Great books about birds, nests, and animal homes Widgets

The Best Nest– I really liked this book. It’s cute and was a great story. It tells of how all the different birds learned to build their nests and why each nest is built that way.

Crinkleroot’s Guide to Animal Habitats– this was the hit of the week, we read it several times and enjoyed searching the pages to find the different animals.

Magic School Bus Flies from the Nest– this was a little stilted, and the kids didn’t really enjoy it. They did have fun pointing out the stuff that couldn’t really happen.

Is My Friend at Home?– I really didn’t like this one. The stories were not appropriate for preschoolers. In one of them Rabbit says he cut off his ears to serve it to his friend for stew, and so his friend goes home and really does cut off his ears to cook them. It totally went over the kids’ heads, and I do tend to enjoy this type of story, but this one wasn’t my favorite.

Dragon Egg- this also was a learn to read book like the Magic School Bus, but this one was actually a lot smoother and more enjoyable.

How Animals Care for Their Babies– I had this book as a kid, so when I saw it at the library I had to get it. The kids liked it okay, and really enjoyed talking about the different animals.

Oh, and one I forgot to read with the kids that would have fit in well: “Are You My Mother?

Oh and we also read “A House is a House for Me.” It’s super cute and while the kids weren’t super into it, I can see lots of potential for it. And there is so much detail in the pictures to look for.

To see what else everyone is reading head over to Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns.

Our preschool week in review: apples

So this week was super busy with lots of cooking and such because what else do you do with apples?

We read about Joseph and how Potiphar’s wife lied and got him in trouble. It’s really funny to know the whole story and see the simplified way they tell it to kids. After all, it’s not age apropriate for a 4 year old to hear she was trying to seduce him, but they can still learn from his story of how to avoid temptation.

Language Arts
We read our poems, and talked about rhyming. We went through a lot of the “Ten Apples up on Top” book looking for the rhyming words. They started to get really restless and bored about halfway through, so we stopped. No use pushing it and butting heads. As always we check out lots of books from the library to see those books go to this post.

We also went through some of our books and stuff to find out how we could use them independently. So, I read them “Alphabet Under Construction” and showed them how to trace the letters in the book.

Still plugging away at our calendar time.

We also played a number memory game. It’d be super easy to make if you wanted to, but I cut up a workbook and had the numerals on one piece glued to cardstock, and on the other piece of cardstock the paper that had all of the dots. Then we used it as a memory game, flipping over 2 cards at a time, and keeping it if they matched. This was super popular.

We also cooked a lot! This is great for learning measuring, and counting out scoops of different ingredients. It also is a great motor skill activity to work on motor control for stirring and pouring. We made apple pie, apple cookies, and applesauce. All of which got completely devoured.

After peeling and cutting up all of those apples we then dug the seeds out of one of the cores, and planted them. We’re still waiting for them to grow up, but I’m hopeful they will.

We continued talking about how trees grow. I got to feel a bit of maternal pride as my neighbor was talking with me and her daughter was picking leaves off the tree. Now, her daughter is in 5th grade. I asked her not to take all the leaves off because the tree needs the leaves to make it’s food. She looked at me in surprise, and hadn’t known that. Then, Batman comes up and tells her all about how the leaves make food for the tree, and they need rain to get the water they need. It was very cool.

We also experimented with which apples we liked and the different tastes of the apples.

We played Go Fish with Jolanthe’s Fruit and Vegetable cards and talked about how the different foods and what we’d eaten. I’m going to bag those up, and keep them around for when we talk about vegetables. Oh, and notice the bright blue chapstick on Princess’ face. I don’t know where she finds the stuff.

Social Studies
We made a trip to a different grocery store to get all of our fruits, so we got to talk about different places people go to get their food.

We’re also participating in a Flat Stanley project with lots of other people. We’ve decorated our “Stanleys” and then mailed them off to their first destination: North Carolina. We’re eagerly looking forward to getting our visitors. The kids keep running to the mailbox to see if it’s there yet. Except we drive to our mailbox, because it’s a couple of blocks over, so not quite. But, they do ask about going to the mail a lot.

That’s actually our second set of Stanleys in the picture, they wanted to have some to keep. I’m such an indulgent Mommy….

We read “How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World,” and marked down where she went to get everything. We of course then had to make the pie.

We also started reading “Me on the Map,” and will soon be posting our marvelous maps we make. We’ll see how it goes, my kids’ drawing skills are somewhat lacking, so this should be interesting.


We drew a picture of our theme for the week. Here’s Superman proudly holding up his apple. I had to write our “words to remember” on the page next to it because he wanted a BIG apple.

We put together our nursery rhyme for the week, and the kids had lots of fun. I think they were glad of a simpler project this week.

I almost forgot to add, here’s some other great apple links that I found:

Apple prints– I almost did this same project, but ran out of time.

apple bean bag– super duper cute

Apple Orchard– cute art project

Lots of apple ideas-more than you could ever do really, she did great research

Categorizing fruits and veggies in real life– my garden is just not that good.

Apple finger play– or it could be, she used it as a felt board, both ways are super cute

I’m gonna end with my favorite picture of the week:


Isn’t she cute? Black eye and all.

For more great ideas for preschool go to Homeschool Creations
For more great general homeschool ideas go to Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Apples, and more apples, and How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World

I first ran into this book back in high school taking a “pretend you’re a teacher” class. At least I think that’s where I did. Otherwise it was my first year teaching and we used it for a nutrition unit and geography.

So, we read this several times. I mean a lot, and then we related it to Me on the Map, and talked about maps some. Then we had to get out the map and read it again and find the places on the map (it’s kind of like when you give a mouse a cookie, you keep needing to do more).

You can’t tell super well, but that’s our map of all the places needed to go to make an apple pie. Actually, we only had to go to Whole Foods and pick one of every kind of apple to try. That, and our pantry, which has all the rest.

Now, to make that pie.

2 C flour
1 C butter
1 t salt
1/2 C ice water (in reality it’s about 4 tablespoons)
1 egg yolk (which I didn’t actually use)

5 granny smith apples
3/4 C sugar
1t cinnamon
1/4 t salt
2 T butter (ummm….. I forgot that part)

So first let your kids have fun with the apple peeler corer slicer (isn’t that a horrendously long name?). Settle the argument with, no you only get to do one, and Mommy does the rest.

Let them break the apples into slices, remind them frequently that we aren’t trying to make apple confetti. Listen to them happily tell you that you don’t want peels in your apple pie because it makes bad pies, just like it makes bad applesauce. Think to yourself, they do listen to me.

Let the kids help you mix the different ingredients together. Then finally get frustrated when a cup of flour gets on the floor, and they just don’t have the upper body strength to really mix the silly thing, and so make them go watch TV while you mix it.

Now, divide the dough into two different balls, and for some strange reason let the kids help you roll the dough out. In case you’re wondering, this is a bad idea. It’s sure to get you losing your temper as they ruin the nice crust you had rolled out. Seriously think about how bad the jail time would be if you beat your children senseless (okay, not really, but I did come close to losing my temper when they tore a huge hole in the dough for the tenth time).

Again send them off to watch TV while you finish rolling out the dough. Then let them come back to make the filling. Here’s my method:

Put all the apples in a gallon ziploc bag, throw in the sugar, cinammon, and salt. Shake like crazy. Now it’s all mixed together, dump it into the pie. Arrange so it looks “pretty.” Slap the top crust on and voila! You’ve got a pie all ready to bake.

Now, I don’t like apple pie. Actually, the only pie I like is pumpkin and various cream type things. But, Jeff says that was a great pie even if I left out the butter.

I’ve also learned, that while I can make cookies, cake, and various other things like that with the kids, a pie is no fun. Really, it’s only frustrating. Very very frustrating. But, they had lots of fun with the whole thing.

Nursery Rhyme: apple

After the fiasco of last week I decided to step back and go for super simple. It may not be quite as satisfying to me, but this way the kids and I aren’t butting heads.

Way Up High in the Apple Tree

This one is super duper easy.

1. Cut out the poem first and glue it to the top of your page. I’m working on the kids noticing that book pages go in a certain order, and they should glue the next poem on the next page. They didn’t care. They just glued it down randomly. So, we’ll have a blank page or two, and that’s okay.

2. Color the tree and it’s leaves. Of course the more color you put on the tree the better? Right…… Okay, so that’s my kid’s belief. Notice Superman actually did a pretty good job keeping in the lines.

3. Now cut out the tree and the leaves, and glue them together.

4. Now for the fun part. Get a small bit of red paint. Stick your finger in it, and put 3 dots on the tree for the three apples.

Super cute, and super easy. Of course I had to do Superman’s apples, because he’s on a whole don’t touch the paint kick, but aside from that, it went well.

For more great crafts go to

Our Preschool Week in Review: Leaf

We didn’t really achieve as much as I wanted to with this theme. We had guests coming for the weekend, and the weather was just too hot to really do much outside. More on that when we get to science.



You may have notice there was no nursery rhyme post last week. Well, here’s what happened, I got them all set up to make it. We’d started and created the the trunks of our trees using our handprints. I went away to make copies of the bear I’d just sketched out, and I returned to this:


So, it became free art…… This is a lesson, make sure you have all supplies before you start painting. So, they got to have lots of fun painting while I did this:

Unloaded the dishwasher, not anywhere near as much fun. Oh well.

We also made leaf men from the book The Leaf Men



Such a lazy catch all term for anything vaguely reading associated. We worked on finding words based off their first letters using our poem of the week from My Very Own Poetry Collection.


We made our letter of the week out of blocks and picked the letter L out of the alphabet.

And of course we read lots of books.

Oh, and my proudest moment of the week was when their grandparents came down and Superman wrote his name in chalk on the sidewalk all by himself, with no help or prompting whatsoever. This also led to a bit of an epiphany for me that the handwriting pages I’ve been using for the boys are too small for their skills right now, so I’m just going to use the Handwriting Without Tears workbook, which has big huge letters, and really is more up their alley than the My Father’s World workbook.


We’re still going on with our calendar time. I’m thinking of adding back in having them make a number of the day. It’s kind of silly if they can rote count up to 15 to 20 but have a hard time with saying how many something is. I’m still working on what we’ll do with this. That, and maybe some games to add in.


Leaf-so we talked a lot about how trees need leaves to help them make their food. We talked about how trees get their food. We observed the plants growing in our yards.

Here’s where it got difficult. Right now the Austin area is under a drought, so that means most of the plants in this area do not have enough water, and those that do are at Botanical gardens or other such places that really don’t want you picking leaves. We made one field trip to look for some leaves and look at them. But, it was really rather depressing to see what is usually a perfectly wonderful park that has a gorgeous pond, but now the pond’s water level has dropped about 10 feet and the creek is all dried up.

So, we mostly got leaves off the ground and a few off this bush.

Here’s activities you can do with leaves:

make a leaf rubbing- get a non-dehydrated leaf and put paper on top, rub over it with crayons.
Classify leaves- sort them by shape and type. I suppose I could have printed off some leaf pictures to do that, should of that of that earlier.
Make a sun catcher- get contact paper and put your leaves on them, put crayon shavings and glitter on it. Then put another piece of contact paper on top and then punch a hole, put ribbon on it, and you have a marvelous leaf catcher. You could also do this with wax paper, and then iron it. That looks even cooler because the crayons melt.
Make a reverse picture of the leaf- put the leaf on a piece of paper and paint around it. When you’re done peel it up.
Study the parts of a leaf- Look at the veins and talk about how that’s how the trees get their water to the leaves through the veins.

Field Trips

With grandparents in town to celebrate their birthdays we went on lots of field trips:

We went to

We went to the Bob Bullock museum.

We went to the duck park.

Oh and of course they cleaned a lot.

Because that’s what you do when the in-laws are coming.

To see what other people did for preschool this week go to Homeschool Creations
To see what other people did in school this week go to Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

All of our wonderful apple and leaf books

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See my fancy new widget? We’ll see how long before I break it….. I decided to go ahead and combine my book posts for the next two weeks, because I didn’t quite have enough for either one to have a full carousel, but this way I do.

Leaf Men– the real hit of the week. I read this at least 5 times, probably more. This insipred this activity.

Apples– this has lots of great facts and the kids had lots of fun following along, but they never really wanted to read it again.

From Seed to Plant– this did a great job of showing how the plants grow, and has inspired the usual grow a seed in a plastic bag experiment that we will be starting later today.

Little Apple Goat– a very cute story about a goat who loves apples and fruit, and spits the seeds over the fence. Can you guess what happens to the seeds? My guys liked it okay, but never really latched onto it.

Leaf– honestly, I thought this one was a little weird. It’s a wordless book, which I never really like all that much, and then I spent the entire book thinking the main character was a girl, only to figure out at the end that it’s a guy. So we never read that one again.

From Apples to Applesauce– great job of following an apple from start to finish. It was really interesting to see the machine that takes the peel off (kind of gross though).

Plants!- another great information book about plants. Love the pictures!

The Magic Leaf– you notice it’s not on the carousel, because apparently amazon doesn’t carry it or something. However, it’s a cute little Asian fairy tale about a foolish man who thinks a leaf will turn him invisible and the problems he has when it doesn’t.

How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World– I used this back when I was teaching as part of our unit on nutrition. We also used it as a geography lesson. Which is what my kids are going to do this afternoon. We’re going to follow her around the world on our map and make a pie. This is the cutest book!

Apple Farmer Annie– right after we read this book, the kids insisted we had to make apple cake and applesauce, because she did in the book. Then we had to go to the store to buy a LOT of apples. We have done lots of great activities off this book.

To see more great posts about the wonderful books people are reading this week go over to Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns.

Our Preschool Week in Review

We had an unbelievably busy week studying the sun, here’s what all we did.


We did a science experiment to measure our shadows.


Princess learned to protect her eyes from the sun.

We learned about the Itsy Bitsy Spider.


We played with friends outside.


I was an evil taskmaster and made them mop the floor.


We went to our first ever theme park for Jeff’s work fun day!


Why is she picking leaves? I really don’t know, but she’s happy.

We used several cool worksheets from the Alphabet Nook to make a couple of minibooks. And for those who want to do some fun space related worksheets go here (it’s a free site, you just have to create a login name, trust me lots of great sheets to use). I discovered them after I’d finished up the sun, but while I was still doing the moon.

That’s our week in review. For more preschool weeks go here.

What we’ve been reading this week

I’m joining up with this blog hop, because we read a lot, and I like to see what other’s are reading, and besides this forces me to be somewhat organized, and that’s always a good thing.


Sun Up, Sun Down by Gail Gibbons– awesome informational book about the sun, and how it affects us. Written right about preschool/early elementary level. I highly recommend any Gail Gibbons book you see, she has yet to make a bad one that I’ve seen.


Captain Invincible and the Space Shapes – I hadn’t realized when we checked this out that it was about 3-d shapes, and my kids aren’t quite ready for that. So, they enjoyed it, but not enough to want to read again.

sun – A little girl goes in and out changing her clothes as the weather changes. No one was super duper wanting to read this lots, but it’s cute. We have another version we own that I like better about a bunny.


Bear Shadow – This is the big winner of the week, and was what got me thinking about our shadow experiment. I personally really loved it when today, one of my boys started retelling the story only changing it to being about his shadow.


The Sun – meh, not great, not bad. I like the Gail Gibbons more. But, if you want some great real photos this book is for you.


Me and My Place in Space – I have loved these books for years. And when Our Homeschool Fun started talking about geography books for this age, I immediately thought of this series. I love all of the books in this series, and realized my kids are ready to enjoy these too. This book does a great job picking up where “Me on the Map” leaves off, it starts at Earth and goes out to Universe level and then back down. My kids love it. Probably not as much as me, but that’d be hard.

So, that’s what we read this week. For more great posts on what people have been reading go to the Well Read Child.

Nursery Rhyme: Itsy Bitsy Spider

Do you know how hard it is to find a nursery rhyme about the sun? There are none in the traditional, you can sort of force one to fit, but not really. So, here’s ours:

Supplies needed: yarn (about 12 inches), a piece of felt (one piece will do for several kids), construction paper, scissors, glue, markers, stamp pad (or paint or a dot marker), nursery rhyme book

Mommy prep:

Take your piece of felt and cut a circle about the size of a jar lid. Now cut a wedge out of two sides. It should look like this:


Now, take each of those sides, and cut it so there are 8 legs total, 4 on each side. Then in the body cut two small slits. This is to feed the yarn through. Feed the yarn through an tie a nice strong knot. Obviously older kids could do this themselves. Another version would be to cut a smaller circle and 4 long skinny rectangles. The 4 rectangles could be tied on the bottom after you cut the slits. That just seemed more work, and a good way for the spider to lose a leg.

Now to what your child does. First print out the words

The Itsy Bitsy Spider Went Up the Water Spout

Now cute the words apart at the sections. Now glue to the top of two facing pages.


Draw a line on the construction paper dividing it roughly in thirds. Have your kids cut along the lines. For one of the thirds cut it into two roughly equal pieces. These are your water spout.

Glue one of the larger rectangles on the side going up the page. Glue the other large rectangle on the other page. Use the small rectangle to form the bottom part of the spout. It should look like a slightly wonky capital L at this point.

Batman stamping away

Here’s where what supplies you have on hand come in handy. You can make the rain many different ways. We had “Do a Dot paint” markers. So my kids used this. Last time we did this we did fingerprints from paint, you could also use stamp pads for this.

On the other side draw a picture of a sun. You could also cut a circle out of construction paper. My kids were losing interest, so I skipped that step.

Now get a spare piece of construction paper, and glue the other end of the string to the paper. You want this nice and strong, and want to caution your kid not to be excited while it’s still drying.

Now happily act it out as Batman is doing.


I’ll try to get a McLinky up next week. So everyone can share what they’ve done. I’ve never done one before, but would love to see what everyone else does.

For next week, we’re doing “Hey Diddle Diddle,” keep an eye out for brads (they’re usually in the school supply aisle, it might take some finding), and stock up on construction paper while it’s on sale!

Our new morning routine

Back about 6-9 months ago I had a morning routine post I put up. Well, this is an update of what we’re doing now.

(on the right is a 100s chart I found in the Target dollar aisle, the middle is an alphabet chart used for playing games, and on the left is the calendar, on the bottom is a pocket chart I made to hold the different things we’re doing)

We start by updating our calendar. My helper for the day adds the current day and then leads us in counting. I found a set of Carson Dellosa calendar days that was double sided, so it makes it easy to do a simple pattern.


Next each kid writes the day of the month in their individual calendar. I”m using this to practice writing numbers and how to write in general. Princess mainly scribbles along and complains that she can’t do it. I’m trying to get her to learn to ask me without whining. The whining gets really grating.

(Superman is on the left, he really does have shorts, and Batman is on the right)

Then they put in stickers for the number of days we’ve been in school. I have a piece of card stock I’ve hole-punched after reinforcing the top with packing tape. We put a number sticker on the page, and then they put the same number of stickers on the page.


Now my helper colors in the number of days we’ve done school on our hundred chart. When we get to 100 days we’ll have a party. Yes, I’m shamelessly stealing from the public school 100 day celebration.

That’s it for the everyday activities, here’s some things we do on different days, but not everyday:

Draw a picture of our theme for the week (can you tell that’s a sun?). If it’s more complicated than draw a circle and straight lines I’m going to try and post instructions, but I figured it’d be facetious for a sun. And just for the record that is Superman.

Make our letter for the week with our letter pieces.

Cut out letter pictures, we then file them in an index card box to use for other activities.


We also have a poem of the week we go over. I’ll post a review of that this week in one of my later postings. It’s a great book to pick up. The poem is in strips in the small blue pocket chart. If you ever see a small table sized pocket chart for sale, grab it, they have so many uses.


Find our letter for the week amongst different alphabet sets. I actually have 3 different ways to do this, so each kid gets a chance at a different one at the same time. I usually make it easier for Princess by cutting down on her number of choices.

So, that’s our morning routine. I’ll probably in the week in review post let you know of any particular things I did to make that week’s special. So far the kids are loving being my special helper. I’m only having to work on occasional bad attitudes.