15 Fabulous Books about Forest Animals

The kids and I have always loved forest animals -- probably because we live in the middle of the plains ;) 

So seeing a moose doesn't happen so often in our area.

But when we head out on vacation -- trips to the Rocky Mountains or hikes through the Black Hills of South Dakota -- we spend time seeking out and observing the amazing wildlife in the forest!

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Books about Trains, Boats, Planes and Things that Go

Today our Discover & Explore topic is Things that Go! 

This is always a favorite topic for young kids -- cars, planes, boats, trains -- anything they can ride, drive or fly.  It's always fun to take kids on a new adventure whether it's their first train ride, flight on a plane or boat tour. 

Our kids just loved our first real train ride -- we took Amtrak to a small town about an hour and a half away from our house.  Just enough to enjoy the experience of riding the rails.  It was so great to be able to do things as a family on the train.  We visited the dining car for a snack, played a game while in our seats and (of course) had a round of "I Spy" out the window.  Since no one had to drive, it truly was family time!

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Items that Help Improve Fine Motor Skills


When my kids were young, they had no issues with their fine motor skill development.  I attribute it to the fact that they loved Cheerios and were always playing tug-of-war with the dog :)

But once they hit elementary school, they both began to have issues with their printing and writing.  I always thought that fine motor skill development was important when kids were younger but I never realized it was a skill they would need to work on after preschool.

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Great Nature Activities for Your Spring Bucket List

After a long winter, kids love to get outside and stretch their legs! 

Let them get their hands muddy, get their feet wet and discover what happens to nature in the spring.

It's a wonderful time to learn about animal and plant life cycles along with the fun changes of the season.

And it's a great time to make a Spring Bucket List -- what do you want to do with the kids this Spring? 

How will you enjoy the season together?

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Creating a Rainbow - Fine Motor Activity for Kids

This week, we're going colorful and also hoping to bring the luck of the Irish to you as we celebrate St. Patrick's Day and rainbows.

And one of our favorite fine motor projects -- creating your own Rainbow in a Jar!

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10 Culture & Map Activities for Kids

I love to explore the world with my kids! 

There's something very eye-opening about learning how other people live and seeing the beautiful places around the globe.

And even though we love to travel, most of our foreign explorations happen right in our own home.

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Books that Take Kids Around the World

There are a lot of fun ways to introduce kids to geography and different cultures. 

We love to use maps with different activities to explore the world.  Having a map in your home is an inexpensive but excellent learning tool!

We also love reading books that introduce us to different places across the globe.

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8 Unique Ways to Play & Create with Books

When is a book not a book?

When it's an inspiration for a really awesome activity!

As I was browsing through the Discover & Explore linky from last week, I was blown away by some of the great ideas that were inspired by kids books.

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9 Colorful Ways to Learn Math

I remember the first time my daughter had to do a math worksheet at school -- she's a rainbow kind of girl so a black-and-white worksheet full of numbers was just not her style.

Sooo... she decided to use a different color crayon for each of the problems on the worksheet :)  "When life hands you lemons, make it colorful" is her motto!

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Marvelous Math Books for Kids


Ok, so here's the issue in our house -- we've got one child who is a math whiz and another who wouldn't mind if math was wiped off the face of the earth. The one thing they both have in common is neither enjoys any math homework: 

"It's boring, Mom!"

"Yes, I know.  Worksheets aren't always the best way to enjoy math." 

But you still need to do your homework. 

This is how it goes for so many things in life, right.  Practice isn't always as much fun as 'the real thing'!

So since math is important in life, I try to introduce them to non-school, non-worksheet ways to gain a better understanding of math concepts. 

As a parent, I have to find ways for them to practice, enjoy it and find it relevant to their life.  Otherwise, I will be forever helping them to figure out if they have enought allowance money to buy the souvenir they want when we're on vacation!

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Olympic Themed Activities that get Kids Moving


Watching the Olympics can be a great family activity!  Kids will rarely see sports such as ski jumping, luge and biathalon unless it's during the Winter Games.

The athletes make it look so easy as they compete -- they've had a lot of practice in perfecting their sport.  But it's hard to decribe to the kids how much skill goes into become such a great athlete. 

One of the best ways for them to understand the skill and dedication needed is to introduce kids to some hands-on activities where they can practice and learn about Olympic events.

And there were some wonderful ideas for Olympic-themed activities that get kids up and moving shared during last week's Discover & Explore linky!

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Olympic Activities for Kids


It's hard to believe that it's time for the Olympics again! 

This year, the world will be watching all the winter activities in Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Olympic Games.

It's a great opportunity to introduce something new to the kids -- maybe a new winter sport or a quick tour of the globe to find the location of Sochi. 

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85 Free Valentine Printables

We are snowbound this week! 

Yep, 12 inches of snow overnight tends to shut down most of the city. 

Now this is all fine with us as we LOVE snow days -- BUT we had plans to go shopping for some Valentine items this week. 

And that's just not going to happen for a few days.

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Artic Book and Craft Activities


Well, we're getting another winter storm tonight.  Obviously the cold weather is going to hold on a little longer.  So instead of shaking my head, I thought I would embrace the idea of winter with a few fun ideas that were shared at last week's Discover & Explore linky.

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Quick DIY Valentine Box for Kids


Valentine's Day is just around the corner and I'm sure your kids have been thinking about what they will give their classmates this year.

Will it be candy hearts?

Maybe a Star Wars valentine?

Or are they going to make something special for their friends?


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Explore the North and South Pole: Books about Polar Animals

Today we are exploring the ends of the Earth (literally!) 

If you enjoyed penguin books & resources, you'll LOVE this list of books that feature all types of polar animals!

Most of us will never have the opportunity to visit the North or South poles.  The media frequently shares numerous stories about how changes in our environment are affecting the habitats of animals that live at the poles.  And scientists continue to study both the climate and animal behaviors at both ends of the earth.

I don't know about you but not being able to visit a location usually seems to pique my curiosity.  So we turn to other ways that we can learn about the area -- books and hands-on activities!

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8 Gorgeous Handmade Instruments Made From Recycled Items

You don't need a lot of fancy instruments to create beautiful music. 

In fact, kids can make so many types of instruments on their own AND using items you would either recycle or throw away.

We had some absolutely gorgeous and wonderfully creative ideas shared at this week's Discover & Explore Music linky.  So grab that recycle bin and get started!

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Music Activities & Instruments for Kids

I'm sure you've read at least a few of the research articles highlighting how beneficial music is in a child's life .  Music has been shown to boost memory, enhance learning and help kids to focus on a task.

Most importantly, music is something kids enjoy! 

It entices them to dance, sing along and relax -- allowing them to practice large motor skills, enhance their verbal development and enjoy the world. 

My kids always ask for music!  While they're doing their chores or helping around the house , they play the radio.  Both have requested to play instruments way before we thought they would be ready (but given their interest and the fact that we found the right music teacher, they have really enjoyed it). 

And I can't tell you the number of musical rhymes and memorization tips we've used to help them with their school work (I don't think anyone in the world can say the ABC's without singing it :)

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How Pretend Play Leads to Science Exploration


If you've ever watch children play, you can see how much fun they have pretending.  Sometimes they are building social skills or practicing their communication and launguage skills. 

And other times, they are exploring new areas of the world such as science.

Quite a few pretend play activities also lead to science exploration and discovery.  You'll notice kids asking questions such as "why?" and "how?" as they engage in various activities. 

Many times, children don't realize that they are learning about chemistry and physics while they have fun.  And play like this will continue to enhance a child's curiosity as they explore new

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Fun Ways to Encourage Pretend Play


Not long ago, I walked into our playroom to find my daughter surrounded by all her cooking items and talking aloud to no one.  I just smiled and she smiled back.

"What's up?", I asked.

"I'm doing a cooking show!"

I guess I had been mentioning Rachel Ray quite a bit (I mean, it was the holiday season and I'm more likely to search for new recipes and tape some of the food shows).

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