Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Biggest Love of All

There are candy hearts 
and teddy bears,
cards and books 
filling the shelves.
TV commercials 
and billboard signs,
all telling you to 
that someone special 
something special.

I love holidays.  I've said that before, and telling those we love how dear to us they are is something we should do and go ahead and celebrate this day of love with them. But the thing is, in all of this commercialized love, what about the love we have for our children?  I think that love is the biggest love of all. 

Think about it.  We love our kids before they are born.  As mothers we stress about what we are putting in our bodies while carrying this new precious life.  We fall in love with that baby and are glowing when we feel that first flutter.  We know, without a doubt, that we will love our kids no matter what.  As parents all we want for our kids is for them to be happy and healthy.  

So with all of that, this Valentine's Day I want to give you a couple books that aren't just for today, but every day to celebrate and tell our little ones how much we love them, everyday!

How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You?
Written by Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Mark Teague

If you are familiar with Jane Yolen's How Do Dinosaurs Books this one does read a bit different, but it does perfectly depict many things children do on a daily bases and how we still love them.  Instead of asking questions of "Does a dinosaur throw a fit?" in this book Jane is writing in "You" so it reads "You made such a mess!"  
I love that all of the situations in the book are ones we deal with as parents.  Our kids are the dinosaurs in the book.  They are sour at times and then they do something so sweet it melts our hearts.  It doesn't matter if they had a tantrum in the store and you felt like your just lost your sanity and everyone was starting, that moment will pass and the next moment when everyone has cooled off they crawl into your lap and give you a hug and all you know you love them no matter what.  Children are still learning how to control their impulses, and emotions, which is hard to do.  Think of how often we yell in the moment when we are upset.  Mark Teague does a wonderful job putting those emotions in the faces of the illustrations.  The mom in the parking lot telling the dinosaur to stop dragging his feet and get over here.  He captured that mom face we all make.  I stopped reading and said "That's me!  That's the face I make at you!"  Which made us all laugh.  The illustrations in this series is always fun because the dinosaur is in the place of the child and you have this huge creature inside a house or car and they make you laugh. 

I used this book as my inspiration for my daughter's card and told her:

LOVE from The Very Hungry Caterpillar
by Eric Carle
 I love the idea of this book coming from The Very Hungry Caterpillar and telling your child how much they mean to you.  It's an adorable fun book to curl up and read.  It doesn't have to just be on the day the calendar tells you to tell other people you love them, this is something your kids should hear all the time.  I love the classic Eric Carle illustrations.

How Many Kisses Do You Want Tonight?
Written by Varsha Bajaj
Illustrated by Ivan Bates

This has been my youngest daughter's favorite book for over a week now.  She loves the question of "How many kisses do you want tonight?" and all the animals in the book, and that in the end she gets covered in mommy kisses.
The book concept is cute, each baby animal is getting tucked into bed and they say how many kisses they want.  I love the counting then when you reach 10 I love the surprise that that's not where the book ends.
Varsha has done a sweet job of rhyming, counting, and giving us a tour of this farm as everyone says good night.
This is now one of my favorite bedtime books because it allows your child to snuggle up with you and think of how many kisses they want.  They might say "none, I want two hugs" and this is teaching them that they can say what they want to receive for affection.

Since my youngest loves this book I used it for her Valentine and did the math of how many kisses she'd get if I was to give her a kiss for every day I loved her.

Remember everyday is the day to tell your loved ones you love them.  Tell them why you love them too. If you are looking for a book to help express that love you have for your kids then I hope I gave you a few titles to read with them.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

GERMS!! Teaching kids about hand washing and how germs spread.

I love working with preschoolers, they are becoming their own person and absorbing all the information that's around them.  Along with taking in all the info they are also learning about sharing, which is sweet, until you are trying to teach them things they shouldn't share and why, like their cups and the toy that was just in their mouth...why toys are still going into mouths when they are transitioning into kindergarten, and beyond I'm not sure but yes that's something we deal with.  Any one around preschoolers and elementary age children can tell you that the staff is crossing their fingers in high hopes of not catching every "bug" that spreads like wildfire through their classroom or school.  There have been plenty of times when half the class is out sick.  Or a whole two weeks of passing the stomach flu from one kid to the next at the center.

Before we go on and talk more about germs and how to reduce the sick days for everyone, let's take a minute to give a round a applause, and say Thank You! to all the teachers in day care centers, preschools, bus drivers, aids, and any other staff that I might be forgetting at the moment because these teachers (and staff) are getting sneezed on, cleaning up vomit, wiping noses, and are so tired of saying wash your hands that I'm surprised they don't have that on a CD on repeat going off every 5 minutes.  LOL.  They are submerged in germs of all sorts of kids who are not their own offspring!  Thank you for providing an education to these kids who are oblivious to why you're gagging a bit about the green snot running down their nose...and yup into their mouth..."Why blow my nose?"  We've all seen that, and don't shake your head, you probably did it as a tot yourself.

Oh kids are so cute.

One of my favorite lessons to present is about germs and hand washing. Last year I shared with you my favorite gross germy book SICK SIMON.  It's still my favorite book that I am always sure to read to each class because of the illustrations and it's just the perfect book to go with this lesson.  This year I did some searching and came up with a full story time and more books that are also wonderful to go along with Sick Simon and some fun songs.

Bear Feels Sick
Written by Karma Wilson
Illustrated by Jan Chapman

This is a cute book to open with.

I love that Karma Wilson keeps the same characters throughout her Bear series and the same cadence and flow of words.  We know what we will meet Crow, Wren, Badger, Hare, and Mouse.  We expect a rhyme on each page, and the repetition of the title throughout the book that we associate with the this lovely series.

In Bear Feels Sick we find bear has a stuffy nose, and sneezing, and feeling sick.  I love the emotion you can put into these first couple pages really getting across how crumby Bear is feeling, and show the empathy for bear because we've all felt that way.  When Bear's friends come over and discover that he's sick they work together to take care of him.  They make him tea, put cool cloths on his head, and tuck him into bed while talking in whispers and being quiet so Bear can rest.  Finally Bear wakes up and feels better, but oh no, his friends are now sick.

As she always does Wilson includes many wonderful vocab words for the hungry minds of her readers.  I love how she finds so many unique words that fit so smoothly into her rhythm of writing.
Grumbles, coax, smidgen, quivers, fret, and frolic are all words we don't hear often in everyday language and having them in the book with context kids learn what they mean and they are added to their mental word bank.

Jan Chapman has done beautiful illustrations that capture the cozy feel of the den and all the animals.

There are so many talking points you can bring up with your kids:
What do the friends do to help Bear?  What do your parents do to help you feel better? The friends get sick, how do you think they got sick?  This leads into the question of "What makes us sick?"

I found that many kids around the age of four or five can answer this with "Germs!" Most of the kids know that you can't see germs but not really how they spread.  I usually read Sick Simon next so the kids see how Simon spreads germs to all his friends and get grossed out by the illustrations.  Then I'll go into the book Germs! Germs! Germs!

Written by Bobbi Katz
Illustrated by Steve Bjorkman

This is a reader book (Level 3) aimed for first and second grades, but younger kids will listen to this and it is a fun book to read aloud.

What I like most about this book is that it's written from the perspective of the germs and it's more scientific than the other books.  Katz goes into how you can see germs with a microscope, where they are found and how they spread.  Bobbi goes into how germs have friends who help them grow along with enemies who prevent the germs from making others sick.

The first paragraph is repeated throughout the book and brings home the point that germs are everywhere!  I like that with this book you learn that it's more than just one sick kid spreading germs, Katz mentions how germs grow in food and that it's important to put left overs away.  Then there's a kid who scrapes his knee and that germs can cause an infection.  At this point I always ask what does your mom or the nurse do when you get a scratch?  They wash it out to make sure it's clean, then they put a band aid on to make sure dirt and germs don't get in.   I also pause at the food part and ask if it's ok to eat a left over hot dog from last night that's been left out on the counter.  Most kids are grossed out by that and yell "NO!"

After reading Sick Simon and Germs! Germs! Germs! I also ask "What is the number one way to keep from getting sick and spreading our germs to our friends?"


Thank you Pinterest for leading me to Loons and Quines @ Librarytime and the fun finger play, felt board, song they did that is all about germs on your hands and washing them away.  I found that the kids quickly caught onto the song and started singing along.  For the full song be sure to check out their post here.

I wanted to use the book Do No Lick this Book* *It's Full of Germs by Idan Ben-Barak and Julian Frost because of the title.  At first I thought the book would be fantastic and funny, and drive home the point of not putting things in your mouth including your hands, but I did not get that from the book.  The first couple pages were interesting and informative showing how many microbes can fit on a tiny dot and that they are found everywhere but page 13 turned my stomach and turned me off the book.  I did not use this book in my story time because of the interactive touching the book to pick up the main microbe, Min, and then telling the kids to touch their teeth!😨  Then touch your teeth again to take not only Min but another germ friend along for a trip, and on it goes to touching your shirt, skin, and then the book again!  I'm sorry, but that is the opposite of what I was trying to teach, if your fingers go in your mouth they should be clean before that, then washed again after.

Is everything in the book bad?  No, I like that there are close up images of the book fibers, teeth, and skin.  The last page of the book is the one I like best.  Throughout the book you meet a couple odd shaped germs that are collected and have names "Min, Dennis, Rae, and Jake"  on this last page there is information on each of them and what their real name is and what it actually looks like and where they are found and live.  The book isn't about how they make you sick.  E. coli reside in your intestines and do work there, the problem with E. coli is that if you don't wash your hands after using the bathroom (or for adults don't wash your fruit and veggies that have fertilizer on them) E.coli will make you sick and spreads fast.

To show just how quick germs spread, and what happens when we don't wash our hands I recommend getting Glo Germs and doing a fun science activity.
I turned my back on the kids while putting some glo germs in my hand and fake sneezed into my hand, then went and gave everyone a high five.  You can also use props to show germs on surfaces like pens, and toys.  After my high fives, and touching toys I used a black light to show all my germs.  Then I washed my hands the "speedy" way which I'm sure many of you have seen: pump soap onto hands, run under water, and fast dry...all done!  And I let the kids see me do this and say, "OK my hands are alllll clean, I washed them right? Let's see." The black light reveals that, yikes! I didn't do so good at getting rid of my germs.  This leads into the next song I found that helps kids wash their hands well.  There are many songs you can find on Pinterest about hand washing, I found that I like "Tops and Bottoms" the most because it has the kids wash tops, bottoms, in between the fingers, and all around.  The goal is to be washing your hands for 20 seconds.  Other songs that take about that long to sing are: Mary Had a Little Lamb, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and the ABCs.

Did you know that drying your hands is just as important as washing them?
"...the dryer the hands, the fewer transmissible germs...."
I didn't know that either until I read Germ Proof Your Kids The Complete Guide to Protecting (Without Overprotecting) Your Family from Infections.  This was a interesting and good read.  Not a kids book but great resource for adults.  Germs are everywhere, we know that, and can you really Germ Proof you Kids? No, you can't put your kids in a bubble, they will catch colds, and occasionally the flu, or eat something bad, just like all of us. Harley A. Rotbart, M.D. has written a very well researched book about the multitude of viruses, bacteria, fungus, and everything in between.  He tells what each of them cause, how they spread, signs of having one.  Now this book is 11 years old now so I'm sure more studies have been done and I'd love to see a second edition of this book.  Regardless of the age of the book, much can be learned from Harley's findings.  He shares how to do your own research, trust your gut moms, and explores myths, and how to prevent your family from catching everything they come across, and relieve some worries.  He shares how kids immune systems are built and strengthened because of their exposure to all the germs.

Fun fact to leave you with...
"Viral genes are only smart enough to allow the virus' survival and reproduction within [a human]. Viruses cannot survive for more than a short time, and cannot reproduce at all, outside of the living host."

I should mention that in my lesson with germs and hand washing I also am sure to bring up how to cover coughs and sneezes into elbows if you have long sleeves or into your shirt with kids.

I hope that you have found these books helpful and the lesson to be fun.  Remember to wash and dry your hands often, stay home if you have a fever, vomited, or are contagious so as to not spread whatever "bug" you have to your co-workers, friends, and classmates.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School with discussion questions and activities

I had a lot of fun with The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School by Laura Murray.  I used this book for a children's book club book, and found so much that could be talked about and activities that could be done around this adventurous story.

First let me tell you about the book.

I learned that this was Mrs. Murray's first book!  She had been a teacher and this book was an activity she had done with her class at the beginning of each school year!  This is a great book that you can use on the first day of school to start off the year or read it and have fun at any point in the year.

In the book a class bakes a gingerbread man and then they leave for recess, the gingerbread man then explores the school trying to find his class.  He meets the gym teacher, nurse, art teacher and the principle.  I love how the book is an introduction to school and different rooms of the school, and a twist on the original gingerbread man story.  When I presented this book to preschoolers I retold the original story first with puppets, that way they can make guesses about what they think will happen in the book and compare the two stories.

Puppets I made for retelling the original story (condensed) 
Laura does a great job in rhyming and using some great vocabulary words in the rhymes.  I don't think I would have thought to rhyme with "complete" or "explore."  I thought this was very clever and Murray does add in many great vocab words to share and discuss.

The lay out of the book is another point worth sharing.  Unlike most picture books that have one photo per page or page spread, Mike Lowery has done the illustrations for The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School in a comic book style, where there are a typically two to four boxes with illustrations on each page.  I like this layout.  I love that each page isn't in the same format, some pages have three illustrations, some have only one and the timing of each set lets you ask your readers to predict what they think will happen next.

My favorite thing about this book is all the opportunity there is to have open ended discussion with your readers.  There are also many crafts and activities you can do around this book and gingerbread men in general.  Let me dive into sharing some discussion questions I used while reading this book.

Pre-Reading...Before you even open the book here are some questions to get the mind working and predicting:

What do you think will happen in this book?  This is a question that you can ask before reading any book.  Look at the cover, what clues does it give you for what this book is about?  What does the title say about what might happen or who might be in this book?  

Who is the author?  Illustrator?  This allows you to teach the kids what an author does and what the illustrator's job is.

Where do you think a gingerbread man would have the most fun at school?  I loved asking this question and listening to the different responses.  Don't be afraid to ask the kids Why they chose the room they did.  My oldest daughter answered with, "A gingerbread man would have the most fun in the gym and art room. Because they are my favorite places. He'd make a mess and play with the stuff and create portraits and paper-mache" While my youngest chose the playground because he'd have fun playing there.  Let you're child's imagination run wild here.  For teachers you can turn this into a writing assignment for older kids.  Not only where would he have the most fun but describe what the gingerbread man would do.

While Reading Questions:  As I said earlier the layout of the book offers many areas not only areas to ask "What will happen next" questions but many chances for other discussion as well. These questions you can choose some to ask during the reading of the book or save other to ask when you've finished reading and go back to the page you're referring to if you want.

What other ingredients might you need to make gingerbread cookies?     What would you use to decorate a gingerbread man?

The Gingerbread Man broke his toe!  Have you ever broken a bone?  Where can he go to get his toe fixed?  Who could help him?  How will the nurse fix his toe?

Is using the handrail as a slide safe?  What could happen to the gingerbread man by sliding down the handrail?  In my online group I asked the adults to admit to having done this, I never had the guts to and when I read the book to preschoolers I remind them that it's not safe and if Miss Fawn were to try it I'd probably fall and get hurt, but since this is a cookie and he's in a book he can try it and anything can happen.

When he lands in the lunch bag you can ask Do you like cookies with your lunch?  What is your favorite type of cookie?


Which gingerbread man story did you like better, the original where the fox eats the gingerbread man, or the school one where he becomes part of the class?

What would you do if your gingerbread man came to life?  This was a favorite question of mine to ask because it's completely open ended with no wrong answer.  Asking this in a group setting was interesting to see how many different answers there were.

How would you feel if your gingerbread man ran away?

What was your favorite part of the book?  Why?

What did you think of the illustrations?  This is a good question to ask for any book because you're showing them that they can have their own artist style.

Would you recommend this book to other people?  Why or Why not?

There are a lot of directions in the book, are you good with finding your way around new places?

For comprehension:

Who did the gingerbread man meet?

What happened in the book?  Go over the sequence of events.


Be your own illustrator!  Create your own gingerbread man.  As the adult you can decide what materials you want used or let your kids decide how they want to make their gingerbread man.

Baking!  Obviously the book opens with cooking and is a clear activity to go along with the book.  Break out the aprons, dust off that gingerbread cookie recipe and create your own man or girl.  You don't have to stick with gingerbread, have your kids help bake their favorite cookie.

Rhyme Time!  The book is full of rhyming words.  I took a poster-board and wrote down several different rhyming sequence that were in the book then had kids match up the rhyming words.  You could ask further this by having them write their own rhyming word to go on the board or list.

Two different games I designed were for preschool and kindergarten and you can customize this to fit your own grade level.  I did numbers for preschool and had kids take turns rolling a die and coloring in the number they rolled.  They had to count the number of dots on the die and find the corresponding number on their picture and color that in.  In small groups they took turns and helped each other.  For kindergarten I used sight words and flash cards.  You can draw up your own outline and do multiplication, addition, or whatever you want to practice with your kids.  If you want some that are already done I'd recommend the lovely Pinterest.

Fill the gingerbread man with descriptive words. This gets kids working on their vocabulary, and is a fun way to introduce adjectives to the class.  Even with kids who haven't learned what an adjective is or are unsure what "descriptive words" are I found you can coach the kids with asking them to tell me what their gingerbread man would look like, or how the cookie taste.  While doing this with a group add your own words as an adult. I had fun doing this activity in my literacy group and sharing the answers of kids and getting various parents and teachers comments their own descriptions.  Doing this and putting all the words together for everyone to see and hear gets creativity flowing and leads to more thoughtful answers.  So while at first we had words like hot, sweet, amazing, yummy, soft we then started to dig deeper and then words like spunky, animated, fancy, sassy, and squishy were added to the list.  Getting adults to participate in activities like this enhances learning for kids because they see the excitement of adding another word and their vocabulary grows as well.  This could also lead to a deeper discussion: What about the word "gullible" Would you say the gingerbread man in the original story was gullible to believe the fox was going to help him?

One last activity I did with the kid's book club and online was:

I love word games! Boggle has long been a favorite of mine and it's great for kids to have fun spelling and changing letters around without the pressure of a test or grading.

Do you want more activities?  Laura Murray has a wonderful website where she shares some more activities and teaching tools you can use to go with her book and check out all the other adventures her gingerbread man goes on!

Want some other gingerbread books?  Check out these:

Stay warm, have fun, and as always enjoy a good book!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Snow in the forecast?

With the weather cold and fall long gone my kids have started asking, "When will it snow?!"  Personally I have so much going on this month the snow can hold off, but I don't control Mother Nature and snow is said to be in our forecast.  With the kids asking when the snow is coming and the weatherman saying it'll be here soon, I've started collecting some books that address this exact issue and then added a couple for activities once the snow is here and one to thaw out to.

Mama, Will It Snow Tonight?
Written by Nancy White Carlstrom
Illustrated by Paul Tong

Mama, Will It Snow Tonight? addresses the change from fall to winter and waiting snow.  The wind turns cold, the trees are bare and the kids are wondering if there's snow in the air.  The story is poetic.  As we hear the same question being asked and the changes that are seen between the seasons.  Fur on animals becomes thick and changes colors, the harvest is in, and still the little ones wonder when the snow will come.

I like this book so much more because of the illustrations.  The illustrations allow you to see that the children aren't all people wondering this same question; a fox and her pup, a bunny and her kit, and then the little girl and her mom.  "Mama, will it snow tonight?" is asked 12 times in this short book, and if the illustrations didn't show the different mothers and show that they were all wondering and looking for the same thing I would have been a bit frustrated with the redundancy, however knowing that it's from different views allows you to have more pauses while reading, and change your voice with the change of character if you can.

The illustrations are sweet and warm.  You feel the love between the parent and child and the excitement grow and feel the calming effect of watching it snow overnight.

When I read this book to my girls, aged 9 and 5, they did complain and carry on at bedtime; "Dad can you read us a book?  Mom's book was too short it doesn't count as a real book."  I have to say my heart was so proud that that was their complaint, that they wanted another book to follow this one.  I will say this book while it's not a board book, I could see it reprinted as a board book and be wonderful for babies.  The redundancy is perfect for little ones (0-5 years old) especially those who are talking because they can repeat after you or predict what will be said next.

Here Comes the SNOW
Written by Angela Shelf Medearis
Illustrated by Maxie Chambliss

I have read this book several times over the last two weeks at the preschool.  The kids love it and so do I.

This is an early reader so the words are simple and the sentences short for those kids preschool to first grade who are learning to read and starting to read on their own.  I like to have early readers even if they can't read yet, but have read the book before, to tell me what's happening in the picture and sometimes the kids like to repeat after me.

my dog enjoying the snow
This early reader is a cute story about being ready for the snow and it's not snowing yet.  I always like to read and act out the first few pages dramatically.  "Coats on.  Let me see how you put them on. Okay, Boots on." Stomp, stomp.  "But no snow!  Oh man.  Did you wear your coats and boots today?  Yeah, me too, but do we have snow?  Not yet.  What else do we need?"  Small kids really love when they feel involved with the story.  They absolutely love when they can answer questions.  It makes them feel special to get to say "I wore a pink coat today!"  Let them have that interaction and come back to the book.

Then it does snow in the book and Angela goes on to tell of activities that the kids get to do in the snow and this again leaves the ability to keep reading uninterrupted or to take a small break and ask the child if they've make a snow angel before.

The end of the book is my favorite part.  Playtime is over and the kids have to go back inside, but they are rewarded with hot cocoa!  Yum!
Reading this book while yes it's short and simple it does get you in the mood for a nice snow day and all the fun that can be had.

Wonderful Winter: All Kinds of Winter Facts and Fun
by Bruce Goldstone

This book is a must have in your library, classroom, or to check out and have at home for several winter lessons.  Bruce has done a wonderful job in delivering many interesting facts that you can use to add to your lessons.  For older kids you can read the book cover to cover, but for preschool and kindergarten I'd only take out sections to share with the class.  Talk about hibernation and refer to the six pages where he tells how different animals survive the winter and how the animals living in colder climate are built different from those in warmer areas.  Bruce has this book full of information but the way he has it delivered it's easy and fun to read.  I love it when I learn something new from children's books and this one had a lot of information that was new to me.  Did you know...
By the time a snowflake lands, it usually contains about 200 ice crystals.  
Be sure to break this book out for older kids in science class when you learn about the colors of light!  Goldstone explains why snow is white, but really when you look at it up close a snowflake is clear or sometimes blue.

There is something in the book for all ages!  There are simple parts of what shapes, tastes, and how winter feels and sounds for younger kids.  Then there are in depth parts of the book that go into how a snowflake is formed and why you can see your breath when it's cold for older kids or children who will sit and listen.

The photographs in the book are beautiful and capture the large and small, microscopic, details of winter.

Where does the "Fun" part of the title come in?  At the end of the book there are six fun filled crafts and activities to do.  These can be done at home, or for fun art and science projects in the classroom.  There are instructions to make your own fake snow!  This is wonderful for the kids asking and being disappointed about when it's going to snow, or for those who live in warm climates who don't get or see snow in their area!  Make your own snow globe, ice spikes, and pine cone bird feeder are just a couple of the other crafts.  I think we will be doing some of these this weekend while we are snowed in!

With how much I love Wonderful Winter I'm going to be sure to check out Goldstone's other books as well!

  Snow, Snow  Winter Poems for Children by Jane Yolen
Photographs by Jason Stemple

Being a collection of Poems this is different because it's not so much a story line to follow.  I love some of the poems in here deeply tho and I think it's worth the share.  Have fun with your kids or your class and read one of the poems each day or one a week.  They are beautifully written and capture the feeling of snow and winter.  Jane's note from herself I have to share this quote:
"This is a book for snow lovers and for those who might love snow if only it weren't so cold and wet and sometimes inconvenient."
That right there is me!  I love pictures of snow, I love it in movies where it's always so romantic, and I like it when it's not an inconvenience of the schedule.  I will happily watch it snow with a cup of hot tea and a book in my hand curled up with the kids and pets, but when it comes to being out in the snow and shoveling and having to cancel plans I've been looking forward to and the cold and wet, really why do I live where there's winter?  Because it makes us appreciate the colors of spring and warm temps so much more!

This was published in 1998 back before there were digital cameras with high resolution and megapixels so the photo quality was good for it's time but the photos are aged and not near today's standards, but it's important to remember the advances in photography over the last 20 years!  We have come a long way.  If you have a class of older children or high school age kids even, a fun project would be to give them one of the poems and have them take a photo to go with that chosen poem.

Now once the snow is here and winter is dragging it's feet and you're tired of the short days and long nights and how frigid it feels, it's time to bring out this cute book:

The Thing About Yetis
by Vin Vogel

Have you ever wondered about yetis? What they like to do in the winter?  What do they do in the summer?  How do they stand it when it's so, so, very cold?  Well, if you have asked any of those questions then, this is the book for you!

Vin Vogel has created a cute and funny story about yetis and winter and how even these creatures who love snow and winter get tired of it and become crabby.  He then tells of how they ease their winter woes by remembering days of summer and creating their own summer day inside their home!

Vogel's illustrations of yetis are adorable!  I want one for a pet!! He creates the mood of a winter wonderland of fun, to the frozen tundra, and the brightest of summer days and all the warmth to go with them.

This winter if you are looking for a book to curl up with this is the one.  Then follow it up with some hot chocolate and watch Small Foot to get a different story on yetis.

Some more Yeti books I found while searching around on Amazon that I'm putting on my to read list:

No matter which book you pick to read, or weather you're preparing for a winter storm, wondering where winter is, or shoveling the snow I hope that you make reading a part of your favorite winter activities and find joy between the pages of a good book!  

Friday, January 4, 2019

Too Many Toys

Reading Too Many Toys this week pretty much epitomizes how parents, caregivers, and baby sitters are feeling about now.  The holidays have passed and with them [probably] came a whole slew of toys for your children.  I have for a couple years asked family and friends to not give toys but rather give art supplies, crafts, books, or experiences; for the most part they listened and the girls have gone to the Crayola Factory, painted, tried sewing, painted, covered my house in those cloth bands from the looming thing, and painted some more!  Even with them cutting down on the amount of toys coming in, we still have toys all over the house and David Shannon really does a great job in his book on explaining this issue, and as I said before it really does epitomize life with kids when it comes to toys.  It's a book we can all laugh at and relate to.

Too Many Toys was written and illustrated by David Shannon, who has written and illustrated many wonderful children's books including David Goes To School which I share with you in Kindergarten here we come.

I love how David has such an aptitude for getting inside the mind of a child and at the same time portraying the frustration of a parent.  I admire this talent he has for juggling both sides of the story and Shannon does it flawlessly so that when you're done reading the book both parent and child can sit there and have a better understanding of each other.

Spencer is the main character in the book, a little boy who has as the title says Too Many Toys, they all all over the house, and outside it as well.  I love the way the words can stand alone in the book and paint their own picture in your mind of all of the different toys Spencer has and how he plays with them.
"He had puzzles, board games, and talking books that fueled his mind...and loud, jumpy frenzied video games that didn't."
I love that line, and I think each educator probably has it highlighted and makes sure to emphasize  it when they read the book.

After describing all the different toys and how they are spewing from all parts of the house Shannon goes on to tell how we've reached this predicament as a society.  The way David Shannon writes about Spencer getting toys from everyone and for everything makes you as a parent stop and think about why this is the way it is now.  It was a light bulb going on for me, why is it that little rinky-dink toys are given out everywhere?  Why did doctors, dentist, and even schools stop with just stickers and now there's prize boxes with cheap toys that are taken home?  I remember as a kid being super happy with getting a sticker?  Growing up I use to love getting a kids meal from McDonald's (as an adult this makes me cringe) but I was always so excited for the toy, and many of them are hanging on my Christmas tree or still "alive" in good condition at my great grandma's and are played with because they were higher quality toys that didn't break.  Now on the rare occasion that we eat out the toys are broken before we get back home.  Then we go to fairs and all sorts of activities and again the kids are getting prizes which are cheap plastic toys 90% of the time that they have to have in the moment and then never play with again or are broken.  I'd much rather not get all the small junk and have one good high quality toy that will last a long time.

I am not against having toys, toys are important for children to have developmentally.  And many toys are educational.  However there are many toys that don't require the use of imagination and as I just went on about are cheap, break, and don't hardly get played with.  One example I can give you from a training I did about toys that encourage children to use their imagination or block them from opening their minds and thinking independently are dolls.  Dolls are a wonderful toy and have many benefits of teaching empathy, care-giving, and pretend play; that is if the doll is what many would call "plain" or "old-fashion."  If the doll walks, talks, crawls, eats, and some even poop then that is taking away from the child using their own mind to pretend that the doll is doing those things.  If the doll talks "I'm hungry," then the child doesn't make up their own conversation with the doll where if the doll doesn't the child could pretend the doll is saying, "It's hot outside, let's go for some ice cream!" and then the child is going to act out going to an ice cream stand and going over their choices and engage more.

Having too many toys is also a hazard!  David illustrates the hazards of toys very well, stepping on them, tripping, and just the overall clutter of them.  In the book Spencer's mom finally has had enough of all of the toys and Spencer and her argue over each toy and why he should get rid of it and why he doesn't want to.  This is the part of the book that you really see each reason and the emotions of going through all the toys.  It's funny and relatable.

I love how rich the vocabulary is throughout the book.  Frenzied, convoy, catastrophe, haggled.  The book is full of adjectives and adverbs that really paint wonderful pictures in your mind of all the toys.  David Shannon brings to life all the toys in this house not only with his words but in the colorful and detailed illustrations.  The illustrations drive home the point of there are way too many toys.  I love how many classic toys are hidden in the illustrations.  Fun game to play throughout the book?  I SPY!  Read the book through first but if you're reading this in a waiting room or just want to play a game and really have your kids engaging turn to a page and say "I spy, with my little eye...a toy solider...fake teeth...something red with a ladder, an animal that lives in Antarctica..." The possibilities for a game of I SPY are endless.  I love how many different toys Shannon thought of to include in the illustrations.  Then there are the facial expression that are exaggerated and perfect!  The dad stepping on a LEGO, the mom yelling, the big puppy dog eyes of the boy pleading to keep his toys!  They are great!

While the whole book is fantastic my favorite part that makes you laugh, shake your head, and mutter go figure, is the surprise on the last page of "the best toy EVER!"   Any guesses on what the best toy ever is?

A BOX!  

Again this drives home the point of open-ended toys.  Ones that are the simplest are often the best because they can become anything.  I shared last year about the book NOT A BOX and how much kids love large empty boxes.  Still not convinced that a box is the best toy ever?  Check out this article published December 3, 2018 about how a cardboard box is better than high tech toys according to a group of doctors.

If you are looking for a good funny book to share at bedtime, or to help get your kids to get rid of some of their old toys pick up a copy of Too Many Toys.  It's a great story on it's own, and even better if you are trying to get your kids to make room for the new toys they just got, if you're doing some spring cleaning, or just need them to unclutter their room some.

If you are reading this book to get your kids in the mindset of letting go of toys, I just want to wish you Good Luck! May your nerves be up for the task and your bartering skill be enough, but I do hope and think this book will help.

Happy Reading! 

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