Our favorite children’s books with no words

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A picture may be worth a thousand words, but sometimes a wordless picture book is worth a big ol’ internet shout-out. These, our 10 favorite children’s books with no words, are just those.

Wordless picture books still have a lot of story in 'em. Here are our favorite children's books without words. Ten Thousand Hour Mama

Wordless picture books can be intimidating to adults: You have to wing it, since there is no text to read. But making up a story as you go along—and letting your child have a go at storytelling, too—is fun and fosters pre-literacy skills in little readers.

Children’s books with no words encourage imagination and curiosity in kids; they lead little ones to begin to tell stories; they prompt kids to look for plot clues in illustrations; and they promote close listening, as the story may change each time you read the book.

But don’t take my word for it. Check out these children’s books with no words the next time you’re at the library and see for yourself. Read more

Fall art exploration: Painting with chestnuts

When I was little, I walked with my dad across the University of Oregon campus just before school started. I held his hand as we meandered under the centuries-old trees and kicked the crackling fallen leaves. I often stooped to pick up acorns and chestnuts.

I’d find them in my pocket all fall and winter long—little treasures squirreled away.

Even now I can’t resist picking them up. I run my thumb over the smooth shell like a worry stone and remember those crisp autumn walks with my dad.

The other day, on one of those cold but bright fall mornings, my girls and I took a walk. It was just chilly enough for me to be grateful for the furnace baby strapped to my chest, and Peeper stopped every few steps to investigate something or other while Finn waited impatiently.

We approached a chestnut tree and the mess of nuts, shells and leaves surrounding it. Squirrels scolded us overhead while Peeper picked up a handful of chestnuts and talked about how pokey the burst-open shells were.

We brought a bunch home and started a “special project,” as she has taken to calling her art endeavors. We incorporated the treasures into our fall art crafting—take a look and you and your little may love painting with chestnuts, too!

Process art with autumn treasures and painting with chestnuts: a fun way to celebrate fall! Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Get creative with your kids

Several times a day, my daughter asks me, “can we do an art project?” so we end up spending a lot of time with paints, glitter and glue. But I noticed that while Peeper dove into creating each masterpiece without worrying about what it would be or how it would turn out, I hung back.

I didn’t know what to make. I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t feel moved to get creative with my kids.

When it came to arts and crafts with my daughter, I was fresh out of ideas.

Sound familiar? If you need a gentle nudge toward trying on a child’s uninhibited inspiration, too, here are some ideas to get creative with your kids—even if you’re not an artist.

Want to get creative with your kids but you're feeling uninspired? Here, tips to unleash your creativity! Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

Glitter marble painting: Kid crafts

Glitter gets a bad rap: It sticks to everything, makes its way into every crevice in your house and can apparently scratch a kid’s cornea—yada yada yada. But I am a Glitter Cheerleader.

I love the way glitter catches the light. I wear a craft project’s collateral glitter with pride, even days later. (Doesn’t glitter in your hair or on your blazer just say, “I’m a mom of a preschooler and I’m not afraid to flaunt it!”) And I love the way Peeper gets so freaking excited whenever I suggest we do a glitter art project.

The other day, when I suggested we try something new—glitter marble painting—was no exception. Her face lit up like a glittered disco ball.

You've tried marble painting, but what about GLITTER marble painting? Your kids will love this easy process art! Ten Thousand Hour Mama

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Unclutter your kid’s art: Turn it into a masterpiece!

If you’re new ’round these parts, you might not know: Peeper loves art. She loves to paint. She loves to color. She loves to glue. She loves to squish her hands into finger paints and give herself a standing ovation, splattering red and blue all over the walls.

(Ok, that last one is more performance art, but still.)

All those days of keeping busy with kid crafts leads to a lot of saved projects. At one point, the kitchen counter, the wine rack, my work desk, the fridge and the dining room table were all buried under my preschooler’s crafts.

I knew something had to change. I had to unclutter my kid’s art.

Unclutter your kid's art by turning it into a masterpiece! Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more

A fashionably fierce sweater craft

Kids sweater craft: Princess and the Pony

Princesses are everywhere these days.

Disney has overrun the toy aisle, Pandora stations and the playground.

Now, I’m not a hater: I adore certain Disney movies, and Peeper’s first movie was Cinderella. But I can’t help but notice that a lot of princesses are, well, passive.

That is not the case with Princess Pinecone, the titular royalty in the picture book The Princess and the Pony.

A princess book with sass

Princess Pinecone lives in a society of warriors. But her parents haven’t quite caught on: They give her cutesy sweaters instead of cool warrior presents like shields, spiked belts or—what she truly covets—a fierce warrior horse.

When her birthday rolls around, she does get a horse—sort of. Princess Pinecone gets big-eyed, doughy pony who farts too much.

But she can’t give a birthday present back, she figures, so she keeps the pony. What happens at the next warrior brawl surprises everyone.

Getting crafty

After reading The Princess and the Pony about a hundred times, I made a book-inspired craft for Peeper. And I’m not the only one: Check out the brute-inspired crafts at the Raising Fairies and Knights Monthly Crafting Book Club!

Monthly Crafting Book Club

Princess Pinecone and the rest of the brutes in the book come to realize that cute can be strong, and you don’t have to be just fierce or just adorable—you can be both.

So Peeper and I created a fashionably fierce sweater craft.

This sweater craft is great for fine motor skills—though if your little is as young as Peeper is, she may need a little help winding the yarn around the paper.

Princess sweater craft

It’s also very open-ended. There’s no “right” way for the sweater craft to look: The process of winding and stamping (and hand-slapping, if you’re Peeper) is much more important than the final product.

After all, process art helps young kids feel more confident, since they don’t “fail” to make their project look identical to the model one, writes the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

So hit up your library for a copy of The Princess and the Pony, then join us for some cozy—and fierce—fun.

Kids sweater craft Princess and the PonyKids sweater craft Princess and the Pony

Fashionably fierce sweater craft

Supplies

  • cardstock paper
  • yarn
  • painter’s tape
  • paint
  • cotton balls

Instructions

  1. Cut out a sweater shape from a sheet of cardstock.
  2. Tape one end of the yarn to the “back” of the sweater. Then have your child wind the yarn around the sweater. (You may have to help by guiding her hands or playing out the yarn.)
  3. When your child is done wrapping, tape the tail of the yarn to the back of the sweater. This will secure the yarn so it doesn’t move.
  4. Squirt out as many colors of paint as your child would like. Invite her to stamp the paper with a cotton ball (it’s so cozy, like a sweater!). The more she paints over the yarn and fills up the white space, the more contrast she’ll get.
  5. When she’s done, untape and unwrap the yarn. She’ll see the white lines left by the yarn—giving her a striped sweater!

Don’t forget to try out the other The Princess and the Pony crafts at the Monthly Crafting Book Club!

Princess and the Pony monthly crafting book club

Celebrate summer with messy painting

Art, at its best, is a full-body experience—at least according to my kids. And with summer here (happy first day of summer!), it’s the perfect time to get outside for some messy painting.

On a recent afternoon, Peeper, Kiwi and a few friends did just that. I squirted paint onto plates of shaving cream, and the kids dove in: Within minutes, we were all messy. And within minutes, we were all having so much fun.

After all, we often tell kids to be neat. Use a napkin. Don’t spill. Wash your hands. Keep your hands to yourself. 

With the weather warming up, though, it’s a great excuse to play outside. And with a little set-up—and a lot of shaving cream—you can let your kids’ creativity go wild. Come on, color outside the lines!

Summer Fun Messy Painting Play Date - Ten Thousand Hour Mama Read more