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

Easter Books

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 snachted 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 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 .

DIY Board Book About Feelings

make your own board book for babies

My son and I had a blast making this photo board book for my 9 month old daughter. Not only is the book entertaining for her , creating it was a lesson about emotions and giving to others for my son.  All in all it was a family project that gets played with a lot.

  1. Gather your materials .To start you will need to take photos of different emotions .  This is a great chance to talk about each of these feelings with your kids. I sat my son on the couch and we chatted between pictures. It was such a wonderful talk , we shared what makes us happy, sad, worried etc… and really listened to each other. We also made lots of silly faces!
  2. Now after printing out the pictures you will also need an old board book, contact paper, card stock , scissors, a marker and double stick tape. Let me explain why I used a book and paper instead of just laminating sleeves like I have before like for the Eye Spy Book.  My daughter likes to put the book in her mouth. I don’t let her just chew on it but the laminated pages can be really sharp if you get it at the right angle on sensitive gums. So I opted for the board book. If you are making this for older kids a simple laminated book would be great.
  3. Next write out the emotions with marker on the card stock ( of course if you have a printer you can just use it). Cut.
  4. Time to do the layout. My son helped choose the paper from our stash and I taped pieces of card stock on each page to cover the existing illustrations. Add the photo and emotion.
  5. Cover with contact paper . I cut mine so it covered the paper but didn’t go all the way to the edge .
  6. Fill the whole book.
  7. Make a cover page, I tried to get my son to help but he was busy playing pretend spy( Oh and that is my art closet packed up behind him… we are down to the basics until we move).
  8. Let your baby explore!  She lit up and unlike most books she didn’t immediately try to eat it. She gently explored touching her brother’s photos. Success!

** Safety Notice : Only you can decide what is safe for your baby. This book is made to be used with an adult caregiver , it is not a baby toy. **

DIY Eye-Spy Book

When I saw this post by Jenae over at I Can Teach My Child ( who will be a guest poster tomorrow so don’t miss it! ) my head was running with ideas on how to make something similar. I would be lying if I told you it was easy, maybe it would have been with no kids but I had an infant in my arms while taking every picture and a 4 year old helper wanting to “help”. However the results were pretty cool and it’s a great book to take to church or somewhere else where talking is frowned upon.  It’s been tested out by a handful of friends already and our Eye-Spy Book  was quite the hit at a playdate last week. So the effort was worth it. Here is how we made it.

  1. Gather your materials. This is a long list so take notes! I gathered a bunch of categories of my son’s toys. You can use anything for the pictures but I went with themes because it was easy to just grab bins from his room and the family room. You will also need some back drops. I chose plain Jane construction paper, you will need some foam letters and a camera. A good camera would be better but my point and shoot was OK.  Once the pictures are developed ( or printed out) you will need some self laminating pages, a hole punch, and some binder rings.
  2. Start by using the foam letters to write Can You Find and take a picture. This will be the cover page.
  3. Next do the first lay out.  Lay the toys you are looking for on the page.  I laid out the whole search page first then picked a few out to lay on the can you find page. Take a picture.
  4. Replace the objects you used and take a picture of the full lay out.
  5. Repeat this is a bunch of different toys.  I always used the same black paper with ” Can You Find ” in foam letters for the search page. It made the process quicker.
  6. I took this picture for the back cover.
  7. Have the pictures developed or print them out on your printer. 
  8. Time to laminate.  Now in my dream house I have a craft room with awesome natural light and a laminator. But in reality I have my kitchen and these cool laminator envelopes that are sorta tricky but they laminate so clearly without a machine that they are worth it. I had a few bubbles but nothing too bad.  Remember to laminate in order so 2 pictures front and back to each page.
  9. Punch holes.
  10. Pop the rings through and you are done! I like using the rings because I have plenty of room to add more pages.
  11. Time to find things! 

More I-Spy Crafts

I Spy BottlesI-Spy Bottle

I-Spy Bag

Author Showcase : Harriet Ziefert

At my local library ( where I get 90% of the books I review) I know where a handful of authors books are and Harriet Ziefert is one author I never forget to check when I am looking for new books. Her books are well written, sensitive to a child’s perspective and I feel good recommending her as an author not to miss to parents. Here are just a few of her many books for you to check out.

Beach Party! reminds me of “Head to Toe” by Eric Carle , and that comparison is a compliment. This large board book is a fun and cute way to introduce toddlers to movement as well as animals you find or want to avoid at the beach. The reader is asked how they want to walk today then they see how each animal moves. This would be a fun read for a circle time where kids could get up and move!

Hanukkah Haiku is a bright and cheery look at the traditions surrounding the holiday within the parameters of a haiku on every page. The illustrations by Karla Gudeon are so detailed I spent ages just looking at all of it. Each page is a haiku that goes along with a night of Hanukkah and it also explains briefly some of the other traditions like playing driedel , eating latkes and chocolate gold coins!

Hats off for the Fourth of July is a fantastic book for children who are just understanding what this holiday is all about. The book follows a parade with hints of what is next to come along, making the reader feel the same feelings real parade goer does as they stand on their tipy toes to see what is on it’s way. My son really enjoyed the book because it was packed with marching bands, motorcycles and more. My son will see his very first 4th of July parade tomorrow and this book helped me explain what he’ll see and when we get home it will help us discuss what we saw. Useful and entertaining.

One Red Apple is stunning. I really enjoy this author but most of my praise for this book lands squarely on the illustrator Karla Gudeon’s shoulders. WOW. I just adore the look, and creativity of this book. The story follows the cycle of one apple from orchard, to market back to seed, tree and back into the hands of a child. I enjoy books like this that simply explain the cycles of the natural world to young kids , but you can’t miss this one.  As I turned each page I gasped, it’s one of those books you just need to sit and look at because eqach time you do you find some little detail you missed before.

Snow Party is a magical book that celebrates the biggest holiday for snow people, the winter solstice. I wish I had had access to this book when I was teaching because it’s a perfect way to read a story about celebrations without focusing on one tradition, or leaving out another. The illustrations are beautiful and the idea of snow people eating and dancing in the middle of the night is delicious!