Saturday, March 31, 2012

What My Child Is Reading–March 31, 2012

Hello Mrs Piggle Wiggle

Anna’s Kindergarten teacher certainly knows Anna well. Anna absolutely loved the first book in Mrs Piggle-Wiggle series and was sad to return it to Mrs J, but she was very happy to discover that there are more books to read. We now read together Hello, Mrs Piggle-Wiggle, and Anna is very upset on the nights when we don’t have time to read through 20-25 pages of one chapter. I liked the first book better, but it’s still a good, light-hearted read with a clear message of right and wrong behavior.

Rebecca Passover

I discovered Rebecca’s Passover last week in the library and brought it back this year. Passover coincides with Easter this year, so I figured that we will read Passover book this week and Easter books that actually tell the story of Christ and not of bunnies and eggs next week. I like Rebecca’s Passover, because it gives both the background for a celebration and explains celebration itself through the eyes of a young girl. Age - 4+

Bunny Who Found Easter

I read The Bunny Who Found Easter by Charlotte Zolotow/Helen Craig to Anna on the night when I was not in the mood to read a long chapter from Mrs Piggle Wiggle. She was pouting but gradually started to enjoy this simple story for younger kids. It has little to do with Easter and a lot more to do with seasonal changes in nature. This book is written in rich descriptive language and might be useful for a lesson on adjectives or on seasons. Age - 3+

The Very Busy Spider

I wonder sometimes what is the design principle behind Anna’s K reading program. Mostly the books are good, but they have widely different reading levels and age targets. This week it was The Very Busy Spider that she read when she was 2. No wonder she wrote This book is boring in her required one sentence book report. Age – under 5 years old Smile

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Egg People

These Easter Egg People were created by my kindergartener in response to an open-ended creative challenge to do something with egg shapes made out of craft foam ($1 selection from Target)
Easter Egg People

Egg Stories to Read for Easter

The Easter Egg by Jan Brett
As Easter is rolling in, we are reading a variety of egg books – some old, some new to us. One story that we get out every year is The Easter Egg lavishly illustrated by Jan Brett. You can do any number of art projects with this particular book, but this year I chose to give my kindergartener a more open-ended activity for her Easter crafting.

Easter Creative Challenge

As an Easter creative challenge, I took out a pack of craft fun foam in the shape of eggs (I got it for $1 at Target) and challenged daughter to make something with these “eggs”. I expected that she will decorate them, but she had other ideas. She decided to make “egg people”
Making Egg People

Child-Led Easter Projects Are Fun!

Daughter (who is not very crafty) embraced this creative challenge with a lot of enthusiasm – perhaps because I discussed with her different possibilities at first. This made me think that I need to find time to present her with these open-ended challenges more often. She also wanted to write “facts” on the back of our egg people – their names, ages, addresses and favorite foods. I think they turned out pretty neat!
Completed Egg People

More Easter Activities for Kids

 Follow my Easter Pinterest board

Your Turn:

Do you plan crafting with your kids or does creativity happen spontaneously in your household?

I am linking this post to my favorite link ups and share days.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Week in Review–March 25, 2012


Mar25_BunnySchool. Anna continues to love everything school-related. She often tells us during weekend that she can’t wait to go back to school. We had a conference with Anna’s teacher on Monday – she is doing great in all areas with science and math being her favorite subjects. We were hoping that maybe she can be with the same teacher in the first grade (she is in K portion of K-1 combo class now), but Mrs Johnson said that she will not be teaching a combo class next week, she plans to take a K class next year. Anna was a little disappointed to find out about this, but we are hoping that she will have another wonderful teacher next year.


Afterschool. We are still exploring dinosaurs. Anna played a paleontologist and put together a couple of 3D dinosaur puzzles. They were as difficult to stabilize as real dinosaur skeletons, but she worked hard on them. We also continued on our study of human body that just happened to be “bones” and Anna played a few online games about identifying bones and putting a skeleton back together.


Places we are going… We don’t have to go far to see something interesting. There is a house being completely renovated right next door to us. Anna is very interested in the progress, and she keeps watching construction from her bedroom window and commenting on the changes. We are not enjoying the noise of construction, but it would be great to have new neighbors especially since they have two children.


  • Fun moments. We decorate for Easter every year. There are eggs and bunnies galore in the house. I asked Anna, Why do we celebrate Easter?
  • Anna (confidently): We celebrate Jesus. He died on Easter.
  • My husband: So why do we celebrate? Are we happy that he died?
  • Anna (less confidently): Umm… Oh! We celebrate that he went to live in the clouds. (after some prompting she managed to remember the resurrection part, but clearly it was not the high point of the story to her).

Saturday, March 24, 2012

What My Child Is Reading–March 24, 2012

Mrs Piggle WiggleOur reading week was dominated by dinosaurs and Easter books. We also started to read Mrs Piggle Wiggle by Betty McDonald that was loaned to us by Anna’s teacher. We were expressing our frustration with Anna’s apparent inability to take care of her things, and she acknowledged that this is one area our daughter needs some improvement. She recommended “won’t-pick-up-toys” cure from Mrs Piggle Wiggle book of cures. It’s a hilarious book, and all three of us enjoy reading it together.

The Easter Bunny that Overslept

The fun part of The Easter Bunny That Overslept by Priscilla Friedrich/Donald Saaf is that it can be read for Easter and/or for Christmas. The tardy Bunny attempts to deliver his eggs for Mother’s Day, Independence Day, Halloween, and eventually kind Santa Claus helps him forget his disappointment and gives him a very useful Christmas present. The book is beautifully illustrated and opens possibility to do some fun art, for example, Halloween themed Easter eggs. Good for 3+.

Boy Were We Wrong

Both of us really liked a fact-filled book Boy, Were We Wrong About Dinosaurs! by Kathleen V. Kudlinski/S. Schindler. It’s so easy for our children to believe that everything in the books is a truth set in stone. Paleontology, in particular, seems to be a fast moving science where new discoveries question a lot of things that we knew as “facts” when I was in school. Great read for older kids who already know (or think they do) a lot about dinosaurs.

A New BeginningI highly recommend A New Beginning by Wendy Pfeffer/Linda Bleck to families who mark Spring Equinox with special activities (we totally missed it this year). The book explains a little bit about equinox itself and then has several pages explaining different ways spring arrival was celebrated over time in different cultures and still celebrated today. In the end of the books there are several suggestions of crafts and recipes from various traditions around the world. It’s one of these books that can be appealing to different ages for different reasons.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Dinosaur “Research Project”

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Shibley Smiles
Mar20_Dino1Since Anna just reread Dinosaurs Before Dark from Magic Tree House series, I pulled out our Dinosaurs fact cards (from $1 bin at Target) and invited her to play a game. We each selected five of our favorite dinosaurs. The idea was to write down a short research note on each of the dinosaurs similar to what Jack did in the book and then guess each other dinosaurs based on the facts presented. That was theory. In practice Anna was done writing Mar20_Dino2after one note and simply copied the facts from the back of the card. Note to myself – model the desired result first, remember that she is five and limit writing activities to what she can tolerate (3 cards would be a stretch already). She, however, had fun guessing my dinosaurs and then entertained herself sorting hers according to their height and length. Then we headed back upstairs to play with “real” Mar20_Dino3dinosaurs. Papa made her a T-Rex with a jaw that opens and closes, and Anna made a pteranodon (who looks more like an archaeopteryx to me). Then I let her discover Magic Tree House online and she had a blast going on various missions and adding stamps to her passport. I am afraid that my daughter would probably spend her entire day in front of computer if she were allowed to – just like her Mom and Dad. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

What My Child Is Reading–March 17, 2012

My Body

I switched from fiction to non-fiction read-alouds this week. Anna and I are reading together My Body by Angela Royston. It’s an interesting book of facts about human body, each double age has some sort of activity, and a lot of focus is given to healthy eating and exercise. In the meantime Anna and her papa are slowly plodding through Anne of Green Gables.

Things People Do

Anna got Usborne Book of Things People Do in a Valentine’s package from Babushka and Dedushka. It’s a neat book that introduces little island country Banilla and then explains what different people do. It’s a lot like Jobs People Do from DK Publishing, but written for a younger audience by Anne Civardi who happened to write another of Anna’s perennial favorites – The Complete Book of First Experiences. She keeps reading this book every night and her favorite part is hospital jobs.

Dinosaurs Before Dark

As every school kid in America, Anna brings home Scholastic book flyers. The last flyer had an offer we couldn’t refuse – first 42 Magic Tree House books for $85. We had some of them at home already, but not an *almost* full collection. Anna read many MTH books many times already, but it was a good chance to restart them again. She still refuses to read Mummies in the Morning and she is not keen on Merlin missions, but she does enjoy the rest. Perhaps we will even do some sort of mini unit on Dinosaurs Before Dark yet again this weekend, since it looks like the weather will not cooperate with any outside plans.

Can You Count to a Googol

Anna continues to love numbers, especially big numbers, so we read Can You Count to a Googol? by Robert E. Wells this week. She was very intrigued by a number with 100 zeroes, but she doesn’t fully understand how unimaginably big it is. She keeps asking me if there are a googol people in the world even though a book said explicitly that googol is bigger than a total number of atoms in the Universe (or so the scientists think). I see another mini-discussion happening soon about how small an atom actually is.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Two Months, Two Hours a Week…


… And my daughter is reading in Russian as well as can be expected from a Russian child her age! I find it hard to believe my ears when I hear her read in Russian considering that just two months ago she knew about 5 words and no letters at all. Even her tutor (she teaches second grade in a public school not far from us, but I found her through Russian classifieds) is amazed at her progress. What amuses me is that Anna, of course, doesn’t Mar14_Russian2have active vocabulary yet to comprehend what she is reading. I have to translate the meaning back into English for her when she is trying to read Russian books. Her tutor compensates for it by making fun projects where she labels words for Anna to read. This lantern with Russian alphabet on it is a pretty neat idea that can be reused for someone learning English letters too.

I wish I had more age-appropriate language exposure for her. Ironically, we have Hebrew, Hindu and French speaking kids in the neighborhood, but no Russians. I was contemplating Russian-language summer camp, but she is begging to go to a summer camp in her Y. Hopefully a visit to grandparents will help her to start speaking/understanding more than she does right now, but I am still very pleased with her progress.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Building a Leprechaun Trap

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Anna’s school is having a lot of fun with St Patrick’s Day. Her class has their own personal leprechaun that leaves children notes and tasks. It’s funny how my usually skeptical daughter told me, Leprechauns must be real because Mrs Johnson always acts surprised when we see what they did and find the clues. A special 2-week homework was to build a leprechaun trap and explain how it works.


Anna had a very clear plan from the very start that involved a box, a ladder, some leprechaun bait inside and a lot of advertising including reverse psychology. The sign on this side says, No leprechauns allowed. The logic is that leprechauns (like some children but not mine) are more likely to be tempted by something they are not allowed to do. Papa helped her to build a ladder with cardboard and toothpicks, but most of execution (including an idea to put Mar10_LT5a double-sided sticky tape inside to make sure a leprechaun is really stuck and cannot get out) belong to her. She also wanted to be photographed with her trap and with this silly face. As a second part of an assignment, she also needed to draw and write in four steps (first, then, next, last) how her trap works. She can’t wait to bring her trap to school on Friday and catch a leprechaun.

The Night Before St Patrick's Day

The Night Before St Patrick’s Day by Natasha Wing/Amy Wummer was a perfect complement to this trap-building activity. The story is pretty engaging and just as in an original story, mythical characters come to life and children actually catch a leprechaun in one of their elaborate traps. Perhaps next year our daughter is inspired to make a Lego trap like one of the traps in the book!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

What My Child Is Reading–March 10, 2012

First of all, I want to apologize to WMCIR contributors that I didn’t have a chance to visit and comment this week. Work continues to be extremely busy and will probably continues to be the same next week. However, I manage to come home in time for Anna’s night routine, and we read some good books together this week that I want to share.

The Storm

I was reading The Storm by Cynthia Rylant to Anna this week. It’s the first book from Lighthouse Family series. Interestingly, we tried this series about a year before, and she was not interested. This time, however, she was truly captivated and begged for more. For some reason she really likes the stories where one of the characters get injured – it seems to jumpstart her imagination. Of course, she only likes them if all ends well. This is a sweet story that can be quite suitable for 4+ audience, and chapters are relatively short too.

Jessica XRay

As I mentioned, my daughter will definitely love medical dramas one day. She really enjoyed Jessica’s X-Ray by Pat Zonta/Clive Dobson that I got from the library as part of our continuing exploration of human body. She was very interested in actual images from X-ray, MRI, CAT scan and ultrasound devices. I thought that the book was well done except the fact that the main character appears to be pain-free despite her broken arm and her day in the hospital looks more like a field trip. I definitely don’t want to make my daughter think that breaking one’s arm can be an exciting adventure.

Crafty Chloe

We both really enjoyed Crafty Chloe by Kelly DiPucchio adorably illustrated by Heather Ross. To be honest, my daughter is not at all crafty, but she likes to believe that she could also whip up a perfect present for a friend one day. The book gives a good message about homemade vs. store-bought and about an admirable quality of forgiving someone and helping them when help is needed. And there is even a website where right now you can find a couple of projects (for older kids or adults) based on illustrations from the book. I hope that this is the first in the series, because it could potentially turn into a new Fancy Nancy franchise.

Too Many Tamales

Anna’s kindergarten book this week was Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto. I didn’t read it with her but asked her for an opinion, and she very emphatically said that she didn’t like the book. When I pressed her for an explanation, she said that the main character made all the wrong choices, and she wasn’t even punished! I asked my husband later, and he sort of agreed with Anna. Apparently, the Christmas spirit of forgiving and miracles that is supposed to shine in this story didn’t shine brightly enough for my rule-abiding family.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Week in Review–March 4, 2012

I didn’t fall off the face of the Earth, but the workload and the jet lag are brutal this week. In meetings from 6 am until 6 pm, then coming home, putting daughter to bed and promptly heading to bed myself.


In our lives. I came back from an exhausting and productive trip to Israel. It was not all work though. A few of us went to Jerusalem – not the first trip for me, but the first for many of my American colleagues. In this picture you can see The Wailing Wall and far in the right corner a dome of The Church of the Holy Sepulchre.


Anna was, of course, delighted to have me back, but she was very busy with school and afterschool while I was away. A couple of things that she was really missing while I was gone was playing on my computer and iPod. I allow her about 30 min a day of electronic entertainment, and she was happy to lay her hands again on her favorite TeachMe: First Grade game and return to MoneyVille.


Places we are going. The weather was beautiful during the weekend, and our friend invited us to go for a ride and a hike in his convertible. Understandably, Anna loves convertible rides. We hiked in a place that looked at times like Riverdell from Lord of the Rings – a place where fairies might live. Anna was enchanted and kept looking for fairies. Then we came home and had our first barbecue of the season.


Quote of the week:

  • Anna (reading from her Valentine’s Day Sweet Tarts): Mama, what does it mean, “Shake it”
  • Me (trying to stay factual): It means, “Shake your body”
  • Anna: But why is it Valentine-y?
  • Me: Umm… Because teenage boys like it when teenage girls do it.
  • Anna: Ooh. This is because it’s yucky, and boys like yucky things.

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