Sunday, July 13, 2014

Zzzz...WAKE UP!

The title of this post is a bit startling, wouldn’t you say? That’s about how insane some mornings can be for working parents, and the transition from day to night can be equally traumatic. As responsible parents, we aspire to make a smooth transition for our children, but it isn’t always possible. And just ask any teacher how his or her class will react to a change in their daily routine. It’s like the safety net has been yanked away and all chaos ensues. Recently, I ran across an article that explains the psychology behind these reactions. Here’s my favorite paragraph:

“Repetition and structure help children feel safe. Bedtime declares that the day is over. When you are loving and firm about when it is time for bed, you are building your children’s confidence in their world. Repetition for young children is comforting — ever wonder why they want the same story over and over? The repetition of the getting ready for bed routine (getting into pajamas, brushing teeth, a drink of water, a story, a hug, goodnight) lets your child know what to expect and helps him or her feel secure.”

Click on the link below to read the full article:

The Value of a Child’s Bedtime Routine

I’ve wanted to blog about bedtime routines and picture books for a long time, but let's get back to those crazy mornings first. Have you ever thought about reading a story to start off the day? That may be a stretch for some schedules, but I think it's a super way to open circle time in preschool too. I've been doing it with my grandson for over four years, and I'm happy to report that publishers are offering more and more titles for us to choose from every year. Here's a new one that I ordered the other day:

Wake Up, Rupert! by Mike Twohy

A rooster who just wants to sleep in gets a little help from a friend in this laugh-out-loud picture book from New Yorker artist Mike Twohy. Rupert the rooster knows that every morning when the sun comes up he must cock-a-doodle-do—no matter what. But Rupert is terrible at waking up! And even worse, he can never, ever sleep in. Life just isn’t fair. When his friend Sherman the Sheep volunteers for the job, everything is perfect. Or is it?

(The title and cover art grabbed my attention right away!)

I think this picture book will be a perfect match for our "good morning" song too:

(So precious!)

A few years ago, we made colorful roosters on popsicle sticks to dance along with the song.  They'd be a great follow-up activity for Wake Up, Rupert! as well.  Here's a snapshot of those:

(Make simple shapes out of construction paper and add Googly eyes.)

And here's another "good morning" picture book that we really enjoy reading. It comes with a 3-Song CD by Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield:

Waking Up is Hard to Do
Music & Lyrics by Neil Sedaka & Howard Greenfield
Children's Lyrics by Neil Sedaka
Performed by Neil Sedaka
Illustrations by Daniel Miyares

One of the most popular songs in music history becomes one of the most delightful children’s books ever—complete with a CD featuring two completely new tunes by NEIL SEDAKA!

Rise and shine! It’s morning time. The alarm clock’s ringing, the birds are singing. Everything’s saying: get up, get going! Breakfast is warming, school is calling. The streets are bustling, all the world is stirring.

But does it seem so hard to you? Is waking up very hard to do? Come on, sleepyhead: get out of bed! Brush your teeth. Comb your hair. The minutes are passing. Don’t be late; the school bus won’t wait!
It’s sure to be a happy day with this bright and sunny picture book and CD, with new lyrics based on the hit song by Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield. Daniel Miyares’s delightful art opens the eyes with its vivid colors, playful details, and adorable collection of animal characters.

And to make waking up just a little easier, there’s a CD with Neil Sedaka singing this happy song, plus two new songs with lyrics and music by Neil written especially for this CD: LIGHTNIN' JIM and SING.

Warm and friendly and full of fun, this is a musical and visual celebration of the everyday joys of home, family, and neighborhood.

Waking Up is Hard to Do was inspired by Neil Sedaka’s grandchildren and is part of a CD of the same name, which features a collection of Sedaka’s hits that were reinvented as children’s songs. The CD was a family collaboration in which Neil’s son Marc adapted four of his father’s classic songs, and Neil’s five year old grand-daughters made their recording debut as his backup vocalists.

(Ben loves singing this song!)

I usually read this next book after naptime:

Llama Llama Wakey-Wake by Anna Dewdney

Start a brand-new day the Llama way with this new board book by Anna Dewdney. A good day starts with breakfast and brushing, kissing and hugging.

And speaking of naptime, check out my grandson's cozy spot.  Note that the bookshelf is strategically placed.  LOL!   My grandson usually falls asleep under a pile of picture books, and he always has a friend or two:

(Gerald and Piggie are very popular!)

And here are a few of our favorites for naptime or bedtime.  They just can't be beat:

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Illustrations by Clement Hurd

In a great green room, tucked away in bed, is a little bunny. "Goodnight room, goodnight moon." And to all the familiar things in the softly lit room--to the picture of the three little bears sitting in chairs, to the clocks and his socks, to the mittens and the kittens, to everything one by one--he says goodnight.

Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

A must-have board book for all babies.

Good night, Gorilla.
Good night, Elephant.

It's bedtime at the zoo, and all the animals are going to sleep. Or are they? Who's that short, furry guy with the key in his hand and the mischievous grin?

Good night, Giraffe.
Good night, Hyena.

Sneak along behind the zookeeper's back, and see who gets the last laugh in this riotous good-night romp.

This next picture book was an amazing discovery.  We've read it at least fifty times, so that says a lot:

The Maggie B by Irene Haas

A little girl's wish to sail for a day on a boat named for her " with someone nice for company " comes true.

And who doesn't adore this popular Disney character:

Goodnight, Thumper! by Kitty Richards
Illustrations by Lori Tyminski and Dean Gordon

Introducing Disney Bunnies! Thumper and his sisters are at their most endearing as they learn to count and do their best to avoid going to sleep. Adorable illustrations coupled with the bunnies mischievous antics are sure to delight little ones. The perfect size for Easter baskets, these board books will be popular long after the holiday...

We love this Llama, Llama book too:

Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney

Llama, Llama red pajama
waiting, waiting for his mama.
Mama isn’t coming yet.
Baby Llama starts to fret.

In this infectious rhyming read-aloud, Baby Llama turns bedtime into an all-out llama drama! Tucked into bed by his mama, Baby Llama immediately starts worrying when she goes downstairs, and his soft whimpers turn to hollers when she doesn’t come right back. But just in time, Mama returns to set things right. Children will relate to Baby Llama’s need for comfort, as much as parents will appreciate Mama Llama’s reassuring message.

Here's the author reading from Llama, Llama Red Pajama:

Next up...

The Sleepy Little Alphabet by Judy Sierra
Illustrations by Melissa Sweet

A fun read-aloud for little ones who are learning their ABCs.

It's sleepy time in Alphabet Town. But the twenty-six little letters of the alphabet all have something they need—or want—to do before big-letter moms and dads tuck them in. Not since the classic Chicka Chicka Boom Boom has there been such an appealing way to teach the youngest child the ABCs while providing a one-minute goodnight story. Of course, Melissa Sweet’s animated watercolor, pencil, and collage illustrations may beg for a little more time to match up all the toys with the right letters, and Judy Sierra’ s rollicking rhymed story will want to be heard again and again. Okay, so maybe it’ s a three-minute story!

(Bonus that I'm a huge fan of Melissa Sweet's artwork.)

My grandson also adores trains, so this one was a must:

Steam Train, Dream Train by Sherri Duskey Rinker
Illustrations by Tom Lichtenheld

The team behind the #1 New York Times bestseller Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site returns with another fabulous book for bedtime! The dream train pulls into the station, and one by one the train cars are loaded: polar bears pack the reefer car with ice cream, elephants fill the tanker cars with paints, tortoises stock the auto rack with race cars, kangaroos stuff the hopper car with balls (while zebras referee). Sweet and silly dreams are guaranteed for any budding train enthusiasts!

Check out the book trailer:


And we read this next group of stories a lot:

Tuck Me In! by Dean Hacohen and Sherry Scharschmidt

The stars are out. The moon is rising. All the baby animals, from peacocks to pigs to zebras, are ready for bed. Will you tuck them in and say good night? Just turn the pages and the big inviting flaps that serve as blankets cover each little creature up to its chin. This simple but endlessly satisfying novelty, with its array of goggle-eyed baby animals, bold patterns, and vibrant colors, is sure to be the book of choice for little ones everywhere, night after night.

Who needs to be tucked in? Turn each page until all baby animals--and little readers--are cozy and ready for sleep in this irresistible bedtime ritual.

Bears in Beds by Shirley Parenteau
Illustrations by David Walker

It’s time for Big Brown Bear to tuck all four little bears into their beds. Then he’s ready to climb into his own bed and turn out the light. Five warm beds, holding five sleepy bears, until a sound goes whoosh in the middle of the night, and all the bears wake up in a fright. Will they ever get back into bed? Luckily, Big Brown Bear knows just what to do! A fun, rhyming read-aloud that parents will love and tired little cubs will be happy to snuggle up with.

Also pictured:

Llama Llama Nighty-Night by Anna Dewdney

What’s the best part of bedtime? Stories with Mama! Before cuddling, Llama Llama must splish and splash in the tub, then put his red pajamas on.

Dewdney’s catchy rhymes, effortless rhythm, and adorable artwork can now be enjoyed by even younger audiences. Toddlers will love this perfect read-aloud.

And this one cracks us up every time:

The Napping House by Audrey Wood
Illustrations by Don Wood

A restless flea manages to wake up everyone in the house who was sleeping, including a mouse, cat, dog, boy, and his grandmother.

For all of you Froggy fans:

Froggy Goes to Bed by Jonathan London
Illustrations by Frank Remkiewicz

It’s time for bed! Not if Froggy has his way! Even after a long day of playing, Froggy’s still not tired. His bath is ready, but first Froggy has to find his boat. And where are his pajamas? And how did his toothbrush get into the cookie jar? Oh, Frrooggyy! Now it’s time to go to sleep, right? But Froggy can’t sleep without a bedtime story! Join Froggy as he hops, flops, and zips from one familiar bedtime ritual to another.

This one is especially fun for little boys:

Harry and Horsie by Katie Van Camp
Illustrations by Lincoln Agnew

When a boy named Harry
sneaks out of bed one night
with his best friend, Horsie,
to play with his Super Duper Bubble Blooper --
an out-of-this-world adventure begins!

Illustrated with retro-comic art, this is a charming story about the power of friendship and imagination from a talented new team.

Harry and Horsie inspired us to make a rocket mobile for something to dream about during naptime.  Ben's picture is peeking out a porthole on one side, and there's an alien peeking out of a porthole on the other side.  I used simple clipart to make a pattern, and the base is made out of cardboard cake circles, ribbon, and clothespins:

3-2-1 ... Blast off!

And if you're looking for bedtime stories to read during the holiday season, here are a few of our favorites:

Goodnight Goon: A Petrifying Parody
Written and Illustrated by Michael Rex

It’s time for bed, but one little goon still isn’t ready for sleep! With lively rhymes and cheeky art that’ll get readers howling, this hilarious take on the beloved classic will have a whole new audience saying, "Goodnight monsters everywhere!"

Also pictured:

Hush, Little Monster by Denis Markell
Illustrations by Melissa Iwai

A classic lullaby gets a playfully spooky spin in this monstrously sweet picture book.

Hush, Little Monster, don’t you howl.
Daddy’s gonna give you a…screeching owl.
If that owl won’t say “whoo whoo”…
Granny Ghost will bring you a big, bad boo!

A monster father softly sings his own version of a favorite lullaby to his son. A screeching owl, a vampire, an ogre, and zombies are just a few of the creatures who will come to soothe Little Monster through the night, until (when the sun comes up) it’s finally time for him to go to sleep. Parents and children alike will love this humorous twist on “Hush, Little Baby.”

The Night Before Christmas
By Rachel Isadora
Illustrator: Rachel Isadora

A gorgeous reimagining of the beloved Christmas poem, set in Africa.

Since Clement Clarke Moore penned this Christmas classic in 1825, it has been beloved by children around the world. Now, Caldecott Honor winner Rachel Isadora sets the poem in Africa, capturing the anticipation and excitement of Christmas in her stunning collages. Children will pore over the enchanting artwork?brimming with special touches like traditional African toys and a Santa who sports dreadlocks?as they chime along with the familiar rhyming text.

(Click here to see a fun craft that we made for The Night Before Christmas.)

Also pictured:

Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson

Bear's friends are determined to keep Bear awake for Christmas! So they wake Bear up and have him help them find a Christmas tree, bake cakes, hang up stockings, and sing Christmas songs. Bear stays up--by discovering that giving is one of the best Christmas presents!This 6 x 6 Classic Board Book comes with rounded corners.

(Such a sweet board book!)


We sure have a lot of bedtime stories, but I'm always on the lookout for more.  Do you have a favorite that isn't listed in this post?  If so, please feel free to leave a comment.  One can never have too many books.  I'll be back next week to share my summer book order.  Until then, happy reading!

Monday, March 10, 2014

We're Buggy for NEA's Read Across America Day!

Did you make special plans for NEA's Read Across America Day?  My grandson and I celebrated this year's event with a spectacular insect unit!  If you missed my previous blog post, be sure to take a peek:

Remember the caterpillar tote bag?  It was loaded with enough goodies to keep us busy for an entire week:                    

Let's take a look at the first group of items:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

This all-time favorite not only follows the very hungry caterpillar as it grows from egg to cocoon to beautiful butterfly, but also teaches the days of the week, counting, good nutrition and more. Striking pictures and cleverly die-cut pages offer interactive fun.

Eric Carle has the most comforting voice:

And here's the adorable craft that we made:

It's a "Very Hungry Caterpillar" Specimen Jar!

I can't take credit for this fabulous idea, though.  I ran across photos of a "creepy crawly birthday party" on the internet and thought this craft would be perfect for our insect unit.  However, I opted to use a plastic jar for safety reasons.  We used two shades of green pom-poms for the caterpillar's body, a red one for his head, and a brown pipe cleaner for his antennas.  The leaf is made out of green construction paper that we hole-punched.  I painted the caterpillar's face to save time.  Too cute!

Next up...

Pictured on the left:

Katy Duck by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Illustrations by Henry Cole

Meet Katy -- a feisty ballerina-in-the-making who loves to twirl like a leaf, stretch like a flower, and float like a swan. She's all dance, all the time -- until she faces the fear of dancing in front of everyone in her new ballet class at Mr. Tutu's School of Dance! Suddenly the once-bold Katy is overcome with a bad case of stage fright! What's a duck to do?

Kids will relate to this fun, charming story about the shyness that can grip all of us at times...and our inner star that refuses to be denied!

And pictured on the right:

Katy Duck Is a Caterpillar by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Illustrated by Henry Cole

It's time for Katy Duck’s spring dance recital and as usual Katy is looking forward to taking the stage by storm. But she’s not cast not as a daffodil or the bright sun or even a fluffy cloud. Katy is cast as a caterpillar. A wiggling, crawling caterpillar. As usual Katy has to learn to manage disappointment and as only Katy can do turn a small part into the starring role as she realizes that caterpillars always emerge as beautiful butterflies. This lovely springtime story is a lovely tale of making everything your own and making every part count, no matter how small. It will be truly appreciated by preschoolers and ballerinas cast as caterpillars everywhere.

(Click here to order the plush doll.)

Katy Duck is a favorite around our house, so I had to add her caterpillar story to our unit.  She's such a lovable character.  I went to the author's website and found lots of fun activities to go along with each book.  Here's the first item that we selected:

And here's the second:

It's a story sequencing activity!
(Click here for printables.)

I decided to laminate the sequencing cards, so they could be used over and over again. There's a strong possibility that I may go back to teaching preschool next year.  I really miss being in the classroom. =) 

This next picture book is fresh off the press:

Superworm by Julia Donaldson
Illustrated by Axel Scheffler

A wacky new adventure from Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, starring a truly unforgettable hero!

Toad in trouble? Beetle in a jam? Never fear -- Superworm is here! And he's wiggling to the rescue!

But when Superworm is captured by a wicked Wizard Lizard, will his friends find a way to help their favorite superhero escape?

From the creators of Stick Man and Room on the Broom, a super new adventure with a wriggly, squiggly hero you'll never forget.

We are huge fans of the Donaldson and Scheffler team.  I ordered their board book Room on the Broom back in October.  Here's the link to that post:

And here's our follow-up activity for Superworm:

Flowerpot Dirt Cakes!
(Click here for the recipe.)

Don't let this beautiful snapshot fool you, though. This was the messiest project I have ever attempted. The floor and counters in my kitchen looked like a gardening shed by the time we finished. I highly recommend crushing the majority of Oreo cookies in advance. I'd also use a food processor versus my ancient blender. Cut the recipe in half unless you are preparing it for a large group.  I added a few drops of green food color to the cream cheese mixture as well.

Note: You can find the small ceramic pots at your local craft store. I lined ours with plastic cups because I don't trust porous materials even after they've been washed. We added bows and plastic flowers to the handle of each green spoon.  Delicious!

I borrowed this next picture book from my daughter.  My grandson made me read it twice, and then acted out the story for hours.  I'd say that makes it a winner:

Ladybug Girl and Bingo by Jacky Davis
Illustrations by David Soman

Lulu and her dog Bingo the basset hound are best friends. Whenever they play outside, Bingo always stays close by Lulu’s side. When they go camping for the first time, Lulu does her best to be responsible and hold tight to Bingo’s leash. But what happens when Bingo wants to explore the forest on his own and runs off? This is a job for Ladybug Girl! She will find Bingo in time for toasting marshmallows at the campfire.

For fans of Fancy Nancy and Toot and Puddle, the Ladybug Girl series honors a love of the outdoors, family, and creativity!

And here's what we did as a follow-up:

Ladybug Appetizers!
(Click here for the recipe.)

This was a simple cooking project, which is what we needed after those darn dirt cakes.  We used a paint brush to add the black dots.  We'll be making these yummy snacks again!

(This would be ideal for a preschool group.)

My grandson laughed and laughed at this next title.  I think it's especially amusing for little boys:

The Fly Flew In
An I Like to Read® Book Level C
Written and Illustrated by David Catrow

A fly enters a concert hall and causes a commotion among audience and performers alike in this laugh-out-loud-funny and easy-to-read picture book.

In the wake of a fly's flight, a wig flips, eyeglasses fall, and a lollipop is launched. Musicians BANG and BOOM as they try to get that fly! All fail, and the chaos culminates when an overzealous singer, fly-swatter in hand, leaps off the stage. The audience applauds enthusiastically for the greatest display of showmanship they have ever seen.

David Catrow pays homage to the slapstick films of the last century with masterfully rendered artwork and an understated text that has a music of its own. He has illustrated many best-selling and highly regarded picture books. This is his first book for Holiday House.

We did this as a follow-up activity:

Here are the lyrics for that song:

(Click here for the free printable.)

And here's an old favorite of ours:

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly by Simms Taback

An old favorite as you've never seen it before!

Everyone knows the song about the old lady who swallowed a fly, a spider, a bird, and even worse, but who's ever seen what's going on inside the old lady's stomach? With this inventive die-cut artwork, Simms Taback gives us a rollicking, eye-popping version of the well-loved poem.

I made this puppet several years ago and Ben loves playing with it:

I can't seem to locate the original template online, but there are plenty of other ideas floating around.  You might consider ordering the doll set.  It's a bit expensive, though:

I picked up this next picture book at the SCBWI Florida Regional Conference in Miami. I was thrilled to meet the author and get it signed for my grandson:

It's A Firefly Night by Dianne Ochiltree
Illustrated by Betsy Snyder

A favorite childhood activity - catching fireflies - glow from the pages of this story-with-a-counting-concept offering. With rhyming lines that read like a song, It's a Firefly Night chronicles the capture and release of fireflies, one by one, sparking the reader to count up to and down from ten. The book is capped off with a page of interesting firefly facts (they flash in rhythmic patterns to send messages!), adding a touch of accessible nonfiction to this charming, not-just-for-bedtime book. It's a terrific gift, a great winding-down-at-bedtime selection, a lovely story for a parent and child to share. With glittering sparklers lighting up each page, any night can be a firefly night!

(Click here to see a list of Dianne's books.)

And here are a few ideas for follow-up activities:

(Click here and scroll down for the author's Story Hour Kit.)

We also made a firefly craft using the original templates from the author's website.  It looks similar to the image on the book's cover.  You'll need two shades of yellow paper, glitter paint for added sparkle, and fine gold glitter to sprinkle between a self-seal laminating pouch:

(These are great for hanging in a window!)

Next up... 

I'm always thrilled to add more fables to my collection, and these two did not disappoint:

The Little Red Ant and the Great Big Crumb by Shirley Climo
Illustrations by Francisco Mora

This distinctly Mexican version of an old fable found in Spain, Portugal, and France is retold and updated by a well-known storyteller. The little red ant has found a wonderful crumb, but she's not strong enough to carry it all the way home. Going from one creature to the next, asking for help, the little red ant is surprised to discover who is the strongest of all. Spanish words add to the text's Mexican flavor, and bold, playful illustrations, hinting at what's coming next, make this story a real "page-turner."

And here's the second one:

Ant and Grasshopper by Luli Gray
Illustrations by Giuliano Ferri

When Ant spies a carefree Grasshopper playing a fiddle outside on the lawn, Ant immediately harrumphs at the insect's foolishness and continues to go about his very serious business of gathering and counting his food for the winter. But Ant finds Grasshopper's music and whimsy more catchy than he'd like, and soon he's distracted by his own rhyming and doodling! When the harsh winter hits and Ant finds Grasshopper cold and hungry in the snow, he can't help but bring him inside. Only after opening his home to Grasshopper does Ant realize that music, dancing, and laughter have their place in his life, too. Luli Gray's funny twist on this fable will have readers giggling and singing. With Giuliano Ferri's lush and whimsical illustrations, this book is both heartwarming and lovely to behold.

(The illustrations are amazing!)

We sang this popular tune as a follow-up activity:

The Ants Go Marching

The ants go marching one by one . . . Hoorah, hoorah!
The ants go marching one by one . . . Hoorah, hoorah!
The ants go marching one by one
The little one stops to suck his thumb
And they all go marching
Down, to the ground
Boom, Boom, Boom

The ants go marching two by two . . . Hoorah, hoorah!
The ants go marching two by two . . . Hoorah, hoorah!
The ants go marching two by two
The little one stops to tie his shoe
And they all go marching
Down, to the ground
Boom, Boom, Boom

The ants go marching three by three . . . Hoorah, hoorah!
The ants go marching three by three . . . Hoorah, hoorah!
The ants go marching three by three
The little one stops cause he skinned his knee
And they all go marching
Down, to the ground
Boom, Boom, Boom

The ants go marching four by four . . . Hoorah, hoorah!
The ants go marching four by four . . . Hoorah, hoorah!
The ants go marching four by four
The little one stops to shut the door
And they all go marching
Down to the ground
Boom Boom Boom

And let's not forget about Little Miss Muffet:

(I love hanging these types of posters on the walls of my grandson's playroom.)

We're planning to do a super fun unit that's all about Little Miss Muffet next week.  Click on this link for details:

I ordered this resource book to go along with it:

Check out the cover:

(Hope it gets here soon!)

And here's another popular title that's on my wish list:

The Itsy Bitsy Spider
Illustrated by Iza Trapani
As told by Iza Trapani

Over 1 Million Copies Sold!

The spirited and irresistible itsy bitsy spider has captured the hearts of generations of children by climbing up that water spout. Now she's back—on a new magical journey!
This all-new itsy bitsy spider has exciting encounters with a fan, a mouse, a rocking chair, a cat and a big maple tree. Finally, the itsy bitsy spider finds a lovely spot to rest and spin a new silky web. Children will enjoy time and again the delightful adventures of the energetic itsy bitsy spider.

(Click here for a fun craft activity.)

And if you are looking for more ideas...

Here are a few bug-related books and crafts that we've done in the past:

Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature
Written by Joyce Sidman
Illustrations by Beth Krommes

A Caldecott medalist and a Newbery Honor-winning poet celebrate the beauty and value of spirals.What makes the tiny snail shell so beautiful? Why does that shape occur in nature over and over again—in rushing rivers, in a flower bud, even inside your ear?

With simplicity and grace, Krommes and Sidman not only reveal the many spirals in nature—from fiddleheads to elephant tusks, from crashing waves to spiraling galaxies—but also celebrate the beauty and usefulness of this fascinating shape.

(Click here to read my original post about this picture book.)

You might fancy this one too:

Fancy Nancy: Bonjour, Butterfly by Jane O'Connor
Illustrations by Robin Preiss Glasser

Nancy thinks butterflies are simply exquisite. And that is why she can't wait for her friend Bree's Butterfly Birthday. It's going to be the fanciest birthday party ever! But when Nancy finds out she can't go because her grandparents' fiftieth anniversary party is the same day, she is furious. (Mad is way too plain for how she feels.) Will Nancy be able to overcome her disappointment?

In this magical new story from bestselling duo Jane O'Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser, everybody's favorite fancy girl gets a surprise lesson in fancy from her grandparents. Looks like fancy runs in the family after all!

We made these butterflies for a colorful craft activity:

(Click here for links.)

And here's a picture book from last year's Dr. Seuss Birthday Unit:

On Beyond Bugs by Tish Rabe
Illustrations by Aristides Ruiz

Find out all you ever wanted to know about insects when the Cat and company get an up-close view of life as a bug. Kids will learn how insects -- from the spittlebug to the honeybee to the moth -- see, smell, communicate, and pollinate, as well as sometimes pester and amaze and generally make life better for us humans. Catch the bug buzz with the Cat in the Hat and all his friends!

And check out our Busy Bees! File Folder Game:


I also made this sorting activity using the same mason jar template:

As you can see, we had a grand celebration.  And now I'm off to collect each and every plastic bug.  I wouldn't want one of them to surprise me later.  Chow!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

2014 Read Across America Day is Monday, March 3!

Here’s a blurb from the National Education Association's official website:

Get ready to grab your hat and read with the Cat in the Hat on Monday, March 3, 2014 for the 17th annual Read Across America Day. The Seussical celebration will kick off a week of reading across the nation as NEA members gather students, parents, and community members together to share their love of reading. It's never too early to plan your event and NEA's RAA will be posting tips and resources to help you make your event Seussational.

(Click here to download and print the 2014 Read Across America Day Poster)

My grandson and I had the absolute best time celebrating this event last year. Check out our Dr. Seuss Birthday Unit:

So for this year's grand celebration...

I am planning a spectacular insect unit:

Here's the list of picture books that we'll be reading:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly by Simms Taback

The Fly Flew In by David Catrow

Katy Duck Is a Caterpillar by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Illustrations by Henry Cole

Superworm by Julia Donaldson
Illustrations by Axel Scheffler

The Little Red Ant and the Great Big Crumb
A Mexican Fable retold by Shirley Climo
Illustrations by Francisco X. Mora

It's a Firefly Night by Dianne Ochiltree
Illustrations by Betsy Snyder

On Beyond Bugs! by Tish Rabe
Illustrations by Aristides Ruiz

Ladybug Girl and Bingo by Jacky Davis
Illustrations by David Soman

And here's one more:

Ant and Grasshopper by Luli Gray
Illustrations by Giuliano Ferri

That's an impressive list, eh? 

It took a bit of time to put it together, but I'm extremely satisfied with the results.  There's a little something for everyone and not a single boring title in the mix.  I'll be sharing more about our insect unit next month.  It's loaded with picture book related activities, crafts, and food projects.  Hope to see you then!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

February Book Love!

What will you be reading this Valentine's Day?  Here are a few picture books that caught my eye this season.  I think they are adorable!

Sitting in the number one spot:

Foxy in Love by Emma Dodd

Foxy is back, and once again his friend Emily needs his help—big-time! Emily is trying to make a Valentine's Day card, and she needs Foxy to remind her of all the things that she loves most. From hot chocolate with marshmallows to all kinds of flowers, Foxy is able to make everything Emily loves magically appear—but sometimes he makes a mistake. (Emily loves balloons, not raccoons!)

Luckily, Foxy can always find a good solution when things go wrong . . . and he knows just the right way to make Emily's Valentine's Day card complete! Foxy and Emily figure out exactly what Valentine's Day means to them in this sweet sequel, written and illustrated by Emma Dodd.

(That is the cutest little fox!)

And here's my grandson's favorite:

Love, Splat by Rob Scotton

It's Valentine's Day and Splat has a special valentine for a certain someone in his class. Her name is Kitten, and Splat likes her even more than fish sticks and ice cream. But Kitten doesn't seem to like him at all—she always ties his tail and pokes his belly when she sees him. And then there's Splat's rival, Spike, who also likes Kitten. Will Splat's heartfelt valentine win Kitten's paw in the end?
In this funny follow-up to Splat the Cat, Rob Scotton captures the highs and lows of a first crush with humor and understanding.

(Click here to order the plush cat.  Meow!)

This next one has the sweetest cover:

Snowy Valentine by David Petersen

Step out into a snowy Valentine’s Day with Jasper the bunny as he searches the forest valley for a special gift for his loved one.

In his picture-book debut, David Petersen, the Eisner Award–winning creator of Mouse Guard, tells a delightful tale that becomes the perfect way to say “I love you.”

And if you're looking for action:

Ruby Valentine Saves the Day by Laurie Friedman
Illustrations by Lynne Avril

It's Valentine's Day and Ruby won't let anything spoil the celebration! In this follow-up to the popular Love, Ruby Valentine, Ruby's favorite day of the year rolls around again, and she and Lovebird work feverishly to plan the perfect party for everyone in Heartland. But when Valentine's Day arrives, an unexpected snowstorm threatens to ruin all of Ruby's plans. Will Ruby find a way to save the day, or will everyone in Heartland have to wait until next year to celebrate? Another heartwarming tale of a girl who discovers the true meaning of Valentine's Day.

(Love, Ruby Valentine is a fun read too!)

I've wanted this next picture book for a long time:

One Love by Cedella Marley
Illustrations by Vanessa Newton

Adapted from one of Bob Marley's most beloved songs, One Love brings the joyful spirit and unforgettable lyrics of his music to life for a new generation. Readers will delight in dancing to the beat and feeling the positive groove of change when one girl enlists her community to help transform her neighborhood for the better. Adapted by Cedella Marley, Bob Marley's first child, and gorgeously illustrated by Vanessa Newton, this heartwarming picture book offers an upbeat testament to the amazing things that can happen when we all get together with one love in our hearts.

(This is a nice feel-good book for parents too!)

Take a peek at the book trailer:

(The illustrations are precious.♥)

And don't forget to order the plush doll:

(Click here for the link.)

Next up...

Penguin in Love by Salina Yoon

One day, Penguin was looking for love,
But instead he found . . .
A mitten.

When Penguin finds a lost mitten on the ice one day, he wonders who it belongs to—after all, every mitten has a mate! Prolific author/illustrator Salina Yoon's spare text and bright, energetic illustrations bring to life this endearing story celebrating love in its many forms, reminding us that the greatest adventrure begins when you find your other half.

(Another great picture book for preschoolers and toddlers!)

And if you're searching for Valentine's Day craft ideas...

Here are two follow-up activities that my grandson and I did a couple of years ago:

We made the keepsake album out of paper lunch bags, cardstock, photos, and ribbon.

(I cut the cardstock with craft scissors to mimic lace.)

This next craft is a great recycle project:

The owls are made out of empty toilet paper rolls, construction paper and ribbon.  The wings are shaped like hearts.

Here's hoping your special day is filled with hugs and kisses!