Monday, November 21, 2016
The Garden of Happiness by Erika Tamar, a neighborhood comes together to build a community garden. Young Marisol wants to be a part of the project but is told there are no plots left. So, she plants a seed in the sidewalk crack and waits to see what happens. I love books about planting and growing - and keep hoping the more I read them with my children, the more we will be inspired to plant our own garden (next Spring, I promise!). This book has the added bonus of telling the story of community and people coming together to make their neighborhood a safer more beautiful place.
Sunday, October 2, 2016
Fall is here! The temperatures dropped this week and we even had a little rain this morning. And now that October has officially arrived, I decided it was time to start in on the fall/Halloween crafting. The end-of-year holidays are always good for some art inspiration. Ben has been studying trees in his kindergarten science unit, so he also inspired us to read a bit more about trees. One beautifully illustrated fun book we discovered is: Strange Trees: And the Stories Behind Them. Other fun stories we've been reading that feature trees and leaves and fall flavor include:
- Wangari's Trees of Peace by Jeanette Winter
- Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert
- The Hugging Tree: A Story about Resilience by Jill Neimark
- The Season's of Arnold's Apple Tree by Gail Gibbons
- Apples and Pumpkins by Anne Rockwell
- Stuck by Oliver Jeffers
We followed up our reading with a very simple art project. Yesterday, Clara and her dad took a walk in the park and collected leaves. We then glued the leaves to paper and painted them. The kids observed that the leaves Clara found were mostly brown and very dry. Ben ran outside to find a red leaf from our yard - and as we looked outside this morning, we noticed that there were yellow leaves on the trees that were falling and not so dried out. We thought maybe if we went on a nature walk in a couple weeks we would find some very different leaves to work with.
I started out the project by putting out various colors of construction paper, the bag of found leaves, and glue. The kids picked the color paper they wanted and got to work. Because we got started on our project pretty late in the day, we let the glue dry overnight and headed up to bed for more tree reading.
The kids had a fun time with the actual leaves, but in the end, I think they had the most fun mixing and swirling the paints. After talking about their leaf creations, we focused on how to make different colors and designs. We had a fun time kicking off the fall season!
Wednesday, September 7, 2016
My grandmother passed away over 10 years ago, but there aren't many days that I don't miss her. I love to bake - mostly because it reminds me of being with her. My mom is also an excellent cook/baker, and one of my favorite things to do now is to look for recipes with her, trade stories about what we're making, and on far too rare occasions bake with her - often times while laughing about my grandmother's cryptic recipes and wishing we could eat her manju or lilikoi chiffon pie just one more time.
These days, because I remember growing up with my grandparents so fondly, I love seeing my children with their grandparents - building those same kinds of memories and feeling the same kind of unconditional love. I'm always on the look out for books about relationships between grandparents and their grandchildren - there are certainly many out there. And at the library this past week, I stumbled upon a great one for our family called Peeny Butter Fudge - written by Toni Morrison and her late son, Slade Morrison. It is the story of a grandmother who turns a mundane afternoon into a magical one, and bakes a favorite family recipe with her grandchildren - all told in Morrison's beautiful poetic style. This book is a quick read - but for me the story was more in the pictures and the ideas - and in talking to my kids while we were reading it about all the things they love to do with their grandmas - and of course all the things I used to do with mine.
The book ends with the recipe for Peeny Butter Fudge - which of course, I had to try out. I initially thought it would be a good evening project to do with my girls. But, they were off drawing cards for their grandmas. In the end, I just felt like making it by myself and spending some quiet time with my grandma once again.
Monday, July 25, 2016
Thursday, March 10, 2016
My almost three-and-a-half year old girls are making the transition from picture books to chapter-like books - we still read lots of picture books, of course, but they like the idea of have older kid books to also read from and cart around. Recently, a friend passed along a recommendation for an author named Kyla May. She has several different book series, including one about magical twins. We read the first book in that series: Lost Tooth Rescue about twins Lottie and Mia who start at a new school and use their twin powers to help a friend who has lost her tooth. I wouldn't say the story was particularly compelling, but along with the illustrations it was quite fun - my girls did like the twin aspect, as well as the magic. And, there was also glitter and a purple unicorn involved, so those were all positives. We will check out the second book in the series, School Bully, Beware! soon.
But, the real recommendation hit were the books in Kyla May's series: The Lotus Lane Girls Club. The series includes four books about a group of friends named Coco, Kiki, Mika, and Lulu. Each girl has her own book which acts as a journal about her life and adventures. Clara has taken a particular liking to Coco who loves animals and baking - and carried a cool purse and has a cat. The format of the books is fun to read - with cute illustrations and lots of facts about the characters. We are looking forward to reading all of the books in the series, but for now Clara just wants to carry this one around with her everywhere and read a few pages together whenever we can!
Saturday, February 27, 2016
Thursday, December 31, 2015
As we finish out 2015 up in the (finally!) snow-covered mountains of Tahoe, we've been reading some books to keep us in the snow and ice spirit. Here are a few of our favorites from this week:
The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen: In addition to finding books about winter, I've been trying to introduce my children to more well-known fairy-tales, just for a dose of cultural literacy. In The Snow Queen, an evil troll causes young Kai's heart to turn to ice. As he disappears to live with the Snow Queen, his brave friend Greda sets off on a quest to save him.
The Mitten by Jan Brett: My mother gave this one to my kids a couple years ago, and it's still a favorite. In The Mitten, a boy's grandma knits him a pair of white gloves. When he loses one in the snow, it becomes an improbable warm retreat for a large number of winter creatures. A really fun story for learning about different animals, and for encouraging snuggling into warm blankets on a cold winter evening!
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats: Who doesn't love this classic, and Caldecott Medal Winner, about a little boy who trudges off into the city on a snowy day. My favorite part is when he tries to save a little snowball in his pocket when he returns home for the day. A wonderful book about enjoying the cold weather and making an adventure out of every day life.
Wishing everyone a wonderful winter season filled with wonderful books that keep you warm and smiling!