Upside Down Babies by Jeanne Willis and Adrian Reynolds. Book Review.

 
The Illustrations in this book are engaging and adorable. The animal’s expressions are priceless.
It begins, “Once when the world jturned upside down”. We see animal babies and human babies spinning through the air wearing concerned expressions. On the next page, piglet lands in a parrot’s nest. On the following, the baby tortoise lands in an otter’s home, the lion cub lands beside a cow, and it continues. The expressions on the faces of the mothers and babies are priceless.
The foster mothers try their best but there are insurmountable odds. The cow cannot provide meat for the lion. The baby elephant can’t jump like the monther kangaroo. This sloth baby cannot keep up with the cheetah.
But then the world goes upside down again and everything returns to as it was. The families are happy to be reunited except for two. My granddaughter and I were disconcerted that the gorilla keeps the human baby and the mother keeps the gorilla baby. There seems to be no reason for this and most children will probably find it funny but there is a undertone of discomfort with the idea. However, children who don’t think too deeply on the subject will just just think it’s silly.
The follow-up to this could be a discussion of new pairings of mothers and babies. Which ones could work and what ones could never be compatible?

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The Sense of Hearing Video

New Video for parents, teachers, and kids.

The auditory system, noise pollution, identifying sound, sound games to play, sound experiments to try, how to protect our hearing, how hearing helps us, and more.

Silly Scientists Take a Peeky at the Solar System by Lindsey Craig. Illustrated by Marianella Aguirre and Ying Hui Tan. Book Review.

This is the second in the silly scientists series wherein Lindsey Craig uses humor to teach children about nature and science. This time the aliens travels through our planetary system. The illustrations are a mixture of wacky drawings and photography from NASA.
The text is written in rhyme such as “Uranus is an ice giant that has a wonky ride. Its seasons last forever since it orbits on its side.” The beat is quite musical.
There is humor in the text as well as the illustrations. For example Jupiter’s red spot is compared to a zit.
The last two pages contain information for parents and older students on our solar system. The best part about this book is that you can also go online and listen to a catchy song with highly professional animation that reinforces learning the planets. It enriches and supplements the text.
Kids who like space and aliens will enjoy this picture book.

Personalizing the Walls – Part Five of the Dollhouse Series

Your child will love adding personal touches to the walls of her dollhouse. Here are some ideas to get her started.

Print out fancy picture frames on your computer. Have your child cut out the frame and draw the picture inside.

Scan and shrink family pictures. Have your child cut them out. Then she cuts a larger rectangle and glues the picture in the middle for instant framing.

Use an app that allows pictures to be saved. My granddaughter loves “Dress Up” which allows a group photo once the animals are all dress. Shrink the photo and print it out.

For MANY more ideas on how to personalize the dollhouse walls, including frames and hanging tips, check this out.

 

 

Imaginarium Discovery Wooden Block Set – Toy Review

For ideas on how to get the most out of block play,  watch the 3 minute video here.

Durability 5 stars These blocks are tough. They don’t chip or splinter over time.
 
Play quality 5 stars The possibilities for block play are endless. Once your child has lost interest in building, check out the nontraditional ideas on the internet.
 
Safety 4 stars The edges are rounded over. They are small and light. However, there have been recalls of other Melissa & Doug Imaginarium blocks with lead paint.
 
Age interest 5 stars From two to eight, their use changes with age but there’s always a new way to use them.
Storage and portability 5 stars The bucket holds  them all neatly. As an added bonus, there is a built in shape sorter on the lid.
Price 4 stars $40-50 at ToysRUs, $50-$60 on Amazon, $84.00 at Best Buy.
 
Strongly recommended. An essential toy.

Melissa & Doug Sound Puzzles – Toy Review

Durability 5 stars Has been dropped repeatedly and still works.
 
Play quality 5 stars Children enjoy making the sounds happen over and over and over! They will experiment with the puzzle to figure out how the sounds are triggered and what happens when a wrong piece is used. The instrument puzzle is great for vocabulary extension.
 
Safety 5 stars Only for children who are past the stage of putting things in their mouths.
 
Age interest 5 stars Engages children from 3 to 5 years old.
Storage and portability 3 stars There is no storage box. Once the wrapping is removed, it needs to be kept in a box or bag.
Price 5 stars There is a large variety of sound puzzles to choose from depending on the child’s age and interests. The average price is $15.00, reasonable for a special toy that lasts and teaches.
 
Highly recommended.

Laura Monster Crusher by Wesley King. Book Review.

This book is suitable for middle-grade to early young adult. This will be a favorite with readers who love fantasy and unusual female heroes.

Laura is a big girl who has been bullied since childhood about her size. Her family moves to a new town and enrolls her in a different school to give her a fresh start. Unfortunately the bullying begins again but this time two other victims befriend her. When Laura fails to stand up for one of them, her new relationship is at risk.

But the real challenge is navigating the secret world Laura can only access through a hidden elevator in her closet. She discovers she is destined to be a monster crusher and without her rising to the challenge, her family, friends, and world are in great danger. Laura, however, is neither athletic nor nimble. Night after night, for this is when she can secretly train, Laura fails to acquire the necessary skills of a monster crusher.

The danger rises to the point of crisis when her beloved blind little brother is kidnapped by the monsters. Betrayed and vastly outnumbered, Laura must pull off a miracle in order to save her family.

The affectionate relationship between Laura and her humorous little brother, her struggle with self-identity and confidence, her desire for friends, and her reluctant courage make her an endearing and interesting hero. An enjoyable read that picks up pace and increases in suspense as it progresses. Although it has a satisfying ending, the danger is still imminent and a sequel or series is possible.

BUY LINK

Upholstered Crocheted Chair – Part Three of the Dollhouse Series

If you can crochet without a pattern or glue scraps of fabric, you can make beautiful upholstered furniture with your child.

For more pictures and detailed instructions, watch the video here.

Have your child glue craft sticks in a log cabin pattern for the seat. The square should be about 4  X 4 inches wide and deep and 2 inches high.

Have your child make the back support 4 X 4 as well but only half and inch deep.

Now it’s your turn. Crochet a 4 X 4 square. Fit it on the frame and crochet up the sides tightening the corners as you go. Once you reach this point, add the back support and stuffing.

Put glue on  the bottom 2 inches and shove it behind the seat. The crocheting will hold it in place until it dries.

Because I had cut the sticks, the edges were rough against my fingers.  I covered them with masking tape. This will make it stronger as well.

Then I crocheted the seat in smaller squares meeting in the middle. You can choose to  go from one side to the other. Whatever works for you.

Then I crocheted up the back support going around in a circle from front to back and then stitching it shut at the top.

I glued two sets of sticks together for the arms. Then I crocheted over them, sewed them shut, and sewed them to the seat and back support. I glued four squares of wood to the bottom to make it less wobbly.

The second time I tried to make it better by making the bottom separate, putting a solid bottom on, and wrapping it in tape to cover the rough edges.

Then I crocheted over the bottom and up the four sides. I made a back and glued it in place. I crocheted a square flap for the seat and put in stuffing.

Then I crocheted up and over the back and stitched it together. I glued two popscicle sticks together and crocheted over them. Then I sewed them on. Unfortunately, these are rather fragile. I glued on  feet again. This one wobbles less because of the solid bottom.

For more photographs and detail, go to https://youtu.be/I7G5IXc_2h8

Next week, making a couch and other furniture.

Grand Prix Marble Works – Toy Review

This is an older version of marble works. I bought a newer one to expand the set and found out the pieces aren’t compatible. There are several cool and intricate sets out there now but I’m just going to talk about the basics.
Durability 5 stars The first set lasted an entire generation. I even brought it to school for my students to use when my son became too old for it.
 
Play quality 5 stars This is science, problem solving, and creative play all rolled into one. Kids  may need some direction  when starting out.
 
Safety 5 stars The marbles are small enough to choke a child but this isn’t  suitable for children under three anyway. Otherwise, I  haven’t encountered any issues other than marbles rolling everywhere.
 
Age interest 5 stars Kids from four to forty  will love this. I recommend more than one box so they can really get creative. Start with a single route to the bottom and then challenge them to  create alternate paths. How can they influence which way the marbles roll? Does the type of marble matter? Can they fix a race?
Storage and portability 4.5 With a lot of patience, you can fit all  the pieces back in the box. Reinforce the edges with tape as the cardboard is rather thin.
Price 4 stars. Price for a basic set varies from $16.00 to $37.00 on Amazon so shop around on their site and other places.
*Be warned. This sucker is a NOISY activity.
 
Well recommended.

 

Bonjour! Let’s Learn French by Judy Martialay. Book Review.

This part textbook part picture book would be an excellent addition to a French Immersion or Core French classroom. It would also be wonderful for a parent to share with a child who is learning French.

While it tells the story a group of children building a sandcastle and a little snail declaring himself king of Le Chateau, the child is exposed to basic French vocabulary.  It employs humor and a bit of drama to old a child’s interest. Also included are list of common words, a skit, information on French culture, a song, and even a section on Monet the artist and a follow-up activity. There is enough information and plenty of activities to make this book a favorite.

The best thing about this book is the site that goes along with it. http://www.Polyglotkidz.Com expands on the information in the textbook. For those of us whose French is less than bilingual, an hour long download is available that gives the correct pronunciation for everything in the book.

I was dismayed to learn “only 25% of public and private elementary schools in the US offer any form of language instruction.” Because Canada is a dual-language country, French instruction begins generally in grade 4 unless you enroll your child in immersion which begins in senior kindergarten. The cultural, mental, social, and economic benefits of second languages are irrefutable. This book would be valuable in any situation working with children 10 years old and under.

BUY LINK