My Favorite Simple Ways to Play and Connect With Infants and Toddlers

In this episode, a live video recording with friends of Strength In Words, Ayelet chats about some simple ways to play and connect, songs to sing during caregiving and play routines, and play materials you can use (hint: you already have these in your home!!!) to support infant and toddler development.

Now, I certainly don’t know everything there is to know about infant and toddler development, but over the last several years, I’ve sharpened and deepened my professional knowledge as a pediatric speech-language pathologist, I’ve mothered my way through two very different parenting experiences, and I’ve interviewed countless professionals about the ways we can support infants and toddlers in the areas of cognition, communication, motor/sensory, and social/emotional development.

Prefer a Text Version of This Episode?

QUICK ACCESS TO LINKS FROM THIS EPISODE:

 SIW Community LAB

Strength In Words Podcast featuring Music Therapist, Meryl Brown

“Thirty Million Words” Book by Dana Suskind (affiliate link)

Strength In Words podcast episode on sensory processing, featuring Occupational Therapist Jill Loftus 

Strength In Words curated Pinterest boards to reduce overwhelm

TEXT TRANSCRIPT OF THIS EPISODE

Welcome to episode 46 of the Strength In Words podcast! Today, I’m sharing the replay of a live video recording I did with friends of Strength In Words, in which I chat about some simple ways to play and connect, ideas for songs to sing during caregiving and play routines, and play materials you can use (hint: you already have these in your home!!!) to support infant and toddler development.

Welcome! It’s so nice to be here on a Friday. It’s a nice Friday morning, mid-December – I cannot believe that it is officially mid-December! We’re just going to chat, I have a few things to share with you, to tell you about. If you have something that you have a burning question about, or just want to hear about, I’d love to hear from you. So, go ahead and introduce yourself in the comment section below, go ahead and tell me who’s here, where you are, where you’re tuning in from, how old your baby is, whether you work with children, I’m excited to hear from you!

the back story

So, just to get started, I just want to tell you a little bit about my story, I’m Ayelet Marinovich, I have started (a while back, about 2 years ago) something called “Strength In Words,” which is a website and resource online. My husband and I moved abroad when I was 10 weeks pregnant with my first baby, and we were thousands of miles from anything or anyone familiar… and then we became parents! So, hooray! As my baby grew once he was born, I really craved a place and a community where I could access developmentally based information paired with simple and practical ideas. Because we can all get developmental information from our pediatrician or our doctor, or from Google (God forbid)… but when we have that real understanding of actually how to use that information – how to put it to use – that’s where the magic happens, that’s what we actually want to know, because that’s how we can actually use information! So, I wanted that information paired with simple and practical information that I could apply to those precious little moments that I have to dedicate to my little one.

So, I was yearning for a place where I could easily pick and choose information that spoke to my desire to learn about how my child learns. And I see that in direct opposition to this divisive, prescriptive, overwhelming world of content that we are being constantly fed these days. So, I wanted to access developmental information and ideas that I could use right away, and I wanted that to be from a reputable source. So, since I couldn’t find anything readily, I made something! Basically, what I did was I started to create my own curriculum, based on my own background as a pediatric speech-language pathologist. When my baby was about three months old, I started meeting with other families with young children for regular sessions that included music and play and sort of a discussion about what our little ones are doing developmentally… and it was a really special opportunity to just engage in dedicated time to learning about our babies, and dedicated self-care, also, where we got to chat and spend time with others who were also going through the same crazy time.

So here’s what happened: in this place – far from my own home and culture – families from all over the world started coming to these sessions. And, you know, I was just sort of creating exactly the resources to which I wanted access… and I was finding that other people were finding it valuable, as well. And that was really reaffirming! So, that’s when those resources on Strength In Words were really born. So, I started creating a virtual version of what I was doing, through the podcast, the blog, and now through these online music classes and live Q&A workshops and virtual parent support groups and community, that you can access both on the website and in the Community LAB. So, anyway, today, I have a few things that I want to share with you. I also want to make sure that if you have questions, you know, specific questions, burning questions about your child’s development, about something you’re struggling with, that we address any of those that we can. And, just as a disclaimer, I’m a speech-language pathologist, I’m a mom, I’m a professional, I cannot offer medical advice or developmental advice specifically, but I can offer resources and support. You know, that said, please, go ahead and ask any questions, and I’m happy to point you in any direction that I can.

So, the goal today is to share and to pool all of our resources… but, basically, I want to familiarize you with the kinds of resources that I offer through Strength In Words, and I also want to invite you to join the Strength In Words Community LAB, where you can access all of those resources that I mentioned – music classes, support groups, workshops – all online, and I want to tell you about that specifically right now because prices are going to be going up on December 21st (2017), so now is an amazing time to lock in that membership as sort of a “founding member,” where you can help to really shape what’s happening, and a community that means something to you.

Favorite Materials to Support Infant and Toddler Development

I want to talk about simple ways that we can play and connect… thinking about those kinds of experiences that I try to offer both my own children – I have an 11-month old infant and a nearly 4-year old… I can’t call him a toddler anymore. He is toddler-ish and yet he is a big boy. It’s crazy. But basically, when I try to break down those experiences that I try to offer my own children as well as the clients I work with as a speech-language pathologist and as a parent educator, because I do a lot of one-on-one work with families of all kinds, as well, I feel like a lot of these fall into the categories of: music, early literacy, sensory, and the use of visual supports. We know that young children learn best when they have an immediate context of what’s happening around them. So, visuals – whether that’s just holding up two clothing items for an infant or a young toddler and saying “which one do you want to wear?” or a picture of something, or two animal toys, or two cars to a toddler and saying, “oh, which one should I be and which one should you be?” Young children learn through direct access to what’s happening right in front of them. So, when we think about these specific visuals, specific early literacy experiences… and I think often times we hear that word “early literacy” and we jump immediately to “oh right, I’m supposed to be reading to my child.” Well, guess what? There are lots of ways that you can engage in early literacy experiences with your infant or toddler that look nothing like sitting your child on your lap and reading to them, making sure that they are attending.

We know that young children have very limited attention spans. There are, like, six pre-reading skills that your child can start to learn and engage in, really, from birth, to make reading and print fun. So, one of those things, for instance is print motivation, being interested in simply enjoying books. And, for some children at some developmental levels, that looks like mouthing a book. It doesn’t have to look like sitting there and reading! It’s so hard to get out of our adult conceptions of what these terms mean, and remember that it’s not about this linear progression of, “right, I have to sit, and if I read to my child, he will learn to read.” It’s also about my experience reading with my child is going to look very different at different ages, and A + B does not necessarily = C. Books are not just for reading. Blocks are not necessarily just for stacking or building. Books are for mouthing, books are for just looking at the pictures – just taking a picture walk! – or really, books and other print materials (right? Because early literacy experiences are not just books!) they include any print in the area!

So, if you have alphabet blocks, and you’re playing around, and your child is mouthing those blocks… you’re also engaging in early literacy experiences! Fiona says, “that’s great, my little one loves eating books, I was getting worried.” No! That is not something to worry about! As parents we have plenty to worry about – take the pressure off, that’s not one of those things! But, you know, things like letter knowledge, and narrative skills – how to tell a story? We are telling stories to our children constantly, when we are talking through events, when we are talking through caregiving routines! “Here we go! First we’re going to sit down and take off your pants so that we can change your diaper!” Brooke says, “my little one loves to flip through books from back to front.” Yeah! So, that’s fine! Simply the act of turning pages is actually a wonderful thing to get your child engaged in. That is engaging in early literacy experiences. That’s wonderful! Obviously, they will learn that in English, for instance, books go from front to back. But, actually, in some languages, Hebrew for instance, books read from back to front [right to left]. So, even exposing a young toddler to that is really valuable, just talking about those things.

Now, I said music also. If you have watched or listened to or seen anything from Strength In Words, you know how much I value musical experiences, and I try to infuse… everything. Everything that I can with music. My podcast episode with wonderful music therapist Meryl Brown, who talks all about tips to use music to engage early development and engage infants and toddlers, and it’s wonderful – I encourage all of you to go and listen to that episode, which is just fantastic. But also, we forget to get out of that linear… again, “books are for reading, songs are for singing.” We can learn a song and sing a song, and it doesn’t… we don’t have to remember the words! We can substitute all of the words for our baby’s name, we can take out all the words. We can not sing the melody, and instead just tap to the beat and say the words, right? That’s what nursery rhymes are! And those are still musical experiences because there’s a built-in rhythm, there is a meter!

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

These things are metered! That’s tempo! That’s rhythm! You are providing a musical experience for your child when you are reading them nursery rhymes – that’s so cool! And recognizing how much we’re already doing is, I think, one of the big things that I try to bring to my work with Strength In Words, and really helping people understand that it doesn’t take a lot of stuff. It’s not about being able to – I know, Brooke, you and I have chatted a lot about that book “Thirty Million Words,” which is all about the gap that exists between when we engage in our experiences with our children, and when we don’t. And it’s all about providing simple, simple, simple experiences for our little ones.

Another thing that we can talk about is sensory experiences. And, [I’ve released] my next podcast episode, which is an interview with Jill Loftus of Honest Occupational Therapy. She’s a pediatric occupational therapist and talked all about sensory processing and tips to meet the sensory needs of our infants and toddlers. I love to have a chance to sit down with her – and with talk with all of the guests on my podcast. And I bring them onto the Community LAB for a live workshop, and then all of those members get to ask all of these amazing professionals their questions, directly, which is amazing. One of the things that Jill talked about, and talks about in the podcast episode, is that we were taught to believe that we have 5 senses. Now, yes, we have 5 senses, but we also have these additional three senses, which really inform what our body is taking in at any moment, and how our body is responding to the outside world… which is what sensory information is. I think, a lot of times, we get stuck looking at, say, Pinterest, right? You’ve got sensory bins, sensory bottles, sensory blah-blah-blah! And I think it’s really easy for us to get stuck on understanding and conceptualizing sensory activities as that tactile stuff – like, a sensory bin with beans or water beads or whatever – and yes, that is super useful and wonderful to expose your child to, but that’s not the only kind of sensory experience we can give our children! What other things can we think about when we’re providing sensory experiences? Well, visual experiences, auditory experiences, tactile, certainly, but also movement experiences… things like moving around or pushing on things and really engaging our muscles. And when you start to realize that, oh right, even gustatory or taste experiences are sensory experiences, and when we start to think – oh! That’s all sensory experiences… EVERYTHING! Everything is a sensory experience!

Bubbles – yes, bubbles are wonderful a sensory experience. And bubbles can be used so beautifully with any age. We think about it as, back to that linear thinking, “oh well, to play with bubbles with my young child, I must put in the wand, blow the bubble, and then, oh, it’s gonna be messy, my toddler’s going to want to play with it, they’re gonna wanna grab it… oh, an infant, how can they play with bubbles?” Of course they can! It’s just a matter of meeting them at that level. So, even think about a teeny tiny infant who’s just starting to see from this [12 inch] distance. And, maybe, an infant who’s just starting to reach and grasp, say, around the 3-4 month mark? Imagine taking your bubble wand, putting your bubble out there and just blowing strong enough so that bubble is right.. like a big bubble at the end of the wand (how can I explain this more clearly?)… but then putting it just out of your child’s reach so that he or she has to reach for it, and… POP! Wow! To teach your child that they can actually pop it and they have that control over something, like, they can engage with their world, even for a 4-month old who is barely able to do anything! What an amazing gift to give to that child – how exciting! So, we can think about all of these little things. And it’s all about meeting them where they are.

So, that is what I want to give to you: this understanding that we are always providing experiences for our children. We can infuse everyday and every moment with very simple things. And, I think it’s very easy for us as parents to feel like, “I’m not giving my child enough, I’m not  there,” right? We’re working parents, we’re not around. How can I maximize those teeny tiny in-between moments with stuff that they’re going to want to do and, of course, it’s going to be very, very difficult to do that and to feel confident and empowered and connected to your child when you have limited time. So, that is what I am trying to provide. Number one, the confidence that you can do that – because, really, it takes 5 minutes. When we bring in our day with these little moments that are super simple with our children, we provide them with the things that they need. So, I want to just tell you, too, that I have this weekly email sequence that provides you, based on your child’s age, with simple ways to play and connect with your infant or toddler. You tell me whether you’re expecting an infant, whether you have a 0-6 month old, a 6-12 month old, and so on and so forth, up through age 3, and then I send you a weekly email about a few – say, a sensory experience or a musical experience, or a visual support that you might use, or an early literacy experience that is appropriate for your child’s age. But if you’re interested in going deeper with me and having access to all of those things, you can check out the Community LAB, which is just community.strengthinwords.com. And you’re welcome to come and take a 1-week trial of that – you don’t pay anything for the first week and then you can cancel if you don’t want to, but we’ve got developmental music classes, we’ve got live Q&A sessions, and when you join the Community LAB, you have access to all of those things. And it’s… guys, it’s like a ridiculous price right now. And if you join before next Thursday… it’s, I want people in there, which is why I have it at such a low price right now, but I just want to give you guys the good stuff.

Ok, so let’s keep going. I wanted to cover a few songs to sing during caregiving and play routines. Does anyone have any songs that they like to sing or that their children love it when they sing? Two of the songs that I love singing, and that I find are just super easy and “malleable,” I guess you could say, are “Skip To My Lou” and “Wheels On The Bus,” as sort of an example.

How to Use Songs Everyday

So, I use songs all day long, during caregiving routines, during play routines. Stephanie says, “Right now, we’re all about Christmas songs.” Oh my gosh, I know. My big boy loves Jingle Bells, and then, at his pre-school another class came in and sang Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and he’s been completely obsessed with learning that – it’s so cute! And, as a person who during his first two years, I was leading these music classes. He was with me every time I led them, sometimes one or two or three times a week. And this is a child who, up until now has never sung in his life – finally, I’m reaping the benefits! So, just so you know, it’s coming! Everything that we put in from the very, very early age, it comes back to us. Rebecca says “10 Little Fingers,” yes, I love that one, thank you, I’m glad. And then Fiona says that her daughter loves the “Little Bunnies” sleeping until noon song. Yes. My big boy loves that one, too, and every time after we get out of the bath we use that song. He crouches down in his little hooded towel, and then we do “sleeping bunnies,” or “sleeping dinosaurs,” or he gets to choose what animal is sleeping and then he acts it out, which is very cute.

But, yeah! So, we sing songs during caregiving routines and play routines. Rena says “I’d love to learn a Christmas song” – oh, good! Well, maybe we can teach you a Christmas song today! Does anyone have a favorite Christmas song that they like to sing? So, I’m just going to keep talking about how we use music to help our children attend to things, to distract them from less interesting or less preferred activities, and then just, of course, just for interaction, just during play! Again, back to that “A + B does not necessarily = C,” we don’t have to remember the words all the time. We can change the words, right? Free yourself! Words can be about people, the words can then become about objects or experiences in context and in the environment. Lia says, “Wheels on the Bus and Itsy Bitsy Spider.” Yes, great. Brooke says, “Something about the Christmas tree since that’s all she cares about.” Yes! Oh my gosh, tell me about it, it’s so hard. We have our tree. My family, I grew up Jewish but also celebrating Christmas, that’s my own personal background. You know, so we’ve always had a tree, sometimes we laugh and call it a Hanukah Bush, but basically, we have all the ornaments above grasping distance for my 11-month old, who, so far, we’ve been able to distract him, but I can tell that that’s about to change. Of course. So, we can substitute words for things. For actions and people and what the characters in the song are doing.

Let’s take, say, “Skip to My Lou,” and simply just substitute the actions. And I just want to give you examples of how we can use that in play routines or caregiving routines. So, in an eating routine, because, Brooke, I know this is something that you’ve asked me about in the past. Does everybody know that song, Skip to my Lou?

Skip, skip, skip to my Lou; Skip, skip, skip to my Lou, Skip, skip, skip to my Lou;

Skip to my Lou, my darling.

Ok, so, we can just scrap those words, because, what does that mean? Does it mean to the loo, like, the toilet? I mean, it could be if we wanted to make it into a routine about going to the toilet to help your child get excited about going and using the potty… I mean, sure, we could make it about that. But, we could also make it about, say, we’re sitting at the table and we’re saying,

Eat, eat, eating with my baby; Eat, eat, eating with my baby; Eat, eat, eating with my baby;

Eating with my baby today. 

And then you can pause, and look at the things on the plate, “ooh, which one are we going to eat? Are we going to eat the soft carrot? Or are we gonna eat the piece of plum? What do you think?” And then, if your baby or toddler says or reaches toward or looks at one of those things, you can then offer it, and then keep singing about it!

Oh, my baby’s eating a little plum, My baby’s eating a little plum, me and my baby are eating a plum, we’re eating a plum today.

And you can eat some plum, and she can eat some plum, and even if she’s not eating the plum and you’re just showing her [makes eating sounds] how you’re eating the plum, how exciting! And what a much more interactive and fun way to be sitting at the table and eating than just getting frustrated that your child’s not eating that darned plum!

If we are using music and using our voice and using that interaction and using our voice to make something more interesting, to engage, and to play, then we are probably more likely to have the attention and to keep the attention of our little ones for a longer period of time, and to have fun!

“Can you do an example for our diaper changes,” says Rebecca, “I need to distract him.” Yes. Oh my gosh, let’s do that. So, sometimes what I like to do is just to have a few little preferred objects or items with me around diaper changes, and whether that’s something that makes a sound or is visually interesting to look at, or whatever it is. My personal favorite is an egg shaker – and if you don’t have an egg shaker, you can have a homemade shaker, where it’s like a poster tube or some sort of rattle or something else that makes noise [handles a wipes container]. This is one of the favorites – oh my gosh it’s like the favorite thing. But, if you’re just talking about what your baby is doing with it, or let’s use, say, Wheels on the Bus for a diaper routine.

The baby on the bus goes ha, ha, ha; ha ha ha; ha ha ha; The baby on the bus

And then just mimic whatever sound your baby is making? Or you can – say you have a picture, I found these little cards at a thrift store years ago, it’s these little cards of animals, and they’re really cute, they’re super retro and fun. So, using those or just using images that you’ve printed out from a web search – this is one of my go-to things, just attaching them to a piece of cardboard, and then just giving a choice, and then you can say what you’re going to sing about.

The animals on the bus, they make some sounds, they make some sounds, they make some sounds

And this is just to distract! You can sing about the animal sounds, have them pick, and then they can hold onto one of those things while you’re frantically changing the diaper! Or, you can sing about the diaper! You can sing about how your child’s bum is going to be clean! You can sing about anything!

My baby’s bum is gonna be clean!

I mean, we’re getting a little funny here, but, seriously, it doesn’t have to be about anything in particular. Does that answer your question, Rebecca? I hope that’s helpful, because, it’s really just, at that point, it’s about distraction, it’s about singing about or telling about something that’s going to happen – stuff like that. Oh good, I’m getting a lot of thumbs up and happy faces, so that’s great.

I want to move on unless anyone has – oh, we were going to do a Christmas song! What Christmas song do we want to sing, guys? You tell me, and then, we can actually end with that if we want to. But I want to show you a few of the play materials that I like to use that are already probably in your home.

Play Materials – Already In Your Home

So, I’m going to start with a few that I already showed you. A homemade rattle – you can make musical instruments out of almost anything. And I have a lot on my blog, right, if you search for DIY instruments under the Blog: Music section, you can find a ton of DIY instruments, of  activities using music, a lot of good stuff. And then also, I have a Pinterest board all about DIY instruments. So, if you follow me on Pinterest, it’s just pinterest.com/strengthinwords, I have a bunch of boards that I… we all know that Pinterest can get really overwhelming, so I like to keep a collection there of things that I like to use or have or make, and the stuff that’s not overwhelming. So, here is one example that I have for a simple instrument. I love this. It’s just a poster tube, inside, I have no idea if I just put beans or rice or lentils, or whatever it is. Obviously, you’re going to make sure that number one, you are supervising your child, and number two, that it is totally closed – anytime you make an instrument, you want to make sure that it is safe.

Another thing that I like to use for an instrument – any kind of bowl! And you can have drums that are different timbres! This kind of drum makes an interesting sound, as opposed to a cardboard box, which also is a drum, but makes a very, very different kind of sound. And another kind of bowl – say you have a metal bowl vs. a plastic bowl… those kinds of things are wonderful things for our children to our children to tap on and keep the beat. Ok, so these are great musical instruments.

Babies love those crinkly books and crinkly toys, but the hack that I like to share with people is an empty one of these wipes containers – that’s why your child always wants to steal the wipes, right? Because it makes that great sound! And then, actually, putting inside things like a scarf or a sock, instead of the wipes, and helping them to grasp or use their pincer grasp to take things out. What a fun activity! And what 8 or 9-month old infant doesn’t want to take things out and, sometimes, put things back in. Put in, take out, put in, take out… all day my kid could do this! And then, when you’re developing that pincer grasp or the grabbing and you’re sort of evolving into a pincer (which is something young children need to, eventually, start to write and hold utensils and all of those things) – these are sort of the early developing skills that we see motorically, that we can engage in from very early, with very simple materials!

Ok, what’s another one? Another one that I like to share is a mirror. Whether it’s something like this [handheld mirror] or a wall mirror, or something – like, IKEA has those sticky mirrors that you can stick to any surface. My favorite thing was having those mirrors on the wall next to my child’s changing station. My big boy – we did that next to his diaper changing area, and that was what saved me! The distraction of him simply being able to look at his feet was like, “wow! What an amazing thing!” And, we could play peekaboo, we could use his diaper or his clothes to hide him or hide me in the mirror, and that was, like, what a great way, when he’s starting to lose it, to bring him back. And you can make peekaboo into a wonderful musical song!

Peeka-peeka-peeka-peeka-peeka-peeka-BOO!

Peeka-peeka-peeka-peeka-peeka-peeka-BOO!

And that’s Skip to my Lou! So, again, thinking outside the box. I’m just going to show… ah, finger puppets are great, any puppet is great, I have a few puppets on my website – DIY puppets. One of my favorite puppet materials is either a dishwashing glove or a sock. You don’t need a sock puppet, you don’t need a sock puppet, you don’t need a finger puppet, you just need a sock! And whether that’s my sock or my child’s sock… your child’s sock – having an extra pair of socks at all times in your backpack is probably a nice thing to have, but that’s a great thing to just pull out when you’re waiting for the bus or the tube or the metro, or when you’re in the car – if you have someone sitting in the back seat of the car. The car is hard because it’s just not always a pleasant experience… but having things like that in your arsenal of your diaper bag – an extra pair of socks, both for warming the feet or for finger puppet play, is one of my favorite things to have. I also, often, bring an egg shaker because it’s just a great thing. It’s an easy thing for a baby to mouth, it makes lots of really wonderful noise, but it’s not loud – it’s pretty quiet so in a public place, it’s not a horrible thing to have around.

So, that’s really what I’ve got for you guys! I’m here for just a couple more minutes if you guys have any questions, I’m happy to answer. I just want to remind, again, that prices are going up on that Community LAB which is my membership community. It gives access to online music classes where we do a ton of music all together, and we can meet live, but you can also watch the replay of all of these things. I know that we’re very busy as parents, and we’re not always available for live opportunities, but the beauty of that Community LAB is that it’s not only this option for live engagement, but it’s also a library of resources. So, it’s something that you can just go in, pick and choose what you want from it, and feel like it’s sort of an activity buffet… which is actually why I call it the LAB. In my head, it’s two-fold. It stands for “Learning Activity Buffet,” which is the idea that we can go in and get a bite-sized morsel to sort of snack on, to grab, to use when we need it. But it’s also a lab in the sense that we are all experimenting! We don’t know as parents what we’re doing, it’s a grand experiment, parenthood is… I like to say it’s the great equalizer: no matter where we come from, who we are, what color, what religion, what language(s) we speak, we are all – when we become parents – on the same level. We are reduced to very vulnerable, wide-eyed people who have, really, no idea what we’re doing! And it’s funny because we live in this age of SO much information, but it’s so hard to now pare it back, to say, “I just need the stuff that I need, that I can trust, and that I can value, and I need a community of people that I actually like, and who respect me.” And it’s not about the divisive breastfeeding vs. bottle-feeding, or sleep training vs. co-sleeping, like, that’s not what parenthood is about! Parenthood, in those early days, is about building each other up, finding communities of support, and getting access to information that works for us – at the time that we need it! That is what parenthood should be about, and that is what I’m trying to create with Strength In Words. And somebody “liked” that, so I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one that thinks that this is important!

That is why I have created what I’m creating. And that’s it, right? What else is there? We want parent support, co-parent support, we want access to professionals, we want access to information, to evidence-based information that’s developmentally appropriate, that is the same… I mean, this is about how humans develop! This is not about “this parenting philosophy vs. that parenting philosophy” – I mean, yes! You can find on the internet anything that you want to support what you think is correct, to support your claim… like, that’s fine, go ahead. But I’m talking about research-based information and ideas that really do support what we’re trying to do. And ALL of the research says that it is the basic stuff, right? It’s going back to basics. Going low-tech, going into using cardboard boxes. Because that’s what our babies are going to be playing with, anyway! I mean, how much money have you or your friends or family spent on crappy toys, honestly, that make a lot of sound, and that your child maybe plays with for 2 seconds. And that’s not how our children learn! Our children learn through observation, imitation and interaction! And those opportunities, when we give opportunity to do that, whether it is for an hour, for five minutes, each and every day, that’s how our children learn, and that’s how they are supported in all areas – whether it’s cognitive development, communication development, motor or sensory development and social/emotional development. That is how our children learn! So, again, my Community LAB, that’s what I’m trying to provide. It’s this all-in-one resource that’s not one-size-fits-all. It’s about giving access to professionals, to each other. It’s about simplifying – you don’t have to go and find a music class and a workshop to attend and developmental curriculum that you can purchase. It’s all right there, and it’s all very easy to access. And Brooke is one of my members, and she can tell you that she, literally, sits with her phone and can write and attend events and look at stuff and read stuff and get what she wants to in 5 minutes’ time, or however much time she wants to put into it! So, I think right now, and I can speak to that as a new mom – a seasoned “new mom” but a new mom all the same, that’s what I want, so I’m sure there are other people who value that, too. So, even if that’s not something you are ready to commit to, please spread the word. Because this is valuable stuff, this is important stuff.

So, again, if you guys have any questions… we had somebody wanting to learn a Christmas song. Anybody want to suggest one? If we want to, we can end the session with that today! One of my favorite ones is a less traditional one – it’s called the Coventry Carol. Has anyone heard of that one? I’ll sing it for you. Ok. It goes:

Lully, lullay, the little tiny child

By, by lully, lullay.

Lully, lullay, the little tiny child

By, by lully, lullay.

Oh sisters two, how may we do

For to preserve this day.

This poor young thing

For whom we do sing,

By, by lully, lullay.

Alright. So, that’s my personal favorite Christmas carol. Brooke suggested “Oh Christmas Tree!” Perfect, let’s do it! Yeah, because her daughter wants to touch the Christmas tree, so you can sing about it! I don’t remember all the words, so I’m gonna give you an example right now of how you can substitute some words! Ok!

Oh, Christmas tree, oh, Christmas tree

Look at it now, it’s right in front of you

Oh, Christmas tree, oh, Christmas tree

I see the green pine needles!

Look at that – I see a snowflake,

Look at that – it’s a nutcracker!

Oh, Christmas tree, oh, Christmas tree

We decorated it together!

Right there, we’re talking about what we see, we’re talking about what we did together, we’re talking about what it looks like, we could add in how it smells! All of these things we could do! Anybody else have one to suggest? It doesn’t have to be a Christmas carol, it could be any other song! Alright, well, I’m just gonna start and we’ll sing our Good-bye song, and we’ll move on with our day!

Thanks for being here, see you later

What will you do the rest of your day?

Good-bye to the babies, good-bye to the toddlers

Good-bye bigger kids, good-bye all the siblings

Good-bye to the grown ups, good-bye to the singers

Good-bye Ayelet, good-bye to this music

We laughed and we played

We’re getting very clever

This is what counts: being here together

Thanks so much, everybody! It was so nice to have you. Don’t forget, if you haven’t signed up for Strength In Words Weekly, do that today. It’s been great! So, thanks, everybody, and have a wonderful day. Have a good one, bye!