What Do We Do All Day? http://www.whatdowedoallday.com Books and Activities for Kids Thu, 30 Oct 2014 16:29:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 10 Alternatives to Forcing Your Kids to Learn to Read http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/10/alternatives-forcing-kids-learn-read.html http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/10/alternatives-forcing-kids-learn-read.html#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 15:17:54 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=11299 There is so much advice out there about raising readers and for my first child I mostly ignored it. Not because it wasn’t good advice. It was! It’s just that Kiddo taught himself to read at the tender age of 3 and has since become a voracious reader. So, I didn’t have to do anything.... Keep Reading →

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There is so much advice out there about raising readers and for my first child I mostly ignored it. Not because it wasn’t good advice. It was! It’s just that Kiddo taught himself to read at the tender age of 3 and has since become a voracious reader. So, I didn’t have to do anything.

However, it’s been clear for a long time that I would not have the same experience with my youngest son.

Parent tips for avoiding the early reading frustrations.

I am, in fact, not enjoying teaching my almost 6 year old how to read. Oh, that is a horrible thing to admit. But I’m just being honest!! A large part of the problem is that he does not like to do things that aren’t easy. Even though I know I have given him a good foundation for literacy by including rhyming games, phonetic awareness, and even poetry into our daily lives, I struggle with my own impatience. I have to work very hard to keep a smile on my face.

For a short time, New Kid seemed amendable to learning how to read. I searched out books that were actually easy and he’s even read a few of them (with help) to me. But recently he has decided he hates sounding out words. If he doesn’t know the word by sight he doesn’t even want to try. Personally, I think it is okay if he doesn’t have reading fluency for another year or so and I have scaled my active teaching way, way back.

That doesn’t mean I’m not finding ways to convince him to learn to read! Here’s what I’m doing to avoid burnout: (Note: book titles are affiliate links.)

Make the home a text rich environment, and not just books. Put up signs. Put up poems. Add magnet words to doors and walls. I highly recommend The Write Start as a resource for more ideas. The book is geared towards raising kids who love to write, but we all know reading and writing go hand in hand.

Reading wordless picture books. New Kid loves to read the same wordless book over and over. This is excellent for learning story structure and looking for layers of meaning. For the past week, we’ve been “reading” Quest repeatedly. See my tips for making the most out of wordless books (I draw heavily on my theatrical training).

Get siblings involved. Kiddo and New Kid do not always see eye to eye, but sometimes when I bring home a book they both can’t wait to read I ask Kiddo to read it aloud to his younger brother. Kiddo is a hero in his brother’s eyes and I’m going to use it to my advantage!

Do not read bad books. Okay. This one is going to get me some hate mail. Plus, it goes against all the advice out there that says to read what your kid wants, even if it is a book about Pokemon or Disney Princesses (I can at least avoid that latter, although there was a Frozen easy reader I had to read before New Kid “discovered” that Frozen was for girls [insert eye roll]). However, I have also read a lot of advice that tells a mama to take care of herself. For me that means limiting the mindless dribble I read. Yes, I still read license characters books, if they are short. The longer ones I call “looking at books”. And you know what, he doesn’t complain. He looks at them for hours. I don’t insult the books, or criticize him for wanting them, but I read (mostly) good books and he can have one on one time with Pikachu, or LEGO Han Solo or Spiderman. When he learns to read, he can read those books as much as he wants, but I must keep my sanity.

Easy reader books for beginning readers.

When reading aloud, take an extra long pause before a word. I have to be casual about this so my son doesn’t catch on, but if I pause long enough, he gets impatient and I see him looking at the word to figure it out.

Read interactive books. Press Here is a personal favorite and lift the flap books like Flora and the Flamingo
are another good choice. These books, along with wordless books, emphasize how reading is not a passive sport.

Have your child read only the easy words. One of my current strategies is to ask him to read a single word that is repeated throughout the book. For example, if the word uses “cat” over and over, I will run my finger along the text as I read, stopping at the word “cat” and then let New Kid read that word. Elephant & Piggie are great for this. In I Broke My Trunk!, for example, I would point to the work, “trunk”.

Model sounding out words. Instead of making him sound out the whole word, which he HATES, I ask him the sound of the last letter. For example: CAT. I say, “ca.. what’s that sound?” while pointing to the “t”. He makes the t sound and I finish sounding out the word.

Listen to audiobooks. Here’s a list of our favorite audiobooks.

Just read aloud. We all know it. Reading aloud begets readers. …. …. Eventually.

I want to end this post, by saying I am not a literacy professional. I know many parents may not agree with my mostly hands-off strategy. To be perfectly honest, I’m pretty sure I’ll change my approach as my son’s attitude changes. We all know kids love to change their opinions daily! Right now my goal is to increase New Kid’s desire to learn to read, without stressing either of us out.

Please tell me, what are you doing with your emerging reader? Are you finding it a challenge to encourage their reading progress?

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14 Children’s Books with Multiracial Families http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/10/childrens-books-with-multiracial-families.html http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2014/10/childrens-books-with-multiracial-families.html#comments Mon, 27 Oct 2014 09:46:22 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=11296 I want books that reflect a diverse, multicultural world. Children’s books with multiracial and biracial families and characters are for everyone! My family lives in one of the most diverse cities in the nation and I am so fortunate my children will grow up knowing people from all walks of life. It will help them become the tolerant, compassionate individuals I... Keep Reading →

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I want books that reflect a diverse, multicultural world. Children’s books with multiracial and biracial families and characters are for everyone! My family lives in one of the most diverse cities in the nation and I am so fortunate my children will grow up knowing people from all walks of life. It will help them become the tolerant, compassionate individuals I want them to be.

Books for kids with multiracial and biracial families

I like to read multicultural folktales with my kids, but they are not a substitute for contemporary stories with diverse characters. For this list, I chose picture books with a variety of faces from mixed race families. Sometimes, the racial identity of the character is noted, other times, it is merely part of the story’s backdrop. One notable (and awesome) feature is that may of these books emphasis the importance of intergenerational relationships! I would love for you to add your additional recommendations in the comments.

For further reading, see all my lists of multicultural books for kids.

(Note: book covers and titles are affiliate links.)


black is brown is tan. This marvelous 1973 classic book is a lovely, warm and poetic tribute to both the specialness and the normalcy of interracial families. It is an overwhelmingly positive book. A white dad and a black mom are loving parents to their “tan” kids. It will make you want to cuddle up with your own kids no matter what the color of your (or their) skin!


The Hello, Goodbye Window. Yes, indeed-y the author of The Phantom Tollbooth has a picture book! Not only that, but it’s illustrated by the illustrious, award-winning Chris Raschka. A young girl loves visiting her grandparents who have an inviting kitchen window you can climb into, look out of, and see your reflection in. The text takes us on a journey with the child as she describes her special relationship with her Poppy and Nanna. She has both African-American and white grandparents. A Caldecott Award winner.


Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match / Marisol McDonald no combina. I loved Marisol from the moment I met her, and as a result, she’s made an appearance on several of my lists, including books with diverse characters and books for Hispanic Heritage Month. Red-headed half-Scottish half-Peruvian Marisol bounces off the page with great enthusiasm and loves her mismatched life. When her friend, Ollie, challenges her to “match”, Marisol finds she is unhappy with life as a conformist. This is a great story that emphasizes the importance of embracing and accepting one’s uniqueness. (Text is in both English and Spanish.) A Pura Belpré Honor Award Book. The publisher also has a helpful teacher’s guide (free, online) to use.


You Were the First is a tender book in which parents, one Asian, one Caucasian, narrate their child’s firsts. “You were the first to cry.” You were the first to smile.” As the child grows a bit, the first change. Such as, “You were the first to dig.” It’s a sweet book which would make a terrific new baby gift or a special book to read to an older sibling.


“More More More,” Said the Baby, one of my favorite books to buy for new moms, is a delightful classic. Vera B. Williams’ book is composed of three vignettes, each showing a grown up (daddy, grandma, mommy) playing with a baby. The three families are diverse: a white child, a bi-racial child and an Asian-American – all equally loved, all equally playful. At the end of each vignette the babies are tucked into bed by their loving grownup. A Caldecott Honor book.


Everywhere Babies. Meyers’ book celebrates the diversity of babies all over the world and how babies might sleep, eat, play and live differently but are all loved equally. Frazee is a wonderful artist and the variety of facial expressions on all the babies are terrific. Frazee does a great job of including people from all different walks of life in her illustrations. I loved the contrast between the “older” parents and the younger ones. That made me giggle a bit.


Grandfather Counts focuses primarily on the intergenerational relationship between a young girl and her grandfather. Helen speaks English, Gong Gong speaks Chinese, and through the act of counting in their respective languages, they form a bond. The girl’s biracial identity forms a backdrop, but is not the main focus of the book. Lee & Low has a great teacher’s guide to use when reading this book with your kids.


Dumpling Soup. Marisa lives in Hawaii and her family members are Korean, Hawaiian, Japanese and Chinese! The extended family gathers together on New Year’s Eve to make dumpling soup. Marisa worries that no one will like her non-so-perfect dumplings but the warm, family, festive atmosphere (and some help from grandma) ensures that everyone has a wonderful time. Includes a 4 language glossary.


I Love Saturdays y domingos is a wonderfully uplifting story about a girl who spends Saturdays with her English-speaking grandparents and Sundays with her Spanish-speaking abuelos. She describes the joys of each visit and the reader instantly sees the parallels and how much the family loves one another. In the end, everyone comes together for the little girl’s birthday. There are a lot of Spanish words and phrases but no glossary (at least not in my library copy), but English-only readers will have no problem understanding the story.


Jalapeno Bagels. Pablo needs to bring in something to school for International day. He debates whether or not to bring in his mother’s delicious Mexican baked goods or his father’s challah. From the title you can guess his decision! This book is sure to make you hungry so have a snack handy. Includes a Yiddish and Spanish glossary.


I’m Your Peanut Butter Big Brother. Food imagery abounds in this sweet story about a young boy who wonders what the skin color of his new brother will be. His father has “chocolate” skin, his mother is “strawberry cream Mama milk”. When his little sister is born, her skin color is just like his. That is to say, “peanut butter”. I was a little tired of the food references by the end of the book but it is a cute read, especially for to-be-big siblings.


My Two Grannies and My Two Grandads. Both books have similar themes: one grandparent is from the Carribbean, the other from England. Each has a very different personality from the other. However, with the help of their grandchild, they learn to appreciate each other’s difference and make a little music in the meantime.


Oscar’s Half Birthday. I always enjoy Bob Graham’s quiet and lovely stories that teach us about how ordinary moments connect us with others and the world around us. In this book, Oscar’s family takes an outing to the park to celebrate Oscar’s 6 months of life.  What I love about this book is that the biracial family simply is.

What books featuring interracial families would you recommend? Are there any types of families you would like to see more of in children’s literature? (I would particularly like to add a book with a character with Native American heritage to this list. Do you have one to suggest?)

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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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