October 30, 2014

The Best Alphabet Books

I absolutely love children's pictures books! Sharing a book with my children is one of my favorite things to do. Today I'm going to share with you some great Alphabet books that you can use to introduce and reinforce the alphabet with your children.

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Alphabet books aren't really going to teach your child to read, but they will help them get familiar with the letters and give them opportunities to practice recognizing them. Plus there are some really fun ones out there that even older kids will enjoy.

For younger kids: 

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom  by Bill Martin Jr.

This is a classic book for good reason. Kids love the rhythm of it and the brightly colored pictures. It's a great way to introduce kids to the alphabet.

Alphabet City by Stephen Johnson

Children who are a little more familiar with the alphabet will enjoy finding the letters hidden in these paintings of the city. They are so well done sometimes I have a hard time they're paintings and not pictures!

A to Z by Sandra Boynton

I just love Sandra Boynton. Kids love her animal drawings and this alphabet book is great.

Alphabet  by Matthew Van Fleet

My kids love being able to feel books and this one is full of things to feel and pull.

I Spy Letters by Jean Marzollo

These "I Spy" books are always a hit with my kids. This book is great for little kids as you point out the letters and the items that begin with those letters.

Alphabet Adventure by Audrey Wood

Honestly, I don't know why my kids like this one so much. I never thought it was that great but I recommend it because my kids have LOVED it. I don't know why, so I can't explain it, but your kids will probably like it too. 

LMNO Peas  by Keith Baker

Cute story about the alphabet. 

Shiver Me Letters: A Pirate ABC by June Sobel

Another of my boys' favorites - pirates searching for the letters of the alphabet and they find them all over. Cute book.

Alpha Bugs: A Pop-up Alphabet by David Carter

We love the "Bug" books! 

For older kids: 

These books are good for older kids who are already familiar with the letters. They are cleverly written and kids will love how the authors play with the alphabet. It might even inspire some crazy alphabet stories of their own!

A Is for Musk Ox by Erin Cabatingan

There is a rascally Musk Ox who wants to take center stage and explains why each letter stands for Musk Ox. You will find out more about Musk Oxen than you ever knew you wanted to know. Great book!

Z Is for Moose by Kelly Bingham

Moose can't wait for his turn in the alphabet and Zebra (as referee) has to help keep him in his place. 

Animalia by Graeme Base

I love this book! The pictures are beautiful and there are so many hidden things to find. The pages are filled with things that start with that letter and it's a great way to introduce your kids to some new vocabulary. 

Antics! by Cathi Hepworth

This book unfortunately is out of print, but you can still buy it used. Each letter of the alphabet is illustrated with a word that contains "ant" in it, such as "Brilliant" for B and "Deviant" for D. The pictures are fantastic and your kids will learn some new vocabulary.

123 versus ABC by Mike Boldt

Another clever way to showcase the alphabet - numbers and letters competing! A very funny book with great illustrations!

Alphabeasties and Other Amazing Types by Sharon Werner

Each animal in this book is composed of the letter in different typefaces. Very cool.

Take Away the A by Michael Escoffier

What happens if you remove letters? Well, without "A" beast becomes best and so forth; a fun way to play with words.

The Disappearing Alphabet by Richard Wilbur

Similar to "Take Away the A", these poems about each letter of the alphabet speculate about what you would do without them.

E-mergency! by Tom Lichtenheld

Described on Amazon as "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" on steroids. What would happen if E was injured and needed rest? What happens when the other letters take his place? Another funny book playing with the alphabet.

Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel

This book goes through the alphabet 3 times! Kids will love seeing how the letters are used each time. My boys have loved this book.

I hope you found some new books to share with your kids!
Remember - kids are never to old for read aloud time with a loved one!!
Grab a book and laugh together. 

This post is part of 31 Days of ABCs hosted by All Done Monkey. Visit her page to see all the great posts about sharing the alphabet with your children!

October 28, 2014

Bus Stop Costumes - A Halloween Tradition

Hello all! Today I want to introduce you to a friend of mine who is an awesome mom (for many reasons). Every school day in October she dresses up in a different costume to pick her kids up from the bus stop. What a fun family tradition! She's going to share a bit with us about why this started and how she comes up with all those costumes!!

How did the “bus stop costumes” start? 

Last year my son, who was then in third grade, was taking life very seriously.  He was so worried about being perfect in school and at home that when he made a mistake he would be really hard on himself.  He could never let loose. That is NO way to live your childhood!  In September of last year my three year old and I each wore a pair of silly glasses to the bus stop.  When my older kids got off the bus they laughed a little and rolled their eyes.  After that I got the idea that I would dress up every school day in October and greet them at the bus stop to show them that life is to be enjoyed, not just endured; you can be silly, laugh at yourself and others may or may not laugh with you.  I wanted to teach them to stand out. 

Shirt I had, piece of material that I put holes in and laced pink ribbon I had.
Wig I scored at after Halloween sale last year for $3. 

Also, parents of kindergarteners have to say their kid’s name to the bus driver each afternoon before the kid can get off the bus—even if they have older siblings at the school.  This made me a little grumpy since I had to wake up two sleeping kids.  I decided, “In every job that must be done there is an element of fun.  You find the fun, and SNAP!  The job’s a game!” 

I love that you started this to help your son. Has it had its intended effect?

I do think my kids have learned from the bus stop costumes.  I knew I had made an impact when I had to go out of town last year for a wedding and my son was sad that I wasn’t going to be greeting them at the bus stop for two days.  It was something they looked forward to as October approached this year. Within the past year we have grown as a family as we have relaxed a little and enjoyed life by being silly (we love doing family lip-sync contests) which can be difficult with a large family, tons of extracurricular activities, a husband/dad who has a stressful job, and schoolwork. My kids have grown in their self-confidence as they realize that they can be unique and be who they are.  Our family theme for this school year is “STAND UP, STAND OUT,” (Stand up for your values, and other people, stand out by being unique and working hard) and bus stop costumes fit right in with that.  

Maleficent--horns are duct tape and newspaper (and wire hanger that I removed).
Stick with bird is my broom handle. Wrapped my head with an old sheet I got at the thrift store
a few years ago to make Harry potter robes with ($1)

I have also benefited from dressing up.  Last year I told my husband, Sam, that I felt more like myself than I had for years when I was dressing up.  Kind of strange when I am disguised as someone else!  Being a mother is the hardest thing I have ever done, but also the best!  Sometimes when you are serving and sacrificing you forget who you were before having these littles!

Where do you get your costume ideas?

This year I knew I didn’t want to repeat costumes, so throughout the year I kept a list of possible ideas on my phone.  I would think about the clothes in my closet and what I could make with them—bright blue jeans?  Superman had bright blue pants…Those white pants I was folding?  Oompa Loompa.  I was at the movie theater watching Maleficent this summer and I thought, “I can make those horns.”  I try to think about things they love—Frozen, Mario, movie characters—and create the costumes.

Mario: My 11 year old's shirt, my grandma's gloves that I inherited, red hat with felt circle and m.
Felt yellow circle (all I had on hand), dollar store moustache.
Sideburns are small dollar store moustaches I cut in half. Sister's overalls.
Where do you find your costume pieces?

That’s a lot of costumes, right?  We have a Halloween party every year, so I knew I could put together costumes and borrow some from friends and family.  My goal was to spend as little as possible, and use things from around the house, and it had to be put together in less than 30 minutes (I’m busy so I don’t have much time to waste!). Last year I spent less than $8 (this was on my Frankenstein’s Monster’s face paint and bolts).  

The costumes consist of random pieces of material, every day clothes, with a few accessories thrown in (I went to a local thrift store to find a few things, too).  No one’s closet is safe!  I have used clothes from my husband, my 11 year-old, my parents and siblings. Things are used over and over—Nacho Libre’s cape was also Superman’s cape, Grandpa from Up, Oompa Loompa and Zeus all used the same eyebrows, Anna and Ariel’s hair was the same wig.

This is my sister's creation, but
posting to show I borrow. 

Prep always takes less than 30 minutes (usually about 15), with the exception of making Maleficent’s horns.  I don’t try on the whole outfit before it’s time (although I did try on part for superman—I wasn’t sure if the bathing suit bottom would work over my blue jeans).  So far everything I pictured in my head has worked out!  If I have to buy something it needs to be something I will use again—my Oompa Loompa socks I scored at the dollar store, and I will wear them any time! 

What do your kids think of this? What are their friends' reactions?

My kids love it.  I always keep my costume a surprise; they don’t even know what ideas or costumes I have.  The kids on the bus have joined in the fun and they yell out the windows, sing songs as they see me (Na na na na na na…Batman!); it’s nuts.  As soon as someone sees what I am they yell it and then everyone is looking out the window by the time the bus stops (my kids tell me this).  They will yell things to me out the window.  I’m sure the bus driver loves it!

Used my hair for my beard, made the bow with old material. My dad's jacket, SIL's hat. 

How long do you plan on continuing?

I plan on keeping up the tradition because my kids want me to.  I’m sure at some point I will reuse some costumes, but really the possibilities are endless!  I’m creating memories for them.  I want them to say when they are older, “Remember how mom used to dress up at the bus stop?  She must have loved us.”  Because I do.  I love them enough to make a fool out of myself just to teach them to love themselves and stand out, to teach them that while we are here to learn and help others, we are also here to have joy.  I have even taken my daughter to ballet in full Batman uniform, and been pulled while dressed as Miss Piggy by a cop checking to see if I had enough passengers for the HOV lane!

Anna: Mom's skirt, gold ribbon I had, old under shirt I painted,
shirt I scored at thrift store, wig I used for costume 5 years ago and Ariel last year

What has been your favorite costume so far? How about your kids' favorite costume?

I loved the grandpa from UP because I decided to do it just a couple hours before bus time and was able to pull it all together.  Another favorite is Nacho Libre because it’s just funny and Abraham Lincoln since I used my hair for my beard.  I asked my kids their favorite and they couldn’t name just one!  The loudest reactions on the bus have been Mario, Batman and Wyldstyle. 

Nacho libre. Sam got the mask when he was in Mexico. Cape is piece of red material,
 bathing suit bottoms, rainboots, shirt and leggings I have. 

Do you have any advice for any other parents who might want to start this tradition?

I know some friends wanted to start doing this tradition, but I am not sure who has started!  One of my sisters began when her kids asked her to after seeing my pictures.

It’s really a blast!  I highly recommend it! Maybe your kids will be embarrassed at first, but in the end they will love it.  A silly mom is definitely more fun than a tired, grumpy mom.  Start small—silly glasses, a wig, and go a little bigger each time.  Look in your closet and see what disguise you have hiding there!  It will brighten your day, your kids’, and anyone who happens to drive by!  

Frankenstein--just an old jacket and shirt I have, put big sponges in the shoulders, pinned my hair,
green face paint, took head band and two fake screws for neck.  

Thanks so much for sharing Julie! I love this tradition and seeing all your awesome pictures! 

October 27, 2014

Origami Owl Lockets Giveaway!

Happy Monday! Last Saturday was my birthday and the Chicken Babies Facebook page made it over 1,000 likes which I was pretty excited about. Today I have a great giveaway for you to celebrate!

Have you heard of Origami Owl? They have these fantastic lockets which I love. You choose charms to go in them and can add dangles and words and gems and all sorts of fun stuff. It's a "make your own jewelry" type of store.

You can make a necklace for your family. Mine has the birthstone of each of my children. Or you can choose charms that you feel represent your children and put them in a locket. They even have these drama masks which would be perfect for my tween daughter. :)

Little girls love these necklaces! My daughter is 11 and she and her friends have all gotten one for birthdays or christmas or other events. Maren loves changing out her charms and making new necklaces for different occasions. I have bought several charms and keep them to give to her when she reaches goals we've set, or she can buy them off of me when she has saved enough allowance.

They've just released a new line of Holiday charms which she is super excited about. Every year her grandma takes the girls in the family to see the Nutcracker and she is excited to wear this cute nutcracker this year when she goes.

You can purchase these necklaces by going to a party or shopping at the online stores. Lesley from Lexington Lockets has graciously agreed to give one necklace away for my readers! Check out her Origami Owl store and say thanks!

Also follow her on her Facebook Page and be first to hear of special holiday deals!

These necklaces are a great gift for a friend or relative this holiday season. Fill it with charms representing the things you love about them. It will be a gift they treasure.

Here is what you can win in this giveaway:

This is a medium size living locket with crystals around the outside, a gingerbread girl charm, a candy cane charm, some sparkly gems, and a chain necklace. Isn't it cute! Perfect for the holidays.

Use the rafflecopter below to enter. Giveaway is just for those in the continental US. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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