Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Spring has sprung!

More library finds to share with you today. Continuing on with the celebration of the seasons I'd like to share with you A Bunny For All Seasons and Countdown to Spring: An Animal Counting Book both by Janet Schulman and illustrated by Meilo So. The front covers are true to the illustrations in these books. Colorful, soft brushstroke flowers and animals fill the pages. In A Bunny For All Seasons we join a bunny as she enjoys the variety of flowers and vegetables that can be found in a garden. The seasons begin with summer and end with spring as we meet the now bunny family and their new babies as they once again begin to enjoy the garden bounty. Countdown to Spring! celebrates the return of animals, bugs and flowers in the spring ending with one Easter basket filled with a bounty of garden treats for the animals to enjoy. Very beautiful, sweet reads to help learn about and enjoy the spring.

Monday, March 28, 2011


Spring is one of my favorite seasons but I also really enjoy the in between time of change from one season to the next. So as we are changing into spring I thought I'd share some of my favorite books about the seasons. First up is Listen Listen by Phillis Gershator and illustrated by Alison Jay. If you've been following along my blog this pick probably isn't one of much surprise. I'm hooked on anything written or illustrated by Alison Jay. This is no exception. Jay's beautiful,serene and of course crackled artwork accompanies rhyming text that invites you to listen to all the sounds as the seasons change. On the last page for a season you are invited to find the sights of that seasons with a list of items. It's a charming read.

Next I'm going to highlight another book of one of my favorite illustrators. It's called All Year Long by Kathleen W. Deady and illustrated by Linda Bronson. This book takes us through the year with a little girl and her family as the enjoy favorite activities of the different seasons. The collage art is lively and fun.

Last up is a brand new book of the seasons published by Kane Miller/Usborne books and is from France. It's aptly titled Seasons by Anne Crausaz. The illustrations are simple yet bold with an emphasis on an adorable little girl as she explores each season. The book takes the reader through each season with a emphasis on our senses with the tastes and sites that each new season brings. It's another beautiful, charming read to share the celebration and wonder of the ever changing seasons.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Place for Wonder

I'm taking a another break here today from children's books. With two preschoolers at home I'm always looking for books on learning. Here's one of my recent favorite finds. It's called A Place for Wonder: Reading and Writing Non-fiction in the Primary Grades by Georgia Heard and Jennifer McDonough. This book is basically a teacher's guide for a curriculum of reading and writing with students. The process that they walk you through just clicked with me and I plan to do supplemental 'wonder' activities with my two once they start into kindergarten and first grade. I think this is a great basis not just for the reading and writing but for a life long love of learning. The process starts with having kids share what they wonder, then to write their wonders down, to discuss them, to collect their wonders. The authors established different 'wonder stations' in their classroom for the kids to ponder and explore at. The next step is to learn how to find out about your wonders such as observation, research, discussion, and to ponder it. Final step kids are writing about their wonders, what they have learned and what their thoughts are. I think it would be fun even now to keep a notebook of my wonders. The authors encourage/ provide opportunity for the wonders to tie into nature such as taking the kids outside to explore, having a wonder window to observe the outside, bringing natural objects into the classroom. They shared how nature really makes the best topic for early writing exercises. It's all around us, kids are naturally drawn to it, they are curious about it and it is something tactile that they can explore and observe.

The writing style of this book is not dry at all, it's imaginative, clear, engaging and flows from one concept to the next. I love the basic premises of taking time to wonder and ponder with children. To explore what they are curious about. I'll have to come back through in a couple years and let you know how it worked for us once we put it to practice. But I am going to start talking to my two about their wonders and plan to keep a little book of them to share with them when they are older.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I'm Reading...your Blogs!

So this is my second post in this series and I originally thought I'd only be posting about the great books I've found by you sharing on your sites. But today I'm going to change that format and share some fun St. Patrick's Day activities that I've found in my blog reading. We've already rolled up our sleeves and done a few of these ourselves.

So first up I loved this rainbow xylophone that was done over at Meet the Dubiens. And here's our attempt:

We didn't have the oh so cute honey dipper sticks but we did have some drum sticks from the kids' musical instruments. I think a spoon would also work just fine. We paired this activity up with one of the St. Patrick's books we picked up from the library. It's an illustrated children's picture book to the lyrics of the song 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' and came with a music CD of that song preformed by Judy Collins. There are actually three songs on the CD. The book is titled, Over the Rainbow and is illustrated by Eric Puybaret. I loved that the book had that musical tie into the musical activity.
I'm letting the kids enjoy it here for a little while but before I dump the rainbow water, I plan to level them out and do this fun experiment of creating a rainbow in a glass. The experiment can be found at

Next up is this fun felt shamrock matching game from Along the Way. I had a limited colors of felt to choose from in my stock when I created my version but I still think they turned out fun.

I loved the craft that Helping Little Hands did with Good Luck Bear by Greg Foley. We did a scaled back version. Smaller clovers in a picture field with our blessings that make us feel lucky. I'm always looking for crafts that incorporate being thankful, counting our blessings and topics along those lines. Here's the craft from Helping Little Hands.

And here's our scaled back version. I didn't have two contrasting colors of green so I dug through my scrap book papers to see what I could find and we used pastels to color in the grass.

Last up is St. Patrick's Day play dough cookies, which I'm saving to do on St Patrick's Day as one of our activities. This comes from Amanda's Cooking. Since I'm saving this for Thursday I don't have any pictures of our attempt at this but here's one from Amanda's site.
Aren't the fun and amazingly beautiful! I'm so excited to try these!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Good Luck Bear

Here's a pick of mine for a fun St Patrick's Day read. It's called Good Luck Bear by Greg Foley. It's one of four Bear books. The illustrations are beautiful, simple and refreshingly charming. In this book we find bear as he discovers a three leaf clover. His friend mouse shares that if he can find a four leaf clover it means he's lucky, so the search begins. Friends come by with of course their own opinions on the matter but bear sticks with his search. The end of the story isn't about finding luck but the treasure of a good friend. I love the dedication of this book, it's 'for all those who find luck in the unexpected'.

Other books in the series include: Thank You Bear, Don't Worry Bear and I Miss You Mouse.

We don't own this book and we didn't pick up our copy to enjoy from the library. We read it online through the We Give site by The Penguin Group and The Pearson Foundation. If you haven't already heard of this program please go by and check it out. It's as simple as registering at the site and then sharing some great reads with your kids. They have books for babies through teens to choose from. For each book you read they will give a book to a campaign of your choice. There are several to choose from including Hope for Haiti, NEA - Books Across America, Jumpstart for Young Children to name just a few you can select. My two love reading books online and it is always a favorite activity when I suggest it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tom's Tree

This was a recent happy library find. It's a book called Tom's Tree by Gillian Shields and illustrated by Gemma Raynor. This book touches on the wonder of childhood, where the impossible is possible, where one sees the extraordinary in the ordinary. You meet a young Tom as he is planting a tree. It's just a seed and his older brother says it will never grow, much like the storyline of The Carrot Seed. But Tom doesn't let his brother discourage him rather he dreams of what his tree will be; beautiful, full of life and adventure. The story also takes you on a tale of growing up as Tom and his tree both grow as the years pass by. It's a very sweet tale with a melt my heart finish. The illustrations are full of fun fanciful details and lots of whimsy, just like I like them.

Here's a little mix media three dimensional art project we did along with this book. We made our very own trees out of paint, tissue paper, beads, pipe cleaners, toilet paper rolls, glitter and a paper plate for the base.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Grouchies

Here's another fun grouchy day read called The Grouchies by Debbie Wagenbach and illustrated by Steve Mack. Similar to Alexander in my previous post a young boy wakes up with the grouchies. They hover over him like gloomy clouds and have a little chant they sing to encourage him to not act nice to others. At the end of the day the little boy reflects on how bad the day was. His sister is sad, his friends don't want to play with him, mom and dad are mad. His parents tuck him in and offer up some great advise on how to stop those grumpy grouchies. I wasn't sure what my two would think as I read through it. We've had some grumpy grouchies of late. They loved it and have requested to read it several times since. It was a great help too for starting a great discussion on our attitudes and behavior. There are additional notes to parents about grouchiness and how to help your kids work through it in the back of the book. The illustrations are bold, simple and fun.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Germ

Here's a fun little poem I'm inspired to share from our past sick days.

The Germ

A mighty creature is the germ,
Though smaller than a pachyderm.
His customary dwelling place
Is deep within the human race.
His childish pride he often pleases
By giving people strange diseases.
Do you, my poppet, feel infirm?
You probably contain a germ.

-Ogden Nash

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

March Classic Book - Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

I was not planning on posting this book for this month's classic book but we've been sick and have just been having some not so great days. From the blogs I've been reading the cold and flu season seems to be making it's rounds. So this month's classic book is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Day by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Ray Cruz . The title pretty much says it all. Poor Alexander wakes up to the start of a not so good day that just continues on it's not so great course. I must confess this book was a favorite of mine as a child. We all have days that things just don't go as well as they could. You make it through them though and the next day is bound to be better. There's a nice use of humor in this book, I love the ability to find humor in things that go wrong. I would recommend it for older kids ages 5 and up. It's a fun read to share on days like we've been having. But we're better now and I have another fun grouchy read to share with you all soon.