An Elephant and Piggie Inspired Christmas–and The Pigeon, too

We love Mo Willems books, especially Elephant and Piggie.  They are a super fun series for kids who are learning to read. I think I enjoy them as much as my kids do. Gerald the Elephant and his best friend, Piggie, are simply hilarious. 

Elephant and Piggy

 My daughter and I set out to make some holiday ornaments inspired by the Elephant and Piggie books, but guess who kept showing up? The Pigeon! Ideas for how the Pigeon could be a part of this project just kept popping into my daughter’s head. “How about he pops out of one of the presents?”, she giggled.  Then later, “What if we dressed him up like an angel and put him on top of a tree? Wouldn’t that be hilarious?”  Yes, just like in all the Elephant and Piggie books, the Pigeon always finds a way to be included. He’s spunky like that.  [Read more…]

Crazy About Horses and Ponies

learning with horses

Little girls can go crazy for horses. Do you know any little girls like that? Maybe you were one of those little girls who just couldn’t get enough of all things equine. I have a little girl who has just been bitten by the Horse Crazy bug. What a great jumping off point for learning!

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I was so excited when my friends over at Safari Ltd sent us the Pony Derby Toob to play and learn with. My daughter was over the moon.

We paired our  Pony Derby Toob with a set of awesome books from author Catherine Hapka.  The  Pony Scouts series is wonderful for new readers.

Pony Scouts series by Catherine Hapka

Sensory Play with the Ponies

You can use whatever base you have for this sensory bin: uncooked rice, beans, lentils, etc. I used uncooked quinoa grains as I had a large bag that was expired in our pantry.  The Bee’s play barn was also a great addition to this set up. We’ve been reading about ponies and playing with ponies for weeks now.

Pretend Play with Pony Derby TOOB from Safari Ltd. The Bee wanted to learn more about how to take care of horses, so we found some more great books about that.

Great books for learning about horses

  1. The Horse Riding & Care Handbook
  2. My First Horse 
  3. If I Ran the Horse Show: All About Horses (Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library)

And, perhaps the most fun of all, she got to spend an afternoon learning some hands-on horse care with a friend. She brushed, fed, watered, walked and cleaned up after the horses and she absolutely loved it!

Thank you to our sponsor, Safari, Ltd. Stop by and see them on:

I received the Pony TOOB for free from Safari, Ltd. All opinions are my own. For more information, visit my disclosure page. 

Learning Activities With Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat

Here are some great math and literacy activities to go along with the classic Dr. Seuss’  Cat in the Hat.

Graphic courtesy of Adventure Theatre MTC.

Graphic courtesy of Adventure Theatre MTC.

Math Activities [Read more…]

Foam Flower Words

foam word flowers

Here’s a fun way to practice reading and spelling, and they are so easy to make. All you need is some colorful craft foam and a permanent marker. Spritz on a little water, and they stick to glass.

Tips for creating foam flowers:

  • I used a teardrop shaped cookie cutter and a circle shaped cookie cutter to press the imprint into the foam, then cut out the shapes. You can also draw freehand with a blunt object like an unsharpened pencil or the tip of a scissors.
  • Using a permanent marker will ensure that when wet, the letters won’t come off.
  • You can draw letters on both sides of the petals so your child has more letter options but you have less petals to cut out.
  • You can also use these for a fun bathtub game.
My daughter used a spray bottle filled with water to make the foam stick to the window.

My daughter used a spray bottle filled with water to make the foam stick to the window.

The creative brains behind this project belong to my almost-7-year-old daughter, The Bee. She came up with this while playing with some foam letter discs I’d made for my 4-year-old.

I stored the pieces in a plastic container with a lid so she can easily take them from bathtub to playroom.

I stored the pieces in a plastic container with a lid so she can easily take them from bathtub to playroom.


I love the words she chose to spell:  "love you", "happy", "mommy" and then our dog's name, "Sydney".

I love the words she chose to spell: “love you”, “happy”, “mommy”. [insert heart melt]

easy to make foam word flowers

Strong, Brave, Courageous Girls: Picture Book Characters for Our Daughters

Brave Strong Courageous Storybook Characters for Our Daughters

You know what we love? Books with strong, brave, courageous, funny, characters.  What is even better is when they have a whole series of their own.  Remember when you were a child, first discovering a love of books? Remember when you found an author you loved and went back for more? My daughter has begun to do that. We pour over the original books, then, as her reading skills improve, we move into easy readers with these amazing characters.

Here are our favorite characters, who all just so happen to be strong, brave courageous girls. This list is not all inclusive, just the ones we’ve discovered and truly loved.

Fancy Nancy
Who she is:  Nancy loves to dress fancy, do fancy things and use fancy words. Nancy stands out in her rather plain family.
What she’s all about: Coping with emotions, expanding her vocabulary
Author: Jane O’Connor  Illustrator:  Robin Preiss Glasser

Who she is:  The princess of all things pink eats too much pink icing and turns red. Her next adventures take her exploring her imagination (Goldilicious), confronting bullies (Purplicious), confronting her own negative attitude (Silverlicious) and more.
What she’s all about: Brave and courageous, she stands up for what she loves. She uses her creativity and imagination wherever she goes.
Author: Victoria Kann, with some books co-authored by Elizabeth Ann

Who she is:  French boarding school student keeps head mistress Miss Clavel on her toes trying to keep Madeline safe from rivers, gypsies and appendix-related medical emergencies.
What she’s about:  Fearless, daring, confronter of bullies.
Author: Ludwig Bemelmans

Angelina Ballerina
Who she is:  In the original, beautifully illustrated series, Angelina is a mouse obsessed with dancing ballet.  She copes with the ups and downs of life in Chipping Cheddar, Mouseland. She doesn’t always get the part she wants to dance and sometimes her younger sister and her little cousin Henry get a lot of attention, but Angelina always dances through.
What she’s about: Perseverance and practice; coping with disappointment in a graceful way.
Author: Katharine Holabird  Illustrator:  Helen Craig

Ladybug Girl
Who she is:  When she’s Lulu she might get scared or worried. But when she’s dressed up as Ladybug Girl, she knows she can do anything.
What she’s about: Bravery and courage.
Authors: David Soman and Jacky Davis

Charlie and Lola
Who she is: Like the television show, the books are told from the point of view of older brother Charlie, but it is really mostly about 6 year old Lola as she learns about the world around her. Sometimes she’s scared, sometimes joyful, concerned or headstrong but always learning new things.
What she’s about: Wonderful imagination combined with adventurousness and a tender and playful sibling relationship.
Lauren Child

Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse/Lilly’s Big Day/Chrysanthemum and more
Who They Are: Lily is superconfident, brave and unique. She idolizes her teacher, Mr. Slinger and has big plans for her future. Chrysanthemum loves her pretty name, until bullies enter the picture. Then she finds a way to realize how very beautiful and special it is.
What these girls are about: Celebrating their unique and individual qualities, managing relationships, dreaming big and making amends.
Kevin Henkes

Who she is:  Olivia is a pig who knows what she likes. She appreciates the color red and fine art, loves to travel, hates to nap and won’t settle for being anything less than Queen.
What she’s about:  
Individualism, limitless imagination, big dreams.
Ian Falconer

Did you have a favorite book character when you were a little girl? You know, before you got into chapter books? Does your daughter? If so, I’d love it if you’d share in the comments.

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