Get ready for Easter with these cute ideas! Countdown the days until the Easter Bunny comes with some fun activities- check out that natural dye kit that comes complete with grass seed (grow the grass to display the finished eggs) for a fun project, play dress up, or enjoy some reading around the theme of Easter (Peter Rabbit is a favourite classic, but there are lots of other books to choose from- see below for some more ideas). Whether you love the classics or want to go for a twist (how cute is that unicorn basket?), there are so many great options out there! View Post
We’re heading into gardening season on the West Coast and I’m already looking forward to the warm months to come spent outside digging in the dirt as well as spending time in somewhere similar to these utility sheds just enjoying the summer. For the past few years we’ve planted edible gardens and last year was the first full season of us planting our two raised box gardens full; everything from kale to peas. Will and I both enjoy gardening and the output from all our hard work, and we’ve enjoyed teaching Ari about gardening and plants the past two Summers. Gardening is definitely a labour of love, but you can enjoy it on as big or as small of a scale as you like. I joke that our back yard is my favourite room of the house in Spring and Summer and soaking up the Vitamin D in our backyard is one of my favourite ways to unwind. We have big plans this year which I can’t wait to share with you, the biggest task we have to getting the Tree Company Smyrna, GA to take out one of the big, old trees to the back of our garden.
With Ari turning four this year, we’re looking forward to her helping even more in the garden, even if it’s only simple tasks, it’s something she loves and a great opportunity to teach her about growing food and nature. Our goal is to grow organic food and make the most of homegrown eats through the Spring and Summer, while also teaching our kids a love and appreciation for the outdoors and letting them be a part of the process. You don’t need a lot of space to enjoy gardening- pots, containers, and vertical gardens are all great small- space options- and there are methods to make the most of even small garden plots. Even if gardening isn’t a passion- maybe it’s something you just want to dapple in- or want to teach your kids about how plants grow, I thought I’d round- up some reading material to kickstart gardening season.
I’m sharing 5 books below to help build your gardening library, including a few titles for kids, so everyone in the family can enjoy their time digging in the dirt. All titles available from Raincoast Books.
What Will Grow?
This book for kids teaches about a variety of different seeds and what they grow into- everything from peas and tomatoes to oak trees and sunflowers. It’s perfect to teach kids about how plants grow from seeds and that they can transform into many things: flowers, trees, fruits, or vegetables. A great intro to gardening for young readers that includes info about seed growth and simple tips to start your own garden, plus four pull- out pages that kids will love. The pages are full of bright illustrations with planting tips for all of the seeds featured at the back of the book, along with the stages of growth from seed to full- grown plant.
By Jennifer Ward, illustrated by Susie Ghahremani
Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt
What happens in the dirt that we don’t see? Lots of things! This kids’ book shows the hidden world of nature below the garden surface plus all the activity that happens above ground through the four seasons. Everything from worms and other bugs, to the animals and creatures that call the garden home. This a great book to teach kids about all of the critters that are a part of the garden world throughout the year and shows how it changes through the seasons- from prepping the garden for planting, to the final harvest of the year. At the end of the book is a list of suggested further reading for little gardeners along with an ‘about the animals’ section to teach kids about the creatures featured throughout the book.
By Kate Messner, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
The Little Veggie Patch Co. DIY Garden Projects
This book is loaded with ideas for garden projects, ranging from simple ideas for kids to all- out garden DIYs. Whether you’re looking for garden space ideas- want to build your own vertical garden, repurpose items to help plants grow, or want to attract garden- friendly bugs to your yard?- or get your kids involved, this book has over 250 pages loaded with ideas, all accompanied by easy to follow step- by- step instructions and photos to help you complete your project. I’ve already got a few bookmarked to try with the kids and I’ve seen a few DIYs I’d like to try making for our box gardens as well. I like that this book can help you from start to finish of setting up and growing a garden, plus has simple ideas to get the kids involved.
By Mat Pember and Dillon Seitchik- Reardon
Tiny Garden, Huge Harvest
Don’t have a lot of room but still want to grow some yummy things with your green thumb? This book provides tips for small plot and container gardening with step- by- step instructions for designing, planting, and harvesting. It shows that you don’t need a lot of space, you just need to make the most of it. It includes tips for different garden options- vertical, tiered, pot/ container gardening with vermifire soil, as well as what kind of garden you’re thinking of: do you want to be able to harvest and eat what you grow, or simply enjoy the act of gardening? It also has information about gardening techniques and what to do with the food you grow, including garden planning, four- season gardening, succession planting, and how to preserve harvested edibles. At the back of the book is a handy index with information on a variety of edible varieties including some popular herbs. Added bonus: this is a little book loaded with info- it’s about the size of a postcard, making it perfect to tuck into your bag when you head to store to buy gardening supplies and want a quick reference guide.
By Caleb Warnock
Herbs + Flowers
Maybe something on a simpler scale is what you’re looking for? This little book is a great guide for growing more than 32 kinds of herbs and edible flowers (have you seen how pretty a salad looks garnished with fresh flowers?) and has beautiful illustrations of all the plants featured. Each variety is outlined with key information including how it tastes, when to plant and pick, and serving suggestions (ie fresh dill is nice eaten raw or cooked and pairs well with cucumber, lime, lemon, and red peppers, among other tasty combinations). It also includes substitution suggestions, so you can try out different options if a certain plant doesn’t grow well for you (I’ve tried growing basil from a seed unsuccessfully, so have opted to buy a small plant in the past, but other ideas according to the book include mint, lemon balm, and oregano). Another great reference book to tuck into your bag to take to the store when you stock up, and a simple/ enjoyable read no matter what your skill/ expertise level.
By Pip McCormac, illustrated by Louise O’Reilly
All of the books listed above are available through Raincoast Books.
Earth Day is just a few days away (April 22) so I thought it would be the perfect time to share about some nature- inspired books and a fun and edible activity to make with your kids inspired by one of my favourite children’s authors. We discovered Dianna Hutts Aston’s books at our local library this past Winter and have since added them to our book collection at home. Our favourites include A Butterfly is Patient, A Beetle is Shy, and A Rock is Lively, (this last book was the inspiration for today’s activity). Her books are educational, teaching kids about nature with beautiful illustrations by Sylvia Long- scroll to the end of the post to see photos of these books- and are a great way to get kids interested in animals, bugs, and other elements of nature.
I remember loving the illustrations of agate and other rocks when I came across A Rock is Lively and that I’d love to find a project to go along with it. So I had a scroll through Pinterest and found way too many beautiful agate crafts, but I wanted something that Ari could participate in. Then I came across the idea for making agate lollipops out of hard candy and thought it would be perfect. Ari helped pick out the candy at the grocery store and loved sampling the sweets as I got everything ready. When it came time to making the agate designs she also got to help sprinkle the crushed candy and loved seeing it melt in the oven. While she’s still a little young to understand the finer details of how rocks are made, this would be a great opportunity to teach older kids about different kinds of rocks, what they’re used for, and how they form (Aston’s book is perfect to have on hand for this). I think these turned out great for a first attempt and I’d love to try making them again to perfect the designs a little more. See below for the materials and how- to. How will you teach your kids about Earth Day?
– various hard candy in your choice of colours, plus some white and clear (I also bought gummy candy to try and opted to skip it)
– parchment paper
– baking sheet
– rolling pin or other heavy item to crush candy
– Optional: lollipop sticks (I found mine were too think to make into lollipops, but this would be such a cute idea if you could get yours thick enough)
1. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees and pick out which colours you want to use (tip: look up pictures of agate slices online to help guide your designs)
2. Cut out agate slice shapes from parchment paper cutting them out a little bigger than the size you’d like. Then make 1/2″ snips around the edge and fold up to create a rim around the shape. If you’d like a hole in the middle, poke a hole through the parchment and repeat the process on the inside edge.
3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place your cut outs on top. In case any of the candy melts through your shapes this will protect your baking sheets and make clean up much easier.
4. Line up the candy you want to use between two pieces of parchment paper (mine ended up with some holes from the candy as I crushed it, so maybe double- up the parchment or place inside a ziploc bag to avoid making a sticky mess)
5. When the candy is crushed, sprinkle it in the parchment cutouts in the designs you’d like and bake in an oven for approx 10 minutes or until the candy has all melted. I checked the candy every few minutes to avoid having it discolour/ burn.
6. Remove from oven and allow to cool. You can use a wooden skewar to swirl the melted candy to change the designs a little before the candy cools completely
7. Remove from the parchment paper and enjoy!
I found the edges were a little rough on mine, so I’ll snip around the edges a little closer next time to avoid having sharp folds in the paper that led to this. If you try this I’d love to hear how yours turned out!
And here are the 3 books I mentioned at the beginning of the post with photos of my favourite pages, the illustrations are really amazing and colourful. I enjoy reading these books as much as Ari and am hoping to add a few more by Dianna Hutts Aston to our home library later this year. All 3 titles are available through Raincoast Books.
Who remembers this classic from their own childhood? It’s one of those stories that appeals to all ages- kids and adults alike- and was recently made into an animated movie. The story tells of a little prince who has arrived on Earth after meeting some interesting characters on his travels, each with their own lesson that the reader can interpret based on their own life experiences. To celebrate this book being adapted for film, several versions of this classic have been released and in Part 3 of my series with Raincoast Books I’m sharing a little about two of the four new releases and have a chance for you to win one to add to your at- home library plus a colouring book featuring artwork from the story. Here’s a little bit about the two versions we’ve been enjoying. Scroll to the end of the post to enter the giveaway.
The Little Prince Family Storybook is the full- length version of this classic with original text and illustrations from the film animators. This story is a great reminder of what is really important in life.
The Little Prince Read Aloud Storybook is a shorter adaptation of the story, designed to help young readers discover the magic of The Little Prince. It’s a condensed version of the classic featuring illustrations from the film.
To see other current and upcoming titles available through Raincoast books, visit their website.
You can find lots of great titles published by Raincoast Books at Chapters Indigo
This is the last chance to win with Raincoast Books, so don’t miss out!
Enter below for your chance to win your choice of the four The Little Prince versions plus a The Little Prince colouring book from Raincoast Books
Spring Break is just around the corner and if you’re going to have youngsters home from school it never hurts to have a few ideas up your sleeve to keep them busy. Or if you’re like me and your kids aren’t in school yet, it’s nice to have activities that are fun to do together and suitable for independent play time (perfect for when your kids no longer nap, but you have to check off some things from your to do list during the day).
I’ve teamed up with Raincoast Books on a series of posts to share about some great books to add to your reading list plus some of the fun games and activities they offer (check out some great books by Herve Tullet we love in this post); there’s also a chance for readers to win some of the books and products featured on the blog. This week I’ve sharing about some of their fun ideas for Spring Break, with a giveaway to win one of the products featured in their #PlayTestShare series. To see all of the activities Raincoast books has available in this series, click here for some great ideas and scroll to the end of this post to enter the giveaway.
ABC Word Play is a board book that makes learning the alphabet and how to spell fun and interactive. Simply pop out the neon letters and let your child do the rest. I like that you can build a few activities based on your child’s age out of this one simple book. It’s also the perfect size to tuck into a backpack or diaper bag as an on- the- go activity (great to pass the time at things like appointments or at restaurants). Use it:
– as a puzzle book and have your kids go page by page to put the letters back where they belong
– to teach them the alphabet
– for letter recognition
– to learn about vowels
– to recognize and spell words in the book
– to teach them how to read and pronounce different vowel sounds
– to test their spelling with the words in the book (they could use the neon letters to spell the words as you read them)
To the Moon is one heck of a colouring book. When it’s completely unfolded it’s 15 feet long (the longest colouring book in the world!) and kids- and adults- of all ages will have a blast colouring the changing scenery as the pictures build from Earth to the moon. You can keep it compact for colouring inside/ in small spaces and unfold it as you go or do what we did and take it outside to unfold the whole thing.
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