(re)capturing the fun & wonder

Category: Featured

Five lessons about kids and parenting

Veronique and B
You know, sometimes you need to hear a complete stranger talk before you hear the obvious.

It was Back to School Night a couple days ago and the school’s principal had invited parent coach and educator, Susan Stone Belton to give a speech. It was a short talk, but man, did it pack a punch for me.

Five Lessons About Kids

  1. Kids act their worst when they feel the safest. This is good to know. I’m glad my kids feel extra safe at home and with our friends and family :-)
  2. Kids want and need your attention more than anything so reward the behaviors you like with attention, and ignore the ones you don’t. If you have one kid shooting peas at the dinner table, and another behaving properly, reward the one who is behaving with your full attention. “Ignore the pea-shooter!”
  3. Kids need to make their own choices and deal with the consequences. Say your kid wants to go out on a cold day without wearing a jacket. Let ’em. Next time you can count on his making a good choice.
  4. Relax and enjoy your kids more. If your child is driving you crazy, pretend he isn’t yours. Other people’s kids are funny. And don’t forget to laugh!
  5. Grades don’t matter. Celebrate effort, not scores. The whole point is to learn the love of learning. [this was a funny one for this particular audience because our school does not give grades]

Five Lessons for Parents

  1. Always sign up for pick-up duty when carpooling. You’ll get to hear the best stories.
  2. Listen more than you talk.
  3. If your kid is fussy/obnoxious, feed ’em or put them to bed. (it works!!)
  4. Don’t yell, they’re watching and learning.
  5. Act the way you want your kids to act and be the adult you’d like them to grow up to be.

What’s funny is that I actually sat through Susan’s presentation twice just to make sure it really sunk in. I still have a temper and get cranky if I’m too hot or hungry, but the past couple days I’ve been so much more conscious of when I’m speaking at my kids instead of with them. That alone made hauling my butt to an extra three hours of meetings at the end of an excruciatingly long day totally worth it.

Over 41 books recommended for and by 2nd & 3rd graders

Maggie is in a very special school where the classes are mixed-age. She is a Third Grader in a classroom equally divided by 2nd and 3rd grade boys & girls. Late last semester one of the kids discovered a love for reading and wanted to share with his friends. His incredible mom was generous enough to volunteer to facilitate a book club for the class. Anyone who wanted to join in, could. By the end I think just about all of the kids got into it, and gave up their lunch hours here and there to meet up (as did the mom — did I remember to mention how great she is?).

Now that the school year is winding down, they have come up with their list of favorite reads so that their classmates could discover new books over the summer. Books specifically recommended by kids like them.

What’s not to love?

I thought my readers would enjoy taking a peek at their list, and perhaps find some inspiration for their kids’ summer reading — way more interesting than some generic list a mega-corp thinks they should read. At least that’s my way of thinking…

  1. The Thief Lord, by Cornelia Caroline Funke
  2. The Trumpet of the Swan, by E. B. White
  3. Stuart Little, by E. B. White
  4. Charlotte’s Web, by E. B. White
  5. The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread, by Kate Dicamillo
  6. Because of Winn-Dixie, by Kate DiCamillo
  7. Dragon Rider, by Cornelia Funke
  8. The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  9. A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  10. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, by Robert C. O’Brien
  11. Seven Professors of the Far North, by John Fardell
  12. Flight of the Silver Turtle, by John Fardell
  13. The Navigator, by Eoin Mcnamee
  14. Island of the Aunts, by Eva Ibbotson
  15. The Star of Kazan, by Eva Ibbotson
  16. The View from Saturday, by E.L. Konigsburg
  17. Matilda, by Roald Dahl
  18. Harriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh
  19. The Doll People, by Ann Matthews Martin, Laura Godwin, Brian Selznick, and Ann M. Martin
  20. Haroun and the Sea of Stories, by Salman Rushdie
  21. Swallows and Amazons, by Arthur Ransome
  22. The Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell
  23. The Prince of the Pond: Otherwise Known as De Fawg Pin, by Donna Jo Napoli
  24. The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy, by Jeanne Birdsall


  1. Harry Potter
  2. The Dragon Circle
  3. Spiderwick Chronicles
  4. Edge Chronicles (the first 3) (Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell)
  5. So You Want to be a Wizard Series (Diane Duane)
  6. The New Prophecy Warrior Series (Erin Hunter)
  7. Guardians of Ga’hoole (Kathryn Lasky)
  8. Babymouse 1-5 (Jennifer & Matthew Holm)
  9. Nancy Drew
  10. Charlie Bone (Jenny Nimmo)
  11. Septimus Heap (Magyk.. – Angie Sage)
  12. Akiko (Marck Crilley)
  13. The Mismantle Chronicles
  14. Pixie Tricks
  15. Dealing with Dragons

30 Simple Projects for Children

Little T woke me up way early this morning, after putting him back to bed I found that I couldn’t sleep. Typical, eh?

I took advantage of the quiet to take a stroll through my blog so far and thought I’d share some of my favorite activities and projects. I hope you like them, too!

  1. Make a paper bag costume
  2. Create an Homage a Goldsworthy
  3. Make some corn husk people
  4. Make your own thank you cards
  5. Paint t-shirts
  6. Paint a lamp-shade
  7. Weave a simple wheat wreath
  8. Make magnifying gems
  9. Make snow globes
  10. Create a collaborative drawing
  11. Invent board games
  12. Go for a walk and document it!
  13. Make a nature garland
  14. Make a heart garland
  15. Draw a self portrait
  16. Play math games
  17. Go on a photography outing
  18. Build a boat
  19. Make up a song
  20. Make magnetic paper dolls
  21. Plant a micro-garden
  22. Play a guessing game
  23. Make a paper quilt
  24. Finish this picture
  25. Draw what you see
  26. Play the quiet game
  27. Make a book
  28. Table top tent
  29. Make a bow and arrow
  30. Create a still life collage