Read & Draw Picnic – Comprehension Activity

read and draw picnic for kidsI love lazy summer days and trying to have a few before we all head back to school. This is such a simple reading comprehension activity and can be done with kids of any age. There is something awesome about reading outside, I love grabbing a blanket and some books and reading with my kids under a huge blue sky. This art activity takes that simple idea one step further by adding on an artistic retelling activity. I have been working hard to get my son to draw and write more this summer and drawing with his younger sister helps boost his confidence , lets him show her how to do things, and it’s made such a difference. Also his strength in retelling helps balance his lack of confidence in the drawing.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a book , some clip boards, a blanket and your art materials. We used paper ,watercolor colored pencils, water , paint brushes, and some water.read and draw outside book activity for kids
  2. Start by finding the right spot. We found some shade in our yard and spread out the blanket.read and draw outside art and literacy activity for kids
  3. Pass out the clip boards and art material.read and draw outside for kids
  4. Start reading. As you read encourage your kids to draw what is happening in the story or something that sticks out for them from the book. Their favorite part, the saddest or happiest part … they can or you can choose.read and draw comprehension
  5. Make sure to have extra paper on hand my son made 3.read and draw outdoor reading picnic
  6. After they are done with their art work as them about it. Instead of saying ‘ What is that?’ which could make them question their artistic ability as well as gibe a much shorter answer say “Tell me about your picture.” I have found that when we do activities like this both my kids end up retelling the whole story naturally which is an important part of early literacy development. It builds comprehension and because it happens very organically no one feels like they are being quizzed on a lazy summer day. If they don’t retell the story on their own try asking :
  • Where  did the story take place?
  • Who was the story about?
  • What happened to them in the story? What happened next?
  • How did it end?read and draw outdoors

Try having your child retell stories from time to time and if they struggle do it more often. If they are really not understanding what is going on try simpler books and  try asking these questions throughout the reading not only after finishing the book.

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picture books for retelling

 

All of these books have story lines that are clear and younger children can successfully retell the major events while older children could use them and retell in greater detail. These links are affiliate links.

This post contains affiliate links.

Organize Your Books with a DIY Book Crate

by Allison McDonald mod podge book crate craft for kidsI have been on a spring cleaning kick and when I was given the opportunity to make something for a sponsored campaign with  Mod Podge Washout  and Apple Barrel Paints I knew just what I wanted to make. While cleaning I was astounded by how many books we have. There are stacks everywhere and out shelves are full too. I wanted to make something useful that could help me teach my daughter to care for her books and that could make spring cleaning more fun. Now when my kids see the crate they are much more apt to put books back in it then back on the pile on the carpet. Having my daughter help me make this was really an important part of her taking ownership of keeping her books in good condition and so far it’s been working great. Here is how we made ours.

  1.  Gather your materials. You will need a wooden crate , Apple Barrel paint, some foam brushes, drop cloth Mod Podge Washout , some scissors , a dish for paint, and an old book you don’t mind cutting up.book crate mod podge
  2. Start by choosing which color to paint with . book crate box
  3. Paint your crate. One thing I love about acrylic paint is how fast it dries. I am so used to kid paint which takes forever. If you have an older child while they paint you can cut out the letters. But if your child is going through the “Let ME decorate the house aka draw and paint on things” stage wait until they are done. book crate 4I had to put the camera down too because she got too much paint on her brush and it splattered on me narrowly missing the camera. It washed off me no problem!book crate
  4. I doubled up the pages and drew the letters in pencil. book crate 7Cut and use the bottom letter so there are no pencil marks. book crate for book organization
  5. When the crate is dry it’s time for Mod Podge! The great thing about this Mod Podge Wash Out is that even if it’s dry it will come out in the wash. I have ruined plenty of clothes while crafting so it’s exciting to find a product that my kids can use and I don’t have to be right behind them wiping things up and off them. book crate organizer for children's books
  6. Start with a thin layer on the section where you are going to add the letters.book crate organizer for kids Add a letter and go over with more Mod Podge. Repeat for each letter.  As my daughter was doing this she was very angry that her initials were not being used. At 2 she can not read and while she recognized the letters she didn’t know why I’d chosen those. I felt terrible. In all my prep I didn’t explain to her what the letters said. So we took some time talking about it. book crate organizer kids room ideas
  7. After the letters are on add a layer or two of Mod Podge all over the crate. This gives the crate a finishing touch and helps smooth out any rough parts.  Let dry completely ( overnight is always a good bet) and add some books!book crate 1
  8. Since we made this our book crate has not budged from the hearth. She picks out books to look at alone, ones for me to read and my favorite ones for her brother to read to her after dinner. book crate for kids

Need books to put in your book crate? Check out our long list of book reviews .

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10 Books About Easter

10 easter books for kidsWe love chocolate, we love jelly beans but we love books even more. Every Easter we put at least one book in the Easter basket.  Sometimes they are Easter themed like these sometimes they are about cars and trucks, animals or princesses. The important part is that we are slipping books in as treats wherever we can. Here are some great books about Easter to read before and after the bunny hops over to your house. Also pop over to Scholastic Parents and check out my latest post about creating a book hunt . Just like Easter egg hunt only you find books and read them as you go along.

The Golden Egg

The Golden Egg Book by Margaret Wise Brown is one of those books I have clear memories of from childhood. Thing is I don’t really remember the story so much as the cover. In this case it’s ok to judge a book by it’s cover because although the ending has always seemed tacked on to me I enjoyed this simple and cute book about a bunny and the egg that he finds. My son liked it too, although he was much more into the illustrations of butterflies in the first and last few pages.

scholastic book giveaway

The Best Easter Prize by Kristina Evans is a sweet ( maybe too sweet) book about doing the right thing. It’s Easter morning and after church is a big Easter egg hunt and whoever finds the most wins the prize. At first our heroine can’t find any but then she hits the jackpot only to find a crying friend who has an empty basket. Of course she offers her some of her eggs ( sweet) but then they cross the finish line holding hands ( too sweet). My dislike of sickly sweet picture books aside the story as a whole is cute, my kids enjoyed it and the lesson is valuable.

What Is Easter? by Michelle Medlock Adams was a bit disappointing for us. I love her What is Christmas book and vaguely remember liking this the first time I read it ( and gave it a good but not detailed review) so I grabbed this for my daughter’s Easter basket before re reading it. Ooops. Live and learn sometimes authors you love make books you won’t. This book takes a Christian viewpoint vs the many secular Easter books focusing on egg hunts and the Easter bunny. The book explains the facts about Easter and how it’s the celebration of Jesus’s death and resurrection . It starts out noting all the secular aspects of the holiday and how they are fun but are not the real reason you celebrate. Where it lost my son and I was when it said that Jesus was crucified on a tree. You don’t have to be Christian for that to make you say WHAT? My son interrupted my reading and said ” You are tricking, No he died on a cross!” ( glad he listens in church!) So discussed I it on twitter and while the poetry of it is apparent as a mom and former Sunday School teacher let’s give the kids the basics and then branch out into discussions about interpretations etc… later. If you have this book I’d love to hear your take. * Interestingly as I said I reviewed this book years ago and gave it a positive review and didn’t mention the tree, nor do I remember it being an issue. My only explanation is I read it as poetic language and as an adult it didn’t phase me, and as a toddler my son didn’t stop me reading it like he did today at 4.

Ollie’s Easter Eggs (a Gossie & Friends book) by Olivier Durea is a cute book about friends working hard to dye their Easter eggs, well all but one Ollie who is playing and looking incredibly adorable in bunny ears while the others work hard. However Ollie may have missed out on dyeing the eggs but he makes up for it by masterminding a true egg hunt! My 4 year old son loved this book and how sneaky Ollie was as he snatched the hidden dyed eggs and re hid them! Cute addition to this popular series.

Where Are Baby’s Easter Eggs? by Karen Katz is a great way of having an Easter egg hunt while reading a story. If you aren’t familiar with the ” Where are Baby’s …” series of life the flap books, they are simple books where the reader searches for an item finding other things first before finally finding the title object, in this case Easter eggs. My daughter loves these books and plays with them even when we aren’t reading them together. I love the bright illustrations and the simple holiday theme.

The Biggest Easter Basket Ever
by Steven Kroll is another story about cooperation and how two helpful hands are better than one, and a whole bunch of hands is way better! Clayton and Desmond both want to win the town’s biggest Easter basket competition but after making their own baskets they sneak a peek at the competition and realize they don’t stand out. Luckily as the story progresses they figure out working together is key. My son loved this book but some younger friends ( young 4 year olds) lost interest in the middle. I love this author and I love how working together is presented in a practical way instead of simply because it’s the right thing because I think the former is easier for young kids to grasp.

Peter Rabbit’s Happy Easter

by Grace Maccarone is an interesting tale about how Peter Rabbit became the Easter Bunny. The book has a few loose ends I really wish would be tied up but before I get to that let me give you a quick taste of the book. The story is how Peter wants to make his mom forgive him for being naughty so he steals ( although he doesn’t see it that way) eggs from neighboring farms to give her as a gift. Before he gives them to her paint falls on them and they get colored all different beautiful colors. His mom tells him not to steal and so he returns them at night becoming the Easter Bunny. Ok here are my issues…I don’t mind naughty characters, in fact I usually really enjoy them but sneaking back to return something you stole without apologizing left a bad taste. I know why the author wrote it like that to turn him into the Easter Bunny but it still didn’t sit well with me. The illustrations by David McPhail really stole the show , I thought they were beautiful.

The Story of Easter by Patricia A. Pingry was the text I was expecting and hoping What is Easter would have. I am just glad it will be added to our family library soon. This book does a fantastic job at explaining the holiday of Easter, it’s origins and traditions on the level of kids still young enough to read a board book. It doesn’t hurt that the church in it looks identical to ours and my son was so excited that our church was in the book! I also appreciated the diversity in the illustrations .

Easter books

The Best Easter Eggs Ever!
by Jerry Smath is my favorite book in this pack . The story follows the Easter bunny and his 3 young assistant bunnies as they prepare for their big day. The Easter Bunny is getting tired and a little bored of his polka dot design for the eggs and decides to send out his assistants in search of new designs. The little bunnies head out with one egg and paints to all different places to find inspiration. When one of the little bunnies is captivated by the night sky she doesn’t notice how dark it is and how lost she has gotten. The Easter Bunny and his other assistants find her and in the morning the new designs are celebrated. My son loves an inside look at any sort of secret place like the Easter Bunny’s or Santa’s workshop so he was drawn into this book immediately. I liked the illustrations and how detailed they were , it certainly got me excited about Easter.

easter books for kids

The Night Before Easter
by Natasha Wing is a Easter version of the classic “Twas The Night Before Christmas” . With fun pictures and an Easter Bunny so joyful I wanted to apply for his job this book was a hit at our house. My son was engaged through the whole book guessing at the rhymes and listening intently from one page to the next. Of all the books this was the only one that really engaged my toddler as well. She pointed out animals and loved the little boy in the book. Great Easter book.

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What We’ve Been Reading

I thought it would be fun to showcase the books that have gotten the most “air time” at our house this week in a post. Leave a comment and tell us what you have been reading! UPDATE – do not miss the comments for book ideas and a discussion about when to introduce chapter books and why pushing them is not a good idea.

 

Doggies by Sandra Boynton has been one of my daughter’s favorite books for ages. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s a simple counting book about dogs, their different barks and one pesky cat. Toddlers love barking along with it so it’s a great book for places where they don’t have to be shushed, it’s not a great one for quiet only places like a church service.

Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers and Marla Frazee

This  book celebrates all sorts of babies and all the every day things babies do.  My daughter points out all the babies on each page as I read the rhyming text . So maybe you are thinking ” What’s so great about babies and text that rhymes?” nothing, that isn’t what makes this book so awesome. I love this book because of it’s diversity, inclusion, and acceptance of all babies and families.  The illustrations are full of depictions of all sorts of families showering their smallest most precious member with love . What I adore about the diversity of the illustrations is that readers are left to put whatever assumption we wish on the families in the book. What I assumed were two mommies my husband thought was a husband and wife, I thought a lady was a grandma and my son said it was just a older mom. This is why I love this book, my daughter doesn’t see why this message is outstanding, what she does see is all sorts of happy babies in all sorts of  families being the norm and this is the world we want her to know.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling . My husband has just started reading book 2 in this series to my son at bedtime and they are hooked!  They finished the first book a few months ago and we took a break before book 2.  I love the whole Harry Potter series and it hasn’t been without much discussion between my husband and I on how we are going to space out the books. If you have read them you know that the subjects age and mature as the characters do by a school year with each book. I encourage parents to read any book that they are going to share with their young kids first to make sure it won’t scare or upset your child as well as to make sure it fits with your family. What I love so much about these books is that JK Rowling has created such a thick and detailed world and it grips even kids that don’t normally get into books as much as it does little bookworms!

LEGO Star Wars Character Encyclopedia was the most loved 5th birthday gift my son received.  I can not tell you how much my son loves this book and as someone who adores reference materials herself I can’t say I blame him. I love this book too, it’s helping me speak his language and know who and what he’s talking about all the time. So like the cover says  it’s a character encyclopedia, there is no story, instead every page is dedicated to one Star Wars character turned mini figure. Now most of the text tells you about the Lego sets the mini figure comes in , variations on the mini figure and when it first appeared in the toy. However there is still a great description of the characters and huge illustrations of each. The small amount of text is perfect for my son and since he is into the characters not the collector like details he simply skips that without missing out on anything. I should say that this unlike the previous books is not a leveled reader. If I was making a guess I would say that it’s geared towards the average 8-10 year old. I definitely have to help and or read the majority of this book, especially the more obscure Star Wars names. I love that we can read a little or read a lot and that the book is not such a heavy volume because I have a feeling it will be the book of choice at night for months to come!

Locked On by Tom Clancy. This book is the newest Kindle download keeping my husband entertained as he commutes to and from work. An avid Tom Clancy fan he says it’s a typical installment in Clancy’s suspenseful spy novel genre. All I know is the Kindle is open more and when I am writing posts for the next day he is engrossed in this.

I can’t lie I haven’t read a book in months, although I do think I pinned a few to read later. I love Pinterest but I need a good novel to get me to stop working into the wee hours.  So I ask you what have you read? Leave a comment telling us what you have been reading at your house  ( kids and adults) and maybe someone else will get inspired to dive into a great novel.

Summer Reading Challenge -10,000 Books!

We have read over 10000 books!  I am giddy as I type this because you are all doing so well remembering to read during your busy summer days.  Remember that reading comes in many forms and ebooks count too! If you need a great free picture book App try MeMeTales E-Reader , we have been working with MeMeTales and love their content as well as passion for making reading fun in all forms.

If you haven’t joined our Summer Reading Challenge yet you are not too late. All the details are here but the gist of it is that you read with your kids, tally up how many books you have read, submit a tally sheet once per submission period ( see below) and then you are automatically entered to win a $50 Amazon.com gift card at the end of the summer. Pretty cool!

Submission Periods :

June 3-9th , 10th -16th , 17th- 23rd , 24th-30th

July 1st-7th , 8th-14th, 15th- 21st , 22nd-28th

July 29th – August 4th

August 5th-11th , 12th-18th , 19th -25th.

The winner will be drawn on the 26th of August.

Submit Your Tally Here