Best kids’ books about fall leaves: What we’re reading

Autumn is my favorite season. As much as I love summer, by the end of August I eagerly await fall’s crisp evenings, the trips to the pumpkin patch, the excuse to cuddle under a quilt and drink tea, and the changing leaves. Oh, how I love fall leaves! Good thing for me, Peeper and Kiwi share my love of autumn, so it’s no surprise we’ve collected a list of our favorite books about fall leaves and autumn.

We love autumn—and children's books about fall leaves. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

After all, autumn is the perfect time to crack open a book after running around outside.

Jump in puddles, get muddy at the farm, collect fallen leaves, collect a pocketful of acorns—then head inside to read a stack of children’s books about fall leaves. Need some ideas? Check out this list then request a few—or them all!—from your local library. These make for a great unit for homeschool, if that’s your thing, or just a lovely read-aloud to learn about autumn.

The best children's books about fall and autumn - perfect for homeschool lessons. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

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Spark a fire for gun reform: 4 things you can do to stop gun violence

Days like yesterday, I just want to burn shit down.

I, like so many, woke up to news about dozens dead and hundreds injured after an angry man opened fire on a sea of strangers in Las Vegas. And then I went through what many of us have experienced so often before: Shock. Anger. Sadness. Frustration.

The terror, then grief, thrust upon hundreds is absolutely needless—and preventable. That’s why I am so furious: Because events like those in Las Vegas (and Orlando, and Sandy Hook, and San Bernadino, and Aurora, and many more) are predictable. They will keep happening—unless we as a country do something about it.

Inspirational quote: You can't start a fire without a spark. Actions to take to end gun violence. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Toddler activities about color: Homeschool preschool curriculum

The other day I hosted the first meeting for our new toddler homeschool preschool. I wanted our first topic to be “classic preschool”—as well as something accessible to our 2-year-olds. I thought about doing a back-to-school theme but figured it was too abstract; instead, I chose to focus on toddler activities about color.

Kiwi is constantly learning about the world through colors. When she asks for a bowl, she specifies what hue she wants. She calls on things not just by their name (“dog”) but by what kind of dog (“white dog”). And about 100 times a day she holds up one finger and announces, “Blue. My favorite!” (Followed immediately by, “Purple. Peeper’s favorite!”)

A homeschool preschool curriculum filled with toddler activities about color, then, was right up these kids’ alley. They enjoyed the fine motor skills-tuning project, the sorting activity that works on pre-math skills, and of course plain ol’ art.

Do you have little ones that would love toddler activities about color? Try these! Even if your toddlers don’t know yellow from red, they’ll enjoy these activities—and learn at the same time.

These toddler activities about color, for your homeschool preschool or just a fun project, are a great way for kids to learn about colors—and to have fun! Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

How your family can help kids thrive in school

I’m still riding the enthusiasm and excitement from the back to school season over here. Peeper is already adjusted to her half-days of pre-K (no tears, just a quick squeeze before we say goodbye!). And Kiwi just started homeschool preschool—more on that later! But not every child has what she needs to excel in school.

Back to school season is exciting - but not every child has what she needs to succeed. Here, 4 things your family can do to help. Ten Thousand Hour MamaBack to school time is exciting, but many kids don't have everything they need to succeed. Here are 4 ways your family can do good. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

School supplies lists can get expensive (the average family spent $100-200 on the required pens, pencils and binders, according to a national study), and that’s not even factoring in other expenses like clothes, electronics (required by many schools) and other items.

I wrote about how we can help ensure all the kids in our community start school ready to learn and thrive in my latest column for PDX Parent.

In it, I explore how even families with little kids—who don’t have many opportunities to volunteer in the traditional sense because they’re too young—can pitch in.

Your kids may be too young to volunteer, but any family can do good in their community by helping all children thrive in this back to school season. Here, 4 things you can do to help! Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

The best children’s books about grandparents

September 10 was Grandparents Day—a holiday that should come more than once a year, I say, especially because of how phenomenal my kids’ grandparents are. Although Grandparents Day has passed, we continue to love reading these children’s books about grandparents—and I have a feeling your kids’ grandma and grandpa would love them, too!

The 15 best children's books about grandparents will make your kids smile—and are a great gift idea for Grandma or Grandpa. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

This post contains affiliate links. If you click and buy, I earn a very small portion of your purchase—which helps me earn a living (and support my family)! Read more

Portland hike to the Witch’s Castle with kids

Lately Peeper has been on a mystery/spooky story kick—a predilection I could attribute to my own childhood love of scary stuff but is mostly due to her Grandpa Shempy’s long made-up mysteries about something called the Monkey’s Paw. So when I had a free morning and the kids miraculously ate their breakfast on time and without protest, I decided to try hiking Portland’s Witch’s Castle with the kids.

Hiking Portland Oregon's witch's castle with kids is a fun outdoor activity when you travel as a family - or if you live here in the Northwest! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

I originally heard of Portland’s Witch’s Castle in Forest Park from my blogging friend Renee. She wrote about hiking to the castle with her teens, and I’ve wanted to do it myself ever since then—but with my littler kids, of course.

Since the day’s forecast called for some rain, I wanted to choose a forested hike so we wouldn’t get totally drenched if it did drizzle. Forest Park, with its immense Douglas firs, provides quite a bit of shelter from the Oregon rain—but as luck would have it, the skies stayed mostly clear. (Thanks, weather!)

Rain or no rain, though, the hike was gorgeous—and the Witch’s Castle lived up to its spooky, and awesome, reputation!

Hiking Portland Oregon's witch's castle with kids is a fun outdoor activity when you travel as a family - or if you live here in the Northwest! Ten Thousand Hour MamaHiking Portland Oregon's witch's castle with kids is a fun outdoor activity when you travel as a family - or if you live here in the Northwest! Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Activity buckets for kids: Bringing fun on the go

At the beginning of the summer, a bunch of families I’d met at new moms’ group planned a joint camping trip. All our excited plans were canceled, though, when the weekend we’d meant to go turned hot. It seemed like insanity to take a bunch of kids camping with no lake or river when the temperature soared past 100. But I’d made activity buckets for all the kids, and I got to give them to the littles at a backyard picnic instead—a small consolation prize.

But I needn’t have been so disappointed! The activity buckets have come with us on many adventures since.

Going disc golfing? Heading to the beach? Playing in the yard? The activity buckets have brought fun wherever the girls take them.

Making kids' activity buckets lets them bring all their supplies for outside fun! Ten Thousand Hour MamaMaking kids' activity buckets lets them bring all their supplies for outside fun! Ten Thousand Hour MamaDIY kids' activity buckets for outdoor fun are a great family activity for camping, the beach, or anything outside - made from Dollar Store supplies. Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more