The Benefits of Dirt and Mud Play — and the Easiest DIY Mud Kitchen Ever

The Benefits of Dirt and Mud Play —  and the Easiest DIY Mud Kitchen Ever

Our almost-four-year-old daughter is raising polar bears and panda bears in the bushes in our front yard. And, she feeds them sweet potatoes that she makes from the wood chips surrounding said bushes. She’s been raising these animals for more than a year, so we decided she needed some proper kitchen tools to help her along! Last Christmas, we bought her some stainless steel and aluminum cupspans, pots, spatulas, and spoons, and last spring, we made the simplest DIY mud kitchen that has ever been made. Why did we go to such lengths to encourage this play? Besides simply being an amazing creative outlet (I mean, think about the imagination required to keep those polar bears alive for so long!), did you know there are many, many other benefits to playing in dirt and mud? Read on for some of those benefits, as well as basic directions to our super simple mud kitchen! Continue reading “The Benefits of Dirt and Mud Play — and the Easiest DIY Mud Kitchen Ever”

Our Favorite Books About Apples

Our Favorite Books About Apples

We are fortunate to live close to many opportunities to pick fresh fruits, and we try to take advantage of that whenever we can — we love berry picking in early summer, we visit pumpkin farms in October, and we pick apples each September. And, of course, I love to create a good themed bookshelf to help the girls get excited about whatever we’re picking next. This year, our chosen day to pick apples landed closely after the start of school, so apple picking books got mixed in with back-to-school books on the shelf, but we still had a blast reading these books, and an even better time picking apples!

IMG_4160

(If you were an early, early follower on my Instagram page, you might remember my apple list from last year. I’ve updated it just a bit, so be sure to check out the list below. Age ranges are publisher recommendations, and all links included are Amazon Affiliate links).

Below, you’ll find both fiction and nonfiction titles, as well as books for a range of ages, so hopefully you’ll find a great book for your family’s or classroom’s needs! Continue reading “Our Favorite Books About Apples”

Sisters: Venus and Serena Williams by Jeanette Winter

Sisters: Venus and Serena Williams by Jeanette Winter

I am incredibly fortunate to have grown up in a family of readers, but my maternal and paternal grandmothers may take the cakes… One was actually a school librarian, and the other (who is 91!) still ravenously reads just about every book that has been published, it seems! Fortunately, our girls are lucky enough to know their 91-year-old great-grandmother, and even more fortunately, she loves to gift them books. When our older daughter turned 6 this past May, she received Sisters: Venus and Serena Williams by Jeanette Winter from her great-grandmother, and it was an instant hit! Continue reading “Sisters: Venus and Serena Williams by Jeanette Winter”

An Unexpected Restaurant Bag Win!

An Unexpected Restaurant Bag Win!

Towards the end of the summer, we took a family trip to Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Yosemite National Parks. If you’ve never been, those 3 national parks are just as breathtaking as you might imagine them to be… And giant sequoia trees are indeed gigantic. So much bigger than the redwoods we see somewhat regularly close to our home! But, this post isn’t about that trip… Instead, it’s about another new and very simple addition to my restaurant and waiting room “go” bag — watercolor paints!

Last spring, I wrote about how we always have a tote bag close to the door, loaded with various books and activities for the girls, easy to grab in case we are heading somewhere where they may need to wait or be entertained for a bit. We usually take it with us to restaurants, but we also grab it for doctors’ offices, siblings’ practices or classes, and car repair shops. A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I’ll be adding our Alphabet Go Fish game to this “go bag” rotation, and today, I’m here to let you know that watercolors are amazing to toss in, too! Continue reading “An Unexpected Restaurant Bag Win!”

Three Terrific Books for 9/11

Three Terrific Books for 9/11

In less than a week, we will acknowledge the 18th anniversary of the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. Aside from reading one of the books I’m recommending below, we have not intentionally talked with our daughters about the events of 9/11. But, now that they’re getting older and may be talking about that historic and tragic day at school, I wanted to search for some books that we could read with them to help them understand, in an age-appropriate way, what happened to our country that day. Below, I’ve got three titles I feel are excellent books about 9/11 to read with preschoolers and early elementary students. I’ve also got a few titles that I couldn’t easily get my hands on, so please check those out too, and comment below if you’ve read them and would recommend them (or not!). Continue reading “Three Terrific Books for 9/11”

What Does It Mean to Be Kind? by Rana DiOrio

What Does It Mean to Be Kind? by Rana DiOrio

If you’ve been following along for any amount of time, then you know how much we absolutely love the book Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller. Why do we love it? It actually gives children examples of how they can be kind to others… As adults, we so often tell children that they need to “be kind,” and we expect them to understand what kind behavior is. And the reality is that they often need explicit teaching and examples before they can truly understand this command. What Does It Mean to Be Kind? is another example of a great book that defines “be kind” for children, allowing them to take this command and act on it! Continue reading “What Does It Mean to Be Kind? by Rana DiOrio”

A Fun Game for Letter Recognition

A Fun Game for Letter Recognition

Back in July, I wrote a post full of suggestions for fun, natural ways to combat the summer learning slide. In case you missed it, I’ll give you a spoiler alert — none of my ideas involved worksheets, book reports, or comprehension quizzes! And that post struck a chord with you all! I received so many comments, messages, and emails full of appreciation for the ideas and thanks for the reassurance that parents (unless explicitly directed by a teacher or learning specialist, of course) really don’t need to do anything out of the ordinary to keep learning going through the summer!

And now, I’ve got an addition to that post: Alphabet Go Fish! This is another game to add to your collection, this time one that might help develop or keep early literacy skills. Do you have Alphabet Go Fish in your home or classroom game collection? If not, remedy that now! Continue reading “A Fun Game for Letter Recognition”