Picture book activities

There are some amazing picture books out there and we have recently done some great craft activities based on our favourite books. Both the kiddies really love making the connection between what we read and what we make.

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We made the MASSIVE COOKIE from ‘Wild Boars Cook’ (Meg Rosoff and Sophie Blackall). The recipe is on the last page of the book.

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I remember ‘Corduroy’ (Don Freeman) from when I was little, and this is a follow-up. When I was at primary school, we made knitted bears and Mum helped me sew overalls for my bear to look like Corduroy.

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Both my little ones love ‘A river’ (Marc Martin). They trace the river on every page of the book and also make sure they find the boat every time. For this activity, we drew patterns with crayon like the patchwork in the book, then painted over it with watercolours.

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‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ (Eric Carle)

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And perhaps a lesser known Eric Carle book, ‘The Bad-tempered Ladybird’. The best bit of this activity was discussing which way we were going to put the mouths to make both a happy and a grumpy ladybird.

 

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‘The Rainbow Fish’ (Marcus Pfister)

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We actually made this entire book again redrawing the illustrations because she loved it so much. It’s a great story – very cute! ‘Crayon’ (Simon Rickerty)

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This one looks a little crude, but it was a LOT of entertainment. Especially when we went hunting around the house for all the elephants we could find! We also kept this box for a long time as a play thing. ‘Too many Elephants in this House’ (Ursula Dubosarsky).

What’s your favourite picture book activity? Please comment below.

I try to keep my pinterest files up-to-date with our latest fave reads if you need some library-inspiration:

Ages 0-2
Ages 2-3
Ages 3-4

Recipe Organisation

I’ve gone a bit OCD on my recipe collection. I say ‘a bit’. Some may say ‘a lot’. I’ll let you decide.

I shop once a week. It’s so much better. If it’s all planned out I save money because I only buy what I need. Plus, I can go on the weekend without the kiddies. And shopping without children is like a holiday in itself. So amazing. 😉 So, once a week, I plan. I look through my big cookbook collection and choose 6 recipes and make my shopping list. I have a tick-what-I-need shopping list (inspired by my parents-in-law) that is organised aisle-by-aisle for my local supermarket so that I don’t have to back-track and can be super-dooper efficient.

A while back I found these awesome free printables and I started a post it note system. Basically, I planned out 6 meals for each week (1 night of leftovers) and wrote the name of the dish and where I could find the recipe. This was working great – until I ran out of wall space!!

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I wanted to keep this reference system of recipes I wanted to repeat, so, I needed to go one step further. I watched this video about recipe planning and organisation. And I was blown away by this woman’s system. Wow. But, I decided I just couldn’t keep this one up… I figured I’d slack off and it would fall by the wayside. So, I compromised. I got myself a ring binder and laminated blank sheets of paper. Then hole-punched. And bought an AWESOME binder divider that sticks out past the pages (why are they not ALL like that????). So, all my pretty little post-its had a home.

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Hint: Buy the “super-sticky” post-its. It’s totally worth it.

So, my kitchen corner looks like this. The orange and green binders have my post-its (one for parents, one for kids). The blue folder is my savoury recipe collection and the red is dessert. The cookbooks on the bench are the ones I need for the week. And loose recipes (from the blue and red binders) that I need for the week go in there. It’s also a good place for loose ones to wait until I get around to filing them.

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And I printed one more planner for the kids since the little munchkin is just starting on baby-led weaning, and the big munchkin is needed more interesting food!

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Recently, I also managed to buy a second-hand chest freezer online, so I’m trying to keep track of what is inside (this is just another white laminated page that I can draw on with whiteboard markers) so nothing gets forgotten.

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And finally I have created an excel file for recipes I want to try based on this website’s ideas. As I read through a cookbook or magazine, I can file away the ideas, rather than having notes and scribbles floating around the kitchen.

And it’s all working well! But there’s always room for improvement – hit me up with any other cool ideas!!

Children’s books

I’m pretty fussy about children’s books. I blame my Mum, who has always provided me with top-notch literature. I’ve been wanting to write this blog to share new book ideas with other parents, and to also collect ideas from you. 

Adella has been a good reader from early on. I will never forget, when we were staying at Auntie Sally’s house, how Sally pointed out that as soon as Adella gets out of bed in the morning she has to go and say hello to her friends, her books! We read two books before bed every night, and now, COPIOUS numbers during the day. I guess it’s the TV substitute, since we haven’t gone down that path yet. She gets quite irate, however, when she wants a book read to her and you’re in the middle of something and can’t do it right this second. So, in preparation for baby number two, we’ve been practising reading books to her toys (which gives me about 3 extra minutes – not long). Also, I’ve been getting her to sit next to me on the couch and turn the pages herself and I’ll read over her shoulder, because I figure that she can then do that while I’m breastfeeding. Here’s hoping.

But, back to favourite books…

I think it’s also important that you, as a parent, enjoy reading the books. This became particularly apparent when we did our big international move. We put our lives in a suitcase, and the rest in a shipping container, which we wouldn’t see for a few months, so we picked 6 favourite books that we wouldn’t mind reading over and over.

Our shortlist was:

  • Where is the Green Sheep? – Mem Fox
  • Bom! went the Bear – Nicki Greenberg
  • “Slowly, slowly, slowly,” said the Sloth – Eric Carle
  • Each Peach Pear Plum – Janet and Allen Ahlberg
  • Time for bed – Mem Fox
  • Zzzzzz. A book of sleep. – Il Sung Na

Mem Fox seems to always be a winner. ‘Where is the Green Sheep?’ has had such a long shelf life. She has enjoyed it from really early on, and now, as we are learning our colours, she is starting to be able to read quite a few of the pages herself. The illustrations are divine, (illustrated by Judy Horacek – who also did ‘Good night, Sleep tight’ for Mem Fox – another gem of a nursery rhyme book), and it has really helped with learning lots of simple nouns. ‘Time for Bed’ is a lovely bedtime book, where you see the parent animals say goodnight to their babies. We also enjoyed ‘Hello Baby’ from the library.

‘Bom! went the Bear’ has a fantastic musical rhythm, with lots of animals and lots of instruments! My only criticism is that the copy we have has quite fragile paper, and I’ve had to repair it a lot. Again, this is still a favourite, and one of the earliest consistent sounds that Adella made was “bom!” when she saw the book.

“Each Peach Pear Plum” was a classic from my childhood. It’s still a winner, with lots of things to spot on each page. Though it is slightly un-PC as Baby Bear does almost shoot Baby Bunting whilst hunting. Whoops.

Eric Carle’s books are all fabulous. We were given “Slowly, slowly, slowly,” said the Sloth”, which I’d never heard of before, but I know him from “Brown Bear Brown Bear, What do you see?” and of course, ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ (see our first caterpillar birthday party here!),  and most recently we borrowed a great book about learning colours from the library (‘My Very First Book of Colors’) where you can flip the pages to match the colour with the picture.

‘Zzzz. A book of sleep.’ has been a continual fave. Adella has a current fascination of owls, and this whole story is about the owl who stays awake at night whilst the other animals are asleep. There is an owl to find on every page! ‘Zzzzz’ is also another early sound she learnt to make!

So, they were the top six travel books. But, I have other favourites that I can’t resist mentioning!

At 19 months, with our colour learning, bold, primary colours are fab. The ‘Meg and Mog’ series, by Helen Nicoll and Jan Pienkowski, are a great blast from the past. Our other fave has been ‘Peck, Peck, Peck’ by Lucy Cousins. Complete with bold colours, and little finger holes that the woodpecker has pecked, this was a hard one to return to the library. However, it did change its poetic rhythm part-way through, which was annoying as the reader, but it did grow on me!

‘Whose nose?’ taught her where her nose was very early on and we started reading this as soon as she could focus on books. And I know there is a whole series of these. If we hadn’t been living in China, I would’ve chased them all down. The other great series is ‘That’s not my…!’. We have ‘That’s  not my dragon!’ for our dragon baby, and have borrowed a number of others from the library. These all have feel-y fabrics inside.

For my parent-buddies still living in China, we bought a set of bilingual ‘Spot’ books before we left. They are all lift-the-flap and great value for money. Plus, I get to still practise some character reading! I just got them from the Xinhua bookstore at The Place, but I’m sure the other big stores would have them too. There are lots of other titles too.

For my parent-buddies in Melbourne, my Mum recently bought Adella a book called ‘Peggy’, by Anna Walker. It is simply beautiful. It’s all about a chicken who gets accidently blown into the CBD by a big gust of wind and has to find her way home. Gorgeous. And she takes the train, which is a winner in Adella’s eyes.

Another highlight is ‘I got this hat’ (Jol & Kate Temple), which is fab for a girl who loves hats! And I must mention ‘I’m a dirty dinosaur’ (by Janeen Brian, illustrated by Ann James). It has a great rhythm and it’s easy to do actions to. We also recently met Ann James at her studio and she gave Adella a copy of ‘The Way I Love You’ (David Bedford), which she also illustrated. It’s about a girl and her dog and their beautiful friendship. She gave it to Adella because the girl in the book has the same piggy-tails! ‘Here comes Grandma!‘ (Janet Lord, illustrated by Julie Paschkis) is another book with beautiful illustrations and a dog to find on every page.

So, what are your faves? We are trying to frequent the Hobson Bay libraries – and they are great!! There’s a storytime on 5 days a week, each at a different venue, and one of the librarians even plays the guitar! Each time we go, we come back with a new set of books. I would love suggestions… even if they are for down the track, or for baby number two!!! Let’s share! Please comment below.

I thought I’d try and make a big list that I can keep adding to… so I’ve collated the books that I discussed above, plus other people’s suggestions onto: this pinterest board. I’ll do my best to keep updating it. Please let me know if I’ve missed any, or if you find some great new books!