Tag Archives: book activities

Jazz: A Black History Booklist for Preschool Cats


This post contains affiliate links.

A few years ago, my good friends and fellow educators entrusted me to play preschool with their son Ben, who is the same age as Ashman. Pretty naive of me to think teaching high school for ten years could prepare me for teaching three-year-olds, right? Ben and Ashman turned out to be the wriggliest force I had ever reckoned with! Nevertheless, I relished the challenge of finding topics and activities that held their interest. Jazz, a topic I selected in honor of Black History Month, turned out to have immense toddler appeal. Ben and Ashman loved learning about the instruments, rhythms and rhymes of this music born in New Orleans. I loved introducing them to notable Black musicians who made this style part of our American history. Here is a list of books we used to learn about jazz. Whenever possible, I’ve tried to explain the sensory activities we paired with the book…because if there’s one thing Ben and Ashman taught me, it’s that kids gotta move! Continue reading


Book Giving Day 12: Book Pairings


This post contains affiliate links.

Oh my goodness, we made it!  It’s day 12 of the “12 Days of Book Giving”!

Book Giving Idea #12

Reading and cooking go together like red wine and chocolate, coffee and donuts, tea and shortbread, milk and cookies. I could go on, but what I mean is kids get exposure to so much good food while reading, and so much good reading while cooking. This holiday season, pair a children’s book with homemade food or a cooking experience to maximize this symbiotic relationship. Here are some possibilities to get you thinking:

The Ninjabread Man

Book Pairing: Ninjabread Man and cookie cutters

Saint Nicholas brought my ninjas this book with some matching cookie cutters.  After reading the story, Budlong and Ashman are eagerly anticipating our cookie making, baking, frosting, and eating experiences!

Who Made This Cake?

Who Made This Cake? paired with cake mix

In this picture book by Chihiro Nakagawa and Junji Koyose, miniature construction vehicles and their operators work to make a life-size birthday cake for a mother. If you have a young child who’s crazy about construction vehicles, pair this book with a box of cake mix. It’s sure to be an unforgettable baking and imagination building experience!

Food in Literature Blog

Food in Literature is an amazing blog whose founder, Bryton Taylor, creates recipes inspired by novels and children’s literature.  In addition to the recipes, you’ll find gorgeous, mouthwatering photos and how-to videos. I am most intrigued by…

Book pairing: Lion Witch and Wardrobe with Turkish Delight

Book Pairing: HP and treacle tart

Book pairing: BFG and frobscottle

Get the book, print off the recipe, shop for the ingredients, and you’ve got yourself an amazing gift basket to give to an older child!

Kids Cook with Books from What’s Cooking with Kids

This is a gift that has potential to last the whole year. You can sign yourself or a child up for this book club, and each month you’ll receive a recipe that complements a children’s book geared toward kids ages 2-8. The 2017 list of books is already posted. Check it out and track down the first few books!

Thank you so much for following this series.  I hope you have been inspired to give a child a unique book in a creative way. Whatever your cause for celebration this season, Budlong, Ashman, my husband and I would like to wish you peace, joy, and tons of time for reading!

Featured image based on "Presents" by Andrew Butitta, CC-BY-SA-2.0
Day 8 Book giving

Book Giving Day 8: A Storytelling Basket


This post contains affiliate links.

One full week of the “12 Days of Book Giving” in the books! Drum roll and fanfare for day 8…

Book Giving Idea #8

Today’s book giving idea is a storytelling basket. This is a kit that includes a book and puppets, small toys, or other props that would help your child retell the story. Props can be purchased or made. Gathering them is half the fun of putting this gift together. This could finally be a reason to use some of the random crap—I mean, toys—that you’ve collected from garage sales, thrift stores, birthday party favors, dentist office prize machines, or happy meals. I’ve also seen storytelling baskets containing wooden spoon puppets painted to resemble the characters in a book. If you possess this talent that would put my storytelling basket examples to shame, by all means…

Why a Storytelling Basket?

A dramatic retelling of a story is a fantastic way to extend the benefits of a book. Acting it out deepens your child’s understanding of the story, develops his/her verbal skills, and connects reading to physical and social play. I would recommend this type of gift for readers ages 3-8. Reciting a story from memory or from looking at the pictures is an important step in early literacy. Even if your child can’t read words on a page, this activity helps develop his identity as a reader. Folktales or other stories that have cumulative or repetitive plots make the best storytelling baskets. Below is a list of titles to help you get started making your own.

Seasonal Folktales for Storytelling Baskets

The Gingerbread Man

Gingerbread Man Storytelling Basket

So many versions of this tale exist, each with different animal characters that try to eat the gingerbread man. The one constant is the sly fox, so make sure you include him in your basket.  Other ingredients seen in the photo are a rolling pin, cookie cutter, pan, and gingerbread man ornament. Ashman and I made the ornament from dough containing mostly cinnamon and glue. He smells wonderful!

There Was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow by Lucille Colandro and Jared Lee

There Was a Cold Lady Storytelling Kit

All the things this woman swallows accumulate in her belly until she hiccups twice and out pops a snowman. Most of my ingredients are made of paper. I know you can do better. Wouldn’t it be fun to include some white play dough for the snow? You can find the old lady template here.

The Mitten by Jan Brett

The Mitten

This Ukranian folktale is another cumulative story. While playing outside in the snow, a boy loses one of the white mittens his grandmother knitted him. Subsequently a mole, rabbit, hedgehog, owl, badger, fox, bear, and mouse all snuggle into the mitten to sleep. When the mouse climbs on bear’s nose, the bear sneezes and they all go flying. The boy is reunited with his mitten when he sees it falling from the sky. This storytelling basket requires a lot of animals and a very large white mitten, but Jan Brett’s glorious illustrations make it SO worth having.

Storytelling Baskets for the Overachiever

Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina

Caps for Sale

This basket must contain hats in five different colors: grey, brown, blue, and red, and one checkered. Oh, and you’re going to need some monkeys. I know we have a partial set of the game Barrel of Monkeys around here somewhere, how about you? Your kid will love walking around balancing a tower of hats on his head and shouting, “Caps for sale, caps for sale. Fifty cents a cap!”

20 Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street by Mark Lee and Kurt Cyrus

20 Big Trucks

Ashman loves to act out this book and he would LOVE to receive a storytelling basket with exact replicas of the trucks in this book. You’ll need an ice cream truck, mail truck, hay truck, pickup truck, crane truck, two moving vans, 4 delivery trucks, farm truck carrying pigs, cement mixer, tanker truck, tow truck, truck towing a tar kettle (what?!), bread truck, meat truck, and a garbage truck. Totally doable, right?  If not, make sure you have the crane truck (the solution to the traffic jam) and 19 other trucks of any kind will do.

The Three Little Pigs by James Marshall, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by John Scieszka and Lane Smith, and The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Dan Santat

Three Little Pigs, three versions

Extend the use of your storytelling basket by including three versions of this traditional tale (a.k.a. “fractured fairytales”). The characters and building materials (straw, sticks, bricks) remain the same, but the plots, points of view, and settings change slightly.

That’s all for today. See you tomorrow for Day 9!

Featured image based on "Presents" by Andrew Butitta, CC-BY-SA-2.0
Start a Book Club

Book Giving Day 4: Start a Book Club (free printable!)


This post contains affiliate links.

It’s day 4 of “The 12 Days of Book Giving”!!! Here’s your caroling review of the last three days:

Gift of Nothing’s

2 homemade audiobooks

and an almost empty box!

Book Giving Idea #4

Today’s book giving idea is a super easy way to get kids excited about receiving and reading books—start a book-of-the-month club! It can be a little costly to package and ship books, but nothing says you can’t circulate books you already have at home or find used copies at bargain prices. You also don’t have to keep it up for a whole year. We did ours for four months.  Read on to find out how we set it up and then download our free book club form! Continue reading

Day 1 of 12 Book Giving

Book Giving Day 1: An Almost Empty Box


This post contains affiliate links.

Woohoo!!! It’s finally here: Day 1 of my blog series “The 12 Days of Book Giving”!!!

Each day you’ll get an inspiring way to give a book to a child during the holidays.

Have you ever noticed that children are often more amused with the packaging than the presents, especially big cardboard boxes? A box so big you can climb inside is no longer a box.  It’s a vehicle, or a shelter, or a portal to another world.  When you give an empty box, you give the gift of imagination, creativity, and possibility. The same could be said of giving a book. Continue reading

It Looked Like Spilt Milk activitiy

Boys and Reading: When Acting Out is a Good Thing


When my parents gave Ashman a Lego City car transporter set as an early fifth birthday present, he was not allowed to open it until we got home from Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  We’ve had a strict “no Legos out of the house” policy ever since Budlong’s Batman minifig was snatched right out of his school cubby in kindergarten.  I know, talk about a hard life lesson.  So Ashman contented himself with sitting on the couch with his grandpa, looking at the pictures on the box, and “talking about Legos.”

“When I build this car transporter, I can act out a book I have,” I heard him say to Grandpa.

“Oh really?  Which book?” I interjected, stunned that “acting out a book” was a thing he was aware he did and was in fact making plans to do.  The boys do it all the time with TV shows.  At our house, watching a couple episodes of Wild Kratts or Jake and the Neverland Pirates can spontaneously morph into hours of animal role play or treasure hunting, but it’s a rare and beautiful occasion when books inspire children’s play.  And here’s why and how I try to encourage it whenever I can.

Continue reading