February Literary Days To Celebrate And Observe

February Literary Celebrations:

The whole month might be about Haiku Writing, but the first week is about Storytelling – get everyone involved in making up and telling stories. For inspiration, make sure you pop into the library on ‘Take Your Child To The Library Day’ and find out if there are any events occurring in your area for Children’s Authors and Illustrator week (the 2nd week of Feb).  Draw a hot bath and read in the bath tub on the 9th, and show your library some love on the 14th. And don’t forget to gift someone a book between all the chocolate and hearts too!

The end of the month sees World Read Aloud Day – grab a box and perform your favourite passages out loud. Great way to meet your neighbours!

Whether it’s winter’s nights in with Little House on the Prairie or a walk through old England with Charles Dickens, or a journey somewhere far away with Jules Verne, there’s so much amazing old literature to enjoy in February. Don’t forget to tweet John Grisham happy birthday on the 8th!

And celebrate the other Grimm brother’s birthday on the 24th with a fairy tale or two. Stretch it out to the 26th to Tell A Fairy Tale Day, and maybe even include the Tooth Fairy on the 28th. I’m sure the dentists won’t mind!

It’s a really exciting month in the world of literature, but do end it with a fortunate event, this time – Lemony Snicket’s birthday!

February Literary Days To Celebrate And ObserveRead more: February Literary Days To Celebrate And Observe

Can I Eat That {Book Review}

We love books in general, but interactive books are a double bonus. Can I Eat That by Joshua David Stein, illustrated by Julia Rothman is one such a book.

Each page of Can I Eat That  features different food stuff, with the reoccuring theme  being ‘is that something I can eat?’Can I Eat That {Book Review}

It’s a fantastic book for kids that like putting things in their mouths or up their noses!Read more: Can I Eat That {Book Review}

Learn More About The World Behind Winnie The Pooh

You might know the ‘true story’ behind Winnie the Pooh and his friend Christopher Robin, but do you know the full story?
Have you visited the House at Pooh Corner, or played Pooh Sticks at the original Pooh Sticks Bridge?  Here are 8 books to help you delve deeper into the history behind one of the most loved stories ever.

Learn More About The World Behind Winnie The Pooh

Read more: Learn More About The World Behind Winnie The Pooh

Being Enterprising & Learning Entrepreneurship With Clever Tykes Books

I grew up in South Africa where we had little to no social welfare system. As a result we were known as a very entrepreneurial people. You’ve never seen anyone with a bag of maize, a giant pot and some polystyrene plates till you’ve a South African turning a profit on the side of the road!

Teaching children to be entrepreneurial and enterprising is equipping them with a skill that will stand them in good stead for their whole lives.Being Enterprising & Learning Entrepreneurship With Clever Tykes BooksRead more: Being Enterprising & Learning Entrepreneurship With Clever Tykes Books

The Feel Brave Series – Helping Children Cope With Big Emotions {Book Reviews}

We’ve recently been reading The Feel Brave Series, a series of books by Avril McDonald that deals with the big emotions and experiences of childhood in a friendly, kind, but honest way.

There are a few things in this series of books that I would just repeat if I said them about each book, so let me first say this about the series as a whole:

The books are beautifully illustrated. I’m new to the work of Tatiana Minina, but I do hope we see her in more stories. The bright, bold images really bring the story to life – scary characters aren’t frightful, and little touches like a wolf surround by hearts as he runs up the hill feeling loved gives it a game-like feeling of movement through the images. Absolutely lovely.The Feel Brave Series - Helping Children Cope With Big Emotions {Book Reviews}

The Feel Brave series by Avril McDonald is a collection of five picture books for children aged 4-7 but I’d wager there’s movement around that and that even older and younger children will be drawn to the images, the hypnotic rhyming langauge and the themes covered in the stories. The books are designed to help children explore positive psychology and emotional intelligence in a safe and non-threatening way and all the while reading them I kept thinking about this quote:

Fairy tales do not tell children that monsters exist.
Children already know that monsters exist.
Fairy tales tell children that monsters can be killed.

The Wolf is Not Invited

In the first book, The Wolf is Not Invited, we are introduced to the characters Wolfgang and Catreen who are best friends. A new friends comes along and Catreen is lured away, leaving Wolfgang broken-hearted – a moment every parent has experienced their own heart break! Catreen soon realises that her new friend isn’t all she thought she was, and comes back to find Wolfgang, but he, in the meantime, has met another friend. Tears fall, forgiveness comes, and soon all three are playing together, before Wolfgang’s new friend leaves, and Catreen and Wolfgang are back together again.

It’s a sweet story with a hopeful ending, though not always how things work out in real life, so it does lend itself to further discussion on how we can handle it if our friends don’t come back!The Feel Brave Series - Helping Children Cope With Big Emotions {Book Reviews}Read more: The Feel Brave Series – Helping Children Cope With Big Emotions {Book Reviews}

The Incredible Journey Free Printable Resources

Over the last few weeks we’ve been working on The Incredible Journey – by working on, I mean ‘reading’! We’ve also done a few other activities – a board game and an animal categorising ‘game’. I’ve also made some of our usual printable activities to share with you.

I remember reading The Incredible Journey as a child, and finding it disappointing compared to the movie, and reading it now as an adult I can see why – it’s not as Americanised as the movie – the characters have names you have to think about and they don’t talk as their movie-counterparts do. It’s not a long book, but it’s not always easy reading either. It’s a beautiful story of love, courage, friendship and perseverance and purpose though, and well worth reading together.

Below you will find letter writing practice sheet, a crossword that asks questions about the story (you won’t be able to answer this from watching the movie) and an easy and a difficult maze and finally, a word search. This is a harder word search, because some of the words go backwards.

To download a worksheet, just click on the image. It’ll open a PDF in a new window for you to print.

The Incredible Journey Writing Practice

Children can trace the letters to help them learn the sizing of letters compared to each other, or simply just to practice.

The Incredible Journey Free Printable Resources

The Incredible Journey Crossword Puzzle

An 11 clue crossword puzzle – the answers are at the bottom of the page. I thought rather than use a second page, just pop them on the bottom and fold the footer area over so little eyes can’t see the answers.

The Incredible Journey Free Printable Resources

The Incredible Journey Mazes

There are two mazes here to choose from – a simple one here and a tougher one. Pictured is the harder one.

The Incredible Journey Free Printable Resources

The Incredible Journey Word Search

This word search is a little harder than the ones I normally do, I think, because the words run back to front and from the bottom up. I don’t normally like doing them this was as I think it’s confusing for younger participants, but it’s how it worked out this time.

The Incredible Journey Free Printable Resources

If you’ve enjoyed these activities, remember to check the rest of the tag for The Incredible Journey resources

The Incredible Journey Free Printable Resources.

Christmas Stories With Matching Activities For A Book Advent

Life gets away from me sometimes, so here we are on the first day of Advent and I’m only now posting the books we’ve put up for our advent calendar this year, which doesn’t really give anyone a chance to do the same, but never mind: you can still do a 12 Days of Christmas book calendar, which means next year you only have to get 12 books. Silver linings, eh?

The way I’ve done it this year is to attach a book to each day of our string advent. I’ve made a note on the wrapping so I know which book’s inside too so that I can swap it around if I need or want to.

Christmas Stories With Matching Activities For A Book AdventRead more: Christmas Stories With Matching Activities For A Book Advent

Roald Dahl’s Matilda Activities – Sailing Books

One of the lines I really loved from Roald Dahl’s Matilda movie was

So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.

I didn’t realise this at first, but that’s not actually in the book. The book actually says,

“The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village

The very soul of me relates to this quote. I may not have read Ernest Hemingway and Rudyard Kipling as a 3 year old, but in junior school I read Famous Five, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Secret Seven, and a bunch of others you would only know if you were Afrikaans, like Trompie en die Boksom Bende. At one stage I was reading them at a rate of a book a day, in school time. Really, I thought school just got in the way of my reading time!

Roald Dahl's Matilda Activities - Sailing Books

Well I am on the way to instilling the same love of reading in my girls. Their dad has a big part to play in that – he has read to Ameli almost every night he’s spent with her. On her sixth birthday, they finished reading the entire Chronicles of Narnia.

Anyway,  while preparing our current Matilda theme, I couldn’t get “ like ships on the sea” out of my head.

Matilda is also full of metaphors, it’s a fabulous book for introducing the concept too, with metaphors like:

Even when their own child is the most disgusting little blister you could ever imagine, they still think that he or she is wonderful

Roald Dahl's Matilda Activities - Sailing BooksIs the child actually a disgusting little blister? No. But what does it tell you about the appearance of the child?

It’s quite fun actually, talking through some of the metaphors in Matilda.

But, the one we were focused on today was that of ships on the sea.

For this craft you’ll need:

This craft couldn’t really be simpler. We printed some of our favourite book covers – Roald Dahl, Dr Seuss and so on – and cut them into squares or sail-shape (if you know the word for that, let me know!)

For the square – pirate – sails (clearly not a sailor, am I!) thread the large, then small sails through the toothpick. For the others, glue the sail to the skewer.

Apply a healthy helping of glue to the shell or driftwood, and place the skewer, holding it for a few seconds so that it can dry in place.

Roald Dahl's Matilda Activities - Sailing Books

It’s quite a quick craft, in the end, and before you know it you’ll have a literary armada.

Books To Help Children Cope With Younger Siblings

A friend asked me a few days ago for recommendations on books for children about being an older brother or sister. It made me realise that while I’d shared books for dealing with a new baby, I hadn’t ever shared a list of books for helping an older child deal with a younger sibling – both in terms of suddenly having to share the love and space, but also in helping them realise that feelings of jealousy and anger are normal, and to equip them in how to deal with those feelings. I hope these books on siblings help your little ones accept their little brothers and sisters.

Some of these we own, some I’m going by the reviews of other readers, but here’s a list of books that can help you.

(*These are affiliate links. If you choose to buy through these links it won’t cost you anything extra, but you’ll be helping to support my work and my family, so thank you for that.)

Books that reinforce love for the older sibling:

Books To Help Children Cope With Younger Siblings“Three sibling bears start to worry that they can’t ALL be “the most wonderful baby bears in the whole wide world” as they are regularly told by Mummy and Daddy Bear. As each singles out a personal feature that might mean they are less loved than their siblings, Mummy and Daddy are able to reassure them all, jointly and individually, with “a good answer”. The watercolour illustrations depict gentle, loving bear-family scenes alongside the story.”

The reviews on this story are enough to make me want to buy it. Everyone says that it’s beautiful, that it teaches a valuable lesson and that it’s a favourite.

Books To Help Children Cope With Younger SiblingsI Love You, Alfie Cub is a stunningly illustrated book about a little fox cub, Alfie, whose mama has a new litter of pups – twin girls. Mama Fox explains that the twins will take up a lot of her time and need a lot of love and care. Alfie is kind of excited about having new play mates, but by the end of the first day, they haven’t even grown yet! (I so relate to this. Ameli’s first question about her sister was ‘Can it walk? – at about 2 minutes old!)

Alfie’s Mama is tired, and falls asleep without reading him stories. She doesn’t play with him as much, and she is always busy with the twins. He fears that she has run out of love for him, so he spends the day looking high and low for love. A friendly frog reminds him that he still has love, so he can share his love with his  mother. Alfie has an idea and sets about making a play space for his sisters.

The last few pages of this book make my eyes well up with tears. Seriously, I get so emotional. Alfie realises that his mother loves him, and she reminds him that she will never run out of love for him.

I Love You, Alfie Cub is so incredibly beautiful, it’s one of my favourites, it’s sweet, and it lays the foundation for older siblings to say that just because Mama is a bit busy right now does not mean that she doesn’t love or has replaced them.

Books To Help Children Cope With Younger Siblings“A little fox is in a big bad mood, and is worried that its mother won’t love it forever. In this beautiful and lyrical picture book, we see a clever and resourceful mother prove to her child that a parents love is limitless – no matter what! In this reassuring and warm picture book, the hugely talented Debi Gliori manages to treat the familiar subject of childhood worries in a very fresh, original and inventive way.”

The story gets rave reviews from everyone who needs reassurance that their parents still love them. This is one of those rhyming stories, gentle and soothing. It reinforces that nothing can take our love away.

Books To Help Children Cope With Younger SiblingsJust Like You Did starts as Tom is just about to have a new baby brother or sister arrive.  Although the new arrival turns out to be a baby boy, Tom isn’t happy, because all the family and friend spend a lot of time looking at the new baby and Tom feels left out.

Tom eventually snaps angrily, but when his parents sit him down and show him pictures of what he was like when he was a baby, and explain that the baby will soon start to grow up and things won’t be difficult for ever, Tom’s happiness is restored.

Just Like You Did is suitable for siblings 2+

Books that address the sibling relationship

Books To Help Children Cope With Younger Siblings“This book may help to explore disgruntled feelings between an older and a younger baby sibling who at about 6 months is starting to want to play with their toys and things. It is hard to share everything and resentment can build up inside.”

In this story the older sister gets upset with her little brother getting everything sticky and soggy. She starts doing things to get him messy and in trouble, but there’s a happy ending, with them all cuddled up and cozy together. One of the criticisms of the book, however, is that there isn’t much about sharing, so much as accepting a baby brother – not a bad result really.

Books To Help Children Cope With Younger SiblingsThe ‘big sister’ in this story thinks everything about being a big sister is unfair. As the ‘big girl’, she is expected to play independently, tidily and quietly, to which her response is, “it’s not fair!”. Over the course of the story she begins to realise the advantages of being the older sibling as she’s able to do things the baby can’t.

When the baby grows and learns to talk, he sees all the things his sister can do and he in turn thinks it’s not fair.

I’m not sure about the basic concepts of ‘two unfairs making a fair’ really, but I think this story can have a place at the right time. What it does do,  however, is open up a dialogue to discussing frustration and jealousy, while leading to an eventual bond between the brother and sister.

Books To Help Children Cope With Younger SiblingsAnother book I would buy simply based on the reviews. Many readers comment on how it is clear and direct, and great especially for children on the Autism spectrum. It is of course also good for children who are dealing with a new sibling and having to become accustomed to sharing their parents.

“I Feel Jealous explores the emotion of jealousy from the point of view of a young child. It reassures the reader that jealousy, including being envious of siblings, is quite normal and that talking to someone about feelings helps.”

Ever So Ever So* – Kes Gray

Books To Help Children Cope With Younger SiblingsAccording to reviews on this book, it will help children who are feeling ‘disgruntled’ about having a younger sibling.

In this story, “mum and dad think that every little squeek and snuffle baby Susan makes is “ever so ever so clever.” Baby Susan hiccups and mums says she is “ever so sweet.” Baby Susan blinks and dad says she is “ever so alert.” ”

This story explores the frustrations an older sibling could feel when a tiny little baby comes home and seems to be get all the attention. It also deals with regression of the older child – big sister Susan copies things the baby does ‘cutely’, but she gets into trouble for.

On the final pages, Susan has an injection from the nurse and cries inconsolably. She is only comforted when her older sister cuddles and kisses and rocks her until she falls asleep, to which her family remark that she is ever such a brave, grown up and good older sister.

Ever So Ever So is told from the older sister’s point of view. It provides a good opportunity to discus jealousy and anger and being left out. One reviewer mentions dad’s involvement with baby in this book, which is great too. This book seems suitable for older siblings ages about 3 – 7.

Books To Help Children Cope With Younger SiblingsTold by a big sister, My Little Brother is about how she finds her little brother a bother and wishes him away. One night he disappears from his crib (into the laundry cupboard with the cat) and she realises that she wouldn’t want to be without him.

 

Readers of this story have said that it showed them the positives of having a younger brother far out weighed the negatives.

Books To Help Children Cope With Younger Siblings“Someone new is at our house,” begins this loving, reassuring look at brotherhood. Told through the eyes of a new older brother, this simple story lays out all the good things about being an older sibling, and reminds new brothers that they are just as special as ever.

One of the comments on this book is that it shows a bottle feeding baby. Not a big deal to most, but just something to be aware of if you prefer pro-breastfeeding books.

This book is more aimed at brothers with baby siblings, but there’s a Big Sister* version too.

Books To Help Children Cope With Younger SiblingsA nice brother to brother book, this story is a little different, with Little Brother Kenny adoring his older brother, even though Jack always falsely accuses him. Kenny’s first word is “Jack” which ‘brings an abrupt end to his brother’s reign’.

Readers call this an ‘endearing story’ that demonstrates the special relationship that can exist between two brothers.

Books To Help Children Cope With Younger Siblings“Squashed in the middle, invisible in the middle, Martha thinks nobody really notices her … so she runs away to the bottom of the garden. Here she meets Frog who, by showing her round the garden, persuades her that the middle really is the very best place to be.”

Particularly good if your middle child is called Martha, but all middle children can relate to the subtle message as Martha sometimes longs to be the oldest, and sometimes the baby. Martha in the Middle is highly regarded by people with middle children.

Hold That Thought, Milton! – While not technically fitting into this category, I’d like to make special mention of Hold That Thought, Milton! It’s a book about a little boy desperate to tell someone he’s lost something special to him, but everyone is too busy getting ready for his big brother’s wedding, so they all tell him to ‘hold that thought’, until he eventually explodes green slime all over the wedding party. I worked out a code word with my little girl that when she was feeling unheard or unlistened to she could use that word to make me stop and pay attention. We also worked out a list of people she could go to if we weren’t approachable. It hurts my heart to think that this could happen, but life sometimes does.

Books To Help Children Cope With Younger Siblings*I haven’t read all these books about siblings, but the above is written from feedback from Amazon and Little Parachutes.

Earth Day Books, Movies, Activities And Games For Children

Earth day happens every year in April, and it’s an opportunity for us to talk to our children about their world, to give them reasons to love it and understand how it works, and most importantly to protect it.

One of the simplest ways to teach without it being hard work, while also spending time together, is through books. There are loads of books with the theme of recycling and reusing. Pick up a couple that you can re-read year after year.

Earth Day Books, Movies, Activities And Games For ChildrenSome good examples are Fancy Nancy: Every Day is Earth Day* where Nancy helps her family be Earth-friendly every day, not just on Earth Day. In Little Critter: It’s Earth Day*, Little Critter learns about climate changes, and decides to do his part to slow down global warming. In this story children will learn about the importance of not wasting water or energy. Join Little Critter as he plants a tree, makes a climate control machine, and helps the polar bears.

In I Can Save the Earth!: One Little Monster Learns to Reduce, Reuse, and RecycleMax is a little monster who likes to litter and never, ever recycles. Then the electricity goes out and he sees how exciting and beautiful the Earth is, and that it will need his help to stay that way. 

And if stories are good, activity books are even better. Earth Day Is Every Day!* is a fun activity book where four kids and a dog guide young readers through word searches, mazes, cryptograms, and other puzzles that provide fun facts about Earth Day and offer ideas for recycling, conserving energy, and making “green” practices part of everyday life.

I also love the idea of using Earth Day as an opportunity to connect with our friends and family, or our neighbours, or someone we haven’t caught up with in ages, and this Secret Garden* postcard set is beautifully thematic.

 If that’s a little ‘old’ for your small people, why not have a go at this Earth Day Colouring Book*. With 32-pages of colouring fun, there’ll be plenty of opportunity to talk about the Earth and our role in protecting it.

Sometimes it hard to know if the Smalls will be interested in something before you spend money on it, so why not print this Free Earth Day Activity Book and give them that for a start. If you’re not in the US you can just remove the page about your State. If you are – it’s perfect for you!

For when the kids want to watch something, Wild Kratts and Tumble Leaf are both great nature shows available for download on Amazon Instant Prime Video* (and you can enjoy a free 30-day trial, often even if you’ve had a trial before).

When book work and brain work gets a little too much, try out Earth Day Kids Yoga – yes, that’s really a thing! This book will walk you through a story of movement and exercise with the children. It’s a great way to get the active, introduce yoga and breathing and talk about Earth Day at the same time.

Earthgames: 50 Nature Games For Ages 3+ is another great avenue for rainy day or any day entertainment. The book is full of chanting, play-it-again action games that are easy to learn quickly, yet substantial enough to last through repeat performances. The book is broken into three nature-themed sections–Wildlife World, Playful Planet, Cosmos–each containing its own Warm Up & Cool Down exercises. Designed for indoor or outdoor group play, EarthGames are a perfect fit for  Earth Day or any day.

And of course, the best way to get the children to love the Earth is to make them part of it. Organisations like the Wildlife Trust, Woodland Trust, National Trust and The RSPB all have membership schemes where your money goes to helping protect your environment. The Wildlife Trust and the RSPB both do a lot of work with children, including magazines that are pitched at their ages – and provide a gift that tops up their interest throughout the year. The National Trust operates in a number of different countries around the world and membership to one gives you access to all (they also have a fab home ed discount of £41 for the family for the year.) Most of these organisations also offer activities for the children throughout the summer. Have a look at our 50Things posts for an example of what you can do as part of that project.

* Some links in this post are affiliate links. If you click on them and then buy, I’ll receive a percentage from the merchant. You don’t pay more or less whether you use this link or go direct.