Sunday, April 30, 2017

Goodnight Moon: Enhancing This Classic Book With Activities

Several generations of children have been lulled to sleep by the recitation of Margaret Wise Brown's picture book Goodnight Moon, published in 1947. Picture this: "great green room, a telephone, a red balloon, and a picture of the cow jumping over the moon." Clement Hurd magically illustrated the book from sunset to darkness as the little bunny says, "Goodnight room, goodnight moon," and slowly nods off to sleep.

Read this classic book to your children and celebrate its literary milestone with some of these activities to enhance the story.

Words That Rhyme -- Reread the story, stressing the rhyming words in the text. As the children learn these combinations, say the first word and have the children supply its rhyming partner. Look for these word combinations in the text.

  Toy house/young mouse
Moon Prints – Take a variety of lids from jars and a crescent-shaped cookie cutter and dip them into yellow poster paint and proceed to make prints on paper. Add adhesive stars to your moon painting.

Another activity is moon watching. This is a great family activity. Have the children observe the moon every night and record their observations on a calendar (or a page you have printed). Children can draw what they see, or for reference you might provide a sheet with small drawings of the eight phases of the moon.

Room Media Art -- Have the children draw a bedroom scene with crayons on construction paper. They can add finishing touches, such as fabric scraps for the bedspread and curtains and wallpaper scraps for the walls. From magazines and catalogs, help them to cut out pictures of dollhouses, kittens, mittens, red balloons, ladies in rocking chairs, and so on. Ask them to find as many items from the story as they can glue onto their scenes.
Bunny Magnet -- Make a magnet to resemble the bunny in the story. Give children a clothespin (not the clip kind), and have them paint it white. Color the two prongs pink for the bunny's ears. Draw a face and other bunny features with a black marker. Affix a piece of magnetic tape to the back to make a cute note holder for the refrigerator.

The Cow Jumps Over the Moon -- In the book, the bunny has a picture of the cow jumping over the moon in the bedroom. Teach your kids the popular nursery rhyme "Hey Diddle Diddle." Recite the rhyme daily and encourage children to make up actions to go with the rhyme.

Enhancing books via art, music, movement, and science is a way for children to remember stories and enjoy literature. Make story time an important part of your child’s day and enjoy teachable moments together.

These are activities from my personal experience as an early childhood teacher.
Always enhance children's books with activities to foster comprehension.

Until later -- Happy Parenting,
Tania  :)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

4 Earth Day Activities for Children

Earth Day is celebrated April 22. Use these fun activities to teach children the importance of taking care of our planet and learning to become environmentally friendly.

Children can develop an understanding of protecting our environment with the help of adults who make them aware of the fact that we are all interdependent. We can be guardians of the plants and animals in our surroundings. Below are several activities to help develop awareness for Earth Day and every day.

Take a litter walk together

Put some excitement into a clean-up litter walk by also making it a scavenger hunt. Together, make a list of various types of things that when thrown away becomes litter, such as soda cans, newspaper, paper cups, plastic or glass bottles, and so on. Children can become aware that certain items, although good in themselves, can become litter when discarded -- and litter dirties up our Earth.

When walking, take a brown bag and the list. When the child finds an item on the list, check it off. See how long it takes to cross off each item. Of course, dump the litter in appropriate containers -- some may be recycled.

Grow-it-again foods

A great way to save the Earth is to repopulate things that we eat. Many fruits and vegetables can be grown again by planting the seeds or stalks. Here are a few examples.

Pineapple: Cut off the top and trim three rows of the bottom leaves. Let this dry for a few days and then plant the pineapple top into the soil, with the top above ground. Keep it moist and in a sunny place. Pineapples will repopulate into new plants that will eventually bear fruit.

Onion: Find an onion that has already sprouted. Plant it in the soil and watch it regrow into a new onion.
Carrot: Cut off the top and trim off any leaves. Place in a layer of pebbles in a low dish container. Keep it well watered and when the carrots sprout roots, plant in the ground.

Avocado: Place three toothpicks into an avocado seed. Set this inside the mouth of a jar filled with water. Place this in partial sunlight. When the roots sprout about four to five inches, plant this in soil outdoors.

Learn to compost

If you garden with your children, you may want to start a compost pile. Composting takes time to break down, but becomes great fertilizer for a garden. Children can also see how some waste materials can be recycled. A compost pile uses vegetable scraps such as potato peels, carrot scrapings, cornhusks, lettuce, cabbage, and onion peels. It can also use coffee grounds, plant clippings and grass.

To make a compost pile, surround a small area with chicken wire. Place another small circle of chicken wire in the center to help circulate the air. Layer the vegetable scraps with fresh soil. Keep it moist and add some lime and fertilizer. Continue the layers, always covering with soil. You will have good rich mulch for a garden within a few months.

Recycle together as a family

Introduce your children to the recycle emblem on many products. Talk about why we recycle. Discuss the differences in packaging of goods -- paper, plastic, and glass. Ask the kids, which would be better to use and why? Together, make a game of sorting product containers using paper, plastic, cans, and glass (do not sort glass with very young children). This is a good activity that teaches classifying as a math skill. Have a recycle center at your home and ask the children to use it daily.

After these discussions, brainstorm together ways that will help our Earth -- like use cloth towels instead of paper towels in the kitchen, don't let the water run needlessly, turn out the lights when you leave a room, and use both sides of the paper when drawing or coloring. Better yet, use junk mail for extra drawing paper on the clean side.

As parents, we can show our children how some things taken from nature can be returned to help it thrive.

Until next week -- Happy Parenting,

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links or advertisements. I earn a small commission if you click and shop through them, which helps fund this website so I can continue to bring you informative and interesting content. All opinions are my own. 

Free photos courtesy of

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

While Waiting for April the Giraffe to Give Birth

Kids love all animals and a giraffe is no exception. The world has been patiently waiting for April the giraffe to give birth to her calf. Many are watching the days go by with the live stream from Animal Adventure Park, a zoo in upstate New York. This may be a good time to teach your children about the giraffe. Look into the variety of books on giraffes, as reading and pictures are great tools for preschool learning.

Next, pass the time with toys. There are companies who have toys that are related to the giraffe and other toys that are just fun when passing time. Keeping busy is important, no matter the circumstances. Below are a few of the toys I recommend and the important information about each play item.

VTech® Zoo Jamz Guitar™
Rock and learn with the Zoo Jamz Guitar! Join the animal band and play along with the silly giraffe. The eight light-up buttons and strings allow little musicians to jam to the included music or make their own. The light-up buttons also add funny animal sounds to the melody. Sing along to eight familiar tunes with the giraffe. Turn the dial to choose acoustic, electric or distortion guitar to learn about different types of guitar sounds. Bring the animal band together by pressing the star-shaped button and hear the giraffe sing with the zebra from Zoo Jamz Piano™ and the lion from Zoo Jamz Microphone™ (each sold separately). Be a rock star with this cute giraffe!
Ages 1 ½ – 4 years, $19.99

Janod A Day at the Zoo Funny Magnets
These four chunky wooden jungle animal magnets are ideal for little hands to piece together as a puzzle, plus you can encourage your child to mix and match heads, bodies and tails to create very funny looking animals! Each animal is segmented into three parts and children will enjoy creating their favorite zoo animals by snapping them together with the help of the safely embedded magnets. Designed in the Jura mountains of France, the quality of these magnets is absolutely superb and will make a special gift for toddlers.
Ages 1.5+, $21.99

Janod Tactile Puzzle “A Day at the Zoo”
Janod Tactile Puzzle - A Day at the Zoo lets your little one bring the petting zoo home! Build the 20-piece puzzle to create a scene featuring 7 types of zoo animals in their habitats. One of each animal is textured, so you can feel their fur or skin. Touch a flamingo, koala, tiger and more, they won't bite! Includes a 25.5 inch x 19.5 inch puzzle with 7 textured pieces.
Ages 3 – 6 years, $21.99

ALEX Toys Tots Art Start
Alex Jr. Tots Art Start lets you have fun introducing art to your toddler and preschooler. Everything is included for 6 great activities. These colorful projects include sticky collage frames, which encourage your child to draw in the center. Includes easy grip crayon, crinkly, tissue and fringe papers, doilies, stickers and specially colored activity paper shaped like a tree and giraffe.
Ages 1.5+; MSRP $17.00

ALEX Toys Ready Set Count
Finger puppet counting friends are as easy as 1-2-3! Learn number, counting and easy math concepts with Ready, Set, Count. Each activity is packaged separately so everything is ready to go when you open the kit. Make a giraffe ruler, linked paper counting chains, adorable finger puppets and make a number collage!
Ages 3+; MSRP $12.00

And let's not forget about Slinky. It's a toy that has no age -- it was a favorite in my day and now with the kids. The Slinky is an icon of traditional fun. The MSRP is about $5.00 for the original size and mini Slinky toys are available too.

Check your local toy stores and online for these wonderful and educational products.
Alex Toys
Janod Toys
VTech Toys

Looking forward to April the Giraffe's baby in the near future. Find more information here.

I want to thank all the toy companies for the opportunity to try their products. I was not paid or coached to write this blog post. The information about the products were provided and these are my own opinions.
Photos by Tania Cowling, all rights reserved

Monday, April 10, 2017

In Your Easter Bonnet

As Easter approaches this month, nature is putting on new “clothes” with the coming of spring.  What nature does, humans tend to follow.  The donning of new clothes for Easter symbolizes the coming of spring.  Not only is the donning of new clothes customary, in Northern Europe it was considered rude and bad luck to the goddess of spring, then known as Eastre, to be seen in anything but fresh and new clothing.  The custom of the Easter Parade comes from this.  The wearing of three new things at Easter assures good luck in the coming year.  The Easter bonnet got its start as a wreath of flowers and/or leaves, the circle as an expression of the roundness of the sun and its travel through the heavens which brought it back for the return of spring.  You and your child can make lovely Easter bonnets from things around the house—then parade through the neighborhood for everyone to see.  Be creative and have fun!

OH! YOU BEAUTIFUL BABE         (Toddlers and Twos)

Making hats out of paper, poster board or paper plates isn’t as hard as it sounds.  They won’t last forever, but they are great fun to make and wear.  Little boys will enjoy this activity as well as girls.  A simple hat to make is using a paper plate.  Cut a slit from one edge of the circle to the center.  Pull the two edges together so they overlap—this will make the hat pointed.  Staple the edges in place (you may want to protect your child by placing a piece of masking tape covering the staples—less pulling of hair).  Make two holes opposite each other near the edges of the hat and thread elastic through them to make a chinstrap knotting each end.  Decorate your hat by drawing on it with crayons or markers, gluing on squares of tissue paper in pastel colors, and using Easter stickers.  Here’s a finger play to recite as you and your child parade with his/her new hat.

NEW CLOTHES AND HATS OF PINK AND BLUE.  (point to clothes and head)
FLOWERS BLOOM AND ROBINS COO.  (raise hands above head, form wings with arms)

HOW DO I LOOK?    (Preschool +)

The best part of making an Easter hat is the decorating.  Your child will be so proud of his/her creation.  You might allow your youngster to wear the hat to church or to a family gathering.  The hat can be made as feminine or masculine as you wish.  Boys may enjoy a crown instead.  Help your child in this hat construction by cutting the center out of a paper plate and stapling a paper bowl over the hole.  Make sure the bowl fits the child’s head.  Punch two holes on opposite sides and attach ribbons to use as ties.  Set out glue and collage materials such as Easter grass, Easter stickers, paper or silk flowers, fabric scraps, rickrack, buttons, sequins and glitter.  Invite your child to glue on the materials any way they wish.  Together sing this fun song as your child parades around the house.
(Tune:  “The Mulberry Bush”)




Here is a hat that both girls and boys can decorate.  Bring out the recycle box and get creative this Easter. Use a purchased straw hat, cowboy hat or even a sports helmet.  With a glue gun attach all kinds of materials along with some purchased Easter decors.  Think of silk flowers, ribbons, bows, faux jewels, pastel cotton balls, pipe cleaners, Easter grass; the list can go on and on.  But did you ever think of gluing on marshmallow peeps and bunnies and what about a few colorful jellybeans?  Make this a contest with other family members.  Model your hat, be proud as you walk down your hallway or should I say “runway”.

Bonnets aren’t always for your head.  Here is a recipe to make Easter bonnet cookies.  Make your favorite sugar cookie recipe or store-bought dough.  Divide the dough and roll it into two logs—one about 10 inches long and 2 inches in diameter.  The other roll about 10 inches long and 1 inch in diameter.  Wrap these in plastic and refrigerate until firm, at least three hours.  Preheat your oven according to your recipe.   Cut the logs into ¼-inch slices and bake on cookie sheets.  Stack the small cookies on top of the larger ones, gluing them in place with a dab of frosting.  Frost the bonnets, then decorate them with gel icing, sprinkles, and even fruit leather ribbons.

For more Easter crafts, check out my article on Bright Hub Education

Have a wonderful holiday and Happy Parenting,

Photos courtesy of

Thursday, April 6, 2017


Congratulations Tina! You have won 2 free tickets to see SMURFS:The Lost Village.
Enjoy the movie.

Hi everyone,

So, the new SMURFS movie opens this Friday, April 7th. Who would like to win two free movie tickets?

To enter the contest, FOLLOW my blog and then enter your name and email in the comment section below. Friday afternoon, I will randomly pick a winner and send you codes for two FREE tickets to see this new movie. You will have from April 7 through April 16th to use these tickets.

I'm sure your kids will love the film. Good luck!

Happy Parenting,

Tania :)

We reserve the right to make revisions, to cancel, or suspend this contest for any reason. We are not associated with any of the companies named above. The odds of winning are based on the number of entries received Open to the US 18 only. Confirmed Winner(s) will be contacted by email. Winner(s) have 24 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen.