Fun Stuff for Kids

ABC – Our Favorite ABC Books

Alphabet books are a wonderful way to introduce children to letters and foster a love of reading.  If you are looking for alphabet books, you don’t have to search very far.  Favorite characters like Clifford, the Berenstein Bears, and Thomas have alphabet books available as well as favorite authors like Dr. Seuss, Eric Carle, Sandra Boynton, etc. There are also ABC books about almost any topic that your kids enjoy, such as construction, trains, the farm, beach, etc.  The choices seem endless.

Several years ago I taught preschool, and I saved a large collection of books that I now read and share with my children.  This collection includes our 10 favorite alphabet books that we included in Our ABC Basket (from last week). However, I have many more that are still in the closet waiting to be discovered.

What is your favorite alphabet book?

Have a Great Week!





Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault

In this lively alphabet rhyme, all the letters of the alphabet race each other up the coconut tree. Will there be enough room? Oh, no — Chicka Chicka Boom Boom!

Note:  I loved this book as a teacher, and I love this book as a parent as well.  After reading it, my kids like to go around the house chanting Chicka Chicka Boom Boom over and over again, so be prepared!


I Stink by Kate & Jim McMullan

Know what I do at night while you’re asleep? Eat your trash, that’s what! See those bags? I smell breakfast!  With ten wide tires, one really big appetite, and an even bigger smell, this truck’s got it all. His job? Eating your garbage and loving every stinky second of it!  And you thought nighttime was just for sleeping.

Note:  One of Hank’s favorites.  He loves the Alphabet Soup Recipe


The Little Engine That Could ABC Time by Watty Piper

The Little Blue Engine chug-chug-chugs through the countryside, and puff-puff-puffs through the alphabet as she goes. Come along and help her find some apples for A, butterflies for B, and other objects and animals from A to Z.

Note:  My son is train crazy.  He likes everything to do with trains.  As a child, I loved “The Little Engine That Could,” and now I enjoy sharing her with my kids.  This is always a favorite.


The Three Bears ABC – An Alphabet Book by Grace MacCarone

“F is for Forest. While their porridge cooled, the bears walked in the forest, where they sniffed fragrant flowers.” The classic tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears meets the alphabet in this fairy-tale-meets-concept-book story.

Note:  I love this book.  It still tells the story of the three bears, but in a clever way.  Fun read for everyone.


LMNO Peas by Keith Baker

From A to Z—and Acrobat Peas to Zoologist Peas—every letter is exciting!  Get ready to roll through the alphabet with a jaunty cast of extremely cute and busy little peas. This fresh and fun alphabet book features bright colors, bouncy rhyming text, and silly pea characters who highlight the wide variety of interests, hobbies, and careers that make the world such a colorful place!

Note:  Great way to introduce not only the alphabet, but all of the things that people can do as well.


Alphabet Adventure & Alphabet Mystery by Audrey & Bruce Wood

In Alphabet Adventure – After working hard all summer with their teacher, “Capital T,” the lower case letters of the alphabet are on their way to the first day of school. But they’re held up when the letter “i” loses her dot. The letters come up with a plan, and race around to find a substitute for Little “i” to wear: “s” offers a star, “h” a heart but at the last moment the mischievous dot returns (anxious about being replaced).  While in Alphabet Mystery – Little “x” has left, upset he’s hardly used, and the other letters set out to find him. They find “x” playing the castle xylophone for the mysterious Master, capital “M,” who threatens to turn them into alphabet soup! Some quick thinking by Little “x” saves the day, and soon they are all on their way home–just in time to make Mom’s birthday surprise: a cake with Little “x” all over. He’s the only one who stands for kisses!

Note:  My mom got these for Hank last Christmas.  He loves reading one right after the other, so they are basically one book – part 1 and part 2.


Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten

and other Miss Bindergarten books by Joseph Slate

In Gets Ready for Kindergarten it’s the first day of kindergarten, and Miss Bindergarten is hard at work getting the classroom ready for her twenty-six new students. Meanwhile, Adam Krupp wakes up, Brenda Heath brushes her teeth, and Christopher Beaker finds his sneaker. Miss Bindergarten puts the finishing touches on the room just in time, and the students arrive. Now the fun can begin! This rhyming, brightly illustrated book is the perfect way to practice the alphabet and to introduce young children to kindergarten.  Other books in the series include: Stays Home from Kindergarten, Has a Wild Day in Kindergarten, Celebrates the 100th Day of Kindergarten, Takes a Field Trip with Kindergarten, Celebrates the Last Day of Kindergarten, Plans a Circus with Kindergarten.

Note:  My mom was a kindergarten teacher for years, and this always reminds me of her when I read it to the kids.  All of the books in the series are equally fun and interesting to read.


Q is for Duck – An Alphabet Guessing Game by Mary Elting & Michael Folsom

This is no ordinary alphabet book. Why is “Q” for “Duck”? Because a duck quacks, of course. Even the youngest readers will delight in the riddle-like text and lively, humorous illustrations.

Note:  What a great book!  Unexpected alphabet book that really keeps you guessing and engaged.


The Handmade Alphabet by Laura Rankin

Presents the handshape for each letter of the American manual alphabet accompanied by an object whose name begins with that letter.

Note:  One of my best friends teaches deaf education.  While in college I took a course in sign language and fell in love.  I love the beautiful pictures in this book, and the kids love to try to make the letters with their hands as well.


Animalia by Graeme Base

Animalia is more than A is for Apple.  As you travel from A to Z, each scene reveals is filled with a wealth of hidden objects and on each new page the details discovered begin with the letter for that page.  It is an incredible imaginary world that will intrigue youngsters of all ages, whether or not they know their ABCs.

Note:  We literally spend a half hour or more on this book each time we read it.  Sometimes we don’t even get through the entire book.  Hank loves to help find as many things as he can in the illustrations that start with each letter.  However, that is no surprise since it is somewhat similar to “I Spy” books.

No School – Winter Break Fun

Can you believe that the holiday break is right around the corner?  Whether you are a parent or a child care provider, you are about to get inundated with school-age children.    To help you prepare, I have invited a guest blogger to share some holiday fun ideas.

Child Care Providers, are you prepared for the upcoming days out-of-school? If your school-agers get bored easily during a full day in your care, schedule an onsite technical assistance visit with Karin Gilbert, our School-Age Specialist. Together you’ll customize a diverse and dynamic full day schedule that’ll keep your SA’gers engaged and wanting more.  Contact Karin at 574-360-3070 or

Have a Great Week!




From Karin Gilbert

Like it or not, winter is now upon us! There’s no need to get the winter blues when there are so many wonderful outdoor activities to enjoy with your school-agers during the wintertime. Remember to think safety, first. Kids and adults alike should dress in warm layers. Don’t forget your hat, gloves, scarf, boots, snow pants and winter coat. Here is a winter wonderland of cures for cabin fever:

  • Sledding-There’s nothing better than gliding through the cool air on a sled. Find a good hill and grab your tube, toboggan, saucer, or even a piece of cardboard for hours of entertainment. For a more challenging adventure, build hills and ramps.  Bundle in layers to stay warm and to cushion tumbles.
  • Make Snow Angels-Fluffy snow? Check. Snow suit? Check. That’s all the gear you need to lie down and create a snow angel.  (Lie in the snow and make a jumping jack motion.) Make this simple activity extra fun by using materials to decorate your angel, such as food coloring to draw on a face, and old clothes and accessories to dress it up. Why should snowmen have all the fun?
  • Build a Snowman-After stacking a few big snowballs to make the body, kids can use their imagination to find fruits, vegetables, sticks, berries, clothes, and other materials to bring their snowman to life. For a bigger adventure, encourage school-agers to use their imagination and build other snow figures, characters, or animals.
  • Build an Igloo or Snow Fort-School-agers who have graduated from building snowmen can spend hours constructing an igloo or snow fort. Use a shovel, bucket, or tote to help build and construct one of these arctic domes or fortresses. Use a food coloring/water mixture in a spray bottle to color your creation.
  • Ice Skating-This slippery activity will be tricky for newcomers. But once they get the hang of it, they might get addicted. For advanced skaters, try speed skating, ice dancing, figure skating, or hockey.
  • Skiing-School-agers are now more coordinated and less afraid of falling, which makes downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, and snowboarding great active activities during the winter months. Beginner downhill skiers can hit the bunny slopes or green circle trails but should have an adult with them. Lessons can help your child learn the ropes. It’s wise to invest in a helmet in case of falls or collisions.
  • Snowboarding- Snowboarding is a popular winter sport. School-agers now have more strength and skills to stay upright and try more tricks. Lessons and safety gear, including a helmet, knee pads, wrist guards, and hip pads, are recommended because snowboarders of all ages have their share of spills.
  • Winter Picnic-Take blankets, snacks, warm hot cocoa or soup in a thermos and enjoy an outdoor picnic! Be sure to dress warm!
  • Outdoor Photo Expedition-School-agers love to take pictures! Dress warm and head outside with disposable cameras for a photo expedition.  Take pictures of the wintry landscape, animals in their winter habitats, or snowmen in your neighborhood. Then, create a photo collage or poster.  For a group challenge, create a photo scavenger hunt!  For a quick resource, download this Winter Scavenger Hunt List
  • Outdoor Obstacle Course-Set up an obstacle course in the yard with jumps, tunnels, and other challenges.
  • Snow Painting/Snow Graffiti-Simply add food coloring to water in a spray bottle; then go out and decorate the white canvas in your yard.
  • Ice Bubbles- When the temperature drops below 32 degrees, blow bubbles and watch them freeze on the wand. Challenge your friends and see who can create the biggest ice bubble.
  • Snow Tic-Tac-Toe-Two players go for the championship in this classic game. Use crisscrossed sticks and pinecones as game pieces.
  • Frosty Toss-Have a snowball-throwing contest! Make a target by creating a bright circle in the snow with colored water in a squirt bottle.
  • Miniature Golf Snow Course-Make a golf course by packing down a section of snow every few feet. Bury tin cans halfway down in the snow to create holes, and mark them with mini flagsticks.
  • Pin the Nose on the Snowman-Pass out carrots, then blindfold each child and let him try to get the nose in place.
  • Practice Your Pitch-Paint a bull’s-eye target on a piece of cardboard, giving each colored ring a point value. Attach it to a tree, and keep score as the kids try to hit the target with snowballs.


Karin Gilbert is ECA’s School-Age Specialist, serving Allen, DeKalb, Elkhart, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Marshall, Noble, St. Joseph, Steuben, Whitley Counties.  Karin has a Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University-South Bend and an Indiana Youth Development Credential.  She has 15 years of experience in school-age youth work.  Karin provides support for providers of SA programs to increase the quality of SA care.



Whether you spend time outdoors or indoors during the winter break, here are some additional ideas to keep your school-age kids busy.