By Wendy and Naomi Wax Illustrated by Stephen Gilpin
I’ve done quite a few potty training book reviews on this blog, so when the author of this book contacted me and asked if I’d like to take a look at her new book, I thought I’d take a little bit of a different spin.
I took my six year old to a friend’s house to read with her 22-month-old twins. My son is like a cousin or big brother to these boys, and I thought it would be a lot of fun to see what they did. After all, who better to REALLY review a book than the kids themselves?
This book is charming, showing all sorts of childhood heroes delaying an event because they need to go potty, from the titled firefighter, to baseball players, to conductors and astronauts. My son giggled through the book as he read, and the twins, generally super active little guys, stayed well tuned in the entire time.
The twins sign "train" because, "Even conductors go to the potty!"
The illustrations are bright, bold, and engaging, and I particularly like the facial expressions on the characters. Thankfully, the missing waiter is shown washing his hands! We grownups might not want to dwell on it, but even waiters go to the potty too! It’s also a great time to practice the “I Wash My Hands” song, or perhaps talk about how how the characters are practicing “Stop and Go!” (click on each song title to hear clips of these Potty Time songs).
My very favorite part of this little activity though had to be when we were done reading and put the book to the side. One of the twins climbed up to the table to read it again, gleefully saying POTTY as he turned each page. I lunged for my video camera and caught a bit of it. Enjoy.
Two different books, one for boys and one for girls! These stories are filled with fun and colorful illustrations, each depicting a very happy potty training toddler. The stories are more or less the same, just swapping out male and female characters (boys noticing Dad, Grandpa and Max using the potty, girls noticing Mom, Grandma, and Lulu).
First the child starts out with celebrating all the fun things they can do now, and how they are not so fond of the wet heavy diaper. The child notices how family members and a friend use the potty, and think they may wish to try too. A good effort, and accident, and finally success, the children become Prince or Princess of the Potty, depending on the book you chose.
At the end of the book, there are notes for parents on potty training readiness and tips on how to prepare for and implement potty training.
These books would be nice choices for the Prince or Princess in your world as they are both supportive and celebratory. Echoing the Potty Time program, children are taught to listen to their body, follow pottying steps, and of course, celebrate!
This book is listed for ages 24 – 36 months on the cover and contains simple illustrated representation of the loveable Sesame Street characters. What I particularly appreciate about this book is that each character is at a different stage of development, one who goes all the time, one who has the occasional accident, and one who is just not interested at all yet. This may be very reassuring to children and parents alike!
The text invites children in by asking occasional questions and explains what each character is doing and why.
One page even mentions how a character calls her time in the bathroom “potty time”, which is a rather convenient link to the Potty Time program too!
Too Big for Diapers (a Sesame Street Babies publication)
In five quick page turns, this book follows Baby Ernie (shown as a stuffed doll) through the potty training process. It has very simple words describing what he is doing on each page, stressing the “stop and go!” concept in a similar way to Potty Time.
The photos of the dolls and props are large and bold, likely very engaging, especially to children who are training a little bit on the younger side, or who absolutely love Sesame Street.
A really nice companion to this book might be our Baby Hopkins plush who can be snuggled with as the story is read, and used to act out what Baby Ernie is doing in the book.
I recently sat down to a great phone chat with co-creator of Signing Time, Emilie Brown, and also listened to a radio interview Rachel Coleman did, to learn more about the creation of Potty Time. You can read the back-story to Signing Time HERE and the first installment of the interview with Emilie HERE.
What was the creation of Potty Time like?
As we talked about in PART TWO of this series, from the very beginning of Signing Time (even from year one!) many requests for a potty training show were rolling in. But Rachel freely admits that she felt resistant to teaching signs for bathroom words and singing about bathroom words.
However, once Rachel and Emilie realized there was a big need for a potty training approach that taught kids about their amazing bodies, and how they needed to listen to those bodies, Potty Time production was up and running.
The creative process of writing “Look at you Grow” and “Your Body is Amazing” were easy for Rachel. But she still just did not want to write a potty song! So, the obvious answer was to pass on the job to their youngest brother, Aaron (who incidentally is in on the family business and helps with music production and sound design.)
So Aaron is responsible for “Uh-oh, It’s an Accident” and “The Potty Dance”, writing the potty songs as only a little brother can do (and we are very glad he did!).
You can listen to a radio interview with Rachel on the creation of Potty Time HERE.
How do you see Potty Time being used at home?
I asked Emilie what their vision was for Potty Time once it was created. How would families from all walks of life use it? The first hope of course was that families would start watching the video, using the signs, and integrating it into their potty training routines.
More than that though, the hope was that every family would have the support they need to have potty training be a great experience – with whatever method they choose – with a tool to help kids be excited about potty training and be successful in that process.
What about using Potty Time in childcare settings?
To the Signing Time folks, the most effective trainers are the parents because they can be the models. It’s a challenge for someone who is not the parent to be able to navigate something like potty training. If they are using Potty Time, that framework of positive messages and support can really help them be aware of the important messages that kids need.
In daycare, there are often kids of all ages and developmental stages, so signing in general can be critical and very helpful. In addition, if the daycare uses media (like videos), Potty Time can make a difference for their kids more so than some shows that are purely for entertainment.
When it comes to preschools, most children are expected to be potty trained when they enroll. But this video isn’t just for kids who are starting to train. Even after potty training is more or less complete, you still have to deal with some of those bathroom things… like remembering to wash hands all the time! In this case, Potty Time can be an ongoing support to help newly potty-trained kids in a new environment.
Finally, it is Potty Time, after all! Let’s keep our sense of humor!
Just for fun, I asked Emilie if she had any funny stories to tell about the creation process. She had a few!
During production there were some pretty funny conversations about the products that would be used with Potty Time. The creation of these products is literally a fine art. So when something like the pee spot Hopkins makes in the board book isn’t quite the “right” yellow, a conversation has to happen. You can imagine the laughter from the illustrators, who probably weren’t quite accustomed to these sorts of… details in their work!
After Potty Time was created, the team hosted a preview party for all the kids who were involved in the show. There is a song in the video called “Stop and Go” (to the bathroom), and by the end of the song, half the young audience was all lined up to go to the bathroom. Proof that the concept works, I guess!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this behind the scenes look at Potty Time creation and all the love and effort that went into the production process.
As Emilie said, “Who knew that potty training could be so fun and tender? And that potty training could be another opportunity to strengthen the relationship between parents and their kids?”
I recently had the privilege of speaking with co-creator of Signing Time, Emilie Brown, to chat about the making of Potty Time. Some of you might not know Emilie, but she is a driving force behind much of what you see in the Baby Signing Timeand Signing Time videos, and sister to Rachel Coleman. You can read about their co-creation of Signing Time HERE. I wanted to learn more about what went into Potty Time, a project 10 years in the making!
Rachel Coleman and Emilie Brown
What was the inspiration for Potty Time?
For years Signing Time fans have been saying that there should be a potty training DVD with Rachel. They even went so far as to tell her, “If you (Rachel) tell my kid to go potty, I know she’ll do it!”
The truth was, neither Emilie nor Rachel ever used a potty training DVD or materials, and they didn’t feel personally compelled to do it. Add that to the fact that Rachel wasn’t in a big hurry to sing about “poop” and “pee”, and the idea of a potty training program from the Signing Time folks didn’t seem like it was going to happen any time soon.
However, most of the Signing Time products are a response to a request or a need that fans have expressed, and the Signing Time creators were listening!
In addition to meeting the needs of the Signing Time fans, Rachel and Emilie (and their family) had a very personal inspiration for the Potty Time approach – their mom, Linda! She has nine children and over twenty grandchildren, and each and every time she would change a messy diaper she would say something like, “Wow! What a great poop! Good Job! Your body is working!” Emilie, Rachel and their siblings found themselves saying many of the same things.
This is a bit of an unusual approach! How often are we instead tempted to hold our noses and say, “Ewwww!”? And what kind of message is that sending?
But this is the opposite approach. How many times a day do you get to send a positive message to your child about her body’s abilities?
What did you hope to accomplish with Potty Time?
The Signing Time team set out to make a program that would be not about a certain approach to potty training, but rather a warm and supportive tool to use with any potty training method or philosophy.
As with all of the Signing Time products, there is a special way of doing things – anybody can teach the vocabulary for bathroom needs, but the Signing Time team set out to do that with their trademark approach: making kids feel good about themselves and teaching values, all while learning a new language.
Potty Time uses the Signing Time signature feature –singing your way through your child’s day… all of their day! Signing Time always keeps it positive, and thus, the message from Potty Time is simple but profound: “You can do it! Your body is amazing. This is part of growing up.”
In our next installment we will talk more about how Potty Time was created and how the creators hoped families everywhere would use it. Stay tuned!
We may have some people in our Potty Time community who don’t know the Signing Time story. Learn about the history behind this amazing series, and the people with a passion for bringing communication to all kids.
Rachel Coleman and husband Aaron welcomed their daughter Leah in December of 1996. When Leah was 14 months old they discovered she was profoundly deaf. Rachel and Aaron immediately began teaching American Sign Language (ASL) to Leah and by 18 months old it was clear Leah’s signed vocabulary was outpacing the spoken vocabulary of her hearing peers. People took notice, including Rachel’s sister Emilie, who began to also teach ASL to her infant son Alex.
Rachel, Leah and Lucy
A few years later, Rachel and Aaron had Lucy. Lucy was born with spina bifida and cerebral palsy, and doctors wondered if she would ever speak, never mind sign with her sister, Leah. As is so often the case, with the right love and support (and a little help from sign language), Lucy would grow to defy expectations and shine in her own way.
Throughout all this, Rachel and her sister Emilie teamed up to create a program that would teach sign language to children in a fun and playful way. In May of 2002 the first volume of Signing Time was released. Rachel, three-year-old Alex (Emilie’s son) and four-year-old Leah taught signs set to music and simple animations.
The response was overwhelming, and word spread fast. Within a few years, people all over the United States, and even the world, wanted Signing Time in their homes, daycares, and pediatric practices. Children with communication needs, including Lucy, were showing tremendous growth. Families with typically developing children discovered Signing Time as the trend of signing with babies took off all over the country, and Signing Time was the perfect vehicle to meet these needs.
The formula for Signing Time and Baby Signing Time has been simple and profound: provide a tool for communication for families and teach kids values like friendship, responsibility, and compassion in a fun and interactive way.
10 years later, Potty Time came about. Following the same formula, Signing Time fans and people new to the brand alike were introduced to a fun and interactive way to teach children about the potty. More importantly, Potty Time teaches children to listen to and respect their bodies, and celebrate the amazing accomplishments they are capable of. Time to celebrate with your kid, teach a life skill, and get out of diapers? What could be better?!