Maine: Lighthouses

Our final Maine book, and our second lighthouse one was a fun true story of one girl keeping the lighthouse lit through a terrible storm, and encouraging her sick mother and her two sisters while waiting for their Dad to return with more supplies.
<a href=””> Widgets</a>

After reading the story, I gave them a bit of specific direction on how to draw a lighthouse.  We carefully drew out our pictures, and since I had rushed out of the house that day we didn’t have the watercolors to make it look dark and stormy.  But, they did enjoy drawing and coloring the lighthouses.

The instructions came to draw it came from Art Projects for Kids Lighthouse lesson

I loved how varied their results were:
I found Superman’s especially interesting because he had a definite plan in mind for his lighthouse, and after a while I realized he was trying to make one like in the book for the pattern.

Illinois: Hog Music

I must say the children’s librarian at our library orders some of the best books.  They may not have the most obvious way to do an art project or writing project connected to it, but the stories are wonderful.
<a href=””> Widgets</a>
A little girl and her family move out West to Illinois.  Her aunt refuses to move out there because there’s nothing out there but “wind and hog music.”  The aunt sends a small present out to her niece, but along the way it falls out of the mail wagon.  This is the story of how the present got there and what was added along the way.

Which of course led to the question, what would you pack to send as a birthday present to someone far away, and what would you have added in to the package you found?

Well as we snacked on our popcorn (you’ll see in a few weeks about that).

We talked about what would we give her and what would we add into a present that was about the size of a shoe box if we were able to do so.

Can you guess what the boys added?
Surprisingly it wasn’t just weapons, but there were quite a few as you would expect from a group of mostly boys who all love Lego Ninjago.  My boys also added stuffed animals.  Lots of stuffed animals, and a few weapons, and food.  They had popcorn on their mind.

Meanwhile Princess happily colored away and drew ribbons and dresses and dolls for her imagined friend who was getting all of this packed up in a shoe box.

As I was thinking about this, it would be a good planning project for Operation Christmas Child.

The printable we used can be found here: Hog Music printable.

I’m gonna link up to these fun parties:
learning laboratory at mama smilesShibley Smiles

Mississippi: Mike Fink

I had all of these grand plans with Mike Fink.   Mike Fink is a tall tale from Mississippi. He’s braggart and a brawler and a brat. Hey look, alliteration.
I created this nice cute printable for what Mike Fink fought, and brought over all sorts of paper for them to create what he was going to fight, told them “USE YOUR IMAGINATION!”
<a href=””><img style=”background-image: none; border-right-width: 0px; padding-left: 0px; padding-right: 0px; display: inline; float: left; border-top-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; border-left-width: 0px; padding-top: 0px” title=”007″ border=”0″ alt=”007″ align=”left” src=”″ width=”390″ height=”294″></a>

And the grabbed the colored pencils.

And they drew alligators, and dragons.  And more alligators.

And no one grabbed any of the paper and made fabulous creations.

They drew pictures.

But they did tell fabulous stories about them.

Mike Fink found the dragon and it was eating a town.  He grabbed his bow and arrows and shot it as fast as he could.  Then he ran and jumped on it.

Some days you just need to go with the simple.

Indiana: A Place Called Freedom Widgets


This is one of those books that left us adults with almost as many questions as the kids.  It’s a story of a family of slaves who are set free.  They travel North to Indiana, as time passes the father goes back down several times to get more of their family, aunts, uncles, cousins, and eventually a town is founded there.


014It’s got an almost lyrical quality in the writing, and we all really enjoyed it.  The adults were left wondering did he go down and help them escape to freedom, or did he slowly buy their freedom?


Either way, it’s a good book.  In the end, they name the new town they’ve created “Freedom,” so of course we had to draw our own idea of FREEDOM.




We tried to mimic the illustration style of the book, which looked to me to be a fun combination of watercolors and colored pencil.  I wasn’t quite sure if it was watercolor pencils, it seemed slightly different.


This is Princess before spilling the entire cup of water on herself……  Sigh…..  She got to spend the rest of the time in a swim suit.



I love Superman’s expression in this picture.  The picture next to his is Batman’s illustration, he apparently had trains on his mind, or was remembering the scene in the book with trains.  The bottom right is Princess’, I think those are flowers, but aren’t they pretty?


Shibley Smiles

Indiana: Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy

Did you know these cute dolls were first made in Indiana?  I didn’t either until I started looking up facts on the state.

That of course requires reading one of their stories.  This particular one is the story of how they found their friend who had been stolen and rescue her from pirates.  Very saccharine sweet. Widgets


My kids didn’t quite think this was a requirement, they wanted to get to the craft project.



Not that you can tell from Princess’ sour face.  She was not in a good mood that day.


I found a paper doll template on Kidley, I think it was one of the first blogs I discovered, and sadly it’s not writing anymore.

Then I turned them loose with a box of crayons, colored pencils, scissors, glue, and a box of scrapbook paper.  Their only instruction was to make a boy doll and a girl doll, an unpopular instruction with everyone.


And here’s what I got:


I love the look on the boy’s face in the top picture, that really is his personality.  My kids never gave me a chance to get a picture of them with their pictures.  I love the variety, from the all colored to the some colored some paper.  All of them were unique.


The bottom right corner is one of my boys’ pictures.  I’d guess Superman from the one guy being all blue.

Shibley Smiles

Indiana: The Floating House Widgets


You hear a lot about people going West in a Covered Wagon.  You don’t really hear as much about them going West other ways.  This book was a great example of another way.  This family floated West on a house boat.


“A house boat?” you say.  Yes, and there are dangers I didn’t think about connected with a house boat.


After reading this I decided it’d be fun to make our own house boat.  Two fun and easy ways to do this would have been using a milk carton or juice boxes.


I thought of this pretty much 10:00 the night before, and I don’t have 10 boxes saved to use right now.  I have a lot of egg cartons….. Not so useful for this.




I used my Silhouette to cut out some boxes, if you don’t have something to cut them for you, here’s a template I found that will do that.


I then set them to coloring boxes with crayons to decorate their boats.

And then they colored a peg doll for their person in the boat.  Simple, fun, and sadly not waterproof.


I emphasized that several times.



Isn’t he cute?

Treasure Island

We were at Half Price Books a few weeks ago and the kids found this: Widgets


They love it!  No, seriously, they love all of the flaps and things to pull out.  I can’t blame them, I love things like that too.  I have a small arsenal of books like that, Romans, Fairies, more fairies, mythology, etc……

make a treasure map


So, we decided to make our own treasure maps, and in honor of trying to pare down on craft supplies and because it’s so much cooler this way we drew them on canvas.




So, they happily spent a while coloring their own treasure maps.  I think crayon on canvas look very cool.  Afterwards I took it upstairs to set the crayon in the canvas, which the kids could just as easily have done without.


They spent the rest of the afternoon happily wandering around finding treasures galore.  Added bonus, you could let them put their treasures in their box from earlier this week.

learning laboratory at mama smilesabc button Shibley Smiles

stART: Irving and Muktuk

You had to know with my kids’ rave reviews of this series that we’d do a stART project, and we did.


And, it’s related to New Jersey.  While I was busy doing my research of New Jersey, which I’ll admit most of my knowledge prior to this was: 1.  It’s called the Garden State, and 2.  Everyone jokes that it’s not kinda scuzzy.  Since my main memories of it are pretty much driving on a toll road, while traveling through, and that over 20 years ago.  I can’t really comment much.


Oh wait, before I start my synopsis let me come back up here and finish my thought (this would be where Jeff would say, “Finish your sentence,” as I’d stopped in mid-sentence and completely started something different).


See New Jersey is the blueberry muffin capital of the United States, or something along those lines.


Synopsis: Irving and Muktuk are two bears who love blueberry muffins.  They keep trying to trick the town into giving them all of their blueberry muffins, and the local sheriff keeps catching them.



After reading them the story they were each given a peg doll to color as either Irving or Muktuk and how he was going to trick them into giving them a blueberry muffin.




Here’s Superman’s.  Superman’s is a soldier.  His soldier will order them to give him the muffins.


Princess’ bear morphed into whatever disguise the most person said theirs was.  It was really rather amusing…….

Now click the button and go see some other awesome projects:

Preschool Corner: What to do with those sticker books Widgets


When I mentioned to my lovely contact over at Zonderkidz that we were studying Pennsylvania, she said we should read some of their most famous exports, the Berenstain Bears.


Well, what could I say but, HECK YEAH!  My kids love these books.  The instant I opened the box they disappeared upstairs.

After much searching I found one of them again.  I’m going to assume the other is awesome because seriously, I haven’t been able to recover it form the kiddos.



Summary of book: Sister Bear and her friends enjoy gossiping together, and Sister thinks nothing of it until she hears her friends talking about her.  Then she starts to realize why it’s bad with some judicious help from her family.



This particular book came with about 12 or so stickers in the back with pictures from the book.



So, after reading the book and discussing how gossip makes us feel, I sent the mob of kids off to choose a sticker from the included stickers and put it on the front of the folded booklet.





On the inside (you have to look very carefully, because Superman opted to use only pencil), they drew a picture of another scene from the book.  The older kids had to write what was happening in the sticker they chose.



Final thoughts on the books:  Would I recommend, yes.  I don’t think I’ve found a Berenstain Bears book yet my kids haven’t liked.  I still remember the effects of reading “The Messy Room” book as a kid, so I’m rather partial to them anyways.  I love their books for a non-instrusive way to teach some nice virtues.


Legal stuff: I was given a copy of these books to give my honest opinion.  I did not get any money, and I probably would have have eventually gotten them anyways.  Seriously, we have like 10 or so books at least.

stART: F is for Fireflies Widgets


I received this awesome box full of books to review from Zonderkidz, and this was one of the books.  I chose this because the firefly is the state insect of Pennsylvania, and I thought this would be a fun way to read about them.


And I wasn’t wrong.  It’s very cute.  The book goes through the alphabet picking different summertime activities and relating many of them back to God.


And that was when inspiration struck.  Our geography group has a wide range of kids, Princess being the youngest at 4, and we’ve have two 6th grade girls in the group at the oldest.

Supplies: pastels or crayons (I gave them a box of cheap pastels, which were all too similar to crayons), paper, the book for reference



Each kid got a small square of paper folded in half.  For the older kids on the outside they drew a picture and inside they wrote how that summertime activity made them think about God.


Younger kids drew a picture of a summertime activity and the letter it started with (in theory, when we actually got to the activity mass chaos happened and I don’t think any little guy did the letter writing).


My thoughts on the book:  It’s a great book for mixed age families.  The alphabet part is great for the little guys and the older kids got a bit of theology in the book.


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book to review, I was not paid for it in any way.  The thoughts are my own, bad grammar and all.