Thursday, June 28, 2012

Kids Co-Op: Are you Awesomely Awake?

Once again, it's time for the Weekly Kids Co-Op, which always has so many creative activities linked-up. Lately, I've been sharing great blog projects from Co-Op participants, such as Small Hands Creating Hope (so far over $1k raised for the American Cancer Society) and  From the Mouth of Mamas from B. Inspired Mama!, a weekly series in which she shares "kid-tested tips and parenting solutions for a specific parenting challenge 'from the mouths of moms.'"

This week, it's Awesomely Awake's 31 Days to a More Meaningful Summer, a FREE e-course - don't worry, there won't be a test. You'll just receive daily emails with tips, activities, recipes, etc. focused on helping you have a great summer with your family!

If we can all just stop being sick at our house, we can focus on having an awesome, meaningful summer with more beach days like this one!
Make it Meaningful! Have Fun! Play!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ten for Tuesday: Puppets for Storytime

Wild Thing LOVES books, and he wears them out -- even the board books. So, we recently created simple storytime puppets using a book that had seen better days. Storytelling is great for Early Literacy and Language Development for toddlers/preschoolers. Props make storytelling so much more fun. 

With these puppets made from a well-worn Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? book, he liked to make the animals talk demonstrating each of their unique sounds. 

In honor of puppets, storytelling and summer reading, here's 10 easy puppets you can make with (or for) your little readers.  Plus, the list features many puppets made using recycled materials, so these puppets go easy on your pocketbook.

1. Take a worn out book, and make puppets! (We got creative with the dog, children and teacher because those parts of the book were too worn to use).

2. You can also use craft foam and craft sticks to make puppets, like the 3 little pig puppets from Make, Do and Friend.

3. Paper bag puppets are a classic favorite. I love these Chewy Louie puppets from Adventures in Reading with Kids.

4. These finger puppets made from gloves might be one of the most clever of the simple puppets I've seen. Make, Do and Friend strikes again with her duck finger puppets.  

5. I love shadow puppets and might just have to call Make Do and Friend our puppet queen for the day as she also made the list with her fun Halloween shadow puppets!

6. What about a puppet of your child made from a photo? That's what they did over at the Golden Gleam -- plus they attached the photo to a branch to go with their puppet show about growing.

7. No puppet list is complete without a sock puppet. When you have a sock with no match because your washer or dryer ate its mate, that's when you make a sock puppet!

8. Made by Joel is a site I love, and their paperclip puppets show you why. Head over to their site to see how they use paperclips and cardboard to make puppets that stand up on their own.

9. Red Ted Art has a dragon round-up, from Chinese New Year, that features several dragon puppets, including puppets made from egg cartons, cut out handprints and cardboard tubes, so head over to her site and check it out!

10. Woodbury Middlebury used pipe cleaners to make finger puppets.

I hope these puppet ideas motivate you to make some puppets and do some storytelling and pretend play with your kids this summer.

You might also like:
Eric Carle b-day Link Up
Summer Virtual Book Club Activities

Monday, June 25, 2012

Happy Birthday, Eric Carle! We're Having a Linky Party Just For You!

We love Eric Carle books at our house - how could you not? Our favorite is The Very Hungry Caterpillar, a favorite for many. Wild Thing (whose 2.5) has always loved it, and I'm pretty sure "cocoon" was among his first words. He loves now to help me read it to the baby, since he knows it so well. He especially loves listing the fruits!

We also love Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? which Carle illustrated and Bill Martin Jr. wrote, and we recently got really into The Very Quiet Cricket inspired by Toddler Approved's Virtual Book Club and Blog Hop.

I think the reason Wild Thing loves the books so much is not only the artwork, but the repetition in the books, which makes them easy for him to follow and to "read along." He's at an age where he likes to "read" the books himself. When we read The Very Quiet Cricket, he loved ending every page with "not a sound." 

There are many other great Eric Carle books, and we used them a lot when I ran an after-school program because they encourage literacy, and lent themselves to great extension activities - especially science and art.

We've been looking forward to this week and had so many activities planned!! Unfortunately, Wild Thing got sick. Once he got better, I got sick, and now that I'm almost better, the baby is sick. Hopefully, though, we'll be sharing the ways that we Eat, Draw and Learn with Eric Carle books this week!! (If we can all just stop getting sick!!!)

Please drop me a line and let me know which Eric Carle book is your favorite (and what do you do when mommy is sick)?

Plus, if you've done an activity inspired by Eric Carle, link up! Don't forget to see what the other Linky Party hosts are doing to celebrate Eric Carle. 
Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas No Twiddle Twaddle Reading Confetti Teach Preschool Mommy and Me Book Club The Educators' Spin On It Living Montessori Now Living at the Whiteheads Zoo Famiglia and Seoul Smiling Like Sunshine The Iowa Farmer's Wife Rainy Day Mum Familylicious Our Feminist Play School Inspiration Laboratories Royal Baloo Kitchen Counter Chronicles

Friday, June 22, 2012

Kids Co-Op: Link-Up, Lots of Play Ideas

We recently discovered Elephant and Piggie through our participation in the Summer Virtual Book Club, which this month features author Mo Willems. We've had fun with the pigeon and with Elephant and Piggie making a simple sock puppet to go with Can I Play Too?

From this week's co-op, I absolutely fell in love with the Elephant and Piggie miniatures from Twiddle Twaddle! You have to pop over to her site and see all the great miniatures they made to go with these great books. 

Thanks for coming by the Kids Co-Op!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Snake Sock Puppet

Inspired by Can I Play Too?  by Mo Willems, featured author of the Summer Virtual Book Club. 

Click here to go to the Summer Virtual Book Club Blog Hop! 

You might also like:
Egg Carton Puppets
Life Lessons from Where the Wild Things Are

Monday, June 18, 2012

Summer Virtual Book Club: Mo Willems-The Duckling Gets a Cookie (Toddler Does Too!)

Excited to be participating in the Summer Virtual Book Club. Each month, a different author is featured. This month is Mo Willems, who has so many great books for #SummerReading.

Wild Thing doesn't always want to share with Caterpillar, his baby brother, so I loved that 2 of the 3 books we got from the library had great, fun stories about sharing and inclusion. Wild Thing loved The Pigeon Gets a Cookie. 

Our book activities typically follow the format of Eat, Draw, Learn! like we did with My Abuelita for Cinco De Mayo. So, that's what we did with this book too. I hope you enjoy and perhaps decide to make cookies!

Wild Thing took this picture himself. He was so proud.

1. Eat - Cooking Activity - Make cookies!! We made Carrot Cake Cookies for Father's Day using a recipe from the craving chronicles. Wild Thing especially liked helping to grate the carrots (by pressing the button on the food processor) and making the frosting (the cookies have a cream cheese frosting that you can spread on top of them or sandwich between 2 cookies, which daddy preferred. Wild Thing liked to dip his cookies in the frosting, and he wanted to add cinnamon to the frosting-yum).

2. Draw - Art Activity - Again, we made cookies, but kept it simple: cardboard cut into circles, a black marker for the chocolate chips and sprinkles glued on to make the nuts. Wild Thing enjoyed eating the sprinkles the most! Caterpillar, the baby, was obsessed with taking the top on and off of the glue.

3. Learn - Sharing is such an important concept to nurture, so we did some pretend play by retelling the story with the pretend cookies, a duck toy and a car (Wild Thing thought a car would be the best toy to use since we didn't have a pigeon, maybe because the pigeon always wants to drive something!).  We emphasized how the duck shared his cookie with the pigeon. I also like retelling stories because it builds early literacy. Another learning extension involved a lot of counting - counting the chocolate chips and nuts on the cookies in the book and the ones on our pretend cookies.

Oh - and of course, we read the book, several times. It especially came in handy to read the book when we had to wait for the cookies to bake, since Wild Thing wanted his cookies RIGHT NOW!! (kind of like the Pigeon). 

We enjoyed this so much that I'll be posting about another Mo Willems book (or 2) before the month ends, so please check back to see what other fun we had with Mo. Oh - and did you know Mo has his own blog and Pigeon is on twitter? Learn more at


If you're interested in joining this month's book club, there's still time:
  1. Comment below and let us know that you are joining in!
  2. Pick your favorite book by Mo Willems (or a new one you want to check out) and read it with your child or class.
  3. Create an activity, project, craft, cooking project, etc. related to the book and do it.
  4. Come back and share it with us as part of a big Mo Willems Blog Hop on Monday, June 18th!
If you want to plan ahead, we'll also be studying the following authors this summer...

July- Don and Audrey Wood (July 16th is the link up)
August- Kevin Henkes (August 20th is the link up)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Guest Post: My Dad

My dad with me and his namesake grandson in NYC.
My dad had a column in an Indiana paper when I was very young, and he has a column again now in a Texas paper. (And he has grandchildren that are very young). 

In honor of Father's Day, I decided to share one of his latest columns from the small town Texas paper. It made me smile, and I believe every Father can play an important role in bringing joy to their child(ren)'s live(s). I would also like to think that I write because he writes. (I just smiled again!)

My Lexington education continues with my most recent “learnin’. You can be snubbed by a cow. In fact, it is possible to be rejected by an entire field of bovines at one time.

Happened to me, courtesy of the herd of the kind landowner where I stay. I pulled up to the house and the entire group of double munchers immediately headed toward me. But, when they got close enough to see me, or is that smell me, they suddenly tossed their collective heads derisively and moved away. Way away.

 I was puzzled as I had showered just that morning. Later, when I asked around, I got some important country information.

“If you want the cows to like you, you need to start carrying a bucket of cubes with you.”


“Feed cubes,” came the answer, with the now familiar look, “You’re not from around here, are you?”

I’m not. But I’m trying to fit in. I know, I’m still a hat, two boots and a belt buckle short, but that’s in the plans for the future.

In the meantime, I am trying to repair my wounded ego.

It’s the first time I’ve ever been rejected by a moo moo. 

On a series note, my thanks to a father who always made me feel loved and beautiful, even in the face of rejection or defeat. (Dad - I'm thinking specifically of that first Midway basketball game. What was the score? 57-4?? I believe so, and I also believe I collapsed in your arms after.) Happy Father's Day to dads everywhere!!

And, of course, I have to share:

Favorite Daddy Photos
First Family Photo (from 2 1/2 years ago)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Kids Co-Op: "From the Mouth of Mamas!"

Once again, it's time for the Weekly Kids Co-Op, which always has so many creative activities linked-up. Each week, I've decide to share a great blog project from a Co-Op participant.

Last week, it was Small Hands Creating Hope.

This week, From the Mouth of Mamas from B. Inspired Mama! 

In this helpful, informative and funny series, featured each Thursday, she shares "kid-tested tips and parenting solutions for a specific parenting challenge 'from the mouths of moms.'"

Make sure you head over to her site today to see what's new, and subscribe to her blog, so that this great resource comes your way each week.

Last week's tips on potty training hit home for me, as we have been tinkering with the process with Wild Thing (my toddler). Now, if I could get baby brother to realize the potty is not a toy, that would help a lot!!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Photos for Friday: In Honor of DADDY!!!!

Came home from coffee run to find this yesterday. :)
Nothing better than wearing Daddy's Shoes!

Daddy with Wild Thing in Newport Beach

Daddy with Caterpillar at Home

Quite possibly first photo of father and son when Wild Thing was born almost 3 years ago

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sand & Water Play: Make a Road

As much as I hate to admit this, Bob the Builder inspired this activity.  In an episode of the show focused on making roads, they demonstrate how little ones can recreate the experience at home. We decided to try it and discovered it works, and is great backyard fun! You've got rocks, sand, water, shovels and trucks - what's not to love?

We used wood leftover from building a patio to set the frame for the road. Then came the real work - shoveling and laying rocks,

mixing sand and water to make "cement," (don't use too much water-pour off any excess water, so that you get a firm consistency, like wet sand at the beach)

laying the "cement" and flattening it down, (some of our rocks poked through!)

and, of course, the best part of all, (after you remove your frame)

taking the sandbox trucks for a nice drive on our freshly paved road. Give it a try!! (You know you live in Southern California when your toddler recreates a traffic jam!)

Tip - the next morning your firm road will be dry sand, but if you re-wet the sand, it's a quick way to repave the road! (Also - try to start with a flat surface, we didn't, so our road came out bumpy and rocky.)

Just linked up Toddler Games That Only Take You! with Family Connections Summer 2012's Old Fashioned Family Fun Link-Up.

Also sharing as part of the Daily Outdoor Challenge hosted by Cultivated Lives.

 You might also like:
Outdoor mural painting
Make Your Own Comic Book
Dinosaur/Jungle Play