Reader Q&A

Tara Asked : What is your monthly crafty budget?

In all honesty I don’t have one.  When I brainstorm ideas and need specific supplies , like the apples and acorns in my Back To School Sensory Tub I try to balance those out with crafts that I don’t have to buy anything for . Also when I brainstorm I open my horrifically messy art closet and look at supplies so I use what I have before running out to buy more of what I don’t. I try to do this for readers too, using the same supplies over and over for different activities so that if they have gone out and bought a more costly supply that they too will get a lot of use out of it.

That doesn’t answer your question well though, if I had to estimate I would guess $20 a month, with some being $0 and others $35 or $40.

Casey asked : Are you sending your son to public school, private school, or homeschooling? What factors influenced your decision?

I will be sending my children to public school.  To be frank it wasn’t a hard decision for me, I am a true believer in public education and while I support any parent’s desire and will to homeschool I have no personal desire to be my children’s teacher. We live in an area with good public schools and are planning a move to a district that we are even more impressed with our options.  Both my husband and I had wonderful public educations and experiences going to public schools so that influenced us for sure. Deciding which route to go depends on so many factors and the individual child but at this point public is our plan.

Allison asked : What are the best crafts and activities to keep a 2 year old entertained and help them learn colors, shapes and letters?

The average 2 year old wants to move, explore and is not really into staying still or working on detailed long activities at a table. So get up, get moving and find active activities that can incorporate their need for movement and independence and your desire for teaching.  My favorites :

Nature Color Match

Gold Hunt

Sound Safari

Also as far as crafts go stick to more open ended activities until they show a real interest in it, then try some more structured crafts with firm steps.  A fun easy way to teach colors is to let them choose their paint colors, spend time mixing colors to paint with too ! Here are a few fun ones:

Animal Tracks

Pot Scrubber Painting

Open Ended Painting

Jennifer Asked: What do you do with your sons craft projects once completed?

In general I recycle what I can and throw the rest out. I do take pictures of them and put them together into photo books though.  However this year was the first year that he went to preschool and I save all of that and made a scrap book with big binder rings and heavy weight construction paper. I can’t take credit for that though , that was a planned project at a parent night for his school.

For those of you looking to limit what your child asks to display a suggestion I have is to have a display area ( fridge, clothes line, frame) and simply make a one in one out rule. If you are looking to keep everything the giant ziploc bags are great, you can throw everything in there and pop it under a bed, or even in a garage, as long as it’s sealed things won’t get damp.

Jennifer Asked : What type of activity is the most important ( besides reading) for a one year old?

Personally I think that sensory activities are the most important if I had to choose just one. At 12-24  months children are exploring their world through their senses in ways that we simply do not.  It’s important we provide them with all different experiences to taste, touch, smell, hear and see. I would stay clear of structured crafts in general at this age , focusing on open ended experiences that are focused only on the process. Don’t forget to talk to them while playing, so often caregivers are quiet and really it should be the opposite. Narrate as you explore , label items you are using, colors, letters and speak for them too . Language development is a huge part of this age group and if you don’t talk to them how will they learn?

She also asked : How much time should be spent reading for older children?

I wouldn’t make a minimum time so much as find a way to fit reading into your daily schedule in at least two places. The reason I say 2 is because if your schedule is disrupted you will likely still manage to hit one of the two reading times even with a disruption.  In our house we read at nap time and bedtime ( on no nap days we read at lunch or bath time)  and randomly in between as well.  3 books minimum at each. For an older child who is reading on their own you can make a time requirement during these times , I would double their age for minutes at each reading time ( 12 minutes for a 6 year old, 20 for a 10 year old etc…) that is the minimum.

Thanks for your questions , if i didn’t get to yours  I will pop it in the next Readers Q&A !

Summer Reading Challenge – Enter Tonight!

Join in on the  Summer Reading Challenge even  if you haven’t participated yet you can still get in on the action! It’s so simple and all about spending time reading with your kids.  Read 10 books or more with your children each week, fill out this form ( one per child), and you are automatically entered to win not just the weekly Alphabet Crafts eBook but also the Amazon.com gift card giveaway at the end of the summer.  How simple is that?  If your child is infatuated with one book and that’s all you read, not a problem if you read it 10 or more times , it counts! Our goal is to make reading with your child a part of your daily routine ( hopefully the best part!) , not see who can read the most variety of books.

For this weeks drawing for the Alphabet Crafts eBook you need to get your entry in by 12 AM PDT ( midnight tonight) Monday June 26th . Good Luck!

Recycled Alphabet Craft

Scrap paper , magazines and catalogs all crowd my recycle bin. So today I put them all to work for me and made this recycled alphabet craft using only one piece of paper that hadn’t been rescued from the bin. It’s fun, bright and makes a great long term cooperative art project for young kids. Pull it out when it’s rainy and search for a few letters in a magazine, glue them on and add some more another day. I like projects like these because they teach young kids how be committed to something over more than 20 minutes. Also in classrooms these long term cooperative projects always seemed to be the greatest sources of pride for my students.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need one large piece of paper, some construction paper scraps, glue, a pen, some magazines/catalogs and scissors.
  2. Start by cutting your construction paper into squares ( or any other shape)- this just makes a fun frame, you can skip this and simply glue the letters onto the paper too.
  3. Glue them on. This is a fun way to get your child counting to 26, as well as figuring out how to fit all on one page. If your child is really young I would probably do this before bringing them into the activity, just so their energy is on the letters, not the set up.
  4. Write the alphabet on the construction paper squares.
  5. Cut some letters out of the magazines for your child if they need help. I did this for every age group I worked with up until school age.  They are still challenged looking for the individual letters but not frustrated by looking for them in magazines that may or may not have what they need. * Tip … auto magazines are great for these activities, because of the abundance of car makes with Z, Q and X  letters that are usually a pain to find.
  6. Start adding the letters on. Go for as long as your child wants.  This does not need be be done in one sitting!
  7. To make it more challenging for older kids have them find only upper or only lowercase letters.

Alphabet Books

ABC of Canada by Kim Bellefontaine is a cute little book that is a perfect little introduction about Canada for toddlers and preschoolers. The text is short, the colors are bright and the illustrations are both fun and accurate. I was happy to see things like the northern lights, Calgary Stampede and of course Z is for Zamboni ! Even if you have never been to Canada it’s never too early to learn about your neighbor to the north!

The Alphabet Tree is a stunning book. The book is all about letters that come together to make words and then after a caterpillar informs them that they need to say something they join together to make sentences. Up to this point the book is a brilliant teaching tool , but for me the best part is yet to come. When the words get together they decide to say ” Peace on earth goodwill toward all men” and then the caterpillar asks them to jump on his back so he can take the words to the president . Considering it was written in 1968 it’s quite the statement. A fantastic activity to do with your child after reading this would be to ask them what they would write to the president ? For younger children using letters on leaves you could spell out easy 3 letter words like they do early on in the story. All in all a brilliant book.

The Graphic Alphabet by David Pelletier is a fun book to share with a child who has already mastered the alphabet, because this book is challenging. Each letter is shown in it’s own illustration, but you aren’t sure exactly what the picture is of, this is the challenge. As you can see on the cover it has an avalanche, the hardest one for me was N no matter how I looked at the picture I thought it was of magnets! Turns out it was noodles! Very fun book for kids that already know their letters and are up for a challenge.

Want more Alphabet Crafts? Check out my Alphabet Crafts eBook and you will have a craft for every letter!

Children’s Beach Books !

by Carrie Anne

Hello summer! With the warmer weather upon us in I find water seems be be a bigger part of our daily lives now. We drink more of it. We play in more of it. We visit and enjoy more of it. Although my family lives in a big city, we’re walking distance to a great lake and we visit it often. The water, whether it’s the lake or ocean or beach, is a great place to explore and cool down and have fun. I’ve compiled a few great water themed books to get your family ready for your next beach or water adventure.
At the Beach
Written and illustrated by Anne and Harlow Rockwell
Published by MacMillan Publishing
(age 3-5)
A little girl visits the beach with her mom. She plays in the sand, hunts for shells, takes a swim before she settles in to a nice beach lunch. A visit to the beach can be a full day and this story gives the reader a great description of what to expect. This is great for young kids who haven’t been to the beach. It explains using a young girl’s point of view what you bring to beach and what you can expect to do once you’re there. The illustrations are muted and warm and fill the page and included our young red-haired beach girl enjoying herself in each one.

Written and illustrated by Holly Keller
Published by Harper Collins
(age 3-5)
Miranda and her mom spend a warm, sunny day at the Beach enjoying the water, the animals and the sand. Miranda experiences the beach with all her senses: feeling the hot sand under her toes and the water swirl around her, hearing the roar of the waves as they wash on the shore and the seagulls squawk in the air above, tasting the salty sand that sticks to her face, seeing the small Hermit crab skuttle across the sand. My kids loved reading this book; it had the ability of transporting them to the beach right from the living room. The illustrations are warm, muted water-colourings that add to the whole beach feel.

Beach
Written and illustrated by Elisha Cooper
Published by Orchard Books
(3-9)
Go to the beach and sit back and just watch the day unfold, that’s what this book is like. It starts off early in the morning, with just the unmarked sand and rolling waves but quickly it fills with people: a woman spreads a towel on the sand, a girl covers her friend in sand, seagulls hover overhead watching. The book is like mini stories all collected in small images. There’s a page that talks about the clouds that roll by and the different shapes they form. Eventually people leave and the beach is quiet again. I love this book. I love the water-colours and how the story builds from a quiet morning to a full beach day back to quiet again. The other thing that is nice about how this story is written, you don’t have to read every single piece. Each little image is a little story unto itself.
Stella, Star of the Sea
Written and illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
Published by Groundwood Books
(2-4)
Stella and Sam are spending the day at the beach. Stella is older and she’s been to the beach once before and knows all its secrets. Stella enthusiastically takes charge of the surroundings, exploring and enjoying everything the beach has to offer without hesitation: diving in the water, collecting shells, digging a tunnel to China. Sam on the other hand has never been to the beach and approaches things a little cautiously, asking if the water’s cold or if sea monsters live beneath the waves. Questions aside, after he’s been schooled by Stella and sees how much fun she’s having, he too relaxes and joins her in the water. Not only is this a great book about visiting the beach for the first time, Sam asks questions that first time beach goers might ask, but the relationship of big sister, little brother between Stella and Sam is wonderful and feels very natural.
Octopus Oyster Hermit Crab Snail: A Poem of the Sea
Written and illustrated by Sara Anderson
Published by Handprint Books
(6-9)
This wonderful poem takes underneath the cerulean seas to visit angelfish, barnacles, blowfish and more wonderful creatures. The text is large and the rhyme will have kids guessing what comes next. The pages are filled with colourful creatures, created in a style that almost resembles a collage. The creatures references in this book won’t be ones they’ll see at the beach but the whole unknown world beneath the water is fascinating. And they might just discover some creatures they’ve never heard of before. Although the book is rated by the publisher as being for grade school, the short poem, colourful imagery and great fish vocabulary will entrance younger readers too.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Carrie Anne is a contributing writer on No Time For Flash Cards , she is a mom of 3 , Managing editor of EverythingMom.com and an avid reader. You can catch up with her on her blog  Another Day. Another Thought…Or Two

Congrats to this week’s winners!

Rachelle Ferris, Dionne Johnston , Beth Latshaw, Michelle Mark and Rebecca Stegall.

Wondering what they won? They won a copy of my Alphabet Crafts eBook just for participating in our Summer Reading Challenge. It’s not too late to join in, check out the details here.

Thanks to all the participants – we have read almost 5000 books with our kids so far this summer and it’s not even July yet!