Great history books for kids

So, I was emailing with Natalie from Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns about finding good children’s history books.  And I agree they are hard to find, but if you look you can find some good ones.


Of course, it gets easier as the kids get older……  Not too surprising.


I’m just going to highlight some ideas to get you started.


22 I’ve had great luck with the Step Into Reading series.   It comes at many levels, obviously.  The higher the number, the harder it is to read.


When I taught in school I used this book for teaching about Thanksgiving.  It’s at a level that gives good information without being overwhelming.


And some of them are just cute stories (Abe Lincoln’s Hat).




There are a couple of authors that tend to have good books every time, no matter what their topic.  Aliki is one of them, and he (or is it she?  I can’t remember) pretty much always does a good job of explaining on a level most little kids can understand.




Like I said, once you get to about 2nd or 3rd grade it becomes much easier to find good books.  I still have my copy of “Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution” from when I was in school, and I easily read that 20 times.  I found it enthralling the little details she included.  Jean Fritz is a master of writing history books for kids to enjoy (did you know Ben Franklin was carried to the meetings rather like the Egyptian pharaohs because he was too old to be able to ride in a carriage without a lot of pain?).


And again about the third grade level is the Dear America or My America series, there’s a simpler series in the same genre called “My Name is America,” I have most of the Dear America and My America books,  they’re great for particular times in history.  There’s a companion series called “The Royal Diaries,” but I don’t have any of those yet.


And, of course Magic Treehouse, which so many of you have already been writing about has a lot of great history wrapped in it.



Finally, there’s those random ones you find that you got lucky to find and love it.


I found a great copy of the Gettysburg Address one day at Half Price books.  I got this book through a book order.


Usually around the holidays there will be books set up to entice you to buy them.  Great way to stock up your shelves.  Even better, wait for the day after the holiday and get them on clearance for next year.


So, that’s how I’ve found my random cool book finds.  The older your kids gets, the easier it is to find books.  I need to look through my teaching books and reorganize them and find stuff again because I totally didn’t keep up with my stuff, and now it’s all a hodge podge mess.  Kind of.


Head on over to Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns for more great book suggestions.


And two random cute pictures:  (Batman “sleeping” on Daddy)

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I love that fake snore of his, so cute.

Preschool Corner: Daddy’s birthday party

Or, how to get thoroughly soaked while playing in the water and building a dam.

But, I thought that title was probably a little too long.


We met up with some friends for a picnic lunch to celebrate Jeff’s birthday at my favorite park, or one of my two favorite parks.

We got there to discover the playground was closed due to flood damage (and boy was there a lot of it, apparently that little creek rose about 10-15 feet, flooding about 30 yards away from the river and displacing some benches that had been sunk in concrete).011

But, I digress.   The other family’s kids started building a dam and my kids happily helped while trying to figure out such lessons like, how to stop the water.  How big a rock can I carry.

009And the personally most entertaining to me.  Superman’s quest to figure out how he could clean his feet without taking his boots off.

We’d outlawed that after discovering a large amount of broken glass.  We also had to outlaw the picking up of said broken glass, or clutching it tightly in your fist, Princess.  No really, it’s a bad plan.

He solved this problem by scooping up handfuls of water and pouring it into his boots.  He literally sloshed when he walked.  You could see the water splashing out.  But, it was a creative way to solve his problem.


It was interesting to see how older kids effect what my kids try to do.  Previously they hadn’t really shown much interest in building dams or creating a new tributary (as they are trying to do in this picture), but after seeing the other kids try they got very involved in the process.

Princess was inspired by their daughter to search for shells, and discovered a wide variety of fresh water clam shells.  Is it really a clam when it’s a square inch shell?  Probably, but it’s miniscule.

Which of course leads to fun discussions about what you can find in the river, and what is and isn’t a good idea to touch.

026So, all in all, it was  a smashing success of a party.  The parents had a blast talking together, and the kids got to have all sorts of fun sensory experiences and problem solving time.

And any party ending with ice cream is a good one, just ask Batman.

And for my future memory.  Batman is wearing the collared shirt and Iron Man boots.  superman has the non-collared shirt and camo boots (his soldier boots).  And someday I will get to be in pictures.  That’s one thing I dislike about being the photo person.  I’m never in any pictures.  Oh well.  Of course the birthday boy didn’t get to be in too many either.  Note to self, work on group shots and getting pictures of adults.

And thank you very much to Myrnie who pointed out to me that I had mispelled a rather unfortunate word that I used several times……. Sigh, my bad.  Hopefully, I caught all of those mistakes, thanks for emailing me that.

stART: Ten Timid Ghosts


“Ten Timid Ghosts” is about, well…. ten timid ghosts that live in a house, and a mean witch moves in and ‘she wants them out.’


It’s a cute rhyming count down story about how she scares each of the ghosts out, and how they get back at her.


Well after reading it, of course we had to make ghosts.


Supplies: paper, glitter glue, markers, cookie cutters, scissors



1.  Trace around the cookie cutter.  It might help if you hold the cookie cutter for your kid.  I know it helped Princess.


And PS: the bracelet is a reminder to pray for a friend of mine in Afghanistan right now, so prayers are appreciated.




2.  Take your time and cut it out.  Great cutting practice, and there were a few times they tried to give up and have me cut it out, but I insisted and they got it.  Eventually.




3.  Draw a face with markers, or crayons, or what have you.


Poor Superman looks so upset.  I wonder what I did to him.  Apparently yesterday I totally ruined his day by accidentally locking him outside for all of 10 seconds.  He went on and on about it to Aunt Tara who tried very hard to keep a straight face as he explained his horrible depravations.



4.  Start adding the glitter glue and the little decorations.


And if you’re under 10, I’ve learned glitter glue is added in huge piles that are about an inch high.  Apparently the key is to try your best to empty the brand new bottle of glue.  That’s very important.


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And as frequently happens at my house, the kids took this idea and ran with it.  Making about 3 more projects.  Including Batman finally getting to make the bat he’s been wanting to make.

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And there are the finished projects hanging up on the Halloween mural.


I’m not quite sure what we’re going to do with this mural once Halloween is done.


For more great book inspired art head on over to A Mommy’s Adventures.

How to build a fence according to kids

So, not too surprisingly our fence needed repairs after the flood, and so Jeff and I spent an afternoon fixing it while the kids “helped.”

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The boys happily sat there hammering nails into the old sections of fence.  For a while.  Then it progressed.

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Yes, that is my five year old boys with the power drill.  And princess is happily petting one of Mac’s chew toys.

From there it went to building a fort.

With lots of careful instructions to be careful carrying the boards, so there’d be no hitting in the head with boards.

And then a tee pee around their trees (a friend gave us a tree for each child when they were born, so they quite proudly point out “my tree”).

They slowly added in more boards.

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Then they became swords and guns.  And for those who are wondering it’s Batman in the t-shirt.  He’s almost always the one in cowboy boots.

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And then they started building something.  I never quite figured out what it was.

Oh, and please say at some point Princess will outgrow this “it’s dirty” phase of taking off her clothes.  I swear she invents dirt to take off her clothes.

Maybe she thinks we’re nudists.  Except she keeps her underwear on.  Sigh.

** Thanks to Maryanne for pointing out I’d put Batman as both the one in the cowboy boots and the collared shirt, which doesn’t work.

review: Sing, Spell, Read Write

So, I have very mixed feelings on this product.  On the one hand, I do have to agree my kids are really enjoying it, and they seem to be catching on better (we haven’t hit the part where they hit a snag before yet).

But, on the other hand, I have to say their customer service is atrocious.

I ordered the K/1 combo kit, and it comes with a large number of workbooks, lots of games, a CD of the songs, and a treasure box.  It also came with a VCR tape of how to use this curriculum.  Yes, I did say VCR tape.  Really.  No, I’m not kidding.  VCR.

It has a teacher manual for the first grade materials, and a 2 page pamphlet for the kindergarten, and a VCR tape to explain how to teach this.
So, here’s where the problem set in.  I don’t have a VCR, ours broke 3 years ago, and we didn’t replace it.  I managed to borrow a VCR from my brother, and discovered the video is somewhat helpful, but not really.  It’s mainly going through step by step what it says in the 1st grade teacher manual.  Not too helpful, and very self congratulatory.

Also, it’s heavy on consumables.  They’re high quality, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a LOT of workbooks.  For each letter in the K program there are at least 6 or 7 pages.  I’m not sure how many you’re supposed to do a day because it never says, but I’ve simplified it down to 4.  Though, I’m guessing it’s one a day.  Maybe.

Now, as to their customer service.  When I discovered it was  VCR tape, and the scant K teacher manual they had said “watch the video,” I sent an email asking if there was a DVD available, and asking if there was more to the teacher manual somewhere.  It took over a week to get a response back, and it basically said, “No DVD, and look at the first grade manual.”  Not so helpful.

Now, here’s how I made it work for us, because heaven forbid I actually use something the way it was intended to be used.

As I said, I scanned all of the pages for one letter and put them into a word document and then I’ve simplified it down so they all print onto 2 pages.

For the cut and paste part, I have them glue it into a spiral notebook, and write the letter for the day again.

I will say this, for all of my frustration with the way it’s set up so far.  They really like it.  I don’t get complaints about sitting down to work on it, and they enjoy the different ways they present it.


They love to play the games.  I’ve glance through the readers, and I think they’ll love those too.  They’re bright and colorful and not too many words per page.


And, it seems to be working.  We’re not to the point of trying to read yet, but I see progress with all of them.  They’re handwriting is getting much better and it’s in amounts they can do at one time.

Would I buy it again?  Yes, though I probably would just get the 1st grade kit rather than the combo.  At which point I would buy multiple copies of the workbooks because those actually use all of the page.  Overall, mixed feelings on the whole thing.  UPDATE:  As we got further into the year the stories became too long for my kids and I had to quit using it.  There was too much frustration.

Disclosure: I bought  this, I was not given a copy to review, I’m just sharing my opinion for others to know what I think and help them make decisions.

More cute Mac pictures……

Ummm…….  because he is so unbelievably cute.

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Seriously.  Tara came over for an evening and left convinced she wanted to get a puppy.


And she’s a cat person.


What’s not to like about two pounds of fur?


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How on earth am I going to get any schooling done with this kind of competition?


I mean really, he’s way too cute and fun to play with.




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And poor guy had a horrid accident that resulted in his needing a bath, so he got his first bath last week.  Or first with us.  He didn’t really like it.  I’m betting when the kids start to help us, it won’t get any better.


Oh, and I’d also like to introduce a new group I’ve joined, Growing Tree Toys, I’ve joined their blog network and will get to host giveaways and reviews from them occasionally.  And right now they’ve got a Create-A-Wish List contest going on, where you can get your wish list fulfilled.  It’s very hard to do it with 3 little kids shouting “Oh! I want that!”  But, they’ve got a great selection of educational toys.And we now return you to your regularly scheduled posts……..

Science Sunday: Dogs


Sooooo……….  I’ll warn you right now, this post is not for the squeamish, or easily grossed out.  But, here are the uncensored things the kids have observed about Mac this week.
where he goes

That hole in his back is where he goes poop.  When his poop comes out it is soft.  But, if you leave it for a while it gets hard and black like a rock.
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This is where Mac goes potty.  He goes potty a lot.  He is a boy, at which point the boys were all set to go on about that, but I’ll spare you that particular detail.


He chews on stuff a lot, and we need to keep our shoes in a box so he won’t chew on them.  He likes to chew on our toys.

He likes to bite.021

He doesn’t know how to walk on a leash yet, and we have a lot of lessons to teach both puppy and kids.  He also doesn’t know how to come or sit.

He sleeps a lot.  He needs to nap a lot.  Why does he sleep so much Mommy?

So, any of you have something you learned from a new life experience?  Wow does that sound technical.