Category Archives: literacy

Time Out for StoryPanda

Check out the StoryPanda iPad app!

So, the folks at StoryPanda have a Mother’s Day promotion, where they are offering SIX of their e-books for kids for FREE until Mother’s Day! 🙂  It’s a very cool app, because not only can children read their fun stories, but they are able to change/edit the words to create their own versions of the stories.  Also, with Storypanda’s books kids can swap in different characters, props, and backgrounds, too!  The six free books that you can download until Mother’s Day areBlack Cat Big CityMompersBoy Who Cried AliensMy Extraordinary FriendPaul The Imaginary and Yawn Chairs.  They are usually $2.99 per book, so it’s definitely worth checking out!

Cat Creates a Book from Storypanda on Vimeo.


Time Out for the Ballroom…

Graphic by Chris @ Daddy Doctrines

The other day we went to Ikea to shop for some shelving. The great thing about Ikea is that you can get tons of furniture for cheap, and since this shelving would be situated on the balcony, it would serve its purpose. And, I LOVE putting this stuff together. Feel like a grown kid putting together a cool Lego set! 😉

But, what’s there to do for kids, you might ask? Well, there’s a cafeteria where you could get a pretty decent kids meal for less than $3 and then… There’s the BALLROOM… and it’s FREE! (Indoor Fun for Kids – Ikea – Lucky for us, Malachy met the age requirements and the height requirements! I saw many a sad kid turned away, either because they were too tall or not tall enough. Sad kids = Sad parents… 🙁

Basically, you could leave them there for an hour, while you go shop. Was I able to do that? NOPE. After a wait, Malachy was released into the Ballroom. 😉 What separated us was a floor-to-ceiling pane of glass. THICK glass! It was virtually soundproof, so when he tried to scream his delights to me, I couldn’t really hear anything. And that was even when he came right up to the glass! All I knew was that he was ECSTATIC – jumping for joy, tripping and flailing all over, swimming in the balls, lying down and trying to bury himself, and just going CRAZY! 😉 I wanted to bang on the glass and tell him (YELL!) not to bite the balls, to not bury himself because the kids might step all over him, and to just be careful. All these things I should have/could have told him BEFORE he went in, but now it was too late. I felt powerless… 🙁 But then, I had an idea!!! 😉

I had some scrap paper from Ikea, so I wrote in CAPS, “DON’T BITE THE BALLS!” He nodded. Then I wrote, “STOP LYING DOWN!” And finally… “DON’T GET BURIED!” It was awesome that Malachy could read. Now, I didn’t have to rip my hairs out (the little that I have left), and hover over him like a hawk. He still was going crazy, but at least he wasn’t putting the balls to his mouth or burying himself in them… ai ya!

Now, what if he couldn’t read? I would have had to turn around, walk away, and come back in an hour… 😉

Time Out for IM…

Malachy on AIM...

Malachy started Instant Messaging before he was 3, mostly with his uncle and grandparents. In a previous post, he actually assumed my identity! 😉 His uncle thought he was chatting with me.
He always loved letters, so he naturally loved the keyboard and typing away. When he got older (can’t believe I just typed the word “older”), he learned that the Mac could use the Chinese Pin Yin system and type out Chinese characters. He LOVED that, too! He can now type on his own, and he will sometimes switch back between English and Chinese, just for fun. When it’s Chinese, he’ll just insert random characters. Sometime, he’ll ask me what he just typed in Chinese, and I’m like, “I don’t know. Go ask Mommy! 😉 ”
Tonight, his uncle was feeling a bit down, so before bedtime, I suggested that he call his Uncle Chris. He tried calling twice, but it was so loud on the other end, and it hung up twice. So, first, he left his uncle a voice message telling him he shouldn’t be upset and that people are just talking, etc…
Then, while Malachy was on the computer, his uncled IM’d from his Blackberry, so I had Malachy take a break to IM him. I sat on the couch while he typed away. I gave him suggestions on what he could type, but he typed what he wanted. This is what he had to say… At first, he didn’t finish the word “UPSET,” so I told him he could retype it. Instead, he thought he should just add the letters on the next line. Later on, I showed Shien and she asked, “What’s GN?” I told her, “Good Night. Your son decided to just type GN on his own…” Ai ya! 😉

Time Out for Lights Off!

We have the shades down in our bedroom, so it’s usually still pretty dark when we get up in the morning. On weekends, it’s almost always Malachy waking us up, but on weekdays, it’s usually the other way around. We usually try to get him up by drawing the shades to brighten up the room. Once in a while, I’ll turn on the halogen with the remote light switch, so it gets REALLY bright. When I do that, Malachy usually quickly gets up out of bed, grabs the remote switch to turn the lights off, and jumps back into bed.
Earlier in the week, I turned on the lights, and he immediately turn off the lights. Then he said, “Daddy, didn’t you read my sign?!” I hadn’t noticed. He said, “Read it!” He had stuck a piece of paper on the nightstand (located between his bed and ours), and it read, “DO NOT EVER TURN ON LIGHT SWICH!” Unbelievable! 😉
I believe it was over 6 months ago that his uncle had joked around with him saying that he would sleep in Malachy’s bed if he didn’t go to bed. Believe it or not, that worked a few times. Eventually, I told him he could make a sign to say that it was his bed and for him only. The power of writing… 😉

Time Out for Writing…

(Pulled from my YouTube archives…He was 2 years, 2 months at the time…)

I came upon this online article yesterday, Your 3-year-old timeline: Name writing | BabyCenter, and it disturbed me quite a bit.  It addresses writing for 3-year-olds and starts off by saying, “It’s exciting when your child’s scribbles begin to look more like real letters.  Some threes even start writing their name, or a few letters of it.  But writing is one of those developmental milestones that varies from child to child.  Don’t stress out if your child isn’t even interested in writing.”  It goes on to say a parent might still not know the child’s dominant hand for another year or so, and that it’s hard to control a pencil due to lack of fine motor skills.  In terms of child development and literacy, I feel that we grossly underestimate what our children are capable of.

To me, it’s about exposure and practice and expectations.  If a child isn’t given the independence to try to hold a pencil or to feed him/herself at a young age (before 24 months), then those skills will not have the chance to develop as quickly.  If you provide them with the opportunity, they will embrace it.

I had to look back at our library of photos to see when we first let Malachy scribble away.  He was less than a year and a half.  Before he was two, we knew he was a lefty.  He started eating with his left hand and writing with his left hand.  We never forced him to write.  Pens, markers, crayons and lots of scrap paper (found a use for junk mail!) were always around for him if he chose to write.  And boy did he choose to write! 😉  When he started school, his writing was way better than his coloring and drawing.  In fact, he had to practice his coloring and drawing MORE THAN his writing!  Most kids draw a picture and then try to write something.  At school, he would write something, and then try to draw it!  😉

Your browser doesn’t support JavaScript or you have disabled JavaScript.

Lately, he’s been writing lots of notes to people.  On Sunday, he was upset that Grandpa and Uncle Chris had a father-son brunch.  They wound up coming to the same restaurant we were eating at, about an hour later, but sat at another table.  Since he couldn’t sit with them, he wrote a note to his uncle saying, “Dear Uncle Chris, I wish you were over here.”  He proceeded to get out of his booster chair and handed him the note.  Then he wrote a note to his Grandpa.  “Dear Gong Gong, I wish you were over here.”  Again, he asked to be excused and handed his grandfather a note.  In a way, it was therapy for him, too, helping him to get over the anger he felt earlier that they were not eating with him.

Two weeks ago, after we came home from school, he wrote me a note telling me he hoped I took care of Jimmy, and just handed it to me.  I think kids get it.  If you show them that writing has a purpose, then they’re going to want their voices to be heard.  Before long, they find their own reasons to write.  Gotta’ let them write, and believe they are ready BEFORE they’re 3!  If they can talk, then they can write.  🙂

Sometimes, when he goes to Whole Foods with Mommy, he’ll write a Grocery List while she gets ready, and then he checks off the items at the store.  He writes countless notes to his uncle and his girlfriend about how he misses them and loves them.  One evening, he made a label for each of us.  On my note, he wrote, “Dad is a fixer.”  On Mommy’s he wrote, “Mom is a good friend.”  Every day, on his way to school, he’ll ask Mommy for scrap paper and his clip board, and he’ll just write notes on his way to school.  Age 3, and he’s writing more prolifically than Daddy.  Aiya!  🙂

Malachy's Note About Jimmy
Shopping with Mom at Whole Foods

Time Out for a Read Aloud

A couple of weeks ago, I believe Uncle Chris was having a conversation with Malachy about sharks and whales and dolphins.  (I wish we tape-recorded all of the conversations they have had!) That made me think of a non-fiction book that I had read once to Malachy.  So, I took it out, and asked if he could read it to his uncle.  He started to read with lots fluency and inflection, and I was like, “WOW!”  Where’d he learn that?  I guess it was from me and Shien reading to him night after night, watching Sesame Street every now and then, and having amazing conversations with his uncle and family and friends.  And now, with going to school, he’s just surrounded by books and language.  He’s always loved his letters and words, and talking, too!

So, that night, before bedtime, I asked him if I could film him reading (Uncle Chris had requested it, too), and so, he read and read and read, and made all sorts of connections and conversation.  Another Malachy Classic! 😉  I had to break it into 3 parts on YouTube, because they only let you have 10 minutes at a time. 😉

Reading at 3, better than me!  Ai ya!   🙂