Archive for ‘Kids and willing parent activities’

December 31, 2014

I’m Bored

By Angela Verges

Has your child ever spoken the dreadful words, I’m bored? It has happened at my house. No matter how often I respond to my boys by saying, “I can always find something for you to do,” they stick to their phrase. “I’m still bored.”
As a new year rolls in, I continue to encourage my boys to find ways to cure their boredom. One of my suggestions was, “find an interesting book to read.” My teens looked at each other, then at me and said, “We’ll find something to do.”
My teens are not as excited about picture books as I am. I let them select a book of their choice to read before venturing off into other activities to relieve their boredom. As for my selection of reading, there are several books that I found entertaining. They all relate to being bored.

Title: I'm Bored Author: Michael Ian Black Illustrator: Debbie Ridpath Ohi Genre: Picture book Ages: 3-8

Title: I’m Bored
Author: Michael Ian Black
Illustrator: Debbie Ridpath Ohi
Genre: Picture book
Ages: 3-8

I’m Bored by Michael Ian Black was the first book to jump off the library shelf and into my hands. The text is simple and kid friendly. The main character doesn’t think there is anything boring about being a kid. However, she has a hard time explaining that to a potato. She demonstrates all the things kids do for fun, but the potato was still bored.
Through ninja kicks and cartwheels, the main character becomes exasperated trying to convince the potato to not be bored. If your child continues to sing a chorus of “I’m bored” after reading this book, pull out another book. Bored Bill by Liz Pichon may stimulate his creative juices.

Title: Bored Bill Author/Illustrator: Liz Pichon Genre: Picture book Ages: 4 &up

Title: Bored Bill
Author/Illustrator: Liz Pichon
Genre: Picture book
Ages: 4 &up

The main character in Bored Bill is a dog who is really bored, but his owner Mrs. Pickle, is never bored. Mrs. Pickle tries to convince Bill to try the things she loves like, reading, gardening and kung fu. Bill just grumbled and said he was bored.
Something happens when Bill and Mrs. Pickle go for a walk. A gust of wind sweeps them into the air and land Bill into space. You’ll have to read the book to discover what happens on Bill’s adventure.

Title: Bored! Bored! Bored! Author/Illustrator: Jill Newton Genre: Picture book Ages: 4-8

Title: Bored! Bored! Bored!
Author/Illustrator: Jill Newton
Genre: Picture book
Ages: 4-8

A final book in my collection of must reads is Bored! Bored! Bored! By Jill Newton. This book has brilliant colors and features sea animals. Claude is a shark who doesn’t want to do the things his friends are doing. When his friends don’t invite him to a party, Claude has to find the thing he loves to do that will get him back into his circle of friends.
When your child shouts, “I’m bored!” give him a symphony of books to stimulate his imagination.
Happy New Year and happy book reading!

August 9, 2014

Hooping for fun and fitness

By Angela Verges

Have you heard the saying, “what goes around, comes around?” Now apply that to the Hula Hoop. That hoop that goes swish, swish and round and round can be used for your fitness routine.

Hula Hooping for fun

Hula Hooping for fun

As a young girl, I remember competing in a neighborhood hula hoop contest. There were a few of us who thought we were the best. We could swirl the hoop around our neck, our knees and even one leg. Arms in the air and hips swaying were the ways we kept the hoop moving.

The hula hoop craze is still around, some like to do it for fun while others engage for fitness. I once challenged my kids to a hula hoop competition during a backyard picnic. They thought old people couldn’t hoop. It took a few attempts, but I managed to keep the hoop going for several revolutions.

When I read The Hula-Hoopin’ Queen by Thelma Lynne Godin, a flood of memories surfaced. The story opened with the main character saying, “Today is the day I’m going to beat Jamara Johnson at hooping.” I was instantly transplanted to a summer’s day in fourth grade standing in my grandmother’s yard with a hula hoop. I had no other care in the world except practicing with my hoop.

Title: The Hula Hoopin' Queen Author: Thelma Lynne Godin Illustrator: Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Title: The Hula Hoopin’ Queen
Author: Thelma Lynne Godin
Illustrator: Vanessa Brantley-Newton

The main character Kameeka had a Hula Hoopin’ itch. She was so focused on becoming the Hulu-Hoopin’ Queen that she accidentally ruined the birthday cake that her mother was making for a special neighbor. The combination of lively language and detailed illustrations could easily cause the reader to want to swish and swirl a hula hoop with the characters.

After you’re done swishing and swaying through The Hula-Hoopin’ Queen with you child, check out Hooping-A Revolutionary Fitness Program by Christabel Zamor. This is a book for grown-ups that contains 50 step by step exercises to do with a hula hoop. There is also a 40 minute DVD that accompanies the book.

Title: Hooping - A Revolutionary Fitness Program Author: Christabel Zamor with Ariane Conrad

Title: Hooping – A Revolutionary Fitness Program
Author: Christabel Zamor with Ariane Conrad

Title: Hooping – A Revolutionary Fitness Program Author: Christabel Zamor with Ariane ConradTitle: Hooping – A Revolutionary Fitness Program
Author: Christabel Zamor with Ariane ConradCreate a challenge at home that includes fitness and a hula hoop. You could set up challenge stations.

Station 1 Hula hoop for 15 seconds with the hoop on an arm or around the knees.
Station 2 Walk forward a few inches while hooping.
Station 3 Clap your hands 5 times while hooping (slow hand claps are allowed).
Station 4 Hula hoop with more than one hoop for 5 seconds.
Station 5 Toss a football through a hula hoop.

Are you convinced yet that hula hooping can include fun and fitness? Grab a hoop and start going round and round.

June 28, 2014

Jumpstart your summer adventure – Dig into reading

by Angela VergesBlog Photo

 

Schools out! Begin a summer adventure with your child through books. Let your child’s imagination go wild and create a theme for books he would like to read this summer. Make it a challenge for the whole family by offering small rewards for each book read or each story a child has read to him.
If you child likes books related to tractors, planting gardens, or building sand castles, you can use the theme Dig into reading. This theme could also mean digging through your home library and re-reading your favorite books.
When my teen boys were younger, they loved to pretend they were camping out (somewhere in the house). Sometimes this meant throwing a sheet over the Living room table and pretending they were in a cave. For them, pitching a tent meant rearranging furniture to create the effect of being at a campground.
Our bonfire time consisted of sitting next to our sleeping bags in the middle of the floor and eating microwave popcorn. Of course there was a sharing of stories by flashlight.
I recently came across a fun idea recently, related to camps. The idea was to have a stuffed animal camp out. Since my boys are too old for this type of camp out, I challenged them to read a book about campouts or going to camp.
The book I selected to read was Ivy & Bean Make the Rules by Annie Barrows. Bean’s older sister gets to go to camp, but Bean is not old enough. Bean doesn’t really want to go to camp, but she comes up with a plan to create a camp of her own. With the help of her friend Ivy, rules are developed, a tent is made (using old curtains), and kids invited to join in.
One of the rules the girls develop is, “You can only have as much fun as you are willing to get hurt.” The girls are clever at finding ways to make their camp work. One of my favorite things about the book are the activities at the end.

 

Author: Annie Barrows Illustrator: Sophie Blackall Genre: Chapter book Ages: 6-9 years

Author: Annie Barrows
Illustrator: Sophie Blackall
Genre: Chapter book
Ages: 6-9 years

Information is listed that tells you how to make your own camp; it lists what to do on day one through four. For example day one list says – pick a counselor, pick a name, make a tent, etc. There is also a word find and crossword puzzle that the reader can complete.
If your child enjoys solving mysteries, Nate the great by Marjorie Weisman Sharmat was a book. Nate the great is a youth detective who says he works alone. And he loves pancakes. One of his cases involved helping a friend find a lost picture. He asked questions, followed clues and satisfactorily solved the case.
At the end of the book there is a recipe for Nate’s Pancakes, directions for making cat crayons (melting old crayons) and Detective Talk (explains words that detectives use). Nate the great is a series that has many books from which to choose.

Author: Marjorie Weinman Sharmat Illustrator: Marc Simont Genre: Chapter Book Ages: 6-9 years

Author: Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
Illustrator: Marc Simont
Genre: Chapter Book
Ages: 6-9 years

Do you have a book suggestion to jumpstart summer reading? Dig in and leave your suggestion.

 

 

 

February 4, 2014

A celebration of hearts – 7 Valentine’s Day activities for families

By Angela Verges

Blog Photo

Do you remember the little Valentine conversation candies? They had messages such as – I Love You, Be Mine and Kiss Me. This Valentine’s Day you can have fun messages such as those found on candy hearts.

Below are 7 fun activities to try with your family. Of course reading can be incorporated into each activity.

1. Heart shaped notes – help your child cut out heart shapes and write messages on them. He could hide a note the day before Valentine’s Day for a sibling or parent to find. A lunch box is one location for a hidden note.
2. Family scavenger hunt – hide heart shaped notes with clues, around the house. Have the final note lead to a special Valentine treat.
3. Read a Valentine story – read a story and a scene from the story (use an animated voice).
4. Make Valentine Play dough – make a batch of white dough and add food coloring or liquid watercolors of your choosing. Click here for a play dough recipe. Don’t forget the heart shaped cookie cutters.
5. Musical Hearts – create a game of musical hearts by cutting heart shapes; number each heart, then place them in a circle on the floor. Write a set of numbers on smaller heart shapes (equal to the number of hearts on your circle. Start the music playing, then stop it at random intervals. Use the smaller hearts with numbers to call a number at random when the music stops. The number called is the winner.
6. Conversation hearts craft – glue conversation hearts to a heart shaped piece of paper. Glue them in a heart shape or create some other design.
7. Valentine message in a bottle – decorate a clear plastic bottle with peel off valentine shapes. Help your child write a message to roll up and slip into the bottle. Tie a ribbon around the neck of the bottle.
After your activities are complete, sit down and enjoy a good Valentine’s Day book. If you’ve read, There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly, you must read There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Rose by Lucille Colandro.

Title: There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Rose! Author: Lucille Colandro Genre: Picture Book Ages

Title: There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Rose!
Author: Lucille Colandro
Genre: Picture Book

The old lady not only swallowed a rose, but some lace, glitter, candy and other stuff. As you near the end of the story you discover why she swallowed the rose and how everything fits together.
Another picture book that I had fun reading was Ruby Valentine Saves the Day by Laurie Friedman. Colorful pictures and clever rhyme brought this story to life.

Title: Ruby Valentine Saves the Day Author: Laurie Friedman Genre: Picture Book Ages: 5-9

Title: Ruby Valentine Saves the Day
Author: Laurie Friedman
Genre: Picture Book
Ages: 5-9

Do you have a favorite Valentine’s Day story or activity?

January 13, 2014

Snowed In

by Kathy Higgs-Coulthard38-FE3-KathyHiggs-Coulthard

Remember the trapped-in-a-snow-globe feeling of watching huge snowflakes float outside your window as you drifted off to sleep? And waking with the anticipation of seeing your school’s name scroll across the screen, officially making the day a snow day? In my house, snow days are more than a day off school. They are a magical gift.

Of all the ways to spend those snow-kissed days, here’s our family’s top ten choices:
*        Make snow cream
Grandpa’s snow cream recipe
You need:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup powdered sugar
1  1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 to 6 cups clean, freshly fallen snow
To do:
In a large bowl combine half and half, vanilla extract and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes.
Stir in snow, a cup at a time, until ice cream forms.

*        Mix up homemade hot chocolate
Nana’s homemade hot chocolate recipe
You need:
1 lb powdered sugar
8 cups powdered milk
1 container (30 ounces) Nesquick
16 ounces powdered coffee creamer
To do:
Mix all ingredients in large container. When ready to make hot chocolate, add 2 heaping tablespoons of mix to warm milk. (Don’t forget the marshmallows!)

*        Look for animal tracks in the snow (and make our own)

*        Make snow angels and snowpeople

*        Build a snowfort and spray paint it with colored water in squirt bottles (use food color)

*        Make fairy castles by packing snow into gelatin and cake molds & decorate with nature

*        Snow Marbles
In an effort to give our older son something to aim at besides his three little sisters, we invented this winter version of marbles. Use a stick to draw a circle in the snow, then take turns tossing snowballs into the circle. Extra points if you can hit your opponent’s snowball.

*        Blow bubbles and watch them freeze

*        Watch Frosty the Snowman (okay, so this one is a sanity break for Mom)

*        And of course… read snow-related books. Our favorites are below.

Black snowman   Title:  The Black Snowman
   Author: Phillip Mendez
   Illustrator: Carole Byard
   Genre: picture book
   Ages: 7-10 years

Title:Snowmen at Night   snowmen at night
Author: Caralyn Buehner
Illustrator: Mark Buehner
Genre: picture book
Ages: Listening 3 yrs and up; Independent 8 and up

stranger in the woods   Title: Stranger in the Woods
   Author & Photographer: Carl R. Sams, II and Jean Stoick
   Genre: picture book
   Ages: Listening 3 yrs and up; Independent 8 and up

November 13, 2013

Reading with Dad

Hi! Check out these great ideas by Jake Ball (bio at the end of the post), and settle down with a book and a dad. (Or, as he indicates below, DON’T settle down, but still read.) 

Books and Reading Time with Dad

Reading has traditionally been an activity young children do with Mom.  However, in so many families reading can fall down the priorities list with both Mom and Dad working outside the home or if Mom and Dad are not together.

It is critical for Dad to be engaged in the effort of creating a healthy reading environment in the home.  Kids look up to Dad, just as they do Mom.  When they see both of their parents involved in literacy activities, it helps them develop a strong love of reading.

Dad reads differently than Moms

Dads tend to have a greater ability to be silly with their kids.  We are more in touch with their 12-year-old self. It’s true, whether we want to admit or not!  Dads are often the ones rolling down the hill with their kids or putting things on their head in the grocery store.  Keep that silliness alive even when you are cuddled up on the couch reading with your kids.

Read with funny voices and accents for each character.  Use costumes and puppets. Get off the couch and recreate the action of the story.  Injecting energy and enthusiasm in the story will make reading time with Dad an event not to be missed!

Father-child bonding time

Having that intimate time with your children is crucial and should be cherished. Read without distractions.  Turn off the TV and leave your phone in another room. Instead immerse yourself in the moment.  Texts and emails can wait – focus on the time you have together.  This strengths your bond and shows your children how special they are to you.

How to set the tone in the home

Make reading a priority.  Treat reading time as any other task or appointment on your schedule.  It is just as, if not more, important than anything other commitment you have.  There is always at least 15 minutes to pick up a book and read with your child.

Seeing how important it is to you will boost their self-confidence and motivate them to pick up a book. Dads have such a great influence on their kids – if you love reading, chances are they will too.

So Dad, pick up a book and share in the wonderful experience of reading with your children.  Read with enthusiasm and without distractions.  Put away your phone and turn off the TV. Below are a few selections for that are wonderful you, Dad, to read with your little ones.  Cuddle up with your kids for

hoponpoppigletHop on Pop – Dr. Seuss

Dads can never go wrong with Dr. Seuss. They are always fun to read, for parents and kids alike. The simple, silly rhymes are perfect for beginning readers.

Piglet and Papa – Margaret Wild

This heartwarming tale of parental forgiveness and unconditional love is a wonderful story for dads to read to their children.  Little Piglet has upset her father and wonders if he still loves her.  She feels unloved and seeks reassurance from other animals in the barnyard, learning that no one love her more than papa.  Piglets loving relationship with her papa will comfort any child who has ever been naughty for attention.

owlmoon

guesshowmuch

Owl Moon– Jane Yolen

This book demonstrates to your little one the importance of family time.  It poetically tells the story of a father and daughter going out into the woods one snowy night in search of an owl.  The little girl is so happy to finally go “owling” with her dad that she doesn’t mind if they never find an owl.

Guess How Much I Love You– Sam McBratney

No collection is complete without this sweet and touching little book.  It is a favorite in many homes and can choke up the toughest of dads.

About the Author:

Jake Ball started childrensbookstore.com in 2006 after realizing that there was no website that was a truly independent bookstore that is 100% dedicated to juvenile literature. He loves engaging with the authors, illustrators and publishers who work hard to produce high quality children’s literature. Jake and his wife have 4 beautiful children. These poor children are often used as product testers and they have more books than might be considered healthy.

July 19, 2013

The Journey

Kathy Higgs-Coultard, Director of Michiana Writers' Center

Kathy Higgs-Coultard, Director of Michiana Writers’ Center

By Kathy Higgs-Coulthard*

When my son, Christopher, was little we used to take frequent walks. Or, more accurately, I would take walks and Christopher would ride along—first in a snuggly (think papoose), then stroller, then wagon. I chose the destination, the route, and the purpose of the trip. Often, our trip was designed to be educational in some way: To the pond to capture tadpoles or to the weeping willow to picnic and read. But eventually Christopher grew less and less content in the role of passenger, until the day came when he insisted on walking.

At first that seemed like a win-win. He could walk and I wouldn’t have to pull the wagon. I decided one of our first excursions would be to the park about a block from our house. The excursion would fit perfectly in the after lunch, before nap slot—five minutes there, about a half hour of playtime, five minutes back. No agenda, just playtime. We sunscreened up and trotted out the door.

Christopher was so excited to be in the lead that he made up a song about going to the park. Wish I’d had a video camera with me (partly so I could share it with you, but mostly so I could use it to blackmail him if the need arises later in life). So, he’s singing “Park, park, PARK, park, PARK!” and  then he stops at the end of our yard and climbs on a big rock, jumps off, climbs back up, repeat. I lure him off the rock, remind him of our destination, and we’re off again, singing.

Until we get across the street. The frogs are thrumming up a storm. Christopher’s eyes light up and he bolts for the cattail forest. Twenty minutes later we emerge, mud-crusted and carrying a new (temporary) travel companion named Ribbit. I look at my watch—naptime is quickly approaching, but it’s okay. We’re really truckin’ now, singing “Park, PARK, park.”

Until two houses from the park. The neighbor’s yard is covered with sweet gum pods. If you’ve ever seen one, you’ll understand Christopher’s fascination—the spiky seed pods look like creatures from another planet. Christopher nearly drops Ribbit as he scrambles to fill his pockets (and mine) with pods. Of course the neighbor comes out laughing. She provides a bucket and Christopher completely fills it. We’re so close to the park I can hear a child squealing “Higher, higher!” presumably as someone pushes him in a swing. I thank the neighbor for her bucket and lure Christopher back to the road, singing “Park, park, park.”

Until we reach the park gate. The squealing child and his daddy are leaving and Christopher has to show them his treasures—his “sweet gummies” and his froggy. The little boy says he wants some and before I can say a word, Christopher is leading them down the street away from the park. Both children are singing “Gummy, gummy, GUMMY.”

In some regards the afternoon was a wash. We never did reach the park. Naptime was very late and only accomplished by allowing Ribbit to sleep in a bowl by Christopher’s bed. But when I really think about it, this trip was the most worthwhile one we’d taken so far. So what if we didn’t swing at the park? Christopher had changed the purpose of our trip, and in so doing, had gained a pet, a new friend, and several dozen spiky seed pods. But the real treasure was the sparkle in Christopher’s eyes the next day as he asked me if we could go on another walk.

A few of my favorite books about the discovery nature of child-directed play:

itsrainingitspouringTitle: It’s Raining! It’s Pouring! We’re Exploring!

Author: Polly Peters

Illustrator: Jess Stockham

Genre: Picture book

Ages: 3-7 years

Celebrates the joy of imaginative play as three bored children face a rainy day. Fun rhyming text, playful pictures. Love that Dad and Mom work together making lunch!

notaboxnotastickTitle: Not a Box (And the companion book, Not a Stick)

Author: Antoinette Portis

Genre: Picture book

Ages: 1-6 years

What child doesn’t like to play with an empty box? Especially if the box is big enough to climb in! Inspired by the author’s memories of sitting in a box as a child, this book explores the power of imagination as a child transforms his ordinary box into a spaceship and flies to another planet.

preschoolersbusybooktoddlersbusybookTitle: The Preschooler’s Busy Book and The Toddler’s Busy Book

Author: Tish Kuffner

Genre: Nonfiction

Ages: Adult

Although the point of my blog post is that kids need times to direct their own play, a parent can only take hearing “I’m bored” so many times before they cave in. Instead of turning on the TV, try some of the activities in these books.

*You can read more about Kathy here. Kathy normally blogs on the second Monday of the month. Except when the months go by so quickly that I accidentally schedule her post for August instead of July and don’t notice until she politely asks where the post might have gone. In case you were wondering.

April 18, 2013

Peanuts and crackerjacks

Pete O’Brien was my favorite player. He played first base for the M’s, back when the Mariner’s had yet to have a winning season. If you are saying “Pete O’Who?”, that’s okay. He was mostly my favorite player because he wore glasses and so did I. And I’m still pretty sure that’s a good reason.

Ballpark

There is nothing I like more than playing or watching baseball on a sunny day. I remember playing ball with my dad in our yard and then cheering with him at the stadium. I remember thinking the Mariner’s were going to win (every time) even during the years when their bullpen lost it in the ninth (every time–except when they lost it in the eighth). I remember doing all of my homework with the games on the radio (Dave Neihaus, you are responsible for any bad grades). I remember getting into an argument about Dave Valle (catcher) with my Middle School Crush (now husband) that ended in him sitting (temporarily) on the other side of the movie theater. I remember wearing my M’s hat with duct tape over the “S” during the strike in 8th grade. I remember gleefully watching the postseason games with the Yankees in 1995 with a Yankee fan and personal foe. I remember Edgar’s double.

Betsy and Grandpa

As I’ve “grown up” (for lack of a better term), baseball still has me. At a recent Tiger’s game, I could feel my heart race just walking into the stadium, seeing the light reflect on the grass. I’ve lost a little of my loyalty to the major leagues, but paying attention to money and drugs will do that to you. And while you will never see me root for the Yankees, I’ve transitioned to a Tiger’s fan with little ado.

Which is why I was excited to see Betsy’s Day at the Game come across my desk. I love that the book is about a girl going to the game, as sports books often target boys. I love that it focuses on keeping memories along with the scores. And I love the way it integrates a story with a lesson on how to keep score, which is complicated business. I remember the first time I learned how to read a box score and to check player’s stats in the paper. Keeping score is a great way to watch a ballgame. It’s a great way to stay focused on the action. And it’s great for kids who are more numbers-oriented than sports-oriented: it might open up a world they never knew was there.

page 16

Betsy’s Day at the Game is the size of a picture book, but really an early reader, meant more for the adult to read to the child. It’s a text-heavy given the nature of teaching, but explains the game and score-keeping well. This is a book that brings it’s own family acitivity: simply read, head to the ballpark, and start keeping score! Don’t forget to include the family memories like Betsy does, and if you aren’t heading to a ballgame anytime soon, you could start your own memory book instead.

Betsy's_Day _at_the_Game-coverTitle: Betsy’s Day At The Game
Author: Greg Bancroft
Illustrator: Katherine Blackmore
Genre: Early Reader, Sports
Ages: 4 – 10

If you’d like to win a copy and help pass on the love of baseball to your sons and daughters, students, or grandchildren, please leave a comment below. Maybe tell me your favorite player, or favorite team. I’ll choose a winner with random number generator and forward on the copy the publisher sent to me. Good luck! [AND UPDATED NOTICE: YOU MUST LEAVE THE COMMENT WITHIN ONE WEEK OF POSTING, SO BY NEXT THURSDAY…I’LL GIVE YOU UNTIL MIDNIGHT EASTERN TIME] TO BE ELIGIBLE.]

And if you need some more baseball inspiration, I will end with a link to my absolute favorite essay ever, The Green Fields of the Mind, by A. Bartlett Giamatti.

March 26, 2013

Win something to read when you’re done swimming

Are you taking the kids to the lake this summer? Maybe you are going for awhile and need something to do when it’s time to come in from the sun? Or they need a break from the rain? Reading A Day At The Lake would be a great place to start, and then they could make up their own sound-alike words. “Flippity swish wish we were fish” is such a great line. Younger kids could think of alternatives for “flippity swish”. What are some other good words (or neologisms, they don’t have to be real words!) for fish movement? Or instead of fish, what about a butterfly, bird, cat, dog, squirrel, deer, raccoon, small child, car, motor boat, sail boat…I could go on forever!


aDayattheLake_8_9

Literacy doesn’t have to end when school is out and it doesn’t have to be limited to reading and writing. You could think of these words over ice cream cones on the porch or fish tacos at the dinner table. Encourage your kids to play with words–after they’ve played outside–and they will be hitting all kinds of multiple intelligences on what they think is just a fun family vacation.

I love the way this book plays with words, and your kids just might be inspired by that. There is some not-overwhelming rhyme, some great onomatopoeia (look that one up with the kids if they don’t know it yet!), gorgeous illustrations as you can see, and when it’s all said and done, a very fun day at the lake.

aDayattheLake_5

Win this great book by commenting below. Tell me what you like to do with your kids in the summer, and if you have any good ideas about keeping literacy alive in between campouts, let me know that, too! You have until Saturday, March 29th, at midnight Eastern time to leave your comment. Winners will be announced next week. MAKE SURE YOU LEAVE YOUR EMAIL OR SOME WAY FOR ME TO CONTACT YOU IN CASE YOU WIN!

aDayattheLake_coverTitle: A Day at the Lake
Authors: Stephanie Wallingford and Dawn Rynders
Illustrator: Erica Pelton Villnave
Genre: Picture Book
Age: 0 – 7

Want more chances to win this book? Check out the full blog tour schedule here.

March 18, 2013

What’s Spring?

There’s no better way to get kids interacting with reading than by writing their own stories. For little kids, you can have them tell you a story and you can write it down. Give them a prompt, or choose a favorite book and have then write a sequel. Or choose a favorite character and have them write another story with that character.

Older kids might like to rewrite a favorite story from the point of view of a more minor character, inventing things that happen to that character when they are “off camera”, or not on the page of the actual book.

To get my creative juices going, I’m responding today to a writing prompt on the awesome Susanna Hill’s blog. The challenge was to write a story about Spring in 350 words or less that ends with a specific line. Here’s my attempt. (349 words!*)

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

Little Fox’s Springs

Little Fox was almost one year old.

LIttle Fox remembered summer. He played in the sun and swam in the brook.

Little Fox remembered fall. He hid in the leaves and ran with the wind.

Little Fox remembered winter. He cuddled with his mama and tunneled in the snow.

But he didn’t remember spring. It was so long ago!

“What’s spring?” he asked his mama.

“Spring is when you were born,” said his mama.

“Hmmmm,” said Little Fox.

Little Fox tiptoed out of his den. He found Jackrabbit.

“What’s spring?” he asked Jackrabbit.

“A spring is a bounce!” said Jackrabbit. “Here, I’ll show you.” And Jackrabbit sprung around the meadow and back to Little Fox.

“Hmmmm,” said Little Fox.

Little Fox now had a spring in his step. But he still wasn’t sure how he would know when spring was here. He found Raven.

“What’s spring?” he asked Raven.

“A spring is a coil that wiggles and jiggles. Here, I’ll show you.” And Raven flew to his nest, rifled through twigs and toys and carried a spring back to Little Fox.

“Hmmmm,” said Little Fox.

Little Fox now had a spring in his step and a new toy spring in his paw. But he still wasn’t sure how he would know when spring was here. He saw Moose.

“What’s spring?” he asked Moose.

“A spring is delicious!” said Moose. “Here, I’ll show you.” And Moose trod to a small hole in the moss where clear water was bubbling. Little Fox took a drink.

“Hmmmm,” said Little Fox, licking his lips.

Little Fox now had a spring in his step and a toy spring in his paw and some fresh spring water in his tummy. But he still wasn’t sure how he would know when spring was here. He saw Deer.

“What’s spring?” he asked Deer.

But Deer couldn’t talk. She was busy with two very tiny, very spotted fawns.

Little Fox remembered what his mama had said. He was born in the spring. The fawn gave Little Fox a slobbery kiss.

Little Fox knew spring was here at last.

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

Now you write your story!

*Note to contest judges: I don’t have a Word Processor on my new(!) computer yet, so I entered this into seven (7!) different online word counters. 349 was the number that came up most often (3 times). 3 counters got a lower number and 1 got a higher number, so it seemed safe to assume I’m within the legal limit!

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