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.

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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!

Sensory Alphabet Activities

by Katy
Sensory Alphabet Activity
One of the best ways to help a child learn is to have them use more than one sense at the same time.  I’m guessing that’s one of the reasons why Allie is so passionate about doing crafts with kids–all kinds of senses are engaged, which makes learning easier and also fun. It can be hard, though, when your child has issues that prevent them from participating in crafts.  Today I’m sharing three ways to do the alphabet with kids with limited motor skills although I think they would be fun for all kids.
Alphabet StampsSensory Alphabet Activity

I bought a pack of foam letters at Walmart for one dollar and turned them into two activities.  First, I used them as stamps and let Charlie stamp on a sheet of paper.  As we’re stamping out the letter, it’s good to name it and tell your child the sound it makes.
I then took the foam pieces and glued them to a piece of cardboard to make an alphabet puzzle.  Since Charlie’s aim is rough, I put all the letters in and then let him pull them out.  I let him decided which letter looked good and then I would again, name the letter he was touching and say it’s sound aloud.
Big LettersSensory Alphabet Activity
This activity is also great for improving fine motor skills–I don’t completely understand the relationship between big motions and improving fine motor, but multiple therapists have told me this, so I’m going to believe them.  Take a sheet of paper and put it up on your refrigerator. Give your child a crayon or marker and help them make BIG letters on the paper.  I found that Charlie was able to make some c-like motions, which is pretty impressive for him.  Children with poor neck control often do better when activities are propped up in front of them because it requires less head control.
Sugar Writing
4
You can also use sand, but sugar is easier for me to find.  Pour about half a cup of sugar into a baking pan.  If you can find one with a dark finish, then that will work great.  Help your child form letters in the sugar with their fingers.  This was probably Charlie’s favorite activity of the bunch–probably because it was one of the few that he was allowed to taste!
As always, don’t be discouraged if you try and activity and your child doesn’t like it.  All children are picky and special needs kids can often be intimidated by new experiences.  Experiment with different ideas, try activities multiple times, and remember that not every activity is going to be a hit.
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Katy is a mom of one who loves art, mystery novels, and anything involving peanut butter–she blogs about raising her little miracle at Bird on the Street.