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a winter wonderland...books and music for our littles!

Monday, January 23, 2023

You may recall that we were both kindergarten teachers before we retired a few years ago! As a result, children’s literature is a passion we share and between the two of us, we have countless books we consider our “favorites”! There’s nothing we love more than snuggling up with our Littles to enjoy a good book together!

We both also love a good theme!

So, today we are sharing our “TOP FIVE” for each of the following.…

Winter Board Books

Winter Picture Books

and we’ll also provide three top contenders for Winter Chapter Books.

As kindergarten teachers, we also know the power music holds! Since we each have an equally large repertoire of songs and fingerplays in our pockets, we are

highlighting a few of our winter faves for you!

As you probably know, reading aloud to children (even the littlest Littles) is the BEST way to grow a strong reader and writer! While babies may not yet understand your words per se, it’s important that they hear language spoken to them from a young age, and the sound of your voice and your cuddles will provide lots of comfort, too!

When reading to your Littles, here are our suggestions for making the experience meaningful and fun for you both!

Read with Expression! Whenever possible, read with emotion! This adds interest and keeps your Littles engaged! Think of all the ways you can express yourself to match the words in a story - happy, sad, mad, sleepy, excited, and scared are only some possibilities

Books on Repeat! Your Littles love — and learn from — repetition! Don't be afraid to read the same book over and over again. While it may get boring for you, repeating the words and how you emphasize them each time, is rewarding for the Littles in your life!

Use Different Voices! Change your voice (higher, lower, squeaky) for different characters in the story! So many ways to bring the text alive!

Emphasize Rhythms and Rhymes!! Our Littles learn to anticipate what’s next as they begin to rely on the rhythm and rhyme offered in so many beginning books! As your Littles become familiar with a story, give them opportunities to repeat rhyming phrases!

Talk about Pictures and Photos! Doing so will build vocabulary! For older Littles, preview a story or ask questions about it!

Personalize It! Again, for older Littles, share personal connections - or stories from your past - and relate them to what you are reading together!

First up are those first books our littlest Littles enjoy… BOARD BOOKS!

Chunky board books (as well as soft fabric ones or those made of vinyl for bath play) are great options when first reading to your Littles. You’ll find our Top Five list below! We’ve linked up the titles (tap on each) if you’d like to purchase one or learn more but please know that many are also available at your local libraries (or perhaps already found on our own bookshelves)!

Little ones will love lifting the flaps in this book to reveal a red sled, a giant snow plow, a cute furry groundhog, and everything else that Baby loves about winter! The sturdy format and easy-to-lift flaps are perfect for parents and children to share.

Little ones will love this fresh winter spin on a classic nursery rhyme, as one little snowman sleds through a winter wonderland!

Repetition of both colors and winter clothing items will engage while building understanding! Build a snowman, color by color, with this delightful, cumulative story!

Based on the song, "Ten on the Bed", with a delightfully slippery, slide-y twist! This tale, of animals speeding down the hill on a sled, is ideal for reading, counting, and singing along with… over and over.

An engaging introduction to the winter season using interactive touch and feels!

Again, we are providing links with info about each but we’ve both found these

at our local libraries, too! Each offers opportunities to rhyme, to build sequencing skills or to make connections with personal experiences!

Have you ever wondered . . . what do snowmen do at night? This delightful wintertime tale reveals all! This is one book in a series about these snowmen - bursting with personality and charm - and their secret lives!

The magic and wonder of winter’s first snowfall is perfectly captured in this classic shared by generations of readers! The quiet fun and sweetness of Peter’s small adventures in the deep, deep snow is perfect for reading together on a cozy winter day.

In this book, the old lady is swallowing everything from snow to a pipe, some coal, a hat, and more! With rollicking, rhyming text and funny illustrations, this lively version will appeal to young readers with every turn of the page. And this time, there's a surprise at the end… What could it be?

Another classic! When Nicki drops his new white mitten in the snow, some curious woodland animals find it and crawl in for warmth. First comes a mole, then a rabbit, a badger and others, each one larger than the last! This is a great story to act out with your Littles!

Kids will adore this story about Clayton and Desmond as they ultimately join forces to build the biggest snowman ever!

While neither of us have Littles old enough to listen to a chapter book being read aloud to them or ones that are old enough to read chapter books on their own, we know that several of our readers are Grands to older kids! Each of these would be wonderful winter books to give as a gift or to read with your older Littles! You could even have a regular “reading date” in person or via Zoom! Two of the books highlighted may sound familiar to you as each was a family favorite when our own Middles were growing up while another is a classic in the making!!

A classic, the humorous adventures of a house painter and his brood of high-stepping penguins have delighted children for generations. A Newbery Honor Book!

A brand new book to us, but we’ve read lots of rave reviews! In the Very, Very Far North, past the Cold, Cold Ocean and just below the hill that looks like a baby whale, you’ll find an inquisitive polar bear named Duane who befriends an array of animals as he discovers where he belongs!

You can introduce a new generation to these cherished books! The adventures of Laura Ingalls and her family continue as they bravely face the hard winter of 1880-81 in their little house in the Dakota Territory. Blizzards cover the little town with snow, cutting off all supplies from the outside. Read to find out what happens!

As former kindergarten teachers, we also know the power music holds!

Singing to our Littles and exposing them to rhythm can help them in so many ways - increasing vocabulary development, working memory and the ability to focus,

to name just a few!

Here’s a few of the fun winter songs we love to use with Littles of every age!

When we were teaching kindergarten a huge struggle was when students needed to get ready for winter recess. They would come up to us with boots untied and jackets unzipped and claim they couldn’t do it because their mittens were on. (We’d get very tired of saying “then take your mittens off” 22 times!!) A big goal in K is to teach independence, so Laurie made up this next song to help her students plan their dressing order. It sure made the room cheerful as little voices sang this quietly to themselves! . Please note - while Laurie said she made the song up, she has no claim of ownership! We’re sure teachers all over the midwest are making up similar songs to help their kids!

Here’s a classic!

Laura even remembers saying this one

with her own nursery school teacher, way back when!

Do you have memories of this one?

And now, an all time favorite sung in both of our classrooms over the years!

Enjoy this rendition from Laurie! (apologies for the singing!)

Five Little Snowmen Fat

I used to do this with my kindergartners where they were the snowman and each got to hold a laminated paper hat over their head (real hats = fear of lice outbreak in a classroom!) so if you had enough Littles, it would be fun to dig up enough real hats for everyone. With the example above, I would let older LIttles make their snowman and hats out of paper and/or crafty items.. I cut out computer-printed snowmen and hats , since Little D is too small to make them herself, but what a fun activity for older Littles! Little D LOVES this song - especially singing along with the “down, down, down” part!

Please know that, while we are each comfortable singing with our Littles, we also understand that other Grands might not feel the same way! Often you can take these songs and, rather than sing them, you can chant them with your Littles! Below are links to two videos of simple songs with easy melodies that you could use with your kiddos, as well. While neither of us are huge proponents of screen time with Littles, you may certainly use these as you and your family see fit!

Snowflakes, Snowflakes would be a fun song to move or dance to!

I’m a Little Snowman! would also be fun to move to as you act out the words!

We have another Winter Wonderland post for you this Thursday! On that day (January 26) our focus will turn to winter art and fun for infants, toddlers, preschools and schoolagers! As always, we invite you to subscribe to our blog! We are hopeful that we’ve resolved our notification system 🙏🏻🙏🏻 🙏🏻🙏🏻 for our subscribers and that you will once again receive timely and accurate emails when a new post is set to publish!. (There was LOTS of frustration on our end last week as we tried to resolve the issue - we had to remind ourselves of our motto, Live and Learn many times!) Once again, we thank you for your continued patience! Please remember, you can also find us on Instagram - we’d love to have you follow us there and soon we plan to create an Our Grand Lives Facebook page, too!

One more thing… we’ve also discovered that our blog’s “Comments” section is initially cumbersome to use! In order to add a comment to a blog post, our readers must (1) sign in through email, Facebook or Google and then (2) create an account/password and then (3) verify identification. All of these steps are there, as we understand it, to protect our site and to protect our readers! While we’ve been frustrated about it, this knowledge has helped us better understand and appreciate the reason for these steps! The good news is that once you’ve completed this process once, you shouldn’t need to do so when making future comments. When we first set up this blog, we really wanted it to be a place where our readers could share their expertise and advice with us, and a place where conversations could happen! If you are willing and able, we’d love to have you check out the “Comments” section at the end of this post (or future ones) and consider signing up! We’d love to know your favorite books and music to share with your Littles! THANK YOU!

Wishing you a great start to your week!

1 Comment

Jan 26, 2023

My kids loved "The Mitten" book. Thanks for sharing

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