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…

World Space Week: Make A Solar System Model

Want to build a solar system small enough to fit on your table?
Apparently, October 4-10th is World Space Week. I’ve never heard of it, but I found out this year thanks to an ever-helpful search engine home page. We’ve been on a bit of a space binge this year anyway, so this solar system was a big hit for my family.
To start, I used the link here ( to calculate the sizes of the various planets. I set the sun’s size to 17 inches, about the size of a basketball. Here’s what you’ll need to translate those sizes into a 3D solar system:
·Basketball ·Sesame seed ·Two pea seeds ·Peppercorn ·Tennis ball ·Hackeysack ·Two small marbles ·Even more sesame seeds, if you want to mark out moons for the various planets, or even the asteroid belt in between Mars and Jupiter
Once we laid out our solar system inside, we compared it with photos of the real planets. Did you know that the earth is about half the size of Jupiter’s red spot?
Then we gathered up our sun …

The animals in our back yard

Animals in the back yard?
Make that the front yard too.
A long time ago, I grew up in a small town. We told people, though, that we pretended to live in the country. We had an acre on the edge of town; we had a large garden; we had fruit trees, blackberries, and a lot that was mostly big, open grass field. No animals, though, beyond a couple of rabbits and a dog.
Except for the wild animals, of course. We occasionally had trouble with the raccoons showing up in the middle of the night to steal dog food. We had deer trek through our garden a couple times each summer. We had the occasional mouse in the pantry.  We even had the rare (and rather implausible) cougar scare. It felt like the country, at least to us city slickers.
I now live in a fairly large city. Our neighborhood definitely isn’t high rises, but it’s a fairly busy urban/metro area. I really didn’t expect to see a lot of wildlife here when we moved in.
Two weeks after settling in, though, I spotted a rabbit in the front y…