Kids Craft Ideas Linky { join in by adding your post! }

preschool blogTonight I asked my Facebook community if they thought it was too early to post Christmas craft ideas. The overwhelming answer was no. That is my green light! I am brainstorming as soon as I post Link & Learn and will have a few fun Christmas crafts for you soon.

You can see some fun ideas on our Christmas With Little Kids board on Pinterest.

Now let’s see what you have to share!



10 Books My Son Can’t Put Down

Hello! If you are new here check out No Time For Flash Cards on Pinterest and join our Facebook community for more great ideas.

best books for boys We have been reading a lot this year and I wanted to do a book gift guide for independent readers. I decided to go to my best source, my son. This list may be about books my son can’t put down but they aren’t only the best books for boys they can be for boys or girls. Go ask your child what book they think is the BEST book and come back and leave the title in comments! Let’s keep this list growing.

All our book lists contain affiliate links.

best books for boys

Scholastic Year in Sports 2014
by James Buckley Jr. is a wonderful series by Scholastic that brings together sports news and stats for a fun non fiction book for sports fans. My son adores this book and absorbs all the facts like a sponge. He loves to wow his dad with the stuff he reads in it and I like how that motivates him even more to read.

lego book

LEGO Minifigure Year by Year: A Visual History
by Gregory Farshtey and Daniel Lipkowitz is a fascinating book filled with Lego history. I love reading this with my son and showing him the Lego I remember from childhood and how far it’s come since the late 70s. Like many of the books in this list it is non-fiction and can be flipped through casually or cover to cover.

nerf book

NERF: Ultimate Blaster Book
by Nathanial Marunas is missing right now and this is a big deal. My son adores this book and can often be found flipping through it very seriously as he decides which NERF blaster to ask Santa for this year. The book covers NERF history and all the different blasters. I think it’s interesting to read about product development but this isn’t your average bedtime book. I can guarantee you it’s been read like one at our house though and once we find it it will be read over and over again.

awesome facts

5,000 Awesome Facts
by National Geographic Kids was a great bookstore find. This book has provided many hours of solo reading for my son. He’s a great reader but prefers to read stories with someone and read facts solo. This book is almost always on the floor next to his bed. It’s filled with fun facts about pretty much everything. The lists are themed and the full color pages are attention getting. Great book for fact junkies.

ricky1

Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot (Book 1)
by Dave Pilkey  These early chapter books are about a little mouse Ricky who is not the most popular mouse. He gets picked on at school until he ends up saving Robot’s life and the two of them become best friends! You’d think that with a giant robot as a best buddy a little mouse might let it go to his head. Ricky is a good mouse through and through and as the series continues he and Robot continue to save Squeakyville from all sorts of evil. The books are full color and have a super cool comics throughout and an even cooler flip book in the middle.  You can read more about these books on this post .

percy jackson

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1)
by Rick Riordan was a huge hit at our house and the only reason we aren’t reading the next book in the series right now is because we picked up Harry Potter. This book is exciting, scary at times, and totally engaging for kids. The author knows how to suck kids in and make them beg for ONE more chapter. What I loved about it was the link to Greek Mythology. It gave me lots of topics to get deeper into with my son as we read the book about Percy Jackson and his other demi-god friends. Great adventure book for kids.

harry potter

The Complete Harry Potter Collection
by J.K Rowling is a staple at our house. We started reading the series when my son was 5 and spaced out the books reading one every year or so until this year when we read Goblet of Fire and Order of The Pheonix ( still reading this one) one right after the other. I love sharing this series with my son because he can see how much I love these books as well. It’s an effortless way of promoting reading.  The world of Harry Potter is so detailed and as children read further into the series they must make connections not only from one page to the next but one book to the next. It’s been a great opportunity to work on comprehension.

pokemon essential handbook

Pokemon: Essential Handbook
by Chris Silvestri There are a lot of Pokemon books on the market but this one gets the biggest possible thumbs up from my seven year old son. We had to replace his first copy because he read it so much it fell apart. This book is an encyclopedia of all the Pokemon characters. Each description includes a little blurb about the Pokemon and some stats. We have had a blast reading this book together. He memorizes everything about the Pokemon, looks to see which ones are about his height, about his weight and of course asks me to quiz him on all of the above. I can not tell you how much he loves this book. It goes everywhere with him and when he says ” Where is my book?” we know which book he is speaking of. If your child is into Pokemon they will love it.

encyclopedia brown

Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Midnight Visitor
by Donald J. Sobol is not a new series. While I never read them as a kid my husband did and was delighted to share them with my son. I was also delighted when he loved these detective books as much as my husband remembers loving them way back when.

big book of why

Sports Illustrated Kids Big Book of Why Sports Edition
by The Editors of Sports Illustrated Kids is another sports fan’s dream. This book has sports history and fun facts that will not only satiate curiosity but will let kids see how much more there is to sports than just the game they see. I love all the obscure facts and honestly I have learned more from this book than all the time spent watching sports with my boys ( I am usually reading in all fairness) and love that it can be read at random, no need to go cover to cover.

book list for boys

 

What books do your independent readers love? Share the title or link in comments and we will make this list even better!

Letter Harvest Corn – Alphabet Craft for Kids

alphabet craftsWe love adding letters to plain old crafts and making them into an  alphabet craft. It’s a simple way to work on letter recognition and kids love it. This simple ear of harvest corn went from plain to rad with some letters. More importantly my daughter spent time with each letter making it’s sound, suggesting words that also make that sound, and really being engaged. I didn’t plan on her tracing the letters with a marker but I loved her suggestion. I always run with her suggestions because even though I came up with the idea this is HER creation and I don’t want her to think there are steps so much as options. So try adding some letter stickers to whatever you are creating to turn a simple craft into a literacy activity.

Gather your materials. You will need some watercolor paper, a pencil, scissor, foam stickers in any color but we chose to match ours, some paint ( use paint daubers if you want them to dry quickly), and some glue or double stick tape. harvest corn letter craft

Start by drawing an ear of corn and the stalks separately.letter corn craft

Time to paint. These Do A Dot Art ( affiliate link) really do dry quickly especially when you use water color paper. corn letter craft for preschool Kids love them too. My class and I just did a variation of this number art project with them and they painted for ages! As you can see I didn’t cut the pieces out. Over the years I have discovered kids will paint all the way to the edges if you leave it but if you cut the shapes out they will often paint in the middle only. corn painting for thanksgiving

When both are done you can grab the foam letters and play a little game of ” Can you find the letter…” while the paint dries. alphabet craft indian corn

Add on the letters. letter indian corn craftPeeling stickers of the backing is a valuable fine motor activity so let them take their time and only help if they ask. No need to rush. corn craft for kids with letters

After she popped the yellow letter stickers on she decided to trace the letters with a red marker. It took a lot of concentration and hand control. I thought it was rad. corn craft for children

Cut out and glue or tape together with double stick tape. corn craft farm craft for preschool

All done! Don’t forget to display it someplace where your child can see all their hard work!fall alphabet craft letter corn on the cob

Books About Farms

All book lists include affiliate links

Margaret_Wise_Brown_Big_Red_Barn

Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown is one of my very favorite books to read to my daughter before bed although it took a while before she warmed up to it. I was worried because I loved reading it to my son and couldn’t wait to share it with her.  The story is simple readers see a day in the life of a big red barn and all the animals inside. Each animal is introduced in the seamless text that reads like a melodic poem. It’s  calm , soothing and Felicia Bond’s illustrations are perfect, I love how the sky subtly changes as the night beckons.  A wonderful book for anytime, but especially poignant before bed.

The Grumpy Morning

The Grumpy Morning by Pamela Duncan Edwards is a great book. I think I got it as a freebie with a scholastic order years ago, either way I am so glad I have it. The book follows all the animals on a farm as they wake up grumpy and hungry and needing attention from the farmer.As a parent I like this because it’s a great reminder that we need to feed our bodies for the day to be at our best.  As a teacher I love this book because I could talk about whining, and demanding and ask my students if there are better ways to get what you want.

duck-on-a-bike

Duck on a Bike by David Shannon tickles my funny bone. I love this book, the message is awesome too. Just because it’s never been done before doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try. Also how cute is a duck riding a bike? Kids even young ones get the message loud and clear as well.  The illustrations are amazing and your child will love the farm animals and the tractor at the end. Oh and please tell me I am not the only one waiting for “Duck on a Tractor” ? I’d buy it in a heartbeat !

If you have 30 extra minutes to work on literacy what would you spend it doing? Simple ways parents can help their kids read.

help your child read

If you had 30 extra minutes to work on reading what would you spend it doing? I get asked this question a lot. 

After reading with them, to them, and listening to them read or tell you stories? Well that depends on the child but I will try to answer this question in a very general way to give all of you some ideas of what you can do to make a big impact with only a little time. These are my go to skills that are easy for parents to help children with and that make a big difference when kids get a little extra practice with them. Here are just a few ways parents can help their kids read.

 

Toddlers & Early Preschoolsensory alphabet activities

 

Play with letters. Incorporate them into your play with magnetic letters, letter stickers, and alphabet blocks. Make special note of letters that are meaningful like the first letter of their first name. As you play , abel the letters but leave drilling or quizzing to the teachers in their future, there is no room for drills or quizzes in play.

 

Here are some letter play ideas :

Stamp & Match
Salt Tray Letters
Alphabet Cookies
Shell Letters
Alphabet Sensory Tub
Alphabet Playdough
Touch & Feel Alphabet

 

Preschool & PreK

letter sounds

 Letter Sounds

This is the next step to playing with letters. Now your child knows almost all the letter names and hopefully many of the sounds as well. These games work on both these skills.

Here are some games and activities for letter sounds and recognition :

Flip Top Phonics
Letter Sound Pound
Unlock The Letter Sound
Princess Phonics
Letter Sound Match

 

PreK & Early School Agethe one thing you should do to help your kids learn to read

Starting to Read { simple words )

Play with rhyming. Rhyming is such an important phonics skill but what I love about it is that it’s packed with play. No parent or child wants to spend the small bit of time they have together fighting about learning. Rhyming games can fill that need for fun and for learning.

 

Here are some great rhyming games:

Rhyming Dominoes ( adjust the words to your child’s level)
Rhyming Tag
Rhyming Jars
Rhyming Peg Board
Find & Rhyme

 

Kindergarten

sight word activities

Learning to Read { reads a little but not fluently yet }

Sight Words

Make sight words fun. When I say sight words I am not just talking about true sight words that can’t be decoded by sounding out but also the high frequency words that your child will encounter over and over while reading. When they can read them quickly without decoding them it makes reading easier. They can spend the time sounding out the bigger harder words instead.

Here are some great sight word activities that are FUN and worthwhile. Instead of the words used in these activities substitute with the list of  sight words from your child’s teacher. If you don’t have one ask for the one they are using :

3D Word Search
Sight Word Dominoes
Outdoor Sight Word Game
Sight Word Jump & Grab ( Hands On As We Grow)
Sight Word Target Practice ( Toddler Approved)

School Age

vocabulary

Reading Independently { and fluently}

 Vocabulary. When children are learning to read much of the focus is on the mechanics of reading, the sounds the letters make and how they work together. Once they start to read we shift a lot of the focus to the meaning of the words and text they are reading. We focus on comprehension and one way that parents can really help with that is to work on boosting vocabulary ( another is simply asking your children “ What did you just read?” while reading together).  When we expose our children to a big buffet of words it makes reading easier because they recognize the words and can decode it more quickly as well as understand it’s meaning ( and thus the text) with more ease.

 

Here are some fun ways to work on vocabulary with your kids :

Tips for working on vocabulary with your kids
Word Window
Muffin Tim Word Game ( Growing Book by Book)
Word A Day Cards ( Teachmama.com )

 

These are just appetizers for literacy intended for those 30 extra minutes you may have. As parents I see our role as scaffolds to support our children at whatever level they are at. For more about literacy check out Raise A Reader on Scholastic Parents. Amy Mascott and I share tons of ideas to work on literacy with your children.

 

Pinecone Painting & Thanksgiving Turkey Craft

Pinecone painting thanksgiving turkey craftPinecones are everywhere!  As certain as the fallen leaves, the pinecones that beg to be picked up and thrown ( hopefully not at each other) are everywhere. I decided we should create with the pinecones and what better to make right now than a Thanksgiving turkey craft ? What I love about these Thanksgiving turkey crafts is that you get to choose if you want to just do some painting with pinecones or if you want to use that painting to make a turkey craft, OR do multiple paintings and leave one as just that and create a craft with the other. Whatever you choose I hope you have as much fun as we did shaking that box and watching the paper fill with bits of color.

Gather your materials. You will need a couple of dried pinecones, some paint in any colors you want, a box that your child can handle themselves, and some great paper. If you want to turn the painting into a turkey you will also need some scissors, googly eyes, brown, red and orange paper and glue. We added some fun glitter paint for some sparkle. pinecone painting supplies

Start by placing the paper in your box and adding paint. pinecone painting activity for toddlers

Pop the pinecones in. pinecone painting for kids

Shake it up! pinecone painting for preschool

Make them roll, bang together, and generally have fun with it! pine cone painting for kids

Let it dry. pinecone painting for kids two ways

While it’s drying cut out a simple turkey torso ( do they have torsos?) , waddle, and beak. turkey craft for kids pinecone painting

Cut  the painting into a half circle. pinecone painted turkey craft for thanksgiving

Add glue for the turkey torso. pinecone painted turkeys

Add it and more glue for the eyes, beak, and waddle. thanksgiving turkey craft with pinecones

Let dry. pinecone painted turkey craft for kids

 

Books About Turkeys

all book lists contain affiliate links.

a-plump-and-perky-turkey

A Plump and Perky Turkey by Teresa Bateman is such a cute and funny book about a town that needs a turkey and the hilarious lengths they go to to find one. The town is sadly outwitted by the turkey and end up eating shredded wheat for thanksgiving. The illustrations kept my little man interested when he was a toddler but he only started understanding the dark humor at around 4. I love this book because of the humor makes me giggle. My son was a little off put by the idea of the towns folk eating the turkey and was relived when he escaped before they shoved him in the oven. I like that he is starting to understand that the meat he eats is actually a cooked animal, we take that for granted but for many young kids this is a huge realization!

10 fat turkeys

10 Fat Turkeys by Tony Johnston was a classroom favorite, it’s about as silly as a book gets and the kids had no clue they were actually learning about subtraction while listening to the crazy rhymes. This won’t explain the pilgrims , or talk about the Mayflower, but it will make your kids laugh! Very cute!

t is for turkey

T is for Turkey: A True Thanksgiving Storyby Tanya Lee Stone is a cute alphabet book with simple but accurate facts about Thanksgiving. I love that there is such a push for telling kids about what really happened and not just the closely held myths. The reader follows a long with a class play that covers all the important parts of the first Thanksgiving from the Mayflower landing on. This is a great introduction for young preschoolers. The illustrations are fun and rich so there is more than just the limited text to explore.