5 Concept Board Books

Looking for some fresh books to help your baby or toddler learn concepts? Here are 5 that our family recommends:

  • Follow the Yarn by Emily Sper (Teaches COLORS)

One of the most unique color books I’ve seen. A cat plays with yarn and the colorful lines of string build up on each page. My preschooler even loved this one because she enjoyed tracing the strands of brightly colored string back to its original ball of yarn.

  • We Love Each Other by Yusuke Yonzu (Teaches SHAPES)

A one-of-a-kind book to introduce and reinforce shape learning. Two animals are creatively positioned to form each shape, and the book has cut-outs that young children will enjoy feeling and tracing.

  • Monkey World ABC by Matthew Porter (Teaches JOBS)

Can you think of a career that starts with each letter of the alphabet? While admittedly not my preferred style of illustrations, this book has a fun array of professions displayed… literally from A to Z. Both my daughters both enjoy reading this one!

  • 1 2 3 Beep Beep Beep! A Counting Book by Brian Biggs (Teaches NUMBERS)

Bright and slightly off-beat illustrations make this book really fun. My daughters liked counting the vehicles on each page and sharing which was their favorite. The final page provides a cute ending.

  • I Love You, Papa, In All Kinds of Weather! by Nancy White Carlstrom (Teaches DAYS)

I picked this up expecting it to provide basic weather learning and found that it does a better job of clearly emphasizing days of the week. From Monday to Sunday, Jesse Bear describes the activities he does given the weather. Very sweet!

Best Ages: 0-3 years


Learning About Rainforest Animals

As I’ve written previously, my children love animals of any kind and are very interested in rainforest animals. They thoroughly enjoyed reading the book Over in the Jungle: A Rainforest Rhyme by Marianne Berkes. In particular, they liked finding the 10 different animals in a two-page spread at the end of the book. Personally, I was amazed by the bright illustrations consisting of detailed artwork formed with polymer clay and later photographed for the book.

A bonus to this book is the pages of information at the back of the book about the size of animal families, the rainforest community and details regarding each of the 10 animals featured in the story line. A great resource for parents and educators!

For further rainforest/jungle reading, check out my earlier post titled Rainforest Exploration!

You may also be interested in my post on Over in the Meadowwhich provided the inspiration for this book.

Happy reading! 🙂

Best Ages: pre-k to 1st grade

Activity Ideas:

  • One of the lesser-known animals included in Over in the Jungle: A Rainforest Rhyme is the omelet. Visit the National Geographic Kids website to learn more about ocelots! You can also vote on where you’d like to see a large cat and watch a video of an ocelot on the hunt.
  • Print out and color in these (free!) realistic printables of rainforest wildlife.
  • Go online to explore the rainforest through the interactive children’s activities found on the Rainforest Alliance’s website.
  • Practice counting to 10 by writing out the numbers 1-10 on a brightly colored paper. Allow your child/students to use stickers or dot markers to mark next to the numeral.

Beehive Activity with Counting Book

My youngest daughter, who turns two at the end of the month, is very interested in counting books right now. I was glad to find the book Over in the Meadow, illustrated by Anna Vojtech, for her to continue practice numbers and to appreciate the beautiful animal illustrations. Both the lyrical text and the repetition of pattern for counting make Over in the Meadow a solid read for young children.

Since we liked the 5 bees buzzing in the hive, we spent the morning making beehives and practiced counting with our colorful bees. I cut out a simple beehive with yellow construction paper and used a pipe cleaner to hang it. I printed out a free bee printable to go along with the hive.


A work in progress: my youngest daughter colors her 5 bees and the hive, too!

Many of you may be familiar with the song “Over in the Meadow”. As I wrote in an earlier post, we love to sing animal songs around here, and this is one of the songs my daughters especially like to listen to. There are multiple versions of the song which take artistic license with the poem’s earliest format, changing the order of animals and sometimes the noises they make. The book Over in the Meadow, however, contains the original nursery poem whose authorship is generally attributed to Olive A. Wadsworth.


My oldest daughter colors her 5 bees before cutting them out.

For another fabulous counting book with suggested activities, check out this post!

Best Ages: pre-k to 1st grade

For Parents:

  • Think creatively together: If we were in this book, what noise or word would we say?
  • In Over in the Meadow, there are 5 bees in the hive. Make a yellow beehive with construction paper and then print, cut out and color 5 bees. Practice counting to 5 together as the bees fly in and out of the hive.

For Teachers:

  • Play the song “Over in the Meadow” for your students without video while you open the book and follow along with the illustrations. Note: This song only goes through the number 5.
  • In Over in the Meadow, there are 5 bees in the hive. Make a large yellow bee hive for the center of a bulletin board. Then give each student a coloring page for a bee and instruct them to write their names on the bee. Complete your bee hive bulletin board with each student’s bee!
  • Come up with your own lyrics for your classroom. Rather than over in the meadow, perhaps you would be over in first grade

Counting Practice

Yesterday I shared about our family’s latest and greatest alphabet read to promote early literacy, Playful Pigs from A-Z. Today it only seems appropriate to address another foundational skill for young children: counting. If the alphabet is vital to literacy, counting and number recognition are equally integral (pun intended!) to mathematics. Counting books help children understand that numbers are orderly and an important part of the world around them.

This week my children and I read the counting book 1 is One by Tasha Tudor. I liked it because it rhymes and counts to 20. My preschooler enjoyed learning new words as we read and looked at the pictures to discern what the some of the unfamiliar words were, such as swallows (the bird, not the verb) and slate. The illustrations are beautiful and quaint with the pages alternating between color and black-and-white. Not surprisingly, 1 is One was awarded the Caldecott Honor in 1957.

If you enjoy all things vintage or are a bit of a romantic, 1 is One will be a delightful read for you as your children practice counting to 20.

Best Age: prek – kindergarten

For Parents:

  • Count the items on the page for each number as you read 1 is One.
  • After reading the book, look back at the illustration for number 10, which displays written numbers on a slate. Write out numbers 1-10 on a paper and ask your child to trace over them with colored pencil, marker or crayon. Add stickers below each number to show the amount that each number symbol represents. Count aloud together as your child puts stickers on the paper.

For Teachers:

  • Set out a large, shallow container or bowl with a small amount of water in it. (A baking pan or Rubbermaid tub may work well.) Refer students back to the page for number 1, with “one duckling swimming in a dish.” Using rubber duckies, have a student select a number 1-20 using slips of paper or popsicle sticks. Then, count aloud together as the student volunteer adds the appropriate number of rubber ducks to the water. Repeat the activity as many times as desired.
  • Give each student a mini white board and marker to use in place of a slate. Refer students back to the page for number 10, which displays written numbers on a slate. Instruct students to write the number you say aloud to them. Then ask students to draw that many dots on the board as you count to that number together. Model on the class white board as you practice. Erase the boards and continue to practice for numbers 1-20 as long as desired.