Gardening with Kids

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I’ve always had potted plants: herbs, flowers, and often some cherry tomatoes. Last year we were able to expand our gardening a bit and we had a small raised bed to garden in. And this year we’re using another small area of our yard to plant some of our favorites: tomatoes, zucchini,  peppers, and melons.  I’m just a beginner at this gardening thing, but I do love it and my kids do too.

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There are lots of great reasons to garden with kids:

  • Learning: Kids can get hands on, real-life experience on how plants work, and what they need to survive.
  • Responsibility: Kids can learn how to take care of something, and see first hand the rewards that come with hard work and care.
  • Grows their love of vegetables: For some reason, my kids will try something that they’ve been refusing for years if I say it came from a friend’s garden or our garden.
  • Family Time: Spending time together as a family outdoors, working on a common goal is fun!

Even before it’s time to plant your garden, you can begin to get the kids excited about gardening by reading with them. These are some of my favorite children’s picture books about gardening, planting, and spring:

Water, Weed, Wait by Edith Hope Fine: This book about a teacher who encourages her students to plant a garden at their school shows how team work and community can make something beautiful! It also has a helpful section filled with information on starting your own garden.

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney: This lovely story is about making the world a more beautiful place and does a great job at showing what can happen from some little seeds.

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert: This gorgeous book is all about the flowers! It teaches kids how to plant, nurture and grow flowers and shows all the flowers from each color of the rainbow.

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After doing some reading and learning about how things grow, let your kids help plan what you’ll plant in the garden. You could have them draw out a picture of the garden and what they might want to grow. You can help them figure out what each different flower, vegetable, or herb needs to grow. Teach them how much sunlight each plant needs, and which plants do well together.

Then, let them come with you when you get your seeds or plants. We have so much fun every year taking our trip to the gardening store. Letting the kids take part in the planning and purchasing helps them feel invested in the gardening process and increases their interest.

And of course, let them help out with planting. Last year my son basically just moved dirt from one area of the yard to another, but he had fun! I love this Kids Garden Tool Set, and find it’s much easier if they have some of their own special tools to use so mine don’t disappear when I need them.

Remember, you can start out small! Start with a few flowers and herbs in pots. Or even a couple tomato plants. Nothing is better than garden fresh tomatoes!

Here are some more ideas for gardening with kids.

Do your kids help out in the garden?

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Happy National Ice Cream Day!

July is National Ice Cream Month, and today is National Ice Cream Day! It’s the perfect day to treat yourself to some ice cream, or if you have an ice cream maker, make some homemade ice cream for a fun treat.

Here are some of my favorite homemade ice cream recipes if you’re looking for a new one to try out:

For more homemade ice cream recipes, check out my Ice Cream board on Pinterest.

July’s the perfect month to teach the kids all about ice cream, and for a fun activity, try making ice cream in a bag.

Some quick tips:

  • I’ve found that it’s the kind of activity you want to do outside, because it flings water all over the place as you shake the bag.
  • I recommend wrapping the bag in kitchen towels or wearing gloves, because it gets cold!
  • If you have younger ice cream makers, be prepared to do some of the shaking yourself! It took us only about 15 minutes though, and we got some yummy ice cream out of it and had some fun!

If you have little ones, here are some fun picture books all about ice cream:

Ice Cream by Elisha Cooper. This book describes the process of ice cream being made, starting with the cows in the field all the way through the factory and into stores and ice cream shops. It has lots of information but presents it in an interesting way and was probably my favorite out of the books we read.

 

Ice Cream: The Full Scoop by Gail Gibbons. This book described some of the history of ice cream as well as how ice cream is made in the factory and makes its way to us. There are colorful pictures and also lots of good information.

 

Should I Share My Ice Cream? (An Elephant and Piggie Book) by Mo Willems. My daughter loves the Elephant and Piggie books, and this one was perfect for our ice cream theme and had a sweet message about sharing as well. I definitely recommend this book, especially if you’re a fan of Mo Willems’ other books.

Do you like making homemade ice cream? What’s your favorite flavor? Share your recipes in the comments below!

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10 Christmas Picture Books to Read With Your Kids

10 Christmas Picture Books to Read with Your Kids

I pack away most of our Christmas books during the year so when December rolls around it’s always exciting to break them all out and enjoy them again. In past years I’ve even wrapped them all up and let the kids unwrap one each day to read. These are some of our favorites:

The Tale of Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale by Angela Elwell Hunt is one I discovered last year. It’s the story of three trees with big dreams for the future and how those dreams come about differently (but better) than they expected. I’ll give you a hint…one of the trees ends up as a cradle for a very important baby. This story is actually one that can be read year round, but is especially great at Christmas and Easter.


Annika’s Secret Wish by Beverly Lewis is a Christmas story of a Swedish girl who learns the importance of giving at Christmas. This is one we love, not only because of our Swedish heritage, but because the message is such a good one.

 


Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story
 by Sally Lloyd-Jones. This beautiful Christmas story tells of all of creation anxiously awaiting the Savior. Beautifully written and illustrated, you will definitely want to add this one to your shelf!

 

This Is The Stable by Cynthia Cotten. This book tells the Christmas story in The House that Jack Built style. Simple and sweet, this was one of my daughter’s most requested books the Christmas she was four.

 

Small Camel Follows the Star by Rachel W. M. Brown. This is the story of the 3 wise men and their journey to bring gifts to Jesus, but told from the perspective of Small Camel, who is given the task of carrying a very special bundle.

 

The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado. This is the story of Joshua, a crippled lamb who always feels left out. But one special night, when he is left behind while the shepherds take all the other sheep out to graze, Joshua finds out he has a very special purpose in life.

 


The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg is a classic that tells the story of a young boy who takes a train to the North Pole where he is awarded the first gift of Christmas. I love the illustrations in this book.

 


Bear Stays Up for Christmas by Karma Wilson. This is a cute book about Bear, whose friends wake him up and work hard at keeping him awake to celebrate Christmas. All Bear’s friends end up dozing off, and he stays up all night making special gifts for each of them.

 

The King’s Christmas List by Eldon Johnson. The author of this book encourages kids to give to Jesus for Christmas by giving gifts to other children in need throughout the world. Through charities such as World Vision, your child can choose their own gift to give to help a child in need.

 

The Gingerbread Man by Jim Aylesworth. This classic story is a fun one to read at Christmas although it doesn’t necessarily have much to do with Christmas. But I associate gingerbread men with Christmas-time so it seems somewhat fitting. And you can make it even more fun by baking some gingerbread men with your kids too!

 

So, there are some of our favorites! What are your favorite Christmas books?

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Fun Summer Picture Books for Kids

On our latest trip to the library, we ended up with some fun summer-themed books for the kids, so I thought I’d share some of our favorites:

Bailey Goes Camping by Kevin Henkes. When Bailey’s older siblings go camping, Bailey feels left out so his parents help him do all the fun camping activities at home. He eats hot dogs, sleeps in a tent, goes “swimming”, roasts marshmallows, and sleeps under the stars. A sweet book and perfect to read before a backyard camping adventure.

Summertime in the Big Woods (My First Little House) by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Earlier this year we read Little House in the Big Woods and now we are slowly making our way through Farmer Boy, so it was fun to find this picture book version of part of the Little House in the Big Woods book. I think I’m going to check out more of the books in the My First Little House series to read along with the “chapter books” from here on out.


The Summer Visitors by Karel Hayes. This was by far the favorite…few words and a fun story told mostly through illustrations, this book shows the summer fun had by a human family during their stay at a lake side cottage for the summer, and a family of bears that joins in the fun. Adorable!

Have you found any fun summer-themed picture books to read this summer? Please share any must-reads! I’m always looking for more books to check out on our library trips!

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Ice Cream Fun with Kids

Since July is National Ice Cream Month, I thought it would be the perfect time and opportunity for the kids to learn about ice cream and of course, make and enjoy lots of ice cream too!

I shared my super simple, creamy vanilla ice cream recipe (which I make in my ice cream maker,) earlier this week, but I thought the kids would have fun making some ice cream in a bag. Before we did that though, we read a couple books all about ice cream:

Ice Cream by Elisha Cooper. This book describes the process of ice cream being made, starting with the cows in the field all the way through the factory and into stores and ice cream shops. It has lots of information but presents it in an interesting way and was probably my favorite out of the two.

 


Ice Cream: The Full Scoop by Gail Gibbons. This book described some of the history of ice cream as well as how ice cream is made in the factory and makes its way to us. There are colorful pictures and also lots of good information.

 

**UPDATE: Another fun ice cream book!

Should I Share My Ice Cream? (An Elephant and Piggie Book) by Mo Willems. My daughter loves the Elephant and Piggie books, and this one was perfect for our ice cream theme and had a sweet message about sharing as well. I definitely recommend this book, especially if you’re a fan of Mo Willems’ other books.

 

It was pretty quick and simple to make ice cream in a bag, and I was actually surprised at how well it worked. I would definitely recommend making this outside though, because the bag flings water all over the place as you shake it.

I would also recommend wrapping the bag in kitchen towels or wearing gloves, because it gets cold!

And if you have younger ice cream makers, be prepared to do some of the shaking yourself! It took us only about 15 minutes though, and we got some yummy ice cream out of it and had some fun!

I’m still on the look out for some more fun children’s books about ice cream to read this month, so let me know if you know of any!

**This post contains affiliate links which means if you make a purchase through one of my links, I’ll receive a small commission. Thanks for supporting More Than Mundane!

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Three Favorite Children’s Books for Spring

Spring is drawing to a close here and Summer is on its way, but before we officially say goodbye to Spring, I wanted to share a few of our favorite Springtime children’s books:

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown. This is a great story of a curious little boy, living in a dreary city without trees, or flowers or gardens. One day he discovers a few lonely plants and wildflowers in need of a gardener, so he begins to take care of them until they spread all over the city and make it a beautiful place. I love how this story shows how one little person can make a big difference.

 

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. Another story about making the world a more beautiful place. These  seed pods would be the perfect activity to go along with this book.

 

The Imaginary Garden by Andrew Larsen. In this sweet story, Theo’s grandfather moves from his home with a beautiful garden to an apartment. Theo and her grandfather decide to make their own garden by painting one on a large canvas. We loved this story and it would be so fun to paint your own garden on a large canvas to go along with the story.

**This post contains affiliate links which means if you make a purchase through one of my links, I’ll receive a small commission. Thanks for supporting More Than Mundane!

Do you and your children have any favorite Springtime reads?

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Countdown to Christmas

For the past two years I have done a Countdown to Christmas with my kids, where we do a simple holiday activity each day leading up to Christmas. Here’s what I did last year. One of the activities I most love to put on the list each year is, read a Christmas story…sometimes it shows up more than once.

Last year I shared this list of Christmas books for kids, and I wanted to add in a couple more of our favorites for this year:

The Tale of Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale by Angela Elwell Hunt is a new addition to our home library that I’m so excited to read with my kids this year. It’s the story of three trees with big dreams for the future and how those dreams come about differently (but better) than they expected. I’ll give you a hint…one of the trees ends up as a cradle for a very important baby. This story is actually one that can be read year round, but is especially great at Christmas and Easter.

Annika’s Secret Wish by Beverly Lewis is a Christmas story of a Swedish girl who learns the importance of giving at Christmas. This is one we love, not only because of our Swedish heritage, but because the message is such a good one.

If you’re looking for a quick and easy idea, check out this printable advent chain. I also have a few ideas on my Holiday Pinterest board if you want to take a look at those.


I’m also super excited because one of my favorite bloggers, Amanda at Impress Your Kids, is releasing a Christmas ebook Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands. From Amanda: “The whole concept of the book is to read a portion of the Christmas Story directly from Scripture. Then make an ornament craft to go along with it. The talk about the event or the person in the story.” I can’t wait to use this ebook this year and I’m especially excited that it will make my job a whole lot easier! Get it today for only $2.99!

A Natural Noel from Frugal Granola

Or, if you’re looking for something to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas and start the New Year out right, check out A Natural Noel filled with lots of fun activities and readings by Michele at Frugal Granola. You can get it for 40% off today only (11/25/11) using the sale code THANKFUL40. Or get 25% off using the sale code THANKS25 through 11/28/11. These codes also work for Michele’s other ebook, Herbal Nurturing, which I love!

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Charlotte’s Big Day

This past weekend, the big day finally came. Charlotte got to be a flower girl…she’s been looking forward to it for months. She did great and looked adorable of course!

Luckily, we came across Lilly’s Big Day by Kevin Henkes a few months before Charlotte’s flower girl debut. This is such a cute book and one every little girl would love to read (especially if they have a gig as a flower girl in the near future). Lilly is so excited when she finds out her teacher is getting married, and she’s just convinced that she will get to be the flower girl…until he tells her his niece has been chosen. Luckily, Lilly is asked to be the flower girl assistant and ends up saving the day.

Other books by Kevin Henkes that we love:

Chrysanthemum-the adorable story of Chrysanthemum, who loves her name until she goes to school and all the others make fun of her. Her parents try everything to get her to love her name again, but nothing works until the beloved music teacher saves the day.

 

Wemberly Worried-Wemberly worries about everything…and especially as she’s about to start her first day of school, but luckily she meets a new friend who she can relate to. A great book for a child that might be feeling a bit hesitant about going to school for the first time.

 

Sheila Rae, the Brave-Sheila Rae is not afraid of anything…until she gets lost on her way home from school and her “scaredy cat” sister shows up to help her find the way home.

 

 

Charlotte loves Kevin Henkes books, and they are filled with fun little snippets of adult humor that make them enjoyable for me to read as well. Have you read any of his books? What are your favorites?

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How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World

Last year we went through the alphabet choosing a different theme for each letter, reading books and doing other fun crafts and activities based on that letter. For A, our theme was Apple and now that Charlotte’s in Kindergarten…what do you know, Apple is the word for the letter “A” again. So I checked out some of our favorites from last year, and found a new favorite as well…

How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman. I loved this book! When the market is closed the only thing left to do is go around the world to gather all the ingredients needed to make an apple pie–all the way from Sri Lanka to get cinnamon from the bark of the native kurundu tree, to Vermont for apples. There’s also a recipe for apple pie at the end of the book.

And of course, we made an apple pie too! I think it has to be the ugliest apple pie I’ve ever seen…but it was yummy! My super secret apple pie recipe can be found…on the back of the Trader Joe’s Pie Crust box.

Enjoy!

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Back to School Books

It’s here…Charlotte is starting Kindergarten this year! She’s going two days a week, and doing the other three at home with me, so it won’t be that different than what she was doing for preschool last year, but it still feels like a big deal. I thought I’d share some of our favorite Back to School Books in case you’re preparing to send your little ones off to school for the first time too.

Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney. I think the Llama Llama books are so cute. In this one Baby Llama goes to school for the first time and although he is determined to hate everything about it, he ends up having a great time.

 

Splat the Cat by Rob Scotton. This is another series we love. Splat is worried about going to school for the first time and despite all his attempts to avoid it, he ends up there and learns some interesting things. Another fun, cute story about the fun to be had at school.

 

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. This sweet story is about Chester the Raccoon, who doesn’t want to go to school. Chester’s mom tells him about a special family secret…the kissing hand. She kisses his open palm and wraps the kiss up tight in his fist. Anytime he’s missing her at school he can remember the kiss in his hand.

 

What are some of your favorite Back to School books…and any advice for a first-time mom sending her daughter off to school?

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