Crafts & Activities for Kids {Add your links}

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It’s Sunday which means it’s time to link up and show me and my readers what you have been up to.

I’ve had a huge week and want to share an exciting development with you. Over the past many months I have been writing a book tentatively titled ” 75 Tricks To Raise A Rockstar Reader” with Amy Mascott from Teachmama.com, to be published by Scholastic in 2016.  On Monday the book deal was announced in Publisher’s Weekly. I will keep you all updated about developments with the book and until then you can still find great creative hands on ideas here on the blog, my Facebook, Pinterest, and don’t forget about Instagram !

Have a great week – and don’t be shy if you are super proud of more than one post from this week , add more!  Let’s make Link & Learn a great cheat sheet for readers.



After School Activity – Word Ladders Printable { Free }

word ladders literacy activity It’s conference week here and we have been so busy. I wasn’t going to post today until I saw this pin by Fun Games 4 Learning and was reminded of Word Ladders. I haven’t used them in many years ( since I was student teaching elementary school actually) but knew immediately my son who is home today would love them. So I made a quick and easy word ladders printable for him and thought why in the world am I not sharing this easy literacy activity with all of you. This is a perfect addition to our Learning After School series ( <— click to see the whole series). What I love is that you can play it the way that they suggest in the post as a game for two people or teams, or as an individual challenge with this printable.

Word ladder

Gather your materials. You will need a word ladder printable ( click on the image above and print) , a pencil, and a kid to do all the rest of the work!  I keep my printables simple so they don’t use up too much ink but you can make your own at picmonkey.com with as many cute graphics as you want!  To make this re-usable slip it in an acrylic document stand, or a document sleeve, and use a fine tip dry erase marker.word ladder supplies

 

Start by explaining that you are going to climb the ladder by changing just ONE letter in the word. With beginners doing a ladder together is a great idea. Then write the first word of their ladder to get them started. I find that when I let him do it he’d chose more obscure words and get stick a few rungs in. word ladder printable for after school activity

 

Next one is solo.thinking hard word ladder literacy activity for kids If you want more of a challenge set the timer and have your child go up against you in a timed race. Whoever writes down the most words in the time period wins!almost done word ladder activity for kids

 

Need a ladder idea for a much younger child? Check out our Ladder L letter craft!

 

Quick Link Supply List

This list includes affiliate links
Low-Odor Dry Erase Markers, Ultra-Fine Point
Avery Heavy-Duty Plastic Sleeves
Acrylic document stand

 

 

Halloween Books That Won’t Give Your Kids Nightmares

halloween books not scaryYou wouldn’t know it by meeting my son today but as a really little guy he was super sensitive to scary things. I wasn’t ever sure we’d make it to Disneyland because he was terrified of people in big costumes. Like most phases of childhood just as I started re-reading my child psychology texts from college looking for insight the phase worked itself out. Some children are simply more sensitive from day one, and some like my son go through phases where they are working things through. Either way they should be able to have great books about Halloween that won’t provoke nightmares. The list below are all books that neither of my children or any of my former students have found scary. I still think it’s well worth a quick browse before reading and you can always click the title link ( affiliate link that takes you to amazon) to see more opinions from other parents.

As stated all book lists include affiliate links.

halloween books that aren't scary

Clifford’s First Halloween (Clifford the Small Red Puppy) by Norman Birdwell is a Halloween book that my son adored it as a toddler, there were many days when I read it multiple times. . The story is about the big red dog’s very first Halloween as a puppy. Clifford and Emily Elizabeth find costumes, they trick or treat and try candy apples too. I think what my son related to was that like little Clifford, he was often too little for things, made messes all the time, and has bigger people step in and fix everything for him.  This book doesn’t jump at me as a must read but I can’t ignore how much my son loved this book, so I have included it in the list.

inside a house that is haunted

 

Inside a House That Is Haunted by Alyssa Satin Capucilli was the hands down favorite Halloween book for my 3 year old class in 2005. I must have read this 200 times and even after Christmas had come and gone it was still requested all the time. The story is a rebus read along, so it is repetitive and it builds upon itself. This is great for children who are eager to “read along” before they are able to read words. The repetitiveness allows them to anticipate what is next and feel included. Very cute even after reading it so many times.

Peek-a-Boooo!

Peek-a-Boooo! by Marie Torres Cimarusti is a perfect toddler Halloween book. The premise is simple, each page has a well known Halloween character including a witch, skeleton,  and Frankenstein all hiding behind their hands playing peek-a-boo with the readers. The characters hands are flaps and when you lift them they reveal the character’s face – which is always sweet and happy , never scary.  At the end of the book there are more flaps to lift to reveal trick or treaters and the same Halloween characters hiding in their haunted house. My son loves this book too and  I think it’s a great completely gentle way to read about Halloween with toddlers.

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There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat! by Lucille Colandro was a huge hit! It’s a reworking of the classic song ” There was an old lady who swallowed a fly” only this one swallows a whole bunch of Halloween creatures, like a goblin, ghost and of course a bat.  She continues to swallow bigger and bigger things much to my son’s amazement! He was giggling through the whole book and the end when the old lay belches he laughed hysterically. It was predictable but I have to admit was a really fun , silly read.

maisy's halloween

Maisy’s Halloween by Lucy Cousins is a cute board book for toddlers that follows Maisy’s search for the right Halloween costume. There is something about this little mouse that children just love. My daughter will reach for a Maisy book over just about any other if given a choice. The story is also a cute introduction about the fun we have dressing up for Halloween.

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Where Is Baby’s Pumpkin?by Karen Katz. Is a Halloween favorite at our house and has been for years. I don’t think the book has ever been really put away since buying it when my son was a toddler. Karen Katz’s lift the flap books are more than just cute , the flaps and different textures keep little hands busy and little bodies calm enough to sit for the whole book.

ghosts in the house

Ghosts in the House!  by Kazuno Kohara is on my must buy list! A little girl moves into house and soon finds out it is haunted. Luckily she is a witch and knows just what to do. The ghosts in the story seem mischievous but never scary and even when she washes them in the washing machine, they are still smiling! My son loved this book, the text was the perfect length for a 3 year old, short but still descriptive.  I loved the simple  black and orange colors and had to look at the copyright twice because I was certain this was written sometime in the 30s, nope 2008. The simplicity of the book and colors is balanced so well with the little details like the little girl’s constant companion , a white cat that puts on a black costume when the little witch pops on her hat. This detail had my son in stitches, “Cats don’t wear clothes , silly cat!” .  Absolutely a perfect Halloween book for children not yet ready to be scared for fun!

it's pumpkin day mouse

It’s Pumpkin Day, Mouse! (If You Give…) by Laura Numeroff is a Halloween themed book about emotions. Mouse is busy painting his pumpkins and paints different faces representing different emotions on each. This is a great little book that gives parents a wonderful opener to talk about different emotions when things are calm. There is one scary pumpkin but I doubt it will frighten any readers.

Halloween Day

Halloween Day by Anne Rockwell is another winner . I love this author because kids love her books, and the ones that she has collaborated with her daughter on are probably my favorites. Her daughter Lizzy is the illustrator and she won my son over with her cool pictures of costumes and Halloween décor , especially the little boy in the firefighter costume. The story is about a classroom celebrating Halloween but what I love is that it shows why each child chose to dress up in their individual costumes.  Huge hit at our house, perfect for the 2-5 crowd and not scary at all!

10 trick or treaters

10 Trick-or-Treaters by Janet Schulman is one of my favorite Halloween books and both my children love it. We read it leading up to and well after Halloween last year. The premise is simple, a group of trick or treaters are pegged off one by one as they are scared by some Halloween creature.  Readers count down from 10 – 0 and  enjoy the bright detailed illustrations as they do. I particularly like the cute costumes and the final page which has another countdown with candy – always fun to count candy right?

mouses first halloween

Mouse’s First Halloween by Lauren Thompson is a sweet and really well done book. The story follows a little mouse who is easily afraid of the many things on Halloween night , but one by one discovers that things like falling leaves, jack-o-lanterns and trick or treaters aren’t so scary after all. I love the repetition in this book and the illustrations by Bucket Erdogan epitomize the fall spookiness that Halloween nights are filled with. Thumbs up from my son and I .

creepy sleepy monsters

Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters by Jane Yolen is a sweet monster book with minimal text and very rich illustrations by Kelly Murphy.  The story is really about the daily wind down and bedtime for two monsters. You and your child will absolutely relate to them on one page or another ( or all). These little monsters are just like our little monsters resisting bedtime, trying to avoid baths… well you know the daily struggle. My daughter was not into the book but my son liked it even though I’d gear it towards the 2-4 crowd. We chose our favorite monsters on each page and found interesting details like the recipe for tentacle soup on the page where the mom is making dinner . Cute, your child will relate to it and it’s not at all scary!

 

Easy Bat Craft

easy bat craft This Halloween craft was so much fun to make. It’s quick which is really our only option most days, is it just me or do you get exponentially busier the older your kids get?  We’ve been meaning to get all Halloween crafty but time has been super short. This easy bat craft is the perfect quick Halloween craft for busy families. Don’t miss out on the books about bats after the craft tutorial.

Gather your materials. You will need some black paper or card stock, some googly eyes ( if you have red ones all the better), scissors, clothes pins, a silver sharpie or crayon, a black crayon, and glue. easy bat craft for kids

Start by having your child color the clothespin with the black crayon. Easy Bat Craft by no time for flash cardsThis is tricky for little guys but encourage them to try because it’s great practice controlling a writing tool. My 4 year old thought that it might be easier to peel the whole crayon but it wasn’t. Still I never stop her from peeling crayons because it’s such a great fine motor activity.bat craft for kids

While they do that you can cut out some bat wings and a bat head.I folded my black paper and made cut out the wings free hand the head is just a circle with two pointy ears. Do not worry about perfection. Older kids could  draw the head and wings and cut them out problem.easy bat craft for kids

Time to decorate the wings! A silver sharpie is a coveted item at our house and she loves using it for crafts, I love how it looks against the black paper.easy halloween bat craft

Glue eyes on the head. She opted to hold each tiny eye and add glue to it.simple bat craft for Halloween Such a change from her brother who would drop huge globs of glue onto things calling them bombs. easy bat craft for preschool

Clip the wings on and then clip on the head. The extra glue from the eyes should glue the clothespin shut but if there was no extra glue you can add a little dab to the clothespin.clothespin bat craft for kids

Let dry and display!clothes pin bat crafts I love using kid made Halloween crafts for decor, not only is it fun to bring them out year after year but it let’s your children show off their creations. Easy bat craft for kids

 

Books about Bats

All book lists include affiliate links.

stella luna

Stellaluna by Janell Canon has long been a favorite when teaching about bats. I will warn you it’s a little long for fidgety toddlers but they will still enjoy it even if you skip a few pages. The story follows a little bat who loses her mother and is adopted into a family of birds. She never really feels like she belongs even though she likes her bird family. That’s not the end though, there is a surprise reunion and Stellaluna saves the day before the end of this book.

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There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat! by Lucille Colandro was a huge hit! It’s a reworking of the classic song ” There was an old lady who swallowed a fly” only this one swallows a whole bunch of Halloween creatures, like a goblin, ghost, and of course a bat.  She continues to swallow bigger and bigger things much to my son’s amazement! He was giggling through the whole book and the end when the old lay belches he laughed hysterically. It was predictable but I have to admit was a really fun , silly read. { Reviewed originally in 2009 when my son was 3 } 

My First Batman Book

My First Batman Book: Touch and Feel by David Katz. This is a rare find. A board book , a touch and feel no less,  about Batman. Trust me it’s rare, I squealed when I found it at the library and could not believe what a treat it was to read with both my kids. It’s not secret my son ( the one in the improvised Batman mask above) is into superheroes, he is also into books and I want to encourage that. However some of the books are so violent and I don’t want to expose him to all that at 4.5 , he is just too young for my comfort zone. For beginning readers there are some great I Can Read books but for even younger children pickings are super slim. Luckily there is this book. It’s sturdy, it’s age appropriate and it even glows in the dark. { Originally reviewed in 2010 }

Quick Link Supply List

Here are links to the supplies ( or similar ones) I used in the post above.  Supply lists include affiliate links.

Black Paper
Clothespins
Googly Eyes
Scissors
Elmer’s Washable No-Run School Glue
Sharpie Metallic

 

Share Your Halloween Crafts and Fall Activities For Kids! { Link up here! }

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October is one of my very favorite months and it’s almost half over!  I am loving teaching preschool and loving the days when I don’t teach and get to focus, really focus on my 4 year old. This week we cooked together a lot and made every puzzle we could find in our house including two geography puzzles. If you ever wonder what day to day life is like for us check out our Instagram , it’s not super exciting but it is real. What we haven’t done much of are Halloween crafts. I have them on my to do list for this week though.

Until then please share your Halloween crafts, fall activities, and more.