Our Annual Children’s Book Exchange Party

Our Annual Children’s Book Exchange Party

Earlier this week, our neighborhood playgroup had our 7th annual winter/holiday book exchange party with our children. Yes, we’ve been doing this for seven years, which means we started when our oldest children were a mere few months old. Though our playgroup no longer meets weekly, the children eagerly anticipate this book exchange party every December, and no matter how busy our schedules get, the moms in the group do our very best to make this gathering a priority! Read on for a little information (and hopefully inspiration!) for how we run our book exchange. Continue reading “Our Annual Children’s Book Exchange Party”

How to Raise a Reader by Pamela Paul and Maria Russo

How to Raise a Reader by Pamela Paul and Maria Russo

A few weeks ago, when I told my Instagram followers that I had received How to Raise a Reader by Pamela Paul and Maria Russo (editors of The New York Times Book Review and parents themselves), I got an onslaught of messages asking me for my thoughts on it! I was able to finish this on a flight a few weekends ago, but I spent some time going through the pages and paragraphs I had marked to choose some of my favorites to share with you… So, at long last, I’ve got some information for you about How to Raise a Reader! Continue reading “How to Raise a Reader by Pamela Paul and Maria Russo”

Tips for Transitioning to Chapter Book Read-Alouds (and a Delightful Series to Try)

Tips for Transitioning to Chapter Book Read-Alouds (and a Delightful Series to Try)

One of the questions that I often get asked is how and when to transition from reading only picture books with your children to reading some chapter books as well. While no one child will transition the same way, I’ll share some tips and tricks here for you, as well as recommend a delightfully sweet chapter book series to share with your children! Continue reading “Tips for Transitioning to Chapter Book Read-Alouds (and a Delightful Series to Try)”

An Easy Way to Receive Just Right Books for Your Child

An Easy Way to Receive Just Right Books for Your Child

When I was in the classroom, one of my favorite parts of our reading workshop program was assessing my students’ “just right” reading levels and helping them find high-interest, accessible books to read. Now that we have a reader in our house, I am confident that my teaching background gives me a general understanding of what her independent reading level is and helps me find appropriate books for her to read. But, I understand most parents don’t have the benefit of this professional background when helping their children find books (as is evidenced by the frequent questions I get from followers who need help finding books for their children). That is why I am thrilled to introduce you all to Just Right Reader, a company that will not only help parents figure out their children’s “just right” reading levels, but also send books at these reading levels to the children! Continue reading “An Easy Way to Receive Just Right Books for Your Child”

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”

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!”

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”