Monday, December 26, 2011

New 2012 Sticker Dolly Dressing Dolls are Here!

My daughter, even though she is 10 now, still loves Usborne's Sticker Dressing Dolls.  They are a HUGE hit at every book fair I do - from preschool on up through Jr. High believe it or not.  Girls just can't get enough of these dressing sticker dolls!I'm excited to report that we have two new ones. The two new girly girl sticker books are Sticker Dolly Dressing Dream Jobs and Sticker Dolly Shopping Girls.  For boys we have a new Dressing Heros.  Such fun! 



Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Snowy Day by Anna Milbourne - Great Way to Teach Young Kids About Cold Weather and Snow

The Snowy Day, by Anna Milbourne, is a fun, fun book to teach kids about cold weather and S N O W!  We live in the south where a snowflake is a rarity and ponds don't freeze over, so this was a loved book by my kids.  I often wish we lived up north just so they could play in the snow.  But then I remember how awful it is to live in S N O W for a few months out of the year.  Snow belongs on ski slopes according to me.

For kids who don't experience snow much, and for those who do, this is a beautifully illustrated book that explains in story form what snow is, how it's made and even what happens to the frogs in ponds when the pond freezes over for the winter.  It's a great supplement for any school weather curriculum for young children.  It's also a beautiful picture book to read to your children, especially in the HOT summer months when we are wishing we had a snow day ourselves. 


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Dr. Seuss's Books Can Instill a Love of Books in Any Child and Makes Reading FUN!

I always loved when my mom read any Dr. Seuss book to me.  I particularly loved the Sneeche's and the Sleep Book.  When I was pregnant with my son, my dad surprised me with a box of all my Dr. Seuss books from when I was young.  I was so happy to see them!  They were like long lost friends coming home!

My kids have grown up the same way I did - being read to each and every night.  Even though they are starting to get a little older, I still read to them, and they still love to be read to.  They even still pull the Dr. Seuss books off the shelf to read.

Reading Dr. Seuss books to your kids can be so much fun!  These are the best books to just get down and utterly silly with your kids.  My kids just laugh and laugh with some of the inflection and tone I put into reading Dr. Seuss. 

My favorite Dr. Seuss book to read to my kids is Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?  It's a fantastic book that rhymes and has great rythm as you read, just as every Dr. Seuss book has.  This one is particularly fun because it immitates all sorts of different sounds and eventually you and your kids are immitating the sounds too.  This turns out to be a fun and great exersice as your kids are learning their letters and sounds.  There's lots of "hoo, doo and moo"  which shows kids that the "oo" sound most of the time is made with two "o's" together.  There's other fun sounds as well, such as "tick tock", "grum grum", "pop pop" and "blurp blurp".

Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? was even voted #25 on the list of Best Read Alouds for Young Children on Listopia.  You can find other fascinating read alouds for you and your children on this list as well.

Below is the main reason why I love this book so much.  By the time we get to the last page of the book, we are reading a little faster very rythmicly and everyone is excited!  Then the last page comes and I read it as fast as I can.  The kids are still amazed to this day that I can read it as fast as I do.  Before my son learned to read, I remember him saying "I want to read like you mommy!" - which is music to any mom's ears.

So how fast can you read this?


COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO (although it does take some extra time to say DOOOOOOOOOOO)




Quoted from Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? , by Dr. Seuss, c. 1970, Random House, Inc., New York.

What's your favorite Dr. Seuss book to read with your kids?


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Usborne Books Internet Specials - Great Savings for Great Books

Did you know Usborne Books provides their customers with savings of up to 70% by purchasing from their internet specials?  These sales change every two weeks, usually on a Monday, so you can come back for more great savings!  All purchases from the internet sales page are elegible for customer special rewards and FREE books with purchases of $85 or more.  You can really stock up on a lot of great books by taking advantage of all these specials!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Running a Home Business While Home Schooling

No sooner did we decide to home school our oldest son, then I decided to become an Usborne Books consultant. I thought it would help provide the extra added income we would need. Plus it just looked like too much fun with all these books!

 Running a home business can be hard when your top priority is supposed to be the education of your kids. Since we are "free" to manage our own school schedule and our own business schedule, mixing the two can be difficult at times. And keeping the two separate can be difficult as well. Below are tips on how to successfully manage both without pulling your hair out. These tips are not in any particular order. They are all tips I have acquired either from my own experience or from others' whom I know have dealt with the same situation. We all have survived. Some others' businesses haven't, but that's ok. At least all the kids have survived and are educated. That's the main thing, right.

All these tips can be applied to any home business too, not just an Usborne Books or direct sales business.


Tips on How to Successfully Home School
While Mom is Running a Home Business Too

1. On our dry erase board in the kitchen I keep this posted:




It keeps me in check as to what comes first. Notice the Usborne business is last on the list AFTER school.

2. DO NOT answer the phone while school time is in session. The kids get frustrated, and you get side tracked. Utilize your voice mail.

3. Make sure you preplan your school day the night before. It's so easy to get wrapped up in preplanning your work day that you forget to plan the kids lessons for the following day. Or you could do it on Sunday evenings and plan the whole school week.

4. If you have meetings or events that need to be done during a school day make sure the kids still get their work done. Consistency is key to learning and the kids need to stay on track.
5. If you bring the kids with to an event, bring along their school work. In the fall I do a lot of booths at the fairs. The kids love coming along. They get to hang out at the fair, work the booth, but they also bring their backpack of school work with so they get their daily work done. They may have a lightened load on those days, but they still need to do it.
6. Let your kids help with your business. If they are younger they can help by putting stickers on your information, they can help by carrying stuff out to the car. My daughter has become my best helper at setting up booths. By letting them help in your business, they learn about business, they see what you do to be successful, and it instills a great work ethic in them.
7. Keep balance in your family life. I've seen many consultants and moms trying to get a business up and running who will put all their time and effort into creating a big business fast instead of devoting the time to their kids' education. I know for some moms, they need recognition. Some of you may strive to be the top in your company and earn all sorts of National awards. If you don't earn those, does that mean your not successful? Of course not. I have watched too many people who were obsessed at earning the awards, that they put their kids education on the back burner. Everyone of those moms I know, no longer do the business they were striving so hard to achieve at. And luckily they saw the light and are now putting homeschooling ahead of business.
Here's a story from my own struggle with that - Last year, I picked up a bunch of events from two other consultants who had decided to retire. I added in WAY too many events last fall. Balance was not happening properly in family life. Luckily I have a husband who has a flexible job and is home a lot so he was able to take care of them. They ended up a bit behind on their school work - which was ok, we finished later than usual that school year. But I could tell things were "off" that whole year. And do you know...when I went to our National convention this summer...I earned a National Award for largest increase in personal and central group sales! For me, that was confirmation of how I had felt all year - I did too much.
8. Just as I mentioned to be consistent in the kids' school work. Be consistent in your business. Make sure you set aside time each day to work on your business. Even if you can get 5 phone calls in, you are working your business. On Fridays, which seem to be our crazy run around activity day, I still try to get some calls in before we start all our running around.

9. If your kids are sick, still set aside a little time to work on your business. I know someone who let their business go totally downhill when their son was sick for 2 months. It wasn't a life threatening illness, and we knew he was going to get better. But she sat and snuggled with him the whole time to make him feel better and didn't make those 5 calls a day like I had mentioned. Didn't do one event. Life happens. But if you let it get in the way of your business, your business can suffer to the point where you have no business anymore. I've seen consultants who have given birth to their 7th kid continue to keep their business going by still doing just a little bit during those first weeks of new motherhood. I've seen consultants who have nursed their dying mothers keep their businesses running because they chose to stay consistnet. Staying consistent doesn't mean working 8 hours a day at it. It means making a few phone calls each day, and getting out there and still doing an event every week or two. You spent the time to build your business, why let it go. If you had a boss, would he you quit your job just because your kid was sick, you had an accident, or someone you love has died? I think not. Your business is your job, treat it like one.

10. Weekends are NOT for working. Unless, of course, you have an event for your business on the weekend. If you don't, weekends are family time. Turn off the computer, let the voice mail pick up messages and relax. If you do have a business event on the weekend, make sure you make up for that fun time during the days following with your kids so they don't resent you being gone.
11. Have fun! Let your kids see the fun you have with your business. Have fun with them while educating them. We've been blessed with this extra special time with our kids. Enjoy it, and make the most of it.
By keeping balance in your home life, home school and business, it is completely possible to run a successful home business while home schooling. I have home schooled for six years, and have built a business during that time that was able to provide for our family while my husband was laid off. I also have built a team of over 300 during that time and am in the upper management level of Usborne. I've done that all while homeschooling my children! So YES! You too can build a business AND homeschool your children.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Teaching Kids The Difference Between Animal and Plant Cells With an Expansion About the Vacuoles in Plant Cells

Today for school we were working on the difference between animal cells and plant cells.  Of course having just about every science book Usborne has to offer, we had plenty of books to choose from to expand more on this topic.  We chose   What's Biology All About? It has a great figure of the difference of an animal cell and a plant cell.  As you can see there's a HUGE difference.

Animal Cell
Plant Cell
All cells are quite similar, but plant cells have a few extra features to them.  Notice the added features in the photos above, and I will list them below. Definitions of each are listed below that as well.

Animal Cells                          Plant Cells

Nucleus                                 Nucleus           
Cytoplasm                             Cytoplasm
Cell Membrane                     Cell Membrane
Mitochondrion                      Mitochondrion

Nucleus - the control center or "brain" of the cell
Cytoplasm - a thick liquid that fills the cell
Cell Membrane - controls what enters and leaves the cell
Mitochondrion - breaks down simple substances to provide energy for the cell
Chloroplasts - makes food by using the green chlorophyll that's inside them
Vacuole - little pockets in the cytoplasm of the cell

Something the kids were interested in was to learn more about what the vacuole of the plant cell is.  So we went on an online hunt and found this fascinating video by J S Mead that shows food vacuole formation and contractile vacuole action.  Watch the full video.  It got more interesting as it went on, and at the end, according to my son..."The cell poops!".


Can you see cells?  YES! You can!

If you have a microscope at home you can look at some onion cells.

Here's how:

1.  Cut an onion in half and in half again. Pull apart the layers and snap one layer in half.

2.  Peel off the thin onion skin.

4.  Put the onion piece on the microscope slide with a little dab of water.

5.  Fasten the slide under the clips.

6.  Turn the knobs on your microscope to lower your lens.  Use your eyepiece to focus and you should see rows of cells.

7.  Find some other items to look for cells under your microscope.  What types of items can you find cells on?  Please post them below. 

Have fun looking!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Everyone Needs a Pirate's Handbook for International Talk Like a Pirate Day


It's International Pirate Day!  That means if you don't already know how to talk like a buccaneer, you just may need this book to help ye.  Full of pirate tidbits on how to talk and act like a pirate, Usborne's Pirate Handbook, is a must read for any up and coming matie who wants to sail the Seven Seas.  It also covers what a pirate's life was like, the ship, the food, the flags, disease, and the the not-so-niceties of living the "pirate life". 

Other books in this series are Knight's Handbook and Princess Handbook

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Two Fun Poems by Jack Prelutsky

    My daughter loves poetry.  Well she loves fun, catchy poetry. When we read these poems by Jack Prelutsky for school today they really caught her attention.  She doesn't even like dinosaurs, but she loves these poems!  They are catchy. 
And I love how Seismosaurus teaches kids different words that mean 



Iguanodon, Iguanodon,
whatever made you fade,
you've traveled on, Iguanodon,
we wish you could have stayed.

Iguanodon, Iguanodon,
we've sought you everywhere,
both here and yon, Iguanodon,
but failed to find you there.

Iguanodon, Iguanodon,
you were a gentle kind, but now you're gone, Iguanodone,
and left your bones behind.


Seismosaurus was enormous,
Seismosaurus was tremendous,
Seismosaurus was prodigious,
Seismosaurus was stupendous.

Seismosaurus was titanic,
Seismosaurus was colossal,
Seismosaurus now is nothing
but a monumental fossil.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Boy's Path to Reading

As a child I was an avid reader, thanks mainly in part to my father.  He read ALL the time, read aloud to me, and he instilled a love of reading in me.  I can't thank him enough for that.  I specifically remember the day he gave me his original set of Bobsey Twin books.  I was reading more of a picture book on the striped chair in the living room, and he came up to me with the Bobsey Twins books.  He said, "It's time for you to start reading books that don't have all those pictures in them."  I was mesmerized by his Bobsey Twins books.  I devoured them right away, and sought out more books to read.

My son, who is now 13, loved to be read to as a kid.  In fact he still loves it.  We read EVERY night.  He'd pick out some books, I'd pick out some books.  We probably spent 2 hours each night reading together.  He learned a ton cause he loved non-fiction books even at a young age.  We also read the Thomas the Tank Engine books and other age appropriate books.  Even when he was in the tub, he'd play, and I'd read to him.  We were constantly reading.  

When he got into early elementary where most kids are expected to start reading chapter books, he had no interest in them.  He'd still read the non-fiction books and still loved for me to read to him.  I started getting worried that I had OVER read to him!

I didn't push him, and was thrilled that he liked to glance through magazines and still read the non-fiction and still enjoyed for me to read.  I kept reading to him so he'd at least experience the chapter books he should be reading at the age he was.  He loved it!

Then, just a few years ago, I caught him in his room reading a chapter book!  It wasn't just any chapter book. It was the first book in the Conspiracy 365 series. He had heard all the hype about the book and wanted to check it out so he grabbed a copy out of my inventory.  He quickly hid it under his pillow when I walked into his room.  The next day his father caught him reading Conspiracy in the tub!  From then on that boy read chapter books!

Since then he's read just about every type of series of books he can get his hands on.  He starts with book one and reads every title in the series.  He's read the whole Narnia series, and this summer I was amazed that he read THE WHOLE Harry Potter series - read it in only about half the summer.  And guess what he's reading now. You guessed it...Moby Dick.  Tears just about whell up when I think of him reading such a classic.  For a child who I was so worried would never even read a Magic Tree House book, he's reading MOBY DICK!

So clearly I did something right.  ALL that reading aloud to him must have instilled that love of reading.  It's a wonderful gift, and I am so glad I have been able to give that to him.  That, and I do believe a little serial novel helped nudge him to read chapter books independently.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Start Your Usborne Books Business with the MORE for Less Kit!

Do You Want More Freedom?  More freedom to spend time with your kids while they are doing all their oh-so-cute things as they grow up?  More freedom to be home to cook dinner for your husband and family when they get home from work and school?  More freedom to be able to home school your children?  More freedom to pursue a fun and rewarding career?  More freedom to do just about anything you want?

Do You Want More Choices?  More choices to be able to bring in an income stream to your family?  More choices in how to run your business? More choice of vacations? More choices on what you can purchase and when? 

Do You Want More Business?  More people scheduling parties with you?  More people purchasing from your website?  More repeat business?  More events to showcase your product at?  More ways for you to earn income with your business?

Do You Want More Income? More $ each month to pay the bills?  More $ to save for retirement? More house?  More tuition for the kids? More of anything you may need or want?

Do You Want More Success?  Do you want a more rewarding career?  Do you want to work with a company who rewards your success and supports you every step of the way in your business?  Do you want to be a leader?

Start your Usborne business with one of Usborne's best kits we've had since I've been with the company!  For just $69 you get 25 books, supplies, your website and great training.  
With No Minimums or Monthly Quotas, it's worth the TRY.
Try it out for your 3 month incentive period and you will be on your way to Usborne Success!
And with Usborne's Success Kit rebate, you very well can earn the cost of your kit back!  That makes it FREE!

Join my team, the Usborne Success Builders, and I will help you find Usborne Success too!

FYI - here is a list of the books that are in the MORE for LESS Kit:

100 Things for Little Children to Do on a Trip
All Star Cheerleaders, Tick Tock, Taylor
Baby's Very First Touchy Feely Animals
Big Book of Big Dinosaurs
Big Box of Cards
Brush Your Teeth, Max and Millie
Complete Book of Farmyard Tales
Conspiracy 364 - Set 1 Jan - April
Counting Rhymes
Ely Plot
Encyclopedia of Science
Everyone Poops
Find the Duck
Gobble, Gobble Mooooo Tractor Book
How Big is a Million
I Can Draw Animals
Illustrated Math Dictionary
My Sister's a Pop Star
See Inside Your Body
Sticker Dolly Dressing Movie Stars
There's a Mouse about the House
Write Your Own Story

Goodness!  It's worth it even just for the books!  That's a $380 value in books!

Cute Wedding Gifts for Your Jr. Bridesmaids and Flower Girls from Usborne Books

My husband and I just celebrated our 15th Wedding anniversary this week.  I got to thinking that the following two books would have been such a cute gift for the little members of our wedding party.  Kids love sticker books and they love to color, so these wedding themed activity books are perfect!

The Weddings Coloring Book includes 20 pages to color with wedding cakes, dresses and flowers.  This book also includes stickers that girls can use to decorate the pages.  Throw this in a cute celophane bag with crayons and tie it with pretty ribbon, and your little flower girl will be delighted!

Sticker Dolly Dressing Weddings has become a very popular title in the Sticker Dolly Dressing Series. This book came out before the Royal Wedding.  The day of the Royal Wedding, my daughter noticed right away that Kate's dress was somewhat similar to the dress on the front of Sticker Dolly Weddings.  I'm not saying her dress was designed from our book, I just think it's neat that my daughter remembered the book and noticed the resemblance.  
Girls of all ages will have fun dressing the bride as she gets ready with her friends for her special day.  

If you have ring bears or young ushers Usborne also has Sticker Dressing Knights, Soldiers and the Pirate Sticker Book.  

Happy Wedding Day!


Thursday, August 11, 2011

New and Fun Christmas Activity Books from Usborne Books & More

I know Christmas is right around the corner, but it will be soon.  Usborne's Christmas titles are always such a huge hit that they sell out quickly so I wanted to highlight them now for you so you can get them ordered before we run out! Below is the list of my and my children's top 5 Christmas books.

1.  Usborne's Advent Calendar to Color is our favorite new title this year!  It's going to be so fun for the kids to color their scene in each day.  By Christmas their Calendar will be all done and will be a family  heirloom to treasure each Christmas hereafter.  For only $7.99, it's a steal! I would have loved one of these when I was a kid.  

2.  Usborne's Christmas Stencil Cards are so much fun!  You can creat just about any Christmas craft item with these.  They help in making home made Christmas cards, Christmas drawing scenes, and craft that you need Christmas items for.  They also help in teaching kids how to draw these figures for the holiday season.  

One thing my kids love to do with  these is to stencil each of them on different colored paper, decorate them, and cut them out.  Then they punch a hole at the top and string curling ribbon through them to make a garland.  It's so cute to hang on the fireplace, tree or anywhere else.  We have LOTS of these garlands around our house.

3.  Christmas Sticker Dolly Dressing is one of the funnest of the Sticker Dolly Dressing series according to my daughter.  She loves to do a new book each year.  This is definitely one of Usborne's most popular Christmas activity book!   One of the reasons why she likes it so much is because it has festive scenes with holiday events and also the outdoor scenes when the dolls in the snow and ice skating.  We are in the south where it doesn't snow, so she loves to dress them with all the extra winter clothes.  I gave my daughter her first one on Thanksgiving to kick off the Christmas season!  Makes for a wonderful Christmas gift for girls to give their friends too.

4.  Illustrated Stories for Christmas is a beautiful book for your independent reader.  It's a collection of classic Christmas stories such as A Christmas Carol, The Elf and the Toymaker and Twas the Night Before Christmas.  Beautifully illustrated, this is another Usborne Christmas book that will become a family heirloom.

5.  That's Not My Reindeer is one of Usborne's Christmas Touchy Feely books.  Each page has a different texture on it, so babies and toddler LOVE to touch each page.  They are so excited when they find their reindeer at the end of the book.  Other Christmas That's Not My's in this series include That's Not My Santa, Penguin, Angel, and Donkey.

Come back for more info on Usborne's Christmas activity books.  There's more to share!


Monday, July 25, 2011

Sew some Fairies on National Thread the Needle Day

Did you know there was a National Thread the Needle Day? Not just sewing day, but actually thread the needle day! We celebrate this day every year on July 25th. Who knew?

I was a pretty lucky kid. My mom was a fantastic seamstress and made a lot of my clothes. They didn't look handmade, they looked like they came from fancy boutiques. So, of course, my mom taught me to sew. I can't quite sew like she did back then, but I can thread a needle! And I can do it fast!

To celebrate the fun task of threading needles I thought I'd share this fun Usborne book of "Fairy Things to Stitch and Sew". If you would like some fun, easy sewing projects to do with your girl, a group of girls, or as a home school project, this book has a bunch for you to do! Each sewing activity comes with simple steps and teaches simple sewing stitches. It's such a perfect book to get your little girl interested in sewing. And what little girl doesn't want to make some fairies?

Recommended for ages 6 and up, and for only $6.99 you can't go wrong! If you need a birthday gift, and some thread, needles, scissors, pinky and purply material, beads and sequins along with Fairy Things to Stitch and Sew and it'll make a wonderful gift!

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Moon Landing Got Kids Interested in Studying Space - One of the Best Books for Kids to Study Space is Usborne's First Encyclopedia of Space!

Forty two years ago today my dad sat me down in front of our black and white TV and said "I want you to watch this. Pay attention so you remember it." I'm glad he told me that. I made sure I paid attention, and I do remember watching Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon for the first time in man's history. Since then kids have been entranced with learning about the moon and space - my own son included!

If my son grows up to be an astronomer or astrophysicist I won't be surprised. He loves everything about space. He studies everything he can find on the subject. I'm not sure where that all started with him, but I do know that his first space book was Usborne's First Encyclopedia of Space. It's geared towards kids 8 and up, but he LOVED to have
me read it to him when he was 3. Clearly his love for space started before then,
as I bought the book out of his preschool book fair flyer cause I knew he'd love it. Little did I know that 3 years later, it would be that very book that would get me started in my Usborne Books business!

The First Encyclopedia of Space takes kids through everything they need to learn at a young age on space. It covers all the planets, the moon, stars, the sun. It's put together in classic Usborne fashion with cutout images and small snipets of information on each page. No wonder my son wanted me to read that all them time to him! It's such a fun and engaging book.

And! It's internet linked so after you go over a page with your child, or he/she reads the page themselves, they can go online to to explore more on the subject of space. Almost every page in the book has internet links to it. For example on the Satellites page, the quicklink is Build Your Own Satellite online. This provides even more fun activity for the kids on space. There's even online games connected to many pages based on the subject.

If you have your own space buff, or are teaching children about space you can purchase the book here. Purchase

If you'd like to be kept up to date on specials, literacy tips, fun activities for your kids, and Usborne book giveaways, join us on Facebook.

Happy Reading!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Grief Counseling for Harry Potter?

I just came across an article on grief counseling for muggles as the last Harry Potter movie has just been released. I read the comments to the article, and I'm not so sure the people commenting "got it". And I'm not so sure the article really touched on why people will be grieving over the end to Harry Potter.

Granted, I only read the first two chapters of the first Harry Potter book. I think I may have seen the first three movies, at home on video or dvd. But my son grew up with Harry Potter. He LOVES Harry Potter. He has read all the books, seen all the movies I don't know how many times, has all the toys - even every Harry Potter LEGO set, and had a Harry Potter 7th birthday party. I didn't know it was his 7th birthday party, til he just came and told me it was his 7th. He even just ran to get the cake topper (Harry on his Quiddich broom) he has saved for 7 years. Harry Potter encompasses his childhood, as does Harry with so many other children under the age of 15. It also encompasses peoples lives of many ages.

My son went with his best friend to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 today. I never really cared what was in the books, but I asked him if he would tell me how it ended. He told me, and I actually started tearing up. Why? Harry has been a part of this household for a very long time. He has been a part of our lives. It's sad to know that there won't be anymore new Harry's to pick up off the floor. No new stories, and we don't get to watch his adulthood - which may be what J K Rowling wanted. She may have wanted to keep him young. And she definitely made him the hero of good and evil. And boy, if we ever needed that, we need it NOW!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Have a Blast With Your Kids Making These Easy Craft-Friendly Fireworks!

Here's a simple 4th of July, or Indepence Day as we call it, craft for your kids to make. These firecrackers light up your 4th of July party with some sparkle and pizzaz. No! There's nothing that is seriously going to blast off with these. Simply made with paper, foil and some dabs of glue. Enjoy!

This craft and many other crafts can be found in Big Book of Playtime Activities . Awesome book that walks you through step-by-step to create fun projects with your kids. Even mom will become an artist with this book!

Have a very wonderful Independence Day with your family!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Never Look for a Card Again with 20 Birthday Cards to Color

Usborne Books has really done it with their set of Greeting Cards to Color. Now they have come out with 20 Birthday Cards to Color. They are just too cute! My daughter was so excited when she opened the first box of them that she did up all her birthday cards for an entire year! The cards are colorful, need some coloring and come with a colorful envelope. Even the backs for the cards are cute!

These make for a great gift, and they are also great to have on hand for all those birthday parties your kids get invited to. They can either color the card to give, or give it plain for the birthday child to color and decorate themselves.

Other cards in this series are 20 Thank You Cards to Color and 20 Christmas Cards to Color. I can't keep these in stock! You may want to plan ahead for Christmas and get your Christmas ones now!


Thursday, April 21, 2011

It's Really Cool to Send Usborne Books to Africa. Help Ethiopia Reads with their Wishlist of Books.

Your generosity will be matched by 50%!

Help stock Ethiopian libraries with books.

We have an urgent and exciting request.

1. In May, Books for Africa will ship a container with 40,000 books to Ethiopia Reads libraries for children.

2. Books for Aftrica has a warehouse full of books but not the simple, colorful non-fiction books that the libraray managers in Ethiopia ask for most.

3. Usborne Books will match all donations made on the Ethiopia Reads wishlist at 50% - so your donation will grow by half!

4. Go to this page - you can order one book or a hundred books to be sent to Ethiopia. Your donation will automatically be matched by 50%!

5. Go to this page if you would like to purchase books for the beloved children in your life. Usborne will match these purchases as well!

It's that simple...that hands on...and more helpful than a spare raincoat in a typhoon!

The children of Ethiopia thank you for your incredible support!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Raising A Boy Who Loves To Read - Or A Boy Who Will At Least Pick Up A Book

By THOMAS SPENCE of the Wall Street Journal

When I was a young boy, America's elite schools and universities were almost entirely reserved for males. That seems incredible now, in an era when headlines suggest that boys are largely unfit for the classroom. In particular, they can't read.

According to a recent report from the Center on Education Policy, for example, substantially more boys than girls score below the proficiency level on the annual National Assessment of Educational Progress reading test. This disparity goes back to 1992, and in some states the percentage of boys proficient in reading is now more than ten points below that of girls. The male-female reading gap is found in every socio-economic and ethnic category, including the children of white, college-educated parents.

The good news is that influential people have noticed this problem. The bad news is that many of them have perfectly awful ideas for solving it.

Everyone agrees that if boys don't read well, it's because they don't read enough. But why don't they read? A considerable number of teachers and librarians believe that boys are simply bored by the "stuffy" literature they encounter in school. According to a revealing Associated Press story in July these experts insist that we must "meet them where they are"—that is, pander to boys' untutored tastes.

For elementary- and middle-school boys, that means "books that exploit [their] love of bodily functions and gross-out humor." AP reported that one school librarian treats her pupils to "grossology" parties. "Just get 'em reading," she counsels cheerily. "Worry about what they're reading later."

There certainly is no shortage of publishers ready to meet boys where they are. Scholastic has profitably catered to the gross-out market for years with its "Goosebumps" and "Captain Underpants" series. Its latest bestsellers are the "Butt Books," a series that began with "The Day My Butt Went Psycho."

The more venerable houses are just as willing to aim low. Penguin, which once used the slogan, "the library of every educated person," has its own "Gross Out" line for boys, including such new classics as "Sir Fartsalot Hunts the Booger."

Workman Publishing made its name telling women "What to Expect When You're Expecting." How many of them expected they'd be buying "Oh, Yuck! The Encyclopedia of Everything Nasty" a few years later from the same publisher? Even a self-published author like Raymond Bean—nom de plume of the fourth-grade teacher who wrote "SweetFarts"—can make it big in this genre. His flatulence-themed opus hit no. 3 in children's humor on Amazon. The sequel debuts this fall.

Education was once understood as training for freedom. Not merely the transmission of information, education entailed the formation of manners and taste. Aristotle thought we should be raised "so as both to delight in and to be pained by the things that we ought; this is the right education."

"Plato before him," writes C. S. Lewis, "had said the same. The little human animal will not at first have the right responses. It must be trained to feel pleasure, liking, disgust, and hatred at those things which really are pleasant, likeable, disgusting, and hateful."

This kind of training goes against the grain, and who has time for that? How much easier to meet children where they are.

One obvious problem with the SweetFarts philosophy of education is that it is more suited to producing a generation of barbarians and morons than to raising the sort of men who make good husbands, fathers and professionals. If you keep meeting a boy where he is, he doesn't go very far.

The other problem is that pandering doesn't address the real reason boys won't read. My own experience with six sons is that even the squirmiest boy does not require lurid or vulgar material to sustain his interest in a book.

So why won't boys read? The AP story drops a clue when it describes the efforts of one frustrated couple with their 13-year-old unlettered son: "They've tried bribing him with new video games." Good grief.

The appearance of the boy-girl literacy gap happens to coincide with the proliferation of video games and other electronic forms of entertainment over the last decade or two. Boys spend far more time "plugged in" than girls do. Could the reading gap have more to do with competition for boys' attention than with their supposed inability to focus on anything other than outhouse humor?

Dr. Robert Weis, a psychology professor at Denison University, confirmed this suspicion in a randomized controlled trial of the effect of video games on academic ability. Boys with video games at home, he found, spend more time playing them than reading, and their academic performance suffers substantially. Hard to believe, isn't it, but Science has spoken.

The secret to raising boys who read, I submit, is pretty simple—keep electronic media, especially video games and recreational Internet, under control (that is to say, almost completely absent). Then fill your shelves with good books.

People who think that a book—even R.L. Stine's grossest masterpiece—can compete with the powerful stimulation of an electronic screen are kidding themselves. But on the level playing field of a quiet den or bedroom, a good book like "Treasure Island" will hold a boy's attention quite as well as "Zombie Butts from Uranus." Who knows—a boy deprived of electronic stimulation might even become desperate enough to read Jane Austen.

Most importantly, a boy raised on great literature is more likely to grow up to think, to speak, and to write like a civilized man. Whom would you prefer to have shaped the boyhood imagination of your daughter's husband—Raymond Bean or Robert Louis Stevenson?

I offer a final piece of evidence that is perhaps unanswerable: There is no literacy gap between home-schooled boys and girls. How many of these families, do you suppose, have thrown grossology parties?

Mr. Spence is president of Spence Publishing Company in Dallas.

I LOVE the writer's last statement that there is no literacy gap between homeschooled boys and girls. I can't help but think that part of that reason is because we foster reading and let the kids read what they enjoy reading instead of insisting that they read a certain book and take a test on it. They don't have to read to the test! It's for pure enjoyment!

And, by the way, Usborne Books / Kane Miller has an awesome line of adventuresome books that boys love to read! I will be hightlighting those over the next few weeks. In the mean time you can look at Kane Miller's greatest "boy book" Conspiracy 365. This is a serial novel that keeps boys on the edge of their seats. My son, who didn't like to read chapter books until he got a hold of Conspiracy 365, couldn't put the book down! Want to get your preteen and teenage son reading? Order him Conspiracy 365 .