Monday, November 12, 2012

It was a good lecture, or was it?

On Teaching Fashion: Do They Hear What I Hear? By Monica Murgia, January 27th, 2012 There comes a moment in your teaching career when you are assigned a new course. It may be your very first time leading a classroom, or you may be a seasoned professional tackling a special topics class. You’re eager, and ready for the challenge. Then, the bleak reality of the situation sets in: you have two weeks to design your course. This means creating a syllabus, tests, assignments, and seemingly endless hours of lectures and activities. It starts out innocently enough. The syllabus and assignments are created, and the semester starts. You’re ahead of schedule . . . until one day, you’re not anymore. The information starts to feel overwhelming. How can you condense all of your research into a neat, 1 hour and 45 minute class? It seems like you’re spending 8 hours preparing for 1 lecture. Class starts. You present the lecture and feel great. All of the main issues were covered, the images were great, and you even made a handout. What a great lecture! Or was it? As academics, we can become engrossed in our topics of expertise. So engrossed, that it becomes difficult to gauge our students previous knowledge on the subject, as well as what they are retaining from our classes. This affect can be compounded when you’re teaching a course for the first time. You’ve spent the last 3 days preparing a lecture on fashion during the Reformation, but your students might not remember what the Reformation was. It’s critical to gauge your students’ knowledge and understanding of the material when you’re teaching a course for the first time. It can be tricky the first time around, but here are some tips: 1) Always state the obvious. You have a post-secondary degree. Your students do not. Don’t gloss over the obvious, essential points when lecturing. It’s a great review for them, and the perfect way to introduce more complicated material. Not every single student will be interested every single second of your class, especially if they have some previous knowledge. But keep in mind, many of them don’t, so don’t be afraid to start at square one. 2) Start class with a review. Have 4-5 questions and present them to your class. Make sure the questions cover the main ideas from your previous lecture. This is a sneaky, 2-in-1 move: it gets the students to participate and recall the relevant points you taught. By making the review discussion-based, your students will construct the knowledge on their terms. This equals greater retention of information. 3) Introduce relevant current events. When you make your course relevant to current events, students see the practical applications. They may even see a different perspective on the information you’re covering. Target industry-based publications and popular media, and skim the latest news daily. Here’s a fun discussion I used in my history of costume class: Pharaohs in ancient Egypt wore false beards to indicate their status as ruler. Pharaohs were always male, until the reign of Hatshepsut. (Hatsheput, a woman, reigned as pharaoh c. 1497 -1458 B.C.) How might have the citizens of Egypt felt about this blurring of gender roles through dress? Compare and contrast this to Lady Gaga’s appearance in the 2011 VMA’s, dressed as a man (aka Jo Calderone). This created an interesting discussion about gender roles and how identity is communicated through fashion. It also illustrated that people still have strong opinions about cross-dressing. 4) Let them teach you. Assign presentations and projects that put your students in the driver’s seat. Ask them to bring a quote from the assigned reading which they related to, or found inspiring. Have them review the historical accuracy of different films for a project. If a particular chapter is difficult, ask them to bring topics or passages that they did not understand. When the students take an active role in the course, it’s easier to identify what they are learning, and what you need to review. These are just some of the techniques I’ve found to work along the way. Many of you might have other tips and tricks for tackling for teaching a new course. I hope you’ll share what has worked for you in the comments.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Raising Kids Is Getting Expensive

The Inflation of Life - Cost of Raising a Child Has Soared

Your little bundle of joy is going to require a wad of cash.

The cost of raising a child from birth to age 17 has surged 25 percent over the last 10 years, due largely to the rising cost of groceries and medical care, according to the Department of Agriculture, which tracks annual expenditures on children by families.

The government's most recent annual report reveals a middle-income family with a child born in 2010 can expect to spend roughly $227,000 for food, shelter and other expenses necessary to raise that child - $287,000 when you factor in projected inflation.

And, no, the bill does not include the cost of college or anything related to the pregnancy and delivery.

"If you sat down to tally up the total cost of having children, you'd never have them," says Timothy Knotts, a father of four and a certified financial planner with The Hogan-Knotts Financial Group in Red Bank N.J. "It's a very expensive adventure."

Talk about a life-changing event. That's a lot of vacations, clothing, and restaurant dinners you may no longer enjoy.

Plan Early

Ultimately, of course, the decision on whether or not to expand your family has little to do with dollar signs.

For most prospective parents, kids are the central priority around which all other lifestyle decisions get made - career moves, housing choices, where to live.

Because of its financial impact, however, it's wise to begin planning for parenthood as early as possible, says Matthew Saneholtz, a certified financial adviser with Tobias Financial Advisors in Plantation, Fla.

"You don't want to get too hung up on whether you're ready financially, because no one is ever really ready and it works out in the end, but you do want to think about how you see that first year with a new baby," he says.

Among the first issues you'll want to address:

Will you both return to work or will one of you quit to care for the child?
Does your employer offer maternity or paternity benefits?
Are you going to need a bigger car?
How much will your health insurance premiums climb after baby makes three?

You won't necessarily have control over the process, but you should also discuss how many children you'd like to have and when you'd like to have them, as that affects the timeline for getting your financial house in order.

Ideally, says Saneholtz, you should pay off your credit cards and put retirement savings on autopilot before you welcome a baby.

The four-bedroom house with a fully equipped nursery can wait.

Couples should resist the urge to splurge on a house at the top of their dual-income budget, says Knotts, since you may change your mind about whether or not to return to the office after the baby arrives.

"Our advice to clients is any time there's a life changing event, be it a baby or your own retirement, don't make any huge changes," he says. "Take your time. Do you want to be in a different school district, or closer to relatives or work? There's a lot to think about."

Testing 1-2-3

Prudent parents-to-be should also practice living on less before the big day arrives, says Chuck Donalies, a certified financial planner with Investment Planning Associates in Rockville, Md.

"Review all your expenses and cut out what you can," he says. "Almost every household budget has some fat in it."

Keep in mind that your annual medical expenses will almost certainly rise after you bring your newborn home.

Mark Lino, a USDA economist, notes that healthcare costs for the average family have increased 58 percent over the last decade, faster than any other expense component in the survey.

"With kids in particular, you're going to have emergencies, and while you might go without for yourself, you're going to take your kids to the doctor when they have a fever," says Knotts. "Someone's going to break an arm or knock out a tooth, and that could cost you a few hundred or thousand dollars each time."

As a starting point, Knotts suggests living on 90 percent of your after-tax income, using the money you save to fund an emergency account worth three to six months of living expenses.

If one of you plans to quit work to care for the child, your new spending plan should reflect the projected loss of income.

You can also apply those dollars toward a life insurance policy after the baby comes along, says Donalies, providing protection for your little one (and your spouse) in the event something happens to the breadwinner.

Donalies recommends a term life policy that covers your family until well after your child is out of college.

"The cost of a term life policy is so low that you should have a policy until your child reaches age 30," he says.

Ka-ching: Child Care

If you both plan to continue working, and you don't have family willing to provide free labor, you'll have to factor child care costs into your budget.

Such costs vary by region, as does the type of care provided, but the average annual price tag for full-time care in 2010 for an infant in a child care center ranged from $4,650 in Mississippi to $18,200 in the District of Columbia, the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies reports.

The average annual cost for full-time care of a 4-year old drops to $3,900 in Mississippi to $14,050 in the District of Columbia.

Nannies are more expensive still.

According to the International Nanny Association, nannies who live outside your home can cost more than $3,000 per month for full-time care, and as an employer you'll be required to pay their Social Security taxes.

Ka-ching: College Tuition

There's no rule that says you have to help your child with college expenses, of course, but if you plan to do so, you'd better start budgeting for that as well.

The average cost of a four-year college for in-state residents, including tuition, fees, room and board, climbed 6 percent for the 2011 and 2012 academic year, averaging $17,131, the College Board reports.

A public four-year school for out-of-state students cost an average $29,657 this year, while four-year private colleges cost more than $38,000 per year.

Knotts cautions parents, however, to save for retirement first before throwing money into a tax-advantaged 529 college savings plan. After all, there are no scholarships or loans for retirement.

Manage Money and Expectations

Finally, remember that it's ultimately you who decides how much you're willing to spend on your kids.

Families with higher incomes, for example, tend to spend more on discretionary expenses like Apple (AAPL - News) iPods and Decker Outdoor's Uggs - things your child may want, but doesn't need.

The USDA report shows that a family earning less than $57,600 per year can expect to spend a total of $163,440 on a child from birth through high school; parents with an income between $57,600 and $99,730 can expect to spend $226,920; and families earning more than $99,730 can expect to drop $377,040.

"Kids don't have to have all this stuff," says Knotts. "We are a generation where we feel like we need to give our kids all of these experiences, but you can do a lot with your kids without spending a lot of money."

Children may be a blessing, but they don't come cheap. Families that plan ahead not only have better control over their budgets, but are often able to do more with less. They're also better positioned to ensure their own financial goals don't get derailed along the way.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Could You Go a Week Without Yelling at Your Kids?

Could You Go a Week Without Yelling at Your Kids? Redbook Magazine
For every mom out there saying, "Sure, no problem," there are thousands more shouting, "Impossible!" Here's how a confirmed yeller got through seven whole days using her inside voice.

By Amy Wilson

"Within each of us, ofttimes, there dwells a mighty and raging fury." —The Incredible Hulk

I don't consider myself an angry person. I can count on one hand the number of times I've shouted at my husband, and I wouldn't dream of raising my voice at a rude salesperson. In fact, in all the world, there are only three people I ever get veiny-necked at: my children, ages 7, 6, and 2.

I'm not proud that I couldn't imagine treating a line-cutting stranger the way I do my own flesh and blood on a daily basis. But strangers don't tend to work my last nerve like my own kids can. What I actually say when I yell at them tends more toward "I don't care how itchy it is — you're wearing that scarf!" than anything truly damaging, but nonetheless, I've been meaning to stop. Two years ago I gave up yelling at my kids for Lent. I should've known it wouldn't go well: If I couldn't last 40 days without dark chocolate, I'd never be able to abstain that long from my primary means of discipline. I went 10 days without chocolate. Without yelling? Four hours.

Recently, however, I've sensed that all my sound and fury is losing effectiveness. As I railed at my children one morning for fighting over Silly Bandz, I saw them cast furtive glances at one another — Here she goes again. That day, I gave myself a new challenge: no yelling at the kids for a week. Only seven days. At summer camp, when I was 9, I didn't brush my hair for a week on a bunkmate's dare. By the end, I could have happily worn a baseball cap for the rest of my life. Would a break from yelling be similarly liberating? I needed to find out.

I send Seamus and Connor, my 6- and 7-year-old sons, to brush their teeth after breakfast, knowing that they can't peacefully coexist for more than 30 seconds. I hear them hollering through the floor. Then a thump that sounds like somebody's head. Then howls of rage.

Any other day, I'd take the stairs three at a time, shouting that they'd better cut it out if they ever want to see Scooby-Doo again in this lifetime. But today I just stand there, taking cleansing breaths, and after a few thump-filled minutes...silence. To my astonishment, their fight ends without my intervention, and no one loses an ear either.

I'm not yelling! I think, terribly proud of myself.

Problem: My kids are. Lowering my own voice has made it glaringly clear that my children live their entire lives at the top of their lungs. I stay out of their scuffles for the rest of the day, just listening to the din around me. Where did my children learn to go full-throttle like this? Sadly, the answer is obvious.

By saying almost nothing at all, I avoid yelling for the entire day — but this tactic won't work for a whole week. Is there a way to execute firm discipline in a kinder, gentler way?

My plan for today is that I will interrupt their fighting, but each time I want to get louder, I will get quieter instead. Just like Supernanny does with her recalcitrant charges.

"Shut UP!" my oldest shouts across the kitchen table.

"No, YOU shut up!" his brother bellows back.

These words are forbidden in our house, but I'm tempted to yell them myself. Instead, I murmur so quietly that they have to ask me to repeat myself: "The next person who says 'shut up' has to do 10 push-ups."

The military-style threat quiets everyone down — except for my 2-year-old daughter, who says, "The next person to say 'shut up,' dem do 10 pushers?" Her brothers, suddenly sticklers for rules, insist she drop and give 'em 10. Maggie doesn't mind, but she's kind of vague on what push-ups are, exactly, and in the ensuing battle over whether her attempts count, my oldest accidentally uses the "S.U." words again, then refuses to perform his own punishment. Soon I'm standing over him shrieking like a demented drill sergeant because he won't do the push-ups I'd prescribed specifically to avoid yelling.

"How's your experiment going?" my husband asks when he gets home that night.

"I yelled at Connor this morning," I admit (on the defensive), "but he disobeyed me to my face!" David listens to my story and proceeds carefully. "Okay, he didn't do his 10 push-ups," he says gently, "but that was just a silly thing you made up. I mean, he wasn't running into traffic."

He's right. I was yelling about the push-ups, but the boys' fight was long over. To stop screaming, I need to learn to quit while I'm ahead.

I take the kids out to dinner with my friend Susan and her brood. Between us, we have five children ages 7 and under, which makes for a big, boisterous table. As our kids squirm and talk at top volume, the woman in the next booth gives me the fish-eye over the rim of her wine glass.

I want to say: If you're looking for a peaceful, child-free meal, lady, don't go to a pizza joint at 5:30 p.m. But I internalize her judgment of me as a bad mom who can't control three children. To prove her — and myself — wrong, I grab Seamus's arm and hiss under my breath: "Use your inside voice now, or I'm taking you right out to the car, mister!"

This quiets him down for a few seconds, then I have to threaten him again, then his brother, then him, then his sister. I'm in a full sweat, while Susan just sits there, enjoying a garlic knot as her daughter bounces on the banquette.

"That lady's shooting us dirty looks," I explain.

"Really?" Susan says. "I hadn't noticed."

"Maybe we should get the pizza to go," I say.

"Why?" Susan asks, genuinely confused. "They're not running wild. They're just being kids."

She has a point. I'm disciplining my kids to meet a stranger's standards. If their behavior isn't bothering anyone else in the restaurant, then the wino lady is the real problem.
I go way easier on my kids today to make up for the pizza episode. When I find a trail of Goldfish crumbs across the living room, I don't conduct an interrogation; I Dustbust. When Maggie insists on wearing a tutu to the library even though it's 40 degrees outside, I let her wear it stuffed under her coat. I start to actually feel the calm I'm working so hard to project. I even think my kids are more peaceful. When David comes home, I meet him at the door to tell him my progress.

ME: "I didn't yell today! For real!" I shoo the kids upstairs while he raids the refrigerator.
DAVID: "Wow — good for you."
ME: "Kids! I said turn the TV off! Move it!" He sticks his head around the fridge door.
DAVID: "Uh. You're yelling."
ME: "That's not yelling!"
DAVID: "It's kind of yelling."
ME: "This! Isn't yelling! It's how I talk!" David smirks like someone who has just had his point made for him. "How else do I get them to brush their teeth the first dozen times I ask?"
DAVID: "Well, it's not only about decibel level."
ME: "What is it, a tone thing?"
DAVID: "If you notice, I don't really talk to the kids like you do."
ME: "If you notice, you don't really take care of the kids like I do." You can probably guess how the rest of the evening went: not so much volume, lots of "tone."

Okay. Yesterday I thought I wasn't yelling and maybe I was, but today, I do not yell, in decibel or in tone. I smile and ask nicely, no matter how many times I have to repeat myself. This may be considered success, but I'm so stressed from the effort that I might blow a gasket. Then dinnertime arrives.

"I didn't want ketchup on my hamburger!" Seamus howls. "I wanted it NEXT to my hamburger! It's RUINED, and YOU RUINED IT, MOMMY!" I stand still, gripping the kitchen counter, but it's not working — probably because he can see that Mommy Teapot is about to boil over.

Later my friend AJ tells me, "When one of my kids really gets going, I whip out the camera and tell them I want to capture the moment."

"And they stop whining?!" I ask.

"Sorta," she says. "At least it gives me something to do besides throttling them." Huh. I've been meaning to take more pictures of the kids....

My friend Cece calls from Chicago at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday. As soon as I answer the phone, all three of my children start pulling on my pajamas wanting their second breakfast — you know, the one kids demand as soon as you finish dumping out the cereal they didn't eat 20 minutes earlier.

"I will make you French toast, but I'm on the phone," I hiss, and after a few minutes trying to catch up with Cece, crack eggs, and break up three fights, I hang up and tell them how disappointed I am in what I must admit is a slightly raised voice. The rest of the day, I focus mostly on the kids, and things go more smoothly.

Suddenly I realize: multitasking causes yelling. If I don't attempt to do anything besides parent my kids — including getting dressed and using the bathroom — why, I won't have to yell!

I wake up feeling enlightened. It's like a juice fast: impossible for six days, but suddenly I can do it forever. I marvel at how far I've come, and we have an amazing, sun-dappled day.

The kids are wild after dinner, and it takes me an extra half hour to get them down, but I don't crack. As I settle into the couch for what is, next to my family, the most important thing in my life — an all-new Mad Men — my heart swells with pride. And then Connor appears at my elbow to say, "Mom, I'm not tired."

ME: "Go to bed, buddy."
CONNOR: "But I'm not tired!"
ME: Firmly: "It's an hour past your bedtime!"
CONNOR: "NO! I want another story!"
ME: Getting louder: "No! No story! Mommy is closed!"
CONNOR: "But—"
ME: At full blast: "I'm DONE! Do you hear me? GO TO BED!"

And just like that, I went Betty Draper on him. I made it until 10:15 p.m. But I still failed.

So there you have it: I couldn't stop yelling for a week. But I did yell less. And I realized when and why I do it, and that, okay, it has less to do with the kids' behavior and more with my own moods. I'll probably keep yelling, but I'll also keep trying to stay calm. If the Hulk can turn back into Bruce Banner, there's still hope for me.

Feel free to leave a comment on this thread...


Monday, April 2, 2012

Traveling Stress Free with Your Family

Your Guide to Stress-Free Family Travel
Experts (parents themselves!) give you their best advice for wiggling out of the inevitable problems you encounter when traveling with kids.

So you've gone online to research a destination, find a flight, or book a room, and now you're ready to hit the road with the kids, right? Not so fast! Even a well-planned family trip can have bumps along the way -- your toddler has a meltdown on the plane or your hotel turns out to be not so kid-friendly. Don't wait until you're caught up in a stressful situation to find a fix. Check out these smart, commonsense tricks of the trade from seasoned travels who've been there and done that with their kids.

For eating on the go ...

Suzanne Farrell, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and mom of two in Denver.

Don't go overboard. When you're traveling, you're going to run into some temptations, such as chocolate chip cookies on the plane or at the hotel. Stick to your kids' normal eating habits when you can, but it's okay to give them a treat, especially if you balance it out with healthy choices.

Pack smart snacks. Food keeps the kids' energy up and helps prevent meltdowns in stressful travel situations. But you want the snacks to be as substantial as possible -- this means keeping sweets to a minimum. I like to offer goodies such as pretzels, cheese sticks, peanut-butter wraps, and a homemade snack mix made from whole-grain cereal. My 4-year-old loves helping me make it, too.

Bertie Bregman, M.D., chief of Family Medicine Service, Allen Pavilion of New York Presbyterian Hospital, and father of four in New York City.

Boost immunity beforehand. It's definitely scary to have a sick child in an unfamiliar place. The best thing to do is make sure everyone's immune system is strong weeks before any travel. You can help do this by having your kids eat well, take vitamins, and get plenty of sleep. It won't prevent every type of illness, but it's a good start. And carry contact information for local doctors and hospitals just in case.

Bring the basics. We always pack medications, including a fever and pain reliever (acetaminophen, ibuprofen), a stomach med, a thermometer, and, of course, plenty of bandages. Also, a bottle of hand sanitizer or wipes can be a lifesaver when you're traveling.

Know local hospitals. If your child does get sick, the first place to go is the front desk at the hotel. They should have information for the local medical professionals. But it?s also a good idea to make a list of the ERs in the area (and how you can get there) before you leave home.

On the plane ...

Veda Shook, flight attendant for Alaska Airlines and mom of two in Washington, D.C.

Keep the kids happy. I try to hide a little surprise for the kids, so if they're getting restless on the plane they can pull out a new toy, book, or game. That usually buys us more time. You should also bring an empty sippy cup to fill up at the water fountain once you've passed through security. Kids often can't wait until service comes through the plane to get something to drink. Having your own can prevent a midair meltdown.

Go nonstop. I'd rather pay extra -- or even drive an hour more to a different airport -- to get a nonstop flight than risk delays and the other hassles of taking a connecting flight with kids. But if you can't avoid connections, be sure to allow enough time between flights for your children to stretch, go to the bathroom, eat, and unwind without having to rush to the next gate.

Cut down on bags. With all the baggage fees, sometimes it's easier to buy bulky things, such as diapers, when you get there. You can also ship a box to your destination, which is often cheaper than the $25-$35 second-bag fee. If you stay with friends or family, ask to borrow their car seat, crib, and other gear.

On the road ...

Jennifer Huebner, spokesperson for American Automobile Association (AAA) and a mother of two in Orlando.

Research routes. For long drives with kids, I plan the route in advance, keeping in mind back roads and timing to avoid rush hour. If you're in the heart of a big city during gridlock traffic, it's not just stressful for you -- it can make the kids tense, too!

Take breaks. Build in travel time to stop every couple of hours. That gives kids a chance to move around and play. I'll even add in a quick trip to a children's museum or a big play area for them to blow off steam. Experts suggest you take a rest every two hours or 100 miles -- for kids, you should do it more often than that (after 90 minutes or less).

Be prepared. I always make a few different to-do lists, including a mini menu of snacks or a reminder to check that the car seat's installed properly. I also have a master list that tries to anticipate the kids' needs along the way, from baby wipes to games to keep them entertained during the drive.

When booking a room ...

Kammy Shuman, travel agent at Encompass the World Travel and a mother of two in Parma, Ohio.

Consider all-inclusives. These resorts are particularly nice for families because everything is right there. You don't have to worry about renting a car and car seat and driving everywhere. The cost of most food, drinks, and entertainment is already built in, so you don't have to pay every time. (See for ideas.)

Think location, location, location. When choosing your room, try to be as close to the pool, the beach, or the main attraction as possible. If you have a kid who's potty training or has to go to the bathroom a lot, you don't want to have to keep running over the sand and up 10 flights to your room.

Pick a kid-friendly place. The first thing I consider when planning a family trip is whether that hotel has kids' programs and babysitting services. Some resorts are amazing if you've got a baby. They have things such as bottle warmers, extra diapers, and even a nursery so certified staff can watch your little one while you hit the spa. Shop around hotel Websites in your ideal area to see what's available for kids.

Check into overseas options. If I'm traveling out of the country, I make sure there's food I know my kids will eat close to the hotel. It's also good to find one that offers room service, which isn't as common abroad. If you have a jet-lagged child, you don't want to have to go out in the middle of the night to find food or snacks.

For a safe stay ...

Colleen Driscoll, executive director for the International Association for Child Safety and mom of three in Baltimore.

Childproof your room. Make sure there's nothing that can harm a cruising toddler or a sleeping baby. I always pack a little kit that includes things such as a night-light, outlet covers, latches, and a travel safety gate. FYI: Some hotels will provide proofing kits or even do it for you if you ask in advance.

Have a backup plan. Don't be afraid to change rooms or even hotels if you?re worried about your child's safety. We did it after discovering our room had a tile floor. Our daughter was starting to crawl, and we felt like we couldn't safely put her down.

Originally published in the October 2010 issue of Parents magazine.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Activty Books for Infants and Toddlers

Having worked with older kids most of my life, I confess I am clueless when coming up with ideas to do with my 1 and 3 year olds. So I have been browsing the Internet and looking at books to find activities that don't cost much but are easy to do with little hands and small attention spans. Here is what I have found I like so far.

1 Browse the Internet. Type in "spring crafts," or whatever, and you will be bombarded with free Internet sites with craft ideas. Some websites are great and even label the crafts by age group and difficulty.

2. "At the Zoo: Explore the Animal World with Craft Fun" by Judy Press. I love this craft book. The crafts looks so easy and materials needed are simple like kleenex box, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, paper, etc. My 3 year old who isn't into crafts as much as I am helped me easily with making the snake. I think this book is great for toddlers into early elementary.

3. "Look What You Can Make From Paper Plates" by Margie Richmond. Paper plates, toilet paper rolls, egg cartons, and paint make these crafts easy. Can't wait to make the dinosaur project with my eldest. I think this book is great for toddlers into early elementary.

4. "The Encyclopedia of Infant and Toddler Activities" by Kathy Charner. I like this book because it has activities and crafts organized by age and activity like fine motor, gross motor, etc. There are so many good ideas and you may have done some of them on your own without every opening the book. However, they have a variety of ideas that have helped me since I am not skilled with coming up with these types of activities on my own.

5. "Making Toys for Infants and Toddlers" by Linda Miller. Homemade and easy, these are crafts any little one can do. Some of the toys are great and others are not my cup of tea, but I think the ideas are great if you want simple, easy, and cheap. Example supplies are toilet paper rolls, stockings, cardboard, paper, pictures and the like.

6. Luckily, some of these books were at my library so I was able to preview and try them out before getting them. I encourage you to utilize your library and check out these type of books on your own to see what fits your style.