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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Love Affair With Books - New Edition

Every once in a while, I like to give you the titles of some kids' books that I love!  If reading children's books was a viable career, I'd be all over that!

So, here are my latest suggestions:

Aidan got this book for his birthday from my best friend.  This book is amazing!  I love this dynamic duo writing illustrating team, that brought you classics, like "Today I Feel Silly".  This book is about a teacher who gives her students an assignment - her great-grandmother came over to America from an unnamed far distant place.  All she could take with her was what she could fit in a small suitcase.  The teacher then produces that small bag, and each student takes turns taking it home, and deciding what they would take with them.  This is a PERFECT book for us right now, because we are going through something similar, and in a few months, Aidan will be having to make some similar decisions.  Thankfully, we're able to take more than one small suitcase, but there will be some tough choices coming up, especially if you're 3 years old.

Louis Slobodkin was a prolific writer in the 50's and 60's.  This was one of my books when I was little, and I love it!  It's about a grandma who babysits her twin grandsons for a week.  One of them loses a mitten, and the whole town ends up finding lost mittens everywhere, and brings them to the boys' house.  Grandma and the boys decide to make a clothesline for all the extra "missing mittens", so that anyone who lost a red mitten can go there and find it.  Then, mom and dad come back from vacation, and brought back everyone a little something, and the boys got...
The link to this book is actually a single volume edition of three of their books, one of them being "A Good Place To Hide", which is another wonderful story!

This is one of those sweet, bedtime, love-affirming books.  The words, although gentle and well-written, aren't the reason this book made the list.  It's the illustrations.  The reason I love the illustrations, is because the "parent" figure is a bear, and the "child" figure is a bunny.  Of course, it's never pointed out or mentioned.  I think this would a wonderful addition for families with adopted children, or even foster children - showing that you don't have to look alike, for the love to be real, unconditional and unwavering.

I am a BIG Patricia Polacco fan!  Her book the Keeping Quilt will always be a Top 3 of mine!  My principal at the school I worked at introduced me to this one, and I love it too!  It's about a little old lady, Babushka, who paints beautiful eggs to sell every year in Moscow.  One day, she sees an injured goose, and takes her in, to nurse her back to health.  They become very close, but one day, the goose (Rechenka) gets startled and accidentally knocks over all of Babushka's painted eggs, and they all break.  Babushka is devastated, as she won't have anything to sell at market.  But the next day, Rechenka starts to lay beautifully painted eggs...

This book gets me emotional every time.  It's about a Little Seed and a Little Fox, who both have to overcome their fears when life changes.  The seed loves living in a cozy seed packet in the Farmer's shed, but one day the Farmer tells him, that he has a plan for him, and plants him in the dirt.  The seed doesn't understand why he's in a dark, messy place, but decides to trust the Farmer.  There's a recurring line in it, that says "The Farmer was good, and the Farmer was kind, and the Farmer was always watching over them.  Even when they didn't know it."  

We had the great pleasure of driving through Nashville last year, and visited the Johnny Cash Museum.  We found this book there!  The author has written poems about Johnny Cash's life, and used Johnny Cash's song titles as the names for each one.  The illustrations are very beautiful!  We're big Johnny Cash fans, so for us this was a great find!  

I added this one for Aidan, haha!  This is a fun flight of imagination for a boy who is bored on a road trip.  This one may appeal to me because of all the itinerating we've been doing, but it really is full of all-boy fun!

So there you have it!  Those are my latest children's book recommendations!  Do you have any you think I should check out for next time?  What's your favorite children's book?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

DIY Toddler Alphabet Book

If you're been following my blog, you know that for the past 26(ish) weeks, we've been making our way through the alphabet.  Each week as one of our crafts, we've been making a craft, revolving around whatever we've been learning about.

As we just wrapped up our last week, I was finally able to put it all together.  I punched two holes in the side, put them in order, made a cover, laced some ribbon through it, and tied it all up!  Here are the pictures of each page, to give you ideas for your own book!

And there you have it!  If you decide to make something similar, I would LOVE to see pictures of it1

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Toddler Fun, Week 26: Letter W, Number 5, Gray and Whales

Ah, whales... majestic, graceful giants of the sea.
They are the perfect animal to learn the letter "W" with.
Whales were nearly wiped out by 1970 due to whalers, but because of the conservation efforts of groups like Save The Whales, many of the species have been brought back from the brink of extinction. I think it's very important that we learn as much as we can about them, and protect them to the best of our abilities.

Week 26
Letter: W
Number: 5
Color: Gray
Animal: Whales


Jacksonville is a great city, with wonderful museums!  One of them is the MOSH (Museum of Science and History).  This is a very kid-friendly, hands-on museum, which just so happens to only cost $5 on Fridays!  You saw that right!  $5 Fridays!  So, on this Good Friday, we got together with Aidan's best little buddy and his sister, and had a day of science and discovery!
 They first exhibit is called Atlantic Tails, and it is about whales, manatees and dolphins.  The mural right before you walk in is beautiful, and the boys loved it!

I love the life-sized whale mama, calf and dolphin too!  Also, check out that baleen!  That's what non-toothed whales have.  Water sifts through it, and little shrimp, krill and the like gets stuck in it. It's amazing!
 All the exhibits were very interactive, which of course the littles loved!  This one in particular had a joy stick, which when moved showed how manatees' migration changes based on the season.
There was another one, which lit up different one with buttons, which highlighted their different body parts, and fun facts about them.  They also had bone replicas, which were fun!
 This one was my favorite.  It demonstrated how sonar works.  The kid operating it points it at something, and then it makes a pinging sound, and tells them how far away it is!  What's even cooler, is that the closer you get to the machine, the louder, and quicker the sound becomes.  When I said it was like "sonar", Aidan right away knew what that was!  He said "like Bailey the beluga"!  I love it when they make connections like that!
This one was fun too!  It had different animals (dolphins, whales, manatees, humans, etc.), and the sounds they made!  It was really interesting!  Manatees make a really sweet sound!

2. Bay & Bee
If you've visited my blog before, you know about this AMAZING indoor play space we go to, called Bay & Bee.  This week, Aidan pretended to go on a whale watching expedition...
And then all on his own, he found this whale toy, and kept pretending it was a beached whale, and he kept rescuing it.  I love watching his imagination at work!

3. Fine Motor Practice
It takes all of my OCD mama strength to let him, but sometimes the boy just needs to color, and be free.  Coloring pages are great, especially ones with the letter on them nice and big like that, are great for reinforcement!
Do-A-Dot worksheets are awesome!  I know they have special markers for them, but we didn't have any, so I used a sponge paintbrush and stamp pad.  It's a great pre-writing practice!  It reinforces the shape of the letter, and encourages fine-motor skills in a very age-appropriate way.  Also, it's totally fun!

I also found this free worksheet packet, with lots of great practice sheet.  He did REALLY well with this giant W, and stayed mainly in the lines.
This sheet had SO many good things, letters, numbers, colors, writing, it's awesome!  Aidan is doing great with his letters, but not sure on his numbers, but we practiced right before this, and he actually did very well, so that made him feel good about himself!

4. Baleen vs. Toothed Whales
So, there are two types of whales - toothed, and baleen.  Baleen is the same material as nails and hair.  Whales take big gulps of krill-filled water, then they push the water back out of their baleen, and the krill gets stuck in them.  To show what that would be like, I filled a bowl of water with dried basil/mediterranean seasoning, and then we used a comb to sift it out.  I saw another idea, where you take a gulp of water with raisins, and then push the water back out.  Aidan isn't super great about following directions, especially when he gets excited, and he has a very sensitive gag-reflex, so I didn't opt for that one, but I think it would make for a great exercise!
 For the toothed whale, I put together egg carton, and used a rubber glove on the back.  Of course, it's made out of cardboard, so it didn't last long, but I added some raisins, that we tried grabbing with the "teeth".
Look at those chubby little fingers!  Why can't they just stay that way?!

It was a really fun activity, and then he got to play in his little kiddie pool, so that didn't hurt!

This is a great chart to show you which whale falls under which category.  One of Aidan's favorite is the sperm whale, which he likes to tell EVERYONE.  Super fun for me, haha!

5. Goldfish Counting
 A few weeks ago, when we were doing G is for Goldfish, I found, and printed out these goldfish counting cards.  I laminated them, and I'm so glad I did!  That means I could use them again and again!  I found whale shaped crackers, and we used them instead.
He did really well, and I let him eat them in between too, which helped with the whole "hangry toddler" thing, lol!

6. "Blowhole" Letter Blasting
For this AWESOME activity, I went out, and wrote a bunch a letters on the driveway with chalk.  Then, I bought this blaster (for $0.96, score!!), and we pretended it was a whale blowhole.  I would tell Aidan which letter spray, then he would spray it.  Then we switched it up, and he would tell me what letter he wanted to blast, and then went after it!
 So much fun!
There's a nice big W!  Bam!!


1. Cheerio Apple Whale
For this tasty treat, I used an apple, cheerios, a blueberry, a slice of strawberry, and a candy eye.  Yum!!

2. Whale Sandwich
For this lunch I cut out a paper whale template, which I then used to cut the sandwich.  For the sun I used cucumber dill hummus (so yummy, I found it at Aldi), and baby carrots, mango for the water (I was all out of blueberries), a candy eye (which of course he ate first), and a strawberry sliver for a smile. 

3. Whale Cracker Snack
For this snack, I used blueberries that we got through Local Fare Jax, where we get fresh and organic local produce delivered to us every other week.  These are seriously the BIGGEST and tastiest blueberries I've ever seen!  Then I used Stauffer's whale cheese crackers, clementine segment halves, an apple slice, fruit leather and a strawberry slice.


1. W is for Whale
I couldn't find anything on pinterest that I liked for W is for whale, so I came up with this.  I used the Vineyard Vine whale logo as a template, and then cut out a "W", and some water droplets.  Then I let him glue it all together.  Ta-Da!

2. Whale Paper Plate Craft
We followed the instructions found on this blog, here.  We folded the paper plate in half, the cut it according to the directions, then added water, and let Aidan paint it.
 So much concentration!

And there it is!  We decided it was humpback whale.  <3

3. Jonah and the Big Fish
I found this template for this craft.  I printed it out, Aidan colored it, I cut it out, glued it to a clothespin (whale parts on the front, Jonah on the back), and...
There it is!  So, so cute, if I do say so myself!

Books and Media

We Read:

1. The Storm Whale by Benji Davies
This books has beautiful illustrations!  It's a very sweet story about a boy who finds a beached whale, and tries to hide him in his bathtub.  

2. The Blue Whale by Jenni Desmond
This book is set up, and looks like a non-fiction storybook, but it's actually very informative.  And again, the illustrations are what really set this book apart.  Simply beautiful.

3. The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson
We loved this story!  It's about a snail who wants to see the world, so a whale gives her a ride on his tail.  They see all kinds of adventures together, until the whale gets beached, and then it's up to the snail to save her friend.

4. The Stranded Whale by Jane Yolen
This sad story is about a whale who gets beached, and although some young kids do their best to keep him alive, it passes away.  This story was a little sad for Aidan, so I tweaked it a bit, to where I just said that the whale was "gone".  It's a good story, but definitely one for older readers.

5. As Long As There Are Whales by Evelyne Dangle
We found this book at a library sale a few months ago.  It gives a glimpse into the whales that live in the St. Lawrence River in Canada.  It talks about the different species, what they eat, their stats, their mating rituals... yeah, haha! We skipped that page.  But we did talk about umbilical cords, as it talked about what makes them mammals. :)  

We Watched:

1. Wild Kratts, Season 4 Episode 13 - The Mystery of the Two Horned Narwhal - This is a great episode, which incorporates Inuit folklore as well as science, of course.  Also, I learned that there are, in rare instances some narwhals (1 in every 500 males) that have two horns.  What!?  Also, they aren't horns - my bad! - they're teeth, AKA tusks.

2. Wild Kratts, Season 1 Episode 2 - Whale of a Squid - This episode dives (get it?) into the depths of the ocean, and the ferocious fights that can happen between sperm whale and giant squid.  It's something fierce!  (This episode is currently on the FREE PBS Kids Watch App.)

3.  Wild Kratts, Season 4 Episode 3 - This Orca Likes Sharks - Okay, so according to my research, orca (or killer whale) are actually a type of dolphin, not a whale.  But, for the purposes of this week, it'll do.  Man, those guys are intense predators!!

4. Finding Dory - Aidan really loves Bailey in this movie, which is a bonus, because the whole "echo location" thing really sunk in!  Right now, it's on Netflix!

5. Octonauts - This kids' show is currently on Netflix.  There are many episodes about whales, here are some of them: Octonauts and the Orcas, Octonauts and the Albino Humpback Whale, Octonauts and the Narwhal, Octonauts and the Mixed Up Whales, Octonauts and the Beluga Whales, Octonauts and the Arctic Orcas, Octonauts and the Bowhead Whales, Octonauts and the Scared Sperm Whale, and Octonauts and the Humpback Whales.

6. The Cat In The Hat Knows A Lot About That, Season 1 Episode 4 - Whale Music - In this episode the kiddos and the Cat head out to meet Humphrey the Humpback whale, who teaches them a little about whales, as well as singing!  This episode is currently on Netflix.

7. Preschool Learn to Dance: Big Blue Whale - this youtube channel has a lot of really fun dance videos for kids, and this one just so happens to be about whales!