Friday, March 25, 2011


Yay, it's yoga week at the bookworm blog! As a former yoga teacher I have been very excited to share yoga with my kids, from the moment they were born.  I read a lot of books about Mom and Baby yoga, and my very favorite one is Itsy Bitsy yoga.  It has sections based on baby stages (sitting, crawling, walking, etc.) and loads of cute songs and loving exercises.

Once the kids got a little older I found fun interactive books that sparked their imaginations in addition to inspiring them to do yoga.  The Toddler Yoga books are great for that, with simple language and colorful illustrations:

An absolutely gorgeous book of yoga poems, Twist is probably aimed at kids a bit older than my eldest (5), but we take it slow, just looking at one or two per day.  He has some interest, and I am just blown away by the imagery in the poems as well as the pictures.   Awesome.

Betcha didn't think I'd come up with a craft for yoga theme, huh?  Well, get ready to be blown away... we made eye pillows out of old socks.  Don't worry, you can get rid of that funky foot smell with a few bath herbs or essential oils.  Take a look...

We made eye pillows out of old socks.  Here's what you need:

an old sock (usually the kid's own sock is the right size for the eye pillow, but you could cut a larger one to fit)
some herbs, bath salts, scented oils, or other smelly stuff
white rice

Let your child mix the scents with the rice and then fill the sock (not too full).  Sew up the top and voila!  Homemade eye pillow.

Incidentally, this makes a nice Christmas gift for relatives, but I recommend using new socks for that variation. 

Another great activity is to color a free yoga coloring page.  It reinforces proper alignment for poses and allows for some quiet creative time with crayons.

Sometimes we feel like taking our yoga adventures to the next level-- then we go downtown to our favorite yoga studio for some fun kids' yoga classes.  I also found a few kid yoga DVDs at the library, but there's just something calming about the ambience at the studio.

That's it for this week, come back next time!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spring Butterflies

Welcome, Spring!  It's a little early for live butterflies, but never too early to brighten up the house with some colorful crafted ones.  Throw in a few butterfly books and we've had a lovely celebration of spring's arrival.

Check out these gorgeous books featuring butterflies.  Lois Ehlert is a great kids' artist, and  Waiting for Wings is her wonderful introduction to butterfly species and life cycles.  Eric Carle's illustrations make The Lamb and the Butterfly another bright and fun spring book.  Butterfly Count is a story about prairie restoration and the National Butterfly Count that occurs every 4th of July.  Butterflies in the Garden is a non-fiction book about various species of butterflies and how to attract them to your own yard.

I invited the kids to make tissue paper butterflies that I found on an awesome art website, Deep Space Sparkle.  T was pretty insistent that he just wanted to color them.  S made up for it by using a great volume of the tissue paper.  Incidentally, egg cartons?  Not a great storage place for tissue paper bits.

My Wall

Another project we did this week was the concertina fold butterfly from Kids Craft Weekly.  We recycled some old artwork for these.

We also tried out hand- and footprint butterflies.  They're pretty neat, and maybe would have looked even better in some brighter/ lighter colors, but the boys wanted blue and green.

I'm super proud of my butterfly life cycle snack!  Peas for eggs, sesame sticks for the caterpillars, olives for chrysalises, and farfalle for butterflies.  The kids are hard to impress, though.  I guess they have more sophisticated tastes than I do.

When T's preschool studied butterflies I did a different snack, using fruit leather (antennae), celery and cottage cheese (body), and pretzels (wings).

Here are a few of our favorite butterfly kids' songs:

Elizabeth Mitchell and Lisa Loeb sing a lovely bi-lingual (Spanish and English) butterfly song/ lullaby in their soothing children's CD, Catch the Moon.  Get the individual song online or buy the whole album-- I love it in its entirety.

Also, at the kids' yoga studio downtown we have fun doing yoga to Shakta Kaur Khalsa's Fly Like a Butterfly on her Happy CD.  My kids liked it so much that I bought the song on I-tunes for a buck.

I'm not huge into videos, but the HBO Classical Baby ones are very nice-- educational, with no dialogue (except the poetry one), and not too fast-paced.  There's an animated video of Frederico Garcia Lorca's poem, Mariposa in the Poetry dvd.  Watch Mariposa for free online at the poetry foundation.

For more butterfly fun, check out a cheap and easy way to make dramatic play of a butterfly's life cycle at Dresses and Messes.  Another gorgeous butterfly craft and some cute snacks are at Honey Bee Books.

Thanks for stopping by.  Come back next week for a yoga theme!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  This post is full of fun with Shamrocks, Irish food, and stories about the traditions behind St. Patty's.  As with many holidays, the selection of related books varies from cheesy or uninspired to really fun and creative.  I found a few cool ones at our library.

Here's some lift-the-flap fun for younger readers in Hooray for St. Patrick's Day.

And even though the plot is a bit lacking, the story of how they celebrate St. Patrick's Day in Mrs. Madoff's classroom is an easy and fairly engaging way to learn the origin of many traditions:

In A Fine St. Patrick's Day a leprechaun-like dude makes his appearance in a decorating competition between two towns.  It's more suitable to the older pre-k - 2nd grade set:

And here's one more book for older picture-book readers, it provides historical context of the contributions of Irish Americans and some of the conditions people endured both in Ireland and as immigrants in America.  The history is pretty palatable, though, because it's woven into the plot: A St. Patrick's Day Shillelagh.

My boys, ages 3 and 5, both enjoyed the pre-printing Shamrock (trace the dotted line) at, and Theo also did the color-by-letter pot of gold.

Sascha really loves counting rhymes, so of the many leprechaun/ shamrock/ St Patty's poems I found, I picked this one for our family from DLTK's fabulous kids' site:

One green shamrock, in the morning dew,
Another one sprouted,
and then there were two.
Two green shamrocks, growing beneath a tree;
Another one sprouted,
and then there were three.
Three green shamrocks, by the cottage door;
Another one sprouted,
and then there were four.
Four green shamrocks, near a beehive
Another one sprouted,
and then there were five.
Five little shamrocks, bright and emerald green,
Think of all the luck
these shamrocks will bring.
We made some shamrocks to go on the felt board with this poem.  There's a template on DLTK's website, but I just drew my own because the printer was on the fritz. I let the kids go wild with the felt and google eyes.  We tried to make different expressions on the faces, somewhat unsuccessfully, but it was fun anyway.  Even better than the counting poem was the game where a wild cow shows up on scene and tries to eat the magic shamrocks...

We tried to do this crayon resistance art project, but I think maybe the paint was too thick or something... the image didn't really show through well, and our cheap construction paper had trouble handling the paint, too.  Either I'm doing something wrong or the resistance crayon work is better left to watercolors.

Theo said, "I don't think your project worked."  Doh!  So he decided to just make a field of shamrocks instead, using heart shapes of green construction paper on a scrap of blue.

After our craft mishaps, I decided to get a little adventurous with food, too.  I guess I'm hard-headed like that.  Most years I make Avocado Pie, since it's green and all, but this year I went a more traditional route with this (very easy) Irish Soda Bread and some slow-cooker Lamb Stew.  We'll make the stew closer to actual St. Patty's Day, and if it turns out half-way decent I'll post a picture.

Here's our Soda Bread.  Sascha is my little cook-- he eagerly measured everything out and dumped it in the Kitchenaid.  We probably should have smoothed it out a little more.  Also, as I always do with bread, I got nervous and pulled it out too early, so it was a tad raw in the middle.  Still tasted fabulous in the cooked-through parts, though.  I followed a baker's advice and used a tiny bit extra buttermilk and butter instead of margarine.  Yum!  The kids liked it, too.

Want some more fun for St. Patrick's Day?  Check out this blog, and all the wonderful links from other blogging parents:  A Mommy's Adventures

What's Mama's favorite way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day?  Watching Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones run through the famous Chicago parade in The Fugitive, of course.  That movie was my first reference to Chicago's tradition of dying the river green.

If I were a beer-drinker I'd probably reach for a Guinness... but since I'm not I'll veg out with a glass of wine and listen to John Mayer's very cool song, St. Patrick's Day, from his Room for Squares CD.

See you next week!

Friday, March 4, 2011


Pizza Party Time!  We love making and eating pizza in this house, a particularly fun activity following pizza-themed story time.  Here are a few of our favorite pizza books:

The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza...what a great retelling of an old classic  Pizza Party! is a good one for kids learning how to read; Theo reads it all the way through on his own.  The non-fiction Hold the Anchovies appeals to me in a proustian sense: Sun-ripened tomatoes, cheese from cows, mushrooms from damp wet places and more come together to form the ultimate meal. Mmm, the universe in a pizza.

If you happen to have anyone working on fractions, there's a fun and free game making pizzas here.  I won't tell you how long I spent playing this.

I also found a really cool pop art project on youtube, check it out:  Pop Art Pizza Video (Perry Milou).  Here are a few pictures of ours. My little artist wanted a pizza with white sauce.  Who am I to argue?

As for music,  Charlotte Diamond has a great bi-lingual (English and French) pizza song, "I Am a Pizza" on her album, Ten Carrot Diamond.  You can download the whole album or just the one MP3; we got the CD at the library.  We also get a real kick out of the song "Pizza Pizza Pizza" on the Hi-5 Jump and Jive CD, another library find.  Ditto the MP3 download for the individual song.

Of course the number one pizza poem in the whole world is A Pizza the Size of the Sun, by Jack Prelutsky, found in the book of the same name.  Mouth-watering!

I found a lot of other little pizza songs online, but many of them stretched a little too hard for rhyme and meter... here are the ones I liked best, found at Kinderpond and Surlalune Storytime:

Pizza Song... (Twinkle, Twinkle)
Pizza, pizza it's a treat.
Pizza, pizza is fun to eat!
Ooey-gooey cheese so yummy.
Crunchy crust goes in my tummy.
Pizza, pizza it's a treat. 
Pizza, pizza is fun to eat! 

Pizza Man

Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, pizza man 
[Clap hands together.]
Make me a pizza as fast as you can 
[Shake finger.]
Roll it 
[Roll as if with rolling pin.]
Toss it 
[Pretend to toss dough in the air.]
Sprinkle it with cheese 
[Sprinkling motions.]
Put it in the oven 
[Pushing motion with hands.]
And bake it fast, please!

Theo's pre-school teacher made a really cool play pizza out of felt.  We're lucky to already have the Melissa and Doug pizza party toy, instead. 

Another fun book to read and then watch on the Scholastic video is Pete's A Pizza.  The boys loved acting this one out after we read and watched it.  I found the video on Netflix.

Two more books for extra credit: 

Dragon Pizzeria is perfect for fractured-fairytale fans.  One magic-bean pizza up the beanstalk, please!

Pizza for the Queen presents the history of the "Margharita Pizza."  It has lots of words and is better for older picture-book readers.  It's not particularly suited to group storytime for the younger crowd, though.

What does Mama like to do in support of pizza theme?  Put the kids to bed and watch Julia Roberts (and young Matt Damon) in Mystic Pizza!

Check back next week for St. Patrick's Day fun!