Favorite Early Learning Activities of 2012

favorite early learning activities 12 of 2012These are my favorite posts of 2012. This year has been an amazing one for No Time For Flash Cards and while our readers soared in numbers it doesn’t feel like the community was lost in the shuffle. Thank you for so much support and inspiration. Your comments, pins and likes fuel the fire that keeps us creating, reading and sharing.  These 12 posts are not the most popular ones ( check out the most popular ones here) , they were the 12 my kids seemed to connect with the most and that I was the most excited to share.

 

12. Emotional Snowmen. This post was the brilliant work of our contributing writer Kim Young. Talking to your kids about emotions doesn’t have to be a lecture especially with fun novel activities like this.

11. Move & Groove Alphabet Game. This gross motor letter game was such a huge hit with both my kids that I had to include it. It’s easy to make and a lot of fun to play too.

10. Rainbow Gelatin Sensory Tub . This took way more planning on my part than 99% of my ideas and it was well worth it. The kids loved it.

9. Alphabet Peg Dolls. This post is part of our Alphabet For Starters Series . I made the dolls but both my kids still play with them.

8. Sticky Table Art . What a simple idea but it kept my son intrigued for ages. It was so beautiful too.

7. Hot Chocolate Math . Math is bog around here but this simple tray idea has been used with and without marshmallows with basic math for my daughter or simple equations for my son.

6. Table Top Loose Parts. I can’t take credit for this idea but I will happily share it again. Loose parts is a fun open ended play with odds and ends and kids love it.

5. Listen and Find Word Search. I was so excited to introduce my son to a strategy I used with my 6th graders while student teaching. He loved it as much as they did.

4. Neighborhood Photo Safari and Book. My husband teases me that I love this one because of the firefighters . That may be part of ti but the real reason is that months later we still read this book at least once a day.

3. Love Bomb. This post was part of a Tinkerlab craft challenge and the results were awesome! My son adored the process and I loved the end product. It’s still displayed in our playroom.

2. Books About Strong Girls. This one just hit home for me. As a mom of a little girl who is already fond of princesses and make up I need as much help as I can get to make sure she is strong, confident and loves herself for all the right reasons.

1. Multicultural Paper Dolls . This post is my favorite because I designed it with a clear objective ; to explain that our skin color is just another attribute like eye or hair color. What’s inside , like our heart is all the same. My son got it and not just a little, he really got it.

 

Do you have a favorite activity or post we did from 2012?

 

New Picture Books

by Carrie Anne

As the cold weather creeps in, nothing beats snuggling with your little one under a warm blanket and enjoying a fun book together. Here are a few new books you might enjoy.

Candy 1 to 20
By Laurie Wolf and Pam Abrams, photographed by Bruce Wolf
20 pages
Board Book
Chronicle Books/Raincoast Books
On the heels of Halloween, kids might have their minds on candy. Candy 1 to 20 is an early concept counting book full of bright, colourful candy photographs. Each page displays just the numeric number using actual candy photos taking on the shape of that number. The actual numbers are big, taking up the whole page, and are uncluttered by other elements or words on the solid white background. Each number consists of that same number in candy pieces. One liquorice strip represents the number one; thirteen gummy bears are laid out to represent the number thirteen. Kids can see and trace the number shape, plus they can count the individual candy elements to reinforce the number on the page. It’s a sweet book to enjoy together.


Julius: I Love Color: A Paul Frank Book (Paul Frank Books)
10 pages
Board Book
Chronicle Books/Raincoast Books
Paul Frank is always a lot of fun for kids. I had the chance to review Paul Frank’s Only In Dreams board book on EverythingMom . Kids will jump right in to a world of colour in I Love Color, especially with Julius the monkey as a finger puppet to take them through the pages. I actually love that the puppet is just his head with arms illustrated on the page; it’s easy and fun to move his head around to look at the image on the page. Along with matching the band of the rainbow, kids can pick out images on the page that are red and it opens it up to a discussion on other things they see in the world around them in that colour.

Amazing Baby! A Sing-Along Board Book
12 pages
Board Book, oversized
Silver Dolphin/Raincoast Books
This isn’t a new book by it’s a great book for parents and baby. The oversized board book is filled with colourful shapes and objects familiar with the Amazing Baby! books. The pages contains the words to some much loved and perhaps a few new lullaby songs. There are big chunky tabs on the side making it easier for little hands to turn the pages. The CD included contains beautiful versions of the lullabies within the book, acoustically sounding. I even found myself enjoying them. The book and CD can be used together or separately. Even my 7-year old son asked to hear the music before bedtime.

Clare Beaton’s Nursery Rhymes
Clare Beaton
14 pages
Board book
Barefoot Books
I love the illustrations and wordily tales told in many of the books from Barefoot Books. Clare Beaton’s Nursery Rhymes is another example of the publishers great illustrative work. The book contains words for 7 popular nursery rhymes but it’s the illustrations that add a wonderful warm feel to the book. Each image is a collage of fabric, like a story sewn in a family quilt. Even the rhyme titles themselves look hand-stiched on the page. What a wonderful way to share a classic nursery rhyme together.

Shadow
Suzy Lee
44 pages
Chronicle Books/Raincoast Books
I understand the benefit of wordless storybooks; they’re a great way to let a child use their imagination and tell a tale based on pictures. Most kids learning to read take a picture walk through a book prior to looking at the words. That being said, I’m not a fan of this type of book. But sometimes I do come across a wordless picture book that does interest me. Shadow is one such book. What starts off as a girl discovering her shadow while in the garage, turns into an adventure in the jungle. The girl’s world and her shadow world meld together, until mom calls her for dinner. I love seeing how shadows can transform and stir up a child’s creative thinking. After reading, why not try your own shadow adventure.
I want to thank Crystal from Raincoast Books and Leah from Barefoot Books for my review copies.

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Carrie Anne is a contributing writer on No Time For Flash Cards , she is a mom of 3 , and is the Managing Partner and Editor-in-Chief at EverythingMom.com.

New Books !

by Carrie Anne

Row, Row, Row Your Boat: A Teddy Bear Sing-Along Book
By David Ellwand
Silver Dolphin (Raincoast Books)
Board book
Age 0-3

Kids will love singing along to this large format board book showing stuffed teddy’s recreating the the scenes song in the famous childhood rhyme. For added fun there is a musical score that can be played along with each page, just press down on the speaker button found on the front page. I love that you can control whether you want to play the music or not versus it playing automatically on each page though I’m sure your child will want to play the song over and over (and over) again.

Hide and Seek Animals
DK Canada
Picture Book
Age 3-5

Search and find books can be a lot of fun for kids but many can be too complicated for little ones offering very intricate pictures to look at. This Hide and Seek Animals contains a collage of animals with a photo list of the animals to look for. Kids will enjoy searching for familiar animals like a dog as well as finding unique animals such as the Greenland shark. The images are photographs and although the picture contains a collection of animals to look at, they are large and not obstructed. The search and find exercise is more about animal recognition than finding something hidden. This is a great book to do together or to give your child to explore on their own for quiet time.

While You Are Sleeping
By Durga Bernhard
Picture Book
Age 3-8

If you’ve ever traveled to a different timezone or have family and friends in a different part of the world, you may have already talked about timezones with your child. While You Are Sleeping is a great way to illustrate this without getting all technical about the different times. This cute lift the flap book starts off with a mother and child reading a story one evening while on the other side of the world another child is getting dressed for the morning. Each picture has a map image worked into the illustration, showing where the activity is taking place (reading in Alaska, getting dressed in Nigeria). Lift the flap and it turns into a clock showing the time. There are very little words in this book. The concept of different times is illustrated wonderfully through images, maps and the little clock flaps. Not only does this address time, it also touches on geography and customs. The inside covers also have a map of the world with the timezones marked and a little illustration showing all the places you visited in the story. This was a fun book with beautiful illustrations that transporter us around the world.

Splish – Splash
Boxer Books/Sterling Publishing
By Nicola Smee
Picture Book
Age 3-5

Join Mr. Horse along with Cat, Dog, Pig and Duck in this fun adventure on the sea. As they row their little boat the waves get bigger — splish, splash — until everyone is knocked out of the boat. Not to worry, Mr. Horse brings everyone safely to shore only for all the friends to head back out to sea again. The large text and illustrations make this book seem bigger than life. You can almost feel the waves sloshing around on the pages. The playful use of text size as the waves get bigger adds to this feeling and the anticipation of what’s to come. This is just a fun book to read out loud with lots of repetitive words and cute characters.

I want to thank Crystal from Raincoast Books, Katie from Sterling Publishing, Donna from Charlesbridge and Chris from DK Canada for my review copies.

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Carrie Anne is a contributing writer on No Time For Flash Cards , she is a mom of 3 , and is the Managing Partner and Editor-in-Chief at EverythingMom.com.

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 Bunnies

Something any classroom teacher will tell you is that kids ( I am talking the little ones 2-5 especially) will talk and role play about holidays for what seems like months after the fact. It’s not just your 3 year old who is still talking about trick or treating at Easter , most kids play and replay holidays a long time after the adults around are done with them. So for all of you who are set to hide eggs this weekend and for those of you who do not celebrate Easter here are some great plain old bunny books for you to enjoy.

A Boy and His Bunny by Sean Bryan is magical. It’s absurd and playful and struck a chord with the goofiness that we are often partaking in at our house these days. The text is filled with dry humor  but even if your child is too young to grab it’s subtlety they will still love how silly it is that this boy has a bunny on his head! The best part is the end and I don’t want to give it away but I will say a bunny isn’t the worst thing you can have on your head.

Ben’s Bunny Trouble by Daniel Wakeman is free of text but easily qualifies as an epic story.  No young adventurer would be board by this book about Ben who is searching for the right planet for his bunnies. This is a great “quiet time”or ” independent reading ” book for kids who aren’t yet readers since the pages are filled with comic book like illustrations by Dirk Van Stratlen with amazing detail. This is one of those books that each time you open it you notice something new. It is however way too long for most toddlers in it’s entirety , though still fun to hunt and peck a page here or there.

Bunnies on the Go: Getting from Place to Place by Rick Walton is awesome … with one little detail that drives me bananas. Ok so the book is great , I loved the traveling theme and the text that had a page turning rhyme that revealed the next mode of transportation that the bunnies would be taking.  See if you can read it before your little detectives yell it out!  After a time or two you will loose with every turn of the page.  That little detail I didn’t like was the bunnies riding in the bed of a pick up truck. Yes the author said it was dangerous but I just wish it wasn’t in the book at all. I still read it and yes I think it ended up being a teachable opportunity but it left me wondering what the author was thinking besides looking for a rhyme. Anyway check this one out for yourself , the great way outweighs the bad and I imagine we will be renewing this one for a few weeks!

A Bunny is Funny by Harriet Ziefert and Fred Ehrlich is a good book but not really funny like the cover claimed, perhaps quirky.  It is still a wonderful book and not so much about bunnies, instead it about a lot of animals and the odd details about them that make them “funny”.  The illustrations are bold and the rhyming text is natural and written in a way that will keep a wide range of ages interested in this quirky look at familiar animals that we nonchalantly accept despite their unusual features.