Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Book Review and Giveaway

Sleeping Bear Press sent me a great book to review, Track that Scat! by Lisa Morlock and Carrie Anne Bradshaw.

It's a really cute book.  The premise is that Finn, the girl in the story, goes for a walk in the woods with her dog.  While she's walking she sees animal tracks and steps in animal poo.  Through the process Finn sees all sorts of animals from the woods, a rabbit, raccoon, skunk, goose and more.  Information breaks away from the story that you can ignore or read.

The information tells about each particular animal's scat (poo) and their tracks.  It also tells about the animals habits as well as other interesting facts for example did you a rabbit eats it's own poo??

Any educator who is teaching about animals from the woods will likely enjoy the book.

I've been an educator long enough to know that any book that talks about poo, burping or other bodily functions, although disgusting, is a book the kids love.

There is a great sing song rhyme to the words that makes it fun to read and fun to listen too.

All in all, it's a cute book and would make a great addition to any child's or teacher's library.

Would you like to win a copy of the book?  Just leave a comment here on this post.

Last week's winner of Delia's Dull Day by Andy Myer donated by Sleeping Bear Press is..........
Angela Howell.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Giveaway Winner and a NEW Giveaway

The great people over at Sleeping Bear Press sent me a new book to review, "Delia's Dull Day" by Andy Myer.

The book is really cute.  It plays on kids often saying how "bored" they are.

Throughout the book the main character, Delia, is so busy looking down that she never looks up and sees what is happening around her.

The illustrations are super cute.

I think reading this with kids would be great and provide lots of conversation and interaction between the reader and the kids.

All in all, I give the book a great big thumbs up.  See what I mean about the illustrations?

After reading this I would encourage kids to draw a pictures of their own "boring" day.

If you would like a chance to win the book, leave a comment here.  To do that, scroll to the bottom of this post.  Click the button that says, "(4 or whatever number) comments".  Fill in the comment box saying, I'd love to read this with my kids or something similar.  Push Publish and you are entered to win the book...easy!!

Are you enjoying the Olympics?  Mrs. Lindsey, your copy of "G is for Gold Metal:  An Olympic Alphabet" will soon be on it's way to you.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Giveaway: G is for Gold Medal: An Olympic Alphabet

Are you counting down to the Olympics?  I know many people are.  Why not add the Olympic excitement with a great book, "G is for Gold Medal:  An Olympic Alphabet" by Brad Herzog and Doug Bowles.  The great people over a Sleeping Bear Press sent me a copy to review and giveaway.

The book is really nice connecting past Olympic history with current history.

As with all of the alphabet books from Sleeping Bear Press, the book features "two stories in one".  If you are reading with younger children, you can just read the rhyming text on the picture portion of the book.  If you are reading with an older child or want more information for yourself, you can read the small text along the edge of the page.

I added the ice skating and gymnastic pages because they are my favorite.


I also really liked this page.  Encouraging kids to practice sports.

All in all it's a great book that children are sure to enjoy.

Sleeping Bear Press has some other great books you might want to include in your Olympic reading library including:
B Is for Big Ben: An England Alphabet (Discover the World)
A is for Amazing Moments: A Sports Alphabet (Alphabet Books)

If you would like a chance to win a copy, hit the comment button at the bottom of this post and tell me what your favorite Olympic sport is.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Skip Counting

Skip counting is the basis for children to understand addition and multiplication so it's super important that we take time for kids to learn and understand it.  By no means do I mean memorizing the words ten-twenty-thirty-forty-fifty-sixty-seventy-eighty-ninety-one hundred.  I mean see touch and feel and know how it works...absorbing it, so they truly understand that what we actually mean is 10+10=20+10=30....

The great part is, you can "trick" kids into wanting to learn by telling them you have a faster easier way to count to 100...after all, kids love to be competitive and being fast is a great competitive asset.

Here is what you can do....

I used Dannon Light and Fit Yogurt containers but you can use anything that will stack together nicely.

Take off the labels.  Wrap a paper around the cups.  Have the children put in ten pennies...or ten of any other object.  Have them stack the cups on top of each other.  Then have them practice counting by ten.

Change things up....Have them put 3 in each cup and count by threes....

From there, explain that multiplication is really just a fast way of counting...and learning the multiplication facts will make them super speedy.

To extend learning give them multiplication facts and have them show the problem by using the objects and the cups.  For example have them show 4x2 by taking four cups, putting two objects in each stacking them and counting out the answer.

It's really important that as educators we teach children the in depth understanding.  We need to go beyond route memorization...because we all know that math concepts build on each other and signs of trouble now can easily carry on into future math struggles.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Better than Squirt Guns

It's really hot and humid day here in Northeast Iowa...it's been that way for several days in a row.  It reminds  me of the days my kiddos would beg to have a water fight.

I loved water fights...but I just hated the idea of kids using squirt guns.

I know, I know, maybe I was a bit of a prude but I will readily admit that guns, regardless of the type are just not my style.  It's something that goes way back to my childhood when my brother pointed a real gun at me that supposedly wasn't loaded.  I yelled to tell my mom that my brother was pointing a gun at me.  My brother pointed the gun at the ceiling and said, "Quit being a baby.  See it isn't load."  He pointed the gun at the ceiling, and pulled the trigger.  The bullet discharged from the gun and shot a hole through the ceiling of the kitchen.

After that whole experience I just do not like guns in any shape or form including squirt guns.

So how did my kids have a water fight? With water bottles...it makes sense to me.

Just save your old water bottles with the pull top lids, refill them and let them squirt each other.  As the kids squeeze the bottle, the water sprays out.  Ketchup bottles work great too.

The other great news is that they are free and you can have lots of them stationed around your play area.

As parents and care providers, it's great that we set up rules and policies like "No Guns", but it's also important that we provide other options so that kids can feel normal too.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Simple Treats Kids Can Make

When I was growing up, one of my favorite treats that mom "made" were these...Vanilla Wafer Cookies.

I made them for my kids and my daycare kids....but often, them made them for themselves.  What can be quicker and easier than opening a box of vanilla wafers and spreading a dollop of peanut butter or Nutella between them?

It's SO easy kids can make them for themselves.  If you are a parent or childcare provider, these are the perfect to help kids build self help skills. They also provide a way for kids to learn one to one correspondence.  One vanilla wafer top...goes on one vanilla wafer bottom.

Please keep in mind this snack has both peanut butter and gluten...just in case those are things your kiddos can't have.

Happy Snacking!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"F is for Friendship: A Quilt Alphabet"

I am an avid quilter and I love children's books.

I found a great book from Sleeping Bear Press that combines both..quilting and children's books.

Follow this link over to my other blog to read the review and have a chance to win your own copy.  The book is a beauty!!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Toys: Too Much of a Good Thing

There's a trap for us parents out there.  It's called marketing.  Everyone tells us that our kids need this...our kids want that.  But do they need and want all of it?

As a parent, I fell into the trap.  My kids often got something most of the times we went to town.  I always justified it with a..well it was just 25 cents at the garage sale...and let's be honest, I used toy purchases as a bribery method at times.

The mound of toys became overwhelming.

It retrospect, that pile of toys was not just overwhelming for me, I think it was overwhelming for the kids too.

I am a avid quilter.  I have fabric and patterns.  I have a room and cupboards for all my goodies.  I can keep it all fairly organized but it can all overwhelm me sometimes.

I have a junk drawer that has no organization it overwhelms me ALL the time.  I can NEVER find anything in it...the same goes for my utensil drawer in the kitchen.

Who ever said too much of a good thing is not a good thing was completely right.  Truthfully speaking, I will never make all the crafts and projects that I have patterns for.  I will probably never used some of the utensils in that drawer and goodness knows I'll never find the AAA battery in the junk drawer and if I do...it won't have any power left.

Sometimes the excess just weighs me down.  There are so many projects there to make that often I don't make any because I can't choose which one to make.  Sometimes I just start a different project because I don't want to go in and find all the needed items.

I am guessing that kids feel the same way.  Is it all too much for them?  Are they overwhelmed with too many choices?  Do they sometimes just forego playing because it's a pain to find all the pieces needed for the game?

I know lots of family disagreements that happened at our home happened in relationship to toys.  They weren't picked up...they weren't in the right place...they weren't taking care of them...I can see now that I should have just bought fewer toys regardless of if they were only 25 cents.

More importantly than all of that...The excess of toys limits their imagination.

My farmer husband who grew up the only boy with 5 sisters often tells stories about his toys as a kid.  He tells how he spent hours with a tricycle that had a broken pedal.  He would turn the tricycle around and push it through the mowed grass pretending it was a combine and that he was harvesting crops.  He says it was his favorite toy.

For me..the favorite thing that I grew up with was by far the pet dogs we had.  I played with them far more than I ever played with toys.

Think about it...Do you have an excess of toys?  Are toys overwhelming or entertaining your children?

Monday, June 4, 2012

SUPER EASY Kid Made Individual Cupcakes

I love baking with kids but sometimes, it's a lot of work and quite messy.  This recipe is easy and not very messy at all!


Here's a cupcake kids can make on their own and even in a classroom setting.  Before you introduce them in a classroom setting please note gluten allergies because these are definitely NOT GLUTEN FREE.

For ingredients you need one box of regular cake mix any flavor.  One box of angel food cake mix.  Water.


Mix one box of dry cake mix...(We used vanilla but you can use any flavor) with one box of angel food cake mix.  Just mixing the dry cake mixes together.  Put it all in a bag...it is your new go to microwave cake mix.

Now to make a an actual cupcake...in a small microwaveable cup:  Mix 3 Tablespoons of the cake mix with 2 Tablespoons of water.  Stir it up good and microwave for 1:45 minutes.  (My microwave is low wattage.  If your's is high wattage try a smaller amount of time the first time you make it)   Keep the remaining mix in a airtight bag or container for the next baking day.
In two minutes (or maybe a bit less) you will have a cupcake.  Let it cool.  Invert from container.  Frost and of course add sprinkles.


How easy way that!!  Baking is a great way to add a little counting skills but more importantly self help skills into your child's day.

These would be great to make for Dad for Father's Day!  To see a strawberry shortcake version head over to my other blog.  Baking with kids is What Works for Me.  I am sharing this recipe at The Mommy Club.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Honestly Speaking...

Yes...Let's be honest.

Teaching children to be honest is one of the hardest lessons to teach.  Where to we start?  When do we start? How can children tell the difference between truth and lies.  Let's be honest...this is no easy task.

When do we start...that answer is easy.  Start before your little one is conceived.  Be honest with yourself...be honest with your mate.  Modeling honesty yourself is the first and foremost!  Surrounding your child with honest people is next.  If your child sees you accepting your spouses lies, they learn that it is okay for them to lie to you.

When our kids were small, we were shopping at a local department store.  I had our five kids with me, one small enough to be in a car seat.  That car seat was in the back of the cart.  We were done in the store and I had everything loaded in the car, all the packages in and the four older kids were in the car and buckled in.  I picked up the baby in the seat and went to buckle her in place when there I noticed a spool of thread that I had not paid for.  I unbuckled all the kids and toted the five of them back into the store, approached the cashier, explained that I hadn't meant to steal the thread and asked her to ring it up so I could pay for it.

The lady at the register was SHOCKED.  I had toted all five kids back into the store to pay for the $1.49 of thread.

That was one of the best $1.49 I have ever spent.  The honesty lesson was priceless.

When my son was four, we were at the local thrift store.  When we left and were getting into the car, I noticed that my son had a small trinket in his had that we hadn't paid for.  I marched him back into the store.  He had to apologize and return the trinket.  On the way home, I talked to him.  Half the conversation was focused on stealing.  The other half of the conversation focused on how proud I was of him for being honest and taking responsibility for his mistake.

Throughout the kids time of growing up, when we would come to a crossroads over a broken lamp and want to know what happened, we would give the kids options.  If you tell the truth, this is your punishment.  If you lie, this is your punishment....of course, the lying punishment was always double the honesty punishment.

Our youngest had big troubles with lying.  We did everything with her that we had done with the oldest kids.  Somehow, the lessons didn't stick with her.  She would come home from school complaining about friends saying that a friend of hers said she didn't believe her.  I would ask if she told the truth.  My daughter would confess...no, she had not.  She had not told her friend the truth.  Then I would ask her why....After trying and trying to figure our why she might be lying, I finally figured it out.  She wanted attention...she wanted to be the best.  Once I realized that, we worked on building her self esteem.  We talked about how wonderful it is to be the best...we also talked about how it's wonderful for others to have that same feeling and that we needed to take turns at letting everyone feel wonderful.  From there, the lying got lots better.

Just a few days ago that same daughter, now 17, approached me and asked, "Mom, what happens if I go to a party where alcohol is served.  Do you want me to tell you?  Are you going to get mad?  What happens?"
If we hadn't learned to be honest with each other, would she ever have broached that conversation...probably not.  She knows that her dad and I value honesty.  She knows that consequences of lying will be more devastating than telling the truth.  Being in a family where being honest with your emotions, and telling the truth, has allowed her to be open and honest with us.  This too, is priceless.

I don't have all the answers to teaching a child honesty....I have barely hit the tip of the topic.  I did find an article that might help give you more suggestions on teaching honesty.  You can find that here.

Today I am hooking up with We Are That Family and The Mommy Club.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Reading With Children of ALL ages

My children are all in their late teens and early 20's now.  When I talk with them I always find it interesting to hear their perspective on growing up with me as their mom.  Sometime I cringe when they recall things and sometimes I smile and think, "Yep, that's something we did right."

One of those things that we did right was read to our children.  Yes, we read to them when the were little and wanted to sit on our laps.  We read with them when they were learning to read on their own....but, we continued to read to them even as they grew into upper elementary students.

Even after that, I still read with them.  I would read some of the books that they were reading...only we each read our books separately.  I would ask them what they thought of this or that chapter.  I would purchase sequels.  I did everything I could to encourage reading.

Once I started providing in home childcare, I kept the tradition going with the children in my care....and not just with the little kids.  All summer long I read books to the school aged children too.  It was a great bonding time and even then, I caught my own children who were by then teenagers, caught up in the stories.

As summer is approaching, I thought today I would share with a list of some of my favorites to read to school aged children.

The American Girl books:
I found that boys like these pretty well too.  I would recommend any of these collections.  All include topics that boys appreciate more or the character have brothers that play into the stories.
Molly Boxed Set with Game (American Girl) (American Girl Collection)
Kirsten Boxed Set with Game (American Girl)
Kit Boxed Set with Game (American Girl)
Felicity Boxed Set with Game (American Girl)

A great boy series of five books is from Gary Paulson
Tucket's Travels: Francis Tucket's Adventures in the West, 1847-1849 (Books 1-5) (The Francis Tucket Books)
This is the story of a boy who is traveling west on the Oregon Trail with his family.  He is given a gun for his birthday.  He strays from the wagon train and gets captured by Indians.  He eventually meets up with a one armed mountain man and two abandoned children.  The stories are wonderful and each chapter ending has the children crying for you to keep reading.

Junie B. Jones is an absolute hoot!  I loved these books, even as an adult.  I read these with my youngest daughter and then read them again to the childcare kids.  The boys even liked these.  There are about 15 books in the series.
Junie B. Jones's First Boxed Set Ever! (Books 1-4)
Junie B. Jones's Second Boxed Set Ever! (Books 5-8)

Of course there is the classic The Boxcar Children.  I have read the first Boxcar Children book at least 5 times in my life...There is a series of 12.
The Boxcar Children Books 1-4

For middle to upper elementary kids, we loved the Hatchet series by Gary Paulsen.
The series starts with the book, The Hatchet.  13 year old, Brian is flying in a small airplane across the Canadian wilderness to visit his father when the plane crashes leaving Brian alone, the sole survivor in a desolate  harsh area.
Hatchet: 20th Anniversary Edition
Brian's Winter
Brian's Hunt
Brian's Return

We love the Marissa Moss books...some of our favorites were:
Rose's Journal: The Story of a Girl in the Great Depression
Rachel's Journal: The Story of a Pioneer Girl
Hannah's Journal: The Story of an Immigrant Girl
Emma's Journal: The Story of a Colonial Girl

Some other books that we stumbled upon and loved include:
Jake's Orphan
The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had
Letters from Rifka
Daniel's Story
The Black Stallion
Soldier's Heart : Being the Story of the Enlistment and Due Service of the Boy Charley Goddard in the First Minnesota Volunteers
Time Enough for Drums and all the other Anne Rinnaldi books
Thunder at Gettysburg

(You can click on any of the titles to learn more about the books)

There are many more great books out there to read to children. Here we lean towards historical books.  There are great fantasy and sports books out there too.

Regardless of which book you pick, you are truly making lasting memories by reading with your children.
Today I hooked up with We Are That Family and The Mommy Club.