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Holiday Gift Ideas for 2016

Every year when the winter holiday is almost upon us and the gift giving about to begin, I recommend toys and books that are beloved here at CHP. We spent a lot of time this fall talking about and reading rhyming books so I posted a list of some of our favorites. Many parents told me how much they enjoyed my favorite toy and manipulatives list from last year so I am posting it again.
Happy Holidays to All!

Alphabet and Counting Rhyming Books:

Dining with…Monsters!:  A Disgusting Way to Count to 10 ! by Agnese Baruzzi
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault
Dr. Seuss’s ABC, by Dr. Seuss

Classic Rhyming Books:

Green Eggs and Ham  and The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss (my favorites but there are many of the other gems from Dr. Seuss!)
Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb, by Al Perkins
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See,  by Bill Martin Jr.
Chicken Soup with Rice, by Maurice Sendak
A House is a House for Me, by Mary Ann Hoberman

Holiday Rhyming Books:

Five Little Pumpkins, by Dan Yaccarino
Stick Man and Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson (and many other rhyming gems from Judith Donaldson!)

Musical Rhyming Books:

Baby Beluga, by Raffi
Down by the Bay, by Raffi and Nadine Bernard Westcott

Fun Rhyming Books:

Dinosaur Roar! by Henrietta and Paul Stickland
Mrs. McNosh Hangs up the Wash, by Sarah Weeks and Nadine Bernard Westcott
Silly Sally, by Audrey Wood
Jamberry, by Bruce Degan
Subway, by Christoph Niemann
Trashy Town, by Andrew Zimmerman and Davie Clemesha

Pets and Animals:

The Pet Vet, by Marcia Leonard
The Big Red Barn, by Margaret Wise Brown 


Favorite CHP Toys and Manipulatives:
BUILDING!
Magna Tiles are some of the more popular building toys at CHP, a favorite of girls and boys.  They are very easy to build with so this allows building with little frustration.  Warning:  These builders are not cheap but they are educational, fun, and extremely durable.
 

SCIENCE!

Binoculars and magnifying glasses are often in use at the science center. What is nice about these science tools is that they are light and portable so you can take them with you when you explore.
 

Classic Forest Animal Collection:

These little forest creatures are always SO popular!
 

LITERACY AND MATH!
These sequencing puzzles are well loved at CHP. They are not the standard jig saw puzzle. Each puzzle piece is the same size--long wooden strips.  These puzzles are completed both visually and with knowledge of numbers and ABC letter sequencing.

Measuring Tape:

Like binoculars and magnifying glasses, measuring tape can be another “take along” toy.  Measurement is such a great way to learn about numbers, estimation and comparison.

Alphabet Learning Locks:
What a fun way to recognize the alphabet and use your fine motor skills!

WRITING!
Faber-Castell Markers:
Faber-Castell GRIP Color Markers (Non-Toxic and Washable) are our most popular writing tools.  The colors are bright, they are easy to use and you can even revive them with a little bit of water if they dry out.

PRETEND PLAY!
These little people are great for pretend play.  They are used in so many ways like in block builds and are well loved at the playdough table too.

ART and CRAFTS!

Assorted Colored Masking Tape and Dispenser:
Children have LOVED working with this colored masking tape. They use it to make letters, pictures and to build things.  This set comes with a large wooden dispenser so it is a bit pricey but you can buy tape refills.  I predict your child will use their imagination with this item for years to come.
 

Talking Toys vs. The Sound of Your Voice

Last year, my assistant Kristin had the foresight to create a place for articles and videos on our website—the perfect place to share them with the CHP community.  Last month I posted an nprEd article -- The Trouble with Talking Toys. 

http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/01/11/462264537/the-trouble-with-talking-toys

I was so happy to have someone put in writing what I recognized for a long time--the best way to stimulate language development in your toddler is to talk to them.  This article focuses on infants and toddlers but much of the same goes for three and four-year-olds.  Children need to look at your face, learn by watching your expressions and listen to the tone of your voice.  Did you know that children need to hear 30,000 words a day for optimum language development—your words not words from a Smart Phone or device.  We know there is limited vocabulary learned from a talking toy, but there is so much more to this.

I was lucky attend a lecture last week by Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair—the author of The Big Disconnect-Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age, someone I have written about previously on Carol’s Wall.

What I learned at the lecture was compelling. I knew that babies and toddlers should not be exposed to devices under the age of two and some experts believe even longer than that. I also knew that babies need real life experiences and strong connections to humans and nature.

What I did not know (but what made so much sense) is that recent studies have shown a baby’s brain “lights up” when a known person reads to them. There is no lighting up the brain with a device reading or a talking toy.  If you want your children exposed to “books on tape” for the child to have the best learning experience, the tape should be the voice of a mom, dad or teacher.

Of note here too is that smart phones became part of our lives only seven years ago.  They were launched very quickly--before we knew what we were getting into. There was never any research done to assess the impact on the infant or toddler brain or the psychological fallout on young children. To make it worse, technology remains an unregulated industry.

The article did not discuss talking toys for the preschool age group but it is easy to understand that a talking toy or device does not serve this age group well. We know that preschoolers have vivid imaginations. Unfortunately, devices do not. When a toy “talks,” it does not think. You activate the toy and it says the same things over and over again. Once a child realizes this, if they want to interact with it, they need to stop using their imagination and change their play to accommodate the words of the toy.  Conversely, anything is possible when you play with a silent toy because you play without limitations. Just think of plain wooden blocks. They can be arranged into castles and harbors and spaceships. The sky’s the limit. 

While writing this, I took a moment to Google talking toys and, immediately, up popped famous toy makers’ versions of a talking chair, dog, bear, and my least favorite, a play kitchen. The kitchen says, “Who wants pizza?” and “Mmmmm cookies!” In this offering, I found another toy connected to the play kitchen. At an additional cost, you can purchase an ice cream set that “sings” ice cream and clean-up songs.  How sad.

It is so wrong that big toy companies sell toys under the educational guise.  So, what can you do about this?

Parents need to be empowered to know that there is nothing a talking toy or screen can teach your child better than you can. Your children want moments of connection with you, with human touch and comfort. Know too that devices are hyper-stimulants. In the case of the smart phone, remember that children need non-talking toys and hugs, not a digital pacifier. 

Studies have shown that the greatest educational gift you can give to your child is to read to them, for 20 minutes twice a day. Get rid of the talking toys and devices!

Holiday Gift Ideas for 2015

Need a Holiday Gift?  How About Some Things We Love at CHP!

With the winter holiday almost upon us and the gift giving about to begin, I thought it would be fun to share some of the things we love to play with in school.   Last year, I shared a list of books which I shared again this year with a few additions.  Happy Holidays to all!

BUILDING!
Magna Tiles are one of the more popular building toys at CHP, a favorite of girls and boys.  They are very easy to build with so this allows building with little frustration.  Warning:  These builders are not cheap but they are educational, fun, and extremely durable.
http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/product/productDet.jsp?productItemID=1%2C689%2C949%2C371%2C925%2C033&ASSORTMENT%3C%3East_id=1408474395181113&bmUID=1448910026082

SCIENCE!
Binoculars and magnifying glasses are often in use at the science center. What is nice about these science tools is that they are light and portable so you can take them with you when you explore.
Binoculars:
http://www.amazon.com/Learning-Resources-Primary-Science-Binoculars/dp/B00TIC8KKS/ref=pd_sim_21_2?ie=UTF8&dpID=41MW4JtsbtL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_AC_UL160_SR160%2C160_&refRID=1YFN4ZPV87C3H2VA0HVC
Magnifying Glasses:
http://www.amazon.com/Learning-Resources-Primary-Magnifier-Tweezers/dp/B004DJ367S/ref=sr_1_21?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1448908941&sr=1-21&keywords=magnifying+glass
Classic Forest Animal Collection:
These little forest creatures are always SO popular!
http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/product/productDet.jsp?productItemID=1%2C689%2C949%2C371%2C897%2C080&ASSORTMENT%3C%3East_id=1408474395181113&bmUID=1448912747528


LITERACY AND MATH!
These sequencing puzzles are well loved at CHP.  They are not the standard jig saw puzzle.  Each puzzle piece is the same size--long wooden strips.  What you use to complete them is your ability to complete a picture and/or your knowledge of numbers and letters.  These puzzles are completed both visually and with knowledge of numbers and ABC letter sequencing. 
Alpha and Number Sequencing Puzzles:
http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/product/productDet.jsp?productItemID=1%2C689%2C949%2C371%2C920%2C725&ASSORTMENT%3C%3East_id=1408474395181113&bmUID=1448909186361
http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/product/productDet.jsp?productItemID=1%2C689%2C949%2C371%2C928%2C517&ASSORTMENT%3C%3East_id=1408474395181113&bmUID=1448909423405
Measuring Tape:
Like binoculars and magnifying glasses, this can be another “take along” toy.  Measurement is such a great way to learn about numbers, estimation and comparison.
http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/product/productDet.jsp?productItemID=1%2C689%2C949%2C371%2C894%2C803&ASSORTMENT%3C%3East_id=1408474395181113&bmUID=1448910140976

Alphabet Learning Locks:
What a fun way to recognize the alphabet and use your fine motor skills!
http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/product/productDet.jsp?productItemID=1%2C689%2C949%2C371%2C929%2C365&ASSORTMENT%3C%3East_id=1408474395181113&bmUID=1448910057563

WRITING!

Faber-Castell Markers:

Faber-Castell GRIP Color Markers (Non-Toxic and Washable) are our most popular writing tools.  The colors are bright, they are easy to use and you can even revive them with a little bit of water if they dry out.
http://www.amazon.com/Faber-Castell-20ct-Washable-Marker-Wallet/dp/B000TR84AC/ref=sr_1_1?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1448909909&sr=1-1&keywords=Faber+castell+20+Grip+markers

PRETEND PLAY!

These little people are great for pretend play.  They are used in so many ways like in block builds and are well loved at the playdough table too.

Play People with Differing Abilities:
http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/product/productDet.jsp?productItemID=1%2C689%2C949%2C371%2C894%2C786&ASSORTMENT%3C%3East_id=1408474395181113&bmUID=1448910246557
Community Block Play People:
http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/product/productDet.jsp?productItemID=1%2C689%2C949%2C371%2C894%2C293&ASSORTMENT%3C%3East_id=1408474395181113&bmUID=1448910356474

ART and CRAFTS!

Assorted Colored Masking Tape and Dispenser:
Children have LOVED working with this colored masking tape.  They use it to make letters, make pictures and to build things.  This set comes with a large wooden dispenser so it is a bit pricey but you can buy tape refills.  I predict your child will use their imagination with this item for years to come. 
http://www.amazon.com/ECR4Kids-Craft-Dispenser-Assorted-Color/dp/B000CBWWHG/ref=sr_1_3?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1448910730&sr=1-3&keywords=colored+masking+tape

BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS!
This is the book list I shared last year with a few additions. Originally, I thought I would share a little list of children’s books this year, but when it comes to children’s books, no list is a small one!

Fun:

  1. Extra Yarn and Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen
  2. Froodle and Not a Box, by Amy Portis                                                                                           
  3. Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein
  4. Knuffle Bunny and Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, by Mo Willems
  5. Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, by Peter Brown
  6. Oh No George! and Shhh, We Have a Plan, by Chris Haughton
  7. Spoon and Chopsticks, by Amy Krouse RosenthalStuck
  8. The Day the Crayons Quit, by Oliver Jeffers

Interactive:

  1. Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse RosenthalHow Do You Feed a Hungry Giant? by Caitlin Friedman
  2. Press Here and Mix It Up, by Herve Tullet
  3. Tap the Magic Tree, by Christie Matheson
  4. The Monster at the End of this Book, by Jon Stone and Michael Smollin
  5. Warning, Do Not Open This Book! by Adam Lehrhaupt and Matthew Forsythe
  6. Go Away Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley

New York, NY:

  1. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson
  2. Blackout, by John Rocco
  3. I Live In Brooklyn, by Mari Takabayashi                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
  4. Subway, by Christopher Neimann
  5. The Curious Garden, by Peter Brown
  6. Little Elliot, Big City and Little Elliot, Big Family by Mike Curato
  7. Nana in the City, by Lauren Castillo
  8. My New York, by Kathy Jacobson

Non-Fiction:

  1. Do You Know Which One Will Grow, by Susan A. Shea
  2. Maps, by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinska (for grow-ups and kids too!)
  3. Me, Jane, by Patrick McDonnell
  4. One Night, Far from Here, by Julia Wauters

Owls and Birds:

  1. Beautiful Birds, by Jean Rousseu
  2. Birds, by Kevin Henkes
  3. Little Owl Lost, by Chris Haughton
  4. Little Owl's Night, by Divya Srinivasan
  5. Owl Babies, by Martin Waddell
  6. The Best Nest, by P.D. Eastman

So Sweet Stories:

  1. Cloudette, by Tom Lichtenheld
  2. Gaston, by Kelly DiPucchio
  3. Kittens First Full Moon and My Garden, by Kevin Henkes
  4. Little Pea, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
  5. Maple, by Lori Nichols
  6. Sophie’s Squash, by Pat Zielow-Miller

Winter and Holiday:

  1. Snow, by Uri Shulevitz
  2. How the Grintch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss
  3. Stick Man, by Judith Donaldson
  4. The Magic Dreidels: A Hanukkah Story, by Eric Kimmel
  5. The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats

Classics no Children’s Bookshelf Should be Without:

  1. A Fish Out of Water, by Helen Palmer
  2. A Chair for my Mother, by Vera B. Williams
  3. Are You My Mother, by P.D. Eastman
  4. Blueberries for Sal, by Robert McCloskey
  5. Caps for Sale, by Esphyr Slobodkina
  6. Chicken Soup with Rice, by Maurice Sendak
  7. Corduroy, by Don Freeman
  8. Harry the Dirty Dog, by Gene Zion
  9. Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey
  10. Swimmy, by Lio Lionni
  11. The Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf

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