Interactive Board Books II

Young children love to interact with books as you read aloud to them. These books are especially helpful for little ones who have trouble settling down to read together… and interactive board books make fun gifts for baby showers and birthdays!

Here are 5 interactive board books that my children liked reading during the last month:

Follow the Trail: Trucks by Dawn Sirett

This is a distinctive book in the interactive character because it has raised, shiny trails that allow children to kinesthetically engage with the book. My preschooler really liked this one! It is also well-designed with great information.

 

Daddy, Look What I Can Do! by Mack

Originally written and published in Dutch, this is a classic lift-the-flap book that our family liked because it addressed dads, and we’ve already enjoyed lots of board books that address mom. 😉 One on side of the page are amazing nature photographs of wild safari and jungle animals, with a sketched illustration of the baby animal on the next flap. My children liked lifting up the flaps to see what each baby was showing its father it could do.

Red Light, Green Light by Yumi Heo

A fun take on cars, this book highlights common traffic signs from the United States with lift-the-flaps that babies and toddlers love. My two-year old loves this board book!

The Small Seed by Judith Nicholls

Explore science and plant life with your little one! The Small Seed teaches about the stages that a seed goes through until it become a beautiful sunflower, with touch-and-feel pages to help solidify the concepts.

Who’s That? Arctic Animals by Tad Carpenter

A bit more sophisticated than a lift-the-flap book, each page begins with the question Who’s that?, followed by clues related to the arctic animal featured on the corresponding page. What my daughters liked is that all the animals are “hiding” in their habitats and they could find them after listening to the clue and opening the fold-outs.

Best Ages: 0-4 years

Visit this post for 5 more interactive and engaging board book ideas from Sunshine Readers.

 

 

 

Gardening with Children

Well, spring has officially arrived! We’ve been enjoying some gardening books as we wait for the right time to plant our annual grape tomato plants. This is a great way for our family to practice a bit of a green thumb while living in a large city. My husband and daughters enjoy each part of the process: going to the gardening center to purchase supplies, planting the seeds and tending to the tomato plants throughout the summer. This is a special daddy-daughter activity that I particularly appreciate because I love fresh tomatoes! 🙂

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Planting tomato seeds in April 2015.

Do any of you plan to garden this year? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

As you prepare to garden – or choose to pass! – here are 3 fun gardening books to enjoy with your children or students:

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert

This beautiful book shows how plants grow using straightforward language for young children. A medley of colors are shown in the illustrations and some pages include labels of common flowers. The pages turn in a lovely way to create a rainbow. This would be a great book to incorporate to a thematic study on gardening or plant life.

Lola Plants a Garden by Anna McQuinn

One of my favorite picture books for young children is Lola at the Library. Here is a companion book by the same author-illustrator team. Lola and her mom work together to plant a garden and decorate it, too. Then all of Lola’s friends come to enjoy the delightful garden!

Bumpety Bump! by Pat Hutchins

Follow along with a girl and her grandfather as they go through the garden with a wheelbarrow! My favorite part was seeing the roots of the various plants and bushes in the illustrations; my children and I were able to point to them and discuss how plants grow.

Best Ages: pre-k – 1st grade

 

Learning About India: Family and Clothing

My preschooler fell in love with the book My Dadima Wears a Sari by Kashmira Sheth after checking it out from the library. The story tells two granddaughters who wonder why their grandmother – or Dadima (pronounced DAH-dee-mah) – only wears saris even though her children and grandchildren wear western clothing now that they live in a western country.

Dadima explains the many things she can do with a sari, the traditional clothing for women of India, and then shows her granddaughters her most precious saris. The girls try some on and feel a connection to their grandma and their family’s culture.

The illustrations are beautiful and the relationship between Dadima and the two children is heartwarming. My Dadima Wears a Sari is a delightful read-aloud and provides insight to another culture.

Best Ages: kindergarten – 2nd grade

For Parents:

  • Ask your child what types of clothing he/she likes to wear every day and if there is a particular outfit he/she prefers for a special occasion.
  • Print and color this free page of a woman wearing a sari. (This educational site has lots of other free coloring pages of traditional clothing from countries around the world.)
  • Watch the beginning of this dance at an Indian wedding, featuring children wearing saris and dancing to Indian music. Discuss the video with your child, including the style of clothing, music and dance. How is this similar or different to how your culture celebrates a wedding?

For Teachers:

  • Discuss the importance of clothing in our everyday life. Review appropriate clothing based on weather and setting (school, home, church, party, etc.).
  • Show the first 1-2 minutes of this dance at an Indian wedding, featuring children wearing saris and dancing to Indian music. Discuss the video as a class, touching on the style of clothing, music and dance. How is this similar or different to how your students’ culture celebrates a wedding?
  • Use this free Hot and Cold Weather Clothing Sort with your students. Compare that clothing to the clothes you saw the characters wear in the book.
  • Find India on a map and review some basic information about India from National Geographic kids.

Exploring Our World with Dr. Jane Goodall

Isn’t it incredible that God has given us an orderly world and given some people the incredible capacity to study and further understand that beautiful world?

One such person is Dr. Jane Goodall. Her interest and work in animal studies and environmentalism have inspired many people to take greater responsibility in taking care of wildlife and our earth’s natural resources. You can share her story with your students or children by reading the book Me… Jane by Patrick McDonnell. He tells the story of Jane Goodall’s growing up years in a lovely, simple way. The illustrations earned the book the Caldecott Honor and uniquely included some of Jane’s childhood notes/illustrations in addition to a photo of her as a young adult for the ending. My children really liked reading this book – and so did I!

Check out my post Snowflakes and Science for another excellent children’s biography of a scientist. Sharing these life stories of scientists with children, who already have a natural curiosity, helps to encourage their spirit of inquiry and exploration.

Happy reading! 🙂

Best Ages: pre-k – 1st grade

 

Study Your Heart

Hear Your Heart by Paul Showers teaches children about the importance and function of the heart in our bodies. The illustrations include easy-to-read diagrams to show how blood flows in and out of four chambers of the heart, what veins and arteries look like in our bodies and more. The author also explains that heartbeats vary by age and activity, and that your heart is actively pumping blood all the time, even while sleeping!

My daughters really enjoyed reading this book and completing the suggested activities. We pumped our fists as a tangible connection to the work our heart, as a muscle, does every minute of every day. We listened to each other’s heartbeats using an empty toilet paper roll. Finally, we tried various physical activities and monitored how they increased or decreased our heart rate.

What a great learning resource!

Hear Your Heart is a helpful addition to a unit on science, health or non-fiction books. Enjoy! 🙂

Best Ages: pre-k – 1st grade

For Parents:

  • Use an empty toilet paper roll to listen to your child’s heart beat and allow them to listen to yours.
  • Try various exercises that are listed at the end of the book and then listen to your heartbeats again. Did your child notice his/her heart beat faster after physical activity?
  • Print off and color in this free human heart coloring page from Crayola.

For Teachers:

  • Check out this great idea for a visual demonstration of how the human hearts takes in blood and pumps it out. You will need a bucket of water and a tennis ball with a hole in it to show your class how our hearts work.
  • Play a clip of the Magic School Bus episode “Inside the Human Heart.” (This may be available through your school district or even available at your public library – it is at ours!) Otherwise show this online educational video clip (approximately 6 minutes) about the human heart with an animated red blood cell that acts as a host.
  • Brainstorm your classroom’s favorite sports/physical activities. Remind them that being active keeps their hearts healthy! Then divide students into pairs to play a matching game with sports and equipment (pre-k and kindergarten) or this Olympic Winter Sports matching game (1st-2nd grade).

 

 

A Sweet Story of Friendship

Since my daughters were each born, I have been praying that they would be good friends with each other. I also hope that they will cultivate meaningful and supportive friendships with children their age as they grow and develop. As Anne in the well-known novel Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery states in Chapter 8, many of our hearts long for “A bosom friend–an intimate friend, you know–a really kindred spirit in whom I can confide my inmost soul.”

I have had the honor of having such friends in my life, past and present, and I sincerely hope to see my children have the same throughout their lives.

One children’s book that tells the sweet story of such a friendship is Penguin and Pinecone by Salina Yoon. My daughter received this as a gift for her birthday from a friend, who told us that it is one of their family’s favorite books. Since then, we have read it too many times to count! The story is easy to follow and relatable for people of all ages, as a friendship is forged and the two must consider what the other needs. It shows children the power of love and sacrifice and kindness.

In the fall, my daughters found pinecones on two family outings – once during a snack break on a bike ride, once during trip to a family friend’s cottage up north – and they immediately connected them to our oft-read story Penguin and Pinecone. So we gathered pinecones, brought them home to paint them and enjoyed the book again..

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Happy reading! 🙂

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Best Ages: pre-k – 1st grade

 

Practicing Gratitude

It’s a fact that practicing gratitude is good for our overall health and developing a more positive outlook on life. My Christian faith has greatly influenced my views on practicing gratitude, and although I don’t all have it down perfectly, it is something that I try to constantly grow in and model to my children. Here are some of my favorite passages from the Bible that reveal the significance of having a grateful heart and mindset:

  • Now our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. 1 Chronicles 29:13
  • I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your deeds. Psalm 9:1
  • Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.” John 11:41
  • And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17
  • Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

As our family practices gratitude, we found an exceptional book that can be used in all families and classrooms, regardless of faith background. It is called Giving Thanks! More Than 100 Ways to Say Thank You by Ellen Surrey. The book gives prompts to help you and your child/student think of various areas of life in which they can express gratitude.

Please feel free to leave a comment sharing something that you are thankful for today!

For more reading and activities, check out my post Helping Children Cultivate Thankful Hearts.

Best Ages: pre-k – 2nd grade

For Parents:

  • For one week, take a prompt from the book and go around the table at mealtime to allow each family member to share their response.
  • Select some of your favorite prompts from the book and with your child, write responses on slips of brightly colored paper. Staple or tape the strips of paper to make a paper link chain. Hang in your child’s bedroom as a visual reminder of all that you are thankful for!
  • If you are a Christian family, take one evening this week to write down a list of what you are thankful for. (This could be incorporated in a devotional or prayer time.) Then use that list to pray together as a family. Hang the list in a prominent place to reflect on throughout the rest of the week.

For Teachers:

  • Use as a journal prompt each morning for a week – or incorporate into morning work or circle time.
  • Have students work together in small groups to make posters of thanksgiving.
  • Write a note to someone you are thankful for – a family member, neighbor, friend or someone in the school. Use this as an opportunity to teach the skill of writing a letter. If desired, allow students to address and mail letters!