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Filtering by Tag: books

January Book Club: Feeding the Sheep

Andrea Sanchez

This post contains affiliate links.

It's been a while but I'm back with a new book club pick for January: Feeding the Sheep by Leda Schubert.

I picked up this gem at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival in 2015 and have been waiting for the right time to share it with you and it's finally here! 

Feeding the Sheep is what you would consider a circular plot. This means that the story begins and ends in the same place (think, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie). In this case, that place is feeding the sheep. 

The story follows a mother and daughter team through the seasons as mom tends to her sheep from feeding them, to shearing, to washing the fleece, carding and spinning, dyeing, and finally knitting a sweater for the little one. The language is simple and repetitive while bringing in some great new vocabulary related to the fiber arts. I love how with only a few simple lines on each page, the text has a wonderful sing song quality to it (What are you doing, the little girl asks. Feeding the sheep, her mother says. Snowy day. Corn and hay.). 

What makes texts like Feeding the Sheep really special is its ability to capture the attention of our littlest readers. When I purchased this book for D, he was just a bit over 2 and a half and this quickly made its way to our #1 regular bedtime story. Because of the predictable text, after several readings he was able to help me "read" the story by reciting the "What are you doing?" line on each page.  

My favorite thing about Feeding the Sheep is the ton of fiber related vocabulary I was able to teach D. Each time we read a new page I'd ask, what is the mama doing? And he would reply with knitting, or spinning the yarn on her spinning wheel, etc. I also loved that we were able to relate a lot of the process of shearing and wool prep with things we had seen at Maryland Sheep and Wool. I know I keep saying love, but this book really is one of my favorites. We have read it over and over and over again. 

Repeated readings are one of those things that you love, and also drive you completely nuts. Raise your hand if you've ever read the bedtime story with your eyes closed mumbling "How do dinosaurs say goodnight..." while turning the pages at all the right parts! Yea, me too. But repeated readings are so very important for early literacy development. They encourage vocabulary growth related to the text as well as greater text-related comprehension. This is the reason you can read Kitten's First Full Moon about 50 times and your child still has something different to say about it. Books that also have that special sing song quality (I'm looking at you Goodnight Moon) are enjoyable to listen to. Children like hearing your voice reading that rhyming story. Here is a short study that gives some tips for making the most out of those repeated readings. 

Feeding the Sheep by Leda Schubert

I hope you have a chance to get a copy of this book. Right now it's less than $4 for the hardcover on Amazon! SO totally worth it! Grab a copy and get ready because I have a new pattern coming for you and some fun fiber related activities! If you join us this month please share on Instagram using #klbookclub. Happy reading (and rereading)!

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Blueberries for Daniel

Andrea Sanchez

If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen that we went on a little blueberry picking adventure recently.

Even though we try to do everything timed just right so we can be home (or at least back in the car headed home) at noon for lunch and nap, the morning was insanely hot. I was carrying the baby in my most favorite baby wrap ever and trying to keep up with D while he expertly picked the ripest berries. I was really impressed but I think it's because he's such a blueberry lover he was able to quickly and easily spot the ripest berries even though many of the bushes had been picked over.

Not everyone loved the experience. 

Not everyone loved the experience. 

And you know me, always thinking how can we extend this experience? And immediately the most perfect blueberry picking book of all time popped into my head: Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey (affiliate link).

Of course I own this book, it's a classic! Despite the fact that Sal is a little girl and even as a child I couldn't get over the fact that she was named after my great grandfather and a male cousin (or maybe it's short for Sally? Who knows?), or that it's a wee bit long for a children's book, it's one of those books that every child should hear and quite possibly add to their library. My copy was at school (and no way was I driving 45 minutes to get it, let alone go into a school building in mid-July) and since it's just a flimsy Scholastic paperback that I got for $2 I figured now was a great time to get a sturdier copy and add it to our home library. 

I wanted to pick it up the same day so I called 3 book stores. Funny thing was, the first two I called made me repeat the authors name twice as well as the title ("Blueberries for Sale? By who? Can you spell that?"). I was feeling a little incredulous. It's a classic. When I called the third book store (which is actually a children's specialty bookstore) the woman immediately said, "I may have one copy left, let me check." I should have called them first.

After our much needed nap, D and I sat together sharing the story and the fruits of our labor. In the story, Sal and her mother can the blueberries at the end so I thought a cooking activity would go great. The tiny half quart we brought home did not long last and luckily I had 2 quarts in the fridge already. We went ahead and used those for a fruit salad to go with dinner.

But would you believe that same evening I cam upon the What's Cooking With Kids blog? She also hosts Kids Cook with Books, a monthly book club that features a children's book and recipe to use with your kiddo! A woman after my own heart! And her June pick was Blueberries for Sal! Kismet, I tell you. 

So if you're looking for a sweet summer read, check this book out. And if you're looking for some wonderful and super easy cooking activities to do with your kids, try What's Cooking With Kids too!

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Children's Gardening Book List

Andrea Sanchez

This weekend we spent some time sowing seeds to prepare for our first garden! I have never (NEVER) had a garden before. But a few years ago I started really wanting a garden. I think as I lean towards trying to feed my family healthier, the idea of knowing where my produce comes from has really appealed to me. This year I remembered the desire to grow a small crop early enough to start by planting some seeds indoors. Despite the warm temperatures, the threat of frost isn't quite gone until next month.

To say that D is excited is an understatement. He kept running around offering to get more water or wanting to count the seeds. His exuberance led to a couple of seed sowing mishaps which means I gave him the task of pushing seeds down with a popsicle stick.

I didn't want to miss the opportunity to foster the gardening excitement (he has snuck downstairs each morning to check the seeds) so I of course broke out as many of my flower/plant/garden growing books I could find. I have a few favorites that you might want to check out too (links are affilates). 

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt

This book takes a look at not only what is happening above the ground, but under the soil as well. It is a rhyming book with a minimal amount of text making it perfect to keep the attention of younger kiddos (think 2-3) while still being engaging for older ones (4-6). This book is great to start a discussion about spring growth, nature, and animals. There is also a winter version (Over and Under) that I enjoy sharing with my students as well. 

Eating the Alphabet

I love this book for a number of reasons. First of all, any time I can share a concept book (i.e. covers basic concepts like numbers, shapes, colors, ABCs) and have him love it so much he requests it again and again, I know it is special. Even better, this book introduces children to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. J is for jicama! K is for kumquat! Each page is chock full of so much colorful produce! This book is a great opportunity to not only teach new vocabulary and alphabet knowledge, but to start up a great conversation.

The Tiny Seed

Here is just one of the many fantastic books by Eric Carle. This story follows a tiny seed on its long adventure before it can grow. It starts off traveling with many seeds but ends up alone and on its own in the end. This book also takes the little reader on the adventure of a flower's lifecycle! And of course, it also has beautiful Eric Carle illustrations. 

Finding picture books that include non-fiction elements makes for extra special reading. Non-fiction texts give children an opportunity to develop critical thinking and connect with literature in a way that is real. One of my favorite things to do with D after we've read a book over and over (and over and over) is to help him find those connections in our day to day. At the grocery store I might point out some of the vegetables we read about. Or while planting seeds discuss what kinds of steps you will take to make sure they grow. While preparing the garden bed, help your child dig down into the earth and find what is below the dirt.

I plan on beginning to include more book lists. If you enjoy hearing about new books, sign up for our newsletter. I include one new book we are reading each week. If you have a theme you're interested in finding for quality books for, feel free to let me know and I'll do my best to help! 

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Book Review: Henry's Hat

Andrea Sanchez

Jessica Anderson likes to design fun and quirky knitting patterns that are easy to finish. She enjoys being home with her 5 children and her supportive husband, and coffee. Lots of coffee. To find out more about her work and many adventures- in knitting and homeschooling, you can find her at: www.allinadaysfun.blogspot.com, and on Ravelry as MonkeyButtBabies.

We are huge fans of Joanna Johnson’s story and knit books in my house. When we made our cross country move a few years ago, Phoebe Mouse was our companion who made the journey so much easier because she was so excited to visit all the new yarn shops we would encounter (after a teary goodbye to our local favorites) and the book, Phoebe’s Sweater kept us entertained during the long car ride while providing lots of learning opportunities. Freddie’s Blanket was a favorite storybook when my fourth was born, and the Envelope Blanket is one of my favorite knits of all times. I just adore the pictures of my youngest two wrapped in their blanket and my midwife insisted on using it for the youngest first swaddle once he was dry. One of these days I will knit a Freddie (especially since I have the little boy overalls ready to go for my littlest). Needless to say, we are huge Slate Falls Press fans in my house and were delighted to see the newest book, Henry’s Hat. Joanna graciously sent me a review copy in the mail.

    Henry’s Hat is written by husband and wife, Eric and Joanna Johnson. The story is so sweet and the illustrations are absolutely charming. Henry is an adorable little chipmunk who has a favorite hand-knit hat. In the process of helping his family gather their winter food, his hat goes missing. He looks all over, visiting his animal friends in hopes of finding his hat. At the end of the book, there are knitting patterns to make Henry’s Hat, Henry’s Letter Sweater, and a Henry Chipmunk stuffed toy (with the sweetest little matching sweater and pants that accommodate a chipmunk tail!). I was able to see the samples in person at TNNA this past January and they are even more adorable in person. 

    My youngest was not quite as interested in the story as he was in looking at the pictures (he is only 22 months, so his attention span is rather short). His favorite part was the cat on the back cover that looks exactly like our cat, “Leonard” (he and the cat are best frenemies and his finds “cat” everywhere). The 4 year old, though, loved both the pictures and the story. This one has been in reading rotation since it arrived at our house a few weeks ago, which means she really likes it. She’s also quite captivated by the illustrations and she loves finding the “knitting animal.” The baby absolutely loves the illustrations and finding things he recognizes in them. Much like Phoebe and Freddie, Henry loves the same things that all children encounter on a daily basis: building blocks, superhero capes, and outdoors fun. 

    I think one of the most fun things about this book are finding all the hidden surprises in the pictures! I love the granny square blanket that is used to help make a tent, the play cape Henry wears with his romper pjs, the knitting animals and the little otter who is wearing one of those old-time striped bathing suits. Then, there are all the lovely knits the animals wear to their Thanksgiving feast: shawls, vests, sweaters, cardigans- such a lovely buffet of hand knits!

    If you are a fan of the Phoebe and Freddie books, you will definitely want to add Henry’s Hat to your collections. If you haven’t met the adorable animals in the Slate Falls Press books, you will definitely want to meet Henry. I cannot wait to cast on for a stuffed Henry to share with my littles. There is nothing quite like a stuffed friend to really help the story come alive. And if your little has ever lost their favorite hand knit hat, they will definitely relate to this story and enjoy it.

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