I Don39t Have An Uncle Phil Anymore

Newborn Tips#1: Don't Hush-A-Bye-Baby
You don't have to be quiet while the baby is sleeping. The womb is loud, and newborns are used to the noise. When ours first came home, we watched television and I would vacuum, wash dishes and talk on the phone around her while she slept. She got used to sleeping with noise, and I could get stuff done. I am still able to vacuum in her room while she sleeps (she is 14 months), and she is peaceful and well rested when she wakes up.
Newborn Tips#2: Soothe Your Wailing Newborn
When my baby cries, I comfort her by patting her back in a heartbeat-like rhythm. That helps her burp more quickly, and it also helps her relax if she's crying from insecurity. If this doesn’t work, I also try one or all of Dr. Harvey Karp's five calming moves: swaddling, shushing, holding her on her side, swinging her or letting her suck. Sometimes it takes all six!

Additional Information:

Wisdom Book

Before reading “Uncle Phil,” encourage students to listen for ways the child comes to an understanding of the new situation he confronts in the story. After reading, brainstorm. Students may notice that the protagonist listens, asks questions and observes. Ultimately the child looks inward and finds peace in his heart.

We all encounter new situations in our lives. The more wisdom we acquire, the richer our lives become. Ask what other ways we can gain wisdom. Be sure to notice when students talk about learning facts as opposed to gaining wisdom.

Discuss the difference between facts and wisdom if the distinction isn't clear. After the discussion, students create a Wisdom Book. Inside they record and illustrate strategies that they use to become wiser or strategies they feel would be helpful to them in the future. Invite students to share their books and borrow ideas.

Follow-up by writing about a specific situation where each student gained wisdom and share those stories.

The directions that follow will produce a book that can be reversible. One side could contain the “Wisdom Book” and turned inside out, it could hold the story of the student's experience.

1.Fold a piece of paper (letter, legal or ledger size) in half using the “hamburger” fold rather than “hotdog” fold. Open and fold it in the other direction, so the crease is clear.

2.Fold it again, and re-fold in the opposite direction.

3.Fold again and refold.

4.Open to the first original hamburger fold and cut from the folded edge along the crease line to the middle where the folds meet from both directions.

5.Open and refold in a hotdog fold.

6.Holding the ends, move your hands together a few inches and look for the diamond that will form in the middle where the paper has been cut.

7.Push the ends together so that the pages are formed.

8.Fold it in half and the book is ready to go!

Newborn Tips#3: Help Get Your Baby to Latch
If you are having latch-on issues while breastfeeding your baby, you can use breast shields to help the process. This was a wonderful tip that I learned from my lactation consultant. I had to use the shields for an entire month before my baby would latch onto my own nipple without them. Had it not been for the breast shields, I would not have been able to continue nursing my baby.
Newborn Tips#4: Get Prepped
At 3 weeks, babies’ days and nights become more predictable, and you can focus on yourself in addition to your newborn. One way to do that is by reducing your stress level - and having everything ready for your hungry baby and yourself is one way to do that. Start by prepping for the next feeding as soon as the previous one is over. For example, after an 11 p.m. feeding, get ready for the 2 a.m. one by prepping whatever you need for feeding and putting out fresh drinking water for yourself so you don’t have anything to think about in the middle of the night. During the day, take advantage of the baby’s naps to work out, shower or catch up on e-mail, or take a nap too.

Point of View

The point of view of a story is the foundation of the voice. After reading Uncle Phil, ask the students whose point of view the story represents.

Invite students to write a paragraph about an important scene they shared with someone in their family. Ask for ideas about a scene or prime the pump with examples like a birthday party, the first day of school or when they got stitches.

After sharing a few of those with the group, reread the first page of Uncle Phil to put them back in the scene. Ask students how that might have sounded if it was written from the mother's point of view. You'll get something like:

I drive with my son to a birthday party where I'll be painting faces. “I guess I'll paint more hearts than anything else. What do you guess?”

“Dragons!” my son says. He's so darn cute I can't STAND it.

As we stop in front of the party house, I think painting hearts will make me feel better about my brother Phil who is sick.

Ask the students to rewrite their paragraph from the point of view of someone else present. Ask them to share.

Journal Springboards

1.Degrees of grief can be experienced around other kinds of losses like a friend moving away, a lost pet, or even the closing of a school year. Ask the students to brainstorm other situations when they had had similar feelings. Ask them to write what they remember and what made them feel better.

2.If students experienced death, ask them to write about how the story was like what happened in their family and ways it was different.


Uncle Phil portrays rituals that a segment of the American population follows around the death of someone they love.

1.What rituals do other cultures and other parts of our culture observe around death?

2.What other life events include rituals?

3.Have the students research or work from materials you've already pulled about the rituals that you've chosen to explore.

4.Create a ritual book about a culture's ritual, or about how different cultures observe different rituals around the same life event.

Newborn Tips#5: Keeping Your Baby Awake During Feedings
When our baby was eating slowly and sleepily, my husband and I would massage her cheek to stimulate her to eat faster. A gentle stroke with a fingertip on her cheek was all it took, and on those long sleepless nights, this simple trick was a godsend! Our friends have found it works great with their infants too. When babies eat efficiently until they're full before going to sleep, they sleep for longer between feedings. And that means you’re both likely to be calmer!
Newborn Tips#6: Help Your Baby Bond with Dad
Make sure your baby has ample time alone with Daddy. His touch and voice are different than yours, and this will begin a bonding process and give you a break. Plus, it gets the baby used to being with someone other than you. The first few times can be hard. Make sure your baby is fed and well rested, as this will give you at least one or two hours before you're needed again. Then leave Dad and the baby alone. If you stay nearby, make sure the baby can’t see or hear you, and resist the urge to go into the room and "fix" things if she starts crying. Your baby cries with you and you experiment to find out what's wrong. Dads need time to do this too - in their own way. By allowing this time, your child will learn there is more than one way to receive comfort, which will help immensely when you leave your baby with a sitter or another family member for the first time. You could have your partner bathe her, put her to bed or just read or talk to her.
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