Sunday, August 7, 2016

Sunday Super Sleuths

This is our first Sunday Super Sleuths challenge. If you missed the previous post, you can find it here. It explains what this is all about. 

August's mystery book to explore is called "Max and Maddy and the Bursting Balloons Mystery" by Alexander McCall Smith. This is a great chapter book, especially for readers new to longer chapter books. This one is 128 pages. Max and Maddy go on several adventures, so check out some of their other mysteries if you like this one. 

It's encouraged that you read the book with your child, even if he or she is a great independent reader. By reading with your child, you can pose questions and encourage him or her to pause and think while reading. (Not to mention it's great bonding time!) 

After each chapter:
  1. Ask your child what the mystery is and if there are any new layers to the mystery.
  2. Ask your child what just happened and if there are any new clues to solve the puzzle.
  3. Ask your child what he or she think will happen next.

Did you like the book? Join the discussion on Facebook! Stay tuned for the Monthly Mystery challenge in one week.

New series: Sunday Super Sleuths

Since the regular book selections are picture books targeted for children from birth to age 4, I wanted to create something fun for the older kids. Thus Sunday Super Sleuths was born! On the first Sunday of every month, I'll choose a mystery book geared toward children ages 5-8, depending on maturity level. These go beyond the Goosebumps and Nancy Drew books, too.

Throughout the month, you and your child get to read a book and help the main character solve a mystery. When you've finish, come back here to find your Monthly Mystery Challenge and become sleuths to solve it. You can take it a step further and encourage your child to write down the adventures and create their own little mystery book.

Check out the Facebook page to share clues and your child's writing with other parents.

*The first Sunday Super Sleuth post will be published today, and the first Monthly Mystery Challenge will be available in one week, on the 14th. 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

August's book and activities

Since this is the first month and I don't really have anything organized, I'm only choosing one book. I thought I'd start off with a smaller book to leave a lot of room for improvisation. I chose "Little Blue, Little Yellow" as our first book to explore because there are so many fun color mixing activities.

Find it here on Amazon.

I remember art class in elementary school, one of my favorites, and learning about the color wheel was something I loved. While there are only two colors that mix in this book, don't limit yourself when planning an activity! You can explore just the two colors, or you can prepare something to explore the whole wheel. You know your child - their interests and attention span - best, so go with what works for you.

Don't feel like you need to do all the activities in one sitting or at all. (In fact, I strongly discourage that approach!) Choose those that would be appreciated by your child. I encourage reading the book several times throughout the month and choosing a different activity each time. Ask a discussion question (or two) after each time reading it while your child engages in an art activity to help strengthen the connection between the story and real life. By the end of the month, your child might be able to tell YOU the story. 

The suggested activities for this book are: 

1. Color exploration with paint:
Grab your colors - you can choose to do blue/yellow only, or you can try others - and a piece of paper of your choice. I like to use thick legal-sized paper. Lay down some newspaper or a plastic cover on the floor, put out some paint brushes or encourage finger painting, and let your children explore. Here are a few recipes for different types of paint.

2. Color exploration with playdough:
This one is really fun because, if you make your own playdough, this craft turns into a science experiment that helps math skills too! (Even young children, like three year olds, can help measure ingredients.) Here's a fun recipe I like to use. (It's not edible, though, so be mindful of younger children.)

3. Color exploration with wax paper:
If you're a parent of a young child, you probably have more crayon stubs lying around than you know what to do with. (My oldest likes to nibble on them!) Here is a fun craft you can easily do.

4. Color exploration with tissue paper:
I love tissue paper, so it's good that I can find it at the Dollar Store! Though I hardly use it for its intended purpose, I stash it for art projects like collages. Here is a website that walks you how to create a tissue paper collage. Scissors provide great fine-motor skills practice. Just make sure to give kid-friendly scissors! 

5. Create a map:
Grab a large piece of paper or poster, crayons or markers, and a ruler. (Ruler optional.) Little blue and little yellow play hide and seek in their neighborhood. Draw a map of their neighborhood and include places mentioned in the story, such as: houses, school, mountain, store, park, etc. If you choose, include places not specifically mentioned in the story but would make sense on the map, such as: sandbox and swings at the park, school buses at school, trees in the backyard, etc. Be creative! For younger children, you could use words like: up, over, down, on, across, and beyond to help increase vocabulary. Ask what other games little blue and little yellow could play.

6. Kid-friendly philosophy: 
I like to include a discussion to have while children are engaged in their art activity. By working on their art, it allows children to open up and express themselves during the discussion and say things they may usually keep to themselves. Topics to explore are friendship, material constitution, and identity. Gauge your child's abilities to think and reason. Challenge your child, but make sure questions are age-appropriate. 

For example: I wouldn't ask my three year old  "Do you think people change as they get older?", but I would ask "What is the color green?" to hear his response.

Here are some questions you can ask:
  • Do you think you have to become exactly like your best friend?
  • What kind of things do best friends have in common?
  • Can you be friends with someone who shares nothing in common with you?
  • What happened when little blue hugged little yellow?
  • How did the parents realize what happened to little blue and little yellow?
  • Can you think of something made of more than one thing?
  • In vegetable soup, can you separate vegetables from broth? (Yes.) In paint, can you separate blue from yellow when you make green? (No.) Why?
  • What makes green what it is?
  • Do you think people change as they get older?

Did you do any of the activities? Did you make up your own? Do you participate in any of the art projects? Post your pictures and adventures in the comments below or on the Facebook page

Tuesday, August 2, 2016


Hi there, and welcome! Choose a comfy chair or pillow, grab a book, and let's dive in.

I created this blog primarily to have some type of online community for parents who want to share the love of reading with their children. (I know I can't be the only one out there.)

So, for now, I'm keeping it simple. Each month, I'll choose two age-appropriate books for my kids, preview the books, create activities and crafts that go with the books' themes, and engage my children. Hopefully, this will show them that reading is fun. What this blog may morph into later on is completely unknown, but it'd be fun to add all types of literacy activities.

So, who am I? I'm just another mom, like you. I have two boys, ages 3 and 7 months, and they both love storytime.


I've started homeschooling my oldest in some sort of eclectic, unschooling type thing that I haven't really defined myself yet. My passions revolve around books and music. I'm a voracious reader (mystery, literary fiction, YA, and children's), and a writer of the same genres. [Fun fact: I'll be published in five anthologies this year!] I play piano and violin, though not at the same time, and classical music is usually playing throughout the day.

I'm excited to start this online community, and I hope you stay awhile. Since it's the second already and I haven't prechosen books for this month, I'll choose one book for August and post the choice tomorrow. Keep an eye out for the month's activity, and feel free to throw out ideas for books and crafts and such. It's a community, after all!

Are you worried because you have an older child who might be bored with a picture book? In a few months after I find a good groove, I'll add in older-aged books and activities in the mix so nobody is left out.

Come back in a few days to see what new reading adventures we're up to and see the August book reveal.

Happy reading!