Literature Connections - Birthday Party Theme

I am a fan of using literature for inspiration.  When my daughter and I were planning her 5th birthday party, the book Ladybug Girl by Jacky Davis and David Soman caught her eye.  "Can I be a Ladybug Girl for my birthday?"
Of course!  Thankfully, I already owned a lady bug stamp.  We stamped gift wrap and some red napkins, made some extra large ladybugs for decoration and found the cutest costume at a Garage sale the Saturday before ($3.oo) to complete the theme.  It turned out cute and all the kids had a blast!

Want to Make Your Own Lady Bug Wrapping Paper?  HERE's our Tutorial!

Sink into reading with a printable and Sinking Submarine Activity

Last week we attended story time at a local teaching supply store.  I try to support our local stores as much as possible.  It is a win-win situation for me when I can attend storytime and purchase items we may need for learning that week.  This week's stories were about the ocean, complete with the book, "A House for Hermit Crab" by Eric Carle.  The children talked about shells and made these cute paper plate shells with chalk and stickers. 
 To extend our learning into the afternoon, we found and named the oceans on our new globes. 

We then decided to make our own "Sinking Submarines," so that we could visit the ocean ourselves.  Our vision therapist would LOVE this activity as it requires children to track an object from close up to far away.  If you want to make your own sinking submarine, you will need scrap paper, glue, scizzors, ribbon, tape and a paper clip.  I just freehanded an oval for the body, a squished heart for the tail, ovals for the window, a triangle and a square for my kids to put where they wanted. 

I taped a paper clip on the back and tied one end of the ribbon to the door.  When I threaded the submarine on the ribbon, it didn't want to move, so I had to take the paper clip off and bend it a little wider.  Yours may be ok if you are using a different string.  I taught my kids how to keep the string taunt and move their hands up and down to make the submarine sink down, down, down to the ocean floor or float back up.  They played this game for over 30 minutes!

And if that wasn't fun enough - I made the kiddoes a book recording sheet. If you click on the image, it should bring you to google docs with a PDF of the sheet.

Summer Adventure - Hunting for Sharks Teeth

How do you keep your kids entertained and educated during the summer while staying on a budget?

Money is a big concern for many families these days, including mine.  We want to have fun and educate our children without going over our budget.  The good news is that there are AMAZING things to do with little or no money needed.

Taking field trips are more meaningful when connected to literature and talked about before and after.  Braving someplace new with young children takes courage and often having a pep-talk from someone who has "been there and done that" can work wonders. We had been reading stories about the ocean, so I thought that searching for sharks teeth may be a good field trip to tie into this theme.  My friends had taken their kids, so I called them and asked for the best detailed description of what I needed to bring and do.

Here what I needed to know;

  • Put your kids in long sleeve pants and shirts to protect them from bug bites.
  • Wear water shoes or Crocs to protect their feet from sharp stones or glass that may be in the creek.
  • Bring sifters and something to scoop the sand.  You can bring towels and a change of clothes for afterwards.

When I asked, "How will I know if it is a shark tooth or a rock?" 

I was told that I would know and that if I had to ask if it was a rock or a tooth, then it probably wasn't a tooth!

So, I called another budget friendly mom if she wanted to go on andventure - and she did!

We headed out to a local park with a shallow creek and let the kids dive in with their tools.  My one year old spent most of his time diging, while my 4 year old got the hang of sifting much faster.  It brought back memories of searching for fossils with my little brother. (You may be able to do something similar depending on where you live.)

Much to my surprise, it was an extreemly fun and productive outing.  We found 5 sharks teeth, the kids had outdoor exploration time AND our learning about oceans has become real.  My daughter now wants to know if the teeth were fossils from when our state was covered with water long ago or if they have come through the streams from the ocean.  We are brainstorming a list of places and people who may know the answer to this question and thus, learning continues, all for the cost of FREE!  Can't beat that!

Teacher School Supply Box

Shhhh… What teachers would never tell you is that this is their favorite time of the year. Why you ask? The answer's not what you think.  The middle of summer is the best school supply shopping time! I have not met a teacher who doesn’t love and need school supplies for their classroom. School supply budgets are getting cut throughout school districts in our nation and teachers are finding their own resources to ensure children have everything they need to succeed.

I can't think of a better way to help teach your children to think of others AND show your support for the people who help our children grow and learn each day. For the past few years Amanda and I, with the help of a Mom’s Group, have created “Teacher Supply Boxes” for a few local schools where many of the families are not financially able to bring any supplies for their children. For very little money, we’ve been able to create boxes filled to the brim with school supplies and saw very appreciative Teachers as they received their Teacher Supply Box. 

Our children helped us read the ads from local stores to find the best deals, shop for the supplies, and fill the container. Before delivering the package, we wrote a note thanking them for being a teacher. We talked about the importance of thinking of others throughout the whole process.

The culminating activity was delivering the boxes to the teachers and seeing their very happy faces!

Here are some things to include. The numbers may vary depending on your school districts classroom size. If you only send in 10 - we don't think the teachers will mind =) Here are some suggestions...

Teacher School Supply Box Suggestions 
  • Folders - 25 of the same color
  • 25 Spiral Notebooks
  • Pencils
  • Crayola crayons
  • Washable Markers
  • Erasers
  • Stickers
  • Dry Erase Markers
  • Highlighters
  • Sharpies
  • Germ Gel
  • Tissues
  • Handsoap
Our children were involved in this community project to help understand the needs of others. Here’s what our Mom’s Group Donated. We ended up donating to 3 different new teachers who were thrilled to receive their boxes!   

Summer Reading

Has your child started reading
their Summer Reading List for School?

Almost every student receives a suggested Reading List for their summer vacation. Have you encouraged your child to work on it? One of the biggest concerns with your child at home for summer vacation is the amount of literacy skills that can be lost, reading can help maintain those skills and entertain your child for hours. As your child gets older for Middle School and High School they have required reading and will usually be tested on the book the first few weeks of school. Can’t find the list, you can typically find them on the school’s websites. Encourage your child to get it done this month, don’t wait until the last minute. At our house we try to read the books our oldest has been assigned or at least follow up using online notes. It makes great dinner and car ride conversations to ask varying questions about the story. For our children it gives purpose to their reading and helps them to comprehend and create meaning. The more they process that information the more they will remember it.
Check out your local Library for their Summer Reading Program. They always have something fun for the kids each summer and special story times and events planned for them. The theme for many libraries across the nation this year is One World Many Stories. There is so much your can do with that theme from teaching geography or diversity to your little ones.

Click here to watch a video on how we have connected some literature from around the world to our Childrens' Atlas

What has been your child’s favorite book this summer?


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