Alphabet Practice: Activities for Learning Letters

These alphabet practice activities are a wonderful way to get your student or child learning their letters, practicing their fine motor skills and having fun while learning.

Whether you’re a preschool teacher, an early elementary teacher who has a student who needs more practice or a parent homeschooling your child or reinforcing what your kiddo has learned at school, you’ll find these activities fun and engaging.

I’ve teamed up with some fellow bloggers to offer you homeschool and in-class learning alphabet practice activities. Some of these resources may contain affiliate links.

How to Teach your Child the alphabet - Resources perfect for preschool teachers, homeschoolers and moms! | Mommy Evolution

Learning Letters

Identification of Letters

On average, between the ages of two and three, children begin identifying letters of the alphabet. There are many ABC books that can be used to show a child what a letter looks like and what object it relates to. For example, “A is for Apple.”

It is recommended by many studies that children learn the lower case alphabets first, but many children have an easier time identifying capital letters. Also relate the letters to those that relate to your child’s name. This process will begin the early stages of understanding that letters make up words.

Phonics

Once your child has begun the understanding of letters, you can introduce phonics. Studies have proven that phonics are the key to developing young readers into high level readers. There are flashcards, games and books that you can use to teach your child phonics. My kids loved The Amazing Alphabet Amusement Park by LeapFrog as toddlers.

Basically, you show the child the letter and make the sound of that corresponding letter. When beginning phonics, stick to the long sounds of the letters. As your child progresses, you can add the short sounds, and eventually letter combination sounds. This will develop the skills your child will need in reading, by encouraging the sounding out of words.

Fine Motor Practice

And learning to actually write the letters is important also! Handwriting is just a more focused type of fine motor skills, which is why many preschool activities are geared toward helping kids work on their fine motor skills and grasp control.

Alphabet Practice

Below are more than 60 wonderful alphabet practice resources, from letter recognition to actual writing! Perfect for students or your children, don’t just pick one… keep it interesting and fun.

Alphabet Practice Activities:

Handwriting Alphabet Activities:

Alphabet Games, Activities & Mazes: 

Alphabet Crafts:


Alphabet Practice: Activities for Learning Letters for Preschoolers | Mommy Evolution

Snickers® Cake! Snickers Ice Cream Bars Cake Recipe

Today I’m showing you a super simple and easy way to make an Ice Cream SNICKERS Cake your whole family will love using SNICKERS Ice Cream Bars. And the best part — it only takes minutes to assemble. But don’t tell the fam…. you want them to think you slaved over the dessert 😉

Ice cream cakes used to only be for the summer — but that’s not true anymore! Admit it — you wanted an ice cream cake for your birthday, right? Even so, what better way to ring in summer than with a ridiculously easy homemade ice cream cake. And even better — it’s a SNICKERS® cake!

Snickers® Cake! Snickers Ice Cream Bars Cake Recipe | The Jenny Evolution

Snickers Cake! Snickers Ice Cream Bars Cake Recipe

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If you’re like me, just thinking about delving into a SNICKERS Ice Cream Bar can make your mouth water. But how about turning them into an ice cream cake. Oh yeah… we’re making an Ice Cream Snickers Cake today.

Ingredients:

  • 9 SNICKERS Ice Cream Bars
  • 1 tub whipped cream (either homemade or Cool Whip dethawed)
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Caramel syrup
  • Additional Toppings such as M&Ms (if desired)

Directions:

First, place 3 SNICKERS Ice Cream Bars side by side, leaving a small amount of room between each bar.

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Fill gaps with whipped cream and add a layer of whipped cream on top. Then place 3 more SNICKERS Ice Cream Bars crosswise on top.

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Repeat filling in the gaps with whipped cream to hold the bars in place and add a layer of whipped cream on top. Place 3 more ice cream bars on top. Again, crosswise. Then cover the entire tower of SNICKERS Ice Cream Bars with whipped cream.

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Set in freezer for about an hour. Just before serving, sprinkle chocolate and caramel syrup on top. Feel free to add any other toppings you’d like to add, such as M&Ms, sprinkles and what not.

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For more candy-inspired recipes, consider the following affiliate links:


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I’D LOVE TO HEAR YOUR FAVORITE IDEAS FOR MAKING SUMMER FUN!

5.0 from 3 reviews
SNICKERS Cake! SNICKERS Ice Cream Bars Cake Recipe
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
What better way to ring in summer than with a ridiculously easy homemade ice cream cake. And even better -- it's an Ice Cream Snickers cake!
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients
  • 9 SNICKERS Ice Cream Bars
  • 1 tub whipped cream (either homemade or Cool Whip dethawed)
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Caramel syrup
  • Additional Toppings such as M&Ms (if desired)
Instructions
  1. Place 3 SNICKERS Ice Cream Bars side by side, leaving a small amount of room between each bar.
  2. Fill gaps with whipped cream and add a layer of whipped cream on top.
  3. Place 3 more Ice Cream Bars crosswise on top.
  4. Repeat filling in the gaps with whipped cream to hold the bars in place and add a layer of whipped cream on top.
  5. Place 3 more ice cream bars on top. Again, crosswise.
  6. Cover the entire tower of SNICKERS Ice Cream Bars with whipped cream.
  7. Set in freezer for about an hour.
  8. Just before serving, sprinkle chocolate and caramel syrup on top. Feel free to add any other toppings you'd like to add, such as M&Ms, sprinkles and what not.

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ABC Alphabet Books for Kids (Unit Study)

ABC Alphabet Books are a terrific way to teach your children the alphabet as well as the beginning phonics to set the stage for when they begin reading.

Even after my kids learned their ABCs, we’ve enjoyed reading these books to reinforce the letter phonetics and help them with their reading.

In addition to offering a reading list of alphabet books, I’ve teamed up with some fellow bloggers to offer you homeschool and in-class learning alphabet unit study resources. You can find these ABC Alphabet Books for kids at your local library or use the affiliate links provided for your convenience.

ABC Alphabet Books for Kids | The Jenny Evolution

ABC Alphabet Books for Kids

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (Board Book): When all the letters of the alphabet race one another up the coconut tree, will there be enough room? Of course there is always enough room for this rollicking alphabet chant that has been a children’s favorite for more than twenty years! Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault’s rhythmic text keeps the beat with Caldecott Honor illustrator Lois Ehlert’s bold, cheerful art. This winning combination has created a series of enduring Chicka Chicka favorites, and now, for the first time ever, the complete edition of the original Chicka Chicka Boom Boom story is available as a Classic Board Book.

Dr. Seuss’s ABC: An Amazing Alphabet Book!: Arguably the most entertaining alphabet book ever written, this classic Beginner Book by Dr. Seuss is perfect for children learning their ABCs. Featuring a fantastic cast of zany characters—from Aunt Annie’s alligator to the Zizzer-Zazzer-Zuzz, with a lazy lion licking a lollipop and an ostrich oiling an orange owl—Dr. Seuss’s ABC is a must-have for every young child’s library.

 

My First BOB Books: Alphabet: Expanding on the foundation sets that have made Bob Books such a success, My First Bob Books is a brand new series introducing Bob Books’ proven teaching tools to children who aren’t quite ready for Bob Books – Set 1. In My First Bob Books – Alphabet, familiar animal friends progressively introduce the 26 letters of the alphabet. Engaging, read-aloud stories inspire and motivate your child, while proven teaching principles inspire success. Your child will prepare for the magic of reading as My First Bob Books – Alphabet helps them learn the names of the letters, and which sounds they represent.

Eating the Alphabet: While teaching upper- and lowercase letters to preschoolers, Ehlert introduces fruits and vegetables from around the world. A glossary at the end provides interesting facts about each food.

Wipe Clean: Letters (Wipe Clean Learning Books): Help your child learn to write letters with this amazing wipe-clean book. The outlines to complete and activities to do make writing practice simple! The special pen included allows letters to be written again and again―simply wipe them away with a cloth.

Sesame Street: Elmo’s ABC Lift-the-Flap: A is for apple. B is for ball. C is for cookie…and Cookie Monster! And F is for flaps—which kids will find plenty of in this book stuffed with surprising alphabetic words, rhymes, and riddles to discover! How many things can you find that start with the letter P? What objects are hiding behind the letter H? With more than 100 labels and 55 flaps to lift, learning the alphabet has never been so much fun!

Star Wars ABC-3PO: Alphabet Book: Experience the ABC’s like never before With galactic friends who are hardly a bore. From Akbar to Zeb, this nice little primer Will teach you and make you an excellent rhymer. So, Padawans, prepare, get ready, get set To learn the ways of the Force–and the alphabet!

The Construction Alphabet Book: Readers explore construction equipment in this noisy alphabet book. Jerry Pallotta’s trademark humor punctuates the informative text. Vibrant oil paintings bring to life a busy construction site.

Alphablock: With thick pages cut into the shape of each letter, children and parents will enjoy this peek-through guessing game around the letterform itself. Sprinkles, hot fudge, and cherries hint at I’s ice cream sundae, while aquarium accessories hint at F’s fish. As readers interact with the pages, they will familiarize themselves not only with the 26 letters and associated words, but also with each letter’s physicality—angles, holes, and curves, both front and back. With Peskimo’s animated, stylish visuals, this fresh ABC book encourages readers to manipulate the alphabet in a whole new way.

ABC: A Child’s First Alphabet Book: B is for boy . . . but in Alison Jay’s ABC, B also stands for basket, beehive,and butterfly. Featuring a simple format and bright paintings, this acclaimed alphabet book is perfect for toddlers. Older readers are encouraged to look and look again as each spread reveals a new perspective on what has come before and intriguing hints of what’s still to come.

A Is for Awful: A Grumpy Cat ABC Book (Grumpy Cat) (Little Golden Book): Grumpy Cat has 8 million Facebook followers, her own TV movie, and now . . . a Little Golden Book! The world-famous feline stars in this hilarious storybook.

ABC Universe (AMNH ABC Board Books): From an astronaut in space to Voyager, yellow dwarf, and zenith, this ABC board book opens up the entire universe to children! Created in tandem with the American Museum of Natural History, it takes kids on a photographic journey through comets, flares, and planets like Jupiter, and introduces them to black holes, supernovas, telescopes, and more. Perfect for the youngest astronomers.

Olivia’s ABC: Everyone’s favorite pig takes on the ABCs in this adorable board book that explores the alphabet with Olivia’s—and Caldecott Honoree Ian Falconer’s—signature creativity. Come along from A to Z in this unique and raucous romp through the alphabet as only Olivia could describe it. A perfect gift for any fan of the precocious pig, this sturdy board book is ideal for the youngest Olivia readers—and the littlest hands (or hoofs).

ABC Dinosaurs (AMNH ABC Board Books): From Apatosaurus to Zupaysaurus, the 26 dinosaur friends in this oversized board book will enchant preschoolers and help them learn their ABCs. Developed in conjunction with paleontologists at the American Museum of Natural History, it features extra-large letters; bright, detailed illustrations of the dinos (many on display in the museum); information about each creature; and an embossed tactile cover that feels like bumpy dinosaur skin!

DC Super Heroes ABC 123: A is for Aquaman and B is for Batmobile in this cool, colorful board book that’s sure to make reading time lots of fun for dads. DC’s super heroes–from Superman and Batman to Green Lantern, the Flash, Wonder Woman, and many other favorites–illustrate the alphabet and numbers for budding fans. The classic comic book art makes this a great-looking package.

S Is for S’mores: A Camping Alphabet (Alphabet Books): Next to baseball and fireworks on the Fourth of July, nothing else seems as American as the family camping trip. From what to pack, where to go, and what to do when you get there, S is for S’mores: A Camping Alphabet takes readers on an A-Z trail exploring this outdoor pastime. Veteran camper Helen Foster James tackles topics such as unique camping environments, equipment necessities, famous conservationists, and national parks and other attractions. Whether your idea of “roughing it” is a blanket in your own backyard or the subarctic ecosystem of Alaska’s Denali National Park, S is for S’mores is a fun and informative guide that is sure to help campers of all ages make the most of their wilderness adventures.

Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks from A to Z: This car-and- truck-filled alphabet extravaganza that starts with an ambulance and ends with a zippercar, is shaped like Lowly Worm’s applemobile.

My First ABC (My 1st Board Books): Teach your preschool child numbers and encourage learning while reading and having fun together with your My First: ABC board book, designed to be a toddler favorite and withstand wear and tear from a preschooler. My First: ABC uses pictures of objects illustrating each letter of the alphabet, from A to Z, and includes clear word labels as well.

The Alphabet Tree (Dragonfly Books): When a fierce wind threatens to blow all the little letters out of the alphabet tree, they must band together in words—and then sentences—to create a message that’s even stronger than the wind: peace on earth. With their newfound knowledge, there’s nothing the letters can’t do in this gentle parable about the power of the written word.

Like these alphabet books? Find even more engaging book lists for kids with more than 100 book-themed reading lists!

Alphabet Unit Study

In addition to offering a reading list of alphabet books, I’ve teamed up with some fellow bloggers to offer you homeschool and in-class learning alphabet unit study resources. Some of these resources may contain affiliate links.

Alphabet Unit Study Resources + ABC Alphabet Books for Kids Reading List | Mommy Evolution

Alphabet Practice:

Handwriting Alphabet Activities:

Alphabet Games, Activities & Mazes: 

Alphabet Crafts:


20 Best Books About Beaches for Children (Unit Study)

Summer is here, which means sunshine, warm weather and beaches! Grab a towel, I’m sharing the 20 best books about beaches for children book list.

It’s time to get out the swimsuits, oversized towels and head for the beach! We’re in the Midwest, but Lake Michigan offers up a terrific beach. So let’s embrace the best beach books for toddlers, preschoolers and school-age children about the beach and kick off the summer.

In addition to offering a reading list of books about beach, I’ve teamed up with some fellow bloggers to offer you homeschool and in-class learning beaches unit study resources. You can find these books at your local library or purchase through the affiliate links provided for your convenience.

Books about Beaches for Kids + Unit Study Resources | Mommy Evolution

20 Best Books About Beaches for Children

Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach By Melanie Watt: We know by now that Scaredy Squirrel only feels safe when he’s at home in his nut tree, with his defenses, his emergency kit and his back-up plans at the ready. So even though the sun is shining and it’s time for a vacation, Scaredy does not want to go to the beach — that vast, frightening place where a squirrel could get stranded. (Not to mention other hazards such as sea monsters, falling coconuts, seagulls, pirates and lobsters.)

What Lives in a Shell? by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld: A house is a home for you, a nest is a home for a bird, and a cave is a home for a bear. But for some animals a shell is a home. Snails and turtles and crabs and clams all have shells that act as their homes and protect them from harm. In this book you’ll learn all about these and other crustaceous creatures, for whom a shell is just the right sort of home.

Good Night Beach (Good Night Our World) By Adam Gamble: The beach, an iconic fixture of many children’s summers, is artfully celebrated in this boardbook. Designed to soothe children before bedtime while instilling an early appreciation for the environment’s natural wonders, the book features a multicultural group of people experiencing all that the beach has to offer. Rhythmic language guides children through the passage of a single day of fun at the seaside—splashing, playing in the waves, boating, fishing, identifying wildlife, and more.

DK Eyewitness Books: Ocean By Miranda MacQuitty: DK’s classic look at the world’s oceans, now reissued with a CD and wall chart.

Ladybug Girl at the Beach By David Soman and Jacky Davis: Lulu loves the beach. Well, she’s never been there before, but she knows she will love it. And then she sees the ocean and it is big and loud and rough. That’s okay—Lulu wanted to build sand castles and fly her kite with Bingo anyway. But while they are building their sand castle, the sneaky ocean comes in and tries to steal Lulu’s favorite pail. This is a job for Ladybug Girl!

The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor By Joanna Cole: When Ms. Frizzle drives the Magic School Bus full speed ahead into the ocean, the class takes a submarine expedition that’s anything but ordinary. With a well-meaning lifeguard in tow, the class takes a deep breath and learns about hot water vents, coral reefs, plant and animal life on the ocean floor, and more!

Harry by the Sea By Gene Zion: Harry, a friendly little dog on a visit to the seashore, is mistaken for a sea serpent when a big wave covers him with seaweed.

Nate the Great and the Boring Beach Bag By Marjorie Weinman Sharmat: It’s gone! Oliver’s boring blue beach bag is gone. Inside are his clothes, shoes, and a special seashell. All he has left is his beach ball. This is a perfect case for Nate the Great and his trusty dog Sludge. But they don’t find many clues in the sand and surf. What trail should they follow next? Follow the leader to find out!

Curious George Goes to the Beach By H. A. Rey and Margaret Rey: Once shore-side, Curious George plays ball, pretends to be a lifeguard, and discovers some very hungry seagulls! Can George help his friend Betsy overcome her fear of the ocean while saving the day? We all know the answer. Surf’s up!

Clam-I-Am!: All About the Beach (Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library) By Tish Rabe: Norval the Fish is hosting a seaside talkshow for the Fish Channel–and the Cat in the Hat and Thing One and Thing Two are Cameracat and Crew! Among Norval’s special guests are his old friend Clam-I-Am (a shy gal who lives in the sand and likes to spit), along with horseshoe and hermit crabs, jellyfish, sand fleas, starfish, seagulls, and miscellaneous mollusks. Seaweed, seaglass, tides, tidal pools, dunes, driftwood, and waves make cameo appearances, too.

The Berenstain Bears’ Seashore Treasure (I Can Read Level 1) By Jan and Stan Berenstain: The Bear family is all set to have a relaxing time at the shore–but that’s before Papa Bear finds a treasure map! Now Papa Bear, Brother Bear and Sister Bear are diving into the task of finding the booty. Might it be silver, gold, glittering diamonds or rubies?

Science in Seconds at the Beach: Exciting Experiments You Can Do in Ten Minutes or Less By Jean Potter: Surf’s up for fantastic science fun with these quick, easy experiments and activities from Jean Potter. You can complete each in just ten minutes or less, and the clear step-by-step instructions and illustrations help you get it right every time. The projects help you learn about everything from how seaweed can forecast the weather to why waves break as they reach the shore. You will find most of the required materials already in your toy chest, home, backyard, or around your neighborhood.

Hello Ocean By Pam Munoz Ryan: Spend a day at the beach, and take in the ocean through the senses of sight, hearing, feeling, taste, and smell in this lively romp through sand and waves. Glorious illustrations of water, sun, and sky accompany brief, evocative verses, making this a perfect keepsake of a seaside vacation or a striking introduction to the pleasures of a day by the ocean.

Pete the Cat: Pete at the Beach (My First I Can Read) by James Dean: In Pete the Cat: Pete at the Beach, Pete is spending the day at the seashore. He has fun collecting shells and building a sand castle. But the beach is very hot. There is a whole ocean for Pete to cool off in, but it looks scary. Pete’s brother, Bob, offers to teach Pete to surf. Will that be enough to help Pete get over his fear of the water?

Just Grandma and Me (Little Critter) By Mercer Mayer: Little Critter and his grandmother spend the day at the beach in this funny-and-true picture book about Mercer Mayer’s popular character. Little Critter is a good helper, even at the beach. When his grandmother’s hot dog falls in the sand, he washes it off in the ocean. He promises to blow up the inflatable seahorse but needs a little help in the end. The joys and mishaps of a special summer day with Grandma are all brightened by Little Critter’s sunny disposition.

Sally Goes to the Beach By Stephen Huneck: Told from the dog’s point of view and brought to life through charming and brightly colored woodcut prints, this endearing story of Sally’s vacation is the perfect companion to a child’s own trip to the beach or any new place.

Wish for a Fish: All About Sea Creatures By Bonnie Worth: The Cat in the Hat, Sally, and Dick take an undersea voyage aboard the S.S. Undersea Glubber! Traveling down from the Sunny Zone to the Dark Zone to the Trench at the bottom, Captain Cat and his crew get up close and personal with the different life forms found at each level of the ocean. Along the way, they meet sharks, jellyfish, dolphins, manatees, whales, and sea cucumbers, to name just a few!

Flotsam By David Wiesner: A bright, science-minded boy goes to the beach equipped to collect and examine flotsam – anything floating that has been washed ashore. Bottles, lost toys, small objects of every description are among his usual finds. But there’s no way he could have prepared for one particular discovery: a barnacle-encrusted underwater camera, with its own secrets to share …and to keep.

Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef By Marianne Berkes: Kids will sing, clap, and count their way among pufferfish that puff, gruntfish that grunt and seahorses that flutter, and begin to appreciate life in the ocean. And the art will inspire many a project. Plus there are several pages of extension ideas for curriculum and art projects as well as resources on the web and elsewhere.

Way Down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea /By Jan Peck: In a singsong text, a little boy describes his adventure into the deep blue sea.

Like these books about beaches? Find even more engaging book lists for kids with more than 100 book-themed reading lists!

Beach UNIT STUDY

In addition to offering a reading list of books about beaches for kids, I’ve teamed up with some fellow bloggers to offer you homeschool and in-class learning beach unit study resources.

Beach Unit Study for Preschool and Elementary Plus Books Reading List| Mommy Evolution


Kids Summer Reading List, Kindergarten – Grade 2

With summer it’s almost too easy to lose track of your nighttime routine. But reading with your child shouldn’t disappear just because it’s summer! This kids summer reading list for Kindergarten through Grade 2 will keep your family connected and enjoying books all summer long.

Can you keep a secret? Even though my boys are entering 4th and 6th grade, they sometimes still like to look at picture books and easier chapter books. Sometimes summer doesn’t mean taking a break, but it can mean sprinkling in some fun and “easy” reads.

You can find the books on this kids summer reading list for Kindergarten through Grade 2 at your local library or purchase through the affiliate links provided for your convenience. And a special thanks to the Association for Library Service for the wonderful summer reading inspiration.

Don’t miss out on other age-appropriate summer reading lists for all the kiddos – from Kindergarten all the way through 8th grade!

Kids Summer Reading List, Kindergarten – Grade 2

Kids Summer Reading List, Kindergarten - Grade 2. Perfect reading list for reading books with your younger children | Mommy Evolution

A personal favorite I can’t recommend enough is What Do You Do With a Problem? Author Kobi Yamada has written a family favorite – What Do You Do With an Idea? – as well as What Do You Do With a Chance?. Seriously, all of these books are not to be missed!

What Do You Do With a Problem?#1 New York Times Best Seller. This is the story of a persistent problem and the child who isn’t so sure what to make of it. The longer the problem is avoided, the bigger it seems to get. But when the child finally musters up the courage to face it, the problem turns out to be something quite different than it appeared. What Do You Do With a Problem? is a story for anyone, at any age, who has ever had a problem that they wished would go away. It’s a story to inspire you to look closely at that problem and to find out why it’s here. Because you might discover something amazing about your problem… and yourself.

After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again)2018 Kirkus Reviews Best Picture Book of 2017. New York Times Notable Children’s Book of 2017. A New York City Public Library Notable Best Book for Kids. A Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2017. Horn Book Fanfare Best Book of 2017. An NPR Best Book of 2017

Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat’s poignant tale follows Humpty Dumpty, an avid bird watcher whose favorite place to be is high up on the city wall―that is, until after his famous fall. Now terrified of heights, Humpty can longer do many of the things he loves most. Will he summon the courage to face his fear? After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) is a masterful picture book that will remind readers of all ages that Life begins when you get back up.

The Book of Mistakes: A memorable picture book debut about the creative process, and the way in which “mistakes” can blossom into inspiration. As one artist incorporates accidental splotches, spots, and misshapen things into her art, she transforms her piece in quirky and unexpected ways, taking readers on a journey through her process. Told in minimal, playful text, this story shows readers that even the biggest “mistakes” can be the source of the brightest ideas—and that, at the end of the day, we are all works in progress, too.

Beastly VerseA Booklist Editor’s Choice for 2015. A Book Links magazine choice for the top classroom picks for 2015. Beastly Verse aims to help return the wonder of poetry to children’s lives through sixteen exquisitely illustrated poems, four of which have the surprise and pleasure of being foldouts. Consisting of playful as well as powerfully memorable poems, Beastly Verse transports the reader into a richly worded world of tigers, hummingbirds, owls, elephants, pelicans, yaks, snails, and even telephones! A playful romp through verse, rhyme, and gorgeous images, this book carries children into the poetic realm in a way that is not only fun and inviting, but inspiring as well!

Jabari Jumps: Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He’s finished his swimming lessons and passed his swim test, and he’s a great jumper, so he’s not scared at all. “Looks easy,” says Jabari, watching the other kids take their turns. But when his dad squeezes his hand, Jabari squeezes back. He needs to figure out what kind of special jump to do anyway, and he should probably do some stretches before climbing up onto the diving board. In a sweetly appealing tale of overcoming your fears, newcomer Gaia Cornwall captures a moment between a patient and encouraging father and a determined little boy you can’t help but root for.

The Bad SeedAn Amazon Best Children’s Book of the Year selection. This is a book about a bad seed. A baaaaaaaaaad seed. How bad? Do you really want to know? He has a bad temper, bad manners, and a bad attitude. He’s been bad since he can remember! Perfect for young readers, as well as anyone navigating their current world, The Bad Seed proves that positive change is possible for each and every one of us.

NowA Neal Porter Book. Follow a little girl as she takes you on a tour through all of her favorite things, from the holes she digs to the hugs she gives in Now, a clever and poignant picture book by award-winning artist Antoinette Portis.

Strictly No Elephants: Imaginative and lyrical, this sweet story captures the magic of friendship and the joy of having a pet. When the local Pet Club won’t admit a boy’s tiny pet elephant, he finds a solution—one that involves all kinds of unusual animals in this sweet and adorable picture book. Today is Pet Club day. There will be cats and dogs and fish, but strictly no elephants are allowed. The Pet Club doesn’t understand that pets come in all shapes and sizes, just like friends. Now it is time for a boy and his tiny pet elephant to show them what it means to be a true friend.

My Awesome Summer by P. Mantis: This is the diary of P. Mantis, one of 150 praying mantis brothers and sisters born on a garden bush. P. Mantis is an amazing bug: she can make herself look like a stick to hide from predators, she can swivel her head all the way around, and when she’s grown up she’ll even be able to fly! Told in dated entries, P. Mantis describes the entirety of her life, sharing the fun and beauty of her world as well its little ups and downs (“I ate one of my brothers. Okay, maybe two”).

Good Night, PlanetNew York Times Notable Children’s Books of 2017. When you go off to sleep, your toys go out to play! After a long day of jumping in leaves and reading her favorite books, this little girl is wornout, but her favorite stuffed animal, Planet, is just getting started. Planet befriends a dog, gobbles a cookie, and takes a leap into the unknown. This tender, gorgeous tale by the internationally renowned cartoonist Liniers will reveal to early readers the wonders that exist at night, in secret, after they close their eyes.

A Piece of Home: A child-friendly story about the trials and triumphs of starting over in a new place while keeping family and traditions close. Lyrical prose and lovely illustrations combine in a gentle, realistic story about finding connections in an unfamiliar world.

When Hee Jun’s family moves from Korea to West Virginia, he struggles to adjust to his new home. His eyes are not big and round like his classmates’, and he can’t understand anything the teacher says, even when she speaks s-l-o-w-l-y and loudly at him. As he lies in bed at night, the sky seems smaller and darker. But little by little Hee Jun begins to learn English words and make friends on the playground. And one day he is invited to a classmate’s house, where he sees a flower he knows from his garden in Korea — mugunghwa, or rose of Sharon, as his friend tells him — and Hee Jun is happy to bring a shoot to his grandmother to plant a “piece of home” in their new garden.

Fly Guy Presents: Castles (Scholastic Reader, Level 2): Children across the nation voted for the topic of this Fly Guy Presents book, and the winning topic was… CASTLES! On their latest field trip, Fly Guy and Buzz learn all about castles: from drawbridges and dungeons to kings, queens, and knights! Award-winning author/illustrator Tedd Arnold brings nonfiction to life for beginning readers. There are humorous illustrations and engaging photographs throughout. The front cover features eye-catching holographic foil!

Big Cat, Little CatA 2018 Caldecott Honor book. This is a poignant story, told in measured text and bold black-and-white illustrations about the act of moving on. A story of friendship, following two cats through their days, months, and years until one day, the older cat has to go. And he doesn’t come back.

The Night Gardener: With breathtaking illustrations and spare, sweet text, this masterpiece about enjoying the beauty of nature is sure to become an instant classic. One day, William discovers that the tree outside his window has been sculpted into a wise owl. In the following days, more topiaries appear, and each one is more beautiful than the last. Soon, William’s gray little town is full of color and life. And though the mysterious night gardener disappears as suddenly as he appeared, William—and his town—are changed forever.

This Is My Dollhouse: A little girl proudly walks the reader through her handmade dollhouse, pointing out the bricks she painted on the outside, the wallpaper she drew on the inside, the fancy clothes she made for her dolls, and the little elevator she made out of a paper cup. She’s proud of her house and has lots of fun using her imagination to play with it—until she discovers her friend Sophie’s “perfect” storebought house. Sophie thinks her house, with everything matching and even a toilet seat that goes up and down, is pretty perfect too, until both girls discover that the narrator’s handmade dollhouse is really a lot more fun.

Get a Hit, Mo! (Mo Jackson): Baseball season has arrived and Mo is all set to play with his team, the Lions. But Mo always bats last, and he always plays right field—and no balls ever come to right field. Will Mo ever get his chance to help the Lions win? This Level 2 reader about a little African-American boy with a big passion for sports is a funny, motivational companion to the winner of the 2016 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award – Don’t Throw It to Mo!.

Flowers Are Calling: Flowers are calling to all the animals of the forest, “Drink me!”—but it’s the pollinators who feast on their nectar. In rhyming poetic form and with luminous artwork, this book shows us the marvel of natural cooperation between plants, animals, and insects as they each play their part in the forest’s cycle of life.

My Beautiful Birds: A gentle yet moving story of refugees of the Syrian civil war, My Beautiful Birds illuminates the ongoing crisis as it affects its children. It shows the reality of the refugee camps, where people attempt to pick up their lives and carry on. And it reveals the hope of generations of people as they struggle to redefine home.

Behind Sami, the Syrian skyline is full of smoke. The boy follows his family and all his neighbours in a long line, as they trudge through the sands and hills to escape the bombs that have destroyed their homes. But all Sami can think of is his pet pigeons―will they escape too? When they reach a refugee camp and are safe at last, everyone settles into the tent city. One day a canary, a dove, and a rose finch fly into the camp. They flutter around Sami and settle on his outstretched arms. For Sami it is one step in a long healing process at last.

Blue Sky White Stars: Wonderfully spare, deceptively simple verses pair with richly evocative paintings to celebrate the iconic imagery of our nation, beginning with the American flag. Each spread, sumptuously illustrated by award-winning artist Kadir Nelson, depicts a stirring tableau, from the view of the Statue of Library at Ellis Island to civil rights marchers shoulder to shoulder, to a spacecraft at Cape Canaveral blasting off.  This book is an ode to America then and now, from sea to shining sea.

Freedom in Congo Square (Charlotte Zolotow Award)New York Times Best Illustrated Book of 2016. As slaves relentlessly toiled in an unjust system in 19th century Louisiana, they all counted down the days until Sunday, when at least for half a day they were briefly able to congregate in Congo Square in New Orleans. Here they were free to set up an open market, sing, dance, and play music. They were free to forget their cares, their struggles, and their oppression. This story chronicles slaves’ duties each day, from chopping logs on Mondays to baking bread on Wednesdays to plucking hens on Saturday, and builds to the freedom of Sundays and the special experience of an afternoon spent in Congo Square.

Robinson: Discover what surprises await in this beautiful dreamlike exploration of courage and loneliness, independence and friendship. Lush, transporting paintings float from reality to fantasy and back again as Peter Sís blends a true story from his childhood with the fictional adventure of Robinson Crusoe to create a moving, magical picture book that readers will want to return to again and again.

Hank’s Big Day: The Story of a Bug: Hank is a pill bug with a busy life—for a pill bug, that is. His daily routine involves nibbling a dead leaf, climbing up a long stick, avoiding a skateboarder, and playing pretend with his best friend, a human girl named Amelia, in her backyard. And when day is done, Hank likes nothing better than returning home to his cozy rock.

Marta! Big & SmallA School Library Journal Top 10 Latinx Book 2016. With simple Spanish and a glossary at the end, this fun read-aloud picture book, Marta! Big and Small,teaches little ones to identify opposites and animals and learn new words.

Marta is una niña, an ordinary girl . . . with some extraordinary animal friends! As Marta explores the jungle, she knows she’s bigger than a bug, smaller than an elephant, and faster than a turtle. But then she meets the snake, who thinks Marta is sabrosa―tasty, very tasty! But Marta is ingeniosa, a very clever girl, and she outsmarts the snake with hilarious results.

Little Elliot, Big Fun: Little Elliot, the polka-dotted elephant, and his friend Mouse go to the amusement park to see the sights and ride the rides―water chutes, roller coasters, carousels, and more. But Elliot isn’t having much fun―the rides are too wet, too fast, too dizzy, and just plain too scary―until Mouse figures out a way to help him overcome his fears. Together, Mouse and Little Elliot can do anything!

La Princesa and the Pea: Readers will be enchanted by this Latino twist on the classic story, and captivated by the vibrant art inspired by the culture of Peru. El príncipe knows this girl is the one for him, but, as usual, his mother doesn’t agree. The queen has a secret test in mind to see if this girl is really a princesabut the prince might just have a sneaky plan, too…

Like this kids summer reading list for Kindergarten through Grade 2? Don’t miss out on other age-appropriate summer reading lists for all the kiddos – from Kindergarten all the way through 8th grade!