My adventures in writing

This week’s picnic talk is about writing. There was a whole slew of questions, but here’s the ones I thought to answer.

Do you enjoy writing? About what? Why? What’s your favorite writing utensil?

I love writing, I’m not very good at it, and my writing tends to be very derivative. Seriously, it’s not that great. My grammar is atrocious, and I tend to have the plot of the latest novel I’ve read stuck in my head, so…… While I love actual real handwritten letters, and the feel of them. I have to admit, I’m a computer gal. I love my Microsoft Word and all of their other programs and can make really cool looking stuff in them. That, and I have problems with my wrists, so writing too much causes me problems. I get the same thing with typing, it just takes longer.


The difference between printing and writing and what do we do to write?

Right now my kids are not up to writing stories. So we do story templates. Here’s an example of what a story template is: Monster Book. The idea is the child will fill in the blank. It’s one of the things we used when I taught 1st grade. This gives them some ownership of their writing, but does not overwhelm them too much. This year I’m going to start them on telling me one sentence about their day, and I will write it down, and they illustrate it.

Printing is the skill of learning to write your alphabet. Towards that end my kids are not technically able yet. We’re working our way there. Here’s what we’re doing to improve fine motor control to get to printing.

1. Playdough- it’s great for strengthening muscles and learning fine motor

2. Coloring and Painting- lots of that, again it helps to improve fine motor. I’ve seen great strides in Superman’s coloring just this summer. Also, this helps with learning how to hold your pencil.

3. I’m doing some practice printing pages with the boys to get them used to making the movements.

4. We’re also doing “drawing” lessons. It’s basically working on drawing shapes and simple line drawings. So, this week our theme was sun, so they drew a circle and the rays from the sun. Depending on how complicated the lesson is I will try to post it, for anyone who’s interested. As soon as I find my lesson book, I’m going to be doing Mr. Pencil line drawings. They replicate the movements used to write letters, but it’s a fun way to practice and learn to draw animals.

So, that’s what we do for writing around here, for more ideas on writing go to ABC &123

Also, I’m going to be starting my nursery rhyme posts again next week, and completely starting our books over. So, if you want to join in the creation process pick up a spiral notebook to keep yours in. I’d recommend an art notebook like this: Spiral notebook. Try to find one that’s not perforated on the side so the pages don’t fall out. You could use just a plain notebook paper one, but it won’t stand up as well to painting.

I’ll be starting over with “The Itsy Bitsy Spider,” it’s the only rhyme I could find with Sun in it.

Great Read Alouds

This is going to be a quick post, but I love storytelling and reading aloud, so I wanted to join this week’s picnic talk

Here’s my favorite read alouds:

Bear Snores On, Karma Wilson (the entire series is great)
How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night, Jane Yolen (who has some excellent young adult novels)
Horton Hears a Who, Dr. Seuss
The Cat in the Hat
Monster Musical Chairs, Stuart J Murphy
Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak
Goodnight Moon, Margaret Brown (okay, I think I like that one more than my kids do)
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
The Very Busy Spider
The Very Quiet Cricket

Admittedly those are all books you’ve probably read to your kids a thousand times as well, but there’s a reason for that. They’re well crafted and the pictures are great. It’s fun to read it out loud, and it’s fun to listen to it being read.

Some less known ones, that are good as well, that I just thought of (sorry, I’m adding these as I think of them).

Stellaluna, __________Cannon (I think Jannell, no guarantees)
Crickwing, ____________ Cannon (these are both longer, so think older preschool or a 2 year old with a longer attention span)
The Poky Little Puppy
The Tawny Scrawny Lion
The Saggy Baggy Elephant (these last 3 are all classic Golden Books, again there’s a reason they’re a classic)

As to oral storytelling, I tend to use this as a way to entertain my kids in long lines. Recently our obsession has been with “Going on a Bear Hunt,” which I learned originally as a chant to do at camp with lots of actions. I was a little confused as a teenager to discover that it’s a book also.

A great game for when your kids are elementary age, or are starting to write stories is Once Upon a Time. I’m horrid at it, but it has fabulous pictures and is a great way to work on your storytelling.

Well, I was going to include a link to the “book” I wrote for the kids about their adventures as superheroes….. But, I can’t find it, and since I have like 5 minutes left on my self-imposed timer, you’ll have to miss out for now. For all I know it’s timed out of their files because it was a year or so ago.

That’s what I have to say about storytelling in this short amount of time. For more great ideas and picnic talk go to ABC and 123.

Organization and me

Or this could really be the “How I pretend to be organized.”

I know what to do to be organized and I can get it amazingly organized, and then a week later it will be horrible.

But, here goes. First I’ll go through the ones that are working and are staying up to date so far.

Legos– I’m really laughing this is the picnic talk for the week, because I just wrote on this yesterday. We use hardware tool organizers, and it works great.

book organization

books– I bought a bunch of magazine holders (the link is to the ones I bought at Ikea). I separated out my books by category and let them have access to 1 or 2 boxes at a time. Otherwise our floors would be a carpet of books. Of course I’m going to have to redo the categories now that I’ve got my themes for the year figured out. That’s another post later.


toys- I’m using the cubbies from when I was a teacher to organize our toys right now. I also use these to organize the kids craft supplies. I may reclaim the toy one for my nefarious crafting puproses at another time, but right now this is working. The picture is of the craft supplies because right now the kids toys are scattered all over. As you can tell, it’s not foolproof. Still working on it.


my books- ummmm….. my husband and I are both bookworms. We have about 8 bookshelves like these and the bottom half are filled with games of various sorts. The problem is we grab large numbers of books, but don’t return them to the shelves. Someday someone will read an article about a couple that was killed by the books falling from their nighstand.


fabric- I organize by color or theme (the only theme is kid fabric) in baskets. I can always tell the colors I gravitate more towards because those are the ones that have overflowing baskets…..


buttons and ribbons- these last two categories are works in progress, but I’ve got them here. I’m slowly sorting out my buttons and putting them in old baby food jars.

For more great organizing ideas go to Picnic Talk

Yankee Doodle

In honor of 4th of July and because I wanted to start up doing nursery rhymes again, I present as our craft for the week Yankee Doodle.

And, if I did this right I’ve included the papers we used for it.

So, here’s what you do:

1. Print out a copy, or make your own version. Also get crayons or markers, glue and scissors.

Yankee Doodle

2. Let your kids have a blast coloring. Talk about how our nations colors are red, white, and blue. Try to get them to use those colors, but then accept that they are just going to use green because they really like it.

don’t you wear armor to do crafts?

3. For little ones draw a line for them to cut on. This really helps Princess because she is still not confident in cutting.


As a side note: This time I had them each make their own pictures and then worked together to make one group picture for the book. I think I will use this method going forward. I might also have them do the words, but they lose interest with that as well.

4. Glue your pictures on. This was a great excercise in following directions because I told them how to glue everything on. First the horse, then yankee doodle, then the hat, and finally the feather. They chose the actual placement, but I provided the guidelines.

Aunt Tara helping with how much glue. Did you know you need about a teaspoon worth of glue for a piece of paper about the size of a penny?

5. Now read your song and have fun talking about it.



And as a bonus, here’s a fun song we kind of made up. It’s 10 Little Patriots, sung to the tune of 10 Little Indians (can you guess how the song goes?)

1 little, 2 little, 3 little patriots
4 little, 5 little, 6 little, patriots
7 little, 8 little, 9 little patriots
10 little patriots all in a row

Patriot File

As we sing it we put up a picture of a patriot soldier. Yes it’s silly, but my kids desperately need any help they can get with counting. That, and princess loves singing.

For more great patriotic ideas go to Picnic Talk.

Crafts we love

Okay, I’ll start off this post with I love to do crafts with my kids. I recognize that most, I mean pretty much all of what we’re doing is not art. But, we all enjoy it, and I”m learning to let them enjoy the process and not worry about the end result. It’s a work in progress.

Here’s my favorite art supplies: scissors, markers, glue, construction paper

Here’s commonly used supplies: fun foam, fabric, buttons, ribbon, paint, cardboard boxes, old containers, milk cartons

I ran through lots of different ideas of what to include in this post. I’ve decided to go through and link the different crafts I intend to do with my kids at some imaginary point in the future when I cover that topic. So, here goes:

Our Homeschool Fun– there were several cool ideas here, not to mention a cool looking lapbook

Ramblings of A Crazy Woman– cool paper plate bird, she also hosts “We Made It Friday!” a showcase of crafts from the week, great place to visit every week
Sewing School– how to make nests, I love her site for inspiration

Sewing School– these are so cute

Butterfly/Very Hungry Caterpillar
Orange Juice– butterfly matching game
Frugal Family Fun Blog– symmetrical butterfly

4 Crazy Kings– cool dinosaur fossil activity
Our Crafts N Things– construct a dinosaur skeleton
The Unexpected– cool dinosaur/dragon lacing toy

Adventures in MOmmydom– not to toot my own horn….. but here’s the crafts we did
Pink and Green Mama– this is more of a “mommy craft,” still it’s so incredibly cool
Katie’s Nesting Spot– feltboard creation about apples, kids could cut out all these pieces with help

I have lots of ideas marked for this, we’re going to the coast in a few months and I want ideas to get them excited
Our Crafts N Things– crab
No Time For Flashcards– another crab, but included it because this is an awesome site
Our Crafts n Things– starfish, she must have been doing an ocean/fish theme
Just for Fun– lobster, very cute handprint craft my kids will grudgingly do when the time comes

Ramblings of a Crazy Woman– and this is why I never throw out egg cartons
Teaching My Little Bookworm– super cute using a styrofoam cup
Ten Kids and a Dog– great stringing flower activity, my kids have just gotten into this, wouldn’t Grandma love it?

That’s my currently clipped crafts to do, that list will grow, and later today I’ll post how we made a lacing snake. For more great talk about crafts go to: Picnic Talk