5 types of messy art: the washable version

To continue with my preschool art series…

Kids’ art can be messy sometimes. Especially when the art doesn’t happen on paper.
Pens and markers on the wall? We’ve gotten prodigiously lucky so far, but—to be honest—I have sometimes allowed my kids to draw on the walls.
I’ve even encouraged it on a couple of occasions. It started once upon a time…
…when we decided to drive across the country with a toddler. That trip took us half a dozen long days of driving, split up over several weekends.
Yes, we let him play with a tablet on the drive.
We also found an 8x11” whiteboard with dry erase markers for him to play with in the car.
He did need me to wipe the board clean every 2-3 minutes, and he did paint his hands, legs, and face prolifically. At the end of the day, though, the markers washed off with a bit of water—even the big red blotch that soaked into his jacket after sitting on a marker for most of a day.
After our success with the markers, we picked up a set of washable crayons to add to ou…

A Story in the Snow

One morning last fall, we had a squad of raccoons wander across our yard, past the house, and over the back fence. The kits were big enough that I couldn’t tell them apart from the mom, as they clambered around the trees, before disappearing down the hill. They’ve moved on now, though, and only Mom Raccoon is around now.

How do I know? Well, I found Mom Raccoon's tracks recently, when we had a bit of unexpected snow.

I could see her tracks from our living room window, actually—a neat little line across the back yard.

When we went outside later in the morning we hunted around and found the rest of her trail.

Apparently, Mom Raccoon came around one neighbor’s house, across our driveway and up into the other neighbor’s yard. Then, back down to our driveway, following it down a line of trees that had blocked most of the snow. Tiptoe along our railroad-tie retaining wall, duck under the fence, and wander across the backyard to the same section of fence she’d climbed over the summer, …

The 5 senses: a preschool activity

Yesterday I posted a list of preschool activities. I’m sure the list made me sound super organized and efficient. Unfortunately, I’m not.

For example: a while ago, I bought a neat calendar that showed day-by-day schedules for preschoolers with music time, fun finger snacks, art projects, and play ideas. I’ve looked at the calendar a few times, but so far, all of our projects have been spontaneous. A book mentions volcanoes… “What is a volcano?”  Well, thank you, Youtube and the Hawaiian lava fields, for showing us exactly what a volcano is and does.
(This is what Montessori/child-lead learning is all about, right?)

Anyway: A few months ago, Munchkin and I started talking about how we see and smell. The topic seemed a bit abstract for preschoolers, so I created a 'sensory paper' to show the five senses and how we use them. This is a really easy craft for preschoolers to do, and I can guarantee you’ve got all the supplies, so here’s how to make your own:
Supplies:Take one piece …

10 ideas for when you are not preschooling

Note: last year, I was planning to post a short series of kids' craft projects, but didn't quite get there. Now seems like a good time to get started on that, so here you are, my first list of kid activities...
In our area, it seems like most kids are in a preschool or day care by this age, but we've chosen to do things differently so far. I mean, we play toys at home, or play outside, paint, read, and do other 'preschool' activities...I just don't drive the kids to a preschool or daycare every day.

At the same time, I do think it’s important for everyone to have friends and build relationships. Preschool programs are one way to do that, but in our situation, we've found other ways to connect other families and children around my kids’ ages. So, here are five activities we do with other families, and five we do on our own:
Play with a group: Visit your library for story timesExplore a local nature center or state park (ours hosts weekly nature walks)Join MOP…

5 Ways to Read a Book

I've read a few books over the past few years. Everything from Margaret Wise Brown to Robert McCloskey. We’ve read classics from when I was a kid. We read books that friends recommend or that I heard about through a blog. We read books that my kids randomly pull off the shelf at the library and hand to me.
Along the way, I noticed a few patterns in the way we read the books. The patterns vary based on the age and interests of each child, but I’ve found five different stages so far:
1. Point at the animals I know people recommend reading to babies. My kids weren’t interested in stories until they were over a year old. Even then, 'reading' meant pointing at something on the pages, not reading a story.

"Look! A duck! Look! Another duck! Quack, quack."

2. Read it over again And again. And again. Need I explain?

I usually tell my kids we could only read a book once per day. That works most of the time.
3. Get bored; change the story.
Repetition can get a bit monoton…

Rocket: launch + giveaway

It's here!
Mars, rockets, robots, and adventure—all in a space-age nursery rhyme retelling of “The house that Jack built.”

I wrote this book for my own son, since he's been fascinated with rockets for the past year. As a family, we've been reading rocket books, watching the Space X rocket launches, and talking about rockets incessantly, besides creating many, many pictures for this book. I'm excited to share it with you now!

This week, I’m giving away 3 hardcover copies of The Rocket that Flew to Mars. I hope you will enter, and I hope you enjoy the story!

P.S. If you're excited about The Rocket too, would you mind helping me by telling someone about my book or sharing this post?
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Bookstore links:



The end of a book

Right now, I’m in the final stages of finishing a book. Make that two books?

One is my new rocket book, of course, which I set up and released as a Kindle book earlier this week.

I’ve got more on that coming up next Monday!
The other book I’m finishing right now is a sketch book that I’ve been using since I was a teenager. I don’t know how old this book is. It has chipmunks and squirrels from long-past camping trips, swans from practicing for the Junior Duck Stamp Competition, kid doodles, an attempt at drawing the Yosemite Falls, and even weird eyeball-bulging frog eggs.
This book hasn’t been my only drawing book over that time. (I mean—there’s even one just for sketching out my many attempts at a fantasy series.) This particular book has been around the longest, though, and it’s a bit strange to fill up the last pages and put it away.
Oh, and yeah, I’m way behind on some things—but The Rocket that Flew to Mars is ready to launch!
I’ll be back Monday with a giveaway and more about th…