Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls

Hi everyone - how is your summer reading with the kids going? We are currently working on Chapter Book #2 for the summer:

This is the story of two kids, brother and sister, who are staying with their uncle throughout the summer while their folks travel. Peter is imagining a LONG boring summer complete with no TV, a old(er) Uncle who doesn't know what to do with 2 kids and a know it all older sister (only 1 year older but still....). Little does he know that he and his sister are the only ones can figure out the Secret of the Hidden Scrolls!

This year I have 2 kiddos that I'm reading it with. Connor will be 10 next month and still enjoys being read to. He is the same age as both the kids in the book and he is finding something in common with them. He is also connecting with the story and actually remembering what we read the day before and understanding what is happening as I read. Gianna is 3.5 and has been having a very difficult summer with listening and obeying so she isn't to thrilled with having to sit down and listen to the story - but she is doing it. She is actually doing pretty good with comprehending the story and able to answer some of the questions. By and large she is more interested in the pictures in the book though. 

What I like about this series:
So far, we are about 2/3 of the way through the first book. We had just finished reading a Magic Tree House book which I personally always have a hard time reading due to the stilted story telling and because the writing is not smooth and easy to read. So, my first comparison with the Hidden Scrolls book and probably my favorite thing about the way the author writes is the fact that he doesn't "dumb" down the story for kids. The writing is smooth, natural and easy to read. It's written like I speak and with proper grammer which is how children's books should be written so they are learning the proper way to speak as they read. Children's books should also provide a challenge to their reading, their thoughts and comprehension so they have a bit of a stretch to understand. They should hear something new to a story each time they read it (I tend to read books over and over and over....). If I learn something new about the story or the characters I count a book as a success. Connor is understanding what the author is saying before I give him the answer in the book and can answer the questions, sometimes with a bit of thought occuring first, before Mike Thomas tells us what is happening. He is using the skill of prediction and sometime that is a very hard thing to learn. At the same time Gianna is learning to listen to the spoken word and beginning to get a picture in her head of what is currently happening. Finally Connor was looking at the book on Friday afternoon and asked the question every teacher, librarian, author and parent wants to hear: "Is there another book?" Yes, Connor there is a sequel. In fact, there is a entire series coming!"

Now, before I answer a question Im sure some of you are wondering - The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls is available for pre-order right now. Go to: and learn how you can order it and also receive some great online activities for your kids to enjoy while you are reading to your kids or use them as a homeschool or book club activity. It looks like the next book coming up is about Noah's Ark.

Now, to answer your question... (off subject, kinda sorta):
I'm sure some of you are wondering why she (Gianna) is listening to a chapter book already? I started reading chapter books with her at around 18 months (she wanted to listen to The Magic Tree House books and actually did better than the older kiddos). As we all know reading books is important for developing language and I find that the books written a century ago have a high quality language and the reading skills required to read them are non-existent in today's books. Usually around age 4 I start reading the Classic books to my kids. Heidi by Johanna Spyri is usually the first book I read and then A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Princess and The Goblin by George McDonald. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and The 5 Little Peppers (and the sequel) by Margaret Sidney appear around age 6/7 and so on. 

These are the books I try to introduce to kiddos between 4-7 depending on attention span and ability to listen. We've also read The Jungle Book, Under the Lilac Tree (this is tough book to read to the younger readers - but it was one of MY favorites in elementary school!!!) and many others. We still also read many many story books as well and I try to have a few fun activities to go with them so she isn't totally deprived of age appropriate books like Curious George and Dora the Explorer which are 2 of her favorite characters right now... 

So, that's all for now. Tell me what books are you reading with your kiddos this summer? Remember it is vitally important that you are reading TO your kids AFTER they learn to read as well. Parents need to make a effort to read to them as long as possible - up to and including Jr High. They need to be hearing proper sentence structure, the rhythm of reading, learning to comprehend and understand more difficult passages and they can only do that when you are reading with and to your older child.

Remember - I love comments:

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Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book to read and share. I was not required to have a positive review or even leave a review. Thanks for reading GivingNSharing!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Scribble & Author Book Review & Blog Tour

Displaying Scribble & Author Banner 2.jpg

Displaying Scribble & Author.jpegSCRIBBLE & AUTHOR         
Author: Miri Leshem-Pelly

Publisher: Kane Miller Books

An excerpt from the book:
A color spot,
some pencil lines,
and here you are… Scribble!

Hi, who are you?
Hello Scribble.
I’m the author, and I’m here to help you create your journey.
Let’s start at the beginning.

Wow, Author, you’ve created a beautiful beginning!
Where do I go next?
Well, it’s your journey, so it’s up to you.
What would you like to do?

About the book:
Scribble & Author is written as a dialogue between the main character, Scribble, and the author who created her. 

Scribble's journey starts on a peaceful shore called THE BEGINNING, continues to the rough, adventurous MIDDLE, and leads finally to the gate of THE ENDING, but it’s not at all what Scribble expected… Scribble is a scribble and Author is an author, but who really gets to tell the tale?

A picture book about finding your own voice, making your own decisions, and writing your own story.

My thoughts:
I wasn't really sure what to expect from reading the blurb about the book. I have been purchasing Usborne Books though for years and love nearly everything they have ever put out (thats the first thing I look for at garage sales & thrift shops - it's like a thrill goes up my spine when I find one!). 

The first things I thought when I received the book is:
1) It's not really for younger kids. I tried reading it with my 3.5 year old Gianna and I think we got about 4 pages in before I lost her. She is able to sit through a 18-20 page storybook that isn't fiction but she just wasn't ready yet for a book like this. 
2) Now elementary age kids who are learning about the parts of a book and learning to use their writing skills may be able to read it and use it as a lead in to a activity. I'm thinking that Scribble & Author is for kids 7/8 and up.
3) I love the images in the book and I think a fun followup to do with preschoolers or elementary kids would be to have them "write" their own book using thumbprints and lines to illustrate their book. It would be fun to encourage kids to have the creature they create from their thumbprint talk back to them in the book. Can't you just see cute little thumbprint dragons, aliens and Darth Vadar's arguing with the author or planning an adventure? 
4) Another neat feature of this book is the use of watercolor in the story. It adds another element to catch the eyes of the reader and the use of the brush and watercolors draw the readers eyes to the movement of the story and the final conclusion of the book. If you've ever seen a post or an article about mixed media journaling the pictures very much remind of that technique. 

You can purchase Scribble & Author online @ Usborne Books & More for $12.99. 

About the author:
Displaying Miri Leshem-Pelly.jpgMiri Leshem-Pelly is the author-illustrator of 14 children’s books. She’s also illustrated 14 books for other writers. When Miri isn’t writing she can be found speaking at schools, kindergartens and libraries. She is invited to do more than 200 presentations with her books per year. Miri is also a Regional Advisor for SCBWI (Society of Children’s book writers & illustrators).
Miri is represented by Olswanger Literary Agency. Miri’s works have won awards and her illustrations have been shown on several exhibitions.
Miri lives in Israel with her husband and two children, and loves reading books and going on nature hikes. Her latest book is Scribble & Author.

Find her at:

Monday, July 10, 2017

Christmas in July ~ Sale & Discount

Just a quick heads up - several of my Handmade Journey friends and I have all banded together and are providing shoppers with a special discount. Click on the image below and use the code: ChristmasInJuly20 to receive 20% off your order. 

NaturalTherapyPacks ~ receive 20% from any order $14.99 and up.
(Sale is July 10-16)

To see the full list of participants go to:

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Christmas in July ~ Summer Loves

What are your Summer Loves? Mine are:
Lazy Days ~ Summer Heat ~ Swimming at the Y
Watermelon and Cantalope ~ Sewing in the Summer Rays
Wet Hair and Reading a Good Book

The Kids and I have been reading quite a bit this summer. Arbordale Publishing has a FREE Summer Reading Program where we can read 25 of their ebooks for FREE and once we have Gigi will receive a FREE book to keep. The kids love FREE books! They learn all about different animals around the world, their habitats, what they eat, who their predator is and how they keep safe. Many of the ebooks make the animals sounds when you touch their bodies and well I never knew that the sounds of a zebra aren't anything like a horse or a donkey, or that giraffes make the sound they do. We've truly been enjoying their books.

Some of the books we've been reading:
        Early Readers 

Garage Sale Fun:
Friday we stopped at a kids & teacher garage sale. It's a good thing I didn't take more than $10. Books were .50 or $1 and there were a few toys too. I gave each of the kids a dollar and told them I had the right of veto. Usually I'll let them buy what they want but I can veto the sale if it's broken or sounds awful. If I see something usually I'll have them check it over in case I missed something that is broken. It works well for us. The car track thing has been our best purchase this year. It was $3 and they have used it as a marble run, a car track, a little people race trace, a water slide and more. They love it. So far, I've only had to confiscate it once because Miss G was throwing marbles....

Swimming at the Y:
We have been making an effort a couple times a week to go swimming at the Y. This year I had the option of raising my daycare fees to help cover the summer expenses & then I had a GREAT brainstorm: Parents can purchase each child a Monthly Youth Membership for $15 and we can go swimming as much as we want. It has been so nice knowing we can go swimming in a clean pool and we don't have the rough kids who plow everyone down at the splashpads nor do we have to deal with huge daycares/schools who bring 20-30 kids who take over. There are usually only about 10-20 people there and it's a wonderful pool. I only have 2 kiddos this summer right now - Connor (almost 10) and Gianna (3.5) so it works out great for us. She has gotten so much more comfortable in the deeper area of the pool and getting her hair wet. Loves to crab walk in the 0 Level entry. It's been perfect for us and it's one of the few places Gianna doesn't throw a fit for me. I do make her take a nap before going tho. Non-Negotiable!

What have you been doing?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Big Cat Little Kitty ~ Book Review

by Scotti Cohn
Pubished by: ArbordalePublishing
$16.95 (hardcover)
$8.95 (paperback)
$7.95 (ebook with auto-flip, auto-read, spanish/english)
Available in Spanish or English

Big cats are fierce predators that roam the world from the mountains to the deserts. How are these wild cats that hunt for their food the same as pet cats that might chase a mouse or ball of yarn? How are they different? 

The award-winning prequel to this book, One Wolf Howls, introduces children to counting and the months of the year as they watch the seasons changing. This sequel introduces children to the days of the week as they travel to seven different world habitats to meet the big cats, and then back home to compare and contrast the domestic cat’s behavior to that of its relative. Compare/contrast big cat predators to little kitty cats each day of the week.

The illustrations are beautiful!
My thoughts:
This book teaches how Big Cats & Little Kitties are different in their behavior and the sounds they make as well as the following: big cats, domestic cats, days of week, habitats, math, life science, maps, the senses, tiger, cheetah, lion, snow leopard, cougar, jaguar, bobcat and cat. It's one of Gianna's favorites and she really gets into listening to the sounds. 

At the end of the book there is a section called For Creative Minds that she can enjoy. Since she's only 3.5 most of the activities are over her head still but some can be tweaked and she surprised me by being able to talk about the cats shown on the world map and understanding which ones roar and which ones don't. There is also a Teachers Activity Guide available online at the books homepage. With 30 pages of worksheets, math, writing and science activities there is something for everyone to do (click on the title of the book above to see everything available to you). This book has won the Mom's Choice Awards Gold.

About the book:
Scotti Cohn is the award-winning author of One Wolf Howls, the prequel to Big Cat, Little Kitty, and is currently working on a third book in the series about migrating animals. She is the author of eight nonfiction books. Scotti’s short stories and poems have appeared in numerous magazines for young people. She has two grown children. Scotti and her husband, Ray, share their central Illinois home with five “little” cats. For more information, visit 

Disclaimer: I wasn't asked to review this book nor compensated for the review. We read it as part of the Summer Reading Program that Arbordale offers. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Arbordale Publishing's Summer Reading Program

This summer Gianna and I have been participating in Arbordale Publishing's Summer Reading Program featuring 25 of their ebooks which they have provided to families to read this summer FREE of charge. She is enjoying reading the stories and I will let her pick the book she wants to read next. Usually she will pick the same one over and over and then I will pick one or two that I want to read. We've been reading the books on my phone and always get an error message that my phone screen is not compatible - but I can click on the OK and still read it aloud to her myself. The books feature animals, habitats and other nature things found around the world and many of the pictures have clickable sound links. Gianna has had a lot of fun touching the animals and listening to the sounds of the animals roaring, making unusual sounds like the clicking of a beetle or the purring of a Big Cat who wasn't made to roar (?!?). I had no idea that a zebra doesn't sound like a horse! and a Giraffe DOES make noise - I always thought they were silent!

They provide you with a Passport and Stamps that the kids (or you) can cut out and then the kids can paste them into their passport.  When your child has read all 25 books you can mail in their passport and your child will be sent a book of their very own to keep. 

So far we have read:

I also own several of these myself and it's been fun to listen to the noises and read them again!

It's NOT to late to join the Summer Reading Program: 
You can read them online or via their Book App. (See the note below)

The Summer Reading Program takes a few clicks to find. You will click here and then you will click on the image that opens up. That will lead you to the Summer Reading Program.
Scroll down on the first page and you will find downloads for bingo, the passport and a link to crafts, etc on pinterest.

Who is Arbordale?
For those of you who aren't familiar with Arbordale - they publish fascinating storybooks (and ebooks) for kids 3+ that are based on the animal world and feature Math and Science concepts. Each book includes a 3-4 page bonus activity section at the end of the book and teachers, homeschoolers and parents with enquiring kids can find another 30 pages of FREE learning worksheets, activities and more online. I've worked with them for about 7-8 years and have we have loved all the books we've read. 

All of their books are completely vetted by teachers and all facts and information is accurate and up to date.

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Disclaimer: I wasn't asked to review this book nor compensated for the review. We read it as part of the Summer Reading Program that Arbordale offers. 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Summer in the City - Week 1

Lauritzen Gardens
Happy Summer y'all!

Summer has officially started. MrC is now FREE of school till August 17th I think and has made it through the 3rd grade and will be advancing thru to 4th grade this year. He is turning into a kind and thoughtful young man who is really really good with little kids and it's been interesting watching his interest in all kinds of building type things. MissG is on her last FREE year before she enters her school years. She starts preschool in August 2 mornings a week and her schooling will continue for 20+ years if she decides to be a doctor. She has been saying that since last Sept/October before she turned 3! She told my chiropractor she wants to be a doctor of bones.

I thought I'd take a page from The Seasoned Mom and share some of the FUN activities we are doing this summer. Heck this might become a series! Hope she doesn't mind! There is so much that is shared online that is FREE and The Omaha Public Library is the very first place I check starting in April as I plan our summers.Everything else we do is planned around their activities!

So here we go:
Monday I had no kids since it was a holiday. 

Tuesday we began our day at the YMCA. MissG still had 3 days of swimming lessons to go. She was so excited about going to lessons and swimming and playing with MrC and then she would get stiff as a board and fight the teacher. It's a simple introduction to water and swimming so it was to help them get comfortable getting their face wet, moving in the water, lying on their back and crawling in the water. She does ok until the teacher asks her to lie back and put her head on the teachers shoulder and then she stiffens up. She did make it through the lesson though. Afterwards I had a chiropractor appointment. We were early about 40 minutes so we stopped at the park to play for a while. 
Wednesday ~ MrC got a cool surprise when a former daycare mom stopped by during naptime with a HUGE drawer thing filled with Knex, the motors and even a solar panel to make the motors run. After nap we went to our first library activity & both kids had a blast! M.E.S.S. stands for math, engineering & science stations. This weeks activity involved racing balloons, creating a gas with baking soda and vinegar to blow up a balloon, etc… The kids loved it & I loved that it worked for both kiddos.

Thursday my bathroom was getting painted in the morning. YAY! This has been a 6 year battle with my landlord. His mother was dying and all his time and resources were tied up in her care till about a year ago. My bathroom floor was falling apart and the wall behind the toilet was having issues. My landlord is 70 now and he told me he didn't expect it to be such a HUGE job (It's been over a month and my litter box is still in the living room till the baseboard is finished - hopefully in the next week or so). I love my new padded flooring and the ADA toilet which is higher than most. I have a bad hip and it has helped me with my pain so much! YAY

Anyway, the kids and I went to Lauritzen Gardens on Thursday morning to get out of the house. We wanted to go see The Amazing Stinko which is supposed to be a rare plant that rarely blooms. It's supposed to be the stinkiest too & I wanted a picture of them holding their noses.... Entrance to the gardens was supposed to be free until it bloomed - you guessed it - it bloomed 3 days before we went. I decided to go ahead and pay to get in so the kids could see the trains, childrens gardens, the new observatory which is a huge rainforest. There are bananas and a huge trumpet shaped carniverous plants in there! (It eats bugs!!)
(I will be posting all my pictures of Lauritzen gardens as well as review in another post. )

Friday ~ MrC wasn’t feeling very well in the morning. He seemed very tired and Ms G was doing great (no swimming lessons!). I put her down for a nap because we were going to the farmers market to listen to music that night and so she could dance. You guessed it – the music was over by the time we got there, we went home and her Dora book wouldn’t work even with new batteries…. Friday was a very difficult day & it didn't help that no one got to play with the knex because they were left out the night before. You see we have a little rule - if I have to put them away they are MINE for 3 days.... They'll get them back on Monday.

Saturday night: Mr C and his mom took me to see Peter Pan at The Rose Theater. That was fun and it was nice to actually do something non work related for a change.  Review

What did you do last week?