Countdown to Summer

countdown to summer

While some people are already into their summer vacation, we are still going, with just a a little more than a week left. We finished all of our curriculum that we purchased at the beginning of the year, and now we are reviewing a few of the things my first grader needs work on and doing deeper research into topics we are interested in. As the end of the year approaches, I decided I wanted to give my son an end of the year survey. He filled out a birthday questionnaire the other day and I loved his answers so I look forward to seeing what he has to say for this one. Here’s a copy of the questionnaire if you’d like to try it with your kids too.

End of the Year Questionnaire

In addition to review, we are doing some character building activities and we’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors to wrap up the year. Do you go full steam to the end of the year or do you wrap it up when you’ve covered all the bases? What do you like to do when you’ve used up all of your curriculum?


Also, here are a few free storytime apps available for iPad. I don’t have an iPad so I haven’t been able to try them out yet. Hopefully they’ll be available for android soon as well!

Bloomie & the Birthday Blunder   not without bear




Keep Your Kids Busy This Summer

summer book packs

We all look forward to summer vacation – or any vacation for that matter. But once the novelty wears off, we all hear the same thing from our kids: “I’m bored!”

My kids like activity books and I like to keep a variety of styles on hand. We have sticker books, make-your-own-paper-airplane books, wipe-clean mazes, wipe clean doodle flashcards, coloring books, and puzzle books. I keep these on a bookshelf or stacked on their desk, and when I hear the moans and groans of boredom, I bust out one they haven’t used in a while. Generally, they’re occupied for at least 30 minutes, and usually when they tire of that activity they have mustered up enough imagination to find something else to do.

As a book seller, I am fortunate to have access to so many amazing activity books. I’ve rounded up a few of my favorites for the “Puzzle Pack” and the “Summer Boredom Busters Pack”. Each set comes with 3 activity books and one pack of wipe-clean flashcards that can be used over and over again. The flashcards are great for on-the-go, too. I drop them in my purse or their backpack if I think there will be a period of time that they need entertainment while we’re away from home.

Stop by the Bookworm Store to get your book packs today!


Composting With Kids

composting with kids

Years ago before I had kids, my husband and I had a trash can that we turned into a compost bin. I have to admit I was surprised at how much it reduced our waste. We moved around a little after that and it never made sense to start composting again, living in a condo with a patio and no plants. Now that we are back in a house and have started a garden (growing strong since Valentines Day), it seems more doable. We have a lot of space on the side yard of our house that would make a perfect spot to hide a compost bin.

I love that you can toss waste into a bucket and after time spent decaying and breaking down, it becomes an element that provides important nutrients that bring life to other plants. I also love that it reduces the waste that gets carried off to some hidden landfill. Americans generate over 250 million tons of trash every year. While paper and cans are popular recyclables, only about 3% of food waste is composted or recycled and it makes up the largest category of products taking up space in our landfills. Less than 8% of all plastics are recycled. The top 3 recycled products are:

  1. Paper
  2. Yard Waste
  3. Metals/Cans

Here are some great resources I found online that will teach you and your kids more about composting and how to get started:

Composting For Kids Slide Show – Great slide show teaching about the benefits of composting and how to do it.

Do the Rot Thing: Teachers Guide To Compost Activities – Teachers guide with lots of fun project ideas and information about composting.

US Composting Council – Includes a list of links and resources that include lesson plans and printable activities.

PBS Kids: The Greens – Outdoor Composting – Information and activities

Getting Dirty: Five Fun Composting Projects for Kids – Project ideas


Books about recycling and other ways to reduce our footprint – Click on the image for more information:

Why Should I Recycle?   Why Should I Bother About The Planet?

Do you compost? What kind of critters do you think you would find in a healthy compost bin?

Happy Anniversary to the Golden Gate Bridge

golden gate bridge

I’ve been away from the computer since last Wednesday on an unexpected camping trip. While it took me away from my regular blog posts and providing updates for the 10-Minute Teacher calendar, it was a much needed get-away. We headed to Giant Sequoia National Monument in Sequoia National Forest and camped among the trees. The kids had an amazing time fishing and walking the Trail of 100 Giants. In 2011 a giant fell, 2 huge sequoias grew together with the bottom 30 feet of the tree serving as one trunk, with two separate trunks for the remainder of the tree. Today you can climb up and walk the length of the tree. It’s pretty amazing. Here is a picture of the roots of that tree…see the guy sitting on top?

fallen giant

San Francisco has big trees, too – mostly Redwoods. I lived in the area for a few years and one of my favorite things to do was walk among the Redwoods. San Francisco also has the Golden Gate Bridge. May 28th marks the day the bridge officially opened to traffic in 1937. I’ve walked across the bridge and that’s actually where my husband proposed, so it holds a special place in my heart. I love the view from the bridge, and any view that includes the bridge. It’s magnificent. Have you been to the Golden Gate Bridge?

The Golden Gate Bridge was designed by Joseph Strauss with later design contributions from Leon S. Moisseiff and architect Irving F. Morrow. The bridge design became a simple suspension bridge with an Art Deco design. The color is International Orange and is known to resist rust and fading. The bridge is 4200 feet long, spanning the nearly mile-wide Golden Gate Strait. It was the longest bridge in the world until 1964.

So what was the point of building the bridge? Well, imagine being in San Francisco in the early 1930’s. There are no bridges connecting the land surrounding the San Francisco Bay. So if you want to get to the northern portion of California you have to take a boat, or drive all the way down and around the bay. Even with today’s cars and freeway systems the trip would take several hours, so imagine undeveloped roads and rough terrain. The $35 million bridge was a great investment.


They blasted rock 65 feet below the water to plant earthquake-proof foundations.

May 27th was pedestrian day, as the bridge was opened for people to walk the length of the bridge.

Eleven men died during the construction of the bridge. Their names are on the memorial plaque on the bridge.

There used to be a pedestrian fee charged for walking the bridge that was collected at turnstiles.


Poems About The Golden Gate Bridge:

The Mighty Task is Done

by Joseph Strauss

Written upon completion of the building of the Bridge in May 1937

At last the mighty task is done;
Resplendent in the western sun
The Bridge looms mountain high;
Its titan piers grip ocean floor,
Its great steel arms link shore with shore,
Its towers pierce the sky.

On its broad decks in rightful pride,
The world in swift parade shall ride,
Throughout all time to be;
Beneath, fleet ships from every port,
Vast landlocked bay, historic fort,
And dwarfing all–the sea.

To north, the Redwood Empire’s gates;
‘To south, a happy playground waits,
in Rapturous appeal;
Here nature, free since time began,
Yields to the restless moods of man,
Accepts his bonds of steel.

Launched midst a thousand hopes and fears,
Damned by a thousand hostile sneers,
Yet ne’er its course was stayed,
But ask of those who met the foe
Who stood alone when faith was low,
Ask them the price they paid.

Ask of the steel, each strut and wire,
Ask of the searching, purging fire,
That marked their natal hour;
Ask of the mind, the hand, the heart,
Ask of each single, stalwart part,
What gave it force and power.

An Honored cause and nobly fought
And that which they so bravely wrought,
Now glorifies their deed,
No selfish urge shall stain its life,
Nor envy, greed, intrigue, nor strife,
Nor false, ignoble creed.

High overhead its lights shall gleam,
Far, far below life’s restless stream,
Unceasingly shall flow;
For this was spun its lithe fine form,
To fear not war, nor time, nor storm,
For Fate had meant it so.

The Golden Gate Bridge

Written upon completion of the Bridge sometime in 1937

I am the thing that men denied,
The right to be, the urge to live;
And I am that which men defied,
Yet I ask naught for what I give.

My arms are flung across the deep,
Into the clouds my towers soar,
And where the waters never sleep,
I guard the California shore.

Above the fogs of scorn and doubt,
Triumphant gleams my web of steel;
Still shall I ride the wild storms out,
And still the thrill of conquest feel.

The passing world may never know
The epic of my grim travail;
It matters not, nor friend or foe –
My place to serve and none to fail.

My being cradled in despair,
Now grown so wondrous fair and strong,
And glorified beyond compare,
Rebukes the error and the wrong.

Vast shafts of steel, wave-battered pier,
And all the splendor meant to be;
Wind-swept and free, these, year on year,
Shall chant my hymm of Victory!


Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Who Wants to be a Millionaire

We all want more money right? What if you could be a millionaire? What would you do with the money?

The economy is changing all the time and I think one of the most important things we can teach our kids is how to be self-sufficient. My son already has a few ideas for businesses he would like to start and I am going to work with him to develop mini-business plans and outline goals for his businesses. What kind of business would your kids start if they could ? What are they passionate about and how could they turn that into a business? Short post today, but here are some links with information on how to get your kids to think like an entrepreneur!

We Love Trees

we love trees

May 16th was Love A Tree Day. While it’s probably an unofficial holiday, it’s one worth celebrating. I love trees. My favorites being the giant Redwoods and Sequoias. When I lived in Santa Cruz I used to take my son walking on the Redwood Grove Trail at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. This was where my little boy learned to run and explore, searching for the numbered posts along the self-guided nature trail. It was perfect because it was flat and wide with fences along the sides. And walking with my little one through the majestic giants was peaceful. Everything was ok there.

Now, living in southern California, we don’t get to see the big guys much. Occasionally we spot a grove of redwoods at nature centers and parks  like Shipley Nature Center, Fullerton Arboretum, or Carbon Canyon Regional Park. There are even a few at the Environmental Nature Center in Newport Beach. But they are few, and many of them show the wear of the drought. Now we are mostly surrounded by palm trees and when we hit the trails we often find large oak trees and evergreens.

We studied trees at the beginning of the year when we covered plants in our science book, but we never really stop learning about trees. I can’t for the life of me identify most trees on the streets in our neighborhood, but I love what they do for us. We recently picked up a tree identification guide at a nature center and we plan to take a special tree hike to learn more about the trees in the area. I think I might even add on a “What Tree Is This?” activity where we take sample of trees near our home and take them to the nursery to find out what they are.

What are your favorite trees and what do you commonly see in your area?

Questions for Conversation

How do trees help people?

What types of trees do you see in your neighborhood?

What is your favorite tree?

What can you do to help trees?


General Information


Activities and Printables


Books – Click on the images for more information

the giving tree   secrets of the apple tree   this is the tree   rainforests   secrets of the rainforest

science with plants

International Museum Day

international museum day

May 18th is International Museum Day. This day is organised to draw attention to the importance of museums. Informative and educational exhibits displayed in countless ways expose us to art, music, and lifestyles of cultures here and around the world, from the past to the present and beyond. There are museums everywhere, including historic places, art centers, and more. We are currently taking classes at an art center and have enjoyed browsing the exhibits. A few weeks ago they had a lot of sculpture and art created by children from our community. Last week the exhibit changed and as we browsed we noticed a lot of art showing our community from the past, and several landscapes from the beaches and open space preserves nearby.

My first grader had the opportunity to join his den on an overnight sleepover at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum. What an amazing opportunity. While they were attending the sleepover they were free to explore the museum as they wished and most of the time, they had entire halls to themselves, free to explore the animals from our past and present, to touch and read through exhibits without distraction.

Being close to LA county, we have a ton of options for museums. On my list for this summer – The Getty, The Page Museum and the La Brea Tar Pits, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

What are your favorite local museums?


International Museum Day Information


Museum Activities for Kids


Questions for Conversation

What is your favorite museum?

Why do you think museums are important?

What different types of jobs do people do at museums?

What are three things you can see in a museum?

Armed Forces Day


Armed forces day

This post is a little late, but well worth posting despite the delay. Yesterday was Armed Forces Day. A day that we honor all of the brave men and women who serve in the military. Thank you for your service.

In the beginning of the year, I was teaching my first grader about citizenship, the United States, our government and our military. One of the things we did was take some time to sit down together to learn about the many branches of our military and what the role and history was for each unit. We talked about the Army, the Navy, the Marines, the Air Force, the National Guard, and the Coast Guard. Then we talked about people we knew that served in the military. My grandfather earned a purple heart in the Marines, and my uncle served in the marines as well. My father was an electrician in the Army. Many of our friends, past and present, have a parent serving in the military. We are thankful for their service.

Many families relocate all over the country and the world every few years as military assignments change. And for many families one parent is gone for months at a time. It’s not an easy job on either end for these families. They all make sacrifices.

I found this website for kids with military parents to connect with others, learn about deployment and other military-related topics, play games, and more. Check it out here:

Here is the same site with the link to the educators page where you can get lesson plans and resources about the military:

You can find out more about the military at the Department of Defense website here:


Questions for Conversation:

Do you know anyone in the military?

Do you have friends with a parent in the military? If so, what do you think their life is like?

What are the different branches of the military?

What are the roles of each branch of the military?



National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

national choc chip cookie

Tonight when I was putting my daughter to bed, she told me she “loved me better than chocolate chip cookies and chocolate chip muffins, and anything with chocolate chips.” It was super sweet, but I also knew how fitting it was since I was planning this post for National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day.

May 15 is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, though some will say it is National Chocolate Chip Day. Either way, it’s a delicious day to celebrate! Do you bake with your kids? Mine love getting into the kitchen. I don’t do it as often as I probably should, but sometimes I like to get things finished and, well, you know, with kids baking takes twice as long and you’ve got double the mess to clean up. The memories and fun are usually worth it though. Do you have a favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe? What other things do you make that you add chocolate chips to? Once in a while we make chocolate chip pancakes or muffins, and I have a closet addiction to strawberry smoothies with chocolate chips mixed in.

We have a busy Friday so we won’t be doing any baking, but I found this blog with an awesome series on chocolate chip cookies. She talks about how to make your favorite cookie by using different pans, flours, sugars, etc. Check it out here:

We will however end the day with my favorite smoothie. I usually make it without chocolate chips for the kids, but once in a while I add them when they have been extra good. Tomorrow they’ll get the chocolate chips.

I couldn’t find much on the origin of Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, but here are some fun questions for conversation for you to jump-start your chats with the kids.


Questions for Conversation

What meal would you add chocolate chips to and why?

Do you know the difference between semi-sweet, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate chips?

Do you prefer mini chocolate chips or standard size chocolate chips?

What came first – the chocolate chip or the Hershey’s Kiss?


Baking With Kids


What’s your favorite chocolate chip recipe?

Police Week 2015

police week

This week is National Police Week. During this time we pay tribute to the officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. This year 273 officers have died.

Police all over the country are earning bad names for themselves. Some of the situations are well deserving of the criticism, but others are questionable. The fact is, there are still lots of great police officers out there and their job is to protect and serve. Their jobs aren’t easy and they put themselves at risk everyday. And we still need to teach our children about safety and that policemen are our friends. If our children are afraid, or lost, or in an emergency they need to be able to trust our policemen and it’s our job to help them gain that trust.

We’ve attended several open houses at the fire station, and police officers have come to the school for a safety talk. We also were invited to tour a police station with our Cub Scout den. A few years back we even got to meet the K9 side of the Long Beach Police when we got a demonstration by the Long Beach K9 Officer’s Association. If you are in the area, they do a car show and fundraiser every May (the Saturday before Mother’s Day). At the event they do a training demonstration and you can meet the dogs.

Does your area have a special program or event that gives children the opportunity to meet their local police officers? Please share with us!


Police Activities and Information


National Police Week


Questions for Conversation

Have you ever been helped by a police officer?

What kinds of things do you think police officers do when they are on the job?

Why do we go to police officers for help?

If you were lost would you be able to tell a police officer your full name, address and parent’s phone number?


Books and Apps

emergency services   police hens