Halloween Hangouts on Google+

#Halloween fun for #preschoolers


Need a few fresh ideas for Halloween?


Join these moms, teachers and other parenting experts in a Google+ Hangout!


I’m joining author and educator Susan Case on Thursday at 3:30pm CST…I hope you’ll hop over and say hello!


A full line up of HOAs celebrating
#parenting , #kids , and all things #Halloween
+ Join +Angelique Felix at 2:15 PM CST for a Witches story and cupcakes
+ Join +Angelique Felix at 2:15 PM CST for a Monster song and craft
+ Join +Susan Case and guest +Rachelle Doorley at 5:30 PM CST for Spooky Simple Science Recipes
+ Join +Holly Homer at 9:30 AM CST and guests as they discusses Candy Control
+ Join Kimberley Blaine and guests at 1:00 PM CST as they discuss children’s age differences and participation in Halloween
+ Join +Green Kid Crafts at 2:00 PM CST for Greening Your Halloween
+ Join +Angelique Felix at 2:15 PM CST for a Ghosts! story, song, and craft
+ Join +Angelique Felix at 2:15 PM CST for a Black Cat! story and song
+ Join +Holly Homer at 9:00 PM CST for a discussion on Homemade Costumes
+ Join +Susan Case and +Vivian Kirkfield at 3:30 CST for Halloween book reading, craft and discussion on how picture books help children deal with their problems
+ Join +Angelique Felix at 2:15 PM CST for a Pumpkins! rhyme and song
Please come and connect with me and Susan Case on Thursday at 3:30CST…Halloween story reading by Susan…and a great Halloween craft with me…and how picture books can help your kids with their challenges!

Our show will be streamed to YouTube where you’ll be able to view it later on.

Building Self-Esteem: The Chocolate Rabbit


Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susanna Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of writers who contribute a picture book review and related resources. 

I’m always looking for books with characters who are engaged in self-esteem building.  Not only is this the case with my selection today, but the book is also a perfect choice for the upcoming holiday of Easter.  I know that parents and teachers will enjoy the simple eco-friendly craft project at the end of my review.

Do you know where the first chocolate Easter bunnies were made?  Here is the scoop, according to picture book author and illustrator, Maria Claret.



The Chocolate Rabbit

Written and illustrated by Maria Claret

Translated by Jane O’Sullivan

Publishers: Barons Juvenile (originally published in Spain)

Ages: 2 – 8

Themes: Mastering tasks and skills, Easter, crafting, dealing with disappointment, family togetherness

Opening: “Not so very long ago, the Rabbit family lived in a little town not far from here.”

Synopsis:  Bertie Rabbit and his sisters want to help their artistic father who paints beautiful Easter eggs, but they are too young.   Bertie decides he is old enough to help his father and buys eggs with his own money, intending to decorate them and surprise his father.  The little bunny is sadly disappointed when he trips and the basket tips over, breaking all of the eggs.  Bertie’s mother makes a pot of chocolate to lift her son’s spirits…but when Bertie climbs up for a taste, disaster strikes and Bertie is covered in lukewarm chocolate.  Bertie’s father looks at his son and has an ingenious idea…chocolate bunnies! 

Why do I like this book

Success often comes on the heels of failure!  I love books that encourage children to keep on trying as they learn to master tasks and skills.  Self-esteem is not built with empty praise…it is developed and strengthened as young children learn to do things for themselves.  A child’s sense of self-worth increases as he takes these important steps…and learning to deal with disappointment is one of those steps.  This is a sweet story about working together as a family…relevant with the busy hectic pace many families experience today…each family will find their own unique ways of spending quality time together.

The illustrations are charming…they remind me of Beatrix Potter’s work.

Related Activities:

Child Care Lounge has quite a few lovely Easter crafts as well as bunny poems here

Angel Fire has an Easter/Spring Unit with many book and craft and cooking ideas here.

Mama-Knows (colored egg picture below) has lots of recipes for coloring Easter eggs here.

Children love arts and crafts!  Here is an activity that will please every eco-minded parent.



You will need: Hard-boiled white eggs (cooled), Q-tips, one or more of the following depending on how many colors you want: ¼ cup blueberries (blue), ¼ cup cranberries (red), 1 tsp tumeric (yellow), markers, a small bowl for each color, cover-ups, two small pots and water to boil.

1.      Cover the work surface and workers to protect from staining (wear disposable plastic gloves if desired).

2.      Boil ½ cup water, add crushed blueberries, simmer for 5 minutes and then pour into small bowl and let cool for a few minutes.  Do the same for the cranberries.

3.      Pour 1 tsp tumeric and ½ cup hot water in a small bowl, stir and let cool.

4.      Put an egg into each bowl and let sit for 5-10 minutes, turning several times with a spoon.  Then lift each egg out and let dry.

5.      Use markers to add designs.

6.      Tip: while waiting for the eggs to absorb the color, go on a color-naming hunt throughout your house…how many red, blue and yellow items can your child find? 


This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susanna Leonard Hill.  Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.

Cinema Sundays: My Picks of Great Flicks…Valentine’s Day Special

Early 20th century Valentine's Day card, showi...

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My husband and I love watching movies.

We rarely go to the theater.

Instead, we frequent the shelves of our local library which offer brand-new-to-DVD movies, as well as many treasured classics and a great collection of foreign films…all for free!   Our local stores also have red boxes (and black boxes and perhaps other color boxes as well) which are vending machines that disperse a wide range of movie DVD’s for the cost of $1.00 per night.

Looking back, I remember going to the movies on a Saturday with my older sister or several friends.  Fifty cents was the admission price…and you got to see a double feature, newsreel and several cartoons…at the end of the showing, you were allowed to remain in the theater and see it all again!  Clutching a precious quarter in my hand, I would approach the concession counter and make my selections…weighing the cost of bonbons (chocolate covered vanilla ice cream balls…five or six to a narrow rectangular package) against the box of spearmint leaves and jumbo popcorn which together cost the same as the bonbons.   Once in a while, the bonbons won out…I really loved them!

With Valentine’s Day so close, I’d like to recommend a movie (actually two…one is the sequel) that will warm you heart and remind you that there are many types of love and many ways to show it.

It may surprise you that both are “Christmas” movies…but perhaps that is not so surprising…under all the commercialism of the Christmas season these days…the message is still about abiding love.

The Christmas Shoes, and its sequel, The Christmas Blessing, are both movies on my not-to-be-missed list.  With top performing actors, both will make you smile and cry with joy…and both will remind you of what is really important in life.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!  Stop by tomorrow for Make-A-Meal Mondays…and something special for Valentine’s Day.

10 Crucial Holiday Tips for Parents of Preschoolers

Happy Holidays, everyone!  With the passing of Halloween, I feel we are really into the official holiday season…Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza…all celebrating life, family and love!

As much as we love holidays, they do bring additional safety concerns, especially when there are preschoolers in the home.  As families gather, there may be even more young children in your home, so read this list of 10 crucial holiday tips for parents of preschoolers.  Then, check them off the list as you make sure you take care of each safety measure to prevent accidents and ensure your family has a safe holiday season.

  1. Check your smoke detectors (you should have 1 on every level of your home) and replace the batteries, if needed.  Fire is the 2nd leading cause of unintentional death in the home.  Each year, thousands of people die in residential fires.  You should also have at least 1 fire extinguisher in or near the kitchen…and make sure every adult and grown child knows how to use it.  Sit down and write out a family escape plan…and practice at least once a month.
  2. Check your houseplants.  Holiday plants like Poinsettia and mistletoe are POISONOUS!  Make sure you keep ALL plants out of your children’s (and pet’s) reach.  If you suspect your child has ingested plant material that might be poisonous, call your local poison control center immediately.
  3. And on that note: Check to see that you have a list of important phone numbers (doctor, poison control center, hospital, 24-hour nurse line, several friends or family members who can be called upon at a moment’s notice to drive you somewhere or take care of your child temporarily).  Then make sure this list is posted where it will be highly visible, near a phone…and keep a pen and pad of paper there as well.
  4. Check to see that you have an emergency first aid kit…and make sure there are several working flashlights with fresh batteries.
  5. Check that there are guards around open heaters and fireplaces and make sure no fabric (like curtains or bedspreads) or decorations touch lamps or night lights.
  6. Check that all electrical outlets that are not being used have plastic plug covers and keep cords, wires and power strips out of your child’s reach.  With holiday decorations, we often add many more items needing electrical power.  Be careful not to overload power strips or circuit breakers.
  7. Check that scissors (for doing holiday crafts and wrapping presents), knives and other sharp objects are locked up or in high cabinets.  The same goes for cleaning supplies and items like potpourri oil.  We get so busy during the holiday season, but we want to make sure our little ones are safe.
  8. Check that pot and pan handles are turned away from the outer edge of the stove.  Use the back burners when preschoolers are in the house.  Involving your children with the holiday food preparation is great fun (and wonderful for building their self-esteem), but we want to make sure they are doing the measuring and mixing in a bowl at the table, not pouring the ingredients into the pot on the stove.
  9. Check that decorations that are within reach of preschoolers have no little parts or pieces that can become detached.  Soft stuffed decorations with sewn on ribbons are beautiful and festive.  Perhaps you can put away the precious glass ornaments until your children are older…or you might decide to make a lovely display of those breakables on a high shelf, visible to adults, but unavailable to little ones.  Homemade ornaments will be treasured for years (we still have several that our children made over 20 years ago).  They can be made of paper, ribbon, yarn, felt and clay.  The joy you all feel when crafting today will become a very important part of your families’ holiday tradition.
  10. Check that your holiday schedule is not overwhelming, for you and for your child.  Entertaining, attending holiday services and events, shopping, preparing the house for guests…these activities require extra time, energy and money…and add stress to our lives that are already often on the edge.  Changes in routines can wreak havoc with your children’s tempers…and yours.  So don’t feel you have to do EVERYTHING!  If purchasing cupcakes from the store instead of baking them yourself for your child’s nursery school holiday party makes life a little easier for you, do it!  Remember to take time for yourself…try to get enough sleep…eat as nutritiously as you can…walk or dance at least 30 minutes 4 times a week…and breath deeply.   

I’m planning to do at least 2 more holiday themed posts: 5 Tips for Safe Holiday Toy Selection for Your Preschooler and 7 Critical Tips for Safe Holiday Shopping and Traveling with Preschoolers.  I’ll also post some of the eco-friendly craft projects and child-friendly healthful cooking activities you can do with your preschoolers this holiday season.