Thursday, February 25, 2010

Daily Schedule 2-3 Years Old

Here is the schedule I planned to keep and for the most part have followed:
7 am Get up
8 am Breakfast
8:30 am Bath
9 am activity (park, play, go to lessons)
12 pm Lunch
1/2 pm Take a nap if we are home (3-4 days a week)
4 pm Snack
6 pm Supper
8 pm Bedtime

1-3 days a week we've had things going on in the afternoons. This really threw off the napping schedule. I tried to spread out the activity days so if we were busy one day we'd be home in time for a good nap the next. Naps at home are now 2-3 hours in the afternoon. If we go out then the Little Guy usually naps on the way home and wakes up around 5 pm.
Bedtime is set and non-debateable in my mind. Even if he isn't tired he goes to bed by 8 pm. However, going to sleep is a different issue.
Most nights he'll read and sing for about a half hour before falling asleep. Some days he's still awake at 9:30 pm! My only rule for him is that he needs to stay in bed. He's learned to respect that for the most part.
In the mornings the Little Guy is often our alarm clock. I can't figure out if it is becasue he gets cold (his room isn't heated) or lonely. We don't mind it though because there is no better way to wake up in the morning than being smothered with hugs and kisses from a toddler!

Daily Schedule 6-12 Months, 12-24 months

With the transition to solid foods came the chance futher align Mommy, Daddy and Baby's schedules.

7 am Wake up
8 am Breakfast
9 am Play (go to the park)
10/10:30 Snack
11 am Nap (often in the stroller)
12 pm Lunch
1pm Nap
3/4 pm Wake up, Snack
6 pm Supper
7 pm Bedtime

This schedule stayed basically the same after the Little Guy turned 1. The only big change is that he stopped napping in the morning and started napping for around 3 hours most afternoons.
As we got closer to turning 2 naps on super exciting days (Sundays, Signing class,etc.) started to disappear or happen on the bike/train/bus and end when we stopped moving.

Daily Schedule 0-6 Months

One of the biggest challenges for me in the first 3 months was sinking into a schedule. I am a schedule person and my internal clock ticks fairly loudly. Many people advised me to just follow the rythym of my baby but my body wanted to follow a regular daily pattern.
Here is the schedule that we fell into.
Approximately ever 3 hours went like the following:
Baby wakes up
Play a little
Back to sleep

Since I had essentially nothing in the way of firm plans aside from Sundays it was pretty easy to just sink into a 3 hour rotation. During the night I didn't actively participate in anyplay that was initiated by the baby. The only lights on in the house were night lights and soft music would play in the background. However, during daylight hours we would play and sing together. Lights and louer, more upbeat music were part of the atmosphere. I did it this way to help him understand the difference between night and day.

Around 3/4 months we transitioned toa clock oriented schedule. It made things so much easier for me becasue I was finally back to eating and sleeping at the same times every day. A happy (rested) mommy really does make it easier to care for a baby!

Eating times for baby - 7am, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm
During the night we would feed him on demand but he started sleeping through the night so there weren't regular night time feeding times.
Mommy and Daddy ate at 8am, 12pm, 6pm
Around five months we started solid foods. They were offered at the table when Mommy and Daddy were eating.
Nap times ranged from 2-3 times a day. Usually once around 10am and again after eating and 1 pm. Some times there was also a short evening nap after eating at 4 pm.
Morning started around 6am and he was put to bed at 7/7:30 each night.

Sign of the Week

Ok, the Signing Time sign of the week just happens to be one of the Little Guy's favorite signs this week. Can you guess what it is?
The day after signing class this week the Little Guy decided it was time for his stuffed animals to work on their signs. His class reviewed the sign for"play" as well as introduced the feeling signs which we learned in the baby class this week.
The flashcards in the picture are part of the Baby Signinng Time product line. We use them as the text book for the classes I teach. They are another great resource for helping small children to communicate!

Here's a clip of the song "Can You Feel it?" from Baby Signing Time 4!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Little Help

One of the great things about Montessori practical life activities is that they are very practical!
Today my little helper hung up the socks while I took care of the bigger pieces of laundry.
He really wanted to stand on a chair to reach the high hangers so we comprimised by moving the sock hanger down to his level.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Buckel Practice

One of the Montessori items that I've wanted to buy but maybe could make is the dressing frames. Here is a Japanese page with the frames pictured at the bottom.
When I was a kid we had "quiet books" and a stuffed bus with buttons, zipper, etc. These items served the same purpose as the dressing frame but in a less obvious way.
During the past few weeks the Little Guy has become Daddy's personal dressing assistant. He really loves belts. I guess he beat me to the dressing frames!
One of the biggest benefits to the dressing frames is practicing fine motor skills. Unless you've had some sort of rehabilitation as an adult you probably don't realize how tough things like buttons and zippers really are!
Also, when the child masters a frame the sense of accomplishment is huge! Dressing skills are something they will use daily. Plus parents will enjoy the benefits that the added independence brings!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Article on teaching Sign to non-infants

The following is an article written by another Signing Time instructor. I hope you enjoy it!

Why Would You Teach a Hearing Child Sign Language?

A few short years ago, if you'd seen a parent and child using American Sign Language in a park or at a store, it would have been safe to assume that one of the two was Deaf. However there are now thousands of hearing parents teaching their hearing children how to sign basic words, due, in part, to the popularity of the hit PBS show Signing Time! Baby signing classes are popping up all over the United States as parents proudly showcase their toddlers' approximations of MILK and MORE, and it isn't only infants that are learning signs. How, and why, did this phenomenon come about?

Speech and Language professionals have been using American Sign Language signs to help hearing children communicate with their parents for over 25 years. The reason? Babies often have the motor skills and ability to understand communication far earlier than they are ready to begin oral speech (Robertson, 2007), and parents have found that sign language allows them to communicate with their children at as young as six months of age. Most people have seen pre-verbal children waving “bye-bye” before they can say it, or raising their arms in an attempt to get someone to lift them up, and teaching children American Sign Language signs is the next logical step. Parents of signing children rave that their kids began talking early, grasped the concept of language very young, and have fewer temper tantrums because of their ability to communicate with their caregivers. Sign is also embraced by many parents of children with speech and other developmental delays, as most Speech and Language Pathologists agree that sign facilitates the acquisition of verbal communication (Robertson, 2007). Simply put, it works.

What about other parents, though? Those whose children are already verbal, and able to hear? Is there any reason for parents to work on teaching signs to their older, healthy and developmentally typical children? The benefits of teaching American Sign Language signs to preschool and elementary-aged children are threefold, positively affecting a child's cognitive, academic and social growth, besides the obvious advantage were the child ever to lose their hearing.

In the realm of cognitive development, it seems that children who learn sign have larger vocabularies than those who don't, and retain superior language skills even after they stop signing. A recent study compared “groups of children who were exposed to sign for a single school year” with groups who were taught a similar curriculum without the use of sign language (Robertson, 2007). The researchers found that those children whose education had included manual communication developed better vocabulary skills during the year they were signing, and that they retained a larger vocabulary in the following year. At the end of the multiple-year study, the researchers found that “the more varied ways a child is exposed to language, the more retention and learning of that language will take place” (Robertson, 2007).

A larger vocabulary would seem to be an academic boon, as well. However, knowing the rudiments of a second language gives a child an even more impressive edge on their classmates, and American Sign Language is recognized as its own language, separate from English (Wilcox, 1999). Most parents know that learning a second language is important, and the proliferation of early immersion programs at the elementary level show that Portland parents have grasped that younger children learn and retain new languages much easier than older children and adults. However, a York University study seems to indicate that having a second language actually changes the way the brain works, which allowed “bilingual children [to] outperform monolingual students on tasks involving...abstract thinking, planning, initiating and inhibiting actions” (Exchange, 2010). Experience with another language is also a requirement for most colleges and universities in the United States.

So, it seems that signing with your child will make them smarter and help them do better in school, but did you know that it can also help them make the world a warmer and more inclusive place for others? Rachel Coleman, the creator of Signing Time! (and its Emmy-nominated star) has shared how her Deaf daughter, Leah, was ostracized on the playground and on her soccer team because the other children mistakenly believed she couldn't communicate with them. After a boy on Leah's soccer team refused to play with her, Rachel took a chance at the local school and volunteered to read and sign a story to the little boy's class. At the next practice, the boy “rushed up to Leah signing, 'FRIEND-PLAY-BALL!'” Rachel continues, “He wasn’t fluent in ASL. He hadn’t taken an ASL course. He only remembered three signs. Three signs changed their world!” (Examiner, 2010). Rachel's story illustrates how just a few signs mean that when a hearing child meets a Deaf child at school or encounters someone signing at their neighborhood park, the two won't have a language barrier to their friendship.

So, why do the parents of hearing children insist on their children learning American Sign Language signs? Because the knowledge will be good for their minds, good for their grades, and good for their hearts.


Exchange Magazine. (2010). “Bilingualism boosts children’s focus, lessens distraction: York U study.” Editorial. Retrieved from:

Robertson, Shari. (2007). “Using Sign to Facilitate Oral Language: Building a Case with Parents.” Speech Retrieved from:

Sedlock, Heather. (2010). Examiner. “Signing Time Videos to be aired on Nick Jr: Interview with creator Rachel Coleman.” Retrieved from: Needs-Kids-Examiner~y2010m1d4-Signing-Time-Videos-to-be-aired-on-Nick-Jr-Interview- with-creator-Rachel-Coleman.

Wilcox, Sherman. (1999). “American Sign Language as a Foreign Language”. Center for Applied Lingusistics. Retrieved from:

Carissa Martos mothers, writes and teaches ASL vocabulary to children and families in Portland, Oregon. Besides running PDX Loves Signing, she holds a degree in English from the University of California in Berkeley, and is working towards her Master's In Teaching.
Visit her site here:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Snow Day

One of the joys of having a toddler is watching him explore the seasons and learn about all the unique forms of weather. This morning we were treated to afew inches of snow. The Little Guy was asking to go out before I was even awake! So, before breakfast we had a good hour of exploring the cold and snow.
Shake a tree, make it snow!

He really wanted to make a snow angel.

Nothing like topping off some play time with a bit of puddle jumping!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sign of the Week

This week the Sign of the Week is one of the Little Guy's favorites - milk!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

In Class This Week...

Last week was the off week for classes and this week we have bad weather + colds (sickness) = only a few students were able to make it.
However, the occasional small class day is a great chance to hang out before/after class. I really think the off-topic conversations are just as important as the learning planned for the day. This week the big concern for a number of mothers is going back to work. Since the start back date is April 1st we are going into the last month at home for many mums.

In today's Baby Signing Time class learned about bugs. The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Itsy Bitsy Spider. I was hoping that today we could finally get outside but it was just too cold and wet. Since New Year's we've had either rain or snow on every day I teach!!!

In English class we talked about food for toddlers. It can be a real challenge to come up with healthy food that they will eat!
The first thing we looked at was the Preschooler Food Pyramid from We also looked at the Canadian Food Guide which has the serving sizes in metric.
I also brought my favorite children's cookbook - Annabel Karmel's First Meals. I love that the recipes she has are mostly made from scratch so I don't have to worry about not being able to find key ingredients. And, as one of the students pointed out, the books has recipes from weaning foods up to 7 yrs. old. Most other books are either for babies and toddlers or for bigger kids. Other features that we all find helpful is the example week-long menus in the back the list of things to keep in your pantry.

Next week is thefinal week for the Mommies English class. Maybe we'll have to try out some of the toddler recipes?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Are you ready to learn some new signs? You have a couple of days to practice before Valentine's Day arrives!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Where's My Pocket?

As parents one of the toughest things to do is sit back and let our children discover new things on their own. Most of the time I think I'm pretty good about letting the Little Guy learn on his own but sometimes I can't help but step in!
Where's my pocket?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Travel Toy

One of the best toys we own came from a couple of garage sales in the US last summer. At one house I found these two play mats. One has a farm design and the other has a railroad. The next house we stopped at had little, durable plastic cars so I picked up two to go with the mats.
Since the mats fold up like a handkerchief and the cars are small this set isreally easy to take even on a short trip. The clear plastic bag on thesofa originally held some baby gift but now it is home to the mat and car set. (Never throw away the good plastic pacaking that baby things sometimes come in!)
To keep the novelty of this little set it stays in the closet and only comes out when we are at a hotel, waiting in an airport,etc.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Cloth Diapers 布おむつ

This week in Baby Signing Time classes we had some great discussions. One was about shoe size for 1-2 yr. olds and the other about cloth diapers.
As far as shoes go we decided that since the feet grow faster than the shoes wear out it is better to get cheap shoes at Nishimatsuya than to invest in designer ones.
Cloth diapers, on the other hand, are something worth investing in. In Japan when you talk about cloth diapers the only thing people know are the old, traditional cloths that you fold and pin. They've never seen or heard of the other options. So, here isa simple and quick education.

All in One (AIO) オールインワン布おむつ
These look like "regular" diapers. The outer layer is often waterproof to prevent leaking while the inside is soft, absorbent cloth. They have build in fasteners and don't require special folding so anyone can use them.
Blueberry is a popular but expensive brand but when you think about how much you'll spend in a month on diapers the price really doesn't look that bad!

Pocket ポケット布おむつ
These have a pocket where you can add extra layers of cloth for absorption
FuzziBunz can be bought through Japanese Amazon.

Covers and Liners 布おむつ カバー ライナー
If you are using the traditional fold it yourself cloth diapers a cover can help provide the protection that you'd get with an All in One diaper. Liners can be added to any cloth diaper. Some companies make special liners that will snap into their brand of diapers. Personally, I love the paper liners from kushies. They can save you a lot of trouble with messy diapers! has great information on using cloth diapers.
ComfyBabyStore offers a great selection of cloth diapers. They even offer a starter set including a sampling of 4 different brands of diapers. I'm thinking of ordering a set for the next baby.

The recommendation for a cloth diaper starter is generally to have 24 diapers on hand. Also, have a bucket to put the dirty diapers in. Keep in mind that some companies offer diapers in various sizes while others have a one-size-fits-all approach.

With the Little Guy I did a combination of cloth and disposable diapers. We were on a pretty tight budget so I bought 12 Kushies Diapers (クーシーズ) in Infant size. At home during the day I used the Kushies and when we went out or at night switched to disposable diapers. Since Little Guy was a big baby he fit the infant size almost from the start. He outgrew them around his first birthday. By that point we were using training pants and pull-up disposable diapers for potty training purposes so I never bought the larger size of cloth diapers.

One final advantage of cloth diapers is that they can be reused. Save them for the 2nd child, pass them on a friend or even re-sell them on an auction site. A bargain shopper can find good, used cloth diapers at very reasonable prices.

Signing Time - Sign of the Week

The sign of the week is day!