Bubble Wrap Starfish Craft

star fish craft

A great way to get children interested in science is to go on field trips to learn first hand. I like to take my children somewhere exciting every Friday then use our trip as a launching pad for more learning with books and of course a creative craft.  Last week we went to our local aquarium and checked out a new octopus, some jelly fish ,  crabs and of course starfish! For the craft when we came home we used both bubble wrap for my preschooler and a easier to manipulate tool for my toddler. I am always happy when we can find crafts that work with both kids at the same time.

    1. Take a trip to your local aquarium, beach or even a pet store and check out some sea life!
    2. Gather your materials. You will need some paper ( we love using grocery bags), self stick bubble wrap ( regular works too but man was the self stick awesome), paint, a plate for the paint, marker, toilet paper roll and scissors. If you are doing this with toddlers you may also want a dish scrubber with a handle.
    3. Start by drawing a starfish on your paper. I taped the paper bag right down to the table with painters tape to use it as a drop cloth and project all in one. I had one kid at each end of the table.
    4. Cut your bubble wrap so it wraps around your toilet paper roll. The self stick stayed on like magic , I am in love. I swear this post isn’t sponsored by the bubble wrap company .
    5. Choose your paint colors and pour into a plate. Not too much or the bubble wrap won’t show. Roll the bubble wrap in.
    6. Roll it on your starfish.
    7. We never get sick of how awesome bubble wrap prints are, and we’ve made a few over the years!
    8. Now for the wee ones. I gave her the same plate and let her smack her star with the scrubber. As you can see it did go to her lips but because it’s harder plastic all she could do was lick it. This is why I don’t sponge paint with her yet, she could bite off a piece and choke. Another tip for babies and toddlers, keep some stained clothes for art time, many will refuse a smock and it’s easier to get a good fit with clothes.
    9. Let dry and cut out.

Books About The Ocean

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A House for Hermit Crab is a book I have owned for many years. It offers so many learning opportunities for young readers and doesn’t loose any of the entertainment in trying to hard to teach. The hermit crab feels drab and each month he asks different sea creatures to help decorate his shell . As the shell is getting more and more beautiful it’s also getting more and more snug and almost time for the hermit crab to leave it behind and find a bigger one.  The book teaches about sea creatures, months of the year and moving. More than moving it teaches about change . Change is  difficult for all of us but a little trickier for most preschoolers which makes this book so valuable

Hooray for Fish!: Candlewick Storybook Animations by Lucy Cousins gets are huge “Hooray” from our house. I thought my son would think this book was a little young for him. He’s started saying board books are for babies, and he’s a big boy and even though this isn’t a board book it’s simple, big and bright like one. Nope, he loved it. Little Fish takes the readers on a tour of all the different kinds of fish , the bright fun illustrations are so interesting to look at , and choose your favorite fish on each page. The rhymes are fun and when we finished reading my son immediately asked to read it again! Edited for 2011 – now that he is almost 5 he flatly refused to read this with me but his sister who is 14 months liked it!

Way Down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea by Jan Peck is about a little boy swimming in the “deep” looking for treasure. Along the way he encounters different sea animals and greets and says good bye to each before swimming away on his treasure hunt. The cute kicker is that all along the little boy is really in his bath tub and the animals are just toys. I liked the twist and so did my son who then requested a laundry basket to play bath, funny how he didn’t actually want a bath… a mom can dream! Edited for 2011 – my son re discovered this book as we were setting up the playroom in our new house. It’s still a hit with him after 2 years.

Books About Knights

knight books for kids

We love knights!  I am so thankful that my son is interested in knights because not only are there lots of story books about them, there are fantastic non fiction choices too. Here are our  reviews of a few books about knights that we have read recently.

books about being different

Small Knight and George by Ronda Armitage is a gem! This story is funny, cute and a great message about not being what we think we should be but rather who we truly are. Small Knight is not so sure about being, brave and fighting but he does know how to make a friend. When he sets out to slay a dragon he ends up befriending one. A great book for all kids . Even though my son is presently all about battles and weapons he still likes and relates to this more peaceful story of a knight. As soon as I read it to him I was searching for the next in the series.

Imagine You’re a Knight! by Meg Clibbon is a fantastic book for children interested in what being a knight is all about. There are so many great details and answers given that I am eager to read more in this series. My son loves this book and not just because it answers his many questions about knights but also because it’s the type of book that you can open and close as time permits , reading a little or a lot and still enjoying it. I like the humor and illustrations by Lucy Clibbon. It’s a great choice for 4 and older. 3 year olds might find it to be too much.

Knights & Castles (Insiders) by Phillip Dixon is a visually stunning book. This is not a book intended for preschoolers . But kids eager to learn more about medieval life, how castles were constructed and the realities of being a knight ( and other social positions) will appreciate it.  I urge parents to read through it first because it’s geared towards older elementary through adult and explains the history in great ( not necessarily preschool appropriate) detail.  My son loves this book, mostly due to the incredibly illustrations that offer a look back in time.  As a mom who has a degree in history I adore these books but make sure to read it with him to explain the more complex information that is included.

The Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke is a tale about a princess named Violet who was raised with her 3 older brothers  by her father after her mother dies in childbirth. Her brothers are trained to be knights and she to learns to joust , ride horses and sword fighting.  Her brothers ( like most) tease her and tell her that she’ll never be as strong and it’s a maid who tells her that she won’t be as strong but she can be smarter. That message stood way out for me and is why I think this is such a great book. When her father sets up a tournament for Violet’s hand in marriage she takes things into her own hands. She shows everyone how she is smarter than all the other knights and with hard work trains to  win her own hand in marriage . I love this book not only as a great empowering one for girls but also to show boys that girls don’t have to fit a specific mold either.

My Favorite Michael Laura Heiman is such a wonderful book about pretend play. In it a little boy Michael dresses up as all sorts of roles from business man to knight to pirate. Eventually he pops out with no costume and his mom tells him that she likes him as all those other roles but that this everyday Michael is her favorite. Kids who love to dress up and get deep into pretend play will like this book. My son who is almost never without his sword and shield and loved this book, since taking it out of the library a few days ago it’s been read many many times.

The Bravest Knight by Mercer Mayer had my son smiling on the edge of his seat until the end. The story is about a little boy who imagines he’s a knight living a thousand years ago. He imagines he is a squire who is loyal to a knight and even saves the knight from time to time. My son loved this, especially the part about the squire saving the knight. Then in the end the knight battles a troll and dies. You don’t see it but after that the little boy decides maybe living back then wouldn’t be so cool. I was like really Mercer Mayer? He’s dead? What?! I totally didn’t pre-read it either ( will I ever learn??) and my son was stunned.  Thankfully my resilient bossy 4 year old  announced I needed to turn back the page and re read it saying the knight was just inside eating . So yeah we loved most of the book.

Take Care, Good Knight by Shelley Moore Thomas such a sweet book about three little dragons who agree to cat sit a wizard’s pets and the Good Knight who helps them get it right. The story is filled with mishaps when the dragons who can’t read yet try to figure out the wizard’s written instructions. The outcome is hilarious and will have your children giggling. I also love the message about using pictures to give clues for reading, but to remember to ask “Does this make sense?”

5 Great Children’s Book Authors

Parents often ask me which books they should be reading to thier kids. My answer is always books that their kids like. Reading is so important and making it fun and enjoyable right away is a great step in the journey to making your children life long readers. Which is why I love doing themed book reviews so you can easily find great books that suit your child’s interests. That said I do have some favorite authors I want to share, here are my 5 of my favorites.

Todd Parr

What I love about Todd Parr is that his books are incredibly inclusive. Every child can relate to some character in his books and his use of bright colors make his books a fun read for all ages. My favorites are the I Love You Book and The Family Book.

Anne Rockwell

There are a few authors that I always check for when I go to the library, Anne Rockwell is one of those. Her books are usually simple and many like her adorable book President’s Day bridge the divide between fiction and non fiction, telling a story while explaining facts as well.

Robert Munsch

No author’s work have created such discussion here as Munsch’s  I Love You Forever. It seems like everyone either loves or hates that book, but I am not suggesting this author based on that book. I am including Robert Munsch because of all his other books like Stephanie’s Ponytail, The Paper Bag Princess and Zoom that tell stories of strong girls and are hilarious. He writes smart funny boy characters too, but I adore his sassy strong girls.

Kevin Henkes

No other author writes about children’s frailties, anxieties and inner voice the way Henekes does. I love how accepting his books are, how sensitive the parents in his books are and the humor put in only for parent readers. Wemberly Worried is a great book for the first day of school , Julius The Baby of The World was one of my favorites for preparing my son for becoming a big brother and Shiela Rae The Brave is one of my son’s absolute favorite books ever.

Eric Carle

Did you think I could possibly leave him out? Don’t be discouraged by the marketing of  The Very Hungry Caterpillar in shampoo, pillow cases, birthday cards… there is a reason people want these products, because the book is fantastic, as is the author/ artist. While the debatably over exposed Caterpillar is my favorite book I also love the Grouchy Ladybug for teaching time and House For A Hermit Crab for teaching about months of the year and even moving . That’s what I love about Carle, his simple books have such depth of teaching possibilities.

 Who is your favorite picture book author?

Picture Books About School

Whenever a big change is on the horizon my first place to turn to is the library to grab books that will help explain, ease anxiety and excite my kids. These school themed books are perfect for going to school for the first time or heading back after a fun summer off.

Maisy Goes to Preschool: A Maisy First Experiences Book by Lucy Cousins is not groundbreaking , it’s text is very formulaic but that doesn’t matter to most young readers who are being introduced to preschool for the first time. My daughter loved this book and my son loved helping me read it to her. It was sweet to see my son tell his little sister all about what she will do at preschool between reading. The book covers all the basics and one thing that really stood out was the page showing Maisy and other students in the potty. The reason I liked this was that for many children a big step at the same time as starting preschool is potty training. The bright colors absolutely thrilled my toddler.

First Year Letters by Julie Danneberg is a really great book about a new , eager teacher and her loyal class. My son loved this book because it was filled with funny mishaps during a teacher’s first year of teaching. The mishaps include runaway pets, falling buffalo, visits from the fire department not once but twice, and more every day things like barf. If you have a child like mine that thinks barf is funny, they will love it. I love the premise, letters written by students much like journal entries with coordinating illustrations. It made me want to get back to teaching and my son asked me if he’d get to have a teacher like that some day. I hope he does!

Miss Mingo and the First Day of School by Jamie Harper is a delightful book. Miss Mingo is a flamingo and teacher who wants to know about her students on the first day of school. She starts the exercise by sharing some fun facts about being a flamingo , like why she is pink, and before you know it the whole class of different animals are sharing. This book not only shows kids that it’s okay to share about themselves but it is full of fun facts about animals in the fine print. I learned something I never knew about a Narwhal! It is a bit long for a toddler but each page highlights new animals and it’s easy to skip a few for those that aren’t ready for a book of this length. This is going on my buy list!

The Babies on the Bus by Karen Katz made my daughter squeal at the bookstore when we read it . She loves babies and this book was full of them. The text is the song ” Wheels on the Bus” tweaked a little to be babies on the bus and illustrated with Karen Katz’s adorable babies.  I can not read it without singing though so I sang it loud and proud in Barnes and Noble to my delighted daughter.

I Love School! by Philemon Sturges is a great simple book. I am a fan of this author and his basic books that kids love. He manages to cover all the things that happen at school from the start to the end of the day in an easy rhyming text. What makes this book stand out for me is that the boys and girls were both playing with dolls, something that you see in classrooms every day but rarely in books, it was a nice touch.

Books About The Human Body

Parts by Tedd Arnold is so funny. Readers follow along as a 5 year old boy begins noticing things about his body he’d never noticed before like belly button lint, snot, peeling skin and more. His anxious assumptions about his body falling apart will have you in stitches. My 2 year old laughed and got most of the humor but slightly older children will be laughing hysterically at how silly the little boy’s worries are.

Germs Make Me Sick! (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) (Reading Rainbow book) by Melvin Berger was a fascinating read that had my son who is 4.5 interested from cover to cover. It explains in detail how human bodies react to germs, including fighting them off, needing to go to the doctor to get medicine and how not to get them in the first place. I really enjoyed reading this with him, relating the info to his own experiences with germs and talking about how to stay healthy.  Another great book in my favorite science series for kids.

Is This My Nose? by Georgie Birkett is a board book that is perfect for babies and toddlers. The text is short and repetitive and asks the reader to find different body parts and praises the when they do. I read this to my son when he was 2.5  expecting him to proclaim it for babies, instead he lit up and showed me happily where all the body parts were. He loved it.

Here Are My Hands by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault is another book that takes the reader through different body parts and what they do. We enjoyed reading it and taking time to do the things that each body part was assigned to do. The page with ears bugs me though, I understand that saying ears are for washing and drying is a cute take on “wash behind your ears” but even at 2 my son looked at me and said ” No ears hear!”. Over all though we enjoyed this book and the big illustrations by Ted Rand that span two pages.

A Drop of Blood (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) by Paul Showers is a fun vampire themed book about the circulatory system and more specifically what is in blood. I admit I learned a ton from this book and my son loved not only the cool facts like how much blood babies , kids and adults have in their bodies but also the fun illustrations.  Reading this one with “Germs Make Me Sick” works well and while there is some overlap they support each other well and your child will get a good grasp of the basic facts shared in both books.