off the top of my head.

Mother and daughter reading, Mary Cassatt

I am especially fond of picture books because they contain so many different kinds of artistic expression that is available to everybody, young and old.  There is no limit to the types and forms of picture making in children's books.  From classic museum style painting, to pen and ink drawings, illustrators use hundreds of different mediums to help shape and contribute to the author's story.

Unfortunately not every book is best suited for reading out loud.

No. Words on paper with pictures does not automatically equal an enjoyable reading experience.  The best read out loud books are not joke books. That is, they have an actual plot and progression and are above an easy reader level.  I enjoy Mo Willem's books.  But they are not the type of tales that create new tapestries in the imagination or introduce new creative concepts and complex words.  They are funny and relatable, but don't require much of an attention span.

Anita Silvey writes a fantastic essay HERE  about children's picture books in the School Library Journal. She talks about how the publishing industry  in recent years has basically shot it self in the foot by focusing on shorter, simpler, less word heavy books for children.  Many of these new books, though entertaining, are like junk food. Great for a quick sweet taste, low on cognitive nutrition, and not entertaining enough to become classics that adults buy for their children and their grandchildren.

The best read out loud books have a pace and rhythm that the reader falls into easily.  It isn't forced.  The reader doesn't have to search for it.  The narrative is fun for both the reader and the listener.  A good book has a plot and characters and isn't afraid of complex sentences and words. In fact, a really fun read out loud book makes up completely new words, plays with sounds and delights the senses.

It's a book the reader doesn't mind reading over and over. It is a book a person never forgets, and wants to revisit and share.

Picture books are an important, vital part of childhood.  Every child should be read to.  (The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees with me.) 

Under my new tab I will review children's books that I pick up from the library or see in the book store with this criteria in mind. Often I will post the reviews here in the regular feed and share with you. Since no one has hired me I get to be brutally honest and use as many adverbs and adjectives to describe the book as I my little heart desires.

I will be reading with a few questions in mind.  Is this  book junk food?  Or is it a classic that should be saved and shared with every child I meet.  As a Nanny, will I recommend this book to parents?  Would I buy this book as a gift because I think it contributes to the mind of a child as well as entertains?  Is this book enjoyable to read out loud? Does the book have a natural flow that makes it easy for anyone, even the most self-conscious reader, to read out loud? Would my own children enjoy this book?

Maybe we can start a movement and encourage publishers to return to the days of creating stories with fantastic art, beloved characters and imaginative, moving plots instead of just joke books and glorified comic books.  (Not that these books aren't fun or have no value, I have a couple I want to share too, but -well I think I made my over all point.)

What are your favorite books from childhood?  What books do you think every child should hear?  Do you have someone to read out loud to?

Mother and child reading, Mary Cassatt

Some books I've read on Goodreads