Letter of The Week Z!

Zoo Z !

Has your summer already gotten busier than you thought possible? Well this week’s letter of the week activity is easy, fun and fast to do! When I am trying to save time or mess with a craft I grab stickers, my son loves them , peeling them off is great fine motor and on a busy day where I don’t want even more mess to clean they are a perfect choice for art time!

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a piece of white paper, a piece of construction paper, animal stickers, a crayon( or marker), scissors and glue. * Our stickers were a little small but the only ones we had on hand, if I did this again I would use much larger ones.
  2. Start by drawing a large uppercase Z.
  3. Hand it to your child and have them practice making straight lines, my son did a few before the urge to draw in circles overtook him. That’s fine the straight lines are good writing practice but at 2 I am not worried with specifics . The lines straight or curves will be the cage bars.
  4. Add your animals to the cage. I encouraged my son to put the animals inside the Z, most got in. This adds a quick in vs out lesson in opposites.
  5. Cut out.
  6. Add the glue to the construction paper.
  7. Add your Z and let dry.


” Inside a Zoo in the City” by Alyssa Satin Capucilli is a rebus read along , so children who can’t read words yet can help read this with pictures put right into the text! The story is repetitive and builds with one animal and page at a time. Preschoolers love these books and the repetitive nature of it makes it interactive and fun!

” 1, 2, 3 To The ZOO” by Eric Carle is fun counting book perfect for toddlers. Actually as I type this my toddler is reading it. There are no words, just pictures and numbers and that makes it perfect for toddlers who are just learning both numbers and animals because parents can read it slowly counting , naming the animals and making the animal sounds, or more quickly just counting!

“Peek-a-Zoo!” by Marie Torres Cimarusti is a vibrant lift the flap book that goes through sounds different animals make while playing peek a boo with the reader. What I like about this book is that the flaps offer a chance for your baby or toddler to anticipate what animal it hiding as well as the sound , so it grows with them. Also the flaps are large enough that little hands can grab them and won’t get frustrated.

Pop over to FamilyEducation.com ! And read my reviews of even more Zoo books.

Shape Painting

Tape Shapes

Ever have an idea that works great in your head but by George it just doesn’t work when your hands are making it? Well I knew I wanted to make a shape picture using blue painters tape but it was ripping all my paper. I am not one to give up when I want something. The answer was foam! I love how this eventually turned out. The picture looks blurry but it’s the way the markers blended together- the edges are sharp.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a sheet of foam, some markers, and painters tape. I also used a scrap piece of construction paper ( it had stuff on the other side) and let the tape spill onto it. It gave a nice buffer for the markers when it came time to color.
  2. Start by applying your tape on the foam. I did the application with my son generally pointing where he thought it should go, so he was involved but I could make sure to make shapes.
  3. Color over it all, no need to be careful. We used lots of different colors, you do want to make sure the edges of the shapes are colored. I just kept handing my son new colors and it kept him coloring until they were all full.
  4. Say some magic words and do jazz hands.
  5. Peel the tape off!
  6. Viola magic shapes appear! My so loved this and after figuring out what materials to use it was so so easy.


“Mouse Shapes” by Ellen Stoll Walsh is a cute book that not only helps teach shapes it is also entertaining! The three crafty mice use the shapes to protect themselves from one hungry cat finally using them to make scary mice to frighten the cat away! Kids love to help find which shapes are used in the illustrations and older ones can even anticipate what the mice will make next!

Fireworks Craft – 4th of July Craft

4th of july craft Summer is here. It’s almost time to celebrate Canada Day and The 4th of July! My favorite part of both days are the fireworks. I had to show my son videos of fireworks I found online because he’s never seen them in person. Although the videos could only capture half the magic he loved them and I can’t wait for him to see them in person this year. This 4th of July Craft is a wonderful way to get excited and have fun with red, white and blue at the same time.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a piece of black construction paper, a few cupcake liners, markers, glitter ( of course), scissors and glue.fireworks craft supplies
  2. Start by drawing on your cupcake liners with the markers. It was challenging for him to hold the liner and color, but a good challenge. If it’s frustrating  just tape the edges with masking tape.fireworks craft for children
  3. Fold your cupcake liner up and cut slits into it.cupcake liner fireworks
  4. Add glue to your black paper.fourth og july fireworks craft for 3 year olds
  5. Add your fireworks.
  6. Time for glitter.fireworks 4th of july craft for kids from no time for flash cards
  7. Let dry.

fireworks craft 4th of july art activity


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How to Bake an American Pie Karma Wilson is sentimental, sweet and probably should be reviewed by an American. The reason I say that is that it’s written to pull at your heart strings, make you feel pride in your country and I am sure it succeeds when the reader is American. But the same way I wouldn’t expect an American to get choked up singing “O Canada” the way I do, I just don’t get the full effect. Strictly as a book this was a little too figurative for my son although he loved the illustrations of the dog and cat baking the pie and kept turning back to the page with rainbows. Older kids will recognize some of the text that is taken from America the Beautiful and will understand the figurative language, although may be put off by the illustrations that seem more geared towards little ones. I would love to hear from any Americans who have read this book to get your take!

Apple Pie Fourth of July Janet S. Wong is an awesome book. I am always awed by authors who can tackle complicated “adult” issues in the pages of a children’s book successfully. In this case the issue is 1st generation identity and immigration, at least that’s my take. The little girl in this book is sulking around her parent’s store on the 4th of July. They are busy making Chinese food for customers she is sure won’t come, who would want Chinese food on such an American holiday is her rational. Of course, there are layers about her connection to her ancestral culture and her own national pride. As a proud owner of a green card and a Canadian passport I relate to this story, sure the differences are as deep or as obvious to an outsider but unlike the previous book when this book ended with fireworks I got tingles of pride for my adopted country. Fantastic book- and my son liked it too.

M Is For Maple: A Canadian Alphabet (Discover the World) Mike Ulmer. This book will make you feel proud to be from Canada if you are Canadian and teach you something about your neighbour ( Canadian spelling)  if you are an American. It will also teach your children things about the country they live in and why we feel pride when we hear names like Terry Fox, Anne with an E and Gretzky! I love this book and have since I first read it during teacher’s college in Thunder Bay, if you can be happy about being in Canada during a very cold Thunder Bay winter you can be happy about it anywhere.

Play Post Office!


This was a spur of the moment activity. My son kept pretending to put a card into a kitchen cabinet saying “Into the mailbox” , I jumped on this , and so glad I did. I say often that following your child’s interests is key and if I had a video stream of my house today I could prove my point even better. My son played with this from the time we made it until bed time. He kissed it goodnight at nap and bedtime. If you have half as much fun as he did with it, I’ll be happy.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a rectangular box, some craft paper, markers, tape, scissors , envelopes, stickers and a piece of white paper.
  2. Start by cutting off one end of the box.
  3. Cut a slot ( make it wider than I did if you don’t want to be saying “Try it the other way, turn it around” 300 times between frustrated 2 year old almost tantrums)
  4. Wrap the box like a present in the craft paper.
  5. Cut the paper where the slot it and tape it on the inside.
  6. Time to color, let your child go nuts. I just let him go for it.
  7. Make a sign ( if you child can do this have them do it!)
  8. Tape it on.
  9. Time to make the mail- I used blank envelopes. Have your child add addresses, if they can write letters, do that too. No matter what stage they are at have them add the address, if it’s scribbles cool, if it’s a full address that’s great.
  10. Add a “stamp” we used stickers.
  11. Play! My son filled the mail box then declared ” Delivery time!” knocked it over took the mail and delivered it around the house. Then repeated this many many times.


“Delivery” by Anastasia Suen is a recent favorite at our house. Although it doesn’t fit the mail theme perfectly it does fit in with the theme of transporting things, via trains, plans and automobiles… well and boats! This is a great book for kids like mine who love trucks of all shapes and sizes but it also explains how things get from one place to another simply by observing. I really enjoy the illustrations by Wade Zahares are done from interesting a differing perspectives and there are so many details I find something new each time. The first night we read this book at bedtime my son chose it for his, mine and my husband’s book choice, so we read it three times in a row.


Custom Bookmark for Dad

Last Minute
Father’s Day Gift!

My husband reads during his commute to work and back every day ( well when he’s not sleeping) so when Jessica at Foursquare Schoolhouse tweeted that they make customized bookmarks by simply cutting up her son’s illustrations I thought- perfect! Simple and so easy to do for all ages. Here is how we did Jessica’s activity.

  1. Gather your materials. We are using a blank note card because it’s the only card stock I have on hand, some markers, scissors, double stick tape ( not required) and contact paper.
  2. Start by having your child draw what ever they want on the card stock. I am going to warn you that if you have a toddler who flips out about things ( if you do you know what I mean) warn them well ahead of time that you will be cutting their picture.
  3. I cut the main picture out ( this is the front)then cut a 2nd piece to frame it and write the message on it.
  4. I had my son draw on the 2nd piece once it was cut to show you that this is also great fine motor practice to have your child write in an small contained space. You can choose to do a mix of both ways or which ever suits your child.
  5. Add your message ( this is the back)
  6. If you want use some double stick tape to hold the inner picture on the frame backing.
  7. Laminate or cover with contact paper, and it’s ready for dad!


” Father’s Day “ by Anne and Lizzy Rockwell. I really liked this book, it is about a class full of students writing stories about their dads at school and ending with a party where they present the books to their fathers. What I enjoyed was the diversity of this book , it covered all different kinds of dads and children and all the things they most enjoy doing together. My son was rather attached to the dad and son playing soccer , and I had a mean craving for chocolate after reading the page with a dad and daughter making fudge! A wonderful activity after reading this book would be to write your own story!

Cool Card!

You may notice in the comments that Teri a regular reader and preschool teacher as well, suggested I check out this card. I had to make sure all of you saw it too. For a step by step instructions visit her blog The Infertility Chronicles .

For more great Dad gift ideas check out this post my other blog at