Kitchen Science Lab for Kids: 52 Family-Friendly Experiments from Around the House

Reading Kitchen Science Lab
Update May 2016:  See the new video below!

I usually leave the book reviews to Felicia… but since we’re in the middle of summer break, and have some rainy days at home, I have a book to share with you!

My 7 year old has Kitchen Science Lab for Kids: 52 Family Friendly Experiments from Around the House and it’s full of easy and entertaining experiments.

The best part is that no special equipment is needed… just use the pots, cups and ingredients you have around the house.

Each “Lab” is easy to follow and teaches the science behind it.  From Carbonated Chemical Reactions, to Physics in Motion, to Marvelous Microbiology and to Rocket Science (and many more units in between), there are 52 labs to try.


Joe and the Coke Experiment
Our most recent experiment was the soda geyser.  The kids giggled as they got the Coke, dropped in the Mentos and ran.  The soda shot out for all the neighbors to see.

It wasn’t as big as we had hoped, so the kids read the book more carefully, and next time we’ll use a bigger bottle, more mints and diet soda!

Joe and the Coke and Mint Experiment
Go HERE to see the book for yourself!

See the updated video here:

Parent Recommended Books for Toddlers & Preschoolers!

West University Library Childrens Section Cliffard Books
For summer, we have free (and rewarding!) reading programs at the Houston Public LibraryHarris County Public LibraryBarnes and Noble & Heights Candy Bar.

We also have recommended reading for elementary school kids with the HoustonISD Name-That-Book List… But what about Toddlers and Preschoolers?

I asked Houston parents for their favorite books for little kids… and here it is!  Try out some of these titles to get your kids hooked on books!  Find them with my Amazon links below, or find them at your local library!

What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada
The Book with No Pictures by B.J Novak
The Clever Stick by John Lechner
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson
Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld
Petunia by Roger Duvoisin
Katie Loves the Kittens by John Himmelman
Pete the Cat Series by James Dean
Dig, Dogs, Dig: A Construction Tail by James Horvath
Bark, George by Jules Feiffer
City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems
We Are in a Book! by Mo Willems
Otis by Loren Long
Goodnight Houston by Jennifer & Kyle Solak
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Wow! Said the Owl by Tim Hopgood
Snoozers by Sandra Boynton
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
Eric Carle Books
Big Dog…Little Dog by P.D. Eastman
Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner
Froggy Series by Jonathan London

Ronia the Robber’s Daughter – Books for Kids to Read!

It’s Felicia! Today’s review is of Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter!

I know that almost everyone is familiar with the Pippi Longstocking series by Lindgren, but I had never heard about Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter until I spotted it on NPR’s list of books that children should read. I checked it out from the local library and my kids both really enjoyed it. I think that they loved it even more that the Pippi series!

The story begins with a girl named Ronia who is, as the title states, a robber’s daughter. Her father is the robber chief and she is expected to run the clan one day.  She lives in the woods and has no peers until one day she runs into a boy her own age that is the son of a robber from a group of robbers that have sneaked into her father’s forest to thieve.

Since Birk is a Borka robber and she is a “Mattis” robber, she knows that they should never be friends, but secretly is anyway. That following winter, is extremely cold. Her father’s clan is well fed and provided for while her friend’s clan is not.

Ronia makes a decision to help the neighboring rival clan when she sees how thin her friend is. When her father realizes that Birk is her daughter’s friend, he becomes is furious, irrational, and disowns her. Ronia runs to live in the woods with Birk.

Although this is not a Romeo and Juliet love story, it is a story of love and friendship between two children of the opposite sex.  Ronia also learns to forgive her father even though he has acted coldly towards her.

Lindgren has a wonderful knack at really bringing her characters to life! My girls were both deeply engrossed with the character of Ronia. This book is a wonderful story about life and learning to do the right thing when the situation arises.

We loved this book and will be adding it to our home collection soon.

Go HERE to get it on Amazon.  Or better yet, shop local and head to Brazos Bookstore!

Read These Books This Summer – The Name That Book List, Kindergarten through 2nd Grade, For 2014-2015

Brazos Bookstore
Each year, HoustonISD schools compete in a Name That Book competition.  First the kids try out for the school club and then the teams compete against each other.  All questions come from the official book list, and the list is out now!

If your child wants to be on the team next year, or you are just looking for a good list for summer reading, look below!  The books with a “*” will be on the school club qualifying test in September, so read them first!

Twenty Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street by Mark Lee
The Art Box by Gail Gibbons
The Black Rabbit (Junior Library Guild Selection) by Philippa Leathers
Bug Patrol by Denise Dowling Mortensen*
My Weird School Special: Bunny Double, We’re in Trouble! by Dan Gutman*
Cotton Candy Catastrophe at the Texas State Fair by Dotti Enderle
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt*
Digger, Dozer, Dumper by Hope Vestergaard
Emeraldalicious by Victoria Kann*
Fancy Nancy: Bonjour, Butterfly by Jane O’Connor
Fraidyzoo by Thyra Heder*
Freckle Juice by Judy Blume*
How to Train a Train by Jason Carter Eaton*
I Dare You Not to Yawn by Helene Boudreau*
Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters by K.G. Campbell*
Little Red Hot by Eric A. Kimmel*
Matilda’s Cat by Emily Gravett
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
My Blue Is Happy by Jessica Young*
Nugget and Fang: Friends Forever–or Snack Time? by Tammi Sauer
Scribbles and Ink, Out of the Box by Ethan Long
Patch by David Slonim*
Pete the Cat: Big Easter Adventure by James Dean
The Planets in Our Solar System by Franklyn Mansfield Branley
Princess Grace by Mary Hoffman
Sea Turtles by Gail Gibbons
Super Hair-o and the Barber of Doom by John Rocco
Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester*
The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle*
The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli*

Remember to read the books with the “*” first!  Find the books at your library, Amazon or at my favorite Brazos Bookstore!

Edwina, The Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know That She was Extinct by Mo Willems – Books for Kids to Read

It’s Felicia! Today’s review is of Edwina, The Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct by Mo Willems.

I love Mo Willems and I feel as though no children’s library is complete without his complete Pigeon stories or his Elephant and Piggie chronicles.

When I discovered Edwina, The Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct after reading every single one of his before mentioned books, I had to add it to our library. Listening to both my girls chuckle at his books is one of my very favorite sounds in the world.

In this story book, Mo Willems introduces a new character named Edwina, a do-gooder dinosaur that runs around the town making cookies for everyone and performing good deeds while Reginald Von Hoobie-Doobie (have you ever heard of a more perfect villain’s name) tries to convince the entire town with school reports, pamphlets, lectures, protests and marches that dinosaurs are extinct! Edwina shouldn’t really exist!

No one wants to listen to what Reginald has to say! Everyone loves Edwina and it is easy to see why! She is helpful, kind and thoughtful!

When Reginald is tired of being ignored, she is the only one who will listen to him present his convincing facts on charts that dinosaurs are in fact “totally extinct”! Edwina is shocked and also convinced that dinosaurs are “totally extinct” but decides that she does not care in the slightest and runs off as happy as can be to make her delicious and famous chocolate chip cookies.

Reginald comes to the conclusion that he does not care that Edwina is not extinct, even though she is a dinosaur and joins her in time to devour a few of her delicious cookies! You know what they say, “If you can’t beat them, join them!”

This story is wonderful because it teaches acceptance and understanding with enough subtle adult humor that will keep you up at bedtime as you read this story to your kids. It is also a story that you can reread weekly without doing your head in.

Go HERE to get it on Amazon. Or better yet, shop local and head to Brazos Bookstore!

“Fairy Tale Comics: Classic Tales Told by Extraordinary Cartoonists” Edited by Chris Duffy – Books for Kids to Read

It’s Felicia! Today’s review is of Fairy Tale Comics: Classic Tales Told by Extraordinary Cartoonists!

My six year old has really found her reading groove now and has begun to devour books on her own at school and at home. I have really tried to keep the momentum going with frequent trips to Brazos Bookstore, Half-Price Books, our local library and Amazon.

I was sad to discover that her beloved Ivy and Bean series only went up to book ten and not book fourteen, like I previously thought, so I have been scrounging everywhere for something that will captivate her.

My older daughter loved graphic novels when she was in Kindergarten so I though that I would look around to see if I could find any that I had missed when she was younger. I came across Fairy Tale Comics: Classic Tales Told by Extraordinary Cartoonists and upon closer inspection, I noticed that Raina Telgemeier, author of the beloved copy of Smile, was one of the various authors in this hodgepodge of cartoon fairytales.

Both my girls were instantly hooked and even though I bought this copy for my six-year old, my eight-year old snatched up the book whenever my little one put it down. As a matter of fact, I am doing this review from memory because I am quite positive that she has hidden the book somewhere in her room.

In this collection, there are seventeen fairytales. Some of the more popular stories are repeated. “Snow White” and “The 12 Dancing Princesses” are a couple that are already beloved by my girls. A few are given different endings by the cartoonists, such as “Rapunzel” and there is even a bonus; this book includes obscure tales.

Have you ever heard the tale of “The Boy Who Drew Cats”? Well, neither had I but with its superb illustrations and the cute storytelling, it is one of my favorite fairy tales now along with the “Prince and the Tortoise” from 1001 Arabian Nights.

The illustrators selected to put together in my girls prized-book this week bring tremendous talent and their very own style to each story. Some of the names are familiar; Brett Helquist, illustrator from ”A Series of Unfortunate Events”, and other names are ones to look out for in the years to come.

We look forward to sharing this book with our friends and we will definitely be passing it out as a birthday gift soon!

Go HERE to get it on Amazon. Or better yet, shop local and head to Brazos Bookstore!

CDC? By William Steig – Books for Kids to Read

It’s Felicia!  Today’s review is of CDC? by William Steig/

There are a few children’s authors that are staples in our home that my kids can practically recite every page from memory. William Stieg is definitely one. We love “Shrek”, “Dr. De Soto” “The Magic Bone”, and his fabulous book “CDC?”.

We have a chalkboard in our kitchen and each morning while the kids eat breakfast I like to take a page from “CDC?” and have the kids sort it out as they eat their breakfast. Luckily each page is never longer than ten letters!

This book is a letter, number and sometimes symbols code book with each character separated by hyphens. Each page has a watercolor illustrations to give a helpful hint in deciphering the puzzle presented on each page. If the pictures do not help you, you can read each letter phrase over and over again until it begins to make sense.

Page 39 has a bride and groom couple gazing into each other’s eyes with a caption below it that reads, “I-L B U-R-S 4-F-R N F-R” Upon first glance, it looks like gibberish, but if you are able to decode what Steig has so cleverly written out, the caption says, “I’ll be yours forever and ever!”.

That combination is one of the more difficult ones found in the book. Here is another one; “E-R I M !” The vivid watercolor accompanying it as a little boy behind the curtain! Can you guess what the word puzzle is?

Both my daughters, ages six and eight, delve right in to solving each puzzle in the morning and my older girl has come up with a few word codes on her own as well! Bonus! Unbeknownst to them, this gives me a few minutes of peace in the morning as I struggle to get breakfast together! If you love this book and solve all the puzzles in it, don’t worry! There is another one just like it. It is also by Steig and it is called “CDB?” Both books will have you rolling in laughter!

Go HERE to get it on Amazon. Or better yet, shop local and head to Brazos Bookstore!

The Time Warp Trio Series by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith – Books for Kids to Read

It’s Felicia!  Today’s review is of Time Warp Trio Series by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith.

So my younger daughter has finally been hooked into reading and has literally whizzed through every Bean and Ivy book at least twice in less than two weeks. I want to keep the reading steam going but I have not found anything that interests her. The Magic Tree House books have been deemed too boring and I have been really struggling to find another series to make her happy.

I thought about it for a while and then, it hit me! The Time Warp Trio series would be perfect for her. It is similar to The Magic Tree House series, but better because it is written by the fabulous Jon Scieszka. There is plenty of tongue in cheek humor found on the pages and the characters are brave, funny and loyal to each other.

Although this series has not won any awards, the author has put in a wonderful mixture of facts, humor, and effort into this series. Scieszka makes each of sixteen book s seem like you are part of the story and he never resorts to any of the bad behavior or grammar that some books use to hook reluctant readers in, *cough* Junie B. Jones *cough*.

My older daughter also adored this series in first grade so I knew that I could find a few on her bookshelf to test out on my little one before purchasing the rest of them. My hunch was right and she went right through the six that we have here at home. If you are looking for a bridge between story books and chapter books or just looking for something to entice a hesitant reader, look no further! This series is full of fun, adventure and history!

Go HERE to get it on Amazon. Or better yet, shop local and head to Brazos Bookstore!

I Scream, Ice Cream!, A Book of Wordles by Amy Krouse Rosenthal – Books for Kids to Read

It’s Felicia! Today’s review is of I Scream! Ice Cream!: A Book of Wordles by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.

What’s a “wordle”? My girls wanted to know when they saw this book on Friday afternoon at our local bookstore. At first I thought it was a made up nonsense word, but after looking it up online, I discovered that a wordle is a real thing!

It is two grouping of words that sound the same, but mean different things. They are also spelled differently. It is what a homophone would be if it were a phrase!

My girls both love word and letter play, William Steig’s book, “CDB” (See The Bee) is one of their very favorite books, so when they saw this book, filled with cute and colorful illustrations, and wordles like “icy” and “I see”, we could absolutely not pass it up. Even though we were at the bookstore to buy a present for a friend, we walked out with a book for our own library.

The book is written like a guessing game and Serge Bloch’s (who describes himself as a fungi) illustrations bring the wordles to life. There is a brief introduction to what a wordle is on the title page and accompanied by an example of a few easy wordles to hook your child. “Heroes, he rows!” “I scream! Two bucks! Ice cream! Two bucks!” are the easier puzzles.

The book quickly advances to “A family affair.” and “A family of hair.” and the way it is written, I promise that it will keep your kid guessing what the answer is to each witty wordplay on the following page. There are fourteen puzzles scattered throughout the book and this book is our favorite new bedtime read.

I love Amy Krouse Rosenthal (who is a tie knee purse on) and we have collected many of her books already in our library. I hope that you check this book out and enjoy turning the pages as my family has!

Go HERE to get it on Amazon. Or better yet, shop local and head to Brazos Bookstore!

The Talking Eggs – Books for Kids to Read

It’s Felicia! Today’s review is of The Talking Eggs by Robert D. San Souci and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney.

If your kids like folklore stories that have beautiful illustrations, look no further. This book is extraordinary!

It draws upon Cinderella and another Creole tale to form this fairytale that both my girls are enchanted by. The words that the author has chosen are a cross between African American storytelling and a Southern dialect.

The result is a colorful book filled with wonderful poetic lines and a cadence that immediately bewitches both my girls and captures their attention.

It begins with a mother, who is a widow that has two daughters. One is very sweet (Blanche) and the other (Rose) is manipulative, lazy and “always putting on airs”. The second sister, having so much in common with the mother, is the favorite by far. Rose and her mother are so similar; they chat and laze about all day while bossing poor Blanche about.

One day, Blanche is sent out to a nearby well, where she meets a sweet old woman, who she refers to as Auntie. Auntie is thirsty and Blanche helps her by giving her water to drink. Because of her act of kindness, she returns late back from her chore and is punished by both her mother and her sibling.

Blanche runs away and meets the old woman again who offers to let her stay with her until her mother cools down. She makes her promise that if she comes with her, she must not laugh at anything that she sees. Even though she is puzzled by the unusual request, Blanche agrees to it and keeps her word, even when she see brightly rainbow colored chickens, cows with horns or rabbits dressed for a high society ball.

When it is time to leave Auntie, Blanche is allowed to take some eggs from her house but can only take plain,white eggs, which is difficult because half of the eggs are jewel encrusted and tempting. Blanche is a good girl and her actions are rewarded after she takes the white eggs and drops them behind her as instructed on her walk back home.

Many wonderful surprises crack out of the eggs. When she returns home with her new dress, jewels and horse and carriage hatched from the eggs, her family is green with envy and Rose is immediately sent out to hunt for the old woman. She finds her, but she cannot follow directions and the magic ultimately cause her mother and her many problems.

If you have a sensitive child, this book may not be the best one for you to read before bedtime. Auntie has a removable head that she combs before bedtime that Rose snatches in order to acquire some magical eggs. My girls have not had a problem with the book, but this is something to be aware of before reading this at bedtime. We found this book a few years ago and it is still one of our favorites!

Go HERE to get it on Amazon. Or better yet, shop local and head to Brazos Bookstore!