Raising a Reader

School has started and the homework begins…  And so do the required reading lists.

My littles are required to read and record at least 20 minutes of reading per night.  And I think this is great.  Yet this alone is not going to create a reader.

I believe it is far more important to teach your child to love reading, than it is to teach them how to read.  Everyone learns how to read, but not everyone will continue to read.

We read A LOT in our house.  This alone I believe to be the first and most impactful step to teaching your child to be a reader.  Children model behavior, especially behavior of those that they love and look up to.

For a while I was very interested in purchasing a Kindle or reading from the iPad.  I never really got past the fact that I truly enjoy holding my book.  I like the feel of the pages.  I like to write notes in the margins.  I like to see how far along in the book I am and anticipate what comes next.  I even like the smell.  Yet I still considered the ease of instantly downloading my next book.

And then I realized that if I am reading from some sort of electronic device my children will never really know that I am in fact reading and not just browsing emails or meandering through Pinterest.   I would fail to be a model reader and provide them with the foundation to become a reader themselves.

So instead I still buy paperbacks.  I throw them in my bag and fold my pages to mark my spot.  And there is no question about it, my kids see me read – a lot.


Eye Opening

(Photographer unknown)

Huh?  French Kiss?  That is what I secretly remember thinking the first time I heard the word.  I recall being in elementary school, on the playground, underneath one of those half-dome monkey bar things that all of the playgrounds used to have, when I first heard of a French Kiss.  I had absolutely no idea what those kids were talking about.  But they all seemed to know so there was no way I was going to ask and let it be known that I was clueless.

It was most likely a few years later before I used all of the many context clues I had gathered to really know what a French Kiss was.  There was not really much on television I watched that would explain this, I would never have asked my parents, my brother was younger than I was so he naturally didn’t know anything (at least that is what I thought), so I just had to wait and piece it all together.  At some point I do recall the stunning realization that some of these words I had been stumped by could be found in the dictionary.  I suppose that was pretty helpful.

Have you considered how this process will work for your children?

Until recently I just expected my children’s experience with sex and the like to be similar to mine.

Today I read a post by a thirty-three year old, daughter of a Southern Baptist Preacher and recovering addict, entitled “Three Things You Don’t Know About Your Children and Sex.”  Wow, huge eye opener!

This is what made the most impact on me: Miller states, “Google is the next Sex-Ed.”

Just like we use Google to search for anything else, children are using Google to search for these phrases, like “French Kiss.”  Why not?  Google won’t laugh, criticize or condemn.  This is very logical.

Although the thought of the Pandora’s Box this innocent search might reveal is sickening to say the least.

My desire to maintain my children’s innocence and joy for as long as possible is a constant concern.  Too often it seems our children are approached by evil.  It is reassuring for me to remind myself evil can only be defined by what it is not – the good in the World.  So in order for evil to exist there must also be the good.  We just have to look for it.

This is another good reminder.  Talk to your children.  Talk to them often.  And let them know they can ask you anything – tell them this.  It is my hope that my children will be comfortable asking me, not Google when they really want to know something.

Embrace the Interruptions

Jeff Goins, author of The In-Between, has created a series of challenges to help us focus and give motivation to slow down.  Pretty ironic that we need to be motivated to slow down, don’t you think?

Today’s idea is to let go and embrace interruptions.  The challenge is to:

  • Decide what you will do and who you will be WHEN you get interrupted. You don’t have to let people steal your time, but choose your response before it happens.
  • Block out time to spend with a person who usually interrupts you. Call her just to chat; if local, ask her to lunch.
  • When an interruption occurs, welcome it. Look for what you can learn from the experience, and don’t get annoyed. Instead, embrace this as a chance to grow.

As a mother of five I am interrupted constantly.  These were my interruptions I can recall from today:

  1.  C had a bloody nose in the back seat of the car while on our way to a playdate.
  2. The Little Prince insisted to play the monkey song on my iphone over and over again handing me the phone each time he closed the app as I tried to work.
  3. Diaper explosion on the way out the door.
  4. Driving down the road I realized MC was not wearing a seatbelt.
  5. The gardener knocks on the door to discuss a water leak.
  6. Breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I know these are necessary but when it requires preparing, making food for and cleaning up after five people it becomes an interruption.
  7. Quarrels.
  8. How do you spell…?

I know it can be frustrating when you are really focused and just about to finish a project and then you are interrupted by that little voice saying, “I’m hungry” or “How do you spell investigate?”.

I must admit it took me a while, probably about 3 children, but finally I have learned something from all of the interruptions.   At the end of the day it doesn’t always really matter if you completed every project you had planned.

I like to look at life like laundry.  If you finish all of the laundry today there will once again be more laundry tomorrow.  The pile of dirty laundry will always be there.  But all of the little moments between the wash loads will not.

Instead of having all of my laundry clean, folded and put away, I have chosen to stop what I am doing to listen in order to show I have interest in my children’s interests so that they will grow confident and continue to dream big.  I have chosen to stop what I am doing to read Pinkalicious (again) so that they know they are in fact my priority.  And I will stop what I am doing to apply bandaids (even when there is no blood in site) so that they know their concerns are real and that I will always be here to take care of them.

So especially today I am going to choose to embrace all of the little moments between the “loads of laundry” in life.  Because it is all of these little moments that are molding and forming my children creating the foundation for the adult they will too soon be.

“We need to learn to fall in love with the whole process of life, not just a particular event.” – Jeff Goins

If I’ve Told You Once I have Told you a Thousand Times

I am certain you have heard it before, or at least thought it.

If I’ve told you once I have told you a thousand times.

School has begun which means the homework will soon begin to pile up.  I do my best to stay calm in the midst of snack time, play dates, dinner, sports practice – and homework.  Of course there are days though that are more difficult than others.  So next time, or maybe this afternoon, when you have one of those days and feel like you have explained long division or asked for the garbage to be taken out “a thousand times,” keep this in mind…

Words to remember...


Back To School – Making Memories, Traditions and Trinkets

Remember the book All I Really Ever Needed To Know I Learned In Kindergarten?  I think I should write a modern version, All I Really Ever Needed To Know I Found On Pinterest!

Seriously though, skimming through Pinterest I have found some really great ideas.  For example these great links to various back to school ideas…

I love the idea of lunch box notes.  I once met a mother who happened to also be a great artist.  Every morning she would sketch a design, scene, note or whatever on a square yellow post it note and stick it in her children’s lunch.  I know this because when I opened the pantry door each note was taped to the back side.  Her son saved each note.

The great part is you do not have to be an artist at all – or have little squares of paper.  I like to write notes on napkins.  To show your love it doesn’t have to be fancy.  Or, you could use this template and keep a stash of different notes in your drawer to toss in as you make lunch.

Back to School - Free Printable Lunch Notes by PaperCrave LivingLocurto.com

These Pocket Hearts are another super sweet idea.  I know my girls would love to keep one of these in their pockets at school.  Or you could slip this in your little one’s lunchbox or backpack to find during the day.  Granted one might need to be slightly crafty to make these, you might choose something similar but of another material.  A Shrinky Dink (like) charm shaped heart that read “Love Mom” could be another option.


How about a Back To School Interview?  These are some great questions I have found.  This is always a good time to go back to later in life.  It is going to be great fun to share my daughter’s plans one day.  At age 5 her plan was to live on a ranch, be a veterinarian, ride her horse to work and have five children who will stay home with their daddy.  I just love it!

back to school yearly interview tradition with questions

1st Day of School Traditions can be great memories and even help ease the transition into a new class.  Children thrive on knowing what to expect and consistency.  While there will be much change and a lot to learn on the first day back to school, having a few traditions to rely on might help relieve some of the anxiety associated with change.

3 fun first day of school traditions

And when they come home from school be sure to talk about their first day.  While a day in kindergarten may seem like a vacation to you, your 6 year old has just made a huge accomplishment.  Ask questions to acknowledge your interest in their success.  This will be a big confidence booster for the many days to come.  Check out these Questions To Ask After the First Day of School.  And if you have one of those children not really interested in conversation use the car ride home to your advantage, they will be in their seatbelts – a captive audience!

Talk About School with Your Kids: Questions to Ask

Ten Days of Art, Part 10 – Ready for School

This project would be a great one for storing milk money!

Carton Wallet


What you’ll need

  • Half gallon milk or juice carton with plastic cap, rinsed
  • Scissors
  • Paper towels
  • Tape
  • Wallet Template
  • Ballpoint pen
  • Ruler
  • Craft knife (optional)
  • Butter knife

How to make it

  1. Carton Wallet - Step 1Cut open the carton so it lies flat, as shown; put aside the cap for now. Dry the inside with the paper towels. Tape the template on top of the carton so that the top circle lines up with the spout. Mark the outline of the template with a ballpoint pen. Using firm pressure, trace the lower circle and the dotted lines of the template so that they transfer to the carton. (This will score the lines for easier folding.) A ruler will help you mark the straight lines. Cut out the shape from the carton.
  2. Carton Wallet - Step 2Use scissors to cut out the lower circle as marked. (Tip: To make cutting out the circle easier, first make an X with a craft knife.) Use a ruler and a butter knife to further score the fold lines.
  3. Carton Wallet - Step 3Following the fold lines you marked, create an accordion fold on each side of the wallet.
  4. Carton Wallet - Step 4

Tightly squeeze the accordion folds. Fold the top flap down, pushing the spout through the hole. Screw on the cap to keep the flap in place.

Many thanks to Spoonful for the great tutorial.


Ten Days of Art, Part 9 – Back Pack Charms

Do you remember Shrinky Dinks?  I used to love them.

Since school is about to begin and we are slowly getting in the mood, we plan to make Shrinky Dink (like) back pack trinkets.  And maybe we will even make a few extra to share with our friends on the first day!

This is my plan:

To get started you will need:

  • #6 plastic container (like the to-go boxes on the salad bar)
  • Colored Sharpie markers
  • Hole punch
  • Parchment paper
  • Baking sheet


This is a #6 plastic container.  Cut the flat sections to make a sheet of plastic to work with.

Decorate your plastic as you like with the Sharpie markers.  Be sure to remember to punch a hole before you shrink it.

Bake at 350 degrees on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Watch carefully.  The plastic will begin to melt and curl and then lay flat.  When flat remove it from the oven and allow it to cool before handling.

If you need more specifics check out the great tutorial and photos at Rust & Sunshine.

Isn’t this great?  What will you make?

10 Days of Art, Part 8 – Textile Art For Little Hands

I really like to do my best to introduce as many different types of art mediums as possible.  It is very easy for kids to get trapped in paper and crayons and become bored with the idea of art.  This would be horrible!  I want my kids to realize art is an expression with limitless potential, no matter your skill level.

Textile art, especially things like knitting are extraordinary practices for small hands and minds to reinforce patterns and fine motor skills, two skills necessary in math and handwriting.

Take a look at this great finger knitting tutorial at flax & twine.  This is a perfect knitting project to begin with.

Another excellent project for small hands is felting.  Felting itself might be slightly dangerous with its super sharp needles.  But these felted beads would be perfect.  It will take a bit of time to make a lot of felted beads, so you may choose to incorporate a few felted beads amongst other wooden beads, or maybe use a large felted bead as a centerpiece to your beaded necklace.  Spoonful.com has provided easy to follow directions.

Roly-poly Beads

Ten Days of Art, Part 7 – White Paper Projects

Recently the kids and I on several occasions have visited one of my favorite places – the art store.  I LOVE art stores.  It is really rather ironic though because I would never consider myself an artist.  My drawings are most often unrecognizable or juvenile to say the least.  But there is something about the ability to create and the limitless possibilities in an art store that make me feel like a kid in a candy shop.  I love it.  And I love that my kids love it too.

On these shopping trips we have discovered some new products that have been really fun to work with.  In my last post I mentioned the benefit of White Paper Projects.  These products would be really great for White Paper Projects.  You should check them out and have your littles give them a try!

Watercolor Pencils – These watercolor pencils color like ordinary colored pencils.  The colors are very vivid.  After coloring you can use a wet watercolor brush to blend the colors giving an effect much like watercolor paints.  Experiment with more and less water on your brush to create different final products.

Water Soluble Oil Pastels – These water soluble oil pastels are very similar to standard oil pastels.  They too have very vivid colors and are very smooth to use.  The only caution is that these colors break easily.  Although this should not discourage you.  They are great to use and can just as easily be used when broken.  These oil pastels can be smeared or blended with your finger when dry, as well as with a wet paintbrush which creates a really nice finished project and was a lot of fun with the children.

Oil Pastels – Some may refer to oil pastels like these as “cray-pas”.  I prefer Pentel brand oil pastels.  The colors are bright, the pastels are delicate but not too fragile and they blend well.  Oil pastels are not water soluble, although they too create a very nice effect when used underneath watercolors.  This is referred to as a watercolor resist, as they are not soluble in water and will resist the watercolor paints.

These are some examples:


So get out some white paper and give it a try!




Ten Days of Art, Part 6 – Mixed Media Collage

Projects like this are some of my favorites.  I love projects with very few rules and many possibilities.  A teacher I once taught with referred to projects like this as White Paper Projects.  She always lead White Paper Projects.  This teacher was also a psychologist.


I have learned these White Paper Projects are substantial for growth and development.  Projects like this with very few restrictions force children to think in ways they are not generally used to – ways contrary to what they are taught everyday in school.  Children are taught and quizzed on the “right and wrong” or the “yes or no.”  It isn’t always an opportunity for a young person to survey all of their options and map their own choices.  Also important and not always an opportunity is the concept that there is no “wrong” approach.  For some, like my oldest, this will be a very difficult task.

You can really learn a lot from sitting back and observing how a child, or anyone, approaches art.  Some kids will dive right in, others will analyze and organize before touching their paper and some will become very frustrated looking for the “right” answer.  Regardless of what type of child you have, these White Paper Projects are an excellent developmental exercise.

This is what our project looked like at the two hour mark when Clara said, “This is so much fun!”


Last week we visited the County Fair.  While walking through the art exhibits the girls really took notice of the mixed media pieces.  So that is what we used as our inspiration.

I have mixed emotions on examples of projects.  I can understand the benefit of an example, but I also feel it is limiting for some, especially those children looking for the right answer.  Often they will attempt to re-create instead of create their own piece of art.

So instead of examples I look for what I refer to as inspirations.  And when showing these to children be sure to have several options to inspire, making certain that each piece is unique from the others.  This will reduce the chance of a re-creation.  These are some examples of similar pieces to what we saw at the Fair.

i like multi media collage canvases! tutorial for multi-media collage Multi Media Collage Art

The beauty of this project is you can use supplies you already have.  These are the types of things we chose to use for our projects:

  • Watercolor Paper
  • Bleeding Tissue Paper
  • Mod Podge or watered White Glue mixture
  • Paint Brushes
  • Liquid Watercolors
  • Watercolor Pencils
  • Water soluble Oil Pastes
  • Tacky glue
  • Old Magazines
  • Glitter
  • Newspaper
  • Scrap cardstock pieces

Other items you could use:

  • Canvas or wood instead of paper
  • buttons
  • photos
  • stamps
  • paint pens
  • markers
  • acrylic or other types of paint
  • fabric
  • embellishments
  • recycled items
  • any other item you find around the house

I decided the best approach to this project was to gather all of the supplies, have them accessible and discuss different ways each could be used.

We started first with the wet portions of the project.  First was the newspaper.  Using the liquid watercolors we painted full sheets of newspaper different colors and then set it aside to dry.


Next we worked on the base for our projects.  The girls chose to use some tissue paper and watercolors to fill their white paper with color.

IMG_6250 IMG_6251

While that was drying they moved on to selecting, cutting and piecing together all of their parts they would later add to the paper.

IMG_6253 IMG_6252

 The depth of this project is created in all of the many layers.  After gluing all of the many pieces the girls then chose to embellish some more with the oil pastels and watercolor pencils.

They were very proud of their final projects!

IMG_6257 IMG_6258 IMG_6259