Want Summer Fun? Try Making Your Own Bubbles.

I can think of few things that bring out the kid in all of us more than bubbles. What is it about soapy water that is so much fun?  As the dog days of summer beckon, here are a few water related activities you and your children can enjoy throughout the warm weather season.

1.  Water painting.  This is a great activity for keeping little ones occupied.  All you need is a bucket of water and some paintbrushes of various sizes.  Add a few drops of food coloring and let the kids “paint” to their hearts content.  They can paint the sidewalks, steps, driveway.  So  what if they get wet or spill the “paint” – it’s only water.

2.  How about making your own bubble wands and bubble solution?  It’s easy to bend wire into wands for blowing bubbles of all sizes. And Red Ted Art has a great recipe for soap bubble solution:  Easy as 1…2…3

Gently mix together: 1 liter (1/5 gallon) of hot water, 1C good quality liquid soap, 2-4 T glycerin (this makes the bubbles thicker and longer lasting and is available at craft stores or supermarkets).    Gently stir and leave overnight.  The longer you let it set, the better the bubbles will be.  If you’re using it for a party, make it a couple days ahead.

Check out Red Ted Art for other outdoor fun activities.  http://www.redtedart.com 

3.  Put on your bathing suits and have a Water Balloon Fight.  You can get a bag of water balloons at most Dollar Stores.  Fill them with water, and once you have a pile, have a blast (pun intended).

Find the Forest For Summer Fun.

Now that summer vacation is here, why not try taking the kids for a real adventure by exploring nature’s wonders at a nearby forest or state park.  These beautiful, natural areas are in every state and many have free activities for the whole family.  Camping, hiking, bird watching, water sports, fishing and learning about plants and animals are some of the things you can discover at your local park, forest or nature preserve.

Visit: http://www.discovertheforest.org   for tips on how to enjoy nature, how to be safe in wild areas, and DID YOU KNOW facts.  All you have to do is enter your state and a list of all the forests and wildlife areas will appear.   Discover your inner explorer by visiting a forest or natural area this summer.  You won’t be sorry.

Boston Arboretum

Boston Arboretum

Kudos: Kirkus Review 2014 Nominees

Congratulations for the accolades. A wonderful selection of books!

Writing and Illustrating

Last week, Kirkus Review put out a 27 page list of their 2014 Young Reader Book Nominees. They did a really good job of putting all the information about each one in an easy to use display. The link is at the bottom of this page. I took the books from the list that were written or illustrated by people I know for this post, but it is a great list to use to find books you might want to read.

Kudos to all my friends who made the list below:

SLEEPYHEADS by Sandra J. Howatt
Released: May 6, 2014
Reviewed: March 17, 2014

Kirkus StarSLEEPYHEADS
by Sandra J. Howatt, illustrated by Joyce Wan


“A superb execution of soporific shapes and sounds perfect for the bedside table. (Picture book. 2-6)


Sleepyhead readers explore a hushed woodland at dusk, where they discover animals nestled in their cozy places at bedtime. Read full book review >

TEA PARTY RULES by Ame DyckmanReleased: Oct. 3…

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30 Favorite Children’s Books.

Everyone who loves books for children has their favorites.  Those special books that have  left a mark or demand to be read over and over again.  So here are 30 of mine…in no particular order.  Some are old classics, others new.  Some picture books, middle grade and young adult.  All are wonderful additions to every child’s library.

Picture Books:

The Cat in the Hat – Dr. Suess

Leo the Late Bloomer – Jose Aruego

The Runaway Bunny/Goodnight Moon – Margaret Wise Brown

The Day the Crayons Quit – Drew Daywalt

Inside the Slidy Diner – Laurel Snyder

Middle Grade:
Anne of Green Gables – L M Montgomery
Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank
Charlotte’s Web – E B White
Because of Winn Dixie – Kate DiCamillo
A Northern Light – Jennifer Donnelly
Harry Potter Books –J K Rowling
The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman
Chains – Laurie Halse Anderson
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate – Jacqueline Kelly
The Midwife’s Apprentice – Karen Cushman
The Phantom Toolbooth – Norton Juster
Ramona Quimby series – Beverly Cleary
An Unfinished Angel – Sharon Creech
Moon Over Manifest – Clare Vanderpool
Flora and Ulysses – Kate DiCamillo
One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street – Joanne Rocklin
When Audrey Met Alice – Rebecca Behrens
The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky – Holly Schindler
Glory Be – Augusta Scattergood
The One and Only Ivan – Katherine Applegate
Wonder – R J Palacio

Young Adult:

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian – Sherman Alexie

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Series – Anna Brashares

13 Reasons Why – Jay Asher

The Fault in Our Stars – John Green

Which treasured books would you add to this list?

Find Your Inner Artist.

Along with summer vacation and no school, comes boredom and cries of “there’s nothing to do!”  Sometimes even playing outside gets old when the sun is too hot or bugs to pesky.  Why not help your child develop his or her artistic side.  There are numerous web sites that teach art lessons, origami, crafts, puppetry and many other artistic endeavors.

You can also explore the great artists and their masterpieces with virtual tours of art museums like the Louvre in Parishttp://www.louvre.fr    where you’ll see the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, and many others.  Or try the Museum of Modern Art in NYhttp://www.moma.org

If you are anywhere near our nation’s capital this summer, be sure to stop in and visit the art museums there.  Most, like the NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART, are free. Some even have special summer programs for kids.  http://www.nga.gov

Here’s an easy art project that produces a  finished product your child will be proud to hang on the wall.  All you need is water based paints, paper, and a drinking straw.paint and straw

Pour a few drops of paint on a sheet of paper.

paintspotsNow here’s the fun: Use the straw to BLOW THE PAINT across the paper, rotating as you go so that you get interesting angles and tendrils.  As the colors cross each other you’ll get new shades and shapes.  There is no right or wrong and the end result is frame worthy!  blow paintingSend me your masterpieces and I’ll share them on this blog.  Make some art!