Tot Book Club

More Than Just a Story

What If I Leap...

I have been beating myself up every day about not posting. I have plenty of excuses: sleepless nights, ongoing home renovation, preparing Tot 1 for Transitional Kindergarten, traveling, hosting guests in our home, distraction with my Usborne Books & More business…the list goes on. However, every day I haven't posted, has also made me confront a fear of mine.

I'm not not exactly a risk-taker, and I've realized what parts of my life that affects. I don't set goals, because I am afraid I won't reach them, which results in the self-deprecation cycle. As much as I set high expectations for myself, I know also that what other people may think is definitely a part of my seeming lack of ambition. I rarely announce my goals because then I'll let people down when I don't meet those goals. I by no means keep a perfect house or am under the delusion that I can do no wrong, but admitting to myself that I didn't meet expectations really throws me for a loop. It becomes too real, and I have difficulty digging myself out and being motivated to try again.

But here I am, still committed to this blog and to the cause of spreading awareness about the importance of reading to your kids, for your kids, and with your kids. I launched this blog with an idea, and that idea is changing and taking new forms. I have so many ideas, so I am working on organizing them. I have a slight issue with taking things one step at a time. When I brainstorm ideas, I want to throw my energy at every great idea, rather than sequencing them. It's time to develop organizational skills along with some courage!

I did not expect this blog to teach me so much about myself, but now I know there is plenty more to learn and discover!

Now that you know where I am in my life, you'll understand why the next Spotlight Story will be Jonathan James and the Whatif Monster, by Michelle Nelson-Schmidt. This book will be great for your tots and for you as well! I can't wait to share this book with you and to introduce you to the author, because she is nothing short of inspiring! Stay tuned for some fun activities while we talk back to our personal Whatif Monsters!

Let's Go Fly A Kite...or Make One!

  1. You can't read Super Duck and not want to try your hand at flying a kite or even making your own kite! While they may not fly as nicely as a professionally made kite, it's fun for kiddos to help make their own kites that can float in the wind, at least for a few seconds!
  2. 1. If you have a decent wind, any easy option is to tie a string to a plastic grocery bag, and then see if you can catch some air.

048 (2)

  1. 2. If you're feeling confident in your running ability and the wind outside, decorate a paper grocery bag and add a string to it. See if you can get that in the air!
  1. 3. You can get a little bit more crafty and make a traditional diamond-shaped kite with sticks and construction paper or some plastic. If you get that diamond kite up in the air, experiment with how a tail effects the flight.
  1. Be sure to keep your eye out for any of those pesky kite-eating trees though!



Gourmet Mud

With all the excitement of playing in the muck and mire earlier this week, let's extend that a bit and make edible mud. You can let your tot play with something as simple as chocolate pudding. Or there is also always the option of crushing up some Oreos and even mixing that with cream cheese to give it a fun texture. If you want to get a little more fancy, you can make some mud with a little bit of texture using the following recipes:

Edible Thick Mud
1 Large box of chocolate pudding mix (we used the instant kind)
1 C. baking soda
1/4 C water
3 Tbs. oil
Mix dry ingredients then add wet ingredients. Mix again then play!

Edible Sloppy Mud
3C Flour
1C Cocoa Power
1C Brown Sugar
1C White Sugar
1/4 C Hershey Syrup (optional)
3C Water
Mix all ingredients then play!

Whatever recipe you choose, enjoy the mess and the clean up!! #foodiefriday


What is a hero?

It's #thinkaboutitthursday, and today we will discuss what it means to be a hero. Tots tend to love superheroes, but how do we encourage them to be heroes themselves? They see combat as a way to be a hero through most comic books, but let's show them that they have the power to be a hero in the lives of those around them.

Questions to Ask:
1) What is a hero?
2) Why do you like superheroes?
3) What powers do you need to be a hero?

Your Tot likely knows about Superman and Batman and Ironman, but tell them about the heroes in everyday life. Of course there are firefighters, police officers, doctors, etc… But also share with them that they have the power to make a difference in their world: hold the door for someone, return someone's cart at the grocery store, offer water to passersby on a hot day, or even see how a smile and nice word can be contagious.

I have book called Do Nice, Be Kind, Spread Happy that includes some great ideas for acts of kindness. This is a great book to have around for when the mood strikes to be a hero in your neighborhood! So go forth and spread happy!

be kind


A Duck in a Bog with a Frog

It's #wordwednesday, and we need to find ourselves a bog! Living in coastal Southern California, we don't come by too many of those. Even the concept of mud is a little bit foreign to my beach babies! In the name of Super Duck, we will find ourselves a bog and some mud, and then we will investigate and get dirty!

Whether you've had a recent rain, and you have mud right outside your door, or you're in drought-crisis California, today your mission is to play in the mud with your tot! Ask your tot if he remembers where Super Duck lands near the end of the book, and share that you will be celebrating in the muck just like Sheep, Goat, Frog, and Super Duck!

We will be visiting a nearby nature preserve called Madrona Marsh, and if we're feeling ambitious, we might even head over to another park, Wilderness Park, that is likely to have mud or a bog. If we can't find nature-made mud, we will make our own, using dirt and water (sparingly). I will bring along some paper to make mud prints, and of course, I will have some baby wipes to clean those hands before they get back in my car!

If you are playing in the mud at home, this is one of those times to just let go and let it happen. Let your tot get dirty, and you will likely see joy like you've never seen before. That is unless you have one of those tidy tots, and then you might have to put some mud in a plastic bag and let him squish it without getting yucky mucky hands. If your tot is hesitant to dive in and get dirty, try getting a little dirty yourself, or offer a stick to use to swirl and poke the mud. You don't have to get dirty, but it's usually more fun if you do!

Let's see those muddy, mucky, bog exploring pictures on Tot Book Club's Facebook page or in the comments below!

Act It Out...A Lot!

Dramatization of books allows a child to engage the story at a whole new level. They become aware of the sequencing of the story. You find out what details they are picking up on in the book. They learn to empathize with the characters and act out different emotions. The text becomes more memorable, and the characters take on a new dimension to your Tot.

Read through Super Duck with your tot, and look for opportunities to dramatize it. You can make it very simple by acting out certain parts of the story, or you can close the book and put on a full-fledged play.

As you read, look for these opportunities to bring the book to life:
  • Look around the room as Sheep and Frog look for Goat
  • Put your hands on your hips and announce Super Duck's arrival
  • Pretend with your own arms or use your tot's and hurl the kite
  • Use a disappointed voice as the kite flops down to the ground
  • Perk back up as Goat, the expert, and declare the solution
  • Exclaim Super Duck's line even more excitedly, and note the shock on the other animals' faces
  • Pump your arms or your tot's arms like you are trying to gain speed to run and hold the kite
  • Raise your voice with excitement as the kite flits and skits, then lower with disappointment as you realize it's not going anywhere
  • It's time for that bumpy car ride on your lap, lower your tot as the kite slumps
  • Blow a gentle breeze as the wind picks up, and act like Sheep with the wind tickling your nose. (see if your tot wants to feel what it would feel like to have wind tickle his nose)
  • Read with excitement and anxiousness as the kite take flight with Frog on the end.
  • Hold on tightly to that kite as Frog does
  • Pump your arms and race as you catch your breath to exclaim Super Duck's refrain
  • Go on that bumpy car ride, but this time reach out as Super Duck climbs on the hood
  • If you are daring, you can allow your tot to climb on your knees and stand up like he's reaching for the string
  • Hold onto that pretend string and sway your arms right and left as you swoosh away and jerk to avoid the tree
  • Count to 3 and let go of the string together, and make a fantastic splat sound as Super Duck falls into the muck
  • Look around in confusion as Super Duck realizes Frog isn't with him
  • Point out the worried looks on Sheep's and Goat's faces.
  • Give a loud cheer as you point to the sky squinting to see Frog soaring down
  • Make sound effects and Sheep and Goat run into the muck, squish, squash
  • Hoist up your tot in celebration of the hero, Super Duck

Once you have acted out the story a few times as you read, ask your tot if he'd like to pretend to be Super Duck or any of the other characters. You can encourage making props and costumes, or you can just run through it without the extras. Have your child try to remember the sequence of events and some of the smaller details. Ask your child how he thinks each character feels as the story progresses. If you tot asks you to narrate, throw him a curve ball and add a new part to the story, see how he reacts.

If you do this several times, your tot may decide to take the director role, play along! If he has a few things out of order or adds details, don't correct him. Let his creative vision play out. If your Tot would like to refer to the book for proper details and sequencing, allow that as well. This is a wonderful opportunity to let your child have control!

Remember, puppets are always a good tool for dramatizing books as well. They can be simple drawings, crafted paper bags, or more elaborate sock puppets. This is another wonderful avenue for expressing creativity with the materials you have, just go with it!

I would love to see pictures or videos from your productions! Please share them on the Tot Book Club Facebook page!

Make Something Monday: Super Suit

After a busy and somewhat chaotic July, we are back for a Super Duck marathon! For the next several days we will be doing at least one Super Duck activity per day! So put on your capes and join us for a week of super fun!


Tots love to be heroes! So let's help them make their own super hero costumes and identities! Before we get started, we will need to determine a few details about their super hero qualities.

1) What is your super power?
2) Who do you protect?
3) What is your weakness?

We'll also need to figure out if they want a cape, because as we learned from The Incredibles, capes can be dangerous for a super hero!

Once we have the details, we can get started making masks, cuffs, and capes. We have a few options depending how fancy we want to get.

Mask options:
1. Use posterboard, felt, or a foam sheet and cut out the shape of a mask then decorate with markers and/or glitter, add yarn or elastic to secure the mask around your tot's head.
2. Cut a long piece of fabric to tie around your tot's head, then cut out eye holes and decorate with fabric markers.

Cape options:
1. Cut up a t-shirt but leave the collar. Cut through the collar and add velcro to make the cape easily detachable in case it gets caught. As we learned above, the cape should have an emergency release like velcro! :) Then go to town with fabric paints and markers to customize the cape.
2. Use one of those paper bags you have hanging around your house. Cut it into the shape of a cape, decorate with markers, glitter, and/or stickers. You can attach it around the shoulders with pipe cleaners or rubber bands or yarn, but don't attach around the neck for safety reasons.

Cuff options:
1. Use the cardboard left from toilet paper rolls. Make a cut up the middle lengthwise, then cover with construction paper and decorate.
2. Use foam paper and cut to fit your tot's wrists. Secure with velcro or tape. Decorate with stickers or glitter glue!

For more detailed instructions or other ideas for how to create a super hero costume, check out my Make Something Monday Pinterest Board.

Please share pictures of your tot's super hero creations on my Facebook Page: Tot Book Club. I can't wait to see your heroes! Make way for Super Duck!!