What Do We Do All Day? http://www.whatdowedoallday.com Books and Activities for Kids Fri, 18 Apr 2014 09:55:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9 Poetry Challenge for Kids {Week 4} http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/04/poetry-challenge-for-kids-week-4.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=poetry-challenge-for-kids-week-4 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/04/poetry-challenge-for-kids-week-4.html#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 09:55:38 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=9532 Here we are at week four of the very casual, very flexible Poetry Challenge for Kids. I must say, my kids have been enjoying poetry all month long, even more than I had anticipated. Both boys still like to show me how they can recite the poem from week one by heart! Last week’s poem... Keep Reading →

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Here we are at week four of the very casual, very flexible Poetry Challenge for Kids. I must say, my kids have been enjoying poetry all month long, even more than I had anticipated. Both boys still like to show me how they can recite the poem from week one by heart!

Poetry reading challenge with poems from Christina Rossetti

Last week’s poem was a silly one. We spent the week making up ridiculous (and quite terrible, from a literary stand point) limericks. The boys had so much fun, I hope that we can keep it up. I have a stack of poetry books from the library and New Kid has been bringing me one of them to read almost every day. I’m still reciting “Jabberwocky” to him every night. He has it mostly memorized himself and now I am trying to convince him to allow me to capture it with video! Wouldn’t that be a treat for the grandparents.

Yet, here I am chattering away. You are  – dare I say — excited to get to the reveal of this week’s poem!

This week I could not decide between 2 poems by Christina Rossetti, so you can take your pick! Both are delightful and will generate a bit of conversation, but the shorter poem could get older kids opening up about the meaning of the poem.

Christina Rossetti poem for National Poetry Month

Printer friendly copy –> Rossetti poems (both poems are in the same pdf file)

The Wind by Christina Rossetti to read with kids.

If you are new to the challenge, no worries. You can start any time of the year, not just National Poetry Month! Read the “official” rules at the introductory post. Although “rules” seems much too strong a word. The basic gist is to live and recite a poem for a week. Let it sink in. Enjoy its many meanings. Memorize it (if you want).

Poetry Extras:

Have you been following along with the poetry challenge? Only one more week to go!

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10 Ways to Have an Eco Friendly Easter http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/04/eco-friendly-easter.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=eco-friendly-easter http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/04/eco-friendly-easter.html#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 09:55:10 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=9522 What kind of Easter celebration do you have with the kids? Have you ever considered having an eco friendly Easter, or “Green Easter?” Aside from going to church (if you go), do you plan an egg hunt? Give the kids baskets? As a kid, at Easter we never had elaborate festivities, so I’m genuinely curious,... Keep Reading →

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What kind of Easter celebration do you have with the kids? Have you ever considered having an eco friendly Easter, or “Green Easter?” Aside from going to church (if you go), do you plan an egg hunt? Give the kids baskets? As a kid, at Easter we never had elaborate festivities, so I’m genuinely curious, especially amidst all the Easter crafts and activities and decorations I’ve seen plastered all over the internet and in store windows.

10 eco friendly Easter ideas. Create a meaningful Easter without all the stuff.

Long time readers (group hug!) know that I really lag on holiday celebrations. The deadlines! The decorations! The planning! I just can’t get motivated for it all. Lucky for me, this means my no-stuff holiday celebrations are automatically eco-friendly.

Even so, I’d like to encourage you to have a “green” Easter this year. If the kids feel left out of the plastic grass-giant chocolate bunny-plastic egg hoopla, try these alternatives, as well as explaining to your kids what’s most important about the day. (Whatever that means to your family.)

1. Ditch the plastic eggs. Seriously. Those things are a menace. Honestly, kids don’t need eggs with small toys or candy inside them. I know this makes me a wildly unpopular killjoy, but I really cannot stand those things. If you already have them, reuse them every year or donate them to a community egg hunt.  Alternatives: real eggs (of course), wooden eggs, smiles.

2. Buy pastured eggs from a local farmer. You probably already know about the hideous treatment of egg-laying hens in industrial farms across the country. Support farmers who treat their animals properly. The eggs are more nutritious and much, much tastier.

3. Dye your eggs with natural dyes instead of store bought, petroleum-based dyes. Even if you are not eating the dye, the production of chemically synthesized dyes is bad for the world.  If you have the energy to chop up and cook your own veggie dye dips, check out this post from Two Men and a Little Farm. If you don’t, then try Earth Paint dyes, which look pretty snazzy.

4. Buy a second-hand Easter basket. I’m personally of the opinion that Easter baskets are unnecessary, but if you enjoy the tradition I encourage you to head out to your thrift store to pick up a second-hand basket. Or, reuse a basket you already own.

How to have a green Easter.

5. Ditch the plastic grass. Again, another menace. (Ha Ha! I’m not mincing words here.) I know they sell paper grass, now, but instead shred up a paper bag or old wrapping paper. Or, you know, just skip the grass altogether.

6. Buy fair trade chocolate. Don’t worry, I won’t be so stingy as to suggest ditching the candy altogether! (But do ditch the Peeps.) However, there are lots of companies who source their cocoa from sources that don’t exploit the workers and the environment.

7. Instead of filling a basket with toys and candy, consider an alternatives such as plants, seed packets or even a small tree your children can replant in the garden. It’s springtime, after all — a great time to get a little family gardening time in.

8. Save your egg shells for the compost! Or, turn them into cress heads.

9. Make a donation or volunteer your time. Instead of thinking of the holiday as a time to give cute gifts, make your celebration even more meaningful by giving back to the community or your favorite charity. These simple ways to make a difference this spring are perfect for kids.

10. Spend the day with your family and friends. Go to the park. Go birdwatching. Go to the zoo to see the rabbits, lambs and baby chicks. Celebrate the simple things of spring. Do you have brunch or dinner together? Work in the kitchen with the kids, or take a picnic to the park. I guarantee you, the kids will remember the time you spend together and cherish it much more than a foam-stuffed rabbit toy.

Having an eco-friendly Easter is actually pretty easy. I’m by no means perfect when it comes to living an environmentally conscience life, but I do what I can and learn a bit more each day about how my family can reduce its footprint. I’m certainly not trying to make anyone feel bad about giving their kids baskets or candy.

If we make purposeful decisions then we make better ones.

Happy Easter!

Vintage images via The Graphics Fairy.

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16 Japanese Folktales for Kids http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/04/japanese-folktales-for-kids.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=japanese-folktales-for-kids http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/04/japanese-folktales-for-kids.html#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 09:54:03 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=9349 This latest addition to my series of book lists featuring folktales for kids comes just in time Asian-Pacific Heritage Month (May). Read these traditional Japanese tales and folklore and you might even start to feel quite Zen about the world. These stories run the gamut from amusing anecdotes to legends, to full-scale adventures. Many of them... Keep Reading →

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This latest addition to my series of book lists featuring folktales for kids comes just in time Asian-Pacific Heritage Month (May). Read these traditional Japanese tales and folklore and you might even start to feel quite Zen about the world.

Japanese folktales for kids. List and reviews of great picture books to read aloud.

These stories run the gamut from amusing anecdotes to legends, to full-scale adventures. Many of them feature gorgeous pictures based on traditional Japanese illustration styles. Before making this list, I’m not sure I’d ever read any folklore from Japan. Shameful, I know. I’m happy my kids will not be so deprived. It’s important to me they have a multicultural view of the world and an appreciation for global traditions. (There are also a surprising number of books about cats!)

If you are looking for more books to read during Asian American Heritage Month, be sure also to peruse my list of folktales from China. As always, all my book lists can be found in the master index. (Note: covers and titles are affiliate links.)


The Stonecutter: A Japanese Folk Tale. As with all of Gerald McDermott’s folktale adaptations, the illustrations are what really shine. I also appreciate how all of his books deliver the stories in straightforward but engaging language, much as they may have been told in the oral tradition. This makes his books perfect for folklore novices and younger children. Tasaku is a stonecutter who works hard but begins to long for power. A mountain spirit grants him a few wishes but Tasaku learns that what you wish for might not be the best thing for you.


The Boy from the Dragon Palace. This amusing tale by master storyteller Margaret MacDonald was a hit with the boys who giggled at the idea of a boy who grants wishes by blowing his nose. Unfortunately, like most characters who are given the power of a wish, the flower seller, who owns the boy, gets a bit too greedy and his thanklessness comes back to him, teaching him a well-earned lesson. Get ready to make all kinds of nosy noises when reading this one!


Under the Cherry Blossom Tree: An Old Japanese Tale is a rather strange, but also quite amusing story. In Japan, yoses — joke house — are places where people gather to hear short, witty tales and this story is told in that tradition. A wicked landlord swallows a cherry pit and consequently a cherry tree sprouts from his head! This reminds me of all those times my dad told me, “Don’t eat the seeds! You’ll have a watermelon plant grow inside of you!” Also available as an ebook.


The Boy of the Three-Year Nap. Taro is very, very lazy. Even the taunts of his neighbors, or the pleas of his hard-working, widowed mother cannot spur him into action. When he decides to marry a rich merchant’s daughter so he never has to work, he hatches a clever plot to win her father over. Although it seems he got what he wanted things don’t go exactly as he planned and it may indeed be his mother who won in the end. 1989 Caldecott Honor Book.


We had just finished reading Thumbelina when I picked up The Smallest Samurai to read to my 5 year old so he latched right on to this story about a tiny little warrior who makes a sword out of a needle and wears armor made from beetle wings. Inchkin, as he is called, manages to vanquish two demons and as a reward wins two prizes: height and the princess’ hand.


In The Funny Little Woman (by the author of the well-loved Tikki Tikki Tembo), a giggling old woman chases a dumpling down a crack in the earth where she is captured by the wicked oni and forced to make rice for them. I could tell that my 5 year old was very worried for the little woman, but fortunately she manages to escape the monsters’ clutches and even gets a magic rice paddle in the bargain. 1973 Caldecott Winner.


The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks. I loved the illustrations based on the Japanese woodcutting style and my bird-loving son spent a good deal of time telling me facts about the mandarin duck after reading this book. A greedy man captures and steals a beautiful mandarin duck. The duck begins to wither away in captivity but a servant takes pity on it. When two people are sentenced to death for releasing the bird, the duck ensures their compassion is rewarded.


I Am Tama, Lucky Cat: A Japanese Legend. Ever wonder about those cat statues in front of Japanese restaurants? Well, wonder no longer. Although I’d never heard of the Lucky Cat legend, it is a popular one in Japanese folklore. Like most traditional tales, there are several versions. In this version, the cat narrates the story of how he came to the run-down Goutoku-ji Temple and was adopted by a kind Buddhist monk. The cat rewarded his kindness by beckoning a wealthy warlord to the Temple who soon became its patron. From then on, the cat became a symbol of luck and good fortune.


The Beckoning Cat. This is another, very different version of the Lucky Cat legend. Yohei, a young boy, lives in poverty with his family. Although the family owns a fish shop, the father becomes ill and the family struggles. One rainy night a cat appears at the door. Yohei shows kindness to the cat and the cat takes up residence at the door of the fish shop, beckoning customers to come into the shop.

Bamboo hats and a rice cake book Japanese folktale
Bamboo Hats and a Rice Cake is out of print, but I encourage you to find this moving story about the power of kindness at your library. Japanese characters are placed in the text, much like pictures are in a rebus. (Don’t fret, translations are given in the sidebar.) A poor elderly couple must sell the wife’s wedding dress in order to buy rice cakes. On the way to the market, the man passes six statues of Jizo. He bows, asking forgiveness that he has nothing to offer them, but promises to bring something on the return journey. Through several kind-hearted trades at the market, the old man is left, not with rice, but with a collection of hats. On his way home he passes the statues once again, and although he still has nothing to offer them, he places a hat on each head. This action makes its own kind of magic and compassion.


Wabi Sabi. I plucked this selection from my haiku book list.  A cat named Wabi Sabi sets off on a journey to find the meaning of her name and along the way discovers ways of seeing beauty in simplicity, an important concept in Zen Buddhism, and also the meaning of his name. The story is accompanied by haikus that act as both punctuation marks in the story as well as moments in which the cat learns how to see beauty in simplicity.


The theme of Three Samurai Cats: A Story from Japan will likely be familiar to you, even if you don’t have much experience with Japanese folk stories. A lord (in this case a dog) is having a bit of trouble with a gigantic rat (aren’t we all) so he calls at the monastery to get some help. The monk sends him, in succession, three samurai cat-warriors, all of whom fail to vanquish the rat. He then sends a Zen master, who shows that violence is not the answer. There is a great note in the back of the book explaining that it’s okay that the story is a bit oddly told, as that is common for tales with zen messages. My 5 year old really liked this book and the illustrations are quite amusing.


The Boy Who Drew Cats. Have you noticed the abundance of cats on this book list? 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.


Momotaro and the Island of Ogres. Mia at Pragmatic Mom informed me that Momortaro is one of the best loved Japanese folktales and this was the only single title about the “Peach Boy” that I could find at my library. It’s quite long for a picture book, but I love the hand scroll illustrations! There is a long note about the artist at the end of the book. Momotaro is an extraordinary boy, found when he was an infant inside a large peach. He grows up to be strong, kind and brave. He sets off on a journey to battle the ogres, but his good fortune and excellent character traits mean he does not have to vanquish them so much as turn them from their wicked ways.


The Crane Wife is another well-known tale. One stormy night a crane crashes to the ground and is nurtured by Osamu, a lonely sailmaker. Shortly thereafter, a mysterious and secretive young woman shows up his house. The pair are later married, but live in poverty until one day Yukiko begins to weave wonderous sails to sell. When the promise of more gold than he can imagine overcomes his reason he makes choices that have consequences he cannot escape. Lyrical text and gorgeous illustrations make this a great read aloud.


The Farmer and the Poor God. A farmer and his family believe they are poor because of the poor god who lives in their attic (not because they are a little bit lazy). The only way they believe they can escape poverty is to move. The god overhears them and decides to go with them, and the family realizes they may not be able to lose their unlucky companion after all. Instead, they start to sell the sandals that the poor god had made for the abandoned journey and realize the value both of work, and the god that lives in their attic.

For more information about Asian-Pacific Heritage Month visit the official webpage.

Have you been following our folktales series so far? I’ve got some more in the works! Do you have any other Japanese folktales or legends to recommend? 

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Poetry Challenge for Kids {Week 3} http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/04/poetry-challenge-week-3.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=poetry-challenge-week-3 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/04/poetry-challenge-week-3.html#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 09:55:41 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=9495 Welcome back to our very casual, very flexible, very fun Poetry Challenge to get you and your kids reading (and enjoying!) poems during National Poetry Month (and I hope you continue well beyond April). If you missed the introduction, you can read all the challenge details in the first Poetry Challenge for Kids post. How... Keep Reading →

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Welcome back to our very casual, very flexible, very fun Poetry Challenge to get you and your kids reading (and enjoying!) poems during National Poetry Month (and I hope you continue well beyond April). If you missed the introduction, you can read all the challenge details in the first Poetry Challenge for Kids post.

Poetry Challenge for kids to get everyone reading poems!

How did it go this past week with the Emily Dickinson poem? My kids enjoyed the Robert Louis Stevenson more, but we did have an interesting conversation about what it means for a word to “live”.

Diverging wildly from Dickinson, this week’s poem will tickle your funny bone and is a good reminder that poems do not always have to be deep and meaningful. In fact, nonsense rhymes serve an extremely useful purpose. Think of all those nursery rhymes that have been handed down through the generations.

Edward lear poem for the Poetry Challenge at whatdowedoallday.com

Get a printer friendly pdf copy here —> Edward Lear poem (I’ve been tacking each poem above our dining table so we don’t forget to read it every day.)

When I was a kid I had a book of Edward Lear’s nonsense rhymes. It was filled with limericks that made me giggle. I don’t remember most of them, but “There Was and Old Man with a Beard” is one that I can still recite from memory. You may also be familiar with Edward Lear’s “The Owl and the Pussycat”, a poem I also memorized as a kid. It’s funny that I can remember things I learned as a kid more easily than things I memorized as an adult. More reason to introduce poetry to your kids right now!

Poetry Challenge Extension Activities:

  • Memorize the limerick
  • Write your own limericks (keep it clean, please!) based on you and your kids. “There was a young boy from New York….”; or “There was an Old Mom with a book…”
  • Read more about Edward Lear
  • Read “The Owl and the Pussycat
  • The Gutenberg Project has free digital copies of the works of Edward Lear. Some of them even have illustrations.

Have you been reading poems with your kids this month? I’d love to hear how it’s going. You can leave a comment here, or join the conversation on Facebook.

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Earth Coloring Page http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/04/earth-coloring-page.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=earth-coloring-page http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/04/earth-coloring-page.html#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 09:55:03 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=9445 This month’s earth coloring page by Melanie Hope Greenberg is perfect for Earth Day. It features a globe encircled by a group of multicultural children holding hands. This coloring sheet comes from an illustration in It’s My Earth Too by Kathy Krull. Download and print –> Earth Day Coloring Page (by clicking this link you agree to our... Keep Reading →

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This month’s earth coloring page by Melanie Hope Greenberg is perfect for Earth Day. It features a globe encircled by a group of multicultural children holding hands.

Free Earth Day coloring page to print

This coloring sheet comes from an illustration in It’s My Earth Too by Kathy Krull.

Download and print –> Earth Day Coloring Page (by clicking this link you agree to our terms of service*)

It’s My Earth Too was originally published in 1992 by Doubleday Books for Young Readers. You might be surprised to learn that the book publishing industry is actually a huge polluter, but this book was made in an environmentally friendly manner, printed on recycled paper with soybean oil inks. There was no paper dust jacket, and water-soluble glues were used in the binding. The great news is that it is just been reissued as an ebook! (Affiliate links below.)


It’s My Earth, Too

Kids who are interested in the illustration process can read about the evolution of this picture on Melanie’s blog and read a new interview with Melanie discussing how she creates an illustration.

See all of Melanie’s coloring pages:

Free coloring pages for kids

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.

Melanie also visits schools to talk about the process of creating a book. Learn more about her internationally recognized art work at her official website.

Melanie signs all copies of her books purchased through her Amazon vendor link. A City Is would be a lovely read for National Poetry Month!

{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: You are welcome to download and print this coloring page as many times as you want for personal use. You may not upload this file to another website or database. All commercial use is prohibited. You are welcome to share this coloring page by sharing the link to this blog page. It is expressly forbidden to directly share the link to the document itself, thus bypassing this blog post. The copyright to this coloring page belongs exclusively to Melanie Hope Greenberg (used with her permission).

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Poetry writing for kids: 14 Ideas http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/04/poetry-writing-for-kids.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=poetry-writing-for-kids http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/04/poetry-writing-for-kids.html#comments Tue, 08 Apr 2014 09:55:21 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=9475 I am not a creative writer and so I sympathize with kids who find writing poems to be difficult. These poetry projects are good writing prompts for those of us (like me!) who need ideas in order to get started. April is National Poetry Month and the kids and I have been even more gung-ho... Keep Reading →

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I am not a creative writer and so I sympathize with kids who find writing poems to be difficult. These poetry projects are good writing prompts for those of us (like me!) who need ideas in order to get started.

14 creative poetry writing ideas for kids to write poems!

April is National Poetry Month and the kids and I have been even more gung-ho about celebrating that we usually are. We’ve been reading poetry every day as part of the Poetry Challenge, and my 5 year old has even memorized Jabberwocky. (I have been reciting it from memory every night at bedtime.)

What we have yet to do this month, however, is sit down and purposefully write poetry.* Since I don’t want my kids to grow up thinking of creative writing as a chore, so I’ve gathered together some simple, low-pressure ideas that we can start out with.

Stay tuned to see which type of poem we decide to tackle as our poetry writing project! (Note: This post contains affiliate links.)

Poetry Writing Ideas for Kids

  • Write an acrostic name poem. (Mama Smiles)
  • How to write haiku (article by poet Bob Raczka, poet and author of one of my favorite Haiku books, GUYKU: A Year of Haiku for Boys. Via Imagination Soup)
  • Write poetry using magnetic words. We have a set of really big magnetic poetry words and the boys love them. It helps take the pressure off writing to have a selection of words to chose from.

*I just realized New Kid did write a poem of sorts for his homemade pop up book

Do your kids write poetry?

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How to Make a Pop Up Book {With Your 5 Year Old} http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/04/how-to-make-a-pop-up-book.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-to-make-a-pop-up-book http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/04/how-to-make-a-pop-up-book.html#comments Mon, 07 Apr 2014 10:00:23 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=9453 Today’s book list comes with a twist! If you’ve ever wondered how to make a pop up book, you are in for a treat. Art and design superstar Ana of Babble Dabble Do and I are starting a BOOK ART collaboration and our first project is pop-up books. Since Ana is all about design and... Keep Reading →

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Today’s book list comes with a twist! If you’ve ever wondered how to make a pop up book, you are in for a treat. Art and design superstar Ana of Babble Dabble Do and I are starting a BOOK ART collaboration and our first project is pop-up books.

How to make a pop up book with your kids. This is actually an easy project!

Since Ana is all about design and I am all about books and reading, it seemed natural that our first project be a homemade book. Writing their own stories is a wonderful literacy activity for kids.

Ana designed the project and you can find her step by step instructions at Babble Dabble Do. After (or before) you make these pop-up books with your kids — and if I can do it, you can too — you will want to read a few “engineered paper” books with your kids. This is Monday after all, so I must include a book list, but you’ll have to head over to Ana’s blog to get the rest of the list!

Making a Pop Up Book with Your Kid

I put together two blank pop up books for my 5 year old (aka New Kid) ahead of time. He’s not too much into crafting these days, but he does like storytelling and I wanted that to be the focus for him.

Get the step by step instructions —> Babble Dabble Do.

The first book he worked on was a Star Wars book. These days he is enamored with Star Wars, and I fully admit that working on this book craft with him was much needed change of pace from reading the gazillion and one Star Wars easy readers that he insists on checking out of the library every week.

Making pop up books with a 5 year old.

New Kid is not exactly an artistic prodigy but that’s not really important, is it? He had fun scribbling out a few of his favorite Star Wars icons for the pop up pictures and labelled them. He’s practicing sounding out words so I only helped him when he asked. His teachers told me not to worry about exact spelling.

The second book we made was the one you see in the very top photo. We have been reciting Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky every night and New Kid is a little obsessed with what happens to the Jubjub Bird and the Bandersnatch so I suggested he write his own poem. By the time we started the second book he was exhausted from handwriting so I wrote the words he dictated. It’s quite the poem!

New Kid has been reading and re-reading his pop-up books. He is so proud of them!

Make a pop up book with your child as a fun art project

This was a fun project for us, and a great way to build literacy and storytelling skills, as well as show how writing is fun and not a worksheet-oriented chore. I never would have done it had it not been for the gentle shove from Ana, so I’m quite grateful to her for the special time my son and I had together. While you’re over at Babble Dabble Do, be sure to poke around because she has some amazingly wonderful art projects that you can do at home, although I think my all time favorite project of hers is this constellation geoboard.

Pop up Book List

Be sure to pop (pun) over to Ana’s blog to see my additional three recommendations for pop-up books you and your kids will enjoy. (Covers and titles are affiliate links.)


Open This Little Book is not exactly a pop-up. Rather it’s a book within a book within a book within a book… well, you get the idea. As a group of animals read stories about other creatures reading stories, the books grow smaller and smaller until there is simply no room left and they must start all over again.


Popville is a rather amazing little book from the French team, Anouck Boisrobert and Louis Rigaud. The book begins with a single pop-up building. On each subsequent page more buildings, trees, electric poles, and other trappings of civilization are added and the end result is a lovely little town. What’s unusual in this pop-up is that the pages are all cut out, so the original building on the opening page remains part of the ever growing community. The authors also have a forest themed book and an ocean book that will be released later this year.


My bird loving sons adore Birds of a Feather. It’s a very, very large book and although each page contains primarily lift the flaps rather than true pop-ups, the oversized nature of the book makes you feel as if the birds are flying up at you. My sons’ favorite spread is one with eggs in relative sizes, which when lifted reveal pop-ups of the bird that would hatch from it.

Have you ever made pop up books or cards with your kids? Is this a project they would enjoy? 

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Poetry Challenge for Kids {Week 2} http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/04/poetry-challenge-for-kids-week-2.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=poetry-challenge-for-kids-week-2 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/04/poetry-challenge-for-kids-week-2.html#comments Fri, 04 Apr 2014 09:55:05 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=9432 Welcome back to our (very casual) poetry challenge. Every Friday during National Poetry Month, I will be sharing one short, classic poem to read with your kids. The rules are very simple and flexible. You can learn all about them and get the first poem on the introductory poetry reading challenge post. Before I introduce... Keep Reading →

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Welcome back to our (very casual) poetry challenge. Every Friday during National Poetry Month, I will be sharing one short, classic poem to read with your kids. The rules are very simple and flexible. You can learn all about them and get the first poem on the introductory poetry reading challenge post.

Poetry challenge for kids during National Poetry Month. Learn to love poetry.

Before I introduce this week’s poem… If you participated in last week’s poetry challenge I’d love to hear how it went. Here’s what happened at our home:

The first time I read the poem the kids listened quietly but had no response. I tacked the poem up next to our dining table so I wouldn’t forget to read it! The next day my 9 year old said, “We read that yesterday!” I explained I was going to read it at least once a day and all he had to do was listen, nothing else unless he wanted to. After I read it, he asked what “bower” meant. The third time, I discovered a layer of meaning and explained my finding, to which he just nodded. The fourth time he asked what “gallant” meant. I think it’s so interesting he didn’t try to learn the definitions of unfamiliar words the first time!

This week’s poem comes from American poet, Emily Dickinson. It’s a very short poem, but I think you’ll agree it is thick with meaning. I’m looking forward to hearing what my kids think of it!

A word is dead poem by Emily Dickinson chosen for the poetry reading challenge.

The best way to get to know a poem is to live with it. Read this poem out loud at least once every day for a week. Discuss it with your kids (if you want), print it out and tack it on the fridge or your bulletin board.

I have a printer friendly version here —> A Word poem 

I’ve seen the poem with different punctuation. I don’t know what version scholars have deemed official, but since reading it aloud is the goal of the poetry challenge I won’t spend too much time hemming and hawing over it.

The blog, The Prowling Bee is dedicated to looking at each of Dickinson’s poems and here’s her interpretation of “A Word”. You can read more about Emily Dickinson at Poets.org.

I’d love to hear from you! Did you manage to read the Robert Louis Stevenson poem from last week every day with your kids? Did you do any extension activities, or simply enjoy the reading? How did your kids like it? Do tell!

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12 (Almost) Effortless Preschool Literacy Activities http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/04/preschool-literacy-activities.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=preschool-literacy-activities http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/04/preschool-literacy-activities.html#comments Thu, 03 Apr 2014 09:45:41 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=9388 Long time followers of this blog know that literacy and reading is one of my passions. My kids are no longer preschoolers, but I thought it would be of interest to many of you if I pulled together a bunch of super easy preschool literacy activities. These ideas will help lay a solid foundations for... Keep Reading →

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Long time followers of this blog know that literacy and reading is one of my passions. My kids are no longer preschoolers, but I thought it would be of interest to many of you if I pulled together a bunch of super easy preschool literacy activities. These ideas will help lay a solid foundations for pre-readers, and best of all, you can totally do them.

Preschool literacy ideas for parents that take very little preparation. Easy to do at home!

It’s easy for parents to feel overwhelmed by an overload of information about how to make sure you give your children a good foundation for learning. Just take a stroll through Pinterest and you will find tons of creative ideas to teach your kids. Unfortunately, I can get lost in the flood of complicated ideas that require lots of preparation. Ideas I know I will never complete.

If you are like me, don’t despair! (Not that you were actually despairing.) We, too can be awesome teachers. In fact, I’m so confident that even parents who don’t own a hot glue gun can do these literacy-building activities at home I’m including my own Preparation Scale. A “0″ is no prep at all. Nothing. Nada. You can do it where you are. Right. Now. A 10 would include a trip to your local Michael’s, and then an hour crafting your own homemade, decoupage alphabet letters and washi taped home literacy station.* Nothing here is above a 4 on my Preparation Scale.

Ready? (Tip: clicking on the orange links below will take you to more information about the idea.)

  • Introduce the concept of journaling. This does not even have to include the formation of letters in order to be valuable. Journalling is a fabulous pre-literacy tool and teaches kids that writing is fun. Preparation scale: 2
  • Have your alphabet puzzle pieces or letter magnets handy when you read books and match letters as demonstrated by The Pleasantest Thing. Preparation scale: 1
  • Hang the alphabet up on a clothesline. If you don’t have letter cards, you can hang up homemade ones that are a cinch to whip up. Preparation scale 3 (4 if you have to make your own letters.)
  • Make a salt tray. Pour a container of salt onto a cookie tray. Preschoolers use their fingers to “write” in the salt. They can make letters if they want, or just scribble. Preparation scale: 2 Clean up: 3 (Be sure to include the kids in clean up.)
  • Trace letters on your child’s back. This is a classic activity that I first read about in The Write Start: A Guide to Nurturing Writing at Every Stage, from Scribbling to Forming Letters and Writing Stories (An amazing book that I highly recommend. That’s an affiliate link.). Have kids guess which letter you are tracing. Start out with letters that are very easy to distinguish, like “X” and “O”. Preparation scale: “0″
  • Jump out the syllables of words in puddles! (Idea via Playdough to Plato) Preparation scale: 1 if it’s raining and you have to put on rain gear; 0 if you just jump wherever you are right now!
  • Read books. Read books. Read books. There is no greater preschool literacy activity, none that takes so little effort on your part, than spending 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening reading picture books to your preschooler. Preparation scale: 0

What do you think? Can you do these ideas? What is your very favorite activity to enhance your child’s literacy?

*Note to crafty moms and great activity planners: you are awesome, too.

For more literacy activities for preschool and beyond, connect with me on Pinterest:
Follow Erica • What Do We Do All Day?’s board Literacy and Reading with Kids on Pinterest.

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More Plant Science: Regrowing Vegetables from Scraps http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/04/plant-science-regrowing-vegetables-from-scraps.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=plant-science-regrowing-vegetables-from-scraps http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/04/plant-science-regrowing-vegetables-from-scraps.html#comments Tue, 01 Apr 2014 09:51:50 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=9401 Observing how some vegetables magically regrow from scraps is a fascinating plant science project you can do at home with the kids even if you don’t have a yard! The boys and I are watching a few items regrow (or not in one case) in our small window greenhouse. I remember growing vegetables from scraps... Keep Reading →

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Observing how some vegetables magically regrow from scraps is a fascinating plant science project you can do at home with the kids even if you don’t have a yard! The boys and I are watching a few items regrow (or not in one case) in our small window greenhouse.

Introduce plant science to kids by regrowing vegetables indoors!

I remember growing vegetables from scraps in my elementary school classroom 35 years ago (don’t do the math, please). Then, in my college years I toted around a small indoor avocado tree I had grown from a pit. Of all the indoor gardening activities, it is one of the most satisfying. Garbage turns into stuff you can eat! Kind of cool, if you ask me. My older son enjoyed growing root veggies in his DIY see-through planter, but I think he may be liking this even more.

Fun plant science observations project for kids. Regrow veggies.

This is what it looks like now (including our coffee bean plant and a random succulent!). We started with celery and scallions, which should the most immediate results, and thus the best to lure kids into the magic. Cut the celery off near the base and the scallions just near the green line and sit the bottoms in water.

Later we added sweet potato and avocado. Both should be suspended in water using toothpicks.

The avocado pit is stalled, I think because the window is not warm and sunny enough yet. We’ll see. I’ll probably try a new one in a few weeks. I’ve had great success with avocado pits in the past.

Turn garbage into food with this fun indoor gardening activity for kids

The sweet potatoes are eeking along. We can see some teeny tiny roots and sprouts. Part of the fun of plant science with kids is pitting (pun) one plant against another and seeing which ones “win” the race to grow. That’s how we’re conducting our kitchen seed and bean race and it’s been part of the discussion with the boys about the veggie scraps, too.

There are lots of other veggies scraps you can grow in your window without ever touching a bag of soil. Check out these how-tos:

  • Carrot tops, parsnips, beets — any of these types of root veggies
  • Pineapple
  • Bok choy and romaine lettuce: just like celery

Have you ever regrown vegetable scraps? What is your favorite way to garden with kids? 

Check out more easy ways to garden in tight spots by following my pinterest board:
Follow Erica • What Do We Do All Day?’s board Tiny Space Gardening on Pinterest.

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