Sunday Spotlight : Read and Win!

It’s the very last week to enter our summer reading challenge!  We have read over 7000 books with our kids this summer. Wow!  Even if you haven’t entered yet you have until midnight tonight to read 10 books and fill out this form .  Need more info? Want to know what the prizes are? Have fun reading and remember even on your busiest day make time for a snuggle and a book !

The weekly eBook prize and the grand prize an gift card will be drawn Monday.

Even More Counting Books

Counting books are multitaskers they entertain, they teach and they are often a little more interactive than your average story. I love them and am always happy to find a good one to share with my son.  Here are even more for you to share with yours.

Dinner at the Panda Palace by Stephanie Calmenson is a great book. I grabbed it only because of the title but found a gem. My son and I both loved it and had a blast reading it. The story is about a restaurant and the people , or rather animals that come into the restaurant in ever enlarging groups. The text is rhyming and well written. My son loved counting each group that came in figuring out after a few times that each group had one more animal than the previous group. It was a great opportunity to practice one to one correspondence as he counted on each page.  There was also a great message about there always being room for one more when all the chairs were taken and a mouse came knocking wondering if he could eat too!

On the Launch Pad: A Counting Book About Rockets by Michael Dahl was a great find, my son loved counting down from 12-1 with the bright illustrations , simple text and hidden numbers on each page. Something that seems simple but was really awesome was that each page had the number written as a word, shown as a digit and as dots to count. You can take the time to count each dot, read the word or simply recognize the digit!
One White Wishing Stone by Doris K. Gayzagian is a beautiful book. Visually it reminds me of an impressionist painting, the soft beach colors used by illustrator Kristina Swarner are calming and pretty. This is more than just a counting book, there is a story of a little girl at the beach,what she finds and how she plans to use them when she takes them home. It’s so beautifully done that it almost makes me forget how much I hate finding sand in my car after a trip to the beach.

museum 123

Museum 123 by The Metropolitan Museum Of Art is another simple but beautiful counting book.  What I love about this book is that the number is not shown on the same page as the objects the child is being asked to count. Instead a simple question of how many is followed by a painting with the objects, and the next page has a large number. My son loved counting then flipping the page exclaiming ” I knew it , I said that number I was right!” My only complaint is that it only went to 10!

One, Two, Three by Tom Slaughter is super simple, bold, bright, and a great counting book!  This isn’t a complex book, pictures matter because they should encourage the reader to want to count and connect the number they have counted with the number printed on the page.  I would happily recommend this book to families with babies through preschoolers , my 3 year old loved it and partly because he read all the pictures and numbers himself!

Recycled Apple Craft

apple craft for kidsI warned you I am crazy about apples right now, I can’t help it as more kids head back-to-school apples jump to my mind !  This week won’t all be apple themed here but over at my blog it is. So if you are looking for more ideas check it out!  This craft is awesome because it requires almost no supplies, and it’s safe to assume most of us have paper rolls around the house. Oh and it’s so cute! These could also be used for cute apple napkin rings, a useful craft.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a toilet paper roll, red and green paint, a sponge paint brush ( any brush or even fingers will work but sponges work best!), scissors and glue.
  2. Start by cutting your roll into rings, you can make think or thin.
  3. Cut 1 or 2 into strips ( these will be made into the leaves).
  4. Paint the rings red, inside and out. Let dry.
  5. Paint the strips green. Let dry.
  6. When the paint is dry cut the strips into leaf shapes.
  7. Bend the bottom.
  8. Add glue
  9. Stick it on the red ring!


The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall is a cute look at a year in the life of an apple tree from the perspective of a little girl. From the bare branches of Winter to the pretty flowers in Spring we follow along not only with the tree but with a family of robins as they develop along with the fruit. The illustrations by Shari Halpern are so expressive that a child could easily read the pictures and enjoy this book independently even if they aren’t reading yet. I dare you to read this and not consider making apple pie after, if you need a recipe there is one at the end of the book!

Apples, Apples, Apples by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace will not be returned to the library on time. We got it out today and my son has had me read it to him 3 times, and his dad read it twice. Clearly it gets the 3 year old seal of approval. It also gets mine. The story is more than just a story about a family going apple picking at an orchard. It explains all sorts of apple facts but what I really love is that it also explains that there are different kinds of apples and each are used for different things. Since each member of the family is using their apples for different purposes that fact is driven home . Great book for preschoolers going on a apple picking field trip , making applesauce or apple prints ( psst check back for a craft in a few days!).

One Red Apple by Harriet Ziefert 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 each time you do you find some little detail you missed before.

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 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!