Friday, February 3, 2017

February Book Picks

Ah, February, the month of all things sweet. Lots of hugs and kisses, love, friendship, and sweet treats (extra for me since it's my birthday month)! This month I highlighted a few books that fit these themes for our monthly book shelf. Plus I've included a super quick and easy fun Valentine's Day craft. It's "sleep deprived mom of 2 under 2" tested and approved, so you know it will be low effort but still cute! Oh man, I could say a lot about that sleep deprived thing right now...the 4 month sleep regression is alive and well in this house, let me tell you! Good thing Miss C is super cute and cuddly...although I do appreciate her cute-and-cuddliness way more at times that don't fall between the hours of 11pm and 5 am. Anyhow, enough of my complaining, let's get down to business!


#shelfie


Here's what we are reading this month:

"Love is a Truck" and "Love is a Tutu" by Amy Novesky:

I first spotted these two books a few months ago, back before Christmas.  I was tempted, but I resisted the urge to buy them around the holidays, knowing they would make the perfect gifts for E and C to "give" each other. Not that either of them is even remotely aware of getting or giving gifts, but it's a great excuse to buy a couple cute books never to early to foster a little sibling love right?

"Love is a Truck" and "Love is a Tutu" show the many faces that love can take on. From a toddler's loving obsession with a favorite toy, pastime, or category, all the way to the unique love with have with a special person. These books just hit home so easily when you are living in toddler land. I mean, the little boy who loves all things trucks is just so spot on my son. He is always pushing a truck, riding a truck, collecting his truck puzzle pieces, reading truck books, zooming and vrooming.  I love how these books made me think about all the little "loves" that our kiddos take on as they grow, and how silly they can be sometimes. Seriously, over the past two weeks, E's favorite "toy" has been a handful of pencils-he certainly would be saying "Love is a pencil" right now, if he could form sentences, that is! Plus, the bright, bold, tricolor illustrations are totally awesome as well, and make these books easy to spot on the shelf!

You make my heart go Vroom Vroom!
You love me?! I love you tutu!


"Three Little Words" by Clemency Pearce:

This adorably illustrated picture book explores three special little words, and all the instances where hearing them makes you feel so much better! Friendly little forest animals experience some common negative experiences that preschoolers may also go through...losing a race, scary dreams, meeting new friends...and find that hearing "I love you!" from a family member can make those yucky feelings disappear!  The final pages turn it around and give little ones a chance to think about how they can make someone else's yucky feelings disappear...I'll give you a hint-it's by saying "four little words". Any book that gives toddlers and preschoolers the opportunity to explore their feelings and help open up discussion about them is certainly a great resource, and this book could definitely do that!
A Perfect Cuddle Bedtime Story


"Duck and Goose: Goose Needs a Hug" by Tad Hills:

Well, with my over tired Mommy brain, I pulled out the "wrong" Duck and Goose book...I was totally thinking of "Duck and Goose: How Are You Feeling?" for Valentine's Day, but this one works too!  I actually forgot about a bunch of our love themed books while I was planning out which books to feature this month, oops!  Anyways, we love all the "Duck and Goose" books! Duck, Goose, and their friends are lovable in the same way my toddler is lately-adorable, silly, a little bossy at times, and occasionally misunderstood!  In this story, Goose is feeling a little sad.  His friends want to cheer him up, and try lots of different things,  Eventually they find out just what Goose needs, simply by listening to what he has to say! A perfect lesson for littles (and a reminder for moms and dads too), that sometimes the best way to help someone out is by hearing what they have to say! This book works pretty well in combination with "Three Little Words" to get kiddos talking about their own feelings, and feelings that others have too!

A glass of wine?

**Bonus** Busy Mommy Craft-Conversation Heart inspired garland:

So I love Pinterest as much as the next girl. And I've actually made my share of Pinterest projects that have turned out pretty good (and a few fails too). However, sometimes I want to just do a craft that can be completed in less than one nap time (the dishes aren't going to do themselves, and all that), with materials that I already have laying around.

E's shelf garland relocated to a toddler safe zone.
He doesn't always approve of my Mom crafts, obviously.


 Enter the Busy Mommy Craft. As easy as one, two, three (four):

  1.  Using construction paper or scrapbook paper, cut out some simple heart shapes.
  2. Write love themed sayings on each heart.  You could choose your favorite traditional Conversation Heart sayings, or make up your own! You could even have your little ones help by making up their own creative phrases. If you need some inspiration, check out this Smithsonian article that details the history of this favorite candy, and is sprinkled with favorite sayings both old and new.
  3. If you have a hole punch, use that to create holes on each side of your heart, about 1/3 of the way down from the top. 
  4. Using a length of wide ribbon or tulle, thread through the two holes in each heart. You can adjust the spacing of the hearts after they are all strung on, and to fit how you like them in the space of your choosing. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Multicultural Children's Book Day!

Welcome to my post in celebration of the Multicultural Children's Book Day! This year, I have had the pleasure of being a book reviewer! I'll let you know all about that in just a sec, but first, here's some info from the lovely people who set this whole day up!

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness on the ongoing need to include kid’s books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.  Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team are on a mission to change all of that. Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. Platinum Sponsors include ScholasticBarefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. RomanAudrey Press, Candlewick Press,  Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTVCapstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle SwiftWisdom Tales PressLee& Low BooksThe Pack-n-Go GirlsLive Oak MediaAuthor Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books Author Sponsor include: Karen Leggett AbourayaVeronica AppletonSusan Bernardo, Kathleen BurkinshawMaria DismondyD.G. DriverGeoff Griffin Savannah HendricksStephen HodgesCarmen Bernier-Grand,Vahid ImaniGwen Jackson Hena, Kahn, David Kelly, Mariana LlanosNatasha Moulton-LevyTeddy O'MalleyStacy McAnulty,  Cerece MurphyMiranda PaulAnnette PimentelGreg RansomSandra Richards, Elsa TakaokaGraciela TiscareƱo-Sato,  Sarah Stevenson, Monica Mathis-Stowe SmartChoiceNation, Andrea Y. Wang

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also work tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.
MCBD Links to remember:MCBD site: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrtaFree Kindness Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teachers-classroom-kindness-kit/Free Diversity Book Lists and Activities for Teachers and Parents: http://bit.ly/1sZ5s8i
What a fun day it was when I opened my mailbox and found that my review books had arrived! I received a beautiful little set of board books, "Little Artists Books" by Niki Daly, published by Kane Miller Books. Little E and I were immediately drawn in by the cherry illustrations, and simple, happy stories.  This sweet little set comes together in a cute little slipcase, which Little E quickly took to carrying around the house.  The books are just the right size for little hands to grasp onto, and make it easy for toddlers to turn the pages all on their own.  Each story follows a different child on a different artistic endeavor-music, painting, dancing, or fashion design.  The stories depict children of different races taking part in these beloved childhood activities.  I find that the simplistic nature of the stories and settings make it easy for a young child to connect to. What little toddler doesn't love painting or music; dancing or dress up?  I love that my kiddos can see children that look a little different from them, as well as some who look similar, all engaging in activities that my little ones enjoy!

The four "Little Artists Books" by Niki Daly


To expand on the fun of the "Little Artists Books", I decided to do a little art and music infusion project with my 1.5 year old, Little E. Little E has been having a blast ignoring his lovely store bought toys after Christmas, in favor for a more homemade, recycling bin variety.  I'm totally one to embrace that, which is what, along with the music and art themes in the "Little Artists Books", inspired me to help him out with a "Recycle Bin Rock Band".

I decided to break the fun up into three days, to encourage a few repeated readings of the books.  Also, I'm not that much of a crazy person to believe that we would continue to have fun with this all in one sitting, while I also entertained 4 month old Miss C. On our first day we did some recycle bin art and focused on the Little Artist story "Carlos".  Carlos makes some pretty awesome paintings, and his story points out different colors, shapes, and lines.  I wanted to give Little E a chance to play around with those same elements, so we broke out the finger paint and got to work. With a little scurrying around the house, I found Little E some tools that he could use to create different types on lines and shapes with his finger paints. Awesome stuff  we used included a plastic fork (great for tiny dots and straight lines), a cotton ball (for big dots), a foam brush, the cap from a fruit and yogurt pouch (perfect circles!), and a q-tip.

Our paint exploration materials and "Carlos" book

With a little quick prep (high chair for mess containment, baby wipes for clean up) it was easy to let Little E go crazy for a bit as he explored with his different tools.

Forks make great dots and sets of stripes!


A nice blue smear from a foam brush.


Mixing colors and tools!


On Day 2 we focused on the Little Artist story "Mondi".   Mondi loves to make music! So we went scurrying around the house yet again and found all the supplies we needed for a fun, homemade rain marker instrument.  It is so easy, and you can do it too!

  1. Raid your recycle bin for a long container-we used a Pringles can!
  2. Fill the can with about 10 sticks, collected from the back yard. 
  3. Add in some small filler material (rice, dried beads, small beads, etc). We used birdseed, because it happened to be the first thing I found. Obviously, if you have little ones, use your judgement and appropriate supervision with this project and any chokeable parts. The twigs will filter the filler material giving it a rain like sound. Play around with how much filler you add based off of what sound you like best-it will vary based on your container shape, number of sticks, type of material used. This is a great way to get older kiddos involved-they will love making predictions about how the sounds change based on all of these variables.
  4. Use duct tape to secure the lid to the container. We simply wrapped a piece around where the two pieces meet.
  5. We used our lovely art from Day 1 to cover our container and make our instrument beautiful!
  6. That's it-you are ready to enjoy!


Our "Mondi" book and rain maker instrument

To celebrate all of our hard work, on Day 3 we had our "Recycle Bin Rock Band" concert, in front of all our favorite teddy bear friends! We are looking forward to seeing all the other books and ideas shared throughout the day today to celebrate and bring awareness to the importance of multicultural books!

Rock on!


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Let it Snow!

It's safe to say winter has arrived here in New England, with several snow storms throughout the region in the past few weeks! This month E's bookshelf is spotlighting books about snow, and the many different experiences we can have with it!

I spy, with my little eye, someone RED!


"The Mitten" by Jan Brett: Many are familiar with Brett's retelling of this classic Ukrainian folk tale. Her beautiful illustrations bring to life winter scenes from a time and place far away. The story is of a little boy who has lost one of his snowy white mittens, and the animals who find it. It is simple enough for the youngest readers to follow along, but the illustrations add plenty of interest for older children as well.

"White Snow, Bright Snow" by Alvin Tresselt: This story, originally published in 1947, depicts the first snowfall in a small town. It has an old time classic charm, as we follow the activities of several different members of the community. There are great opportunities for children to compare and contrast with the different activities of characters at the first snow and first sign of spring, or between the different ways each neighbor reacts to the snow.

"The Little Snowplow" by Lora Koehler: A sweet story for younger children who might feel like being little isn't great. A new little snowplow has joined the city garage, but the other vehicles don't think he will be much of a help with the impending winter storms. Little Snowplow spends his time practicing and practicing, and when the biggest storm of all arrives, he finds out that being little-and working hard-can have there advantages.

"Snowmen at Night" by Caralyn Buehner: This is when of those books that makes me think "Why didn't I think of that?"! Find out what snowmen do at night, and why they sometimes end up looking so different from when they were first built. As a bonus, the illustrations have hidden pictures on each page. A great story full of imagination!

"Hideaway Husky" by Lisa McCue: This story is surprisingly cute for a book written to go along with a toy. I had low expectations but it turned out to be a nice read with cute illustrations. Paw is the smallest husky at the ranch, and really wants to be a part of the dogsled team. He proves his worth when a young child gets lost in a snowstorm and Paw comes to the rescue!

#shelfie


Winter is such a great time to cozy up with some books! What are your favorite reads during the winter?

Friday, December 9, 2016

Christmas Books

We are just starting out our family Christmas book collection. One of the best parts of having little ones comes at this time of year. Watching them experience the magic of the season is so inspiring, and sharing traditions with my kiddos is certainly something I look forward to as they grow. Of course part of those traditions comes in sharing a few Christmas stories throughout the season. Here are a few highlights from what we are reading this month...

#shelfie


"The Sweet Smell of Christmas" Patricia Scarry- Boy does this one bring back some memories! If you haven't seen this book yet, it's a sweet little story of a little bear who is experiencing the Christmas season through lots of yummy smells. Of course it's scratch and sniff, the best part!  I noticed it popping up here and there on my Instagram feed in the last few weeks! Suddenly I was transported back in time, remembering the smell of the pine tree and candy cane hidden on the pages. I called up my mom to see if she remembered all of the smells and we enjoyed reminiscing about the book. A few days later, we just so happened to be searching for an entirely different, non Christmas book at Barnes and Noble and I just so happened to spot this one on the shelves! I snatched it up to add to our collection. I think E will really enjoy it next year, when he is a little more capable of the whole scratch and sniff business!

"Duck and Goose: It's Time for Christmas!" By Tad Hills- We are big Duck and Goose fans at the moment. The characters are adorable, the themes are relatable, and they are just long enough to hold the attention of a squirming toddler (I'm looking at you E)! This Christmas tale features Duck and Goose engaging in a variety of winter activities, before finally taking part in a favorite Christmas tradition.

Duck...duck...duck...SANTA!


"Click, Clack, Ho!, Ho!, Ho!" By Doreen Cronin- I've found that any book that features a story within a story is really fun for kids. They love being in the know as something is going on that other characters have yet to find out! In this tale, silly Duck tries to take on the role of Santa-until he gets stuck! He needs help from his barn yard pals and a special friend. Meanwhile, the Farmer is patiently waiting for Santa, little does he know he's about to be in for a big surprise! Lots of silly Christmas fun!

"The Story of Christmas" By Patricia Pingry- This simple story tells the Christmas story in a simple way that is easy for even the smallest kiddos to listen to and find meaning it. It also connects the Christmas story to the Christmas celebration many children are very familiar with-exchanging gifts.

"The Polar Express"  By Chris Van Allsburg- Many love this Christmas classic. It holds a special place in my heart for the tradition my sister and I created around it, and now share with my kiddos. It's just a simple reading of the story of Christmas Eve right before bedtime, but it's something that my sister and I cherish, and I hope my children will too. This story is just so perfect, a description of it really can't do it justice.

Love this page, and this scene in the movie!


I have been enjoying sharing these books with my little ones this month, and look forward to our collection growing as we celebrate many more Christmases to come!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Bears, and Bears, and Bears...Oh My!

With winter just around the corner (I know, I don't want to hear it either), we are getting to know one of our favorite hibernaters this month. Here are a few of our favorite books about bears.

#shelfie


"Little Cub" by Olivier Dunrea: This sweet board book reminds me a little of my Dad and my son! Grumbly Old Bear and innocent Little Cub find each other in the forest, and find that each has something perfect to offer the other in their little relationship. Conversation starter about how everyone brings a little something to a relationship. 
*Bonus: Great as a tool for compare/contrast.

"Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" & "Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?" by Bill Martin Jr.: I'd venture a guess that most are familiar with these classics! They are delighting my toddler at the moment. A perfect combination of rhythm, bold pictures, and familiar animals, what more could a 16 month old ask for?
*Bonus: We are using these as a tool for teaching and reinforcing color identification.

"Charlie Goes Camping" by Carrie Weston: I love this book for preschoolers. Charlie is a gentle bear who helps his teacher and classmates to have the best field trip ever!
*Bonus:  So cute and has so many talking points and lessons offered! Try talking about what it's like to judge someone by what they look like, listening and being safe on a field trip, or to introduce the topic of camping.

"Bear Snores On" by Karma Wilson: If your family hasn't been introduced to Bear and his friends yet, now is the time! The sing song text and beautiful illustrations make this series a big hit at my house. 

We're all about those bears



*Bonus: While you're at it, grab "Bear Stays Up For Christmas" just in time for the start of the holiday season. You won't be disappointed!

What bear books should we check out next?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Here's to the Start

Starting is always the hardest part right? Finding the perfect words to open your college essay with. The first bits of awkward conversation on a first date. Tying your shoes. Riding a bike. I don't think I need to exhaust the whole list of things that come with shaky beginnings. Instead I'll get to the point and start out my first ever blog post.

Being a stay at home mom with "two under two" is busy...especially on the days like today when the toddler figures out how to climb onto the entertainment center for the first time. But between all the wiped up spills, kissed boo boos, belly laughs, and cold dinners, sometimes my brain feels a little neglected. So in the hopes that I can give my brain a little bit of a workout now and then, I'm giving this blog thing a try. 

My plan is to write about a few of the things I love, and be linked up with an Instagram account. As a former teacher who can't get enough of books (especially kid lit.), I'm hoping to share some of my family's favorite reads each month. I've also been dying to get in on a good Instagram #seaglasschallenge but didn't want to participate through my private account. Perhaps I'll throw in some crafting and decorating, possibly a silly story about a kiddo now and then. Who knows where it will end up, but for now...here's to the start.