Saturday, June 30, 2012

Books for the Beach

If you are lucky enough to be taking a vacation to the beach, you may want to throw in some books for the beach. If you are afraid of having sandy and wet books at the beach, think about packing a few beach books for bedtime or a rainy, stormy day at the beach. Can't head to the beach? These books could also be used in a preschool beach unit. Preschool children love to create the ocean animals that they read about in books. The beach provides lots of items children can categorize and count. And the books about the beach allow for fun book activities!
Photo Preschool Beach Thematic Unit, Best Beach Themed Picture Books

 Here are a few of my favorite beach themed books for babies, toddlers, and early readers.

preschool beach unit, hooray for fish, Lucy Cousins Hooray for Fish by Lucy Cousins takes readers underwater to count, name colors, rhyme, and find new fish friends. The fish in this ocean are unlike any you've seen. There are big, bright red fish, blue fish, and yellow fish. There are hairy fish, scary fish, twisty and twirly fish too!
Preschool Beach Unit, Sea, Sand, Me!, Patricia Hubbell Another great rhyming text about the beach is Sea, Sand, Me by Patricia Hubbell. This is a simple story about a girl's day playing with a little boy at the beach. The repetative text encourages the littlest learners to participate. The large, bold illustrations make this a perfect book for taking a picture walk. Flip through the pages while you talk about all you can encounter at the beach.

Preschool Beach Unit, The Pout Pout Fish, Deborah Diesen The Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen
He's a Pout Pout fish. He's destined to be dreary, or so he tells every other fish in the sea. The Pout- Pout Fish in Deborah Diesen's book, tries to stay glum but a new fish swims on the scene in this book and helps him find his true destiny, "spreading cheery cheeries"  This would be a fantastic book for a rainy day at the beach when everyone is stuck inside!
If you enjoy this book, you'll have to follow it up, with Diesen's second fish tale,The Pout Pout Fish in the Big Big Dark 
Preschool Beach Unit, The Pout Pout Fish in the Big Big Dark, Deborah Diesen In this story, Mrs. Clam yawns and the pearl in her shell falls out into the ocean. The pout-pout fish wants to help Mrs. Clam recover her pearl but realizes he is too scared of the dark to go in the deep dark parts of the ocean. This book begs to be read aloud.It is coupled with fantastic illustrations that are both cartoonish and very detailed. Your child will want want to hold the book himself and study these illustrations for a while.
This is a wonderfully written and illustrated book with a postive message about overcoming our fears together and helping our friends.
Preschool Beach Unit, Stella Star of the Sea Stella Star of the Sea by Marie- Louise Gay In this Stella and Sam book, the brother and sister visit the beach. Stella dives right into the water, Sam dives right into a million questions about the sea. Stella answers them all with a imaginative twist. Finally, Stella gets the chance to ask what she has been wondering all along, "Sam, are you ever coming in?" There are a lot of great opportunites for learning new ocean vocabulary words in this book.

Speaking of vocabulary, Swimmy by Leo Lionni introduces a huge array of vocabulary in a preschool friendly book. In this Caldecott Honor book, Swimmy is the only little black fish in a school of little red fish. One day, Swimmy's entire family of fish gets swallowed up by a big tuna fish. Swimmy is all alone in the ocean. He swims off and meets a medusa of rainbow jelly, a lobster, sea anemones and more! (This is where you get to introduce all kinds of ocean vocabulary). In the end, Swimmy meets a new group of little red fish. These fish are more cautious and fearful of swimming in the ocean, until Swimmy comes up with the perfect plan. The problem is solved when Swimmy uses his unique color to create a solution.

Preschool Beach Unit, Ten Little Fish, Audrey Wood Ten Little Fish by Audrey Wood and Bruce Wood. This is an adorably illustrated book focused on counting backwards. The book begins with ten little fish. Slowly, they wander into other adventures or find new friends until only one fish is left. Luckily, he finds a "friend" and soon one becomes a mother and the other becomes a father. I bet you can't get how many kids these two have!
Preschool Beach Unit, The Deep Blue Sea, Audrey Wood The Deep Blue Sea a Book of Colors is another concept book by Audrey Wood and Bruce Wood. This book gradually zooms in on a rock on a tiny island and introduces one new tropical item at a time to the scene. It also introduces a new color word each time.

Preschool Beach Unit, Wave, Suzy Lee After spending a day at the beach watching  your child encounter ocean waves, come inside and read "Wave" by Suzy Lee.  This is a wordless picture book about a girl's day at the beach. The girl and the wave play back and forth until the girl ends up wet and a new "friendship" with the ocean is formed.

Beach Elisa Cooper Do you like to people watch at the Beach? Then Beach by Elisha Cooper is the book for you. This wonderful read aloud for early readers, shows the normal happenings at a full day at the beach. The illustrations are small and have several to a page. This beach book would be best enjoyed by older readers who would probably pour over the pictures and the illustrations.

Flotsam, David Weisner, Beach unit Flotsam by David Weisner  In this wordless picture boy goes to the beach to look for flotsam- things that float up on shore. Surprisingly, an old underwater camera floats up. He takes the film to have it processed. The camera reveals images of fantasy-based underwater world. As he flips through all of the underwater life, he stumbles on another suprise. He finds the camera has also traveled around the world for many, many years past and has recorded photos of children. These photos of children around the world from the past, create a timeline of the camera's journey.

Henry and Mudge and the Forever Sea by Cynthia Rylant is a wonderful first chapter book early reader about the beach. In this short four chapter book, Henry, his dog Mudge, and his father take a trip to the ocean. A typical day at the ensues. This is a great choice for children who are new to chapter books. You can introduce the text features of a table of contents and chapter headings, while still enjoying a story that could be read in one sitting. Henry and Mudge is good for independent reading or as a read aloud for preschoolers.
On the Boardwalk by Kelly Ramsdell Fineman A day unfolds at the beach in "At the Boardwalk". As the boardwalk awakes, families stroll down the boardwalk, go for jogs, or head past with surfboards. Through out the day at the boardwalk vacationers play with bubbles and games, and eat ice cream and candy. As the day comes to a close, the carnival lights up and music inspires dancing to begin.Slowly, the day fades and the tired families journey home
Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach by Melanie Watt If you are looking for a little ridiculousness on the beach, make sure you read Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach. If you've read any of the other books in the series, you know that Scaredy Squirrel doesn't like to venture out into the unknown. This scared little guy decides to create a beach in his own backyard instead of going to the real "scary" beach. His beach is almost perfect until he realizes he is missing the soothing sound of the ocean's waves. Now Scaredy Squirrel must find a plan to get to the beach without encountering anything strange, scary, or unusual. As you might guess, his plan doesn't quite work out, but his fear of the beach is eased.

We've been having a lot of fun with some beachy-activities to go with our beach and ocean themed books. I've compiled all of our activities, crafts, literacy and match centers, and early readers in a preschool beach unit. This packet can be purchased at my Tpt store!

Preschool Beach Unit

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Book Review: At the Boardwalk by Kelly Ramsdell Fineman

"At the Boardwalk" by Kelly Ramsdell Fineman is a wonderful picture book to take with you on a summer vacation to the beach. While many picture books about the beach portray ocean life or sand play, "At the Boardwalk" pictures the busier side of the beach.
A day unfolds at the beach in "At the Boardwalk". As the boardwalk awakes, families stroll down the boardwalk, go for jogs, or head past with surfboards. Through out the day at the boardwalk vacationers play with bubbles and games, and eat ice cream and candy. As the day comes to a close, the carnival lights up and music inspires dancing to begin.Slowly, the day fades and the tired families journey home.
In "At the Boardwalk", the theme of families enjoying time together is told through beautifully worded rhyming text.  The illustrations support the text by with painted pictures of families enjoying simple time together at the boardwalk in the summer.
At the boardwalk by Kelly Ramsdell Fineman is a great beach book for preschoolers and early readers. Later this week, I will be updating my book adventures page with more beach books for babies through early readers. 
photo Books by Thematic Unit

There are so many great beach themed picture books. Do you have a favorite one to share?
Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was given.
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Monday, June 18, 2012

Summer Virtual Book Club: City Dog, Country Frog

Photo JuneSummerVirtualBookClub Mo Willems 
 I am so excited to be joining a group of fantastic kid bloggers for the June Virtual Book Club.
The June author that was chosen by the Kids Virtual Book Club is Mo Willems!  Mo Willems is hilarious and can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike.
For this Virtual Book Club,  I decided to pass up on all of our favorite characters-- like Trixie from the Knufflebunny books. I decided to skip the funny pigeon, even though we adore the pigeon. I even decided to choose a book that was NOT illustrated by Mo Willems. I decided to choose the book, City Dog Country Frog by Mo Willems, illustrated by Jon J Muth.
In this story, City dog visits the country in the spring, summer, fall, and winter. In the Spring, Country Frog teaches City Dog to play frog games. When City Dog returns to the country in the summer, they play Dog games. In the fall, Country Frog is tired and so they spend time just remembering. In winter, City dog arrives in the country but frog is not there. He can't find him anywhere. In Spring again, Country Dog finds a new friend- but he doesn't forget his old friend as he smiles a froggy smile.
While it seems to be inferred that the frog dies, this story could be a beautiful way of helping a child deal with death, moving, changing friends, or deal with change in general. 
Speaking of beautiful, the watercolor paintings created by Jon J Muth help to tell this tale in a sensitive and poignant way. We decided to use those beautiful paintings to help in a study of seasons and also in learning about retelling a story.
Before we read the story, we talked about the seasons that we knew. We talked about the words spring, summer, fall, and winter. 
After reading, we took a closer look at the seasons. We used the watercolor paintings by Jon Muth to help us understand the seasons. I created a simple little book for my boys to use to retell the story of City Dog Country Frog.  I have a link to my free pdf of this printable book at the end of this post. On each page I included a tree along with a one word label for the season. We used our watercolors to paint each season. I love the way my four year old, Logan,  really studied the art when we was creating his winter painting. If you are familar with the book, you'll remember the purples and yellows on the page where City dog is standing alone in the cold.
book activity, Early literacy, reading, reader, retelling a story, mo willems,

We discussed each season and which colors we would want to use. Sometimes he had his own take on what colors he actually wanted to include in his painting... and that was ok too. He also opted to paint all over the entire painting instead of painting the tree, the dog, and frog on each page. He was having so much fun (and he is my child who is rarely interested in painting). I just let him express himself!!
After our paintings dried we were able to retell the story using our little retelling booklet.

You can download this printable for FREE by clicking on the image below.
 Book Activity, reading, early literacy, reader, retelling a story, City dog Country Frog

If you like this printable, don't forget to check out my brand new Teachers Pay Teachers store and look for more reading resources!

Do you have a book activity or reading lesson based on a Mo Willems book? Share it below to help create a great resource for parents and teachers! 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Free Printables: Zoo Activities and Books

Books by theme is a page on Ready. Set. Read featuring great books for every occassion. Whether you are going to the zoo, the beach, or the farm, you might want to consider bringing a book along with you. I have been working to create lists and reviews of books by preschool theme on my book adventures page. I am happy to announce that I am adding a new feature to this portion of Ready. Set. Read!  I am creating thematic printable packs to go with each theme.  My first printable pack is zoo activities for preschool. In celebration of this new adventure, it is FREE!  The purpose of these packets is for families to use them during the summer to continue learning in a fun way. I designed them multilevel for families who have children from young toddlers to early readers. In each printable pack, I've included a book list which is divided into three sections: toddler, preschool, and early reader. Although children of any age may enjoy all of the books, I hope this gives you a good place to begin when selecting appropriate books for your child. The book lists will also be linked to my blog and are always FREE on my books by theme page.
photo Zoo Themed Learning Activities Free PDF, printables, lessons, teaching ideas

What's included in the Zoo Activities for Preschool Pack

Photo Zoo Themed Learning Activities for preschool Zoo Animal Movement Game printables, lessons, teaching ideas,

  • Farm or zoo animal sorting game with directions and all the pieces you need to play the game.
  • Animal Number sort- you will need a die to play this math game. All of the directions are included in the printable pack.

Photo Zoo or Farm Animal Sort Game and Zoo Counting Game Free PDF Ready. Set. Read!

  • A Zoo scavenger hunt worksheet to take along on your zoo trip-- and keep your kids engaged and occupied.

Photo Free Zoo Themed Learning Activities, Zoo Scavenger Hunt Free Printable PDF,

  • Early reader books- I've included two levels of early reader books.
  • Zoo journal pages for recording your memories of your zoo trip. I've included pages for children from drawing stage to traditional writing stage.

Photo Free Zoo Themed Learning Activities and Zoo themed journal writing paper

You can download the pack for free right here at Ready. Set. Read! Simply click on the photo to take you to the google doc of this file.

Photo Free PDF Zoo Themed Learning Activities for preschoolers

You can also  check out my brand new store on Teachers pay Teachers and download it for free from Tpt. I hope you enjoy this pack in your summer of  adventures!

You can find more preschool themes and book lists by theme here on Also check out my preschool themes pinterest board for more inspiration!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Learning Colors with Colorful Little Books

Teaching colors to preschoolers by making color books, foldable little books with no glue or tape or staples
My four year old  knows his colors-- well mostly, sometimes he randomly confuses two colors-- like black and white. I wanted to create a summer activity that would review known colors as well as introduce the written color words. I had remembered seeing some color books on Teach Preschool and they inspired my activity.
I began by folding little books out of each color of construction paper. I labeled each little book with the corresponding color word. Then I set up a tray for a color search. I included magazines and ads. I included colorful stickers. I also included a variety of pens, pencils, markers, and crayons in a variety of colors.
Making a color book

Logan can pick up the tray independently, pick a color, and add to his books. So far he has scribbled on a few pages, added two stickers to his blue book, and added a picture of a black lego character and a blue car. After he finishes the books, he can "read" them!
I really like Teach Preschool's idea for introducing colors one at a time. I made this "kit" because Logan already knows his colors and just needs review. Also, it's a great quiet time activity for when his little brother is napping... or for when his little brother loudly playing in his room during nap time-- which seems to be the case these days!

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Road Trip Music for Kids

This summer I am featuring a series called "Road Trip Reading" at Ready. Set. Read 2 Me. Since I was gone on a "road trip" (without kids!) last weekend, guest blogger Tonya Dirksen of Strings, Keys, and Melodies is sharing a fun road trip idea for incorporating music into your travels. If you haven't gotten a chance to check out Strings, Keys, and Melodies, go check out her blog! She shares helpful tips for parents as well as videos of her music lessons. It's a fabulous resource for parents and teachers. Thanks to Tonya for being here today!

Road Trip Music for kids,

By Tonya Dirksen at Strings, Keys, and Melodies

It is summer vacation and time to hit the road with the whole family on a trip that will make wonderful memories. Traveling with children in a car can be rather difficult. Just like a rehearsed script, children immediately start asking “Are we there yet?” 
There are some great ideas for keeping kids busy on the road. There are great books, games and other activities.
Music is another way to keep the family happy. Most of us have favorite CD’s and
playlists we like to play. If you take a little time, you can arrange everyone’s music
ahead of time to make sure everyone’s favorites get played.
You can also take the time in the car to listen and learn about new music. Why not pick of piece written and played by a symphony?
There are several child friendly symphony pieces that will keep children interested and stimulate their imaginations.

Peter and the Wolf
One child-friendly piece is “Peter and the Wolf”. “Peter and the Wolf” was written
by Sergei Prokofiev. It is a children’s story told by a narrator and accompanied by an orchestra. In this piece, the story is told about a little boy named Peter who goes out with his pop gun and his animal friends to hunt the wolf who has been terrorizing the local village. Each character in the story is represented by a different instrument. You can follow the character throughout the story by listening for the sound of their instrument.

  • Bird: flute
  • Duck: oboe
  • Cat: clarinet
  • Grandfather: bassoon
  • Wolf: French horns
  • Hunters: woodwind theme, with gunshots on timpani and bass drum
  • Peter: string instruments

Carnival of the Animals
Another fun piece for children to listen to is “Carnival of the Animals” by Camille Saint-Saens. It is a musical suite of 14 movements that represent different animals. It really is fun to try to guess which animal is being represented by the instruments. If you are not sitting in the car, the children can dance as the animals. Try being an elephant dancing ballet!

1. Introduction and Royal March of the Lions -strings and 2 pianos.
2. Hens and Roosters - strings, 2 pianos and clarinet.
3. Wild Asses - 2 pianos
4. Tortoises –strings and piano
5. Elephants –double bass and piano
6. Kangaroos -2pianos
7. The Aquarium –strings, 2 pianos, flute and glass harmonica
8. Aviary –strings, piano and flute
9. Persons with Long Ears –2 violins
10. The Pianists –strings and 2 pianos
11. The Cuckoo in the Deep Woods -2 pianos and clarinet
12. Fossils –strings, 2 pianos clarinet and xylophone
13. The Swan -2 pianos and cello
14. The Finale –full ensemble

Both of these pieces can be found on one CD – Bernstein Favorites: Children’s Favorites.

Your children will be having such a fun time listening to the different instruments and guessing which animal the instruments are copying that the time in the car will go quickly! Plus, everyone will be learning and growing smarter by the minute! Perfect!

Have a great trip!

Tonya Dirksen is a homeschooling mom to 4 daughters, music teacher, and author at Strings, Keys, and Melodies.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Virtual book club June

We are so excited to get to participate in a Virtual Book Club this summer and we're inviting all of you to join with us! In the Spring, we participated in Toddler Approved's Virtual Book Club of The Easter Egg by Jan Brett. That was a great experience as so many bloggers linked up activities for that book!
This summer 20+ kid bloggers are joining together to study a different author each month. The schedule is:
June: Mo Willems (June 18th)
July: Audrey and Don Wood
August: Kevin Henkes
Each month, you will have the opportunity to choose a book by the author of the month, do an activity, and come share it on one of the hosts' blogs.
Let me know with a comment if you plan to join our virtual book club.
Come back June 18th for the Mo Willems blog hop!
Here's where I am sharing:
,  Book Sharing MondayWhat My Child is Reading,

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

DIY: Squirt Gun Shooting Range

squirt gun shooting range by,  summer fun activities, activities for boys
Today's post is brought to you by the letter "F"- for fun! There is nothing else very educational about this post and it is certainly not about reading or writing. Summer is about having fun, though, and this was a lot of fun! It also kept two highly energetic little boys entertained for a long time, so I thought it was worth sharing. One day last week, our rainy day fun turned into a squirt gun shooting range! The boys had a lot of energy and needed to get outside despite the rain. After about 10 minutes outside, however, they were ready to head back inside. I had not wasted two sets of wet clothes on 10 minutes outside play, so I had to think quick. I saw some pie pans in the basement that I had been planning to use to make stepping stones for a garden. I think they are called "disposable" pie pans-- but since my mom still uses the set she bought back in the 80s, let's call them "reusable" pie pans for her sake. As I was trying to think up something to entertain the boys, I suddenly saw targets on them... on the pie pans, not the boys! I quickly raided our lid stash and used duct tape to secure the lids to the pie pans, making a target.
Squirt Gun Shooting Range by, summer fun activities for boys

 To make the squirt gun shooting range, I taped the pie pans to our deck. I think trees or fences could work as well. Then we stood back and shoot.
Setting up a squirt gun shooting range.

Well, some people didn't like the stand back idea!

 After refilling the squirt guns a few times, the novelty of the shooting range began to wane. To see if I could reinterest the boys, I decided to create some paper plate targets. I thought they would be better able to see where they had shot on the target with a paper plate. I also added point values. If your kids are as competitive as mine, make sure you add point values. They were racking up 1,000s of points!

 For added fun, we tried using some water dyed with food coloring too. I don't think our water was colored enough, but if you can get it dark enough, it could be fun. Maybe each kid could have their own color?
Squirt gun shooting range, fun summer activities for kids fun activities for boys

 I hope you are taking time with your little ones to enjoy the summer. I'm off to another shoot out at the squirt gun range!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Animal Cracker Cages and Summer Learning ebook

We have been exploring the zoo a lot this summer. At home, we've been doing fun zoo activities for preschool time. One activity that the boys have asked for over and over again, is zoo cookies. These are a fun and easy zoo themed snack to make. They are great to eat while you read a book about the zoo. We made these cookies after reading Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell. You can read a review of Dear Zoo here.  These zoo cookies were super easy to make. The boys could fully participate in the activity, and they tasted pretty good too!
zoo activities for preschool, zoo cookies

Recipe for zoo cookies/ animal cracker cages


graham crackers
animal crackers
red string licorice


1. Ice the graham cracker with white icing.
2. place animal cracker on top
3. cover with red licorice pieces running vertical to make a "bars"

More ideas for summer learning

I submitted the recipe for these cookies to the We Teach Summer Learning eBook. This is a 54 page ebook with summer fun activities for crafts, literacy, math, science, and play. This ebook is completely free to all members of the we teach network.  The good news is, the we teach network is also completely FREE! Also, this year there are links to free printables in the ebook.

Would you like more ideas for summer learning? Check out my summer playtime pinterest board. I'd love if you'd follow while you are there.