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!

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The Little Blue Cottage by Kelly Jordan

The Little Blue Cottage by Kelly Jordan

Our family goes to the same little beach each summer. In fact, I’ve been coming here with my family since I was a baby, my husband and I were married here, and our dog is named after it! Needless to say, it’s an important place in my heart and a part of who I am. When I first saw The Little Blue Cottage by Kelly Jordan, illustrated by Jessica Courtney-Tickle, I knew we were going to need to give this book a permanent spot in our home library…

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What We’re Doing to Combat the Summer Slide

What We’re Doing to Combat the Summer Slide

Parents, have you heard about summer learning loss, the summer slump, or the summer slide? Does what you’re hearing make you worry about what you need to do with your children over the summer to ensure they start a new school year fresh and ready to go, especially after such a strange finish to the most recent school year? Are you trying to do ALL THE THINGS to make this happen? Read on for a little info about summer learning loss, as well as what we’re doing in our house to keep skills up in fun and natural ways! Continue reading “What We’re Doing to Combat the Summer Slide”

The William Hoy Story (and Our Other Favorite Baseball Books)

The William Hoy Story (and Our Other Favorite Baseball Books)

One of my favorite things about reading so many books with my girls is that I often learn about people I would otherwise never know. Today’s picture book biography taught me about one such person, and I am so excited to share him with you!

When researching new picture books about baseball, I came across The William Hoy Story: How a Deaf Baseball Player Changed the Game by Nancy Churnin, illustrated by Jez Tuya. I had never heard of William Hoy but was definitely intrigued by the title of this book, and fortunately, I requested it from our library just before it closed in March. This story is so good! Read on to learn a little bit about William Hoy and how he changed baseball.

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What If by Samantha Berger

What If by Samantha Berger

What if you woke up one day and the pencil you’d always used to tell your stories had disappeared? That by itself is likely an easy problem to solve, as you’d have other ways to express yourself. But what if all of your creative outlets had disappeared? Would that stop you from creating? What If by Samantha Berger, illustrated by Mike Curato, addresses just this conundrum.

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Fantastic Fourth of July Reads

Fantastic Fourth of July Reads

I love the 4th of July. I love spending the day with my family and friends, often spending the whole day outside. I love swimming, be it in a pool, lake, river, or ocean. I love baseball games and Cracker Jack boxes. I love grilling (or barbequing, depending what part of the country you’re in…), hot dogs, and apple pies. I love fireworks. And I love celebrating our country and our independence, because despite our historical and current mistakes, America is a pretty great place to live.

Now that I’m a parent, it’s important to me that my children understand the historical context for Independence Day as well as enjoy the celebrations and traditions that take place on the 4th of July. So, as usual, I turn to books! Below, you’ll find a mix of books to help your family or classrooms prepare to celebrate Independence Day. Some of these books are very July 4th-specific, other provide some historical context to Independence Day, and others are beautiful celebrations of America. Whatever you’re looking for, I hope you find some good seasonal and patriotic reading!

And, be sure to check out these terrific books for celebrating Juneteenth, or Freedom Day, with your children!

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The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Manus Pinkwater

The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Manus Pinkwater

Up today, I’m sharing one of my all-time favorite books about creativity —  and the beauty of this one is that it also encompasses so many more important life lessons that you can read this multiple times and have completely different conversations with your children each time. Read on to see why we love The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Manus Pinkwater.

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Room on Our Rock by Kate and Jol Temple

Room on Our Rock by Kate and Jol Temple

Room on Our Rock by Kate and Jol Temple, illustrated by Terri Rose Baynton, is one of the more cleverly didactic picture books our family has ever read. We all know the saying “There are two sides to every story,” and many of us have said this very thing to our children or students. Room on Our Rock provides adults with a concrete way to bring meaning to these words, as well as illustrate the benefits of sharing and welcoming others to your space. Read on to see what makes this book so clever!

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Lift by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat

Lift by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat

Are your kids in major need of escape from your apartment or house right now? If so, Lift by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat (the same duo who brought us Drawn Together), might be the perfect inspiration for some much-needed imaginative adventures! Read on to see why we love this picture book (that is also a perfect bridge into reading graphic novels) that perfectly captures the ups and downs of sibling relationships AND will motivate children to transform their days with a simple push of a button.

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