I Speak Robot: Using Play Talk to Promote Literacy Development

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I know. I know. Suuuuuper research-y title. But i didn’t want it to just be I speak robot. Because, well, I don’t ūüėČ ¬†In our house, with three boys (going to do a post to update you on this soon!!) we have a LOT of playing that occurs. ¬†All day. ¬†Every day. ¬†As an educator, I have, of course, spent countless hours figuring out how to turn these play events into a learning-based event. ¬†Look, NOT all play is for learning. ¬†Play for play is SUPER important for social, emotional and educational development. BUT, again as an educator and MOM, I can’t help but to turn some of these authentic play events into a learning situation!
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According to Fromberg and Gullo (1992), play enhances language development, social competence, creativity, imagination, and thinking skills. Frost (1992) concurred, stating that “play is the chief vehicle for the development of imagination and intelligence, language, social skills, and perceptual-motor abilities in infants and young children” (p. 48).¬†(source)
So.  I wanted to share some ways that I encourage literacy development through play.
The most important device you can use is QUESTIONING. ¬†The typical line of questioning ¬†I use in play talk are applicable to (almost) any play situation. ¬†Most of the times I allow the children to play on their own and then I “interrupt” with my questions (gently) but sometimes I create learning situations for them such as baking and science experiments. Here are a list of 10 simple questions you might use the next time you catch your little involved in play that would be conducive to talk/play learning. ¬†The particular situation I based this blog post on involved this little cutie and his new Robot I got him (he later named it Chace-bot‚Ķduh!!!). ¬†So, you want to mix a variety of open-ended and straightforward questions and you can tweak each question to cater to the specific play situation…
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1. ¬†What is his/her (your robot’s) name?
2.  Why did you decide to name it that?  What does its name start with? (letter/sound)
3. What special things does he/she (your robot) do?
4.  Does he/she (your robot) eat things?  What kinds of things?
5.  What is the silliest thing he/she (your robot) can do?
6. ¬†Is he/she (your robot) a good guy or a bad guy? WHY <— super important
7.  Is it real or pretend?
8.  Where does he/she (your robot) live?
9. ¬†How does he/she (your robot) feel? ¬†(this is good at getting at a child’s actual feelings regarding a situation that is tough to discuss)
10.  Show me something that he/she (your robot) can do.  Have them explain.
I asked similar questions to these cuties as they played Legos.  Obviously I adjusted the questing based on their ages.  Another activity I LOVE to do with the boys is baking/cooking/food prep.  This is a GREAT time to engage in conversation with your child.  We LOVE to do simple food prep activity like making fruit pattern skewers.
Starting color patterns at a young age can go a long way in terms of forming a solid number sense foundation. ¬†These can be used for counting too. ¬†And think outside the box. Don’t just ask “how many pieces of fruit are on there?” but rather “How many strawberries are on there?” ¬†or “How many of the fruits are NOT red.” ¬†This can be tricky, so try to be cognizant of your child’s age and developmental level.
We also love doing make your own pizzas!
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They key is to not just dump the ingredients on the table and go empty the dishwasher (although soooo tempting) but to stay present in the activity.  Ask questions like:
1.  What are we adding now?
2. How much of this should we add?
3. Will this make our food taste sweet? Salty?  Sour?
OK, I have to go take care of my boo, but I will be back soon with a juicy post! XO
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Racing with my mind AND body

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Excuse the tardiness of the post.  My/Our life is so insane I legitimately cannot make this stuff up.  But the funny/amazing thing is that I/we have NEVER been happier, and continue to be.  We have learned over the past month that our health is THE most precious thing and it can be taken in an instance.  It is all about recovering from the bumps in the road and sticking together as a TEAM!  OK, so here is the long-awaited post-race post!!!!

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I am so happy. ¬†I had one goal for this morning’s race and I CRUSHED it. ¬†My goal was to be able to function after 13.1 ¬†Literally. ¬†I am tired of feeling like absolute ass after a race and it putting me out of commission for the remainder of the day. ¬†And I know exactly why that happened, I’ve analyzed the hell out of it for my own betterment because if I didn’t get that under control, my racing life would be far shorter than I desired. ¬†(written Sunday evening)…

Now after even further reflection, I will tell you what I did RIGHT to make this race ROCK!

  1.  Drank 2 litres of water the day before and was mindful of my water intake the week prior
  2. Got up a bit earlier to chill a bit before the race, watch the elites and get into my groove (rather than running into my corral, 10 minutes late to the starting line- this is a reason I went out so fast usually as well)
  3. I went out SMART. ¬†Like JOGGING smart. ¬†I REFUSED to do to myself what I did in the Philly 10k (of out with two 7-minute miles and then hit the wall HARD in the form of puke-age and and exhaustion). ¬†Ummmm can we laugh about the fact that even though I got to the start line super early I STILL forgot to turn my GPS on (Garmin) so I was STILL doing the “hold your arm in the air thing” for a while before I crossed the start. ¬†Kinda funny. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†img_2872
  4. I fueled like I do when I am training, which although it seems couter-intuitive, meant eating NOTHING pre-race. ¬†I NEVER eat before running really, and I think in past races I thought I “should” because everyone else did, but I think it actually made me sick as my stomach just isn’t used to it. ¬†I ALWAYS have a cup of coffee and then I run. ¬†MY body just functions better with NO food for the first hour of physical activity. ¬†When I am training, I normally eat a light breakfast bar (my favorites are the Nature Valley almond butter biscuits) either immediately following my daily 6-miler or if I am particularly hungry, I will eat a few bites while running. ¬†So, for the race I packed one of those in my belt and actually did not end up eating it until I was an hour through the awesome Guster concert after!
  5. BELT! I went back to wearing a fuel belt. It took about a mile to get used to but having two bottles of water on me was AMAZING and I KNOW it contributed to my success.  Being able to grab water and sip whenever was AWESOME. AND get this, I decided to flip the belt around so the bottles were on my back side.  The middle pocket held my ID, almond butter biscuit and my phone (for tunes).  WELL, I often get major lower back pain while running (and in life in general; I have a larger chest and lean over to breastfeed a lot, etc.) but the middle part of the belt pressed SUPER hard against the top of my sacrum throughout the whole race and it felt SOOOO GOOD!  Every time I needed a recharge I would arch my back a bit and let my phone press into my lower back for relief!  Sounds strange but it was a pleasant surprise!!
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FINAL STATS- Ave 8:54, FINISH in 1:56. THRILLED with my placements!

So, let’s be honest too; knowing that my WHOLE cheer squad would be there at the end with me was an ENORMOUS plus for me and helped me be successful for sure. ¬†These guys below are my EVERYTHING. ¬†Pictured are: ¬†My kids’ Daddy (who is one of my BEST friends, and to whom I am forever thankful), my three beautiful kiddos and my Love. ¬†Great things have happened for us, primarily today‚ĶI promise¬†I will be filling you all in a bit more soon (I get many questions daily, understandably).

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Anyway, I can’t believe I was able to rock through the hour and a half Guster show after. ¬†I mean, like jumping around like a mad woman ūüôā ¬†The boys kinda loved the tunes too…

Oh, and everyone has been taking turns trying on mama’s medal! ¬†I am SOOOOO happy with this race and feel SOOOO lucky to have been able to complete it successfully. ¬†And yes, I am already looking for a bib for the November half‚ĶLOL!

August Running & Do I Actually LIKE Running?

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I know.  It is already September 12th, but the end of August was nuts, so this August run update is coming late!

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So. ¬†August. It was a good month. A great month. ¬†I am literally feeling so blessed that I feel like I am walking on clouds. ¬†THANK YOU G-D!!! ¬†OK, moving on to more running. ¬†Regarding the “do I actually like to run?!” ¬†I truly get this question daily. ¬†From everyone to random strangers, to my best friends and family. ¬†And here is the answer: it is complicated. ¬†I see running and I as being in a long term relationship. ¬†We are SUPER tight and I am in love‚Ķbut some days/months/years‚Ķit sucks lol. ¬†So, long story short, I don’t like running‚ĶI LOVE it. ¬†And‚ĶI am a RUNNER! ¬†But day-to-day, I don’t always WANT to run. ¬†Guys, it is hard! ¬†And there are for SURE times when I do NOT like running as much as my norm. ¬†Here are some of those times:

  1. Getting back to training- ¬†I feel like getting back to training after a time off, be it from an injury, pregnancy or any other break is SUCH a tough challenge. ¬†I can’t decide if it is worse mentally or physically but I know that this is my LEAST favorite time period for running. ¬†I try to remember that it won’t always feel so shitty‚Ķand it won’t. I promise!
  2. Typical poop runs- Look, it happens. ¬†And the worst part is spending said shitty run trying to figure out why your run feels so yuck. ¬†You know you’ve been there! ¬†Some reasons that I have been able to pin down: ¬†getting a cold, menstrual issues, mental/physical exhaustion, etc.
  3. When I have other stuff I need to be doing- Guys, I struggle SO much with this.  It is SO challenging to carve time out of my day to run.  I stay at home with the boys and there is not a ton of down time.  When I do finally get the time to run, I often spend a LOT of said run thinking of what i SHOULD be doing instead (i.e.:  laundry, prepping something for the boys or my new job, etc.).  Anyone else have that issue?!

Anyway, so the answer is YES ¬†I do actually like running. ¬†Especially when I am in “good running shape.” ¬†I always qualify this as meaning that I feel consistently good at a 8:35 outside pace (I run slower on the treadmill for fear of permanent joint damage) and a tempo pace of a little¬†less than 8s.

A¬†tempo¬†run is a faster-paced workout also known as a lactate-threshold, LT, or threshold run.¬†Tempo pace¬†is often described as “comfortably hard.”¬†Tempo¬†running improves a crucial physiological variable for running success: our metabolic fitness. (source)

I LOVE when my body just feels like it is working so well together and I can think about things other than how painful it is ūüôā ¬†THAT is my “good running shape.” ¬†What do you qualify as being “in good running shape?” ¬†What indicators do you use? ¬†As an aside, I actually do NOT use races to necessary qualify my current running condition. I feel like they are too small a snapshot to aggregate a “current running shape” picture. Oooook, enough running ramblings for now! ¬†I will be back soon with a non-running post soon. Promise ūüôā ¬†Maybe.

Wait! One more thing:  the RnR Philly half is this coming Sunday and guess who is SUPER undertrained!?  I know.  170 miles in a month does not SEEM undertrained, however my longest run was only about 9.  I have done some two-a-days that have equalled 11 but no more than 8-9 at a time! Argh! How did this happen?!  13.1 should be interesting!  XO!

Running (Williamstown) Lately, and that Time he No Longer Wanted his Appendix.

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You guys.  What a crazy end-of-August it ended up being!  But, we left that month feeling more blessed than EVER! Our family is now minus one appendix, but beyond thankful!  So, the guy got SUPER sick last Sunday night and we ended up in the ER all night, CAT-scanned and sent to emergency surgery to remove his (about to perforate) appendix.  Really.

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Funny because I took that picture of him jumping in the air w Zach on his shoulders mere hours before the craziness began. ¬†So insane how one moment things are wonderful and the next…

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Yea. ¬†So, we are SUPER glad that is behind us. ¬†He was/is SUCH a trooper! ¬†We don’t do pain meds here, so he is surviving on Advil and tons of TLC ūüôā ¬†COULD. NOT. BE. PROUDER. ¬†So, we had plans to visit the Berkshires where his family resides. ¬†We had been SO stoked to go and not sure if it was going to still be a possibility after the whole appendectomy thing. ¬†But, we were given the green light and were able to go! ¬†We ALL absolutely LOVE it there. ¬†There are SIX cousins total and it is a BLAST!

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One of my FAVORITE things to do when we are there is to explore on foot!  I did an easy 4-miler on the treadmill before we headed out on the 4-5 hour drive there, so the next day I was ready for some outside town action!  I LOVE visiting Williamstown.

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It is an adorable town and running it ROCKS. ¬†The first day I did a 6 miler using a beautiful “River Walk” in the area to do mile repeats.

Then, the next day, I asked Scott’s dad to plan a run for me around 6 miles.

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He drew me a map, warned me of the hills, then sent me off to my death.  Really.  LOL.

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The hill on Stratton that nearly killed me.

I can’t even with the “Keep Hill” road sign. ¬†Seriously though, this woman was coming down the hill and kinda waved at me and I waved back. ¬†I only then realized that she was pretty much waving me to my death lol. ¬†Those hills in the Berkshires are NO joke! ¬†BUT, it is LOVELY to run on dirt roads; feels GREAT on my feet. ¬†Also, it was closer to a 7-miler ūüôā and thank GOD I had my GPS.

Those views, though!? ¬†Right!? So beautiful. ¬†But the hills killed me and let’s be honest; my inner thighs were already sore as all hell because I could not get off of these amazing EZ-rollers. ¬†Get yourself one now. ¬†They were SOOOOOO fun. ¬†I know. ¬†Grow up. ¬†But truly‚ĶTOO much fun.

Anyway, just wanted to let you know how our last few weeks have been going!  I also HAVE to show you this jump shot I am OBSESSED with that I snapped today when running the BFB:

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