What Do We Do All Day? http://www.whatdowedoallday.com Books and Activities for Kids Fri, 30 Jan 2015 13:24:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 Paper Airplane Landing Strips http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/01/paper-airplane-landing-strips.html http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/01/paper-airplane-landing-strips.html#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 11:00:27 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=12004 I have been pleasantly surprised at how much fun my boys have been having making up paper airplane games lately. I love these kind of old school, quick indoor activities that kids of all ages (even those who need a little help with the folding) can enjoy.  In fact, making and flying paper airplanes has been... Keep Reading →

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I have been pleasantly surprised at how much fun my boys have been having making up paper airplane games lately. I love these kind of old school, quick indoor activities that kids of all ages (even those who need a little help with the folding) can enjoy.  In fact, making and flying paper airplanes has been such a runaway hit in our home I thought I’d share with you 3 of the landing strips they invented to enhance their play.

3 fun DIY paper airplane landing strips for indoor games.

It’s kind of amazing how the normally squabbling brothers have been cooperating, organizing flying experiments and scientific comparisons, and most impressive to me, they have been getting creative with landing strips. (Note: this post contains affiliate links.)

I last wrote about paper airplanes when I describes what a perfect play date activity it was for my older son and our downstairs neighbor. This past snow day the two of them made a few more from the fantastic Klutz Book of Paper Airplanes, which has superior instructions and trouble-shooting advice, BUT what has really gotten my two sons to have brotherly bonding time has been our Paper Airplane Fold-a-Day 2015 Day-to-Day Calendar!!

Every morning we fold the airplane of the day (we are going to have quite the collection by the end of the year) and give it a test drive before leaving for school. Then, almost every evening a big chunk of time is spent flying the new plane against the previous ones.

If your kids are paper airplane nerds like mine, encourage them to make a landing strip.

Here is their butcher paper landing strip. If you don’t have a big roll of paper, you need to get one! It comes in handy for so many activities! My older son wanted to put point values in the circles, but I have banned all competitive games for the time being because “friendly brotherly competition” always ends in screaming.

Butcher paper landing strip for paper airplanes.

Blocks. (Kiddo used our Twig blocks) Gather up your blocks or LEGO bricks and design a fancy landing strip for your paper airplane games. I believe the stack of blocks is meant to be an airport control tower!

Block landing strip for paper airplane games at home.

Use tape directly on the floor.  I’ve never had trouble removing painter’s tape, but I don’t recommend using regular masking tape.

Tape landing strip for paper airplane games.

No doubt your own kids can come up with their own unique version! Do your kids love paper airplanes?

Curious about our elaborate planes? They come from these two sources:

All month long we’ve been celebrating fun indoor activities with fellow bloggers. Find more quick and easy indoor activities this week on the following blogs:

See our previous indoor activity posts in this series:

Or check out our (recently re-organized!) gigantic list of indoor activities for kids, ages toddler to tween.

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18 Fun Handwriting Activities for Kids (Even the Reluctant Ones) http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/01/fun-handwriting-activities-for-kids.html http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/01/fun-handwriting-activities-for-kids.html#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 11:00:51 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=11984 I’m constantly on the lookout for fun handwriting activities for my 6 year old. I don’t like to pressure him to practice writing but I do think it’s important that he work on his skills. He sees an occupational therapist to help him with fine motor skills, so I want to reinforce that at home.... Keep Reading →

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I’m constantly on the lookout for fun handwriting activities for my 6 year old. I don’t like to pressure him to practice writing but I do think it’s important that he work on his skills. He sees an occupational therapist to help him with fine motor skills, so I want to reinforce that at home. My son has a strong-willed personality and there is no point in trying to force him to do something he doesn’t want to do. This calls for sneaky tactics, because if anything smacks of  handwriting “practice”, my 6 year old balks. He does not like anything he considers “work.” (I know, aren’t you jealous?)

Fun handwriting activities for kids that even reluctant kids will enjoy.

My oldest and youngest could no be more opposite.  My older son was eagerly writing at age 4. Remember this categorization activity he made up himself? He used to write the state names for fun! Well, the tables are turned on me now!

Whether or not you have a child that also hates handwriting practice I hope the following ideas are helpful for you. I’ve gathered some suggestions from his occupational therapist and teachers, as well as some other fun ideas from around the web (many of them also from OTs).

If you have any handwriting activities for kids that have worked for you, by all means share them in the comments! I can use all the assistance I can get.

Activities his occupational therapist and teacher have suggested:

  • Write “bathroom words”. Seriously. I am not above letting my son write the word “fart” 10 times, if it means he is writing.
  • When he wants me to remember something, I ask him to write me a note so I don’t forget.
  • I leave him secret messages that he has to decode.
  • I encourage him to do activities that relate to his interests. For example, he can make his own Pokemon cards.
  • According to his teacher, drawing is also good (if he is willing; remember, he “hates art”). The main purpose being to get him to pick up a writing implement. I had great success making a giant comic strip with him.

Other fun handwriting activities we’ve done:

Ideas from Occupational Therapists around the web:

So tell me, how do your kids fare at handwriting? Do you have any fun handwriting activities to suggest?

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10 Exciting, Kid-Approved Books for 10 Year Olds http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/01/books-for-10-year-olds.html http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/01/books-for-10-year-olds.html#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 10:51:15 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=11931 My 10 year old is an avid reader. He’s also a fast reader and I have a hard time keeping up with him! I’m increasing the number of chapter book lists on this blog so what better way than to make a list of books for 10 year olds. I chatted with my son to find... Keep Reading →

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My 10 year old is an avid reader. He’s also a fast reader and I have a hard time keeping up with him! I’m increasing the number of chapter book lists on this blog so what better way than to make a list of books for 10 year olds. I chatted with my son to find out which are the best books he’s been reading lately, and while you won’t find his current obsession with Archie comics on this list, these titles are all his choices.

Chapter books for 10 year olds. Great for boys and girls.

Since my son is solidly in the middle grade book reading level, I suggest these books for kids ages 8 to 12. It goes without saying that individual preferences and reading strengths vary, so use your own discretion.

Although this list is based on the reading interest of a 10 year old boy, I am firmly of the opinion that book lists should not be divided along gender lines. These books have boy and girl protagonists and will be enjoyed by boys and girls alike. (Note: book covers and titles are affiliate links.)

MORE: Don’t forget! All our book lists are indexed on the master book list.


The Map to Everywhere is very exciting! I was hooked by the end of the first page, which let me tell you does not happen very often these days. Two worlds collide when Fin, a master thief in a magical pirate world meets Marrill, a “normal” girl who boards a ship in a mirage in an Arizona parking lot. The two join up in a multi-world quest to find two parts of a famed pirate map that Fin thinks might help him find his mother. This is the first in a brand new series and I’m pretty excited to read the next book!


Rain Reign. 12 year old Rose is obsessed with homonyms, prime numbers and rules. She lives with her father and a box full of trinkets left behind by her mother. Her dog, Rain, (so named because it is a homonym) is her best friend and he goes missing in a storm. After the storm clears Rose learns the dog actually belongs to another family and she must give back her beloved friend. This book is so touching and honest. I’m glad that my son can enjoy these “quiet, sensitive” reads alongside high adventure and Archie comics.


The Boundless, one of the critics’ favorite books last year, is an action packed adventure, just the kind of book that is currently grabbing my son’s attention. Will embarks on the maiden voyage of “The Boundless”, a train with 987 cars! One of those cars contains priceless treasures that nefarious individuals would like to get their hands on. Will teams up with colorful characters in order to save the train and the treasure.


With it’s large text and numerous illustrations, the humorous Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor can also be enjoyed by so called “reluctant readers”. Frank is a boy genius bent on winning a science competition with his robot inventions but his rival, T. Edison, is determined to thwart him. Kids who enjoy science will get into this book (also see my list of science themed chapter books). This is the start of a 6 book series and my son declared it “super funny, especially the robot who loves to hug.”


The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread. My son said he had also read Because of Winn-Dixie, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and The Magician’s Elephant during quiet class reading time. “They were all good, mom, but The Tale of Desperaux was my favorite.” Masterful and suspense-filled plot lines about a mouse in love with a princess, a rat who loves soup and light, and a not-so-bright peasant girl all come together in a marvelous tale which will get your kids thinking about love and forgiveness.


The Black Stallion. When my son described the plot of this book, I felt sure that I had read it as a kid and noting the publication date of 1941, I probably did. Kiddo recounted to me the story of a boy who was ship-wrecked with a horse. Together they survive on an island for 19 days. They are rescued and taken to Rio (I think? Anyway, that’s what Kiddo said.) and eventually end up in New York where the boy meets racehorse trainer who enters the stallion in a race. Kiddo declared this an adventure he couldn’t put down.


Millicent Min, Girl Genius. I quite enjoyed this book myself, actually. 11 year old Millicent may be in high school and taking college poetry classes for fun, but she is still learning about how to be a good friend. One summer she meets Emily, and decides not to disclose her IQ status. She loves have a regular friend to hang out with, but learns the value of honesty and loyalty when Emily finds out her secret. There are companion books about Emily, and Stanford, the boy Millicent tutors.


The Report Card. Kiddo named several books by Andrew Clements that he has enjoyed in 4th grade, but singled out this one as a particular favorite. He has actually read it before (see it on my list of great chapter books about school). It is about a girl who, although she can easily earn As, decides to get Ds and Cs on her report card in order to prove a point. Clements is a good author for kids who have trouble getting through some of the longer middle grade books that are out there these days.

 


Leon and the Spitting Image. When I was quizzing Kiddo on his favorite recent books for this post he said, “Mom, this was the book I couldn’t get my head out of when MorMor was visiting.” Translation: two thumbs up. I haven’t read this book, but here is what I’ve gathered from talking with my son and reading the reviews: This funny, rather wacky story is about 4th grader Leon, whose teacher loves sewing so much, she makes the kids in her class sew stuffed animals with perfect stiches. Leon fashions a doll that looks like Mrs. Hagmeyer and it turns out to have voodoo-like qualities. Kiddo agreed that this was a very funny read and reminded him of Dahl’s books.


The Lost Hero. I told myself I was not going to include any Riordan books on this list. After all, it’s not as if you haven’t heard of them and as I’ve said many times, one of my book list goals is to introduce you to new-to-you-books. I changed my mind, though, after Kiddo insisted. The Lost Hero is the first book in RR’s second series and focuses on Roman mythology. The third series (The Red Pyramid books) draws on Egyptian mythology and I hear rumors there will be a fourth series based on Norse myths. I haven’t read any of Riordan books but they rank highly at the top of almost every 4th grader’s list of favorite books, so there you go.

Do you have any books for 10 year olds to recommend? What are your children reading these days?

More of my son’s favorite books (all appropriate for this age range):

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A “Tip Jar” to Help Siblings Get Along http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/01/help-siblings-get-along.html http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/01/help-siblings-get-along.html#comments Sun, 25 Jan 2015 11:30:17 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=11954 You may remember from my family kindness tokens or our family kindness resolutions that I am hard at work to help my kids to get along and practice kindness towards each other. Parenting is hard and many days it is an uphill battle, but then I experience a magic moment like the morning when, instead of shouting at his brother for taking... Keep Reading →

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You may remember from my family kindness tokens or our family kindness resolutions that I am hard at work to help my kids to get along and practice kindness towards each other. Parenting is hard and many days it is an uphill battle, but then I experience a magic moment like the morning when, instead of shouting at his brother for taking his book my 10 year old calmly stated, “I was hoping to finish reading that book this morning, but you can look at it now and I will have my next turn after school.”

Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather.

Help siblings get along with this technique to reinforce kindness.

I was stunned into silence, but my wise husband declared, “That was an excellent approach to the situation, Kiddo.”

That’s not to say there won’t be fighting later on today, but still. It’s heartening to think that some of my strategies are having an impact and it certainly inspires me to keep working at it. (Note: this post contains affiliate links.)

Enter the sibling kindness “tip jar.”

It started because during December I had the boys create “sibling kindness advent calendars.” I never wrote a post about it, but I shared the idea on our Facebook page (<– click there to see it). Their response to it was quite positive so I wanted to find a way to extend the idea throughout the year.

I’ve been reading a fantastically helpful book, The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind which states,

You’re never going to get the conflict side of the equation to zero. Siblings argue; they just do. But if you can increase the other side of the equation, giving them activities that produce positive emotions and memories, you’ll create strong bonds between them and set up a relationship that has a good chance of remaining solid for life.

Note the phrase: “Siblings argue; they just do.” Does that lift a bit of weight from the shoulders of any other parents?

Our kindness “tip jar” is designed to “increase the other side of the equation”  by helping the boys remember their successful and fun moments together.

At least once a day, I write down their moment of kindness and drop it into the “tip jar”.  Either of the boys can also write down statements about his brother if he wants to, or if I overhear something, I will write it down and drop it in the jar.

Kindness notes for tip jar to help siblings get along.

I randomly read off the statements, usually at meal times, but often just before getting everyone ready for bed. These little reminders are designed to reinforce the idea that the boys are successful when they are kind to each other. I can tell they enjoy hearing positive statements and I like to think that my acknowledgment of their cooperative moments is an act of kindness towards them, too.

Let’s hear it for family kindness.

How do you help siblings get along? 

*************

This post is part of the 100 Acts of Kindness project hosted by Toddler Approved and Coffee Cups & Crayons.

 

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Indoor Activities for Tweens http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/01/indoor-activities-tweens.html http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/01/indoor-activities-tweens.html#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 11:00:36 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=11928 My giant list of Indoor Activities for Kids is my most popular page, but what about if you have bigger kids, or what is commonly referred to as “tweens”? (Am I the only one who dislikes that term? Although it is quite convenient. But I digress.) Little kids may be easily entertained by dropping popsicle... Keep Reading →

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My giant list of Indoor Activities for Kids is my most popular page, but what about if you have bigger kids, or what is commonly referred to as “tweens”? (Am I the only one who dislikes that term? Although it is quite convenient. But I digress.) Little kids may be easily entertained by dropping popsicle sticks in a jar, but that doesn’t cut it for the 9-12 aged crowd. Indoor activities for tweens can come in handy, too. After all, big kids have big energy.

Fun indoor activities for tweens when they are stuck inside.

I now have a 10 year old boy and while he is much better able to entertain himself these days, he does sometimes ask me for ideas of what to do. While I think it’s beneficial for him to stew in his boredom for a while, there’s nothing wrong to have a few boredom buster ideas for him to choose from. I’ve gather a list of indoor activities for tween that will come in handy during those “stuck inside” days. (Note: this post contains affiliate links.)

One other thing before we get started. We don’t have a rec room or even a large family room, so if you live in a teeny tiny space like us, rest assured, these indoor activities will work for your kids, too.

Science and engineering indoor activities for tweens

Indoor Science and Engineering Activities for Tweens

Tweens love science and engineering projects. Best of all, they promote critical thinking skills and encourage curiosity and perseverance (these are well-used words in our home).

  • I think it’s important to keep a couple of science experiment books on the shelves for kids to thumb through. Right now, Naked Eggs and Flying Potatoes: Unforgettable Experiments That Make Science Fun is providing some serious inspiration.
  • If you are like us, sometimes gathering the materials for a science or engineering projects provides the biggest challenge. My 10 year old absolutely adores his monthly Tinker Crate, which comes with all the materials needed for a project and then ideas for experimenting with it all month long until the next crate arrives. The recent trebuchet project has been providing hours of fun. Last weekend he even made a bouncy ball. (See how he made a motor here.)
  • Have an “Invention Bag” on hand for free engineering exploration. Ours (Kiddo is shown in top photo with his) contains random stuff from around the apartment as well as hardware items like pulleys, an assortment of bolts and levers, string, etc.
  • Mix up something “gross” like flubber, slime or gak. Even older kids need a good sensory experience and tweens can come up with their own concoctions of these items.
  • Try one of these activities to promote “growth mindset” over at Planet Smarty Pants
  • Don’t underestimate the entertainment power of paper airplanes. Adventurous tweens can design their own. One day Kiddo built a landing strip for them and spent an hour trying to get them to land just right! My son had a marvelous STEM play date with a fellow tween boy when they put together planes from this book of paper airplanes.
  • Set up a domino run.
  • Design a catapult and set up a target range. Ping pong balls or pom poms are unlikely to break anything!

Art activities for tweens

Indoor Art Projects for Tweens

  • Keep an art journal. Just the other day, Kiddo declared, “I feel the need to make art coming on, mom!” He got out his journal (we LOVE our mixed media vellum journal) and got to work. Having a journal makes it easy for him to keep track of his own art and look back at what he’s done before.
  • Zentangle is a favorite, calming art activity of ours. Kiddo uses his art journal for this, but lately he’s also been using these printables from Tiny Rotten Peanuts.
  • Make a comic book, or a giant comic strip.
  • Make their own trading cards. Kiddo collects Pokemon and sports cards. I encourage him to make his own… as if a collection of twelve billion isn’t enough, HA!
  • Try one of these 10 ways to work with yarn from Betsy’s Photography.
  • Get crafty and make simple duct tape bracelets via The Gingerbread House.
  • Got an animal lover? Make wooden bangles like these ones at Adventure in a Box.

Math activities for tweens and kids.

Indoor Math Activities for Tweens

  • Math art is always a big hit at our house. Tessellations is a fun way to start, or check out all our math art projects.
  • Use algebra to make super cool snowflakes.  Thriving STEM shows you how.
  • There are several terrific single player games that tweens can play if they don’t have a sibling their own age. Kids can play these games to practice logical thinking and spatial relation skills. My son loves his Perplexus, IQ Twist and Rush Hour games.
  • My son love his Math Perplexors books.
  • Play magic squares.

Active indoor activities for tweens

Active Indoor Activities for Tweens

How much space do you have? If you are one of those lucky people with a recreation room/basement you are probably used to your kids heading down there to toss a ball or jump around. But what do you do if you live in 650 square feet of space, other than heading to the local YMCA? Here are our solutions:

  • Play “Land, Sea and Air”. Yes, indeed, my 10 year old enjoys this, especially when he can make up his own weather events.
  • Play balloon tennis. Make paddles out of paper plates and craft sticks or rulers and hit a balloon back and forth. Younger siblings can easily join in and balloons are unlikely to break grandma’s crystal vase. Ping pong balls are a also favorite around here.
  • Set up a pom pom race (via Lemon Lime Adventures)
  • See more indoor ball games that we love.
  • Set up a carnival style game with bean bags, ping pong balls or even paper airplanes. Use a large box with cut out holes as targets. Click here to see how our carnival game works.
  • Consider letting kids jump on the bed. I don’t allow jumping on the couch, but the bed is fair game. My son even plays his own version of balloon football across the bed.
  • Dance. Sometimes what we’ve done is choose a bunch of words based on a theme. For example, “weather” — the words might be hurricane, blizzard, shower, blustery. Then the kids make up dance moves around that theme. Animal words are also fun.

One thing I’ve noticed as he gets older, is that my son still loves to be silly and active. Since we don’t have a yard, I allow him to do that indoors when we can’t get out to the park. Next time your bigger kids are getting squirrelly and need a little help channelling their energy give them a list of indoor activity suggestions. You never know, they may (and will) turn it into something unique and creative just for them.

This is part of a month long series of indoor activities for kids I’m doing with other kid bloggers. Don’t miss all our posts!

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10 Math Books for Babies and Toddlers http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/01/math-books-for-babies-and-toddlers.html http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/01/math-books-for-babies-and-toddlers.html#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 11:00:32 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=10613 My oldest son’s favorite subject is math. From a very early age it was clear that he was drawn to numbers and counting. I encouraged his interest with math themed books and math activities continue to be a major part of our lives. This list of math books for babies and toddlers is the first in... Keep Reading →

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My oldest son’s favorite subject is math. From a very early age it was clear that he was drawn to numbers and counting. I encouraged his interest with math themed books and math activities continue to be a major part of our lives. This list of math books for babies and toddlers is the first in a new series I am doing in collaboration with Anna at the Measured Mom. Every three weeks I will create a math book list and Anna will have a post from a teacher’s perspective on how to enhance math learning at home. After you check out these books, jump over and read about math activities for babies and toddlers.

Math books for babies and toddlers that support early learning of patterns and numbers.

Now I know you are thinking, “babies and toddlers do not need to learn math.” Ha ha, I totally agree with you. These books are not trying to teach your infants how to add and subtract. However, literacy and math learning are interconnected, and if you are looking for quality books for the under 3s, there is no reason not to include a few counting, shape and pattern books.

Finding math books for babies and toddlers is very different than books for ages 3 and up. The toddler set is focusing on pattern learning, relative sizes and pairing. Their attention span for lap-sitting and reading is also very short. Focus on books with engaging, happy and simple text and bold, pattern-oriented illustrations. Just remember, your baby and toddler does not need how to learn to add and subtract! (Note: titles and covers are affiliate links.)

Counting Books for Babies and Toddlers

Demonstrating that counting can be fun is great well to help kids develop a positive relationship to math!  Use these books to do just that.


Counting Kisses: A Kiss & Read Book. What better way to encourage a love to counting than with love and kisses? Karen Katz has a number of counting books toddlers and babies will love. As you turn the pages with your little one, you will (of course!) want to give your child lots all the kisses (and more!) that the mom shares with our own baby in the book. Be sure to read the companion book, Daddy Hugs.


Ten, Nine, Eight may perhaps be my favorite baby book of all time. I can still recite it by heart and I loved cuddling with my kids at bedtime to read it. This gentle story counts down in a familiar scene of a girl getting ready for bedtime with her loving father. This is a book every child should have on his bookshelf. It’s not just a library book!


Toddler Two is a sweet board book (it’s also available in Spanish) in which a pair of twins count all the pairs they see. The simple repetitive pattern in the text “Two legs, one, two. Two arms, one, two” is perfect for little ones and reinforces the simple pattern learning they are already doing in life.


Doggies. Everyone loves a Boynton book! This silly book will get your toddlers barking, counting and giggling at the same time.

Pattern Books for Babies and Toddlers

Babies and toddlers begin to recognize patterns long before they recognize counting and numbers. Stimulate their brains with bold and bright books.


Black & White. These classic books are essential “reads”. Babies love looking at contrasts. Parents can name shapes and objects, encourage participation by asking little ones to point to the objects, or simply turn the pages and gaze while cuddling.


Spots and Dots continues along the same line as Hoban’s Black and White books but adds in color and repetitive patterns.


Higher! Higher! encourages toddlers to consider relative height in this exuberant book about a child who shouts to be pushed “Higher! Higher!” until she is so high that a wave to the local alien population is warranted. Parents might recognize the familiar feeling of their own exhaustion as the return to earth prompts, “Again!” Although you may not immediately think of this as a math book, recognizing relative size and distance is an important early math skill.


Bright Baby Touch and Feel. Parents know that kids want to touch everything! They learn through touch so why not make reading a multi-sensory experience with books that include textures as well as pictures and words. Two of these books specifically address “obvious” math books with shapes and numbers.


My Very First Book of Shapes is more appropriate for older toddlers than tiny babies. Each illustrated page is spilt. The top half shows a bold, black shape with it’s name. The bottom half displays a familiar object like a kite, a watermelon or lady bug. Kids can turn the top half separately to match it with the object on the bottom half of the page.


Big Little, as the title suggests, compares the size of different objects. Patricelli’s colorful illustrations are always crowd pleasing.

A final note: I do not recommend kindle books for babies and toddlers. Kids this young need to be able to hold books, turn pages (that’s actually math learning!), feel the weight of the book, and yes, put the books in their mouths.

Now head over to The Measured Mom to read about 10 ways to make math fun for babies and toddlers!

10 ways to make math fun for babies and toddlers.

 

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12 Chapter Books About Diverse (and Loving) Families http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/01/chapter-books-about-diverse-families.html http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/01/chapter-books-about-diverse-families.html#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2015 10:55:56 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=11901 This list of books about diverse families came about for two reasons. First, part of my role as a parent is to help my kids become compassionate individuals, and one way to do that is by teaching them about diverse families and cultures. We’ve read picture books about diverse characters, and now we are adding... Keep Reading →

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This list of books about diverse families came about for two reasons. First, part of my role as a parent is to help my kids become compassionate individuals, and one way to do that is by teaching them about diverse families and cultures. We’ve read picture books about diverse characters, and now we are adding in some chapter books.

12 chapter books about diverse families for kids.

Secondly, around this time of year, the book lists about hearts and love start to pop up in preparation for Valentines Day. Since I’m focusing more on chapter books this year, I wondered, what would I put on a list of books about loving families?

The #weneeddiversebooks movement is putting the pressure on publishing houses to put out more books with diverse characters, but there are a lot of books already on the shelves that families can check out. I’ve gathered a selection of books that I feel are successful in portraying multicultural families and families with special challenges. The common thread, however, is that they are all uplifting reads. And don’t we all need an uplifting read? (Note: covers and titles are affiliate links.)

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The Watsons Go to Birmingham–1963. Well-behaved 9 year old Kenny and his not-so-well behaved 13 year old brother, Byron, navigate family (the “Weird Watsons” as Kenny refers to them) and school life in Michigan until their parents decide that Byron needs to spend the summer with Grandma down in Alabama. Together they set off on a road trip. Shortly after arriving in Birmingham that community is devastated by the infamous church bombing. If you are avoiding this book because you worry about your kids being distressed over the heinousness of that historical event I would urge you to reconsider. Curtis handles the theme of racial tension so well (and it’s not the main focus of the book, family life is the main theme), that I have no reservations recommending this book for kids ages 8 and up. This is the third time I have included this book on a list, which means you must put it in your to-read stack!


Savvy is about the magical Beaumont family. Mibs is about to turn thirteen, the age when each child finds out what his or her magic, or “savvy”, will be. Her brothers can control natural elements,  her mother can do everything perfectly and Mibs is anxious to find out what her special quality is. Right before her 13th birthday party, her father has an accident and Mibs is convinced that her power will heal him. She runs away with her siblings and friends to try and reach him. I simply loved this book and it would be a great choice for kids who like Harry Potter.


Wonder. By now you must have heard of this book about an 11 year old boy with severe facial deformities who enters school for the first time.  August is nervous about starting a school and making friends but he has the incredible support of his parents and his sister, although her feelings are not glossed over, either. August’s captivating journey, which is both funny and moving, is actually the journey of his entire family, and this is a wonderful book to teach tolerance and compassion. I also recommend it as a read aloud.


The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher made me laugh out loud. I read the book myself and read aloud some of the most humorous passages to my kids while they were busy on the floor with their Pokemon (sigh). A family of 2 dads and 4 adopted sons (all together they span several ethnicities and religions) lead a rather disordered and hilarious lifestyle. The boys all have different personalities, which could lend themselves to stereotypes, but thankfully do not. After finishing this book I wanted to move right in to the Fletcher household, if only to try out their DIY hockey rink. (You’ll have to read it to find out.)


My Basmati Bat Mitzvah. Tara is getting ready for her Bat Mitzvah, but she is conflicted about her cultural identity and her faith. Her Indian mother converted to Judiasm before Tara was born so Tara knows that “technically” she is Jewish, even though a girl at school tries to make her think otherwise. Tara is navigating middle school waters for the first time, re-evaluating her relationship with her best friends and having in-depth conversations with the Rabbi about God. Even though Tara experiences the typical early teen angst in her relationship with her parents, it is clear that they are a supportive unit and her extended family, also living in NYC, are an integral part of their family life. This is a terrific read, especially for kids who come from similarly complex backgrounds, but also to teach kids about the diverse experiences of multicultural families.


All-of-a-Kind Family is a classic series about a Jewish family with five girls growing up on the Lower East Side of New York City in the early 20th century. This book is on every “must read books” list you can imagine and the old-school adventures of the family are heart-warming and entertaining. Not to be missed by any child.


Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. If you are a regular reader of my book lists (hurrah!!) you know by know how much I adore this book. So, how can I pass up another opportunity to encourage you to read it if you haven’t already done so? Minli’s family lives in poverty and the girl’s love for her parents is so strong she sets out on a seemingly impossible journey to change their fortune. When her mother and father realize she has left they are worried and set out after her. Lin’s tale alternates between Minli’s quest to find the Old Man of the Moon with traditional Chinese tales told by her father. A truly magical read.


Bobby the Brave (Sometimes) is a great series for early chapter book readers. Bobby Ellis-Chan’s dad is a retired football player turned stay-at-home dad. Bobby worries his father doesn’t appreciate his non-athleticism but his through father’s unwavering support for his other interests (even making him a costume for the school play) he learns that his family supports his interests no matter what they are. I really appreciate having books in which dads do not fit the stereotypical role model. I know there is a lot of talk about girls not having to conform to gender stereotypes and as the mom of 2 boys I feel more attention should be paid to reducing the pressure on boys to fill certain roles, too. Also on my list of multicultural early chapter books.


How Tía Lola Came to (Visit) Stay demonstrates that it is possible for divorced families to be happy and loving, too. 10 year old Miguel, his sister Juanita and his mom have just moved from NYC to Vermont. His aunt Lola comes to visit from the Dominican Republic. Tía Lola’s dynamic and outgoing personality helps Miguel navigate his feelings about the divorce, his new status as the only Latino in his school class as well as adding humor, joy and adventure to his daily life. This is a series, so be sure to read the further adventures.


Surviving the Applewhites. Jake has gotten kicked out of his last school and now has come to live with the eccentric, artistic, homeschooling Applewhite family. The father has taken on directing a local production of  “The Sound of Music” and no one is more surprised than Jake when he finds he loves performing. I loved the quirky characters and the boundless energy of this book. When the family has to pull together to get the show up after they are blackballed by a local stage mom, the results are hilariously successful. I really enjoy how the story reinforces the necessity of cooperation when putting on a play. I also recommend this as a terrific read aloud.


The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond. Violet’s father was killed in a car crash before she was born and she sometimes feels like an outsider with her blond-haired mom and sister, despite their close, loving relationship. Violet decides she wants to meet her African-American grandmother, a well-known artist. She goes for a visit to Los Angeles to stay with her “new” relative and meets cousins and aunts who thoroughly welcome her into the family.


I’m putting Bo at Ballard Creek on this list because tons of people love, love, love it. I am not one of them, however. The main character, Bo is a perennially cheerful 5 year old (an odd age for the protagonist of a middle grade novel) girl adopted by two Alaskan miners, African-American Jack and the Swedish immigrant, Arvid, when her mother, “a good time girl” feels to overwhelmed to take care of her. The action takes place in 1920s Alaska, in a surprisingly diverse and welcoming community. The plot is primarily vignette-style and the book ends with the family adopting a baby brother for Bo. I admit that it is a sweet book that will appeal to fans of Little House on the Prairie. For me, I simply didn’t connect to the narrative voice and I did dislike a few generalizations about “Eskimos”. I still think that many families will enjoy it. I also think it will make a better read aloud, because of the age of the main character

Do you have any favorite uplifting chapter books about diverse families?

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Indoor Active Game: Land, Sea and Air http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/01/indoor-active-game-land-sea-air.html http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/01/indoor-active-game-land-sea-air.html#comments Fri, 16 Jan 2015 11:00:19 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=11887 A friend of mine taught me this indoor active game you can play instantly (and anywhere) with your kids. With the weather dipping below freezing we are spending time using our list of indoor activities for inspiration, and this is a fun new inside game to add. It’s called “Land, Sea and Air”. What you need: Kids... Keep Reading →

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A friend of mine taught me this indoor active game you can play instantly (and anywhere) with your kids. With the weather dipping below freezing we are spending time using our list of indoor activities for inspiration, and this is a fun new inside game to add. It’s called “Land, Sea and Air”.

Active indoor game to get kids moving.

What you need:

  • Kids full of energy, bouncing off the walls
  • Tape (optional), or a bit of floor in which two distinct areas are laid out

How to play “Land, Sea and Air”:

Determine which part of the floor is “land” and which is “sea”. If you are using tape, lay down a long piece. The area in front of the tape is “sea” and the area behind it is “land”. Since our carpet is patchwork, the boys chose a gray square to be “land” and a blue square to be “sea.”

The leader (that was me) calls out one of three directions: Land, Sea or Air.  When she says, “Land!” kids jump into the land area. When she says, “Sea!” kids jump into the sea. When she says, “Air!” kids jump as high into the air as they can.

Play continues until everyone collapses on the ground laughing.

I surprised the kids a couple of times with random commands like, “Tornado!” “Earthquake!”, to which they invented their own movements.

MORE: To really get the wiggles out, try one of these 20 indoor ball games (really!).

Join us every Friday this month as my fellow bloggers and I give you easy indoor activity ideas to keep your kids busy, active and happy, even when the weather keeps them inside. Last week I shared a video of how to play the simple pen and paper game of dots and boxes. Next week join us for ideas to keep big kids busy.

See more Active Indoor Game Ideas:

 How will your kids stay active indoors this winter?

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Super Cool Math Art with Parabolic Curves http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/01/math-art-with-parabolic-curves.html http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/01/math-art-with-parabolic-curves.html#comments Thu, 15 Jan 2015 11:47:23 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=11870 We adore math art projects. I’ve been eyeing the idea of using parabolic curves in a creative endeavor with my math-loving kid for a while. I was experimenting in my own art journal with the groovy way you can fool the eye into thinking a group of straight lines is actually a curve when my 10 year... Keep Reading →

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We adore math art projects. I’ve been eyeing the idea of using parabolic curves in a creative endeavor with my math-loving kid for a while. I was experimenting in my own art journal with the groovy way you can fool the eye into thinking a group of straight lines is actually a curve when my 10 year old leaned over and said, “That is so cool!!”

Parabolic curves make fun math art projects for kids.

That’s when I knew I had a great math art activity for us to do together. Since my sons are naturally drawn to S.T.E.M. – themed activities, I do try and find ways to sneak in the “A” to make it S.T.E.A.M., in which the “A” stands for Art and Design. Last week I shared our Fibonacci Art Project, and like that lesson, our exploration of parabolic curves is just that: a process-based exploration.

Drawing parabolic curves in a circle.

I’ll give you the basic instructions for how to make parabolic curves and then let you and your kids explore math art on your own! (Note: this post contains affiliate links)

What you need:

  • Pencil (believe me, you do not want to start with ink!)
  • Eraser (see above!)
  • Pens. We’ve switched from Sharpies to Flair pens. You only have to smell them to find out why.
  • Rulers or straight edges. It’s easier to create squares if you have a triangle or t-square. I think it’s well worth having a math set. They aren’t very expensive and they are loads of fun, not to mention being handy for school projects.
  • Protractor. Optional, but a must if you want to do a circle design. We get a lot of use from our 360 degrees protractor
  • Paper. We made ours in our art journal. The mixed media visual art journal is our absolute favorite, which regular readers (waving hello!) know that I frequently sing the praises of. Alternatively, you can use graph paper.
  • Sharpener. You want sharp, sharp pencils for this project!
  • Colored pencils. Optional, but fun.

Supplies for parabolic curves art project

Instructions:

1. Create a set of crossed lines, preferably at a 90 degree angle. (Kids can experiment with different angles once they’ve learned the basics.) For ease, make sure each line is an even measurement. We used 1 cm and 5mm increments

2. Divide the lines into equal divisions. In my example I’ve uses 5 millimeter increments.

The start of a parabolic curve.

3. Draw angled lines. Start on the bottom line in the left hand corner at the furthest mark.  (See photo above.) Draw a line from the mark to the first mark on the adjacent line. Draw a second line from the second furthest mark and connect it to the second mark on the adjacent line. (See photo below.)

Drawing parabolic curves. A math art project.

4. Continue until all the lines have been drawn.

TIP: The starting/ending points of the first and last few lines can get “lost”. To make it easier, number the marks. (See photo below)

Simple parabolic curves math art project.

Voila! A “curved” line appears.

5. Optional: go over pencil lines with marker and/or use colored pencils to create colorful designs.

TIP: For kids just starting out, divide the lines with wider marks. My example above is 5 mm, but Kiddo preferred to work with 1 cm sections.

Variations: 

1. A single parabolic curve, while cool, is just the beginning. Encourage your kids to create boxes, triangles, and interlocking shapes as a basis to create elaborate math art designs!

2. Connect the dots in a circle! My son created a “parabolic eyeball”.

Eyeball art from parabolic curves.

For inspiration, here are some of our experiments, straight from our art journals. (You can see I need to work on my photo editing skills, ha ha ha.)

Parabolic line designs in math art project for kids.

You can see tons of groovy parabolic line designs on the web with a little Google search, but I also have some on my Math Art Pinterest board right here.

MORE: See all of our easy Math Art Ideas you can do at home with the kids. Tessellations and the Pi Skyline are two of our favorite math drawing projects. Little kids can practice connecting the dots, too, with a giant dot to dot.

a to z stem series

This post is part of the A-Z STEM series, hosted by Little Bins for Little Hands. You can see a list of all the past and upcoming projects for kids of all ages on the comprehensive list.

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Emotions Coloring Pages – Help Kids With Feelings http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/01/emotions-coloring-pages.html http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/2015/01/emotions-coloring-pages.html#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 11:37:39 +0000 http://www.whatdowedoallday.com/?p=11854 We’re back with another year of monthly coloring pages from children’s book author and illustrator Melanie Hope Greenberg.  These two emotions coloring pages are a good tool to help kids talk about their feelings. Or, even if your kids don’t like to spend hours discussing their emotional state (mine are pretty tight-lipped), they can at... Keep Reading →

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We’re back with another year of monthly coloring pages from children’s book author and illustrator Melanie Hope Greenberg.  These two emotions coloring pages are a good tool to help kids talk about their feelings. Or, even if your kids don’t like to spend hours discussing their emotional state (mine are pretty tight-lipped), they can at least get their brains thinking about it silently.

Emotions coloring pages for kids to help them learn about feelings.

Melanie is sharing two feelings coloring pages this month. One is blank so kids can draw in the faces, themselves. Emotional Intelligence, or “EQ” is a big deal for kids and finding tools to help kids understand their own emotional life as well as “read” the feelings of others is just as important for success as academic and intellectual learning. Print out these pages and use them as a talking tool using one of the suggestions below.

Download and Print: (By clicking the following link, you agree to our terms of service. *See below) TWO EMOTIONS COLORING PAGES

These coloring pages have so much potential for learning activities: 

  • Cut them out and use them as story starters.
  • Cut them out, put in a jar and draw one out as talking point.  For example, “What surprised you today?”
  • Have the child fill in the blank faces and then ask him to describe what happened to each person to make them feel that way.
  • Children can draw their own versions of each face on the blank faces, cut them out and use as a memory matching game.
  • Use them in conjunction with Melanie’s multicultural children coloring page to discuss diversity and tolerance.
  • Color, cut and attach each head to a wooden craft stick to create puppets.

How will you use the emotions coloring pages??

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, a book of poems by Norman Rosten, the poet laureate of Brooklyn. 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. {You can also click on a cover below and scroll through the third party vendors to find Melanie’s vendor linkPlease note: book covers 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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