What we’ve been reading: The Very Ugly Duckling Dinosaur

We got this book ages ago from the publisher, and I had meant to do an activity with it because it retells one of my favorite fairy tales (and yes I say that about almost all of them), but summer came and we got distracted.  And then I found it again!  Bingo, fun new activity.
So, we happily curled up and read it together and then I  gave them a piece of construction paper with an egg drawn on it, and a blank piece of construction paper.  Their job was to draw what hatched in their egg and the strange family the egg hatched to.  I told them they couldn’t do a T-Rex or duck family, and it had to be something that hatched from an egg.

While they were busily drawing and coloring away I gave reading lessons to each kid.  Then I saw the finished results:

Batman, who is currently obsessed with all things Halloween drew a spider hatching from his egg.  The spider then went to a ghost family and there they had MANY wonderful adventures.  Too many for me to tell you in this small space, partially because after the twentieth adventure my eyes glazed over and I lost track.

Superman, who is also obsessed with Halloween (I just got another question of when he can put Halloween decorations up again), had lots of eggs hatching.  The big one was a bird, who is now in the tree, and he was raised by a family of penguins.  One of the penguins died and the bird ate a tombstone, so now there’s a ghost.  And the bird ate the smaller eggs which were spiders.

Princess, who is “scared of Halloween” and can produce a very dramatic scream at the mention of it, had a family of horses who raised a bird (I think, that or a butterfly).  They are all girls.  You can tell because they have very long eyelashes.
I’d explain more about her picture, but she’s asleep as I write this, and I’m not about to wake her.  She desperately needs this sleep, even if it is almost 10:00…….

My comments on the book:  It’s very cute, and I loved the different ways the “ugly duckling” tried to fit in with people, and he looked so pitiful trying to fit in.  I’d highly recommend buying this book or checking it out from the library.

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DISCLOSURE: I received a copy of this book for review.  That was all the pay I got.  I’m sure we would have eventually read this book when we saw it anyways.

Science Sunday: New Jersey dinosaur dig

In researching the state of New Jersey I found out it was the site of the first nearly complete dinosaur skeleton, it was just missing a skull.

Haddonfield, New Jersey was the site of the dig, and so that is how the hadrosaurus was named.  I was all excited and was going to make that our animal for New Jersey, but apparently we don’t know all that much about it.  Mainly because there is no skull found for one, which is leading to a lot of theories that this may not be a separate species.  Now, the state of New Jersey is not going along with that theory.

So, in honor of this being the site of the first dinosaur dig I decided to have our own dinosaur dig, you know with 11 kids crowded around my dining room table.  I searched my Evernote to find ideas, and all of them took a lot more time to prepare (because of course I decided to do this the night before).


Finally, success!  I had clipped a blog post by Monkeyin’ Around that was perfect (scroll about halfway down to find the idea).


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When they all got there we first read “Digging Up Dinosaurs,” which I knew from past experience would be perfect for this.  As a caveat it does say millions and millions of years ago and all of the other evolutionary stuff, but I just said, “A long time ago,” (in a galaxy far far away).


Each kid got a small tub filled with rice and a pasta shell, about 10-15 penne pasta, 4 macaroni noodles, and 10-15 orzo noodles.


Their job was to dig through the pasta and put together a dinosaur skeleton.


Let me just say this activity was a HIT with all of the kids from the 11 year old girl to my 4 year.



All of the kids asked to take home their rice and pasta mixture, so I gave them bags to put it in.


I will warn you this does require sweeping up afterwards or a good vacuum.  If I’d planned better I would have used bigger tubs and less rice, but I didn’t think ahead super well, and these were the size tubs we had.


So, not a perfect project, but really fun.

review: How to Raise a Dinosaur


Here’s what the back of the book says:

Just about every youngster at one point or another desperately wants a pet. Little do people know that just like cats, dogs, and hamsters, dinosaurs make great pets, too! How to Raise a Dinosaur is a unique novelty book complete with a die-cut jacket, dino-bites, sturdy cardstock pages, and lift-the-flaps on every spread! Perfect for any dinosaur lover, it also serves as a way for children to understand the importance of caring for a pet.


Now, here’s what I thought:


It’s really cute, I was amused at how many parallels there are to owning a dog and raising one.  I’ll be interested to see if my kids picked up any pointers from this book about owning a pet………


I loved the different flaps it had, that added a fun dimension to the book that my kids really enjoyed and fought over who got to lift the flap.


I noticed the random pages that had bites taken out of them, my kids noticed the funny illustrations.


And, who wouldn’t want to get the book after seeing this promo?

And for those who are interested the author is running a competition to see you and your pet dinosaur with her book.  Jump on over here to see the rules.  I already had plans to make some cute dinosaur pets because of this book, and now I have even more incentive.


Okay, I didn’t really need incentive, I just needed time and kids.  Mine are currently with Nana and Granddad.


That’s right, I’m footloose and fancy free this week with no kids, and a brand new puppy.  Until we go get said kids later this week.


If you want to buy the super funny book, and yes you have to love a book that tells you to be careful or your pet will eat you.  Click on the picture of the cover at the top of the post.


And stay tuned to see some fun dinosaur crafts in a couple of weeks once kids are back.

Science Sunday: Dinosuar Digging

We are lucky enough to be able to do this activity writ large, but if you’re not lucky enough to have a dinosaur park nearby here’s how you can do this:

Find a sand box, bury some dinosaurs in the sand. And have fun digging them up. You can talk about how the dinosaur scientists dig for a long time to find any dinosaur bones and they have to be very careful with them because they are VERY breakable.


Here in Austin there was a discovery a few years ago of dinosaur footprints in the area. Since then a couple of the local playgrounds have created a dinosaur dig for the kids to try their hand at being paleontologists. This one is the Austin Science and Nature Center. Great place to do nature studies if you’re ever in the area.


We also compared the size of dinosaur bones to our bones. Notice this dinosaur’s ribcage is bigger than my kids. They get a huge kick out of this every time we go.


After digging up dinosaurs we went over and checked out the various animals they are trying to rehabilitate here. Most of the animals on exhibit are not able to go back into the wild because of an injury, or they’ve been too humanized (not the right word, but it’s what I’m thinking of now).


We then had to check out the birds and it’s always fun to look for the birds in their cages because they’re good at hiding.

As a side note, for those of you who do believe in evolution, you could use this as a chance to draw similarities and see if you can see an evolutionary path, for those who believe in Creationism this is a great chance to talk about how God created such a wonderful world where so many things are interconnected.


And we end the trip by wading in the water and getting the worst of the dirt off.

Over all, this was a very fun way to talk about dinosaur scientists. A great book to go with this field trip is Aliki’s Digging Up Dinosaurs. It’s a little on the high end for pre-schoolers, but it has all the stuff they’re interested in.

Here are some other great dinosaur resources that I forgot to put on my preschool week last week, and I wanted to put them up now, because I know a bunch of you are talking about dinosaur units:

Orange Juice– fun ideas of many different activities, she’s where I first saw the dinosaur dig in a sand box.

Confessions of a Homeschooler– lots of great printouts and games you can make that focus on math and alphabet sklls

1+1+1=1– her dinosaur Tot Pack, has some fun ideas, and I used one as my basis for the open-ended art

Preschool Finger Plays– lots of really fun preschool plays to choose from

Our Homeschool Fun– cute dinosaur puppet, I wish I had enough boxes to make it

Our Homeschool Fun– make dinosaur fossils. I really wanted to do this, I guess I still have some cool ideas for when we study dinosaurs again.

Harris Family– some fun game ideas, including a feed the dinosaur game, I didn’t get the carton I wanted to use empty in time to make a dinosaur, but I’m sure I can think of somethign else

No Time for Flashcards– fun stegosaur dinosaur craft

Our Crafts-N-Things– make a dinosaur skeleton out of popsicle sticks

4 Crazy Kings– another way to make a dinosaur fossil, this one with coffee grounds

That’s most of my ideas, I’m actually fighting a flu bug, so I’m off to take a nice HOT bath!

For more information on what Science Sunday is go here.

What we love to read this past week or so

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Okay, to make sure I actually get this post written this week I am writing it first. HA!

As you can see we’ve started studying DINOSAURS! Or as my kids say “SAURS!”

Quick side note, I tend to heavily edit dinosaur books when I read them to my kids for a couple of reasons. 1. I find it rather annoying when a “fact book” puts in a lot of theory and doesn’t say it’s theory, we don’t know why dinosaurs disappeared, and it’s hard for my kids to grasp that the five different pet theories presented in the different books aren’t fact. 2. I don’t believe in evolution so I don’t tend to say “millions and millions of years ago,” I just say a long time ago.

Did I mention my pet peeve of stating theory as fact, really, we don’t know that this dinosaur was a good Mommy, we have a few bones, and not even a complete skeleton.

Okay, off my soap box. Hopefully…….

How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night– I LOVE this book, my kids love this book, and I love watching my kids as I read this book. I’m hoping to film them acting it out. It’s the most hilarious thing you’ve ever seen. There are lots and lots in this series. I have the four from a few years ago when this was the Kohls Cares for Kids books. So, we know how a dinosuar does at a doctor and how they eat. The others haven’t ever come up to the original for me. But, my kids don’t suffer from many of the problmes listed, if anything the books give them bad ideas.

Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs– This is a little simple for my kids. They liked it okay, but there was no great inspiration from them on this one.

Oh Say Can You Say Di-no-saur– Dr. Seuss actually works (technically it’s not written by him, since it was published after his death, but it’s using his characters and his style) works really well with dinosuars. He’s hard to read sometimes because of his tongue twisters, and I find dinosaur names impossible to pronounce often.

Dinosaur Dinner– This met with mixed reviews from my kids. Batman and Princess loved it because they’ve decided they like plant eaters. In particular Batman likes brachiosaurus (who used to be called Brontosaurus before we discovered the wrong head was put on it, much like Pluto used to be a planet, but is now a planetoid). Superman didn’t like that T-Rex is almost not mentioned at all, and there aren’t a lot of meat eaters.

Donkey Dreams– This is a Christmas book. Why is it in here now, when I try so hard not to read books out of season? Because someone got into my Christmas books and got it out. I got asked to read this a couple of times in a row. I love the illustrations for this book, and the kids love seeing what the donkey dreams he’s carrying, and then seeing the baby Jesus at the end.

Scooby Doo Shiny Spooky Knights– This is one of our most used Tag books, according to the reports I get from Leap Frog my kids have spent over 10 hours reading this book. They’re Scooby Doo fans, in case you can’t tell. There is a non-Tag version of this I found out when I was creating this post, and I do like this as one of the better Scooby Doo books. So, if you have a Scooby Doo fan hunt this one down.

Oh, and one last one that I couldn’t put in the carousel because it doesn’t have a picture:

Dinosuars Those Terrible Lizards– This was my book as a kid, which of course makes it magically interesting to my kids. It’s really geared for a slightly older age range, so I do a lot of summarizing and editing, because they don’t want/need a thesis on the merits of stegosaurus. Here’s why I love this book, it’s written from a Creationist view point, but it does include the other side, so it does say here’s what Evolution is and here’s their thoughts on why the dinosaurs are gone. Obviously it does support creation, but it doens’t completely ignore other viewpoints.

So, that’s what we read this week, go see what everyone else is reading at Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns.

Preschool: Dinosaurs week 1




We continued to work on blending. I’ve been using two sets of the Fridge Magnet, and every now and then get tempted to buy the lower case letters set. But then I rmeember, I have a felt board letters, and wooden letters to go with our See and Spell puzzle, and then there’s the letters I cut out and laminated from a workbook. So, I realize I really don’t need to buy more letters. That would be a want.

I’ve been alternating with having them form the words out of the letters I give them, and I form the words and they read (in reality guess, but it’s progress, because the guesses get better).


We read the poem 5 crazy dinosaurs from here (there’s about 10 other ones to choose from):

5 crazy Dinosaurs sweeping the floor
1 got swept away, then there were four
4 crazy Dinosaurs chased by a bee,
1 got stung, then there were 3
3 crazy Dinosaurs playing with glue,
1 got stuck, then there were 2
2 crazy Dinosaurs out for a run
1 fell down, then there was 1
1 crazy Dinosaur acting like a hero
He went out to save the others, then there were zero

Ideas to go with this poem: find all of the numbers, look for letters, act it out (we used the felt board for this, and each kid got to take turns taking a dinsoaur off, I had to assign who got to be the last dinosaur because they all wanted to be the hero)



We used these flannel dinosaurs a lot this week. It made for great visual math problems. Counting the dinosaurs, comparing which group had more, are there more plant eaters or more meat eaters?


Again with the dinosaur felt set we did many different activities, to see more go here.



We made cookies because we saw them in a story. And yes she is licking the beater. I know it’s not good for you, but I did it as a kid and survived just fine. (Yes, this is called rationalization).


This isn’t really any skill, I just have a funny story. So, next to my computer is the printer/fax/scanner machine we have. The fax portion is just annoying because it has a phone and the kids love to come up pick up the phone and yell as loud as they can, “Hello, hello?” Then not really hang it up, and run off. It gets really old.


This was Uncle Sean’s shirt as a boy. Uncle Sean wore it all the time during the summer, and he had a black hair net and pretend glasses that he would put on when he was pretending to be Clark Kent. As you can see I come by my pack rat tendencies honestly, because this has been in my Mom’s house for 20 years…..


The silly boy fell asleep right under my feet, while I watched SYTYCD with a friend. He slept through the entire show, and his brother climbing over him to get into my lap.


Oh, and we went to the Rennaissance Festival here in Texas. To read more about that, and how much I LOVE it, follow the link.

I hope everyone else had fun weeks. It’s amazing to me each week, how I start off thinking we didn’t really do all that much, and then I sit down and see all we’ve done.

Open Ended Art: Matisse


I ended up deciding after the fact that the activity wasn’t super open-ended, besides my kids do better open ended when left completely to themselves.

Here’s the intended activity, vaguely inspired by a page from Carisa’s dino pack.

Batman, who after the fact went back to his desk and glued in his “Space Guy awards” (from his Tag reader, they’ve discovered they get awards, so now this is the latest excuse not to go to bed).

Oh, here’s the story that goes with Batman’s: “It’s a space guy fighting a ‘saur, and the space guy has a light saber.” Everything he does now has to have a space guy with a light saber.

Superman actually made a dinosaur, and then needed a crayon to draw a mouth.

And Princess did a multi-layered collage. After she was “done” she added the coloring book page, and some other stuff I can’t quite figure out what it is.

But, here’s what they do all by themselves


This is Batman’s rendidtion of “Space Guy Stickers”

Princess’s random stampings.

Batman’s random stampings.

So, that’s our open-ended art for the week. Sadly I couldn’t find ANY books on Matisse in our local library, so for my kids this was more of an experience with collages than anything else.

I’m hoping I can find a book on future featured artists, I’m really excited about this idea, because I love the idea of studying artists.

Science Sunday

Since, I have not been specific enough, and I’ve gotten lots of questions (okay, maybe 5), here is what I think of as things to post for Science Sunday:

1. Experiments, that one’s a given, but what do you do with your kids to learn about science.

2. Observations, where you notice or your kid notices something new about the world, it could be where you find a bug and go learn more about it. Or it could be where you discover something new about how gravity works.

3. Cool books or toys. There are lots of great books, toys, and games that have science themes. I’d love to see what your kids loves, or a parent resource you’ve found that helps you figure stuff out.

4. This is not something that has to be a specific subject. I struggle to participate in linkies that have a specific theme, because it may not fit what I”m teaching, but if it’s just here’s science, it’s a lot easier for more people to participate.

5. Oh, and I almost forgot, this is also a place you could link up nature studies, because studying nature is a form of science. There are whole schools that use that as a basis for their science.

If all else fails link it up, and if I don’t think it applies, I can email you and we can talk through your thinking. At the early elementary age there is a lot of crossover between art and science (take the eye dropper activity, that is also science because it’s observing how things interact).

So, with all of that, here’s our science activity for the week:



This is very simple, you could do it any number of ways, and with lots of different subjects. Classifying is a basic science skill that you use a lot in early school years. You could do a more obvious one of sorting living and nonliving, different kinds of animals. We did dinosuars, since we’re studying dinosaurs.

We sorted them according to what they ate. If we didn’t know we would look it up in a book, this also reinforces the ever so important skill of “look in a book” (thank you Super Why).

We also noticed that meat eaters had sharp pointy teeth for tearing food, and plant eaters had flat teeth for grinding plants up. This is another important science skill, observation.

So, the only dinosaur of the ones up there I’m not sure about is anklyosaurus (seriously I think the guys just threw letters at a wall, and said that looks good, for some of these names). The book didn’t say what they ate, and I didn’t remember to look it up later on the web.

If you want a great set of pictures of dinosaurs go over to Carisa’s blog where she put together an alphabetical grouping of them.