Tag Archives: Preschool

Friday Favorite: Crocodile Tales

Kindhearted_CrocodileSolomon Crocodile

Two crocodile books came home from the library with us this week and I thought it’d be fun to feature them together. I must admit I favor the character of the Kindhearted Croc who wants to belong to a family so badly he does their dishes, folds their laundry, spreads jam on their toast, and tidies the toys. OH, and makes coffee for the parents. My kind of crocodile!

Solomon Crocodile, on the other hand, is a trouble-maker who has difficulty making a friend who will appreciate his, uh, charm. Both titles are clever, creative, funny stories with fantastic illustrations sure to capture the attention of your favorite preschooler.

The Kindhearted Crocodile by Lucia Panzieri, illustrated by Anton Gionata Ferrari

Solomon Crocodile by Catherine Rayner


Learning to Love Nonfiction


I have always been more fascinated by stories than by facts. Traditional fiction is what I choose to read in my free time, as limited as my time is. It’s taken getting through graduate school and now having a curious preschooler at home to really prompt me to check out nonfiction to read. I think some of the best nonfiction for children can be just as captivating as a story.

According to Reading Rockets, “Nonfiction books present many opportunities to learn new concepts and vocabulary, as well as broaden a child’s view of the world. Nonfiction books are written differently than picture books in that there are often more pictures, graphics, charts and photographs included within the pages.”

My son was recently fascinated by the ants he saw crawling across our kitchen floor. The next library trip included a search for a good ant book so we could learn together what they eat, where they live, etc. We’ve also enjoyed getting books that coincide with experiences he’s having- whether it’s a trip to the dentist, or a new sibling; a question about how his eyes work, or what a groundhog is. A recent favorite is Building Our House by Jonathan Bean which details a family with young kids who build their own home.

Whatever makes your child curious, what prompts them to ask why or frequently grabs their attention is a good place to start. Here are more tips from Reading Rockets, as well as some wonderful age appropriate book suggestions along with related activities and mobile apps organized by theme. Do you enjoy nonfiction? Do your kids? I’d love to hear what your experience is.

Friday Favorite: Big Smelly Bear by Britta Teckentrup

Big Smelly Bear

Sometimes it takes a caring friend to deliver a hard-to-digest truth.  Sometimes to make things better we just need a warm bath and a friend to scratch that hard-to-reach itch.  Big Smelly Bear by German author Britta Teckentrup has quickly become a favorite in our house lately.  It stars a big brown bear- a big smelly brown bear- who has no interest in taking care of himself by brushing or bathing until he realizes it is keeping him from having any friends.

“Big Smelly Bear never brushed. Big Smelly Bear never took a bath. Big Smelly Bear was followed by a big smelly stink wherever he went. Flies buzzed all around him. But they were the only ones that ever came close.”

One day, he meets a Big Fluffy Bear who offers to scratch his itch if he takes a bath. They argue back and forth, but when Big Fluffy Bear finally shouts, “you stink!” Big Smelly Bear decides to give bathing a try.  On its surface, this picture book is simply a silly story about bathing. But it also features themes about friendship, stubbornness, caring for yourself, and being honest even when it’s hurtful.

Big Smelly Bear makes a fantastic read-aloud because of its large, colorful illustrations; its humor and fun.  It would fit well in a preschool story time about bears, bathtime, friendship, or silly stories.  The argument between bears invites an opportunity for audience participation.  In writing this post, I realized that I’m already familiar with Britta Teckentrup through her stories Animal 123 and Animal Spots and Stripes, as well as Grumpy Cat, Clumsy Duck and more. Hopefully you’ll fall in love with her books as much as I have!

Friday Favorite: The Friendship Show (Ruby’s Studio)

friendship show rubys studio

Here’s the thing. I spend a lot of time watching kids shows with my two and four year old. We also spend alot of time reading, but tv is how I get things done- cooking dinner, laundry, getting ready for work, etc. And much of it is okay- but somewhat lacking. However, we recently stumbled upon a unique show to love–The Friendship Show. It is a breath of fresh air in a world full of mediocre animated characters-that-frankly-we-could-care-less-about. It’s reminiscent of Mr. Rogers, but with a refreshingly modern twist (and more crafts). Hostess Ruby is captivating and full of positive messages for the toddler and preschool set.

Here’s a description:

“Emphasizing the “golden rule”: Do to others what you would have them do to you, The Friendship Show explores ways to build empathy and conflict-resolution skills – with the goal of growing and maintaining one of the most valuable things in life: great friendships.  Join lovable host, Ruby, as she welcomes kids into her magical art studio for a day of creativity, fun, and friendship.”

We can’t wait to view “The Safety Show” and “The Feelings Show”. Ruby’s Studio also offers books and more. The Mother Company and its blog is worth checking out as well. Have you stumbled upon good videos for kids? I’d love to hear your suggestions.

Mind Your Manners: 3 children’s books about manners

????????????????????????????????As a first-time parent, I wasn’t sure how to teach my kids manners until I witnessed an acquaintance whose son requested a snack while playing at our home. She simply replied, “How do you ask nicely?” and he repeated his request with the word “Please” Simple, right? Well, sometimes…but not always.

Having two young, energetic kids who spend a good chunk of time around a variety of people in childcare or out in public, I feel it’s even more important to model good manners. (Good manners at home go a long way too). This issue often comes up during the mealtime frenzy we experience every day. Once our kids find out what’s on the dinner menu they either get excited (if it’s pizza, mac n’cheese or pasta) or start whining (if it’s anything other than pizza, mac n’ cheese or pasta).  We talk about how its polite to try food that someone else cooks you; we chew with our mouths shut; we don’t shout at the table; we say “excuse me” after burping, etc. It doesn’t always work, but it’s a process.

Reinforcing all those discussions with some good books that reflect our expectations around this issue usually helps. Here are some of my favorites by age level:


Excuse_Me_KatzExcuse Me!: A little book of manners by Karen Katz

This fun lift n’ flap book by Karen Katz, one of my favorite authors, goes over the basics: saying Please and Thank You, Excuse Me, I’m Sorry, etc. Her colorful characters with expressive faces will appeal to 2’s and up.

(also by this author: “No Hitting!”, “No Biting!”, and “I Can Share”)


Mary_Wrightly_BridgesMary Wrightly, So Politely by Shirin Yim Bridges and Maria Monescillo

In this story, it is the main character, Mary Wrightly who has good manners, but the kids and adults she interacts with who do not. She is willing to overlook being stepped on, bumped into, etc to a certain extent. But she speaks up when something important- a perfect present for her baby brother- is at stake. This book has been criticised for stereotyping girls as timid, nonassertive, etc. but the story is really about the character finding her voice and holding others accountable for their rudeness- a skill we all have to learn to do.

Older Preschoolers/Kindergarteners:

My_Manners_Matter_ThomasMy Manners Matter: A First Look at Being Polite by Pat Thomas

Here are some other suggestions from Scholastic. Do you have favorite “manners” books or parenting strategies for this issue? I’d love to hear from you.