Monthly Archives

May 2015

    book reviews, read aloud

    Polar Bear’s Underwear: A Mini Review

    The wait is over!  After two months of being on hold at my library, a book I’ve been wanting to read to the kids finally arrived two days ago.  It did not disappoint.

    If you have ever misplaced your underwear, you’ll understand Polar Bear’s terrible predicament in Polar Bear’s Underwear by Tupera Tupera.

    polar bear's underwear review

    Polar Bear and his trusty friend Mouse set out to find his missing underwear. During the search, Polar Bear and Mouse find several pairs of underwear. Each time, Mouse asks Polar Bear if they are his. Each time, they belong to another animal friend. Readers are asked to take a guess as to whose underwear is peeking through the underwear shaped die cuts.

    My kids get a kick out of guessing, then seeing the zebra’s striped undies, the butterfly’s teeny, tiny underwear, and the pig’s tasty treats printed underwear. When a plain white pair is spotted, Polar Bear and Mouse are happily surprised, and you will be, too! This is a fun lap book for one-on-one reading, and it’s definitely a crowd pleaser!

    Your turn:  Have you ever read this book to your little ones?

    a book and a craft

    A Book and a Craft: Where the Wild Things Are

    It’s true that we are HUGE fans of activities and crafts based on children’s books.  I love taking the kids to the library for our weekly story time which is usually followed by a craft project.  I also incorporate crafts at home with the kids throughout the month.

    Today I’m sharing a craft inspired by the book, Where the Wild Things Are by Maruice Sendak.  This craft was easy to put together and took about 20 minutes to assemble from start to finish.  This would be a great craft to do at a play date, as it uses only a few items (easy set-up is bonus for a mom hosting a play date!) and these paper plate crafts are fun for acting out the story in a small group.  We had a blast making our craft and using it in retelling the book Where the Wild Things Are.

    I didn’t do a tutorial for this because I wasn’t actually planning to write a blog post about this.  As I mentioned, it’s pretty straightforward to put this together so you shouldn’t have any trouble.

    To make this craft you’ll need:

    • 1 small tan colored paper plate (or you could use a white plate and color/paint it tan)
    • brown felt cut into strips
    • adhesive foam shapes (for the eyes, nose, ears and teeth)
    • scissors (for cutting the felt)
    • glue or double-sided tape
    Steps:1. Place the paper plate on your work surface with the tan side up.

    2. Remove the sticker backing from the adhesive foam shapes and adhere them to the paper plate.
    3. Glue the felt strips around the outer edge of the paper plate.Your turn:  Do you and your kids work on book related craft activities together?  Feel free to let me know in the comments.

    summer reading

    94 Days of Summer: FREE Summer Reading Programs for Kids

    Summer reading programs aren’t what they used to be when I was a kid growing up.  I remember being rewarded with small items like stickers and a pizza party if your class had the highest number of reading logs turned in from summer break.I used to get so excited when the summer reading lists were handed out.  Now that I have kids of my own I still get the same sense of excitement when summer rolls around even though my kids are both under the age of three.

    I think summer reading programs are great!  They provide opportunities and incentives to encourage children to keep reading through the summer months.  There are plenty of fun programs to keep kids reading all summer long. Below are a few for your little bookworms to enjoy (ages 5 and up).


    Pizza Hut

    The Book It! reading program has been around for several years. Details for 2015 will be live in June and details can be found here.  The program kicks off June 22, 2015.
    This year the Barnes and Noble summer reading program, Imagination’s Destination, gives out a free book to each child who reads 8 books over the summer.
    This summer reading program runs May 19 – September 7, 2015.
    Limits to Be Aware Of
    The Barnes and Noble summer reading program is only available to school-aged children in grades 1-6.Only one book is available for each child who completes a reading journal and choice must be made from the selected books available at the store.

    I mentioned this challenge in my last post.  Scholastic has a summer reading challenge where kids read and then go online to record the minutes they’ve read during the summer. They’ll also be able to take weekly challenges to earn rewards.
    This summer reading programs runs May 4 – September 4, 2015.
    Chuck E. Cheese has a reading program where kids can earn free 10 Chuck E. Cheese tokens for reading each day for 2 weeks.  This reading program goes on all year.To get started, simply scroll down on the website to download the ‘Reading Rewards’ log sheet to keep track of books read.

    Note:  In addition to a reading incentive chart there are many other incentive charts including, good behavior, daily chores, clean room, good eater and more.Showcase Cinemas Reading Program

    Live near a Showcase Cinemas theatre?  The Showcase Cinemas summer reading program gives out free movie tickets to select kids movies that plays every Wednesday morning at 10:00 a.m. beginning on July 8, 2015 until July 29, 2015. This means that your kid can see 4 free movies this summer!
    Their summer reading program for 2015 is called Bookworm Wednesdays.
    How it works:
    Visit Showcase Cinemas Bookwork Wednesdays and click on Download the Book Report to open a PDF file of the book report form. Print out the book report and fill out the title of the book you read, the author, a description of the book, and the child’s name.
    Bring the completed book report into a participating Showcase Cinemas movie theater each Wednesday from July 8, 2015 to July 29, 2015 for the 10:00 a.m. movie to get free admission.
    Here’s the schedule for the free Showcase Cinemas kids movies:
    ·         July 8 – Rio 2
    ·         July 15 – Penguins of Madagascar
    ·         July 22 – How to Train Your Dragon 2
    ·         July 29 – Annie

    Limits to Be Aware Of
    The Showcase Cinemas summer reading program is available only at participating Showcase Cinemas locations.
    Parents who take their kid for the free movie get free admission as do children 6 years and younger without submitting a book report.TD Bank Summer Reading Program

    The TD Bank summer reading program awards kids $10 when they read 10 books over the summer.
    When a child reads 10 books, TD Bank deposits $10 into their new or existing Young Saver bank account.Bring the completed TD Bank summer reading program form into your local TD Bank before between June 1, 2015 and August 31, 2015. If your child has an existing Young Saver account, the $10 will be deposited into that account. If your child doesn’t have one, you’ll need to bring a form of ID for your child so a Young Saver account can be opened.

    Limits to Be Aware Of
    The TD Bank summer reading program is limited to children Kindergarten through 5th grade.
    Each child can only complete 1 form for the TD Bank summer reading program.
    They are offering kids ages 14 and under a chance to earn a $5 Gift Card for reading just 15 each day throughout the summer!Read 15 minutes a day for a month in June and July. (Grown-ups may read aloud to kids who are still learning.) Use this reading log  PDF , add up your minutes and have your parent or guardian initial each week. Once you’ve reached 300 or more minutes, bring your log to your local HPB to claim your Bookworm Bucks.

    Local Public Library
    Since my kids are too young to participate in any of the programs listed above (bummer), we’ll be checking out a few of our local libraries.Most library locations offer something special for thier community – often weekly!  Don’t forget to check out your local libraries to find out which programs they’ll be offering. Take a friend and make it a little field trip! Some locations will even be offering FREE books, prizes or crafts!

    You can also create your own summer reading program.  Check out this 10 week do-it-yourself themed summer reading program from

    Your turn:  Am I the only mom who gets excited about this stuff? What’s your favorite summer reading program? Do your kids enjoy summer reading or dread it? Do prizes help motivate them?

    summer reading

    94 Days of Summer: 5 Things to Do Before Summer Break Begins

    There are 94 days of summer break this year.  That breaks down to: 8,121,600 seconds, 135,360 minutes, 2,256 hours.  How do you and your family plan to spend that time?

    It’s amazing how quickly the school year flies by, isn’t it?  Although summer doesn’t officially begin until June 21st, many schools are now in the last month of the school year including my daughter’s toddler program at her preschool.

    It’s hard to believe we’re almost at the halfway point for the year 2015.  That means summer break is right around the corner.  We signed up Sparkles for five weeks of summer camp including one week of vacation Bible school.  Mr. Tickles is still too young so he’ll still be at daycare during the week.

    In my previous life, (before kids) I had grandiose plans of how hubby and I would soak up the glorious sun, kick back and drink ice-cold lemonade, or finally get to visit friends, family and places that we couldn’t seem to fit into our winter schedules.  Now that we have a family I’ve had to scale back our plans for summer and plan more things to do as a family.

    I won’t bore you with our family summer bucket list, instead I’ll list five book related tasks I recommed you tackle now so you can relax later and make the most of your summer fun.

    1. Find a summer reading program or challenge for your kid(s) to participate in.  Your local library is a good place to start.  Every public library has a different summer reading program, but almost all of them have rewards and prizes for kids as well as fun events.  Alternatively, you can search online for challenges like the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge.  Want to know about more challenges like this?  Stay tuned for a post next week where I’ll be giving you the scoop on some other reading programs for kids.

    2. Make a summer bucket reading list and a general summer bucket list of potential things to do.  If you have older children have a family meeting and ask everyone to come up with 3-5 things that they absolutely want to do this summer (e.g., go on a hike, take a long bike ride, have a picnic, camp, visit a local museum or other attraction). Schedule these activities on the calendar now (and make reservations or buy tickets, if needed) to make sure they happen.  Also, pick out some books that relate to the things on your list so the kids will be familiar with your adventure beforehand.

    3. Organize a summer reading and activity essentials tote for your car so you’re prepared for any adventure or get stuck waiting somewhere. Here’s a sample list of what to include:

    • Books, books, and more books!
    • Audiobooks
    • Magazines (for children and adults)
    • Sidewalk chalk
    • Bubbles! (who doesn’t love bubbles?)
    • Coloring books
    • Blank sheets of paper
    • Crayons, Markers, Bingo Markers, Pencils
    • Beach toys like pails, shovels, rakes, sand shapers, and trucks
    Of course you’ll want to include other items such as: bottled water, sunscreen, first-aid kit, etc.

    4.  Make a generic weekly plan. I started doing this last summer and found it to be so helpful.  It’s inevitable that other things will come up, but I like to have a loose weekly plan that I use when I don’t have the time, energy, or money to plan an exciting summer adventure.

    For example:
    Monday – Library Day to pick up books, magazines, and DVDs for the week.
    Tuesday – Playground Day
    Wednesday – Nature/Outdoor Activities
    Thursday – Cooking or Crafts
    Friday – Water Activities: Swimming, Splash Pad, Water Table
    Saturday – Playdates with friends/family
    Sunday – Family Day and Church

    5. Read books about safety and talk about it too.  Accidents can happen anytime, but since we tend to spend more time outdoors during the summer months the kids are more likely to get hurt.  If you have smaller children like me, read books about safety.  For older kids, have regular, age-appropriate conversations with your kids so that topics like playgrounds, swimming pools, private parts, being aware of their surroundings, bullying, and drugs are normal conversations rather than scary topics.

    Your turn:  Are you a (neurotic) planner like me or do you like to just wing it?  What do you and your kids have planned for this summer?  Please feel free to share in the comments.

    our latest obsession, read aloud

    Our Latest Obsession: Wearable Books

    Every now and then I’ll have one of those moments when I think, “Why didn’t I think of that?”  That’s exactly what I said when I came across a series of wearable books written by by Donald Lemke and Bob Lentz.

    What a simple idea:  a book of beards.  And one of masks.  And one of hats. And one of teeth.  How fun!  I think they’re definitely worth checking out if you haven’t done so already.  Especially if you have younger children ages 5 and younger.  Although older children may enjoy these books too.

    Note: This is not my daughter in the picture.

    These fun, interactive board books are great for children and adults alike.  They allow for make-believe games and hilarous snapshot memories!  So far we’ve only read the Book-O-Beards book in this series.  Next, we’re going to check out the Book-O-Hats.  I think the kids might be a bit too young for the Book-O-Masks and the Book-O-Teeth.  I’m not sure if they’d be a bit scared so I’m just going to steer clear of those two until they’re a bit older.  We’ve definitely had our fair share of laughs with the Book-O-Beards book though.

    Book-O-Beards allows children (and adults) to become a lumberjack, a pirate, a cowboy, a sailor, a police officer, or Santa.  It also helps kids role-play different  personas as they try on some full-spread, fully bushy beards.  Plus, there are catchy rhymes, colorful illustrations, and interactive dialogue.  You can’t go wrong with these cute read-alouds to spice up your story time.

    Your turn:  Have you ever read any of the wearable books in this series?  What are some other fun, interactive books you’ve read with your kids?

    children's literacy

    Fostering a Love of Math in Young Kids

    While I’m very comfortable with reading to my children and exposing them to rich vocabulary and literature, I also want promote early math skills.  Since I know early math knowledge is equally as important as reading, I’ve been very cognizant of terminology I’m using and activities I am doing with both of my kids, ages 2 1/2 and 17 months.  In additon, I started looking for some fun math (and science) books for kids.

    Three awesome books we’ve been reading together are: The Grapes of Math, Math Curse, and Science Verse (my book includes a FREE bonus CD which is fun to listen to in the car).  I highly recommend checking these out if you haven’t already.  I think they are a fun way to introduce kids to math and science through books.  An added bonus is they’re funny too (Math Curse and Science Verse) and The Grapes of Math will help stimulate your brain too.  Don’t worry, the answers are in the back of the book, but try them on your own first.


    From the day they are born, children are mathematicians.  Born with billions of brain cells they are human computing wizards!  Children are constructing knowledge constantly as they interact mentally, physically, and socially with their environment and with others around them.My kids may not be able to add or subtract yet, but I know the relationships they are making and their interaction with a stimulating environment is promoting them to construct a foundation and framework for what will eventually be mathematical concepts.

    Reading to children will always be important for promoting early literacy.  Along with books and vocabulary, however, ensure that you are also exposing those budding brains to math terminology and concepts. The benefits will be lifelong and hopefully your children will thank you for it – someday.Your turn:  Do you promote early math skills with your children?  If so, how?  What other math and science related books for kids would you recommend?  Feel free to let me know in the comments.

    currently reading, read aloud

    What the Kids are Reading (in May 2015)

    This month I went a little crazy with the amount of books I placed on hold and checked out from the library.  There are so many great books out there and I just want to read them all!  I still have several books that I’m waiting for at the library so I may do another post about the additional books we’ll be reading this month in the coming weeks.Here are some of the books I’m reading aloud to the kids this month:
    Did you know President Barack Obama is also an author?  In this tender, beautiful letter to his daughters, President Barack Obama has written a moving tribute to thirteen groundbreaking Americans and the ideals that have shaped our nation. From the artistry of Georgia O’Keeffe, to the courage of Jackie Robinson, to the patriotism of George Washington, President Obama sees the traits of these heroes within his own children, and within all of America’s children.

    What a fantastic book!  Each day features a different influential figure in African-American history, from Crispus Attucks, the first man shot in the Boston Massacre, sparking the Revolutionary War, to Madame C. J. Walker, who after years of adversity became the wealthiest black woman in the country, as well as one of the wealthiest black Americans, to Barack Obama, the country’s first African-American president.

    Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall

    Red: A Crayon’s Story, by Michael Hall, is about being true to your inner self and following your own path despite obstacles that may come your way.
    Please, Mr. Panda by Steve Anthony
    What is the proper way to ask Mr. Panda for doughnuts?  Patiently and politely, Mr. Panda asks the animals he comes across if they would like a doughnut. A penguin, a skunk, and a whale all say yes, but they do not remember to say “please” and “thank you.” Is anyone worthy of Mr. Panda’s doughnuts?Get Up and Go! by Nancy Carlson
    This cute book will get you and your little ones up and moving!
    Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina

    I never read this book as a child so I was excited to finally read it to my kids.  A tale of a peddler, some monkeys and their monkey business.

    Red by Jan De Kinder

    This heartfelt book inspires readers to find the courage to take a stance against bullying and show compassion towards others.

    The Daddy Mountain by Jules Feiffer

    This is a cute book that my husband has been reading to the kids at night.  A nice way to get dads involved in storytime.  The kids love this one!

    Dog by Matthew Van Fleet

    We’re huge dog lovers so naturally I was drawn to this adorable book.  The kids love pulling the tabs and flaps to see what surprises they will find.

    -Ed as in Bed by Amanda Rondeau

    An easy reader book that introduces, in brief text and illustrations, the use of the letter combination “ed” in such words as “bed,” “shed,” “red,” and “sled.”

    Heads by Matthew Van Fleet

    This book is similar to Dog and written by the same author.  Heads – wooly, bump and hairy – never has such a collection of animal heads been so much fun!

    If You Were Born a Kitten by Marion Dane Bauer

    I featured this book in my post about books to read for Mother’s Day.  This book is ABSOLUTELY beautiful.  The illustrations are immaculate and the message is wonderful.  The book talks about many different animal babies and what it’s like for them to come into this world, ending with a human baby and mother of course.

    I Love You as Much by Laura Krauss Melmed

    Another book featured in my post about books to read for Mother’s Day.  Different animal mommies say how much they love their little ones (the camel: as much as the desert is dry).  These statements are paired with wonderful, tender illustrations– I cannot believe I have not seen this book before now!

    Saturday is Dadurday by Robin Pulver

    A really cute book about a girl and her dad.  For Mimi, the best day of the week is always Saturday, because she gets to spend it with just her Dad.
    Please, Puppy, Please by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee

    Isn’t the cover of this book so adorable?  In page after page of tail-wagging fun, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Spike Lee and his wife, Beacon Award-winning producer Tonya Lewis Lee, take a close-up look at what happens when a couple of high-energy toddlers meet their match in an adventurous pup who has no plans of letting up.

    Wynken, Blynken & Nod by Eugene Field

    A great bedtime poem to read to kids at night.  In this poem, three fishermen in a wooden shoe catch stars in their nets of silver and gold.

    What Mommies Do Best by Laura Numeroff

    Another book featured in my post about books to read for Mother’s Day.  This book is SO great.  (and BONUS you get two books in one with this puppy, so you can celebrate Daddies too.)

    Supertruck by Stephen Savage

    A simple story about a super hero truck.  My son likes this, but my daughter isn’t really into it.

    -Um as in Drum by Nancy Tuminelly

    Another easy reader book that ntroduces, in brief text and illustrations, the use of the letter combination “um” in such words as “drum,” “chum,” “hum,” and “scum.”

    Tails by Matthew Van Fleet

    Pull tabs, lift-able flaps, tufts of fur, and even a scratch-and-sniff skunk tail provide plenty of tactile surprises. Along the way, kids will learn about counting, opposites, and how animals use their tails.