Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Z is for Zany Zebra Print

We made this Zany Z using:
Chipboard cut from a cereal box for letter base
White construction paper
Black sharpie marker
Glue: stick

Speaking of animal prints, we like to read:
Elmer by David Mckee. Unlike the other Elephants Elmer lives with, his skin is multicolored in a patchwork pattern. Elmer is always making the elephants laugh and they like him but Elmer begins to question if the elephants are actually laughing at him rather than with him. After finding a way to disguise himself to look like everyone else, Elmer discovers that the only way he will be truly happy is when he stays true to himself. A lovely message for the little ones with fun imagery. 

Wow, we did it! Every capital letter in the alphabet! Now I know my ABC's next time won't you sing with me?

(More on Project ABC)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Y is for Yellow and Yo-Yo

We made this Yo-Yo-ing Y using:
Chipboard cut from a cereal box for letter base
Yellow origami paper
Vintage yo-yo
Glue: stick, hot glue to adhere yo-yo

A Yo-Yo book we like:
OK, this one is not a Yo-Yo book at all but it does feature another classic toy; the wind-up! It's Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse written and illustrated by Leo Lionni. I can't think of a Lionni book we haven't liked but this one might be my favorite by him. The collage-ish art work is perfect for this little story about a mouse who is envious of the life of another mouse in the house who happens to be a wind-up toy. After all, the toy is welcome in the home unlike Alexander. Alexander eventually learns the grass is not always greener as he discovers the toy mouse has been discarded in the trash. Lucky for Alexander (and for the wind-up toy mouse) a magical lizard grants Alexander's selfless wish of bringing the toy to life. The mice become best friends obviously. A very sweet and charming tale every child should hear.

(More on Project ABC)

Monday, October 18, 2010

X is for X-Shaped X-Ray

We made this X-y X using:
Chipboard cut from a cereal box for letter base
Black construction paper
White construction paper for bones
White vellum paper to mute the black background
Glue: stick

A bone-y book we like:
Bone Soup by Cambria Evans is a Halloweenish take on the classic Stone Soup tale. If your kids are not yet familiar with the original version of the story, this book still makes for a fun and slightly gruesome read as the villagers cast into the pot (or cauldron) spider eggs and toenail clippings (in place of carrots and onions). If your kids have experienced the classic tale however, they will probably enjoy this book even more because they will feel like they are in on the joke. We liked the illustrations in this one as well.

By the way, speaking of ghoulish re-dos, have you read Goodnight Goon; a Petrifying Parody? Obviously it's a take on the much-loved Goodnight Moon. My kids found this spookier version to be quite the hoot and begged for it again and again.

(More about Project ABC)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

W is for Wiggly Worm

We made this Wormy W using:
Chipboard cut from a cereal box for letter base
Brown scrapbook paper
Gummy worms
Glue: stick and hot glue to adhere worms

A Worm book we like:
Yucky Worms by Vivian French and Jessica Ahlberg (illustrator) is a fun book about discovering scientific facts about worms as the reader is taken on a gardening journey with a little boy and his grandmother. Although the little boy is grossed out by worms in the beginning of the book, he soon learns to appreciate the slimy creatures as he becomes more knowledgeable about the role of a worm and just how dependent we are on those little creepy-crawlies.

(More on Project ABC)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

V is for Valentine

We made this Valentine-y V using:
Chipboard cut from a cereal box for letter base
Red scrapbook paper
Doily and scissors
Origami paper
Letter stamps and ink pad
Glue: stick and white Elmer’s

Valentine-y books we like:
Odd Velvet by Mary Whitcomb and illustrated by Tara Calahan King, tells a story of a little girl who certainly has a different way of doing things in comparison to her classmates in school. She doesn't wear the coolest, newest clothes and instead wears side braids with large round glasses. The kids in school think she is rather odd and start to wonder where she came from. Fortunately the children have the opportunity to discover Velvet's skills in art and they begin to appreciate her differences. I love this book so much as it teaches to appreciate the differences in others and in yourself—a perfect valentine message if you ask me. Super cute illustrations too.

Another book I really like to read to the kids about appreciating/respecting/loving their self is called, I Like Me by Nancy Carlson. This pig in this story doesn't let her failures get her down and instead works on learning from her mistakes. She loves her body from her curly tail to round tummy to tiny feet. She controls her feelings by doing things that bring her happiness. A great message for any child (or adult).

Also, have you read the book, I Like You by Sandol Stoddard Warburg, illustrated by Jacquline Chwast? I received it from the hubs long, long ago. I highly recommend it as an any-time valentine gift for your loved one or BFF as it talks about the simple pleasures of enjoying your relationship with one another. One of my favorite lines from the book is, "I like you because if I am mad at you then you are mad at me too, it's awful when the other person isn't—phooey. They are so nice and hoo-hoo and you could just about punch them in the nose." OR "I like you because if I think I am going to throw up then you are really sorry, you don't just pretend you are busy looking at the birdies and all that." It's a book for all ages, really and a must read slash gifting.

(More about Project ABC)

Friday, October 15, 2010

U is for Upsidedown Umbrella

We made this Umbrella U using:
Chipboard cut from a cereal box for letter base
Patterned scrapbook paper
Scrap of silky fabric
Brown pipe cleaner
Glue: stick and hot

Umbrella Related books we like:

The Rain Stomper written by Addie Boswell and illustrated by Eric Velasquez is an enjoyable rainy weather read. The little girl in this story is ready to lead the neighborhood parade but faces major disappointment when bad weather has takes over the town. She is determined not to let mother nature rain on her parade (he-he) however, and decides to make the rain part of her performance so the show can go on.

Thunder Cake by Particia Pollacco is a book with an emphasis on the roaring thunder rather than umbrellas and rain but I couldn't leave it off the list. The girl in this story has a fear of thunder but her grandmother has a way of calming her nerves by distracting her as they collect ingredients for a thunder cake (a cake made specifically for thunderstorm weather). We happened to be having stormy weather the first time we read this book so my kids were very intrigued by the tale. After finding the Thunder Cake recipe at the end of the book we headed straight the the kitchen to make our own. It made for the perfect play-date activity on a rainy day.

Lastly, for the wee ones, Who Likes Rain by Wong Herbert Wong is a cute little rhyming book about girl who explores her neighborhood on a rainy day. She discovers not everyone likes the rain. Super simple read, nice for very young readers.

(More about Project ABC)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

T is for Torn Tape

We made this Taped up T using:
Chipboard cut from a cereal box for letter base
Torn pieces of decorative tape

A sticky tape book we like (minus the tape): 
I couldn’t think of a book dedicated to sticky tape but we did read a book recently about sticky gum, it’s called Trouble Gum by Matthew Cordell. My 4 and 2 year old can’t get enough of the little piglet brothers in this story who have such a hard time following the bubble gum chewing rules—probably because they can totally relate. It's a cute read your kids will probably get a kick out of. Both of my kids requested we keep this library book an additional week so we could read it again and again (which we did).

(More about Project ABC)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

S is for Smelly Sock

We made this Smelly S using:
Chipboard cut from a cereal box for letter base
Orange Construction paper
A pair of old socks and scissors
Glue: stick and hot to adhere socks

Sock books we like:

A Pair of Socks by Stuart J Murphy, illustrated by Lois Ehlert is a great toddler/preschool age read to learn about patterns and matching. The end of the book even has a list of activities that will help children to learn these same concepts. The story itself is told from the perspective of a sock who is on a search for his mate.

Have you seen the Sock Monkey Books by Cece Bell? We like Sock Monkey Woogie Boogie: A Friend is Made. In this tale sock monkey needs a dance partner for a big celebrity dance. Unfortunately all his friends are unavailable which forces sock monkey to hold auditions for a partner (you might recognize some of the contestants like wind-up chattering teeth or a troll doll). When try-outs don’t go so well, however, Sock Monkey has to double his efforts and quite literally MAKE a new friend. Cute story, adorable illustrations.

New Socks by Bob Shea is a fun little read about a little chick who is feeling good in his new pair of bright orange socks. This story might inspire your little ones to throw on their favorite pair of socks and do some sliding across wood floor.

(More about Project ABC)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

R is for River Rocks and Red

We made this Red and Rocky R using:
Chipboard cut from a cereal box for letter base
Torn pieces of red origami paper
River rocks (from the $ store)
Glue: stick and hot to adhere rocks

A rock books we like:
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig was a book I loved having read to me as a kid and now my kids enjoy it the same. In this book Sylvester the donkey thinks it must be his lucky day as he discovers a magic, wish granting pebble. Sadly, Sylvester makes the mistake of wishing he was a rock when he is confronted with a lion. His only hope to turn back into a donkey is for someone to find the pebble and wish such. This is a Caldecott Honor book but is also on the banned book list because the characters are depicted as animals and apparently someone found the police pigs particular upsetting. Really...that’s the reason. So if you think you might take offence to animals being portrayed as people, you may want to avoid this one, along with almost every other childrens picture book.

Red books we like:
There are so many red themed books we like but for now here are just two recommendations. The first one is called, The Red Shoes by, Eleri Glass. While shoe shopping with her mother, a young girl becomes subject to size test one drab looking pair of shoes after another until she spots a shiny red set that call her name. She may just convince her mother to buy them for her. The lyrical text in combination with the illustrations (giving a 60’s era vibe) make for a perfect read.

Our second recommendation is Little Red: A Fizzingly Good Yarn by Lynn Roberts and illustrated by David Roberts. This one is a take on the classic Little Red Riding Hood story only in this adaptation, Little Red is a young boy (a nice break from the fairytale standard if you ask me).  The illustrations are nice on the eyes and subtly spooky for a mysterious tone which fits the theme of the story quite well. I think this is my boys’ favorite version of the tale but watch out…things don’t end so well for the grandma in this rendition.  

(More about Project ABC)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Q is for Quieting Quilt

We made this Quilted Q using:
Chipboard cut from a cereal box for letter base
Scrap of fabric
Grey yarn and scissors
Fatty needle (sorry I don't know the technical term for a big blunt needle) to thread yard through fabric
Glue: hot

Quilt books we like:
Tar Beach, written and illustrated by Faith Ringgold is a book that the artist actually adapted from a large piece of art she created in 1988; a story quilt also with the title of Tar Beach. This is a beautiful, poetic and dreamy story of a child who envisions herself flying above the big city in which she lives as she lies on a blanket with her little brother on her family’s apartment rooftop—or Tar Beach. The child’s perspective of her life in its current state has an innocence that is emotional provoking, captivating and hopeful.

The Keeping Quilt, by one of my personal favorite children’s author/illustrators, Patricia Polacco, is one I can’t go without mentioning. This book is the authors real-life story of how a quilt, that was formed from scraps of clothing to remind the Russian Jewish immigrant family of where they came from, became a symbol for love and affection as it was passed down from one generation to the next. Heritage quilts amaze me; I love that a quilt like this becomes a physical way to stay connected with ancestors long since departed. This book inspired me to learn how to quilt.

(More about Project ABC)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

P is for Polka-dotted Pinwheel

We made this Polka-dotted P using:
Chipboard cut from a cereal box for letter base
Polka dotted scrapbook paper
Sewing Pin for center of pinwheel so it could turn
Glue: stick and hot for pinwheel just so it would dry fast

Polka-dot and Pinwheel related books we like:

First the Polka-dots…minus the “polka” with a book called The Dot written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. The main character in the story, Vashti, becomes overwhelmed in self doubt when it comes time  to making art on paper. After her teacher gives her some words of encouragement that release Vashti from the self-induced pressure, she is able to find herself through getting lost in her artwork. With a new found confidence, Vashti is able to take what her teacher taught her and pay it forward to a (less assured) admirer of her work. I so much love to read this book to my kids and hope the message of encouragement and self-belief seep into the folds of their brain. This story shows how the slightest bit of positive influence can help self-doubting individuals do great things.

And just because pinwheels should companion every party, we also like the book, If You Give a Pig a Party written by Lara Numeroff and illustrated by Felica Bond. This book is typical to all of author’s, If-you-give-an-[animal]-an-[object]-books and just as sweet as the rest of them so long as you don’t mind the reiteration—my kids don't.

(more about Project ABC)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

O is for Oval Octopus

We made this Oval Octopus using:
Chipboard cut from a cereal box for letter base
Blue and Green crepe paper
Googly eyes
Glue: White Elmer’s

An Octopus book we like (or something like that):
While I was racking my brain to come up with a suitable recommendation for an octopus related book I remembered an ocean book we love instead. This pick is a true picture book as I don’t remember it having any words. It’s called Wave by Suzy Lee and the simple black and blue illustrations tell the story of an inquisitive little girl’s experience and relationship with the ocean as she runs to and from the wave while it splashes towards her and then retreats. Eventually a large wave catches up to her and although she is left soaking wet, she discovers a treasure the wave left behind.

(more about Project ABC)

Friday, October 8, 2010

N is for Noiseless Night

We made this Night-time N using:
Chipboard cut from a cereal box for letter base
Black with white speckled scrapbook paper
Glow in the dark star stickers
Gold craft glitter
Glue: Stick and white Elmer’s for glitter moon

Night books we like (and with this selection of books, you simply MUST read ALL of them if you have yet to do so):

Bedtime for Mommy by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Ms. Rosenthal is my kid’s current favorite author. I think we have read all of her books. She is probably known best for her “little” books (Little Pea, Little Hoot and Little Oink) or maybe you have read Spoon or Yes Day? Anyway we love all of the above and my kids are crazy about this story of a child and parent going through the standard bedtime routine only the roles are reversed; the daughter in the story helps the mommy get ready for bed. My kids crack up over this book whenever we read it and the illustrations are great.

Wow said the Owl by Tim Hopgood is about a curious little owl who decides to stay up all day rather than sleep. The owl is wowed by all the beautiful colors that the day brings—every color in the rainbow but in the end, the owl decides the nighttime sky can’t be beat in beauty. This book is one of our most favorite picture books on color.

In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
Okay you have probably already read this classic but it is one of our all time favorites so I couldn’t leave it off this night themed list. My kids and I both love this adventure through Mickey’s dream about baking cake with three bakers in the "night kitchen." It’s just so imaginative and magical. This book is on the list of banned children’s books because the cartoon illustration of Mickey loses his clothes while falling into the night and into a bowl of dough. To that I say we own it and love it.

(more about Project ABC)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

ABC Intermission Part II

When I was tiny I loved to print letters on paper for hours. I especially enjoyed writing in cursive (or long connecting squiggles that I thought looked quite comparable to cursive). H doesn’t care for letter writing as much as I did, well, not with a pen anyway. He doesn’t so much mind making letter shapes in a bag of chocolate pudding however; in fact, I dare say he enjoys it.

Not exactly an original project but it’s a fast and easy one my kids have started to request. Of course you could do this right on the counter top or on a piece of wax paper—this is the ultra-clean version.

(more about Project A-B-C)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

ABC Intermission Part I

I wanted to take an ABC intermission to share with you some alphabet books we like. Why is the alphabet so fascinating? We have a small collection of alphabet art and I think it might be a good idea to start an alphabet book collection too. There are so many we love, in fact, the only way I could think to narrow down our picks was to select books we actually own or ones we have checked out from the library more than once—and recently. Shall we begin?

The first book is a board book the hubs and I picked out for H before he was born. It’s called Alphabet City Out on the Streets by Michael De Feo. To create this book the artist plastered his kid-friendly silk screen art throughout the city walls of Manhattan to create a distinct and brilliant way of displaying objects that correspond to a letter in the alphabet.

Even if you are not partial to graffiti style art, the oversize images make for, not only a unique way to introduce the alphabet, but also makes for a great word book for little ones. 

Our second selection is called The Graphic Alphabet by graphic designer, David Pelletier. As a graphic designer myself, I might be moderately biased in favor of this book but I think many parents would appreciate the thoughtfulness and creativity in the way each letter is displayed.

My favorite page is the way Pelletier has portrayed the letter, V to look like vampire fangs. My 4 year old gets excited about detecting the letter shape on each page as some of the letters take a little imagination to identify.

The third alphabet pick is called Alphabeasties and other Amazing Types by Sharon Werner and Sarah Forss. The beginning of this book has an introduction about a the definition of typeface and how different typefaces can provoke various emotions so I was excited about this book from the start but my kids were so uninterested with this explanation of type that I had to skip over it and read it again later on my own time. The rest of the books content, however, they loved. Each letter of the alphabet is represented in the shape of an animal.

Another thing my kids love about this book is that many of the pages fold out so the animal image is expanded in size making the book very interactive and interesting. The book also contains other creative examples of letterforms turning into objects that they begin with (the letter, “O” could become an owl or an ornament hanging on a tree) and by the end the children are encouraged to make their own shapes from letters which I think would be a fun activity for slightly older children (ages 4 +). 

Our last recommendation is an alphabet book I received from one of my Aunts when I was younger. It’s called Animalia by Graeme Base. This book takes you on a journey through the alphabet, alliteration-style. You will truly get lost in the detailed, fanciful illustrated scenes on each page that not only suitably embodies the alliterative text but is also loaded with objects that also begin with the featured letter.

Some objects are in plain view and some objects are somewhat hidden. This book takes you on an alphabet treasure hunt you'll just have to experience for yourself. This was a favorite of mine growing up and now it’s a favorite for my kids.

(more about Project A-B-C)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

M is for Mangy Monster

We made this Mangy Monster using:
Chipboard from a cereal box for letter base
Orange construction paper
Wool Yarn for "fur"
Craft pom poms
Googely eyes
Glue: white Elmer’s for “fur” and hot glue for pom poms and googly eyes

A Monster book we like:
For some reason my kids are obsessed with Halloween—year round, consequently, we end up checking out at least one Halloween book per library visit which also means we read a lot of monster books.

On a recent library trip we came across an adorable non-Halloween Monster book called, Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty. In this story little Jeremy prefers drawing alone in his room rather than playing outside with the neighborhood children. One day Jeremy draws a monster but the monster ends up being extremely demanding and quite rude. Eventually Jeremy decides the monster has worn out his welcome and so he takes him to the public transportation and sends him off for good. While Jeremy is seeing off the monster, the neighborhood children gather around him and asked if he’d like to play, he decides he does. A little reminiscent of Harold and the Purple Crayon and the main character draws his old world. A great, simple and cute read in both the story and illustrations. I highly recommend this one.

(more on Project A-B-C)

Monday, October 4, 2010

L is for Ligneous Ladder

We made this Ligneous Ladder using:
Chipboard cut from a cereal box for letter base
Scrapbook paper with leaf pattern
Wooden craft sticks for ladder
Green marker to color craft sticks
Glue: stick and hot glue for the ladder

A Ladder book we like:
Okay so this one isn’t about ladders but you’ll find quite a few in the illustrations of this book called Jungle Gym Jitters by Chuck Richards. The mostly monochromatic graphite illustrations are magnificent. The story describes a little boy, Jerry, whose father has a “brain for play” which leads him to convert the kids’ tree house into a giant jungle gym that gets higher and higher by the day. Jerry doesn’t appreciate his father’s creative genius as the elaborate gym gives him the jitters. In the end however, Jerry just might find the courage to brave the sky-high gym to save his sister who is caught in a flaming towering contraption.

I thought the role of father and the role of the son competed a bit too much for lead character in the story  but my kids certainly didn’t seem to mind and the impressive illustrations made up for this minor flaw.

(more on Project A-B-C)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

K is for Kindly Kisses

We made our Kind Kisses using:
Chipboard cut from a cereal box for letter base
Red construction paper
Glue: Stick
Kiss stamp, embossing stamp pad, pink embossing powder and heat source

Kiss books we like:
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn and illustrated by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M Leak is a story about little Chester Raccoon, who is nervous about his first day of school and tells his mother that he’d prefer to stay home with her. To comfort him his mother passes down her tradition of “the kissing hand” as she gives his hand a kiss right in the middle of his palm. She explains how with her kiss in his hand, he will be able to have her comfort wherever he goes. This book is definitely saturated with sweetness but my kids really love it and since reading this book we have adapted the kissing hand tradition in our own home.

Audrey Penn has two other kissing related books that make up a series with the first book although there is no requirement to read them all or to read them in order for comprehension. Both books present objectionable change for Chester the raccoon as he becomes a big brother (A Pocket Full of Kisses) and when his family has to move to another forest (A kiss Goodbye). My kids liked these books as well but it may have been partly from the fact that they were familiar with the characters. These last two books are illustrated by Barbara Leonard Gibson.

(more on Project A-B-C)
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