What Do We Do All Day? http://www.whatdowedoallday.com Books and Activities for Kids Fri, 24 Oct 2014 09:45:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Teaching Compassion to Kids (Even on Halloween) http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/10/teaching-compassion-to-kids-even-on-halloween.html http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/10/teaching-compassion-to-kids-even-on-halloween.html#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 09:45:09 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=11283 As I’ve mentioned before, teaching my kids to have compassion for others is high on my list of priorities. As a parent, it is more important to me that they are good citizens than they know their multiplication tables. Of course there are lots of big ways to teach kids about compassion through volunteer work,... Keep Reading →

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As I’ve mentioned before, teaching my kids to have compassion for others is high on my list of priorities. As a parent, it is more important to me that they are good citizens than they know their multiplication tables. Of course there are lots of big ways to teach kids about compassion through volunteer work, but small, regular traditions, even in the midst of a celebration like Halloween can have an impact.

Tips for teaching kids compassion on Halloween.

Take, for example, Trick or Treating. Trick or Treating is usually all about gimme, gimme gimme. (Although it also has a big self-esteem component!) My kids are already discussing the hoards of candy that they will get, despite the fact that I am a mean mom and don’t let them eat it. My 5 year old is completely focused on the toy he will get when he hands over his bag of sugar bombs so we can save it for our gingerbread house later on in December.

However, I was quite pleased when my older son casually asked about Trick or Treat for UNICEF.  We’ve been carrying the little orange boxes with on on our Halloween rounds for several years now. Not every house has change at the ready but so many people light up with delight when they see my sons with their orange donation box.

Order your own boxes for free right now so kids can get excited about helping out.

Trick or Treat for Unicef

We plan on carrying them around this year again. Since we live in the city it is very easy for us to contribute our donations. There are actually several drop off stations just in the neighborhood, where volunteers collect the money. The personal thank you my kids get as they hand over their donation is important to them. It helps them remember and see that their contribution is appreciated.

An alternative to toting around the little orange donation box is to start an online fundraising page! That way you don’t have to rely on your neighbors having spare change when Trick or Treaters arrive on the doorstep.

So, what about you? Will you be teaching your kids to help others this Halloween? What tips do you have for teaching compassion to kids?

trick or treat for unicef onlineunicef

 

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Game of the Month: Forbidden Island http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/10/forbidden-island-game.html http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/10/forbidden-island-game.html#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 15:07:34 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=11277 This month’s pick for game of the month is another cooperative game. Although we are a family that loves games, lately competitive games have been causing a bit of stress for my youngest son who has a really, really hard time losing! There are many ways to help everyone in the family enjoy game night (<—... Keep Reading →

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This month’s pick for game of the month is another cooperative game. Although we are a family that loves games, lately competitive games have been causing a bit of stress for my youngest son who has a really, really hard time losing! There are many ways to help everyone in the family enjoy game night (<—  check out our 7 simple tips!), whether they win or lose, but one thing that has been working for us lately is playing cooperative games. We recently acquired Forbidden Island and it has been a huge hit.

Forbidden Island is a fun family cooperative board game.

(Note: This post contains affiliate links.)

 Forbidden Island: Basic Facts

The object of Forbidden Island is to work as a team capture the four treasures and escape the island before it sinks. Island cards are arranged in a grid (see photo) and pawns move from tile to tile. Each player chooses an Adventurer card which gives him certain skills and powers during game play. During his turn, each player first performs 3 actions, which may include moving, “shoring up” a tile against flooding, capturing a treasure or passing a card on to another player. He then draws cards from two decks: the treasure cards and the flood cards. I will be honest, it took me a little while to understand the directions, but my kids caught on right away! (That’s getting old for you.)

Tips for Playing with Kids

  • Cooperation is encouraged! One of the best things about Forbidden Island is that players benefit from asking the others for advice. We take turns giving advice before the player in question decides his move.
  • The official game recommendation is for ages 10 and up. My almost 6 year old easily learned the instructions. Younger players could certainly play on a team with an adult.
  • This is an excellent game for kids of multiple ages to play. Big kids help little kids and no one feels excluded because of a lack of skill. New Kid has been able to join his brother and his brother’s friends for a game.

Forbidden Island has become one of our favorite family games! Everybody wins and that makes for a peaceful Saturday night. I highly recommend it and it would be a terrific gift.

Have you played this game? What about other cooperative games? Hoot Owl Hoot is another one of our favorite cooperative board games and the instructions for that one are much simpler!

See all our game recommendations, including my favorite game picks for gifts.

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12+ Classic Books for Tweens http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/10/classic-books-for-tweens.html http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/10/classic-books-for-tweens.html#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 09:48:11 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=11266 Although the word “tween” is a new-fangled one, kids ages 9-12 can certainly appreciate a classic book.  My oldest son turns 10 in a few months and will be firmly in this group. While I don’t think there is a consensus on what makes a book “classic” I’ve decided, for purposes of this book list,... Keep Reading →

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Although the word “tween” is a new-fangled one, kids ages 9-12 can certainly appreciate a classic book.  My oldest son turns 10 in a few months and will be firmly in this group. While I don’t think there is a consensus on what makes a book “classic” I’ve decided, for purposes of this book list, that all books must be older that me (!). That is completely arbitrary, and since I’ve called books from the 1990s “classics”, I make no claims for consistency.

Classic books tweens love.

I tried not to have too much overlap with other book lists I have for this age (I couldn’t totally resist), but you can click here for –> all my middle grade book lists (including many other classic books), and especially the books on my classics through the 20th century series.

This is not, I am embarrassed to say, a book list that includes characters of color, and I welcome your classic book suggestions that would make it so. (Note: all titles and covers are affiliate links.)


Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Magical Car. (1964) Do not judge a book by its movie! This humorous tale by the author of James Bond is great fun. The crazy Pott family purchases a car that can fly as well at catch criminals. Perhaps not as deep and meaningful as some of the other books on this list, but tweens don’t need every book they read to change their views on life!


The Little Prince. (1943) I remember reading this book for the first time when I was in 3rd grade, which may be a little young. I think tweens are at a good age to start thinking about the wider philosophical ideas presented in this classic book about a prince who finds himself on a strange new planet.


The Children of Green Knowe. (1954) Tolly goes to live with his grandparents in their ancient but magical English manor house. He meets a few new playmates to keep him company. He discovers, however, they are not quite of this world. There are six Green Knowe books to keep your kids reading.


The Betsy-Tacy Books. (1940) Not just for girls! These classic tales of three friends in early 20th century Minnesota will appeal to kids who love history. If you find your kids are constantly reading fantasy books (nothing wrong with that!) add a little variety with these books. Tweens often want to read books about teens and they can read all the way through Betsy’s teen years without parents having to worry that their kids are reading YA material that is not quite appropriate yet.


Homer Price and Centerburg Tales: More Adventures of Homer Price. (1943) Like the Besty-Tacy books above, Homer and his pals are a fun way to read about kids having good old fashioned fun without the help of cell phones and ipads. Best of all, these stories are quite funny. Also: donuts!


Wolf Story (1947) Five year old Michael wants his dad to tell him a story about a wolf, and a hen named Rainbow, but as five year olds will do, he keeps interrupting to instruct his dad on the story details. A humorous short novel which is also great for reading aloud to younger kids.


The Hundred Dresses. Eleanor Estes’ 1945 book deals with bullying, poverty and courage. A classic, moving story that should be on everyone’s shelves.


The Secret Garden (1911) is a timeless tale about how a sullen 10 year old girl, sent to live with her uncle in Yorkshire, discovers a walled garden which changes her life and those around her. This has been on my to-read aloud list for quite some time, but I also hope to get my almost 10 year old to read it independently.


The Boxcar Children. (1924) This is usually recommended as an early chapter book, but not all kids read advanced level books when they are 10 years old and the Boxcar series mysteries are appealing. This is still an enormously popular series today, but you many not realize that the first book was written in 1924! Four orphan siblings try to make an independent life for themselves by living in an abandoned train car. There are now more than 100 books in the series (!).


The Family Under the Bridge (1958) At Christmas time in Paris, Armand, a self-proclaimed hobo who loves his responsibility-free life, takes a homeless family under his protection. In doing so he decides it might not be so bad to have permanent ties after all. This sensitive, touching story is a great read during the holiday season.


A Wrinkle in Time (1962) was a favorite of mine as a kid. It is part of a trilogy, yet I can’t really recall the plot of the other two books! The mix of fantasy, science fiction and mystery is a perfect combo for tweens. Meg’s father has gone missing after working on a secret government project. Meg, her genius brother, Charles Wallace and a school friend are transported through the tesseract, in an attempt to find her father.


The Witch of Blackbird Pond (1958). 16 year old Kit leaves her home in Barbados, only to find herself smack in the middle of Puritan New England and a life that is very different from her own. Kit later becomes a target of the villagers’ fear and is accused, along with her friend, of being a witch. This book is perhaps best for older tween, and is a great way to start a conversation about tolerance, social pressures and compassion.

What books for tweens would you add to the list?

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10 Indoor Active Art Projects for Kids http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/10/indoor-active-art-projects-kids.html http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/10/indoor-active-art-projects-kids.html#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 09:55:27 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=11172 As I am currently navigating my youngest son’s disdain for all things art, I thought it would be a good time to resurrect some of the active art projects I did with his brother. The great thing about these art projects, unlike many active art activities is that they can all easily be done indoors, with... Keep Reading →

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As I am currently navigating my youngest son’s disdain for all things art, I thought it would be a good time to resurrect some of the active art projects I did with his brother. The great thing about these art projects, unlike many active art activities is that they can all easily be done indoors, with minimal mess (although you may remember I am not afraid of giant messes.)

Boredom busters for rainy days. Fun active art projects that can be done indoors.

These ideas were appealing to my son because they moved beyond a simple paint brush and paper. They helped him look past traditional ideas about what making art is and I’m hoping they have the same effect on his brother!

Have you tried any of these? Do you have any other active art projects that can be done inside a small apartment?

Painting with magnets. Think outside the science and art box.

Decorate the windows.  This is one of our favorites! Gets kids standing and climbing in the window. Create a stained glass effect using cellophane, soap and water, or use washable paints and let your kids go to town.

Paint on a chalkboard with water. Stand up and move those arms. If they get a little crazy, that’s okay, it’s just water!

Shaken container painting. Jumping may also occur. A word of caution: fit the lid tightly!!

Spinner art. Use the kids’ favorite kitchen tool.

Marble painting. What boy (or girl?) doesn’t like a little ball play?

Color smooshing. All the mess contained and a little color theory leaning.

Marbled paper with shaving cream. This one is not as active, but it involves squirting and swirling, which is always a big hit.

Easy art on big paper. If you cover your floor with butcher paper, you can get the kids moving. Provide printing materials for hands and feet!

Create life sized body art. Kids get out of chairs, lie down and move around on the floor, and use big arm movements. I never realized how big arm movement is crucial to the development of fine motor muscles, too.

What kind of non-sitting art projects do your kids work on while they are indoors on cold or rainy days?

For more indoor play ideas, including art projects, see our giant list of indoor activities for kids; or follow our Pinterest board:
Follow Erica • What Do We Do All Day?’s board Indoor Activities for Kids on Pinterest.

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Halloween Coloring Page for Kids {Plus Giveaway} http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/10/halloween-coloring-page-for-kids.html http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/10/halloween-coloring-page-for-kids.html#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 16:29:51 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=11246 This new Halloween coloring page from children’s book illustrator, Melanie Hope Greenberg, marks our two year collaboration to bring you a fun coloring page each month. A boy in costume fishes for apples in the sink and the Halloween icons on the side can be turned into stick puppets for extended pretend play. I left a coloring... Keep Reading →

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This new Halloween coloring page from children’s book illustrator, Melanie Hope Greenberg, marks our two year collaboration to bring you a fun coloring page each month. A boy in costume fishes for apples in the sink and the Halloween icons on the side can be turned into stick puppets for extended pretend play.

Free, printable Halloween coloring page with puppets.

I left a coloring page out on the table for my art-resistant 5 year old and he immediately sat down and started coloring his in! I was quite delighted. He thought it was super duper hilarious that the boy was standing on the toilet! Ah, 5 year old boys.

Download and Print –> (by clicking link you agree to the terms of service, see below*) Halloween Coloring Page

Halloween coloring page for kids

I cut out the Halloween images on the side and glued them to wooden craft sticks. Be sure to print out last year’s trick or treating coloring page, which includes leaves to turn into dancing, singing puppets. And don’t forget our very first coloring page, a Halloween or Day of the Dead Mask.

See all of Melanie’s coloring pages:

Free coloring pages for kids

 

Melanie and I are celebrating our 2 year anniversary collaboration with a giveaway of her popular book, Mermaids on Parade. The official NYC tourism website even named it as a “future classic”. Melanie also has a mermaid tail craft to go along with the story, for all the kids who love to dress up.

Enter below to win an autographed copy of Mermaids on Parade. U.S. addresses, only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Meet the illustrator:

Melanie Hope Greenberg is an award winning author and illustrator of more than 15 children’s books. Her cheerful, vibrant illustrations can be found in books such as Good Morning, Digger, Down in the Subway and A City Is. Her very popular Mermaids on Parade  was selected as a Bank Street Best Book, and for the Texas Reading Club and PBS Kids Summer Reading Lists.

You can learn more about Melanie’s school visits where she talks to kids about the process of creating a book.

Melanie signs all copies of her books purchased through her Amazon vendor link. {You can also click on a cover below and scroll through the third party vendors to find Melanie’s vendor linkPlease note: book cover links are affiliate links.)

*Terms of Service: this coloring page is used with permission from Melanie Hope Greenberg and is for non-commercial use ONLY. You many print out as many copies as you like for personal, library or classroom use. If you would like to share this coloring page, you MUST link to this blog page. It is expressly forbidden to link directly to the coloring page pdf file. 

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Books to Inspire Artistic Creativity http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/10/books-to-inspire-artistic-creativity.html http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/10/books-to-inspire-artistic-creativity.html#comments Mon, 13 Oct 2014 15:40:17 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=11236 With the advent of my “my kid hates art” series, a list of picture books to inspire artistic creativity seemed like the perfect accompaniment to my mission to get my son to enjoy art just a wee bit. Fortunately, the library shelves are full of books that will inspire creativity in kids. Leave your additions... Keep Reading →

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With the advent of my “my kid hates art” series, a list of picture books to inspire artistic creativity seemed like the perfect accompaniment to my mission to get my son to enjoy art just a wee bit.
Books to inspire kids to make art.

Fortunately, the library shelves are full of books that will inspire creativity in kids. Leave your additions in the comments below! A great list to pair with the books below is 11 books to inspire little inventors and engineers. Or, take a peek at the index of all my book lists to find something to interest your child. (Note: affiliate links are included below.)


Mix It Up! is the successor to the wildly popular Press Here. This time, kids learn about color mixing as they take actions like rubbing the colors, shaking and smooshing pages. A fun, interactive picture book that instructs kids at the end to go out and create their own art. (Note: I received a review copy of this book.)


Blue Chicken is a good choice for rowdy boys like mine who may prefer being physically active to sitting at the table with a box of crayons.  A curious chick finds a pot of watercolor which leads to a bit of artistic chaos until an encounter with the water for rinsing brushes sets everything aright. Freedman’s books all break the “fourth wall” (as we say in the theater) that separates reader from illustrations, a conceit I quite adore.


Dog Loves Drawing. A common theme in some of these books is the art taking on a life of its own. Dog takes a break from reading to do a little sketching. A doodleman he draws comes to life and the two of them draw together, their drawings then lead them on adventures.


The Pencil is one of my favorite metafictional books. A pencil draws a boy, who then commands the pencil to draw more and more objects and people until a fully realized environment is created. However, things go awry when the pencil draws an eraser, which turns out to have a mind of its own.

 

The Dot, Ish and Sky Color. The “Creatrilogy”  books are a best selling trio of books about the ability of small moments to transform into big creative endeavors. Each one encourages kids to look around them to find art in their own world.

Beautiful Oops! is a good choice to inspire kids who are worried about their artwork being perfect and planned out. Here the non-perfect, the mistake, the accident is just the encouragement a young artist needs to create. The pop-up, lift-the-flap, interactive nature of the book gets kids thinking outside the box.


Art. Art the boy love to make art. In fact, he creates art with explosive energy, making dots, squiggles, splatters. He draws so much he collapses in an exhausted heap, waking up to find his mother has put all his art on the fridge.


Jeremy Draws a Monster should engage any child who loves a bit of humorous whimsy. In his apartment, Jeremy draws a monster who turns out to be a bit demanding. He want more stuff drawn for him, such as a sandwich, a telephone, a checker board. Jeremy decides he’s had enough and draws him a bus ticket out of town.


Andrew Drew and Drew. Andrew’s pencil is a source of creative inspiration. As he draws, his creations change and pages unfold to reveal surprises.  One page even includes a small easel with pages that kids can actually flip through. What I especially like about this book is that Andrew does not appear to plan out his drawing. He lets the pencil’s spirit “move him” (if you will allow me the cliche).


The Boy Who Drew Cats. The parents of a young boy decide he is not cut out for farming and send him away to train as a priest. Although the boy studies hard, what he most loves to do is draw pictures of cats, so the priest sends him away to become an artist. The priest gives him a snippet of advice which the boy does not understand, but when he comes to an abandoned temple, the advice and his penchant for drawing cats has unexpected but happy consequences.

What are your favorite books to inspire creativity in kids?

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12 Practical Life Activities for Kids http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/10/practical-life-activities-for-kids.html http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/10/practical-life-activities-for-kids.html#respond Fri, 10 Oct 2014 12:33:52 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=11219 When my older son was younger I discovered Montessori, and while I never strictly adhered to their activities and lessons, I tried loved the idea behind it and tried to incorporate it into our daily learning. I particularly found practical life activities a wonderful way to purposefully teach kids about “regular life.” The following are some... Keep Reading →

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When my older son was younger I discovered Montessori, and while I never strictly adhered to their activities and lessons, I tried loved the idea behind it and tried to incorporate it into our daily learning. I particularly found practical life activities a wonderful way to purposefully teach kids about “regular life.”

12 practical life activities for kids inspired by Montessori

The following are some of the ways I loved encouraging my sons to do “real work” in a way that seemed attractive to them, instead of making it feel like a chore. I received a hand me down copy of Teaching Montessori in the Home: Pre-School Years: The Pre-School Years (affiliate link) from my neighbor and I found it very helpful. Aside from reading Montessori blogs, it was my primary source for inspiration.

One of the benefits of teaching practical life skills is not just getting kids to help with chores, but kids better understand the amount of work parents have to do. They appreciate the value of what goes into taking care of a home, learn responsibility and become all around more thoughtful kids.

Tip: Click on the links below if you would like to see a bit more about each activity.

Setting the table. I used a simple diy learning placemat.

Washing Windows. (Be sure to paint all over them first!!)

Teaching kids not to slam the door. Peppy attitude required.

Learning to prepare a snack using a knife.

Practice using a funnel. This is great when you bring home bulk food items.

Taking measurements. Kids can help with redecorating or moving the furniture around!

Pounding spices. A great way to get out excess energy!

Shelling peas. This always works find motor and keeps them busy during meal preparation. See 10 more ways kids can help in the kitchen.

Taking care of plants. What kid doesn’t love a spray bottle?

Washing dishes.

Preparing items for the compost. Teach your kids the importance of living green!

Tying shoes. Use the bunny ears rhyme!

Of course there are many other ways to teach practical skills, like making the bed, sweeping the floor, cleaning up toys. What are your favorite ways to get your kids involved with helping out around the home?

Check out my Raising Thoughtful Kids Pinterest board:

Follow Erica • What Do We Do All Day?’s board Raising Thoughtful Kids on Pinterest.

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My Kid Hates Art: Tape Project http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/10/my-kid-hates-art-tape-project.html http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/10/my-kid-hates-art-tape-project.html#comments Wed, 08 Oct 2014 09:44:55 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=11195 If your child has never told you he “hates art” or that “art is for girls”, consider yourself lucky. I’m embarrassed to say that is exactly what my 5 year old has been saying lately. The “for girls” part is especially annoying! I mean really. Where did he learn that nonsense? So I am on a... Keep Reading →

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If your child has never told you he “hates art” or that “art is for girls”, consider yourself lucky. I’m embarrassed to say that is exactly what my 5 year old has been saying lately. The “for girls” part is especially annoying! I mean really. Where did he learn that nonsense?

Project for the child who says "I hate art"

So I am on a mission of sorts. Without scaring my son off with added pressure to do more art, I am trying to find ways to sneak it in, if not every day, then at least a few times a week. When my older son was less than artistic, I was able to inspire him with single color art projects, but that hasn’t worked with New Kid. I have to get creative and look beyond crayon and paper, which he will immediately recognize as “mom trying to get me to do art.”

Lucky you, I will be sharing these ideas on the blog. Of course, these ideas are not just for the art-resistant kid. If you have a naturally art-y child, I’m sure he or she will take it to a whole new level. (Note: affiliate links included below)

Cutting tape for art journal project.

I saw this fun package of rainbow tape at the local art store and left it out on the table for New Kid to find. Purposefully leaving things out as if they are not meant to be there is a good way to get my kids interested in something, if you know what I mean.

He was intrigued and sat down so I swiftly pulled out his art journal. I adore our mixed media spiral bound journals. We use them for Zentangles, an art project New Kid actually likes. I’ve filled up mine (maybe because I’m a girl?) but New Kid’s is still mostly blank pages.

Cutting the tape was a good fine motor exercise for my son. I speculate that one of the reasons my son “hates art” is because he finds wielding a writing implement challenging. Scissors can be particularly difficult. Nevertheless, the tape was sufficiently intriguing that when I shook my head no when he asked me to do the cutting for him, he decided to give it a go himself.

Creating art from tape. Project for kids who hate art.

Now, truthfully he did not stick with this activity for a significantly long time. However, he enjoyed it, got a little creative, exercised his fine motor skills and that is a win-win in my book.

Do your kids hate art? Or do they love it? Have you ever tried making art with tape?

More simple ideas for non-arty kids:

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1970s Children’s Books {Picture Books} http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/10/1970s-childrens-books.html http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/10/1970s-childrens-books.html#comments Mon, 06 Oct 2014 09:58:28 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=11188 This list of 1970s children’s books is meant as the picture book companion to my post about great 1970s chapter book classics that I compiled a few years ago as part of my series, Children’s Classics by the Decade in which I shared favorites from the 20th century. I think it is safe to say all... Keep Reading →

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This list of 1970s children’s books is meant as the picture book companion to my post about great 1970s chapter book classics that I compiled a few years ago as part of my series, Children’s Classics by the Decade in which I shared favorites from the 20th century.

10 classic children's books from the 1970s

I think it is safe to say all parents enjoy reading books they discovered during their childhood to their own kids.  (And if these books were already classics by the time you were a kid, please just don’t even tell me.) Most of these were books read to me as a kid and I still love them today.

Because it is so hard to narrow down a classic book list to only 10 choices, I prefer to choose titles that I think readers may not yet be familiar with. I don’t need to list Donald Crews’ 1978 book Freight Train, because every parent has already read it a gazillion times to their 2 year old.

I’ve also made a point to choose books that are still readily available rather than those out of print gems you are lucky to find at tag sales. All of these should be at your local public library, or are available in bookstores.  (Note: covers and titles are affiliate links.)

10 1970s Children’s Books


Ben’s Trumpet (1979). Ben hangs out by the jazz club at night, listening to the various instruments. During the day, he plays his imaginary trumpet for his family and friends. One day, a few kids tease Ben but a musician comes to the rescue and invites Ben to practice on a real trumpet at the club. This is a lovely book about how a passion for music can enrich lives, inspire the imagination and bring people together. Lovely.


The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses. Paul Goble wrote and illustrated numerous picture books and story collections based on Native American folktales and legends. The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses is about a girl who develops a special connection to horses. During a storm she is carried away with the creatures and lives for a time with her new family. After she returns to her human tribe she has trouble readjusting, experiencing intense loneliness until at last she returns to the herd. Goble’s illustrations are gorgeous.


The Maggie B (1975). Like me, my mom primarily checked out books from the library, but this was one of the few precious picture books she bought. I think it was because the girl and her brother probably reminded her of me and my brother. I loved this book, with its gorgeous watercolors and the story of an imaginary, self-sufficient day on a boat out at sea. It’s one of my favorite quiet classics, and a perfect bedtime book.


Amos & Boris(1971) Fans of Willliam Steig love his books The Amazing Bone and Dr. DeSoto, but have you also read this lovely tale of friendship? Amos the mouse sets out to sea in his boat, but soon finds himself in trouble. Boris the whale surfaces next to him and the two bond over their mammal-ness. Boris saves Amos and the two part ways. Much later, against all odds, Amos is able to repay Boris for his kindness.


The Giant Jam Sandwich (1972). If I read this book as a child, I don’t remember, but it is possible. I love it now, though. Written in verse, this is the story of how the village of Itching Down (now if that doesn’t make you laugh, I don’t know what will) attempts to solve its wasp-invasion problem by trapping them in a giant jam sandwich. Now, how can you not love that premise? So funny.


The Shrinking of Treehorn (1971).This rather strange story has its devoted fans, and if you haven’t yet read this book I invite you to join our ranks! Treehorn tries to tell his parents that he is shrinking but they brush him off. The teachers at school also fail to take seriously the situation and Treehorn is left to solve the problem himself. Heide’s writing style is so matter of fact that the story becomes quite hilarious, really, and Gorey’s illustrations are suitably droll.


Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs: A Tale from the Brothers Grimm I had this book as a child and I will always remember being surprised at the ending in which Snow White’s stepmother was forced to dance to her death while wearing red hot iron shoes. I wasn’t alarmed by it; in fact I always found the Disney movie much, much more frightening. I don’t think (most) kids find the original Grimm stories to be as disturbing as modern adults do. In any case, if you are going to share fairy tales with your child, the illustrations in this book are dizzingly marvelous and the text is twelve thousand times better than Disney.


A Story, a Story (1970) Beautiful, vibrant woodcut illustrations accompany the legend of how Ananse, or the Spider-Man, is determined to get stories from the Sky-God. The Sky-God sends Ananse off on several quests, never believing that a weak and old man will fulfill the tasks. Ananse is much more clever than anyone suspects. Trickster folk tales are classics, no matter what culture they come from.


It Could Always Be Worse: A Yiddish Folk Tale. A poor man lives in an overcrowded house and the noise and activity is driving him crazy! So, he seeks out advice from the local rabbi. The rabbi, however, tells him to bring in the barn animals to his house, which turns the place into utter chaos. The illustrations are so much fun to sift through, with their funny little vignettes inside the house. When the farmer finally removes the excess animals and people from the house he declares everything to finally be peaceful — only… it is exactly as it was when he started out. My 5 year old, especially, found this irony to be particularly hilarious.


Come Away From the Water, Shirley (1977). I debated between this book and Mr. Gumpy’s Outing, but felt this one may be the less-well known of the two. I’ve never read a Burningham book I didn’t absolutely love. Shirley and her parents spend the afternoon at the beach. Shirley’s parents lounge in their chairs, offering their daughter trite admonishments not to get too dirty or to play with strange dogs. Meanwhile, Shirley is deep in her own secret, imaginary world, having splendid adventures with pirates.

Have you read any of these 1970s children’s books? Which ones are your favorites? 

MORE: See all our classic book lists.

MORE: Check out our book list index, including books for all ages and interests.

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Why I Am Not “Just” A Parent (And Neither Are You) http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/10/why-i-am-not-just-a-parent.html http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/10/why-i-am-not-just-a-parent.html#comments Fri, 03 Oct 2014 09:50:17 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=11170 A few days ago, someone asked me if I used to be a teacher. She had been looking through the blog at some of our learning activities and wondered how I came up with some of the ideas. Since I get this question from time to time, I gave my standard reply, No. I’m just... Keep Reading →

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A few days ago, someone asked me if I used to be a teacher. She had been looking through the blog at some of our learning activities and wondered how I came up with some of the ideas. Since I get this question from time to time, I gave my standard reply,

No. I’m just a parent

She gave me a look and replied

Of course you are not ‘just’ a parent.

That caught me off guard because you know what? I totally agree with her. Of course I don’t even believe there is any such role as “just” a parent. I would never ever tell someone they are “just” a parent. So why was I guilty of denigrating myself (and as a consequence all other parents who don’t have a formal teaching background)?

No one is just a parent.

Well. We won’t go into the psychology of that. I’m sure it will be all too depressing. Suffice it to say, I’m no longer going to answer with “I’m just a parent.”

I’m not sure exactly how I’ll respond. It’s true I’m not a formal teacher, a librarian or a literacy specialist. Other than teaching theater to university students, my experience is only with my kids, but I have a learned a lot about how to help them grow in their own educational journey.

…and truthfully, I’ve done most of it with little effort on my part. I could never homeschool, because I am basically too lazy. Yes, I make it look all pretty and shiny for the blog, but I can honestly tell you, I am not a high achiever when it comes to kids’ activities.

However, looking through our arsenal of at-home learning activities I see that I am fully qualified to have fun learning with my kids.

I may not have had a science class since “Astronomy for Poets” way back in 1991, but I can ….

I may not have studied math since I took calculus at 16 (honestly, who can understand that stuff?) but when my son showed an aptitude for math, I helped him…

I may have only gotten a B in high school art because my teacher felt I had “little natural talent”, but I try to inspire my kids to…

I may not have a degree in social sciences, but…

I’m not an occupational therapist, but I’ve discovered ways to support my kids’ fine motor and sensory needs at home, such as…

I may not be a reading specialist, but I learned all on my own how to…

I do have a PhD in theater (see, I’m not entirely uneducated) and I can share with you ideas to try even if you don’t have a degree in theater!

There is so much more! Have you seen our GINORMOUS list of indoor activities? I’m pretty proud of it. I’m also pretty proud to be not “just” anything.

But let me say in closing, you do not have to do activities like this to be more than “just” a parent. There is no such thing as “just” a parent.

What’s your favorite way to learn alongside your kids?

Share your wisdom. You are not just a parent.

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