Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Books to Grow On - Alphabet 2

My library has a really awesome program called Books to Grow On They have put together theme kits on all kinds of different topics that are available for check out by any library patron. Included in the kits are not just books (usually around 10) but also cassettes or CDs, VHS tapes or DVDs, puzzles or other activities, and ideas for a parent or teacher on ways to expand on the theme. If you think this sounds like fun, ask your library if they have such a thing. And if you live in the Puget Sound Area like I do, take a look at the Books to Grow On page on the King County Library website and find whatever topic your little one is clamoring for!

We recently brought home the Books to Grow On Alphabet 2 box and enjoyed reading and reading and reading lots of unique and interesting ABC books that I am not sure I would have found on my own. Here’s some information on our favorites from this box.

Title: A is for Asia
Author: Cynthia Chin Lee
Ages:3 and older
I wasn’t sure how interesting my son would find this book. I flipped through it and thought it looked neat but wasn’t sure if there was too much text or if the content was too unfamiliar to him. I really wanted to read it with him because I think it will only benefit him to learn about other countries and cultures at a young age. I must admit as we got to the “P” page I was not really playing attention to what I was reading – I was too busy worrying about how to raise a culturally sensitive child. The last line on the “P” page is that pandas love to eat honey as a special treat. As I finished reading that page, my 3-year old said “Pandas like honey but usually they eat bamboo.” I was just amazed at how smart he was. How did he remember that? I looked at the pictures and sure enough there was bamboo but would he really recognize it? The mystery was solved when I asked him how he knew that they usually ate bamboo. He said “Mommy read that in the book.” Good job mom! If I had been paying more attention, I would have realized that was exactly what that page said. Anyway he really found this book really interesting and has already asked me to get it from the library again.

Title: ABC of Crawlers and Flyers
Author: Hope Ryden
Ages:3-4 years
My son is really into the ABCs right now so he enjoys seeing each of the letters as he practices. It was fun to learn about different insects and other creepy crawlers but I think it is pretty dumbed down. I don’t think your school-age child would benefit much from the scientific content but it was perfect for my 3-year old. We both enjoyed all the pictures (Ok – I did not enjoy the Tick page but he liked them all!) This was the perfect time to read it as they are studying bugs and butterflies now in preschool.

Title: O is for Orca
Author: Andrea Helman
Age: 3-4 years
I really like that this is a Pacific Northwest book. The photographs were great and we had some really long discussions about many of the items covered in the book. Anyone know other books that focus on this region? I’d love to get some more.

**This post was originally written 5/11/2006**

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Books about Ferries

If you are planning on a ferry ride anytime soon, it would be fun to check out a few books about them. Here are some that we have enjoyed. Even if you don't have a ferry nearby to ride, kids will enjoy learning about ferries, especially if they are into other modes of transportation.

Title: Ferryboat
Author: Betsy and Giulio Maestro
Ages: 3 and older

We took our preschooler on vacation recently where he had the joy of riding on a ferry for the first time. (Toddlers are great at teaching us how simple matters of transportation are actually quite thrilling.) I was so excited when I found this book to extend the ferry fun. He just LOVES this book! It has a really detailed and interesting explanation of how a ferry works (where the engine is, where the driver sits, how they dock it, etc). The illustrations have lots of little details my son likes to point at and ask questions about. Even if you never get to ride on a ferry, I think your little one would enjoy seeing how they work. I know this has been a great springboard for my son pretending to be a ferry driver and transporting all his toy cars and trucks all over our house. I am all for things that get kids imaginations going! I wonder if there are any other good ferry books. Got a recommendation?

*the above book review was originally written 4/24/2006

Title: Ferryboat Ride
Author: Anne Rockwell
3 and older

This book is a bit longer than the one above and my 6-year old has really been enjoying it. He is always fascinated by this sort of thing. It is fun to have 2 ferry books to look at, because the ferries are quite different. Also the books point out different interesting things about ferries.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Unplugged Project - Long

Well, this week I let my 6 year-old run the show. One afternoon this week, he was wandering around the house looking for something to do. Finally he said, I want to do that weekly project thing we used to do. It was neat to see that he had not forgotten about the Weekly Unplugged Projects.

I was in the middle of something, so I told him the theme was "Long" and he sat for a while and brainstormed some ideas. Finally he hit upon something he thought he could do independently. He got the yard stick and a piece of paper and pen, and then wandered around the house measuring various things. As he measured each thing, he wrote down what it was and how long it was. He wanted to compare them and see what was the "longest."

I usually like to be a bit more involved, to give us something fun to do together, but it was fun to see him do it himself.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Our Plan for Dining in Portland

When we travel, I generally pack as much as I can with us. Since we will be taking the bus and train down to Portland from the Seattle area, I will be somewhat limited in what I can take. I am planning to pack lunch to eat on the train on the way there.

Our hotel is supposed to serve a hot breakfast so I am hoping we will eat that each morning. I will supplement that with muffins and also bring other snacky items if we need something between meals. We will be eating lunch at our destinations, like the cafe at OMSI. Dinner we will try to hit some of the places that I have heard good things about.

I printed off this cool info sheet on the Pearl District and it lists several yummy sounding dinner options:

We might stop in somewhere that is not on my list, but I would much rather have some ideas before we go. I hate being hungry (or having hungry kids) and having trouble finding somewhere to eat.

I'd like to stop by Whole Foods before we leave and pack a picnic for the train ride home, or we may dine on the train. My general experience is that food is not good in that kind of setting but I have not ridden Amtrak before.

*Note: I have written a bunch of posts about Portland so if you want to read more, click on the Portland Label at the end of the post, and you will see all the Portland entries.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

Title: Dear Zoo
Author: Rod Campbell
Age: Birth – 3 years

As I pick books to write about – I realize I am a freak for lift-the-flap books. They are just so much fun. Kids of all ages can lift the flaps and be surprised and I think it is so neat for the book to have a level of interaction built it. Plus we get to guess what animal is peeking out. It is really engaging! I especially like all the different type of flaps this book has – keeps you on your toes. Ours has been read 100s of times but my flaps are holding up quite nicely. I wish I could remember who gave us this book as a gift – I’d love to tell them how much we read and enjoy it.

*this blog post originally written 4/25/2006

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Portland Trip with Kids Plan - Spring 2009

Well, I basically have a plan for our Portland weekend. I have sifted through tons of information about activities in Portland and basically listed them in priority order. Then I take a look at our calendar and try to piece them in like a puzzle. Some of the lower priority items are listed as optional depending on how our days is going. Some possibilities are that the kids are exhausted and need to relax some, or an activity is not as interesting as we had hoped and we have to move on. I am the kind of person that has to have a plan, but I also know I have to be flexible and adapt as we go.

Unfortunately, we ended up shaving one day from our trip, and the train ride is eating up a bit more of our day than we realized so we don't have a ton of time. (My mind has already started wandering to when we might go again!) So here is my list....

Top Priorities:
World Forestry Center

Zoo or Children's Museum (Weather?)
Chinese Garden

*Note: I have written a bunch of posts about Portland so if you want to read more, click on the Portland Label at the end of the post, and you will see all the Portland entries.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Train Leaves the Station

Title: Train Leaves the Station
Author: Eve Merriam
Ages: 3 years – 5 years

I keep reading this book thinking I am totally missing something and it will soon become clear. My 3-year old and I are not really enjoying it. It has drawings of completely random things that are only pictured because they rhyme with the number being covered on that page. My son wants to know why there is a beehive floating in the sky over the train on the number five (rhymes with hive!) page. At least I can tell him that it rhymes. Still not sure about the berry on the bush...

*This blog post orginally written 4/20/2006

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Choosing a Hotel in Portland

I have finally decided on a hotel to stay at in Portland when we travel down there with the kids next month. There are so many factors to consider that it took me a while to sort through the options and figure out what our priorities are.

If price or location were the top priority, we would have gone with one of the smaller hotels right in downtown or the Pearl district, but many of the rooms seemed quite small with 2 double beds very close together.

We came very close to choosing the Embassy Suites hotel. It is just two blocks from the light rail line and pretty close in. I was liking it because of the separate bedroom and sitting room, the hot breakfast included and the pool.

In the end, we decided to go with the Residence Inn - Portland Downtown/Riverplace. This is the reason why. The #1 reason that we do not travel more is sleep. My kids are fabulous sleepers at home but usually we have some sort of trouble when traveling, especially with falling asleep. If my husband and I do not get our sleep at night, we are very tired and have a hard time enjoying our vacation.

At this point, it is mainly the younger one, so I am hoping in a few years this will not be as big a factor. So for now, the lure of a 2 bedroom suite was too much to resist. There are actually 2 separate bedrooms and a sitting room so we will have plenty of space and the sleeping experience will be much more similar to home. And if someone has trouble, we have a much better chance for most everyone else to stay asleep. With all that space it is not the cheapest option but it turned out to be cheaper than the 1 bedroom suites at the Embassy Suites.

(The weekday rate is astronomical but the weekend AAA rate is quite affordable.)

The Residence Inn also has a pool and a hot breakfast included plus a bonus of high speed internet. So really the only factor I was concerned about is location. It is not as close in to downtown as the other hotels I was looking at. But it is right at a streetcar stop so we can take it up to the light rail line or very close to the train station. Also we are devoting one full day to OMSI and we can just walk there from the hotel.

(Side note: This is a popular way to get to OMSI anyway if you don't have a car... take the streetcar to the same stop and then walk over the Hawthorne Bridge. If we had picked the Embassy Suites, then I was going to look into bus routes but we might possibly have taken the same walk)

*Note: I have written a bunch of posts about Portland so if you want to read more, click on the Portland Label at the end of the post, and you will see all the Portland entries.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

You can be a digger man too!

Title : Digger Man
Author: Andrea Zimmerman

This book is so great - just perfect for little boys like mine who have baby brothers. This little guy in the book takes his little brother with him in his big new digger. My son get so tickled by it.

*this post originally written 6/30/2006

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Potty Book for Boys

Title:The Potty Book for Boys
Author:Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Age: 2 years - 3 years

This book is a must have for the whole potty-training adventure - Especially if your son is like mine. He was so squeamish about the whole thing – this book has cute pictures (keep an eye on that crazy teddy) and makes using the potty sound like a lot of fun. And maybe my son wasn’t the only squeamish one. I wasn’t interested in some of the more explicitly worded (and illustrated) books. This book is helpful in getting the ball rolling and was a great springboard to talk about things the way we felt comfortable.

Another tip if you have a child that is “slow to warm” to the potty – do try having him sit on it with ALL his clothes on for a while until he adjusts. I felt very silly about it but it did help.

Note: There is, of course, a girls version as well.
The Potty Book for Girls

*Originally written 4/19/2006

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Unplugged Project - Bottle

We participated in this week's Unplugged Project again. The theme this week is Bottle!

Here is a description of the science project lead by my sweet husband.
Take an empty wine bottle and put some vinegar in it.
Then take a balloon and put some baking soda in it.
Carefully without spilling the baking soda, slide the opening in the balloon onto the top of the wine bottle.
When ready, pick up the top of the balloon so that the baking soda spills into the bottle.
When baking soda and vinegar mix, the released gas blows up the balloon.