Sep 19, 2014

Harvest Print Crafts

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Inspired by the Fall harvest, we created these adorable harvest print crafts: a bundle of wheat, an apple, and a pumpkin! 

To make your own harvest prints, you will need: 

White Cardstock
Yellow, Red, and Orange Ink

For the wheat, I inked Kingston's hand in yellow and printed it pressing his fingers and thumb all close together. For the apple and the pumpkin, I only printed the palms of his hands in each color.

When the ink was dry, I added the details to each one.

This simple craft is a great one to pair with a discussion on the Autumn harvest and your favorite Fall books!

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Sep 17, 2014

12 Toddler Friendly Books About Leaves

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Autumn is upon us, and that makes all of us over here SO excited! We really love everything about Fall: picking apples and pumpkins, the cool crisp air, and of course the gorgeous changing colors of the New England leaves. In honor of those gorgeous leaves that are in the process of changing colors over here, here is a fun book list of 12 toddler-friendly books about leaves. These books are great for toddlers and up! What's awesome about most of these books are that they appeal to such a broad age range of kids. 

Leaves by David Ezra Stein is a beautiful little book about a young bear experiences the falling leaves for the very first time. I love this book for toddlers! My toddler especially, loves bears, so this is a great read for him. The pictures are delightful and you will love reading to your little one about bears first run in with Autumn and what he does when he encounters the fallen leaves. This book is available in both the paperback/hardcover versions AND a board book version for little ones!

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves! - We love these books! They are so much fun. They follow the pattern of There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, however, much more enjoyable because they aren't quite so morbid. This book in particular is super cute! It introduces fall concepts and vocabulary with a humorous, sing-song quality. Check out all of the other books in this series too. They are adorable, and perfect for all ages!

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert is a gorgeous book! We love Lois Ehlert books. This one follows the journey of Leaf Man. Throughout the book, the beautiful leaves make different pictures of animals. I feel like this is one of those books that parents can appreciate the beauty of while their little ones are also entertained. It also screams to be paired with tons of Fall projects! I am hoping we have time this Autumn to use this to create our own leaf people and animals.

Leaf Jumpers by Carole Gerber - Oh this book is just lovely! I love the way the leaf artwork is portrayed in this book. It introduces the leaves with simple rhyming language and text that even toddler's can follow. There aren't too many words on each page, so it definitely holds the interest of little ones as well as older siblings! It is a great book to gently introduce your kids to leaf identification.

The Leaves on the Trees by Thom Wiley - So seriously, this book is AWESOME! My kid just so happens to be in love with the "Wheels on the Bus", so the fact that this is an Autumn book about leaves that is read to that tune is just about perfect for us. The pictures are fun and vibrant, and the text itself teaches all about the different colors of different types of leaves. This is a GREAT leaf themed book for your little one.

I Am A Leaf  - So I'm not sure if my toddler is in the minority, but he really loves these non-fiction science type books. I picked this one up awhile back at a used bookstore, and he thinks it's great! It is an emergent reader science book, so the text is definitely supportive for beginning readers as well as young listeners. The pictures are great, and there is a wealth of knowledge about leaves and trees inside!

Leaves! Leaves! Leaves! - This book is recommended on Amazon for the 6-8 year old age group, but it is definitely a book to be read by all ages. Once again, this book is narrated by a little bear (and his mother!) so that automatically gives it a thumbs up at our house. The cut-paper illustrations are delightful, and I like that it offers a leaf rubbing activity and identification chart at the end. A big plus about this book, is it focuses on the leaves throughout the multiple seasons, which is helpful in learning about leaves as a whole.

When The Leaf Blew In is not necessarily a book ABOUT leaves, but IS a funny cause and effect book based on what happens when an Autumn leaf blows into a barn full of animals! The illustrations are awesome, and are perfect for the farm animal lover. This book will have your little ones laughing for sure!

The Big Leaf Pile (Clifford the Big Red Dog)  - This fun leaf themed book based off of the Clifford the Big Red Dog series is adorable little Fall read. It's mostly about the dog's from the PBS Kids show making piles out of the leaves to jump in them. The story isn't the best, but it is worth reading to your little ones if they like the show or dogs in general!

Fall Leaves by Liesbet Slegers is definitely for the younger toddler set! It is a board book that will take your toddler on a journey through a Fall day. It introduces simple concepts and Autumn vocabulary that is easy for little ones to understand. The illustrations are adorable, and it is a wonderful book to introduce Fall to your toddler.

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf - Another Lois Ehlert book, this book depicts the life of a sugar Maple from the time it's a seed . The beautiful illustrations are made out of various materials like seed, fabric, paper, wire, ribbons etc. and are very unique. The story itself is a lovely one about the Maple from the time it is a seed until the narrator's father purchases it to plan in their yard. It is definitely a timeless book for all ages.

We're Going on a Leaf Hunt - This book follows the same pattern as We're Going on a Bear Hunt  which is a book we love. This book of course isn't pure magic like that one is, as it is a knock off, but it is still super fun. In this book, the children are going to hunt for leaves and it follows a similar pattern of overcoming the obstacles in their way. I can't wait to read this book with K and go on a leaf hunt of our own soon!

Looking for more book lists? You can see all of book lists here.

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Sep 15, 2014

8 Simple Sensory Activities to Help Siblings Bond

Today I am psyched to have one of my blogging besties, Dyan from And Next Comes L, sharing an awesome roundup of sensory activities that promote sibling bonding! If you haven't checked out her blog, you must. She is the light table queen, a quiet book aficionado, musical activity genius, and a dyed sensory material magician. I'm pretty much in love with her, and I know you will be too! Don't forget to follow And Next Comes L on Facebook, Pinterest, Google +, and Stumble Upon

                                  8 simple & colorful sensory activities that encourage siblings to bond. Only 1-3 materials are needed to each activity! from And Next Comes L & House of Burke
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Sep 12, 2014

Leaf Handprints

One of Kingston's favorite things about Fall are all of the leaves that seem to take over our yard. He loves finding them, examining them, and toting them around. This year, I am excited to let him jump in the piles! Recently, we made the cutest fall themed print craft inspired by this Autumn staple, Leaf Handprints! I think they are beautiful, and now want toddler-made leaf art adorning my entire house.
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Sep 11, 2014

Usborne Book Review

We were provided these Usborne books in exchange for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I am so excited to be partnering with Usborne book representative Heather McConley of WonderFunBooks to bring you an Usborne book review!

A little bit about Heather:
I grew up in Washington state, but moved out to New England in 1994, and love it here. I am an experienced mom (kids are now 12 & 15), and my family is a family of geeks. We watch Doctor Who and Sherlock, and play tabletop games for fun, among other things. I read voraciously too, garden, and volunteer at our church and at the kids' schools, in addition to working from home. I've been with Usborne for over 8 years, and my kids have grown up with Usborne, since I started having parties and falling in love with the books when they were 1 & 4. I love helping kids love reading. I love preschoolers best of all , and love helping families learn more about how to encourage their children. Usborne has given me tons of "extra" benefits -- in addition to a huge home library and an extra family income, I have earned 2 trips and 2 iPads, in addition to being part of President's Club and earning national awards.
A little bit about Usborne:
Usborne offers all kinds of unique children's books. In addition to books for sale, they also offer parties (online or in-person), and/or a business opportunity if you would like to earn extra money for your family. Usborne offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee and a lifetime 50% replacement policy when bought through consultants -- whatever happens to the books (including, but not limited to, the child himself ripping the book in two or feeding it to the family dog), Usborne replaces the book for 50% of the price
To stay up to date on what's happening in the Usborne world, follow Heather's WonderFunBooks Facebook page. To order books, sign up to host a party, or sign up as a representative, visit her WonderFunBooks Usborne page.
And now for the books! We received 8 Usborne books to review, half of them from the baby category (for Mr. Bentley!) and half of them for the toddler/preschooler set (for Kingston). Kingston took it upon himself to preview all age groups!

Touch and feel books are some of our absolute favorites for babies. We have quite a collection, so of course Kingston was excited to peek at this one. He can't wait to show his baby brother all of the sweet textured touch and feel animals inside! 

We LOVE this series of Usborne books. We were so excited to receive this one because it is one we don't have. At almost 2, Kingston still enjoys reading these books, and I know Bentley will grow up loving them. These books have bright pictures and fun, textured pages for your little one to touch and feel. They all follow a similar formula and teach children descriptive words while they are reading. We love these books!

This unique and fun mix-and-match book by Kane Miller is perfect for your little boy or your adventure loving girl! Inside, there are three panels where you can flip to mix and match different characters and stories. Kingston was immediately drawn to the fun concept and to all of the different people you could create. He spent quite a bit of time coming up with different adventures! This book is tons of fun.

This was hands down Kingston's absolute FAVORITE book! First of all, it is huge and amazing quality. The pictures are phenomenal, the information inside is invaluable, and it is just perfect for your little dinosaur lover regardless of age. This is a book that K is going to be able to read and learn from for years to come. For now, he is enjoying opening up the giant fold out pages and identifying the different dinosaurs. If you need to choose one dinosaur book for your little dino-fiend, this one is the way to go! 

 Pirates - $4.99

Kingston's newest love is pirates. We are constantly pretending to be pirates, reading about pirates, watching pirates, and singing pirate songs. We were so excited to receive this book! It is definitely way too old for K's current reading level, but he loves looking through it and pointing out the different pirates and ships. If you are looking for a super affordable pirate book full of information for your little buccaneer, this one is a great choice! 

This phonics reader is huge and awesome!! Usborne teamed up with a language specialist to bring a compilation of stories that help teach your child to read. An awesome perk is that it comes with a listen-along CD! I am so excited to use this as a learning tool with K when he is ready to start reading. The pictures are bright and colorful and the text will help your child learn how to read without being too mundane like a lot of phonics readers. 

This set of 9 animal tiny, chunky farm animal books is absolutely precious. Kingston was drawn to this set immediately. These books are perfect for little hands, and the text inside is easy enough for a toddler to pretend to read. K is really excited to read these books to Bentley. Each book mentions what the animal is, what their baby is called, what they eat, where they live, etc. Not only are these books adorable AND educational, but the cool packaging has allowed Kingston to also use it as a sort of puzzle. He dumps the box of books out and then places them back in according to the pictures on the box. This is a super cute set that I would definitely recommend. 

This adorable touch and feel book will be perfect for Bentley! The colors in this book (and all the other books in this adorable series for babies) are so vibrant! I love that there are different sections to trace with your finger and tons of textures to explore. It is a unique touch and feel book for sure! 

Don't forget to visit Heather's Usborne store and her facebook page! 

We highly recommend Usborne books, and look forward to hosting a party for all of our local friends in the near future! Do you have any experience with Usborne? We'd love to hear about it in the comments!

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