Happy Birthday to Author Marc Brown!

Happy Birthday to author Marc Brown! Marc Brown is the creator of the Arthur books. The Arthur books were a favourite of mine when I was a child, and I still enjoy reading them and sharing them with kids today. Although the Arthur character looks different these days than he did when I was a child, he’s still the same fun character.

Original Arthur and current Arthur.
What Arthur looked like when the first books were written (left), and what Arthur currently looks like (right).

These days there are many more Arthur books, you can find one for almost any Holiday or event. there is even an Arthur television show that has won 6 Emmy Awards and received 25 Emmy nominations. I don’t always enjoy television shows or movies that are based on books but the Arthur series is a very high quality show that keeps the character and messages of the Arthur books intact.

Here’s some of my favourite Arthur books:

Arthur's New Puppy book cover
Arthur’s New Puppy
Arthur's Lost Library Book book cover
Arthur’s Lost Library Book
Arthur's Underwear book cover
Arthur’s Underwear
Arthur's Tooth book cover
Arthur’s Tooth

Do you have a favourite Arthur book? Share in the comments!

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Sewing Leaves- Fall Fine Motor Skills Activity for Children

Sewing Leaves Fine Motor ActivityThis is such a fun yet simple activity to encourage children to develop their fine motor skills.

Materials needed:

  • Leaves
  • Plastic lacing needles (or regular sewing needles if you are doing this activity with children old enough to use them)
  • Coloured embroidery thread (or regular thread if using sewing needles)

Make sure you tie a knot in the end of the embroidery thread before you start sewing. If you are doing this activity with younger kids (or if the thread keeps slipping) you can tie the thread onto the eye of the needle after threading it.

 

Sewing Leaves Fine Motor Skills Activity 3Showing the kids how to do a simple straight stitch is an easy way to start. To help them grasp the concept you could draw dashes on the leaves with a pen or marker, but once they get the hang of it they can get creative!

Sewing Leaves Fine Motor Skills Activity 4This is a great process oriented activity, and the kids really get into it. I’ve done sewing with kids as young as three and it’s so wonderful to see how quickly they get the hang of it and how strongly they focus on it.

Sewing Leaves Fine Motor Skills Activity 2Have you ever tried sewing with children? How did it turn out?

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Monster Books That Won’t Give Kids Nightmares.

Monsters are a popular topic for kids but some monster stories can be a bit too scary for some kids. These monster books are more sweet than scary, but will still delight your little monster lover!

Mrs. Mo’s Monster by Paul Beavis

Mrs Mo's Monster book coverWhen a monster visits Mrs. Mo’s house, will he be destructive or can he find something helpful to do? This book will make for a fun read aloud, with children joining in on the monster’s actions “Crunch, Munch and Chew!”. Mrs. Mo’s Monster has a funny ending that will give the children a giggle.

Monsters Love Colors by Mike Austin

Monsters Love Colors books coverThe colourful monsters in this book show children how much fun colours can be! The illustrations are colorful and full of texture. I love how the text really matches the flow of the words and the movement of the monsters. These are happy, dancing, bouncing monsters- not scary at all!

My Teacher is a Monster by Peter Brown

My Teacher is a Monster book coverBobby’s teacher, Mrs. Kirby, is an absolute monster! But when he runs into her outside of the classroom, will he see a different side to her? Children will enjoy the entertaining story as much as seeing the subtle changes in the illustrations. Although Mrs. Kirby may seem a little frightening at first, kids will finish the book with a changed heart.

How to Win a Monster Race by Caryl Hart and Ed Eaves

How to Win a Monster Race book coverWhen Albie’s trip to the car wash turns into joining in on a car race with monsters, there’s loads of excitement! This is a fast paced and silly story that manages to sneak in a lesson on teamwork too. The brightly coloured, furry looking monsters in this book are more cuddly looking than scary.

Monster Trouble by Lane Fredrickson and illustrations by Michael Robertson

Monster Trouble book coverBrave Winifred Schnitzel tries every night to get rid of the monsters that visit. Not because she is scared, but because they keep her awake. Winifred comes up with several clever ideas to chase off the monsters until she comes across the secret to getting rid of them and getting a good nights rest!

What are your favourite monster books for children?

 

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Teal Pumpkin Project

Teal Pumpkin Project Image
The TEAL PUMPKIN PROJECT and the Teal Pumpkin Image are trademarks of Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE).

This year I am participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project. This means that I’ll be offering non-candy treats to trick or treaters to support children with food allergies. Children who have an allergy to something like peanuts or milk, commonly found in many chocolates and candy given out at Halloween, will have to miss out on enjoying many of the treats they collect on Halloween night.

By participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project and offering non-candy treats, kids with food allergies or intolerance (or kids who choose not to eat a lot of sweets!) can still get some great treats on Halloween.

Teal Pumpkin surrounded by non-candy treats

I bought a mini pumpkin and painted it. You can paint a mini or regular size real pumpkin, buy a plastic pumpkin and paint it (although some stores are now selling teal pumpkins!) or carve it first then paint it. I think next year I’ll buy a craft pumpkin and paint it because it took a lot of layers of paint to cover the orange. I’ll also be putting up a sign that explains that non-candy treats are available. You can get your own sign on the Food Allergy Research and Education website here.

Some options or non-candy treats to give out are:

  • Glow sticks/bracelets/necklaces
  • Plastic vampire teeth
  • Halloween pens, pencils or erasers
  • Mini Notebooks
  • Stickers
  • Temporary tattoos
  • Or pretty much anything in the party aisle at the dollar store- bouncy balls, noisemakers, mini toys.

For more information on the Teal Pumpkin Project, please visit their website.

What did you give out for Halloween this year?

DIY Pumpkin Popper Party Favours

Orange Balloon Party FavorI made these party favours for Thanksgiving this year, but they would work for Fall birthdays or Halloween too. They would make perfect jack o’lanterns with faces drawn on them with a black Sharpie!

Pumpkin Popper Party Favor Materials

We only had adults this year at Thanksgiving so I had a hard time thinking of things that adults would enjoy that would fit into a balloon. I put in a paper hat, a lotto ticket rolled up and a pair of googly eye magnets in each balloon. If you are making these party favors for children there’s so many different things that would be easy to add:

  • Stickers
  • Small wrapped candies and gum
  • Temporary tattoos
  • Glow stick
  • Magic Grow capsules (as long as the kids know they aren’t for eating!)
  • Themed pens or pencils
  • Shaped erasers
  • Costume jewelry
  • Small toys (Shopkins would be perfect for this!)
  • Lip gloss

How to fill the pumpkin poppers party favoursThe trick to getting your items into the balloon is to stretch the opening of the balloon, and have it held open while you put in your treats. To do this I cut a plastic bottle into a funnel. Try finding a bottle with a mouth that is as wide as possible, it will make putting in the treats easier. I used a Boost bottle.

Finished pumpkin popper party favourAfter I had slid everything inside I blew up the balloon. It take a bit of practice, especially if you’ve added things that are a bit longer, like the rolled up lotto tickets or pens/pencils. irst shake everything down into the bottom of the balloon as much as possible, then pull the neck of the balloon to lengthen it. After blowing it up, tie off the end. I added green curling ribbon to make it look like vines on the pumpkin.

Pumpkin popper party favours set out on tableHere are the finished Pumpkin Popper party favours! They’re easy to customize, you can easily change up the treats for different occasions, themes or ages.

If you don’t want to pop them open (especially if you have younger guests who may be afraid of the noise of popping balloons) you can hold the neck of the balloon with one hand and cut a small snip into it with scissors. This will let all the air out, and then you can cut the top off to get the goodies that are inside!

What items would you add if you were making these party favours?

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Best Halloween Costumes for Siblings

Best Halloween Costumes for SiblingsI love when children dress up in a costume that complements their siblings costumes, it’s so cute to see a pair of children or a group of children in costumes that go together!

Milk and cookies costume for children

For twins or pairs of siblings there are lots of choices for Halloween costumes. Anything that comes in a pair would make a great Halloween costume for two children, such as milk and cookies, salt and pepper or peanut butter and jelly. Pop culture gives lots of options for Halloween costumes for pairs too. A duo of siblings would look great as Waldo and Wenda from Where’s Waldo?, Mickey and Minnie, Mario and Luigi, Mario and Princess Peach or dress up as Pikachu and Ash (probably pretty popular this year!)

Pacman ghosts Halloween costume

There are also lots of ideas for Halloween costumes for groups of three or more. They could dress up as pieces of Lego, a group of Minions, crayons, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. How about this fun Pacman and ghosts group costume?.

If you’re dressing up three or more children, or your kids are going with friends and are working on their Halloween costumes separately, picking a theme and letting everyone choose their own Halloween costume within the theme is fun. You could choose under the ocean, with the kids dressing up as fish, a shark, or a mermaid. Or how about fruit salad, with every child picking their favourite fruit? There are so many themes to choose from: favourite candy, weather, favourite book characters, solar system, flowers, animals, monsters.

Do your kids or friends prefer dressing up in separate Halloween costumes or organizing their Halloween costumes as a group?

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Foaming Frankenstein Heads: Fun Halloween Science Experiment

Reactions Science Experiment for Kids

A friend gifted me with a set of these fun Frankenstein head containers and I knew I needed to use them for a science experiment of some kind. They came from the dollar store so they should be pretty easy to find if you want the same or similar containers.

Ingredients for foaming Frankenstein experiment: Frankenstein container, baking soda, vinegar and food dye.For this experiment you will need baking soda (not baking powder!) and vinegar. Adding food colouring is fun but optional if you don’t have any, it won’t affect the reaction. I used about half a cup of vinegar, and added it to the container first, then mixed in a few drops of food dye. After it was mixed together I added in a heaping tablespoon of baking soda. If you are using a larger container, or just want a foamier reaction you could add in some dish washing soap too.

If you are doing this science experiment with younger children you can talk about the ingredients and ask them to predict what will happened when you mix the ingredients together. For older children you could have them repeat the experiment a few times, having them use a different set up each time. Have them try using a larger amount of vinegar with a smaller amount of baking soda, food dye versus no food dye, adding dish soap in, or have them come up with their own hypothesis to try out.

Baking soda and vinegar creating foam coming out of Frankenstein's headThe reaction happened quickly after adding in the baking soda!

Frankenstein head with foaming reactionIt was very difficult to get a photo of the reaction! I redid the experiment and made a video of the reaction, using a screenshot of the video for this photo. If you’re doing this experiment with older children, you could have one child act as the recorder, using photos, filming, notes or a combination.

Big reaction- Frankenstein head covered in foamI love this photo, such a fun picture of Frankenstein’s eye peeking out from the vinegar and baking soda reaction.

End of Foaming Frankenstein head reactionThe foam quickly fizzled back into liquid. Next time I try this, I’ll add some liquid dish soap in as well and see if it makes the reaction last longer.

Have you tried this? What’s your favourite science experiment or activity to do using baking soda and vinegar?

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Monster Slime Sensory Bag

Monster Eyes Sensory Bag

I love October! Halloween has always been one of my favourite holidays and when October hits I start looking at everything through a Halloween coloured lens. So when I saw these fun coloured googly eyes at the dollar store my first thought was that they look like monster eyes. I decided to create a monster eye sensory bag with them.

Ingredients for monster slime: hair gel, ziploc bag and googly eyes.

The ingredients you will need to create a monster eyes sensory bin is a ziploc bag, googly eyes, hair gel and tape. The cheapest hair gel I found was blue but if you have clear hair gel you can add food colouring or liquid water colours for colour.

Layering the hair gel and googly eyes in the ziploc bag.

I found that it was easiest to put in small amounts of the ingredients at a time, and to layer them to make it easier to mix them up. Once the bag is sealed you can have the kids help you mix the googly eyes into the hair gel by squeezing the bag with their hands.

Finished bag of monster slime

This is what the finished monster eyes sensory bag looked like once it was finished. You may want to tape the sensory bag shut with packing tape or duct tape, especially if you have younger children or extra curious children.

Monster slime sensory bag against sunlit window.

After squishing, squeezing and poking the sensory bag, we taped it to the window to see what it would look like. The monster eyes sensory bag would also be fun to use on top of a light box if you have one, but the window allowed light to come through the hair gel, making it “look like we were under water”.

Monster eyes sensory bag is a quick, cheap and easy way to explore texture and a fun open ended activity sensory activity as an alternative to a water or sand bin.

Have you made a similar sensory bag? Tell me in the comments!

 

 

 

 

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Happy Thanksgiving

Here’s a round up of some of my favourite things for Thanksgiving.

baby boys first thanksgiving outfit baby boys first thanksgiving shirt my first thanksgiving outfit boys first turkey day shirt outfit
My First Thanksgiving outfit via The Little Queen Bee on Etsy. Such a cute way to celebrate your baby’s first Thanksgiving!

A Thankful String via Parenting. This craft makes a pretty Thanksgiving decoration but also gets everyone thinking on what makes each of them thankful.

Thanksgiving Bingo Game! Includes 12 game cards, calling cards, and call sheet. Instant Digital DownloadThanksgiving Bingo via Lilacs and Charcoal on Etsy. This would make a great way to keep the kids entertained while the meal is being cooked.

Franklin's Thanksgiving

Franklin’s Thanksgiving by Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark. A classic children’s book about Thanksgiving.

Kids Thanksgiving Shirt Toddler Girl Thanksgiving Outfit Thankful Shirt Thanksgiving Clothes for Kids Children's Thanksgiving Shirt 009

Love this simple but sweet Thanksgiving kids shirt via Bump and Beyond Designs on Etsy.

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Thanksgiving on Thursday by Mary Pope Osborne. Part of the Magic Treehouse series, a great Thanksgiving book for middle grade readers.

Pine cone turkey decoration via Parenting. Have the kids go for a walk to find some pine cones and turn them into decorations for the dinner table later in the day.

 

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Best Board Books for Fall

 

Exposure to words and books help a toddler’s pre literacy skills grow. However, every parent and caregiver knows the frustration of having books ripped apart by curious hands soon ater they have been bought! Luckily more and more baby and toddler appropriate books are being published in board book format. It used to be fairly difficult to find good board books but now you can find board books in a wide range of topics. Here’s some of the best baby and toddler board books for Fall or Autumn.

Baby Loves Fall book by Karen Katz

Baby Loves Fall by Karen Katz. This book is a lift the flap book, which helps gets kids interested in the story and stay engaged while being read to. It also gives them something to explore while interacting with the book on their own.

 

Mouse's First Fall board book by Lauren Thompson

Mouse’s First Fall by Lauren Thompson. Perfect for fans of the other Mose books, this book is a fun introduction to the Fall season.

In My Path board book by Sara Gillingham

In My Patch by Sara Gillingham. This book is one of my favourites. It has die cut pages that give multiple layers to the book and really add to the illustrations. The mouse in the middle is also a finger puppet that you can use to help tell the story to your little one.

Fall toch and feel book by Roger Priddy

Fall by Roger Priddy. This book is a touch and feel book, which adds extra interest to the story and is a fun way to encourage a child to explore books.

 

Pumpkin Soup board book by Helen Cooper

Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper. This is one of my favourite books about Fall in board book or picture book form. Actually it’s probably one of my favourite children’s books in general. The story is beautifully written and the illustrations are so cozy that you wish you were hanging out in the little house with the cat and the squirrel and the duck. I’m so pleased that it comes in board book form because it means I can share it with younger children without worry about ripped or missing pages. Definitely a book to buy for your toddler, preschooler or school age child!