A Hilarious Halloween Book


So…by show of hands…who grew up with Goodnight Moon?

I guess a better question is who didn’t grow up with Goodnight Moon?

One of the best parts of becoming a parent is reading the same books to your kids that you remember from your childhood.

Well, I’ve got a Halloween surprise for you:

Someone (Michael Rex) has written a Halloween version of Goodnight Moon. 

It’s called Goodnight Goon and it’s done exactly in the writing and illustration style of Goodnight Moon. 

I think I have read this book every day this week with my kids.

It is hilarious and charming and not too scary.

This book would be a great one to add to your holiday book collection.

You can purchase it on Amazon or check it out from your local library.

What I love about this book is it gives parents and educators a great way to practice compare and contrast while still feeling festive.

Can you imagine- comparing the original book and Goodnight Goon for similarities and differences?

You would win Halloween. Hands down.

Hope everyone has a happy and safe Halloween!

Dinosaur Books You Have to Read

dinosaur- cover

So since last Monday I wrote about princess books, it only seemed fair that I do a review on four dinosaur books that I think would be great additions to any child’s bookshelf.

Now, I’m not going to lie- I don’t have a little boy demanding dino book after dino book after dino book. My little Boom Boom is only 1 1/2, after all. But I try to expose his older sister to as many genres of books as possible, so we do have dinosaur books come into our house.

And I have found four gems.

So without further ado, here’s my lead batter:








Suppose You Meet A Dinosaur by Judy Sierra is a great book to teach manners! This story takes place in a grocery store and the dinosaur and the little girl have several interactions. My favorite part of this story is that with each interaction you have an opportunity to talk with your child about what is an appropriate response. It is also at a basic level (thank you, please, sharing, etc.), which is perfect for little learners!

My next recommendation teaches opposites, which can be such a tricky subject:

dinosaur- roar






Dinosaur Roar! by Paul and  Henrietta Stickland, compares several physical and emotional attributes between dinosaurs (think long/short, nice/grumpy, etc.). I used this book to do a small group lesson with my special needs preschoolers, and it was a big hit. It has a basic, repetitive structure that allows you to highlight the words you want to target.

The third dinosaur book I love is Never Ask A Dinosaur to Dinner:

dinosaur- never ask







This book by Gareth Edwards and Guy Parker-Reese doesn’t necessarily focus on dinosaurs, but introduces several animals that will delight any child’s fancy (tiger, bison, etc.). This rhyming book a-la If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is silly and fun and gives probably the only advice your children will heed- never ask a dinosaur to dinner!

My final book is a dinosaur classic. I remember my mom reading me this book as a child, and was so excited when she gave me a copy to read to my children!

dinosaur- danny







Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoffman is a simple story about a little boy who walks into a museum and walks out with a real, live dinosaur! They then spend the day doing perfectly ordinary things. I think this book is such a classic in the same way Roald Dahl books are classic- they are stories of everyday people and events with just enough magic to think that it could actually happen!

I would say all these books are in the 3-7 age range. They are engaging, quick reads, and provide plenty of opportunities to expand and bring the book to life.

So make your biggest dinosaur tracks to your library and check out these four great dinosaur books!



Wh-Questions: What, Where, and Who

wh questions who what where

Today we are continuing our discussion on wh-questions, and moving into activities to teach children how to answer them.

The focus of this post is the easier question types on the hierarchy (see THIS post for more information on this)- the what, where, and who questions.

As I mentioned on Monday, these questions typically deal with something tangible and present. You can use that to your advantage in teaching them!

The first step is to teach your child the meaning of “who” and “where.” Depending on your child’s abilities, you may be able to phrase it as ” a who question is a what-person question” and “a where question is a what-place question.” You can also teach that a “who question is a person/animal question” and “a where question is a place question.” Either way works, it’s just a matter of which one your child responds to.

To do this, try having several pictures of different places and people/animals. Basic flashcards would work for this, as well as just a quick google search. Just go through them with your child and have them identify “who” or “where.” This step may seem silly, but it will save you a whole lot of repetition of “who/where is a person/place question.”

Once your child knows what each question word is asking, you can start asking questions. Once again, stick to the here and now. Books with great pictures like the No David! series, and basic look-and-find books are a great place to start. I would stay away from I-Spy books and Where’s Waldo? books at this point because they are visually very overwhelming.

I had some great resources as a speech therapist with a few products from Super Duper. The first was silly scenes with accompanying questions. I don’t know if my brain is foggy because I’m battling a cold, but I couldn’t find this particular product on their website. But it is easily reproducible with a scene in a book or a picture. Or you could even draw one if you like. To make it even more relevant to your child, a picture of a family reunion or something like that would be awesome! Also, if your child is able to play a board game like Guess Who? you can modify it so that you are practicing wh-questions.

If your child responds well to flashcards or technology, Super Duper also sells wh-question cards. Here’s the deal though- apparently it is about $70 for the five question sets! Yikes!! Buuuuuuut… they sell the app with all the flashcards for just $11.99! HERE is the link.

Finally, there are play-based games you can do to sneak wh-questions into your child’s day. You could play I-Spy in your house- just be sure to use the question words! I also want to share a game I play with Chicka Chicka that has a 100% engagement rate. Take 3-6 stuffed animals and hide them around your house. Turn off all the lights, and give your child a flashlight to find the stuffed animals. When your child finds one, ask them, “Where was that animal?” and then they have to answer before you retrieve the stuffed animal. This typically works better if you hide them in places your child can’t reach- like up on top of a curtain rod or in a cupboard (with a leg or arm sticking out, of course). Chicka Chicka has never not wanted to play this game.

I also have lots of fun ideas on my Pinterest boards, as well as lists of wh-questions. Go HERE to check them out!

I hope this has inspired you to find fun ways to work on simple wh-questions! Stay tuned as I move into why and how questions, and then, finally, the toughie- having your child ASK questions!

Why I Love My Library- And You Can Too!

Why I love my library (2)

Your local library is a great resource for parents. And not just for the books!

Now, I live in Kid Central, and I am so grateful that we have an awesome library with lots to offer for children. I know not everyone has access to a great library, but I want to give some ideas and guidelines for utilizing your library to work on speech and language development.

Let’s talk about the code for picking out books for your child (well, they’re more like guidelines…). Sorry. Couldn’t help myself.

1) Think about your child’s attention span. Yes, that princess book looks tempting, but your preschooler won’t sit through that saga. At this age, a few sentences on each page is appropriate.

2) Think about the subject matter. Let’s face it- some books are just weird. Look for ones that your child will be interested in, or something that you want to work on (potty training books, manners books, etc.)

3) Think about the illustrations. Since most children at this age can’t read, they will be depending on the pictures as a reference for the story. This actually works to your advantage, because you can talk about the pictures too! I will have further posts on reading with young children that will outline this better.

I’m going to change gears on you now and talk about resources at your local library that you might not know about.

1) Storytime and Craft activities- Our library has story time at least 3-4 times a week. They offer story times according to age level, primary language, and special needs. They also do a craft night twice a month. Look and see if your library offers anything like this. The people that put these on are child-attention-span masters. There’s singing, there’s puppets, there’s silliness, and there’s most definitely a coloring page to take home.

2) Online book rental- Tired of paying for books on your Kindle or iPad? Well, hold on to your hats: you can rent digital copies of books through your local library! Our library uses Overdrive, but I’m sure there are several apps that do this. It is awesome, free, and when your rental is over, it just disappears off your device. Read my lips people: NO LATE FEES! You don’t even have to necessarily live in the town where it is offered. I know people who borrow their friend’s or family member’s library card number to download. And it’s not even illegal. The great thing about libraries is they just want the whole world to read. This is a great way to entertain your child while you’re out running errands or stuck at the doctor’s office. Also, it’s not Angry Birds.

3) Book sales- our library just switched to having a permanent “bookstore” in one section of the library. These are books that are being switched out, or have been donated. The best news is they get cheaper as the month goes by! Some libraries still do the quarterly book sales. Either way, they are a great way to get books for children (using the above guidelines, of course). And maybe…just maybe…a few new books for you! Often, especially towards the end of the sale or the month, it goes to the fill-a-bag method. I brought home about 20 children’s books for $5! Can’t beat that! It’s a great way to expand your bookshelf without a high investment.

4) So this is fairly new, but libraries are starting to offer downloads of music FREE! It’s called Freegal. I don’t know a whole lot about it, except that you can download today’s hits as well as yesterday’s favorites! (Haha, I’m 100% sure I just ripped off some radio station’s tagline). I believe it is more of a music rental, but still, FREE!

Have I convinced you to go to the library? I would love to hear from my readers. How do you use the library? What are some awesome things your library does?

Toy Angst: Passive vs. Active Toys

Toy Angst Graphic

As a parent, I feel like we have all had the experience of toy angst. Whether it be for Christmas or a birthday, we obsess over finding exactly the right toy. The one that will trigger the squeal of delight upon opening, the one that makes all the long days, untouched food, and multiple daily outfit changes worth it just to see that smile. So it usually makes our hearts a little sad to see that same toy buried in the bottom of the toy box just a week or two later.

So what gives? Why are some toys perennial favorites while others are just flashing lights that you stub your toe on in the middle of the night looking for THE stuffed animal? (sorry, got too close to my reality on that one)

The secret may be in passive vs. active toys. This concept is not new- I learned this from my mother long before my child-raising years. In this instance, you actually want to purchase passive toys. Passive toys have the amazing ability to become a tool for child-directed play; a passive toy places no restrictions on what the child can and cannot do with it.

On the other hand, an active toy DOES dictate the type of play that a child can do with it. Think of those “my size” dolls that come out every year around Christmastime. That is the perfect example of an active toy. The toy is already associated with a character, a storyline, and limits as to what it can become or do. Even Chicka Chicka, who inherited my vivid childhood imagination, would struggle to have a life-size Elsa doll that does not have ice powers, or have Anna as a sister, or builds an ice castle. And you know what? There’s only so many things you can do with that doll before it becomes boring and scares the you-know-what out of mom one night when it falls out of the toy closet on top of her.

Let’s compare that to a passive toy like play-dough or Duplos. These toys can become whatever your child’s whim is at the moment. Your son is in a Batman phase? Boom- Bat Cave, with accompanying Alfred. Your daughter just saw Tangled for the first time? Instant tower in the woo-hoods. Bonus points if you have yellow play-dough for her hair.

From a speech therapist perspective, the advantages for a passive toy are obvious. That toy can also become anything you want it to. See my posts on sabotage (LINK to come) and dramatic play (LINK to come) to see how you can use toys to improve your child’s language abilities.

So the next time you are standing in the toy aisle at Target, sipping your second refill of soda and munching on popcorn (and hopefully not sharing with anyone else), and about to do eenie-meenie-miney-mo, I hope you remember this post and not give in to the life-size Disney doll.