How Do Dinosaurs Books Review

How Do Dinosaurs Books Review

Ever since I was young, books have been a huge part of my life.  I have a memory from when I was about five years old walking home from the library with an entire wagon full of books we had checked out.  That little wagon sat in our front room where I could pick a book and look through it or my mom would read it to me.  Before the week was done, I had looked through all the books at least once.  The next week, we took the books back and got another wagon full to bring home.  This love of reading has stuck with me all my life.  I love getting lost in the world of books.  My husband laughs at me because if I’m reading a book, I have no idea what’s going on around me.

I’m happy to say that this love of reading has been picked up by my own children.  We have all types of books from Dr. Seuss to Sandra Boynton to Sesame Street to Disney.  In the last year or so, my son has started to take a special interest in dinosaurs.  So when we went to the library last month, I picked up a few books from the How Do Dinosaurs series by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague.  I’d heard about the series from a friend of mine who has two boys who also like dinosaurs.  The moment we got home, my kids pulled all the library books out and asked me to read them.  We had borrowed three of the How Do Dinosaurs books and with the exception of Pinkalicious and Fancy Nancy, even my daughter loved reading them.

How Do Dinosaurs Books Review
Illustration from How Do Dinosaurs Go To School? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague

So why do I love these books?  First of all, the illustrations are amazing.  The illustrator draws pictures of dinosaurs doing the things he talks about in each of his books (along with the name of it).  I’m just as captivated as my kids are.  Second, they’re educational and promote good behavior.  My kids learn lessons about how to behave at school or when they are mad through the use of humor.  After only reading the books a handful of times, both my kids could “read” the story based on the pictures.

How Do Dinosaurs Books Review
Illustration from How Do Dinosaurs Clean Their Rooms? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague

I’ve decided that these books are definitely worth spreading the word about and definitely worthy of taking up space on our bookshelf.  I hope you and your kids love them as much as mine do!

Below you can see a list of all the How Do Dinosaur books as well as links to purchase them on Amazon.  (Note: any purchases made by clicking on these links will provide me with a small commission at no extra cost to you).

How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? (Hardcover)
How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? (Hardcover)
How Do Dinosaurs Clean Their Rooms? (Board Book)
How Do Dinosaurs Count to Ten? (Board Book)
How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? (Hardcover) (Paperback)
How Do Dinosaurs Play with Their Friends? (Board Book)
How Do Dinosaurs Learn Their Colors? (Board Book)
How Do Dinosaurs Go To School? (Hardcover)
How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? (Hardcover)
How Do Dinosaurs Love Their Cats? (Board Book)
How Do Dinosaurs Love Their Dogs? (Board Book)
How Do Dinosaurs Laugh Out Loud? (Board Book)
How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Birthday? (Board Book)
How Do Dinosaurs Go Up and Down? (Hardcover)
How Do Dinosaurs Play All Day? (Paperback)
How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas? (Hardcover)
How Do Dinosaurs Eat Cookies? (Hardcover)
How Do Dinosaurs Say I’m Mad? (Hardcover)
How Do Dinosaurs Stay Safe? (Hardcover)

What are you favorite children’s books?

Kid Science: Growing Seeds In A Bag

Kid Science: Growing Seeds In A Bag--Learn about how seeds grow!  A great activity to do at home with the kids or for a pre-K thru 1st grade lesson.

A few weeks ago, I thought it would be a good idea to get some starts going for our garden.  I bought some soil and those little biodegradable pots and used some seeds I already had and then planted two of each kind.  I made sure they were watered, got plenty of sunshine during the day and brought them in at night because it was still pretty cold.  This lasted about three days.  One afternoon, we had a crazy windstorm and guess what got left outside.  My little plants.  My daughter discovered them and came running inside with tears streaming down her face: “Mom!  The seeds!  They blew over!”  She was really sad about it.  Sure enough, there was dirt all over the patio and no seeds to be seen.

Since then we’ve had some snow and rain and sunny days and I haven’t attempted to start any more plants, not sure if it was really springtime yet.  One day, I remembered a time in first grade starting seeds in a plastic bag using a wet paper towel to keep the seeds moist, then sticking it in the sun and watching the seeds sprout.  Duh.  Why didn’t I think of this before?  (Answer: Probably because even though I’ve had a garden for the last few years, I’m still an amateur gardener.)  Turns out this is actually a viable way to start seeds for your garden and not just an elementary school experiment.

I decided to turn it into a little activity for my kids so they could see how plants grow.  I gathered the supplies: seeds, zip-top bags and paper towels.  (I’ve also read you can use coffee filters instead of paper towels.)

Kid Science: Growing Seeds In A Bag--Learn about how seeds grow!  A great activity to do at home with the kids or for a pre-K thru 1st grade lesson.

This was a super easy project to have the kids help out with.  I simply chose three different kinds of seeds out of my stash (which I keep in the freezer).   Then I got a paper towel and folded it down to size so it would fit inside the bag.  Using a spray bottle, I got the paper towels wet but not soaking, then placed them inside each bag.  My kids loved squirting the water out of the bottle and had lots of fun with this step.

Kid Science: Growing Seeds In A Bag--Learn about how seeds grow!  A great activity to do at home with the kids or for a pre-K thru 1st grade lesson.

I poured a few seeds into their hand which they put inside the bag on top of the damp towel.  I helped space them out, then pressed out most of the air because I wanted to tape the bags to a window and didn’t want the seeds shifting.  Another site I looked at showed them actually blowing air into the bags and then sealing them before setting them in a warm spot.  Either way you do it, the bag acts as a mini greenhouse and you shouldn’t have to open it to add any water during the germination process.  I labeled each bag with the type of seed and then taped the bags to my kitchen window.

Kid Science: Growing Seeds In A Bag--Learn about how seeds grow!  A great activity to do at home with the kids or for a pre-K thru 1st grade lesson.

Kid Science: Growing Seeds In A Bag--Learn about how seeds grow!  A great activity to do at home with the kids or for a pre-K thru 1st grade lesson.

And let’s be honest: this was just as much an experiment for me as it was for my kids.  They wanted to see things grow.  I was curious to see which seeds would sprout (if at all), which would sprout soonest, etc.  It took me back to my little first grade self, learning about how seeds grow and the excitement of watching my own seed sprout.

I took pictures on day 1, 3, 5, and 7 and you can see in the pictures how much, or how little, they grew in a week’s time.

Kid Science: Growing Seeds In A Bag--Learn about how seeds grow!  A great activity to do at home with the kids or for a pre-K thru 1st grade lesson.

I didn’t do anything scientific with my kids in terms of measuring the size or drawing a picture of the seed, but I might do this activity/experiment next year when they are a little older and my daughter will be five.  You could easily adapt this activity depending on age group.  I found a website that had a lesson plan about growing seeds in a bag and a worksheet included.

I haven’t decided if I’m going to try and plant these seeds in my garden but I think I’ve still got a little time to leave them in the bag before they start to go bad.  (Garden Betty’s website gave a lot of great information on how to do this.  Check out her post for more information.)

Do you have a favorite method for starting your seeds in the spring?

Teaching Your Preschooler Time

Kadie: “Mom, what’s for lunch?”
Me: “It’s not lunch time, it’s breakfast.”

Kadie: “Mom, last year I went to Aunt Dani’s house.”
Me: “Sweetheart, we were there yesterday.”
Kadie: “Mom, what’s today?”
Me: “It’s (insert day of the week).”
Kadie: “Does that mean it’s splash pad day?”
If you’ve ever tried to help a young child understand how many days it is until a certain event or activity, you’ve probably been met with confusion and frustration that it’s not happening right now.  This is because small children live in the present and they have a hard time thinking abstractly.   Time is a very abstract and intangible concept, which is why it is difficult to grasp until they get closer to age 6 or 7 and their brain starts to develop in a way that they are able to begin to understand things such as time.
My daughter, like many children her age, ask a lot of questions.  Some are pretty easy to answer–“Can I have a cookie?” and others…not so much–“Where do babies come from?”  While these seemingly non-stop questions can be frustrating, especially when the same one has been asked 10 times in the last half hour, it’s helpful to realize that they are asking because they are trying to understand their world better.  As parents, it’s our job to help them.  But how can we help them understand something they can’t see?
As my daughter has gotten older, she asks questions about time without really understanding time itself.  She knows that things happen in a certain order, but doesn’t have the cognitive development to fully grasp how it all works together.  In my desire to help her understand her world better, I’ve tried a few techniques that have been helpful:

Teaching Your Preschooler Time--tips on how to help your child learn the concept of time

 Make a countdown chain  This last fall, my daughter started preschool (aaahh!).  She was really excited about it and asked me regularly if today is “preschool day”.  Finally, I decided to help her make a “Countdown to Preschool” chain so she could have a visual representation of the amount of time, or days, left until she starts.  I let her choose the colors for the chain, cut out and decorate the top of the chain, and then she helped me tape it together.  We put it up on the wall in the kitchen where she can see it every day.  I explained to her that each day she could tear off one of the chains and when she tore off the last one, it would be the first day of preschool.  We also included other activities that are happening between now and preschool so that she has other events to look forward to along the way. 

Teach them a song  When my daughter was really little, we watched a lot of Sesame Street.  Some of the first words she learned beyond “mama” and “dada” were from the songs we watched and listened to.  In addition to watching the videos, we sang during diaper changes, in the car, during baths, etc.  So when she got a little older, around 2.5, we taught her a little song for the days of the week.  It’s nothing special, but after singing it over and over with her, she knows the song without help.  While she doesn’t fully understand what the days of the week are, she understands enough to recognize that each day has a name and goes in order.
Use a calendar  We have a calendar up in our kitchen that helps me with my meal planning.  Just like any calendar, it has the days of the week at the top.  It’s been helpful at times to take the calendar down and show her what the current day is and what day a certain event is happening.  For example, we went camping a few weeks ago.  She kept asking if today was camping day.  We got the calendar down and showed her that, no, today is Wednesday and we’re camping on Friday.  And then we’d count how many days until camping.  We repeated this the next day, and the next, until it was the day we were going camping.  She didn’t ask as often when we were going because she would look at the calendar and remember what we had talked about.  I could also remind her of our earlier conversation so she could think back and answer her own question.

*Another method we could have used was to cross each day off as it happened, which is a variation on the countdown chain.

Teaching Your Preschooler Time--tips on how to help your child learn the concept of time

Help them learn their numbers  We’ve been working with our daughter on numbers for the last year or so.  She is at the point where she can count up to 20 easily.  She also recognizes numbers if she sees them written down or on a clock.  She used to ask me all the time, “Mom, can I have a snack?”  Rather than keep telling her that it wasn’t time for a snack–an answer she doesn’t understand–I showed her the clock and said, “When the short arm reaches the 10, then you know it’s snack time.”  The next time she asked, I pointed at the clock and asked her if the short arm was at 10.  If it was, then she knew it was snack time.  We’ve done the same thing with lunch time.  This has helped her learn that time moves forward and that certain things happen at certain times.  Having a clock to look at makes it more tangible. 

Have a routine/schedule  One of the very best things you can do for your child is to have a regular, predictable routine or schedule.  This applies to many areas, including teaching your children about time.  While this doesn’t deal directly with numbers or calendars, it does help them know what to expect.  A child that can count on something happening is going to transition easier, better and faster than a child that doesn’t know what to expect each day.  For my daughter, it is helpful if I give a basic outline of what is happening that day.  (I usually break it down into morning, afternoon and evening.)  If she knows we are going to the grocery store after breakfast, then it’s not surprising to her when I tell her she needs to get her shoes on so we can go.  If she knows we are going to the park when she wakes up from her nap, she is more likely to go to sleep so that it comes faster.  Schedules and routines work wonders with kids and their ability to adjust more quickly and easily.
*If you don’t have a regular schedule in place for your kids, try doing it a little at a time by implementing a morning or bedtime routine.  It may take a little time, but probably less than you expect if you stick with it.
I hope that some of these suggestions have been helpful.  Every kid is different and so some of these may work better than others depending on your child’s age and how they process information.  

Is there something that you do that helps your preschooler understand time?  I’d love to hear it!

12 Fun Ways to Teach Your Child the Alphabet

12 Fun Ways to Teach Your Child the Alphabet--these activities feel more like playing than learning so they'll want to do them!
This post originally appeared on Muddy Little Toes where I was previously a co-contributor.

One of the first songs I remember singing to my daughter was the alphabet song.  I’d sing it while changing diapers, in the car, during bath time, waiting for dinner…pretty much all the time.  When she was about 20 months, she started singing the song on her own with a little help here and there.  By the time she turned 2 years old, she knew the song and could recognize some letters (mostly the ones in her name).  Currently, she is 3 (turning 4 in January) and she knows all the letters by sight, can write about half of them, and knows 3/4 of them by sound.  I’m not telling you this to toot my horn or say that I’m a great teacher when it comes to letters.  But there are some tools I’ve used that have proven to be successful for my daughter, and my son is starting to catch on as well (he is 18 months).  Check out the list below and see if anything catches your eye!

Sing the ABCsI mentioned this one already, but I wanted to include it as part of the list.  This is the simplest way to expose your kids to the alphabet.  Most babies and young children like songs and music and catch on quickly.  Even if you only sing the ABCs anytime you change their diaper and they’ll hear it at least 5 times a day.

12 Fun Ways to Teach Your Child the Alphabet--these activities feel more like playing than learning so they'll want to do them!

Watch Sesame Street alphabet videos
Say what you will about letting small children watch tv, but it was something that I allowed my daughter to watch for maybe 10-15 minutes a day when I needed to distract her while I got dinner ready or used the bathroom or straightened up the house.  I wanted to make sure that any exposure she had was educational, so I simply subscribed to the Sesame Street channel on YouTube and let her watch alphabet videos and other songs.  Before long, she’d ask for the “elemeno” song and would try to sing along.

Sidewalk Chalk (3 variations)

  1. In Order: Write the alphabet out on the sidewalk, driveway or patio with chalk.  I got into a habit of doing this almost every time we went into our backyard in the summer (starting when my daughter was about 18 months).  She didn’t pick up on a lot at the beginning but just seeing the letters consistently helped her recognize them more easily as she got older. 
  2. Mixed Up: Write all the letters of the alphabet on the sidewalk, driveway or patio with chalk.  Then quiz your child on where any given letter is.  This is an activity to be used once your child is older, probably 3+.  It stimulates them mentally and physically since they are walking/running to each letter. 
  3. Trace Letters: Write all the letters out on the sidewalk, driveway or patio with chalk.  Give your child some chalk and help them trace the letters as you tell them what the letter is.  Not only does this expose them to the letters, but it also helps strengthen their fine motor skills which are important for activities like writing.
12 Fun Ways to Teach Your Child the Alphabet--these activities feel more like playing than learning so they'll want to do them!

Bath Crayons
This is really just another way to help introduce letters to your child.  It is fun for them because the get to color in the bathtub, but it’s also an opportunity to teach them where they (generally) won’t run away from you.  You could do all of the same activities as you would with bath crayons as you do with the sidewalk chalk.

Foam Bath Letters
Foam bath letters are similar to bath crayons but nice because the are reusable and cheaper than bath crayons.  The same activities used with chalk and crayons can be used with these as well.

Refrigerator Magnets
I bought some inexpensive letter magnets from the dollar store and wrote out the alphabet on a piece of construction paper and stuck it to the fridge.  Then I gave my daughter the letter magnets and told her to find the letter that matched the one I had written and place it on top.  She loved this activity and has asked me to do it multiple times.

Alphabet Books
This is kind of a no-brainer, but alphabet books are awesome tools to help your child learn their letters.  My kids love the ones that have the letter and objects that start with that letter surrounding it.  I think it’s a good way to help them make an early connection between letters and reading and the objects around us.

12 Fun Ways to Teach Your Child the Alphabet--these activities feel more like playing than learning so they'll want to do them!

White Board
When you feel comfortable letting your child use markers, a white board is a good indoor activity to use to help your child practice recognizing, tracing and writing letters.  (We’ve also used our white board for shapes and numbers.)

Letters of Their Name
The first letters my daughter became familiar with were the letters in her name.  I would write her name over and over and we’d practice saying each letter.  She got to the point where she could recognize those letters in books, on signs, cereal boxes, etc.

Pencil/Pen and Paper
Recently, my daughter has been asking for pen/pencil and paper to practice her letters.  Sometimes we’ll write the alphabet and other times we’ll write words or names.  We started with her name and we’ve expanded to writing my son’s name, “mom” and “dad”.  This is another activity that helps strengthen their fine motor skills.

12 Fun Ways to Teach Your Child the Alphabet--these activities feel more like playing than learning so they'll want to do them!

Leap Frog
Once your child hits about age 3-4, letting them watch the videos put out by Leap Frog may be something you want to look into.  They cover everything from letters to numbers to reading.  I really like them because they are simple, straightforward and they use music to supplement the learning, which kids love.  My two favorites are Letter Factory and The Amazing Alphabet Amusement Park.

Another activity we’ve been doing recently with my daughter is using the game Bananagrams to quiz her on letters.  We also spell words with the letters or ask her to spell some of the words she knows. It’s just another activity to help with letter recognition.

I hope you found something that you think will help your child learn their alphabet!  Keep in mind that all kids learn at different rates and what works for my kids might not work for yours.  But I think the key is consistency.  If you are working with your child on a fairly regular basis, they will catch on eventually and at their own pace.

What have you done with your kids to help them learn their alphabet letter and sounds?  I’d love to hear your ideas!