Posts tagged ‘preschool’

February 10, 2014

Tooth Fairy Pillows & Kissy Lips

by Katherine Higgs-Coulthard  38-FE3-KathyHiggs-Coulthard

My daughters were supposed to be brushing their teeth and getting ready for bed. Instead, they were ransacking the bookshelf. The youngest, Hannah, cried while Laura murmured words of comfort. As I approached the doorway, the words “She won’t forget. It’s a tradition” stopped me in my tracks.

Although the “she” must mean me, I could not imagine what tradition Laura expected me to remember.

I silently cursed Laura’s second-grade teacher. Traditions were a big focus of her family heritage unit each year. With two older children, it was a project I had come to dread. Many families could trace their lineage back to Germany or Sweden, Japan or Africa. Their children made cute little cutouts, decked out in cultural regalia. Presentations involved tea ceremonies and recipes for Wiener schnitzel.

My ancestors had not kept track of lineage. And, as for tradition . . . well, did watching football and eating turkey on Thanksgiving count?

Luckily, my husband’s family is English and Irish. They have whole books on their family history. So far, our children always survived the heritage unit, even if their family trees were a bit lopsided.

Laura’s comment about traditions must have meant the cursed unit was upon us. What tradition could be relevant at 8:30 on a school night? The beginning of February didn’t exactly call for Easter eggs or a candlelit Mass. It wasn’t anyone’s birthday. Sparklers were reserved for July; costumes for October. I still had a few weeks until Valentine’s Day.

By the time I entered Hannah’s room, the girls were cuddled together in bed. They scooted over to make room for me. Hannah’s gap-toothed grin accentuated the air of expectation. “Ready, Momma?” Laura asked.

Just as I was about to break down and admit that I apparently had forgotten some vital family tradition, Katie ran in and plopped a book on my lap: “The Real Story of the Tooth Fairy.” In her other hand she held a lace-pocketed pillow. “You can use mine, Hannah. Mommy’s still working on yours.” She gave a grown-up wink, indicating she knew that I hadn’t even bought the fabric yet.
After tucking Hannah’s tooth into its little pink pocket, Katie snuggled in with us. I gave her a special hug.

At 14, she is already aware of something I hadn’t realized: Tradition is not always spelled with a capital T. It’s the little things, quirky family rituals, that mean the most — not just to children, but to us all.

The next day, I brought up the subject over breakfast, asking the children what other traditions we had.
They all shouted ideas at once.
Hannah: “Catching snowflakes on our tongues.”
Katie: “Family game night.”
Laura: “Birthday candles in our Pop-Tarts.” (Okay, so this is not the most healthy of traditions.)
“Dad’s haunted trail.” This from our teenage son, Chris.

The list grew and grew. Christmas stories with Dad, gingerbread with Grandma, Frisbee golf with Uncle Jerry. Snow cream and snowball fights with one grandpa, putt-putt with the other.

As they named all of the ways our family stayed close, I realized many of the traditions had been initiated not by me or my husband, but by one of the children.

It was Katie who suggested last Thanksgiving that we create small gift boxes out of wood for each family member. In them we put little notes praising each other for our contributions to the family.

In kindergarten our son, Chris, told us about St. Nicholas. If it weren’t for his enthusiasm, we would never have known to leave our shoes on the stairwell each Dec. 6, so St. Nick could fill them with treats.

Laura’s tradition involves planting a tree each Arbor Day. That, and sneaking Nana’s cream wafers faster than they come out of the oven.

Hannah, young as she is, has already influenced our family to put “kissy lips” on all the mirrors every Valentine’s Day.

If tradition is the glue that binds families, we’ve concocted our own adhesive out of flour and water, so that we are the sum of the little moments we create together. And while Tooth Fairy pillows and kissy lips may not be as exotic as tea ceremonies and Wiener schnitzel, they define our family better than any hand-me-down ritual.

A few Tooth Fairy Books:

night before tooth fairyTitle: 
The Night Before the Tooth Fairy
Author: Natasha Wing
Illustrator: Barbara Johansen Newman
Genre: Picture book

Title: What Does the Tooth Fairy Do with Our Teeth?what does tooth Fairy
Author:
Denise Barry
Illustrator: Andy Boerger
Genre: Picture book

Ask your children what your family’s traditions are? Surprised by their answers?

December 9, 2013

Calm, wintry nights

After seeing the chaos of Black Friday reflected in the news, I pulled my children close and reminded them that we don’t have to be like that. My oldest (who just turned eighteen) said, “Isn’t it ironic that the day after we give thanks, we trample people to death to get a better deal on something we probably could have afforded anyway?”

But it’s easy to get caught up in the hype of Christmas—stores start piping in the music shortly after Halloween. This year a few stores snuck Christmas ornaments on shelves next to cornucopias and Indian corn. I bet they sold more than a couple, too, because Christmas is like pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving—yes, you just stuffed yourself and probably should wait, but why? There’s the pie right there…

But there is a certain joy in waiting.

Of quieting your heart in expectation of what is to come.

To me, that’s what the season between Thanksgiving and Christmas is, quiet expectation. Expectation reflected in the manger scene by our front door—Mary and Joseph near an empty cradle, waiting.

That expectation is also reflected by the pile of books under our Christmas tree. It waits for dinner to be done, dishes to be cleared, hot cocoa to be marshmallowed, and the fire to be crackling. Then the children gather around Daddy and he reads one story each night between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

My favorites are the calm, quiet stories. Here are a few on the top of the pile:

Quiet Christmas coverTitle: The Quiet Christmas Book (New this year!)
Author: Deborah Underwood
Illustrator: Renata Liwska
Genre: picture book
Ages: Listening 3 yrs and up; Independent 8 and up

If you haven’t yet discovered Deborah Underwood, you’re in for a treat.

Her characters are gentle natured woodland animals getting ready for Christmas, but without the hustle and bustle of other books.

Check out the book trailer below!

onewintrynightTitle:  One Wintry Night
Author: Ruth Bell Graham
Illustrator: Richard Jesse Watson
Genre: picture book
Ages: Listening 3 yrs and up; Independent 8 and up

Gorgeously illustrated story about a boy hearing the Christmas story for the first time.

littlefirtreeTitle:  The Little Fir Tree
Author: Margaret Wise Brown
Illustrator: Jim LaMarche
Genre: picture book
Ages: Listening 3 yrs and up; Independent 8 and up

Another sweet book. A little tree wishes to be part of something—anything—and winds up being part of something he never could have imagined.

Image

How about you? Which Christmas books make your family’s must-read list?

March 7, 2013

You can’t put the kids in a cardboard box, but you can call on Neville, Boomer, and Big Ernie

We did it last summer. The neighbors are doing it this summer. It’s as American as apple pie and the Fourth of July: the long distance move. The snow might still be on the ground, but I can hear the birds chirping, and they aren’t the only ones looking for a new nest. I can tell by the posts on my neighborhood moms’ group that many human families will soon be following suit. (***Note to people who aren’t moving soon: just skip the next part and read the bit about “Neville”, a great picture book. Then go back to Facebook and thank the heavens you don’t have to move.)

Let’s be honest, nobody likes moving. But let’s be honest again, I only thought I knew how hard moving was when my husband and I moved from the east coast to the Pacific Northwest. And then from the Pacific Northwest to the South. But I didn’t know, not until we moved from the South to the Midwest. It wasn’t the locations that mattered so much, but the cargo: we now had two kids. Things were about to get interesting.

And what do I do when things with my kids get interesting? That’s right, I buy books. Here are some that were awesomely helpful during that time:

neville

Title: Neville
Author: Norton Juster
Illustrator: G. Brian Karas

Neville was our absolute favorite. It was recommended by a fellow children’s book lover in Nashville. Unlike the others mentioned here, it’s not meant as a how-to on moving, but just a great picture book that happens to be about a kid who just moved. A young boy ventures out into his new neighborhood fairly certain that his mom is WRONG when she hints that he might make friends just by walking down the street. But what happens when he stands on the corner and yells “NEVILLE!” at the top of his lungs? Well, you’ll have to read it to find out. I’d recommend this one even if you aren’t moving.

berenstainbearsmovingday

Title: Berenstain’s Bears Moving Day
Authors/Illustrators: Stan and Jan Berenstain

Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day. Some people like these famous bears, some people don’t. And while I understand that they are long and a little preachy, especially by today’s trendy and zen-like picture books, I happen to love the Berenstein bears. And my kids do, too. They tell it like it is, and as long as you agree, they are the way to go. I think this one is an especially good one and definitely useful for a kid who is moving. Brother Bear is sad to leave his cave and his friends, but he learns to love his new tree house (the one we all know and love from other Berenstein Bear books) and find new friends.

boomersbigday

Title: Boomer’s Big Day
Author: Constance W. McGeorge
Illustrator: Mary Whyte

Boomer’s Big Day might be my favorite, especially for the littlest set (2 and up). Boomer is a dog and the family doesn’t really play a major role at all in the story, which I think is nice–it really hits that kid-centric point of view where everything revolves around their world, they aren’t getting enough information, and they are trying to figure it out for themselves. Boomer’s troubles start when he can’t understand why he isn’t getting his morning walk, escalate when his favorite toys are boxed up, but disappear when he sees…his new backyard!

bigerniesnewhome

Title: Big Ernie’s New Home
Authors/Ilustrators: Teresa and Whitney Martin

Big Ernie’s New Home also uses an animal as the point-of-view character, although Big Ernie (a cat) has a friend (Little Henry) who is going through the move right beside him. A little more prose than Boomer, so it might be better for a slightly older crowd (4 and up perhaps) or littler ones who can sit through a story. (It’s not long by any means, but I guess it seems that way in comparison with other books–picture books are getting shorter and shorter every year. One thing I liked about Big Ernie is that it doesn’t make the assumption that the kid is moving to a better place, which some of the books do. It’s a different place (in this case Santa Fe) and doesn’t describe the new house.

Title: Usborne First Experiences: Moving House
Author: Anne Civardi
Illustrator: Stephen Cartwright

Usborne First Experiences: Moving House was a nice short read, factual but with a story about a family. This family is moving across town, so they are able to visit their house before they move. (This was not the case with us, and as a result my son didn’t request this one as much and I didn’t pick it up as much). The book also includes details about how their new house is getting painted and new carpets before they move in, and compares the old house, which is an attached row house, to the new house, a large stand-alone home. If those facts match up, or at least don’t conflict with your story too much, this–while not great literature–is a nice, quick book that’s easy to understand. I think there is also a sticker book that goes with this, so that could be good, too. Especially if you have a long car ride built into your move.

themovingbook

Title: The Moving Book: A Kids’ Survival Guide
Author: Gabriel Davis
Illustrator: Sue Dennen

The Moving Book: A Kids’ Survival Guide was great, and would have been even better had I taken more time to help my son fill out the answers. Part scrapbook, part tutorial on how to move, and part planner for your new town, this book will help calm kids’ anxieties by making them part of the process. I love the way it asks them to find things they are looking forward to doing in their new town. And it has ideas for saying goodbye to friends and keeping in touch.

If you are moving this Spring or Summer, good luck! Give your kids some concrete ideas. The Wizard of Why asked a thousand times how his bed was possibly going to fit into a truck, so we googled it and found pictures of a bed going into a moving truck. I cannot tell you how much that helped! Plus, when are truck pictures a bad idea? Find a map of the city you are moving to and make some definite plans: is there a children’s museum you can go to? Find pictures on the web and show your kids. Or an art museum or a movie theatre…anything that gives them something to look forward to and convinces them that you are moving them to an actual place on the planet Earth with fellow human beings–and not to whatever dimension of outer space their toddler mind is imagining.

October 17, 2012

I like my robots with a little zombie, a little Frankenstein, and definitely some pie

I love this book! I love it so much that I think I screamed the first time I read it. Here, don’t listen to me. Listen to the awesome prose:

“Robot.”

“Robot.”

“Robot?” (one of the robots leaves)

“Robot ZOMBIE!” (He comes back dressed as a zombie. The other one leaves.)

“Robot zombie FRANKENSTEIN!” (He comes back dressed as a zombie Frankenstein.)

This continues until they are both dressed as Robot Zombie Frankenstein pirate superhero-in-disguise outer space invader chefs. And then there is cherry pie. That is shared. In just a few words (the new picture book is the minimalist picture book), Robot Zombie Frankenstein is truly “a tale of competition, friendship, and pie.”

Title: Robot Zombie Frankenstein
Author: Annette Simon
Genre: Picture book, Halloween, Awesomeness
Age: Any, really

Two great follow-ups to this book. One is art. Cut out a bunch of shapes in different colors and let your little ones assemble robots. Watching how the shapes fit together will not only give them spatial awareness and teach some beginning geometry concepts, but they will be doing art, flexing their creative muscles, and having fun to book!

Another option is more literary and would be fun for home-schoolers or a classroom teacher. While I do LOVE this book AND it’s zen-like prose which is perfect for this particular story, it would be interesting to ask budding writers how it could have been written in story form. Example, rewriting the lines quoted above: Once upon a time there were two robots. They saw each other and smiled. But then one of them left. The other robot wondered where he had gone. He was sad that his new friend had disappeared so quickly. But wait! Here he was again. But something is different…what is it? He’s dressed as a zombie! Etc…

If I’m not conveying it’s awesomeness strongly enough, here’s the trailer.

Happy reading! And artsying! And rewriting! And while you are here, tell me what YOU think about the trend for picture books these days to be so minimalistic in their word usage.

September 13, 2012

Is your child’s sippy cup half full or half empty?

I have a great interview today with Jeff Mack, the author/illustrator of Good News Bad News. He has some awesome advice for parents about how to use his book to help kids learn how to find the positive in a negative situation and how to see that the pros and cons are all interconnected. Plus, a fun story about a creative way in which a mother and daughter bonded through the love of a book.

It’s not just about the reading! Find out ways you can connect with your kids through these great books, and let me know in the comments if anything has worked well for you lately!

From Indiebound.org: “Good news, Rabbit and Mouse are going on a picnic. Bad news, it is starting to rain. Good news, Rabbit has an umbrella. Bad news, the stormy winds blow the umbrella (and Mouse!) into a tree.

Title: Good News Bad News
Author: Jeff Mack
Genre: Picture Book
Ages: Infant, Toddler, Preschooler

Q and A with the author:

Were you more of a good news kid or a bad news kid or both?

I was a lot of both. I was an intense kid who would work for hours on a project without a break. My mom used to bring home cardboard boxes from the grocery store, and I would try to turn them into pinball machines with working flippers and rubber band bumpers.  I wouldn’t quit until I got them to work. When I did, everything seemed like good news to me. But if I got stuck and couldn’t figure out a certain mechanism, it felt like really bad news. My frustration spurred me to turn that bad news into good news. I suppose I’m still a little like this when I’m writing and illustrating books today.

Any advice for parents of a bad news kid?

I think kids often copy what they see and hear from their parents. If you want them to recognize the positive side of things, consciously model positive attitudes and notice if they start adapting that point of view. Also, take the time to learn more about their pessimistic perspectives rather than discouraging them from showing negative emotions. There are many valid ways to view the world, and some negative feelings have the power to inspire positive changes. That’s what happens at the end of Good News Bad News when Rabbit and Mouse swap attitudes and become better friends as a result of their newly-found empathy.

In your school trips or other interactions with kids, have you met children who relate to some of your main characters or have otherwise gained insight from your books (even if they don’t see it quite like that)?

At school visits, I often find I gain as many insights about being a kid as the kids gain about being an author. However, I just received an email from a mom who enjoyed reading my Hippo and Rabbit books with her daughter. They both connected with the comical way the characters deal with slightly scary situations like spiders and swings. (Rabbit tends to be overly bold for his modest size while Hippo is a bit timid for his extra-largeness. She told me they invented voices for the characters and got into the habit of seeing things from their quirky perspectives. Since then, they’ve been talking like Hippo and Rabbit in all kinds of random places like the grocery store or the swimming pool. As the author, it feels great to hear that my ideas have caught on as a game that these two readers can share and use to become closer as a family. I think Good News Bad news has the potential to produce even more positive effects like this!

Any conversation ideas that parents can have with their kids after reading the books to help them see how to make good news out of bad news without lecturing them?

Kids learn better when they’re having fun. So turn the conversation into a game. When something positive happens, trace its cause back to something that seemed like bad news at the time. For example “Good news! You discovered a new favorite ice cream flavor! But that’s only because of some earlier bad news: they were sold out of your formerly favorite flavor.” Then trace that bad news to the good news that preceded it: “We’re going to get ice cream!” Seeing good news and bad news as part of an on-going chain of events is surprisingly catchy. Plus, it may offer a little distance from the emotional impact of the bad news. Later, when something disappointing happens, kids may have an easier time seeing that the bad news may literally be setting the stage for something positive in the future.

July 18, 2012

words + numbers = 1derful wumbers

One of the first words the Wizard of Why learned to read was “no”. This meant that everywhere
we went he had to ask what the “no” signs said. “No what?” he would constantly ask
from the backseat of the car, the jump seat on the double stroller, or just his spot walking
next to me on the sidewalk. Thus we spent a lot of his third–and so far all of his fourth–
year, reading things like “no parking”, “no smoking”, “no loitering”.

This book came along at just the right time. We are not quite learning how to read, but we are definitely recognizing a few words and intrigued by the idea that one day we might be able to read. This is a great book for that age. (And a lot of other ages, as I mention below.)

Title: Wumbers
Author: Amy Krouse Rosenthal
illustrator: Tom Lichtenfeld (of Sharks vs. Trains and Duck! Rabbit! fame)
Genre: Picture Book, Numbers
Ages: 3 – 7

Book Review and How to use this book with kids: This is a fun, whimsical book. It’s almost like a comic book–each page is a beautiful picture. Then each picture has a caption written in “wumbers”, a mix of words and numbers. For example: one picture shows two kids in the kitchen below a cookie jar. One kid says “Here’s the plan. I’ll climb to the s2l and go st8 to the cookie jar. You be on the lookout 4 mom.” The other one chimes in, “Okay, but I’m frigh10d“.

While the nonsensical spelling might be seem to be overwhelming to a young reader, I think it’s the opposite. It shows them how to look at each word for each sound on the page. It shows them that each word is made up of sounds and that some of those sounds may be familiar in other ways.

You could make a great game of this. How many words can your child think of that use the sound “8” or “2”? At my house, that would keep the kids in their seats at the dinner table for a few extra minutes at least.

Older children will like the book, too, and it will throw them off their reading game in a healthy way, making them stop to think about the words and the sounds. They will also likely laugh at the illustrations and the captions. You can go further with your challenges to older kids…how is the sound “8” spelled in different words? What about straight? trait? fate? weight?

If you are a teacher, or a babysitter on a rainy day, or the parent of kids who enjoy pen and paper work, you could easily have fun making up your own pictures and captains and before you know it you might have a sequel.

Remember, you don’t have to stop when you’ve read the book. You can play with it, talk about it, interact with it. Let me know if you try any of these ideas at home and if you liked them or didn’t or if you have ideas of your own to add! I love to read comments!

January 30, 2012

how long is an hour if “a second is a hiccup”?

I am not proud of this: But whenever my son asks “how long is that, I’m never quite sure how to answer. As in, I tell him there’s an hour before bedtime and he asks “how long is an hour?” Or I tell him that we need to wait 15 minutes for something and he asks “how long is 15 minutes”? So everytime, even though I hate doing it and even though I know it is not at all helpful to him, I give him a television comparison. 15 minutes is the same as one Dinosaur Train. 30 minutes is two Dinosaur Trains or half a Sesame Street. And hour is a Sesame Street. Of course, this doesn’t help at all because he has no sense of how long these things are. It’s also unhelpful because the relative nature of time is hard to explain to a three year old. Even if he had some idea of how long Dinosaur Train lasted, those 15 minutes surely go by faster than 15 minutes at the dentist. Once or twice, I’ve opened my mouth to try to explain that, but then I bite my tongue. I often find myself having to remember that he’s only three.

So I was really excited to see this book! It explains the concept of time in a way kids can understand. And while he still likely has no idea how long an hour, month, or year is, this book has given us some kind of common language with which to talk about it and visualize it.

Title: A second is a hiccup
Author: Hazel Hutchins
Age: 3 and up
Genre
: Picture Book, Nonfiction, but in a fun, fiction-y sort of way

Some things you could do with this book that would be really fun: get near a clock that ticks loudly if you have one. If you don’t, you could sit by a large clock with an easy-to-read second hand, but the ticking noise would probably be easier for a child. Then practice counting seconds: you could count to five, every time the hand moves. Or you could follow the script of the book and make a hiccup sound for every tick. Or even more fun: give mom a kiss every second! I’m sure you can think of lots more ways to practice noticing the seconds tick by!

What about a minute? The book suggests a minute might be “one small song / Chorus, verses, not too long”. So why not try it? Sing a few songs with your little one and a stop watch? Or while watching the second hand go around? Or if you are getting to that point in the day when you really want the kids to get some exercise, how about another one of the book’s ideas–60 hops to make a minute?

What about you? Any ideas to teach time to the little one? Or are you waiting so that on those days when you are tired, you can put them to bed at 6:30 instead of 7:30 and hope they don’t notice the difference? 🙂

January 18, 2012

making the world better with “magic trash”

Occasionally, there’s a picture book that’s much more than a picture book. Something for kids and adults who really want to learn about the world. Something colorful, but also political, social, and ecological. Something with a strong message about the world today. This is one of those.

This book combines some powerful images and stories. A boy wants to be an artist, but first joins the army and works in a factory. A neighborhood struggles with poverty, thieves, politics, and the law. And in the end, art finally wins the day, and the Heidelberg project is created.

Regular prose combined with rhymic and poetic verse:

the young boy paints: “brush greens and blues / on wheels and shoes / slosh, slap, and splash magic trash”

the young adult watches his neighborhood fall apart: “Whoo! Spirits whirl. / New Troubles swirl. / Kick, burn, and hurl magic trash.”

the city tries to tear down his urban art projects: “Old houses talk. / Some neighbors squawk. / Crash, bash, and smash magic trash.”

the adult artist succeeds and completes a beautiful project: “Let rockets fly! / Boards tower high. / Bounce, jump, and dance, magic trash!”

Title: Magic Trash
Author: J.H. Shapiro
Illustrator: Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Genre: Picture Book, Art, Politics, Poverty
Ages: 4 and up

This book would be great in classrooms and for families who aren’t afraid of a conversation around a story. Talking about what you can do to reduce or reuse your trash, and starting a recycled art project would be fun for anyone on a rainy day.

Do you have a picture book that you think shares a powerful message? Please share it!!

January 7, 2012

A fix-it kit so your own Polka-dot can fix kindergarten, too

I don’t remember my first day of kindergarten. I remember second grade, when I met the principal for the first time and I wrote my age (7) backwards. I had to ask for an eraser because my pencil didn’t have one and I was mortified, but he didn’t strike me dead with a lightening bolt so everything turned out okay. This book is about the first day of kindergarten, but it’s a great read for any kid at almost any point in the school year.

Title: Polka-Dot Fixes Kindergarten
Author: Catherine Urdahl
Illustrator: Mai S. Kemble
Genre: Picture Book
Ages: Perfect for 3 and up, or anyone going to preschool, kindergarten, summer camp, or anything else!

Why I loved it and how to use it with kids:

There are a lot of reasons to love this book. Here are some:

  • Her name is Polka-Dot, which is the best nickname for Dorothy I’ve ever heard
  • She lives with her grandfather, and I think books with non-traditional family structures are really important to show kids.
  • She’s spunky and wonderful and afraid of her first day at school.
  • Her grandfather fixes everything with duct tape, polka-dot bandages, and runny soap.
  • He gives her a mini fix-it kit with all three of these things to take to kindergarten and she uses all of them. The runny soap doesn’t fix the mess she makes with the paints, and the bandages don’t help when she’s really sad, but the duct tape does help an enemy turn into a friend, and it saves the day, as duct tape always should.

Not only does this book have wonderful characters and absolutely gorgeous illustrations that would help any kid visualize school, but it gives parents and kids a really good idea. For those children who are too old for a binky or stufftie, or too practical for either, making them a small fix-it kit to take on their first day of a new activity might be just the thing to help them feel in control. Giving kids a sense of ownership and power is often all they need to feel a little less anxious. Maybe this is just what you need for that first day back from winter vacation! Here are some of my own ideas of things you could include in your kit:

  • duct tape of course
  • stickers, if you have that kind of kid (that likes to put stickers on everything to brighten up his/her world)
  • small rocks or shells or feathers if you have that kind of kid (that likes to feel them in their hands to calm down)
  • a small card that says how much you love them
  • a photo of family
  • a card with phone numbers on it

What about you? Any memories, good or bad, from your early school days? And any ideas for a back-to-school kit?

December 8, 2011

cook-it-up-and-eat-it-up

If the holidays aren’t a time for cooking, I don’t know what they are for! And my 3-year-old seems to have sensed the vibe, because he’s been spending an average of 30 minutes a day in his play kitchen recently.

He loves to cook, and I love cooking in my own kitchen while he putters away in his mini-version right next to me. As I simmer away the tomatoes and onions, he chops his velcro and wood fruit, mixes them in his mini pans and sticks them in the oven. Then he brings it over to me for a taste or insists that I sit down for a more formal meal.

And it’s even more fun when he gets up on his “learning tower” to cook along with me. So when we got this cookbook to review from OwlKids, we were both really excited. My son was very proud to show his dad that he has his very own cookbook, and it’s provided us with fun, great times together, and some really good food.

Title: Eat it Up!
Author: Elisabeth de Mariaffi
Genre: Nonfiction, Cookbook
Age: 3 and up!

What to do with the kids:

These are simple, easy, and yummy recipes. Let your kid pick one out: the pictures will allow even kids who are too young to read to choose for themselves. Then take them to the store (or a farmer’s market if it’s summertime!) and let them help buy the ingredients.

The first recipe my son chose, much to my surprise, was the meat pie. I don’t eat red meat, and I don’t usually cook with it at home, so we used Field Roast Apple Sage sausages (which are meat-free, soy-free, and dairy-free and absolutely great). It was delicious! It was even better smothered with some Apple Butter. Hey, it’s the holidays, right?