Last night we hosted a Polar Express party for children in Kindergarten and 1st grade. For this age group, I try to keep programs about 45 minutes long, because at this age (after a long school day) I don’t want to keep them up too late and our evening programs begin at 7:00 pm.
I love The Polar Express partly because of it’s beautiful story and breathtaking illustrations and partly because of the memories it holds for me. This is one of the stories my mom reads every Christmas Eve to us (yes, she still reads aloud to us now!) and I have wonderful memories of wearing new pajamas on Christmas Eve, listening to her read this story to us. Even reading it by myself, I can hear my mom’s inflections in my head.
For our program, I read the story aloud, trying very hard to keep the kids entertained (I had 18 boys and 2 girls). Afterward, we created our own reindeer ornaments using popsicle sticks, googly eyes, pompoms, and pipe cleaners. I found this craft online from The Polar Express party kit (which was extremely helpful)! then, while we were finishing up the craft and getting our special snack ready, I gave the kids a Polar Express maze to work on, which I think they really liked! We had a special snack for our party – sugar cookies cut-out in the shape of trains with chocolate milk.
I liked the ideas I had for the party, but I had some difficulty with the craft. The parents were trying to help (which was nice), but ended up doing a lot of the work for the kids, which I think took away from the idea. I wanted the kids to take their time and work on the ornament, but the parents were more focused with the result rather than the experience. I might figure out a way to say something the next time we have a program for this age group. I want the parent involvement, but also hope that the kids can be given the chance to explore their own creativity as well.
The mortal daughter of Egyptian gods Osiris and Isis, Isadora is sent to live with her brother in San Diego after her mother’s dark dreams about her daughter’s safety. Sixteen-year old Isadora is thrilled to be in “the real world” after living under her parents and dealing with the drama that comes from being the daughter of gods. San Diego is a different place than Isadora could have ever imagined – her brother is married with a baby on the way, her ever present mother set her up with a job working with Ancient Egyptian artifacts in a museum, and the new guy she met is gorgeous, but mysterious too. And not to mention, the feeling of someone always watching. As Isadora’s nightmares continue to worsen and strange things begin to happen, Isadora must be able to accept the help of her new friends, even if that means letting go of control.
This is the perfect story of family and first love for teenage girls everywhere. I really enjoyed the new take on the fantasy angle with Isadora’s connection to Egyptian mythology. The big reveal was not as surprising as I had hoped, but overall I still enjoyed the book. It was fast paced and I enjoyed the combination of Egyptian mythology and the storyline. It was a quick read and I have a number of kids in mind to recommend it to.
For more about Kiersten White and her books, check out her website!
Title: The Chaos of Stars
Author: Kiersten White
Publication Date: 2013
Page Number: 279 pgs.
Just a quick not before I head over to grandma’s to help cook dinner… I hope everyone has a safe and Happy Thanksgiving (and Hanukkah)! I’m thankful for so many things – my family, amazing boyfriend, great friends, and a job I love! I hope everyone has a safe and Happy Thanksgiving (and Hannukah)!
Although it’s one of my favorite songs for story time, it’s also what I’ll be doing for the majority of the day today. On Monday, I drove out to my parent’s house (to beat that crazy storm) and now I sit in the car for the next 8+hours to reach my grandparent’s house in the land of snow an cold (Milwaukee). I’m really not sure how my parents handled this trip every year with my three siblings and myself plus the family dog in the car. My mom says we were great travelers! but itching that was in part because we were used to it and part because my parents did everything in their power to make it fun.
Ideas for long car trips:
- Play travel games… Look for the letters of the alphabet on license plates, billboards and more. This is a great way to encourage literacy skills while working together.
- Coloring books, magnetic travel games, and fun snacks are a must.
- Audiobooks are great for family trips – ask a librarian for some great books for all ages.*
- Make sure kids get a chance to move when taking bathroom breaks… My parents encouraged a race to and from the rest area building (on the sidewalks of course!)
*Some of my favorite audiobooks include:
- Skippyjon Jones – these are read by the author and the whole family will be rolling on the floor giggling at the crazy imagination of Skippyjon Jones
- Harry Potter – definitely for an older audience but Jim dale does an amazing job narrating this series
- The 39 Clues series – these are a quick read perfect for elementary school kids who love a good adventure
- Flipped – by Wendelin Van Draanen. This is a great audiobook for girls looking for a good chick lit book (and you don’t have to worry about the content!)
I have great memories of many of our car trips across the country; enjoy the time together as a family! Happy Thanksgiving!
Chugga-chugga chugga-chugga choo choo! If you’re looking for the perfect gift this holiday season for the train-lover in your family, you’ll definitely have to pick up How to Train a Train! Jason Carter Eaton’s text is full of fun and humor and pairs perfectly with John Rocco’s illustrations. Using pet tips directly relatable to kids, Eaton’s text teaches children how to pick out the train best suited for them, how to bring it home, and help it adjust to life at home (read aloud books and a warm bath). Kids will absolutely love to learn how to train for their very own train with the delightful story!
Title: How to Train a Train
Author: Jason Carter Eaton
Illustrator: John Rocco
Publication Date: 2013