i appreciate you gifts

I Appreciate You: 5th Grade Student Gift Idea

My kids had the same 5th grade teacher. One lovely tradition is this I Appreciate You Because … certificate that each student fills out for their classmates. Grasshopper and Sensei and PickyKidPix have one; here’s my son. I can’t believe that he graduated from 5th grade already!
I Appreciate You: 5th Grade Student Gift Idea

I was also thinking that this would make a lovely gift for anyone:

  • colleague departing at work
  • birthday gift (for my mom who is about to turn 90!). Must think of way to do this will all party guests!
  • for any grade as a graduation gift from preschool to high school
  • a classroom gift to a teacher
  • a gift to a coach Read more…


Did you know that there is a fungus that can control the mind of an ant and make it do its bidding? Would you believe there is such a thing as a corpse flower—a ten-foot-tall plant with a blossom that smells like a zombie? How about a species of octopus that doesn’t live in water but rather lurks in trees in the Pacific Northwest?

I’m so excited to reveal the cover of Two Truths and a Lie by Laurie Thompson and Ammi-Joan Paquette today! What is it about, you ask?

Have you ever played that ice-breaker game, where each person has to tell three “facts” about him or herself, but only two are true? This is a compendium of amazing stories about wacky and wonderful things in nature and history, combined with made-up stories. Kids are challenged to determine which ones are the falsehoods, thus helping them develop some discernment about what they read, encouraging them to conduct their own research, and teaching them facts about the world we live in, all in one tidy, high-interest package.

Every story in this book is strange and astounding. But not all of them are real. Just like the old game in this book’s title, two out of every three stories are completely true, and one is an outright lie. Can you guess which? It’s not going to be easy. Some false stories are based on truth, and some of the true stories are just plain unbelievable. And they’re all accompanied by dozens of photos, maps, and illustrations. Amaze yourself and trick your friends as you sort out the fakes from the facts! Read more…

How Kids Can Impact the World

How Kids Can Impact the World

I was bringing two bags of groceries to our local food bank when a couple with their young daughter stepped into the elevator with me. They were loaded with bags including paper towels and food. They also had piles of toiletries to donate, so much so, that they needed to bring their car around and get some help. Where did all this bounty come from? Their little girl who looked around ten or eleven had asked for donations to this food bank instead of birthday gifts.

donating birthday gifts to charity

My son and his best friend did this for their 10th birthday. Instead of gifts, they asked for dog toys and collars for a local dog shelter. They delivered it themselves and were allowed to play with the dogs. It was the best birthday ever!
kids donate birthday gifts to charity

Here are five ideas for kids to change the world by donating to these charities. I picked organizations whose missions would resonate with kids. And even a very small donation can change someone’s life. These are gifts that give back more: they teach children gratitude. And it turns out that gratitude is the fastest path to happiness.

giving back, happiness and gratitude quote Read more…

Picture Books for Finding Courage

Picture Books for Finding Courage & 3 Book GIVEAWAY

I’m so happy to welcome my guest author today, Laura Gehl, who has a Top 10: Picture Books for Finding Courage. Her list is not limited to Scared of the Dark picture books, but also includes both nonfiction and hilarious fiction books of overcoming fear. She’s also giving away 3 copies of her latest Peep and Egg book, Peep and Egg: I’m Not Trick or Treating, just in time for Halloween. Please fill out the Rafflecopter at the bottom to enter.

How about you? What books about childhood fears are you enjoying with your kids? I just read a remarkable one by Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield, about his fear of the dark and how he overcame that in order to explore the darkness of space: The Darkest Dark.


I was a pretty fearful kid, with many of the typical childhood worries.  I was scared of robbers breaking into my house.  I was scared of something terrible happening to my parents.  I was scared of not fitting in at school.

And then I became a mom, and between my four kids, we had pretty much EVERY fear covered: fear of the dark, fear of needles, fear of heights, fear of worms (not proboscis worms, which can grow to more than 150 feet and are legitimately creepy…just regular earthworms).

Read more…

14 Autumn Picture Books with STEM and Diversity

14 Autumn Picture Books with STEM and Diversity

I have a book list for spring, winter, summer but not fall, I discovered upon organizing my lists into one gigantic List of Lists. So this here is my fall book list of children’s books. It was inspired by gigantic pumpkins. My kids’ second grade teacher’s husband grows these kinds of large pumpkins. They are like a pet, given the care that they need!

Do you ever wonder what it takes to grow a prize winning gigantic pumpkin? Is it mother nature or nurture? This video shows what it takes to win with a behind-the-scenes look at competitive pumpkin grower Don Young of Des Moines, Iowa. His pumpkin weighed in at 1,662 pounds (754 kg) in 2007!

I’ve also included diversity and STEM books that celebrate fall. What books are you enjoying this glorious autumn? Please share! Thank you!

14 Autumn Picture Books with STEM and Diversity

In the Leaves by Huy Voun Lee

Pair this book with Linda Glaser’s It’s Fall. Both have beautiful cut paper illustrations with suggestions for activities to celebrate fall. In this picture book, Xiao Ming is visiting a farm and can’t wait to show his friends new Chinese characters that he’s learned relating to their field trip. The author makes interesting connections between the six Chinese characters (pig, family, mouth, haromony, fire). [picture book, ages 4 and up]

Read more…

#BigFatNotebooks Ensure Middle School Success

#BigFatNotebooks Ensure Middle School Success

My son started middle school this year and this is my year to evaluate his study spaces now that he will be getting more homework. What’s interesting is that good study spaces are not what I thought: it’s better to mix it up rather than study in the same place all the time. This New York Times Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits article by Benedict Carey upends that idea that a specific place, a study room or a quiet corner of the library is good for retention. The research finds just the opposite.

Instead of sticking to one study location, simply alternating the room where a person studies improves retention. So does studying distinct but related skills or concepts in one sitting, rather than focusing intensely on a single thing.

My son likes to study in different spots around the house. The perfect study space for my tween is actually many locations: his room, my office, and the kitchen.

#BigFatNotebooks Ensure Middle School Success

He likes to read, draw, or do homework in his bedroom lying down.

#BigFatNotebooks Ensure Middle School Success

The reading nook in my office is a sunny spot to work on homework, and I’m near by if he has a question or wants me to quiz him on something like Spanish words.


He likes to do project work here, especially anything messy or arty. It’s really sunny and bright so it’s a nice creative work space.

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Diverse Children's Books

Favorite Diverse Author or Illustrator #DiverseKidLit

I wanted to share Everyone Says Goodnight by Hiroyuki Arai for favorite diverse author or illustrator for our #DiverseKidLit linky today. Hiroyuki Arai is both author and illustrator of this delightful Lift the Flap bedtime picture book for ages 2 and up.

Everyone Says Goodnight by Hiroyuki Arai

Our theme for today’s Diverse Children’s Books linkup is Favorite Diverse Author or Illustrator. Who is your must-read author or must-see illustrator? (The theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are always welcome.)

What Is #DiverseKidLit?

Diverse Children’s Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.


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Durga Puja and the Festivals of India

Durga Puja and the Festivals of India

Shoumi Sen Diwali

Please welcome Shoumi Sen who is guest posting for me today. She’s the author of Celebrate Durga Puja With Me! Her book celebrates an important festival of India, Durga Puja, which is about the Mother Goddess, and the victory of the revered warrior Goddess Durga over the evil buffalo demon Mahishasura. Like Chinese New Year, families buy new clothes, prepare special food, and spend the day with friends and loved ones. Durga Puja begins today, September 30th!

Celebrate Durga Puja With Me! by Shoumi Sen

Learn about a festival of India, Durga Puja, in this colorful rhyming picture book. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

Priya’s Lit Blog also has a great review of Celebrate Durga Puja With Me!

Shoumi will tell us more about Durga Puja and the other Festivals of India.


The Festivals of India

Indian society celebrates many festivals and an internet search for ‘Festivals of India’ will invariably result in a long list! India is a diverse nation – her people speak many different languages and practice different religions. People here are spiritual and fun loving and the myriad of festivals fill up the months from January to December. There are religious festivals like Diwali, Holi, Christmas and Eid, seasonal festivals like Onam, Baisakhi, Makar Sankranti and Lohri and national festivals like Republic Day and Independence Day. Here are four popular festivals; this list is but a fraction of the many that are celebrated throughout the year!

Holi – The Festival of Colors

 Holi celebrationsRead more…