I went to my very favorite Parents As Teachers class on Monday. In a nutshell, Parents As Teachers is a national program that helps parents in their role as teachers in their children's lives. Our school district's PAT program includes home visits with a Parent Educator, who will come a few times a year and assess your child and also give you tips and information on what stage the child is in and where he's headed next. The program has been invaluable to me, especially when I was a new mom with Katie and had NO clue what I was doing. I mean, no one ever sat me down and told me when to expect a baby to roll over or start talking or walking. I learned some pretty basic things through my Parent Educator, and also some accelerated things to help advance my kids' learning.
The PAT program also offers classes for parents. The class topics range from discipline to homemade baby food to infant massage to potty training, or just hour-long playgroups. But my very favorite class of all is the one on homemade books. The presentation focuses on how kids learn about the printed word, and then how they are even more intrigued to learn when a book is on something they like, or even when a book is about them. The presenter shows different types of books that you can make at home, like Ziploc bag books or accordion books or pocket books or shower ring books. And then she talks about different topics you can write inside the book: the alphabet or counting or first words or search and find. The topics are endless. And the best part of the class? The presenter brings ALL the supplies to make your own book to take home: a comb-binding machine, contact paper, Ziploc baggies, markers, tape, book rings, etc. For me, going to this class is like winning the lottery.
So, being a bit of an overachiever, I took these ideas and ran with them. I think I attended this class for the first time back in 2004, and I've been going back every year since. I love getting new ideas that pertain to my kids' current comprehension levels, and I like using the program's equipment too. (Especially that comb binder!)
I've also started bringing the collection of books I've made with me to the class every year, so I can show the presenter what an impact the class has had on my parenting. This past Monday, the presenter joked that she should let me run the class now.
Since then, I came home and made four more books. I wanted to show some of them (and some of my older ones) to you here. I know I've already posted about some of my homemade books. You can find the fabric sample photo book here. That link will also show you the book I made about Jackson's favorites and also his first words. And you can see the photo ring/book I made with laminate samples here.
Last night, I made a texture book for Jackson.
At the class, I made a shape book too. It was made out of Ziploc bags and the zippers can be opened to change the book topic.
I also made an envelope book. I found the directions here, and it was so easy and fun to make. I turned it into a photo album to showcase the fun summer we had.
Lastly, I converted an Altoid mint tin into a dress up magnet game. This isn't technically a book because there are no words, but the kids enjoy it anyway. I made one for Katie a few years back. I took a photo of her in a diaper and printed it on a sheet of name badge labels. Then I printed photos of her favorite outfits on sticker paper and stuck them onto magnets that we got in the mail (like the kind for business cards). Then I trimmed around the outfits and put them inside the tin. The magnets stick to the outside and she plays dress up. Same concept for Jackson, and this time I included photos of some big boy underwear. Maybe it'll entice him to want to wear them in real life!
Oh, and before I forget... here's the final Story Dice set that I made for Katie. (Here's the link from when I first wrote about it, and it also has links to other versions of it.) I think I might change the name to Story Starters. It turned into a folder with all the dice, an eraser and pencils in a pouch. The paper that fills the folder is lined and has a print out of all the photos on the wooden dice. She can roll the dice, circle the topics that land face-up, and then get to work on a story.
I love using my creativity to make things that will help my kids grow and learn.