When I was kid growing up in Jacksonville, Florida, I remembering performing in our city's Black History Month Festival that celebrated local heroes such as James Weldon Johnson. I was so fascinated about the unique history of my high school, Stanton College Preparatory School, being the first school for black children in the state of Florida and named after Lincoln's Secretary of War, that I co-founded an annual Black History Month Celebration for my entire school. It was a passion project that taught me a lot about asking for help from my teachers and student body to carry out a vision.
Founding Junior Baby Hatter, the lessons of seeking wisdom from experienced professionals and partnering with local businesses for resources has come full circle. One invaluable resource that helps me connect with domestic partners and keep Junior Baby Hatter made in the USA is Maker's Row. In celebration of Black History Month, Maker's Row featured Junior Baby Hatter as a black owned small business that is making waves. Check out their blog post where I explain why I started JBH and my advice to future trailblazers with a dream.
Whether it’s through style, strong families, creative play, or education, the Junior Baby Hatter family is all about building confident kids. Building confidence is also the core of Lisa Vodola’s Preschool Readers program. Preschool Readers is designed for 3-5 year old students to feel great about themselves and their ability to read through instruction that looks more like play.
After a 30 minute trial session, my three year old, Adam, walked away recognizing three sight words and could read a complete sentence! I was completely shocked at how fast you see results in your child’s reading in just one session, and Adam absolutely loved the experience. Following our session I asked Lisa a few questions about what inspired her to create such a fun and effective reading program.
Why did you start Preschool Readers?
Prior to Preschool Readers, I was a special needs kindergarten teacher. As I taught I kept my favorite Maya Angelou quote close to my heart, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” More than anything I wanted my students to feel safe and cared for. I wanted them to feel smart, confident about themselves and their abilities, and to grow to feel successful and significant in life. However, year after year I saw them struggle with reading. I watched as their confidence diminished. They didn’t want to try anymore. In essence, they stopped feeling good about reading. And as the standards increased, becoming more rigorous and demanding, I realized I had to change the way I taught my reading lessons. That same Maya Angelou quote was behind the first change I made...I knew that if I could only help to make them feel good about their reading abilities, then I’d quickly see a change in their attitude towards reading. Once I built up their confidence I saw a huge change in their desire to learn! With the realization that nurturing this confidence prior to the start of kindergarten would make academic success inevitable thus leading to a lifetime of advantages, I developed Preschool Readers. Preschool Readers truly accelerates the reading process for preschoolers; maximizing their potential, building their confidence and guaranteeing a solid foundation in reading…. in a fun and interactive way!
What’s a good age to begin reading instruction?
At Preschool Readers we work with children between the ages of 3-5. Find out if your child is ready, download our checklist...Top 5 Signs Your Child Is Ready To Read
How is Preschool Readers different from other reading programs for young kids and toddlers such as Hooked on Phonics?
All sessions are taught by our highly qualified Preschool Reading Specialists using the Preschool Readers program. This program consists of a proven systematic approach to sight word instruction integrated with the Common Core Standards.
What are sight words? The most frequently used and repeated words in the English language are known as sight words and as much as 75% of all reading texts are made up of these words! Typically, these high-frequency words do not follow regular phonics patterns or spelling rules, making them very difficult for young children to sound out or decode. As a result, one of the most powerful reading tools that we can help a child develop is sight word recognition. Sight word recognition improves reading fluency, allowing them to focus their efforts on the more mentally demanding tasks of reading comprehension.
Using a variety of hands-on, multisensory, literacy-rich games and activities, our Preschool Reading Specialists provide a truly engaging and FUN approach to learning to read, one that creates a lifetime of academic advantages and success!
Our Preschool Reading Specialists are well- educated and experienced in the field of early literacy development. All specialists have- Master of Education, teacher certification, and minimum 5 years working with children. Additionally, some of the specialists hold a Reading and/or ESOL endorsement (English Speakers of Other Languages). Our Preschool Reading Specialists are caring, fun, patient, creative, high energy, motivating, and extremely positive!
Download our FAQ. to learn more about our in-home and enrichment center sessions.
Does this program work for ESL students or children who primarily speak a language other than English at home?
I currently work with students whose primary language at home is Spanish. The parents actually wanted me to work with their children so that their child's pronunciation of words was correct. However, both the child and parent do speak English it's just that the parents native language is Spanish so they wanted to make sure their child was using the correct pronunciation and tense.
Honestly, I've never taught the program to a student who doesn't speak English at all... just students who speak two languages at home.
Is Preschool Readers a good supplement to education for children already enrolled at full-time or part-time preschool? Will a child become burned out from additional reading instruction?
Most preschools provide a phonics approach to reading instruction and Preschool Readers provides a systematic approach to sight word instruction… this combination makes for a well balanced approach to reading instruction.
We’ve never had a child burn out as a result of working with us. Actually, we’ve had parents think their child might be burned out during a certain period of time (school starting back up, playing sports during a season etc) so they call us to put their child's sessions on hold until that busy time is over… only to call us back within the week because their child started crying when they told them they wouldn’t be having reading sessions!
Our students LOVE their reading sessions. We play games, praise them, and end the lesson with a treat!
Does the program work for stay-at-home children and parents?
Yes, the program works for stay-at-home children and parents.
What is the benefit of your child learning to read earlier than school standards? Will a child be bored in school if they are ahead in their reading level?
Learning to read early gives children an edge up on the demanding and rigorous school curriculum, preventing them from struggling and falling behind. However, it’s not just about reading early… it’s about developing a love of learning and building their confidence. A confident child believes in their abilities and is more likely to try new things and take on challenges.
What does the program involve? How many sessions are included?
Sessions are held once a week for thirty minutes. The program is twenty four sessions long and after successfully completing those twenty four sessions, most children are reading on an ending kindergarten/beginning first grade reading level.
How much does the program cost?
Enrichment Center Sessions (small group) are $219 every four sessions and In-Home Sessions (one-on-one) are $299 every four sessions.
Are there any discounts for enrolling more than one child?
We offer a 10% discount for the second child.
How can parents continue to develop their child’s reading skills after the program?
We ask that parents continue reviewing their child’s Preschool Readers sight words and little readers after the completion of the program. We also offer a downloadable review workbook that parents can purchase, print out, and work on at home with their preschooler. Parents can also choose to continue onto phase two and three.
Preschool Readers is currently enrolling at Celebrate Life in Hoboken. Sign up today to reserve your spot!
Lisa Vodola, Preschool Reading Specialist & Owner of Preschool Readers is passionate about fostering a love of, and building excitement around learning to read for preschoolers. To learn more about Lisa and Preschool Readers, visit PreschoolReaders.com and connect on YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. Get free tips & activities for your preschooler and stay up-to date on all that is happening at Preschool Readers by signing up for their free newsletter.
I'm Markisha Velazquez. I'm the founder of Junior Baby Hatter and I'm also the designer and the maker of the flat caps. JBH is a baby accessory brand that makes cut and sewn woven flat caps for baby boys and toddlers. We also make flat caps for adults!
When my own son was born, I tried to find different accessories to dress him up with. I found a lot of options for girls, but I couldn't find a lot of fun or nicely made things for boys. Idecided just to make something of my own with the flat caps! What makes JBH different is that our hats are made from really nice quality fabrics, and they're all handmade. Every cap also has the option to be personalized with a monogram leather tag making trully unique. Another thing that makes JBH different is that we offer a range of sizes starting from newborn all the way up to adult sizes in extra large so fathers and sons can wear matching hats for special occasions. They make a really great gift for Fathers day or the Holidays.
At JBH we're also really passionate about family values, and one of the values we want to pass on to our own son is the idea of giving back. So we donate a portion of every sale to the Covenant House Mother and Child Center, Which supports homeless mothers and their young children.
We teamed up with 10 amazing brands to offer you our first Thanks-for-Giving Black Friday Shopping Guide! Together raise enough money to feed over 70 homeless children this holiday season at the Covenant House Mother & Child Center in NYC. I am so thankful to partner with these amazing small businesses to support a nonprofit that helps secure a brighter future for homeless mothers and their children. Check out the guide to discover deals and gifts for the whole family.
Every year I look forward to the holidays to spend time with my family and make new memories. But the holidays can also be stressful from planning for travel and budgeting for gifts. To help keep our spending in check, we caught up with Pamela Capalad, the brain behind Brunch & Budget. Pamela is a Certified Financial Planner with over 8 years experience working at wealth management firms and now uses her financial savvy to educate and empower everyday people to take control their money and lives. Pamela lays down 4 foolproof tips to help you avoid overspending during the holidays and racking debt into the new year.
1. Start with the overall budget you’d like to spend and work backwards from there.
It’s always helpful to begin with the end in mind. Often, the holiday season sneaks up on our budgets, but if you have a number you want to target, it makes planning much easier and puts you in control of the holiday spending.
To come up with the number, think about what you spent last year and where you felt you overspent. Keep in mind that holiday spending also includes additional food spending for parties and get-togethers as well as travel costs to see family and friends.
2. Make a list of family and friends who you definitely want to receive gifts and shop for them first.
The holidays can end up making you feel like you need to give a gift to everyone you know, especially because you will always have that one coworker or neighbor you didn’t think of who has a little something for you. Just remember this - gift giving doesn’t have to be a two way street.
Before you go out and buy a bunch of small gifts to give out of obligation, take a step back and reflect on why gift giving is important to you and plan accordingly. The best way to start is to make a list of the people in your life who you definitely want to give gifts to and the approximate cost you want to spend on each person. That cost can be made up of one gift or many small gifts.
Use the overall budget number you came up with above as your guide for how much to spend on each person.
3. Don’t get caught up in holiday sales.
Retailers know these last few months of the year can easily make up for the lack of sales from previous months and they advertise accordingly.
From Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and any other sales leading up to Christmas, retailers are trying to get your attention in any way possible and get you to buy one or two extra things.
Watch out for words like “x% off original price” or “buy one get one half off” or “only 5 available” or “mail in rebate.” These are all marketing tactics to get you in the door to buy more and feel good about paying less.
This is also why it’s so important to plan your spending ahead of time. By going in with the end in mind, you’re much less likely to be tempted by these sales. If you focus on your list and happen to land a sale for something you were already looking to buy then you’ve succeeded! As long as you resist purchasing sale items not on your list.
4. Use online shopping as a way to stay on track with your budget.
While online shopping can sometimes cause you to spend more than you intended, it can also be used to help you temper your spending.
Do you ever wonder why after a few hours of shopping, you can feel tired? It’s because we have a limited amount of willpower (i.e. the ability to say no), and everywhere we look, we are subconsciously saying no to something, so it can lead to decision fatigue, which can actually make us feel physically fatigued.
When you walk into a store, you’re immediately greeted with ways to impulse buy. Stores are also often designed to purposely walk you through certain parts of the floor to get to what you really want. Couple that with stores understanding that we all have limited willpower, and by the time you get to what you’re looking for, you may already have decision fatigue.
By shopping online, you don’t have to go through the maze of the store to find what you want. You search for it and buy it. You can also put a number of things in your online cart and easily walk away from it before deciding to click the Buy button.
Pamela Capalad is based in Brooklyn, NY serving clients in New York City and virtually across the country. She has devoted her life to financial literacy so you can devote your life to your passions! Head over to Pamela’s website to find out how to build a life you never want to retire from in her FREE ebook Why You Should Never Retire.
Adam loves coloring so we’re sharing this FREE fall coloring page we made just for him. Share your colored pages with us using #JBHcoloringbook and we’ll post it on our blog.
This is Alex, cofounder of JBH. I don’t normally write blogs, but I had to this time because I’m really excited about this new thing we’re calling “Shareables”. Every two weeks or so, we’ll make fun short little animations like this so that you can share it with your family and friends. The goal is to make high-quality and relevant animations, that you would actually share! (Hence the name)
This week’s Shareable is “Like Father Like Son”. A classic phrase said by moms and dads alike when their kid does something that dad does. Examples of when to use this:
Attached in this blog you have several options. You can send a youtube link here, you can share this fun animated gif, and if all else fails, a good ol’ fashioned JPG. Leave a comment down below with a link to where you used it! We’d love to see!
Talk to you later,
With the weather finally cooling down and the kids back indoors for school, fall festivals are a great way to hang outside with the whole family to enjoy the changing season. New Jersey has plethora of outdoor events and craft shows throughout Bergen and Passaic counties that offers live music, food, shopping from local artisans and rides for kids. But if you are looking for the best festivals and craft shows with something for everyone in the family, check out PJ’s Promotions. PJ’s Promotions organizes award winning art and craft shows in Northern New Jersey. Junior Baby Hatter had a chance to talk to Pat Tita, the P in PJ’s Promotions, about her favorite out of the 15 shows she promotes and food vendors you don’t want to miss.
What is PJ’s Promotions?
P.J.'s Promotions has been in business for over 25 years.
We are the premier promoter of art and craft shows in northern NJ, offering 15 shows throughout Bergen and Passaic counties. We also conduct the Nyack Famous Street Fairs in Nyack, NY.
Why did you select Junior Baby Hatter as a vendor for upcoming craft shows?
We selected Junior Baby Hatter as a vendor because of the unique craft of making hats for boys, which are both colorful, useful and adorable.
What’s your favorite part about fall?
Fall is a great time of year to hold events, especially outdoor ones. Not only is the weather cooler and the leaves colorful, people in general love to walk the shows at this time of year taking their time to browse the booths, enjoy the food and the music.
What are some fun outdoor events families can attend this fall?
We have three outdoor events coming up this fall. The Ridgewood Fall Craft & Art Street Fair, the Glen Rock Autumn Craft Street Fair and the Nyack Famous Street Fair.
What activities will be available for kids and at what age?
All three shows feature a large display of inflatables appropriate for ages 4 to 9. The Ridgewood & Glen Rock shows also offer games, pony rides, a petting zoo, and face painting.
What’s one of your favorite food vendors at your events?
It is hard to choose a favorite food vendor. Gyros rank high on the list but also the sausage and peppers and kielbasa are all great.
What’s your all-time favorite show or event that you produce and why?
Our Nyack Famous Street Fair is my favorite event. I have always loved Nyack even before we promoted an event there. The location and the charm of the town lends itself to a perfect setting for a show.
Find Junior Baby Hatter in the Kid Zone this Sunday at Ridgewood Fall Craft & Art Street Fair. View our events page for directions to this and other local markets we're participating in this fall! Check out the complete list of the best fall craft shows and outdoor events that are worth the day trip at http://www.pjspromotions.com/newpage.
If you are a parent, then you know how hard it is to get children back into school mode when the first day sneaks up. This year, I wanted to jump in front of the soon to be war path my lovely six year old would cause and prepare a schedule to slowly transition us. Mornings have never been a problem in our household - it’s bedtime that my little gladiator dislikes. “I hate sleeping!” “But what happens if I never sleep again, mommy?” Just a few of the lovely comments I get to hear before tucking him into bed every night.
I’ve noticed that Aiden does better when there is a schedule in place - things tend to go more smoothly. So, I went to my happy place on the internet and searched through Pinterest for any ideas that may help us this time around. That’s when I came across this beauty. A DIY after school clock for kids! Yes! Not only does it put a schedule in place for children to visually see, but it helps them learn to tell time. Double win!
I am a mom on a budget so I did some searching and found this black wall clock at Target for only $3.99 - Target wall clock. You can save an extra 10% online using discount code -HOMEDEAL. Then, of course after purchasing the one from Target, I saw that IKEA has a basic wall clock for only $1.59 right now for family members!!! Found right here - IKEA wall clock. I definitely should have went with IKEA on this one, lol!
What You Will Need:
How to put it all together:
Your finished product should look similar to mine below :)
Personally, I like the legend in the frame - it gives it a fancy look. I've seen the legend made with different colored construction paper or even a dry erase board with different colored markers. Anything works, just use your imagination and it will come out great! I mean, who doesn't like a project that is cheap and easy to make and teaches kids not one but two things! I love it and I hope you do too!
Monika Monroe is the creator of This Nerdy Mom, a diverse collective of moms bringing you the best recipes, product reviews, advice, and some laughter in your life. Find more budget friendly life hacks at This Nerdy Mom.
This Saturday I’m taking Adam to see his first play at New York City’s FringeJR Festival. FringeJR is part of the New York International Fringe Festival, the largest multi-arts festival in North America, showcasing new plays for kids ages 5-12 years old. Swashbuckling Sam and the Tale of Blackbeard's Revenge, presented by Wide Eyed Productions, is an original story that promises to please young audiences with a brave, young heroine(seven-year old Sam), shadow puppets, and sword wielding pirates of course. During the last week of rehearsals, playwright, Leonora Bernstein, found a few moments to answer Junior Baby Hatter’s questions about inspiration, favorite childhood books, and discovering her love for a good adventure story through her earliest memories of theatre.
What inspired you to write Swashbuckling Sam?
I’ve always loved adventure stories especially ones with pirates. As a child I would read Treasure Island and watch The Goonies. Recently a good friend of mine was going through a divorce and her daughter was having a rough time at school – she was being bullied, she lives in a small town and I wished there was something I could do to show her daughter, that she wasn’t so alone.
Have you always written for young audiences?
Swashbuckling Sam and the Tale of Blackbeard’s Revenge is the first play that I have completed. I’ve taken a few playwriting classes. So I guess to answer your question, so far my focus has been on theatre for young audiences. I have an M.A. in Educational Theatre from NYU and I’m Wide Eyed Productions Education Coordinator. Most of my focus is on young people and creating work that stimulates critical thinking but also entertains. Wide Eyed Productions feels that it is important to create theatre for young people because we believe they need and deserve theatre that matters to them. Theatre which pertains to their lives, and which they can relate to; I think the stories we encounter at an early age like anything else, help influence who we become.
How did you become a writer?
When I look at this question I think -It’s funny you ask this, because I don’t really feel like a writer, and Swashbuckling Sam and the Tale of Blackbeard’s Revenge is my first produced play. I write for fun, and I enjoy taking classes but I don’t consider myself a writer, more of a theatre educator.
What was your favorite children's book to read growing up?
I loved Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson- like my main character Sam, but I also recall constantly reading Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein.
Did you attend plays or musicals as a kid?
I attended lots of theatre as a child. I started seeing theatre at the age of 6, my mother had just given birth to my brother and so to get me out of her hair, she had my dad take me to children’s theatre. As for musicals, my parents enjoy musical theatre – so we had a lot of musicals on records (remember records) and I would listen to all of them; But Oklahoma! was my favorite. When I was around ten years old, I attended a community theatre production of it, and I was in awe – I loved it.
What's your most memorable theatre experience as a child?
When I was in primary school, I grew up in Lawrence, Kansas and there was this really wonderful theatre for a youth company called The Seem-to-Be Players. And I was really lucky, because my first theatre experiences was going to see them. My dad would take me there once a month(they had new plays every month); they would perform two shows. First a fairy tale then they would teach us a song, and the second half of the show which was my absolute favorite was an original series called Nyfrm the Sprite. It was all about a sprite who went on an adventure. So I guess with these questions it’s come full circle - I always love a good adventure.
Swashbuckling Sam is performing in Venue #6 of the 14th Street Y community center this Wednesday 8/24 at 5:30pm, Friday 8/26 at 4:15pm, and Saturday 8/27 at 4pm. Purchase tickets online at Eventbrite!
Growing up in a colorful Caribbean family as a first-generation American gave me an appreciation for different cultures. I gravitate towards things that are eclectic, ethnic, vintage, colorful, and have multiple influences. My training in theatrical costume design satiated my obsession of different time periods and places and gave me a creative outlet through millinery and costume construction. I love hat making because hats are nostalgic yet timeless.