Link Up! Summer Activities For Kids

rp_link-learn-2014-455x1781111.jpgIf your summer is as busy as mine let me keep this short! Add your awesome and amazing summer activities for kids to this linky and share your rad blogs with my readers.

I say this all the time but please please link up if you blog. We love new blogs to check out. Don’t be shy.

Also please check out our Pinterest Boards and Facebook Page for more great ideas and Instagram for a little look into everything I do that doesn’t get a spot on this blog ( hint: more pictures of my kids).



Books About Cancer For Kids

books about cancer for kids I know this isn’t a happy subject but I am getting more and more requests for books written for children about cancer. A few days ago I was scrolling through my facebook feed and four statuses in a row were about cancer written by friends. There is no six degrees of separation when it comes to cancer. I hope you never need to read any of these books, I hope this list is the least used list on my site, but it’s here if you need it. This is not a definitive list, please if you know any books about cancer for kids share the title in comments.

Some of these books explain treatment and are hopeful and some include death and grief. I have noted the end result of the cancer in each review because I want to help you find the right book. All titles are linked to amazon.com with affiliate links.

you are the best medicine

You Are the Best Medicine by Julie Aigner Clark stands out among these books. The book follows a mom sharing her new cancer diagnosis with her young daughter saying why she is both happy and sad about it. She relates everything back to happier times to put a positive spin on the challenges.  The memories she has of time spent with her daughter and all the times she is still looking forward to will be the best medicine. Everything about this book is gentle and soft and ultimately positive. The book speaks of getting better like it’s a given and while emotions are absolutely discussed , loss is not part of this book. Its goal is reassurance and comfort.

cancer5

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is for kids – but much bigger kids . This YA novel is witty and funny and yes about cancer. It will also probably make you cry. It’s a love story about two teenagers who meet at a support group for kids with cancer. I don’t want to ruin it for you ( and I do encourage adults to read it, it’s not typical YA) but it captures the essence of cancer not being fair. It also captures the feelings parents might have when their child is very very ill. Many of the adults that I knew who read this book cried because they related to the main characters but I teared up reading dialog between Hazel and her parents. Great book for young teens and older.

That Summer

That Summer by Tony Johnson. While reading this I didn’t even try to conceal my tears, I wasn’t crying I was sobbing.  The book is about the summer that one little boy watches his brother Joey get sick and die from Cancer.  The author does a masterful job at relating grief, and the sadness of watching someone you love and don’t expect to die, get weak and leave you.  As Joey’s condition worsens he learns to quilt and ultimately it’s his brother who finishes his quilt. I can’t rave about this book enough it simply makes the reader get it, as much as you can without ever living this particular nightmare. The line that haunted me was ” I learned a lot that summer, how to grin when your heart is in shreds..” that was the line that forced me into the “ugly cry”. This book would be incredibly useful for children who are grieving and feel like they are treading these waters alone.

cancer3

Champ’s Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too! by Sherry North is a sweet book about a little boy and his dog. While petting Champ Cody he finds a lump and it turns out to be cancer. Cody takes very good care of Champ while she goes through her chemo and she returns the favor when he is hurt. The story is touching and hits a few great points but the real gem are the back pages of the book that include facts and even quizzes about cancer.

punk wig

Punk Wig by Lori Ries is about as funny and cute as any book about cancer can be. In the book a little boy explains that his mom has cancer and as she goes through chemotherapy and looses her hair they go shopping for a wig. The wig she ends up choosing is a punk one that looks nothing like her hair before she lost it. The banter between mom and son is adorable and it explains cancer as ” alien blobs” and chemo as “zapping ” them with medicine. The overall feeling of this book is upbeat and even the parts where the mom is obviously sick have little bits of whimsy thrown in. This is a good pic for preschoolers and for children curious about why a friend or acquaintance has lost their hair during chemotherapy. In this book the mom goes into remission and it’s explained as all the alien blobs have gone away and she gives her punk wig to her son for dress up.

cancer4

And Still They Bloom: A Family’s Journey of Loss and Healing by Amy Rovere is a wonderful book about loss and grieving. The story follows two children as the navigate the loss of their mother to cancer. So many issues are addressed in this book. Issues include well meaning but hurtful comments, anger towards the deceased, and fear of forgetting what they looked like. So much of this book deals with the anger that accompanies grief and how unfair it all is. There are no saccharine answers or platitudes, just real honest and frank discussions about the validity of emotions. The text is long and the target audience would be school age and up.

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Mom and the Polka-Dot Boo-Boo by Eileen Sutherland is a simplistic rhyming explanation of breast cancer for young children. It keeps the facts simple and explains what is going to happen like being tired, and loosing her hair but it also says that she will feel great and be able to play chase again when all the treatments are done. The illustrations are all children’s artwork and they help to balance the serious subject.

Hair For Mama

Hair for Mama by Kelly A. Tinkham is beautiful. The story is about a little boy who is desperate to find some hair for his mama who has lost hers to chemotherapy. Marcus wants mama to be in the family photo but she doesn’t want to be the way she looks. His mission comes to a climax when he shaves off all his own hair hoping to give it to his mama. When the barber sweeps it up with the other hair on the floor Marcus is heart broken and goes home in tears. I was sobbing reading this, I knew it was a story about a mom having cancer but the way the author wrote it , it was magical. The complex emotions this little boy felt for his mom and she for him, jumped off the page and you can’t help but cry. I wasn’t sad ,I was touched by the love and desire to fix his mom and make everything better, and his parents tenderness to his feelings. I can’t recommend this book more highly. I should note that this is not a book for toddlers, I would probably wait until a child is 4-5 before reading them this gem. In the end the mom is still fighting cancer.

cancer2

Where’s Mom’s Hair? by Debbie Watters is a documentary in a book. The family consists of a mom , dad and two boys and mom has cancer. They throw a bog party for her when her hair starts falling out and everyone gets their hair cropped super short. The book then is less of a party while she is going through chemo but ends on a high note with new hair and seemingly great health. The book is told from the perspective of one of her children and talks about her being sick but never about the fear of loosing her to the disease. I loved the photos in this book because it felt like you were right there with this family.

 

50+ Alphabet Activities For Kids

50 awesome alphabet activitiesAlphabet activities aren’t just fun, they are important too. When children are familiar with letters the task of learning to read is much more accessible. Familiarity breeds comfort and we want our kids to be comfortable with letters, their sounds, and shapes. There is no need to drill your child but having fun with letters is a great way to introduce and master letter recognition, letter sounds, and other early literacy skills. Here are more than 50 fantastic alphabet activities for kids from toddlers to early elementary school.

Outside Alphabet Activities

outside alphabet activities

Outdoor Alphabet Hunt
Sidewalk Chalk Letter Activities
Alphabet Hunt On The Town
Gardening For Letters
Letter Hose Down
Letters On The Go
Zoo Magnets

Sensory & Playdough Alphabet Activities

sensory alphabet activities

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

Fine Motor Alphabet Activities

fine motor alphabet

Leaf Letter Match
Letter Lacing
Letter Constellations
Glue Tracing Letters
Button Letters
Sandpaper Letters
Rainbow Letters
Alphabet Christmas Tree
Alphabet Bead Spelling
Peel & Pick Alphabet Apple Tree
Cork Board Letters
Alphabet Wall
Alphabet Bead Activities

Creative Alphabet Crafts & Activities

creative alphabet

Painting with Letter Cookie Cutters
Magic Letters
Family Letters
Custom Alphabet Book – Fast
Custom Alphabet Book – Hardcover Photo Book
Easy Letter Rubbings
Disappearing Letters
Letter Watermelons
Alphabet Flower Garden Mural
Letter Monsters
Sparkly Alphabet Canvas
Pumpkin Patch Letter Match
Alphabet Peg Dolls
Alphabet Mail Pretend Play
Letter Snowman
Recycled Alphabet Craft
Letter Pizza
Alphabet Place Mat

 

Gross Motor Alphabet Activities

gross motor alphabet
Move & Groove Letter Game
Build with Letters
Word Scavenger Hunt with Letter Stones

 

Letter Matching & Sorting Activities

Alphabet Sorting

Letter Sorting Tree
Pound The Sound Letter Sound Activity
Letter Road Upper & Lowercase Sorting
Easter Egg Letter Match
Match and Unlock Letter Sounds
Car and Driver – Letter Match
Post Office Letter Sorting

 

Letter Memory and Other Alphabet Games

alphabet games
Name Game
Fishing For Letters
Letter Memory Game
Letter Dominoes
Jar Lid Letter Memory

 

 

 

Sticker Station – Easy Fine Motor Activity

sticker stationI love stickers and not just because of their power to reward kids with something small that isn’t sugar but because they pack a lot of punch in the fine motor skills department. Peeling those little suckers off the sheet is tricky for little fingers. This is a great fine motor activity to turn to when you don’t have a ton of time to play. Add in new stickers and the whole activity has new life. Add in some crayons and it’s like new again. After I shot some photos I got a load of laundry together, wiped down the bathroom , and got dressed while my little one was happily adding more and more stickers and unbeknownst to her she was working out her fine motor skills too.

 

Gather your materials. You will need some stickers, an envelope, some plain paper, and painter’s tape or thumbtacks. sticker station wall mural

Start by taping your paper to the wall. I like using blue painter’s tape for two reasons; first to save my wall from being wrecked, second because it gives children a clear boundary to the area where it’s OK to add stickers and where it is not.Sticker wall activity for kids set up

Put all your stickers in the envelope. Ours is plastic but a plain paper one would work just as well. You can attach it with painter’s tape too or if it’s really heavy use thumbtacks. Remember that thumbtacks are never safe with children who are still putting things in their mouths. Please use caution and know your child’s abilities and make any adaptations you may need to in order to make the activity safe for your child.adding the stickers

Add your little person. I didn’t explain anything. I just said ” I made you a sticker wall.” and she got right to it.peeling stickers good for fine motor

This is not a structured activity. If your child invites you to participate by all means do but don’t feel you must or should. While my daughter was adding stickers she created little stories to go along with them but if your child doesn’t that is OK. They may sort the stickers, line them up, or make an overall design.sticker wall They may also randomly add one or two and walk away. I wouldn’t give up but I wouldn’t push.  I would see if you had any stickers that better appeal to them , add some crayons to the mix, and leave it up for a few days before giving up. It’s OK for activities to tank too. While this simple sticker station was a big hit with my daughter doesn’t mean your child will love it or that you did anything wrong if they don’t. I have come up with many activities my kids haven’t adored. Move on and don’t worry.

sticker station cover

 

 

 

 

 

Homemade Bubble Solution and Whisk Bubble Wands

homemade bubble solutionThis was a completely kid directed activity. While I was finishing up a conference call my daughter was digging through the kitchen drawers and found her whisks. These were bought for her to play with and as I hung up she showed me that she had opened them up to make flowers. Immediately I said to her ” do you know what I think we could use those for?”

“Bubbles!” was her response and I was giddy to see that we were on the same page. I dug through my pantry to see if we had any corn syrup to make the bubble solution I used to make in day camps 400 years ago. It was hiding behind the cookies that I had hidden behind the pasta.

Here is my NOT AT ALL precise recipe for homemade bubble solution.

homemade bubble solution using stuff you have in your kitchen

1 tablespoon of corn syrup
1/4 cup of dish soap
fill the rest of the measuring up ( 2 cups) with warm water and stir.

homemade bubble potion

I made the first batch myself but she helped with the second.

whisk bubbles

She LOVED this. The bubbles weren’t great to blow out of the whisks but if you dipped them in and then waved your arms and they made huge big bubbles.bubbles collage

She practiced and sometimes they were little , but sometimes they were huge. What I adored about this incredibly simple activity is that she was attacking it like an experiment ( with zero input from me to suggest she should) and tried to recreate the big bubbles by following what worked and avoiding the actions that resulted in the little bubbles. big bubbles