Teaching Kids about Walt Disney

I have exciting news! We will be going to Walt Disney World this week!  The last time we went, our oldest children were two years old and 6 months old, and while we had a wonderful time, they were also really little. So we are REALLY excited to experience it with them now that they are older and more aware of what Walt Disney World holds. Even our youngest son is more aware of Disney World than his brother and sister were when they went on our first trip. My kids know about and love the princesses, they love Toy Story, Mickey Mouse, and other famous Disney characters and movies, if the tv is on at our home, we are watching Disney Jr. We LOVE all things Disney. For this trip, I wanted to focus on the original and creative mind of Walt Disney.

When I found out we would be going to Walt Disney World (due to the generous gift of park hopper tickets given by Walt Disney World), I knew I wanted to focus our reading and exploration on Walt Disney’s life and about cartoon animation. We’ve listened to several amazing audiobooks that are also Disney Movies such as Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, Mary Poppins. Yet, I realized my kids didn’t know that Walt Disney World (or, how they call it, “Disney World”) is the creative genius of one man with big dreams.

We started by reading this awesome little biography on Walt Disney. It was full of great information and my kids were very engaged by the story. I’m always amazed by Walt Disney’s dream, the hardships he faced, and his go-getter attitude. He is such a wonderful example of pursuing your dreams no matter the obstacles you face! I also grabbed the book, Who Is Walt Disney? While it is a book about Walt Disney, it isn’t endorsed by the Disney brand. However, I struggled to find a various Walt Disney biographies that were age appropriate for my kids. We aren’t afraid of chapter books (even though my kids are under 5 years of age), so I decided it would be a great resource.

I really love this quote by Wal Disney. I think it is very inspirational to set the bar high on your dreams and to go after them NO MATTER the cost. Walt Disney is a great example of this; he had HUGE dreams that people thought were crazy, but he did not let the naysayers control the outcome of his dreams. He went after his dreams with gusto. It’s safe to say, his dreams continue to grow and become greater and greater!

 

We made sure to read several classic Disney Golden Guide books like Monster’s Inc, Peter Pan, and Ariel. I love being able to read books to my kids when they are familiar with the story (Peter Pan, for example), they can identify and recall parts of the story. They get so excited to connect with a beloved story. The Target Dollar Section has a great selection of Cars 3 board books, so we snatched up one (seen in the picture at the top)

We’ve also spent quite a bit of time practicing cartoon animation drawing. For several days, we had pens and graph paper scattered about our kitchen table, as we would practice our drawing. My 4 year old daughter was much better at drawing than me! We had such a great time practicing drawing Minnie Mouse, Mickey Mouse, Goofy and Daisy. I will tell you, drawing Mickey Mouse or Minnie Mouse may look easy, but it was a challenge for sure!

I grabbed the Frozen, Star Wars and Cars notebooks from Target Dollar Section to inspire my kids to draw while we traveled or to collect character autographs when we go to “Disney World (As seen in the photo at the top!).

The great thing about reading the books and practicing our drawing (along with watching tons of Disney movies like Cars 3) is that our excitement as a family only grew. Because of incorporating books into our Disney countdown, not only has our anticipation grew, but the list of things we want to do in the Walt Disney Parks has also grown.

* The picture with the Walt Disney Quote was taken by me at Disney Springs, Orlando, FL*

Book Review: Germ Fighters: A Battle Within

If you are around kids, the subject of germs is going to come up. It’s inevitable. Between reminding kids to wash their hands after trip to the restroom and telling them not to pick their noses, germs come up. We talk a lot about germs because germs can make you sick. For curious kids like my own, they aren’t satisfied with “germs can make you sick”. They want to know details.

That’s why I’m excited to share the Germ Fighters: A Battle Within book by Jen Conway. This exciting books takes kids underneath the skin after a child’s knee is scraped. With a nod to vintage superhero comics, we meet the “good guys” (red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets) and we meet the “bad guys” (germs). Using supersonic glasses, we “dive” beneath the surface of the skin, under the Boo-Boo to see the battle unfolding. Germ Fighters clearly explains the role of each “good guy”. There is also little boxes on each page with more detailed scientific facts about germs, white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. This is fantastic for kids who want a little more information. It can also be easily skipped for younger readers who just want the story.

The illustrations in Germ Fighters are claymation!  This is a great way to clearly and effectively illustrate the individual jobs of the white blood cells, red blood cells, platelets and even the germs. The illustrations shows the readers what happens when you correctly use medicine (aka the blue cape superheroes)for a boo-boo. We don’t see claymation often in picture books, but I loved that this was the art technique used for Germ Fighters. It made the story come to life!

My kids loved reading this book. It satisfied their “WHY?” Questions. They could easily identify the book characters.

In the back of the book, there are coloring sheets and a matching game for kids to play with for further interaction. There is also a record sheet for boo-boos, so you can write down when a child got hurt and how the boo-boo was taken care of. The end of the book includes a “Until next time!”, from one of the characters, so I hope that means author Jen Conway will be writing more fun, nonfiction books.

You can follow Jen Conway on Facebook, Instagram, and her website. The e

Book Review: Who Invited the Bees?

Several months ago, I had the opoortunity to meet author Beatrice Brown. I was immediately struck by how she has a tremendous heart for children. I reviewed Beatrice Brown’s first book, A Giraffe in the Gym. You can read the book review for A Giraffe in the Gym here. I am excited to announce that Beatrice is back with a brand new book!

Who Invited the Bees? by Beatrice Brown is the story of a class of young students who take a field trip. While exploring the newness of Spring, the class encounters a swarm of bumble bees! As they walk paths, cloud watch, have a picnic, and more, the class discovers the bees are following them!

Who Invited the Bees? is such a fun read. With warm weather, and new life bursting forth in nature, you can’t help by yearn to be outside and explore. Just like the class in Who Invited the Bees?, we can all identify with seeing bees show up. A buzzing bee can be a little scary, but Who Invited The Bees? Is a great way to talk about how bees are curious creatures with a mission.

The watercolor illustrations are so beautiful. The children in Who Invited the Bees? are expressive and sweet. With toothless grins, the kids bravely face those pesky bees! There are so many wonderful details in the book; like, the picnic lunch, the whistle one of the teacher is holding, and the bees! The bees are so expressive! I loved seeing such a jolly swarm of bees! The expression of the bees makes you wonder who is having more fun on the class outing – the kids or the bees? I’ll let you decide that one!

What a delightful book to read aloud to kids. It’s perfect for my son who will be entering kindergarten in the fall. He has a lot of questions about what school will look like. So we’ve been reading a lot of books that talk about kindergarten and class routines. Who Invited the Bees? perfectly lines up with that theme; while we chase the bees, we see the day unfold for a classroom on a field trip.

I LOVED seeing the diversity within the classroom in Who Invited the Bees?. There is such diversity of skin colors and abilities within this class of students. Who Invited the Bees? is so inclusive!

Be sure to grab your copy of Who Invited the Bees?! You can find Beatrice Brown on Facebook and her website!

*Contains affiliate links. This is at no cost to my readers, but it does help support my blog. Thank you!*

School Gives Away 2000 books!

If you remember last week I shared the vision and goal of Riverbend Elementary to give each of their 400 students five physical books by the end of the summer. You can read my post here.

Well, so much happened in a week!

Fox5 Atlanta picked up the story of Principal Donna Wiggins and her staff collecting books to give to their students for the summer. You can read the article here.

What I didn’t know when I shared last week is that Riverbend Elementary didn’t just give kids a couple of books in a Walmart plastic shopping bag, the Riverbend Elementary staff  prepared an extensive READING KIT for each student to take home for the summer. I get emotional when I think about the Reading Kits because it is truly an act of love and example of the passion educators have for their kids and the importance of getting books into the hands of kids and their families during the summer months.

Earlier this week, I stopped by Riverbend Elementary. My kids and I showed up unannounced to donate books. Principal Wiggins graciously gave us a great tour of how her hardworking staff were packing these Reading Kits. Keep in mind, these dedicated teachers were doing this on top of the end of the year parties, Kindergarten graduations, and Award ceremonies. I saw them hustling to pack books for each individual student. They carefully selected books that were age-appropriate for the children to read.

Riverbend Elementary staff were SO VERY KIND to me and my children. As you all know, I have three children under 5 years old. It’s nothing short of an adventure when we go anywhere. But, the Riverbend Elementary staff were so kind to us. When we showed up, we had no idea the Kindergarten Graduation was going on. Nevertheless, From the front office to the teachers we met, we were warmly greeted. This is a staff who LOVES kids and it shows. Even the exhaustion of the end of the school year could not dampen the excitement these educators had for their students.

The Summer Reading Kits were so impressive. Each student was given a beautiful and hardy bag. Inside the bag were a stack of FIVE age-appropriate books for each student and a folder. The folder held information about the Get Georgia Reading Program (the digital reading program), several reading logs, a reading related bucked list, a letter to the parents from Principal Wiggins, and information for participating in our local county’s library summer reading program. This bag was a treasure trove for reading! If you remember, Principal Wiggins had a goal of 5 books for each student. Well, they collected and distributed 2000 books! WHAT AN INCREDIBLE ACCOMPLISHMENT!

Riverbend Elementary created Reading Kits that would set up their students for success during summer break. Not only that, these Reading Kits have set the parents up for success too. Even if the kids and families don’t go to the library or utilize the digital reading program (which I hope they do it ALL!); if they just read those 5 books, that’s FIVE solid books kids and families are reading together. The Reading Kits could be the key that opens up a world of reading for children and their family. That bag full of reading goodies introduces families to a wonderful screen-free activity that not only enhances their family time, but also sets their kids up for success in the upcoming school year.  Reading is so powerful and life changing!

When Principal Wiggins gave me a tour, she mentioned how she had just come out of the Kindergarten Graduation. In the graduation, when she told the parents what they were doing with the Reading Kits, the parents and families cheered. Hearing that, showed me that parents are excited about what Principal Wiggins and her staff have created. They’ve thrown open the door to possibility of reading in a very tangible way and the students and families are excited!!

As we walked around, I noticed my kids were getting so excited. The stacks of books and the reading logs were drawing my kids in. It was like the Pied Piper; they couldn’t help but gravitate towards all the books! Principal Wiggins graciously gave us reading logs and we will be utilizing them this summer!

I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the numerous book donations Riverbend Elementary received. Principal Wiggins showed me her office which was PACKED and overflowing with books they had collected for their students. If you donated books to Riverbend Elementary, THANK YOU SO MUCH. You helped make these Reading Kits possible. Thank you for investing and believing in the importance getting kids reading!

Every time I think about Riverbend Elementary and what they accomplished in providing summer Reading Kits to their students, I can’t help by grin from ear to ear. I also can’t help but get weepy too. The vision for these Reading Kits, combined with the hard work of the staff to pack them speaks so highly of the Riverbend Elementary School Educators. I’m so thankful to have met Principal Donna Wiggins. She and her staff are a treasure and our school district is so fortunate to have them investing in our children.

 

Book Club: Kitchen Club Garden Safari Vegetable Soup

My kids get really excited when we get to play in the dirt and plant things. It makes them feel invested. Mostly we’ve planted flowers, but that has been an incredibly rich experience for us.

When the good folks at Kitchen Club Kids sent us the book, Garden Safari Vegetable Soup by Eluka Moore, Larry Puzniak, and Marianne Welsh, I was thrilled to read it to my kids. We are always looking for different ways to introduce vegetables to my kids. Whether that’s in muffins or raw, we continue to gently introduce vegetables our kids might be willing to taste one day.

For Garden Safari Vegetable Soup, I decided this would be a good way to softly introduce the concept that you can grow vegetables and eat them as opposed to getting them at the grocery store. My kids loved reading Garden Safari Vegetable Soup because they had just planted flowers, so they could directly relate to planting plants.

The Garden Safari Vegetable Soup takes children through the farm to table process with number counting. Kids get the chance to see how you pick the vegetables, and then how you prepare vegetable soup (there is a delicious recipe in the back!). My kids especially enjoyed the number counting. They got excited by the “five carrots” in the book, “Hey! Mom! We eat those!”.

I loved that the illustrations are so vivid. There is no mistaking a carrot or an onion. The basil leaves look incredibly life-like. The characters in the book are engaging.

Garden Safari Vegetable Soup is an excellent way to introduce a recipe to kids and to cook with them. My three kids are under five years old, so I was super nervous about chopping vegetables with three little ones, but we did have an absolute blast enjoy counting and talking about the vegetables in the book. When we finished reading Garden Safari Vegetable Soup, my kids were SO EXCITED to see that there are other books available by The Kitchen Club Kids.  There is a Rainbow Fruit Salad book, and a Recipe Activity Kit.

The Kitchen Club Kids are doing some amazing things to encourage families to enjoy healthy foods together. I’m excited to see what they do next; it’s evident the Kitchen Club Kids are passionate about the work they are doing. You can find more about what Kitchen Club Kids is up to by going to their website. You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Golden Guide Nature Books

Several weeks ago, I was listening to the Read Aloud Revival Podcast with guest Greta Eskridge from MaandPaModern blog. One of the many books mentioned were the Golden Guide Nature Books. I was so intrigued by Greta’s description of these nature guides, I immediately bought one. Since then, I’ve been buying one every few weeks. My kids have completely surprised me by how much they enjoy them, and I had to share them with you in a longer post than an Instagram picture square.

My kids LOVE them. These compact little books are overflowing with amazing tidbits, colorful illustrations and geographical maps. We will break the books down, but before we do that, I want to say that there has been a resurgence of interest in the Golden Guide books so they are actually being republished. The content is the same and the price is too, but the covers aren’t as worn as the older ones. We have both; I’ve been so impressed with how the older editions are holding up despite their age, and my kids’ desire to tote them around.

Measuring at about 8 inches tall, the Golden Guide Nature Books are perfect for kids who love to romp around outside and explore. We currently have Zoology, Seashore Life, Birds, and Insects. We are anticipating adding to our collection: Trees, Flowers, Stars, Reptiles and Amphibians, Weather, Mammals, Fishes, Rocks and Minerals, Gamebirds, Fossils, Pond Life, Butterflies and Moths, Dinosaurs, Snakes, Weeds, Herb Spices, and Seashells of the World.  There are SO MANY to choose from! Sometimes, it’s hard to choose what to get next. We especially love watching birds in our backyard, so it’s nice to finally begin to identify the birds we aren’t familiar with. My kids have used the Golden Guides books to search out insects. When we go to the beach this summer, we will take the Seashore Life book to identify shells and ocean creatures we see. As we add to our collection, I’m loving the conversations the Golden Guide Nature books are creating. I also love how they are encouraging my kids to explore the outdoors even more.

The information in the guide is easy to read aloud. Each creature listed includes a carefully research paragraph describing the creature and a colored illustration of the creature. This paragraph is FULL of facts and identification notes about the creature. The Insect book also shows larva, so we have been able to identify ladybug larvae. My daughter especially loved seeeing all the different types of butterflies and it’s been very empowering for her to know the names and markings of the individual butterflies. Understanding the animals and creatures of our area provides my kids with a larger understanding of the roles the bugs and creatures play in the “circle of life” (to quote Lion King) in our backyard.

I especially loved how there are geographical maps to show where each insect and bird call home. This has been especially helpful so we can be on the look out for child life that is local to us, but to also know what is in different regions of the USA/Canada/South America.

Each time we get a new Golden Guide book, I fall more in love with this series. The illustrations are so incredible. Full-color illustrations with such great details. With the Bird Book,  you see the layers of feathers, the number of toes, etc. The Zoology book contains facts of the animal kingdom. So if kids have questions about sweat glands, waste removal, survival tactics, flightless birds, identifying mammals, how a turkey hears vs. how a grasshopper hears, it’s all in the Zoology book. The Insects Book actually makes insects look…less creepy.

These aren’t the types of books you would sit down and read aloud, but they are the types of books you would use on nature hikes, or if you want your kids to appreciate looking up answers to their questions in books versus the Internet.


Reader Recommendations: Audiobooks for Kids

Last week, I talked about our favorite audiobooks. This week, I wanted to share the audiobooks YOU, my readers, recommended. My list of books to listen to added up quickly because of your recommendations! Thank you so much!

While this post does contain affiliate links, but it doesn’t charge you! Thank you for supporting my blog!

Some of the links below include the kindle book. Make sure you select Kindle AND the Audible Add On for the audiobook option.

Mouse and The Motorcycle: This book was recommended by several readers. I immediately got it for my kids. We listened to it in just a few days. My kids loved it! I can’t wait to get the other Mouse and The Motoycycle books for them! My kids gave it 5 STARS!

Magic Treehouse Books: my son loves Magic Treehouse books, but I loved the suggestion of listening to them. (If you aren’t familiar with Magic Treehouse books, they follow the adventures of a brother-sister duo. I especially love the sibling relationship!)

Stuart Little: Who can say no to E.B. White? I know I can’t!

Henry Higgins: another Beverly Cleary book! We tried reading Henry Huggins aloud and my kids didn’t seem interested. I’m excited to try the audiobook!

Ramona Books: I have a feeling the sassy adventures of Ramona keep kids interested!

Nate the Great: I wasn’t familiar with Nate The Great, but the reviews on Amazon + the book descriptions confirmed that my kids would LOVE Nate the Great!

Nancy Drew: Another series I had never considered to listen to, but I can imagine Nancy Drew is a super fun listen!

Junie B. Jones: This is a true classic! We also listened to the first book in the series this week. My kids loved it. They gave it 5 Stars! I will say that, Junie B. Does use the word “stupid” or “dumb” a lot, but we used this as an opportunity to talk about whether or not that is kind verbiage.

So many good books! Keeping reading (and listening!)!


Book Review: Stink Moves In

Whenever my kids do art projects, I always hang their work up either on the kitchen cabinets or I will hang it on the wall. Even if it’s just toddler scribbling on paper with crayons, I hang it up. I’m so proud of how they carefully craft their art. I also love hanging it up because you can see their maturity and growth progress in their artwork as they grow. When my kitchen cabinets are covered in artwork, I call it my “personal Art Gallery”. And when they have new work to display, I won’t lie – I feel like the luckiest art curator to have such treasures in my possession!

I was especially excited to see children’s artwork in the book, Stink Moves In by Tammi Landry-Gilder. This delightful book has the artwork of Kindergarten and first grade artists, from Commerce Elementary School in Commerce Township, Michigan, illustrating the story. Of course, this means that the artwork looks childish, it also is a fantastic way to inspire children to illustrate their own books. I LOVED seeing the artwork. Each page was filled with the students’ work and each piece was as unique as the child. The illustrations really inspired me to start a book project with my kids. I think the opportunity to inspire kids to interpret a story with art is invaluable.

The storyline of Stink Moves is written in a rhyming prose about a boy who discovers a mouse in his house. The mouse is very crafty and successfully avoids many attempts of capture. This doesn’t discourage the boy from continuing his quest. It only fuels his mission. Who wants a mouse in their house? Not this kid! As he is plotting his next move, he comes to a surprising discovery that makes him completely change up his next plan of capture.

Stink Moves In is such a fun book. This is a perfect book for kids who love artwork, animals, adventure, and poetry! Stink Moves is also a wonderful way to engage kids in art and poetry! Children will definitely be inspired to create their own book projects!

You can follow author Tammi Landry-Gilder on her website. Stink Moves In is her first book, but she has already written a second book!

Book Review: If Dinosaurs Could Talk For Me!

What is it about dinosaurs that kids love so much? It never ceases to amaze me how much they love those HUGE creatures. Several weeks ago, I connected with author Corey Egbert on Instagram. As soon as I saw the dinosaur on the cover of his book, I knew my kids would love this dinosaur book.

I was right. The second I opened the package, my kids grabbed Corey’s book. We immediately read it cover to cover twice. Then, they promptly took the book to my husband to read. Yes, they had us read it to them three times in a row within minutes of opening the package. Anytime my kids insist that we read a book multiple times in a row, I know we’ve hit literary gold. These are the moments I live for; when they say, “READ IT AGAIN!”. That’s perfection. Not surprisingly, after we read Corey’s book multiple times in a row, it inspired an entire morning of fun. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you about Corey’s book.

If Dinosaurs Could Talk For Me by Corey Egbert is about a young boy named Ben. (Side note: my husband’s name is Ben, so my children roared with laughter that we were reading a story about a KID named Ben!) Ben is adventurous, artistic, and loves to read. Ben is also shy. Very shy. He wants to make friends, but he is more comfortable drawing dinosaurs. However, when he meets Sophie, he realizes they have a lot in common. Ben isn’t sure how he will make friends with Sophie if he is too nervous to talk to her. This book has a delightful ending, which I won’t give away! But, I will tell you this: it’s SO FUN!

Corey’s illustrations are dynamic. He uses 2 main colors in his illustrations, blue and red, as a way to create emphasis in the story. It works! Even my children picked up on the two tone art palette. Once we finished reading If Dinosaurs Could Talk For Me for the third time, my children grabbed their art journals, along with red and blue crayons, and began to draw dinosaurs. I love when a book inspires my children’s imaginations. I also LOVE that my children immediately wanted to imitate Corey’s art work. That speaks highly of Corey’s ability to create a story line and artwork that urges children to mimic the story.

If Dinosaurs Could Talk For Me is the perfect book for kids who are shy or for kids who struggle making friends. It reminds them to never stop trying to make friends. It also reminds them to stay true to who they are. Both are good reminders for all kids – whether they are shy or not. It’s also perfect for your resident dino lover and/or artist!

Be sure to connect with Corey on his website! Also be sure to check out   The Publisher for If Dinosaurs Could Talk For Me, Cedar Fort Publishing. They graciously sent me a copy of If Dinosaurs Could Talk For Me.

*Contains affiliate links*

Our Favorite Audiobooks

As much as we love picture books, but I also want my kids enjoy chapter books. One way we do this is with audiobooks. The thing about audiobooks is that when you have a good narrator, the book can feel like it comes alive. My three children are under five years old. I don’t expect them grasp everything in the books we listen to, but I do hope they enjoy the books we listen together.

We have listened to a LOT of books on Librovox using the Podcast App on my iPhone. That has been a great way to listen to fabulous classic literature. We recently started buying audiobooks by adding the audible option to kindle books on Amazon. You can go the traditional route to purchase or borrow audiobook CDs from the library. A lot of libraries also have the option of an app where you can electronically borrow the audiobook. All libraries are different, so be sure to check with your local library.

We have listened to many amazing books, I thought I would share the books we’ve listened to AND what my kids thought. I rated my kids’ reaction based on 5 stars.

1 Star – awful…5 Stars – BEST EVER.

Sherlock Holmes: 3 Stars

My kids: 2 stars. (This probably has to do with their ages. I loved it, but they never asked to listen to it)

Alice in Wonderland: 4 Stars.

(My kids really enjoyed listening to this book. We have the BabyLit Alice in Wonderland board book, so they were familiar with the characters.)

Peter Pan : 5 STARS.

(They LOVED, LOVED, LOVED Peter Pan. It’s almost been a year since we’ve listened to it, and they still ask for it. We will be listening to it again VERY soon)

Mary Poppins : 3 Stars

(They were indifferent to Mary Poppins. I think they would have connected with it better if we had watched the Classic Disney movie Mary Poppins first).

Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling : 4 Stars

(They really got a kick out of the stories and characters in Just So Stories. It’s all about talking animals, and they loved that.)

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz : 4 Stars

(My kids really loved The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. We usually listen to audiobooks in the car, but we actually listened to this book at the table during breakfast. They would ask for it with their breakfast.)

The Wind in the Willows : 2 Stars

(This really surprised me, but my kids weren’t big fans of The Wind in the Willows. This surprised me because it’s about talking animals and their adventures. But, I think the storyline was a little slow for their ages. I loved it and finished it without them!)

We are currently listening to The Railway Children. I can’t give any feedback because we just started it.

Do you listen to audiobooks with your family? Share your favorites!

*This post contains affiliate links*