national poetry month, poetry challenge

    Poetry Reading and Craft Challenge for Kids: Week 5

    It’s the final week of our poetry reading and craft challenge.  I hope you and your kids have been following along each week and have enjoyed it!  For the last week of the challenge I selected a poem about summer.

    Finally it seems like the heavy grey veil has been lifted over the Northeast. The trees are starting to get green again. Flowers are starting to bloom.  Spring has sprung and you can already feel summer coming up around the corner. This is my favorite time of year. It’s a time of anticipation, celebration and FUN!

    Here the poem we’ll be memorizing this week:

    This week’s craft was “Popsicles” made out of construction paper and popsicle sticks.  You can also choose to make ice cream cones or another craft of your choice.
    Materials Needed:
    • Construction paper of varying colors
    • popsicle sticks
    • scissors
    • glue
    • pencil
    First, trace and cut out the shapes for your popsicles and decorations.  We used a mixture of circles, squares and rectangles.  Finally, use glue to decorate your popsicles to your liking.~Until next time!

    our latest obsession, read aloud

    Our Latest Obsession: Elephant and Piggie Books

    Have you ever heard of the Elephant and Piggie series written by Mo Willems?

    I came across these books by accident.  I was looking for another book written by Mo that I thought was in the easy reader section instead of the picture books section.  Well, I’m so happy I ended up looking in the wrong section because that mistake led me to this awesome series of books!

    Some of you may already be familiar with Elephant and Piggie, but I had never heard of them until a few weeks ago.  First off let me say I love the author Mo Willems so I expected these books would be good, but not this good!

    I may be a wee bit obsessed with them, more so than my kids, but they seem to love these books too.  So far our favorites are: I Broke My Trunk, Waiting is Not Easy, We Are in a Book, Let’s Go for a Drive, I Am Invited to a Party!, Should I Share My Ice Cream? and I Love My New Toy.  I’ll be adding all of these books (plus more) to our list of books we’ve read in the coming weeks.

    I won’t give too much away about each of the books, but I’ll let you know Elephant (Gerald) and Piggie are best friends.  Each book takes them on another “adventure” together.  Apart from the humor, I love the simplicity of these books.  The illustrations, expressions and word bubbles are so well done making reading simple for kids.  Plus, they have a lot of repetition of sight words so they are great for beginning readers.

    I haven’t purchased any of these books for our home collection yet, but I certainly will be adding these gems to our library.  For now I’ve been enjoying checking out as many of them as I can from the library.

    Your turn:  Have you read any of the Elephant and Piggie books to your kids?  If so, what are some of your favorites?  Feel free to let me know in the comments.

    national poetry month, poetry challenge

    Poetry Reading and Craft Challenge for Kids: Week 4

    Hello Friends!

    Apologies for the late post, but I had a fun-filled weekend and didn’t manage to update the blog until now.

    Hooray!  We made it to week #4 of our poetry reading and craft challenge!  For the last two weeks I decided to choose longer poems and projects geared towards older kids.  Of course I still expect you to read the poems to the smaller children and work on memorization 🙂

    Below is the poem we’ll be working on memorizing this week.  In honor of Earth Day coming up on Wednesday I chose a poem about planting trees.  I hope it resonates with you and your little ones.

    Click here for a larger version of the poem.

    This week’s craft was so simple and fun to work on!  The kids assisted by handing me the scraps of the ribbon.  I did everything else.
    It’s a “tree” made from a stick I found outside, scrap ribbon I had at home, and a piece of twine. Pinterest inspired, of course!

    For this project you’ll need:

    • 1 stick
    • scrap ribbon (I used brown and green scraps)
    • twine
    • glue gun and glue sticks
    • scissors
    • lighter (to prevent the ends of the ribbon from fraying)
    First, decide which ribbon you’re going to use and cut it if necessary.  (Note: in order to prevent the ends of the ribbon from fraying use a lighter to burn them.)  Next, start tying the ribbon onto the stick working from the bottom to the top.  Finally, attach a piece of twine to the top for hanging up your tree.  Easy peasy!  These trees would also be cute for Christmas tree ornaments!
    ~ Until next time!


    national library week

    Let’s Celebrate: It’s National Library Week!

    If you didn’t already know National Library Week started on Monday and I, for one, am excited!  All right.  I know this week isn’t as highly anticipated Christmas or Thanksgiving, but I believe when our nation gets together to celebrate an institution that gives us access to free literature, it deserves to be acknowledged.  Not everyone has access to libraries like we do.

    First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country, generally the second week each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support. All types of libraries – school, public, academic and special libraries – participate.

    I visit the library at least once per week at a minimum – no exaggeration.  I’m either picking out books for the kids, for myself, taking the kids to story time, picking up free passes, or checking out an event.  In addition to visiting my local library I also frequent other libraries in my state.  For me, the library is not just about the books.  It’s a community within a community.  It is a warm place to make new friends, take some time away from our hectic world, and just be.  I love the library!

    Ok, so now let’s talk about some ways you and your kids can celebrate National Library Week:

    1.  Write A Thank You Note
    Yes, I’m still one of the few people who believe in hand-written thank you cards.  You can write a note, have your kids color a picture, or send out an email to your local branch letting them know they are appreciated and valued. This method of showing thankfulness may be old fashioned, but, its effective!  At least I think so.

    2.  Tunnel Your Inner Martha Stewart and Do a Craft Project Together
    There are endless ways to connect your kids to National Library week through hands-on activities.
    • Browse Pinterest and search for ‘book crafts’.
    • Have your kids pick out a favorite book and allow them to brainstorm something you can create based on that story.
    • Throw together some costumes and act out your favorite book. And when I say “costumes”, I am talking raiding your own closets, using construction paper and empty toilet paper rolls for props, and putting a colander on your head for a helmet. Nothing fancy here folks!  Get silly and be creative.

    3. Whip up Something in the Kitchen
    Another great way to celebrate this week is to bring books to life by cooking in the kitchen! Have you ever actually made Green Eggs & Ham? (Neither have I.)  Give it a try this week if you’re so inclined to. Not only does it get kids involved in books in a way that they may not have originally thought about, but it teaches a plethora of skills, including math, following directions, problem solving, independence, follow through, and even teamwork.

    I salute librarians everywhere!  They are some of the unspoken heroes that make up every community.  Why not take time out of your busy week and visit your local library?  Now more than ever libraries need our support as they are just as valuable to our families today as they were 30 years ago.

    Your turn: Will you be celebrating National Library Week with your kiddos?  How do you plan to celebrate?

    children's literacy, sight words, storytelling

    Fun With Sight Words: Felt Storyboards

    I finally made two felt storyboards for the kids about a month ago.  Hooray!  It’s something I’ve been wanting to do ever since I became a mom, but then that thing called life got in the way.  You know how hectic things can get sometimes, right?  Anyway, now that I created these two I’m motivated to do more since the kids really seem to enjoy them.

    The first storyboard I created was “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”.  When we recite the nursery rhyme I spell out some of the words like, “sun”, “rain”, “down”, “out”, “up”.

    Both of the kids love the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom so I just had to create a storyboard to go along with it.  Whenever I read the book aloud to them I add all of the letters going up the coconut tree just like in the story.  This helps to reinforce letter recognition.

    I also use the felt alphabet letters to spell specific sight words as shown in the picture below.  So fun!

    I think using felt images and letters are a great way for kids to have fun with sight words without even realizing that they are learning.  Also, felt storyboards are a wonderful way to spice up your storytime.

    I hope you find this activity to be helpful to you and your little ones!

    Do you use felt storyboards with your kids for practicing sight words or storytime?  Do you want to use storyboards with your kids, but don’t have a creative bone in your body or the time to create one?  Check out Playtime Felts.

    ~Until next time!

    national poetry month, poetry challenge

    Poetry Reading and Craft Challenge for Kids: Week 3

    It’s week three of our poetry reading and craft challenge!  Have you been following along with your little ones?  I hope so.

    This week’s poem and craft is all about caterpillars.  I don’t particularly like caterpillars, but I think they are are truly fascinating creatures.  There is something so interesting to me about watching them undergo metamorphosis and emerge as a beautiful winged creature.

    I hope you and your children enjoy this week’s poem and craft selection!

    Here is the poem we’ll be memorizing this week.  Click here if you want to print it out.

    This week’s craft is caterpillars made with pom pom’s, googly eyes and clothespins.

    Instructions:  Simply hot glue pom poms onto a clothespin then add two googly eyes.  Doesn’t get any easier than that.  You can also add antenna and legs using pipecleaners if you want to jazz it up a bit.

    Feel free to do this craft or one of your own.  Enjoy!

    ~ Until next week!

    read aloud

    Reading the Bible Aloud to Kids Plus My Favorite Bible and Prayer Apps!

    One of my goals for this summer is to start bringing my 2 1/2 year-old daughter to Sunday school.  I want both of my kids to understand God and have a relationship with Him that lasts into their adult lives.

    Since my son is still too young to start Sunday school I’ll also be getting him involved in learning about the Bible and God with the help of an awesome series of books I recently learned about.

    The Read Aloud Bible Stories books are simply amazing!  I ordered the first book in this series: Read Aloud Bible Stories Vol. 1 a couple of weeks ago.  This award-winning series has been a bestseller since 1982.  It’s currently available in five volumes and draws from both the Old and New Testament stories.

    read aloud bible stories

    I love that each story is followed by simple application questions to teach children that although the Bible was written many years ago, it can still be applied to our everyday lives.

    When I read this book to the kids the first time I was surprised at how attentive they were.  The rich and vibrant illustrations and writing is what kept them engaged.  I’ll definitely be purchasing volumes 2 – 5 to add them to our home library collection.

    Here are the other 4 volumes:

    Read Aloud Bible Stories Vol. 2
    Read Aloud Bible Stories Vol. 3
    Read Aloud Bible Stories Vol. 4
    Read Aloud Bible Stories Vol. 5

    How do you teach your children about the Bible?  Have you read any of the books in this series?  I’d love to hear your feedback and suggestions.

    My Favorite Bible and Prayer Apps

    Perhaps you’re also interested in deepening or strengthening your relationship with God.  I know getting to church on a regular basis when you have small kids can sometimes be difficult.  Therefore, I thought it might be helpful to share my favorite apps to use for prayer, meditation and reading the Bible.

    I hope you enjoy this list and perhaps find an app that will help enrich your prayer life too!  Note:  I know all of these apps are available for iPhones, but I’m not sure about Android.

    1. Olive Tree

    I like this app for reading the Bible when out in public like when I’m at church.  The main reason I like it is because you can download the entire Bible and you don’t have to be connected to WIFI or the internet in order to read.  It’s available for Mac, PC, iPhone, Android, Kindle and Nook.  Free to use, but there is also a paid version you can use too.

    2. Verse a Day

    Get a new Bible verse delivered to you every day in a clean, simple format.  It also gives you an option to click “Show Commentary” to read a short reflection on the verse.  This app doesn’t require a login. Free to use.

    3.  Holy Bible

    With this app you can have the entire Bible at your fingertips with several different translations to choose from.  My favorite part of this app is that it will actually read the Bible to you.  Free reading plans are also available as well as a verse of the day.  Free to use.

    4.  Echo Prayer

    Has anyone ever asked you to pray for them or keep them in prayer?  Well now you can have an actual list of people you are praying for right on your smartphone.  Use this app to easily add their name and a prayer description to your list.  You can also set a prayer reminder such as: “Uncle-surgery Friday at 9am” to help you pray for someone at a certain time of day.

    When your prayer time is limited, set an in-app timer so you can focus on your prayers and not the clock.  Prayers marked “answered” are added to a list for easy reflection.  Use hashtags (#) to organize your prayers into groups.  A simple login is required the first time you use this app.  Free to use.

    5. 3 Minute Retreat

    I love this app and use it daily!  Sometimes you only have three minutes of peace throughout your busy day.  Why not spend it with God using this app?

    Every day is a new retreat, which begins with a Bible verse, followed by a short reflection and simple questions to help you relate it all back to your own life.  It also includes a short prayer at the end of the retreat.  An added bonus is calming music in the background (which can be muted if desired).  Free to use.  Note:  Make sure your volume is turned up and your phone isn’t on silent or vibration mode if you want to hear the music.

    Bonus App:  If you’re into making your prayer requests public and want to join a supportive community, you can also check out Instapray.  Think Facebook, but for connecting people through prayers. (I do not use this app.)

    There you have it, my five favorite Bible and prayer apps.  Did I mention they are all FREE?

    Do you currently use any of these apps?  Which ones would you add to the list?  Let me know in the comments if you care to share.