Reading and Writing

Reading, Writing, and Language Early Learning Activities

Children’s Dragon Books: Same and Different with “Not Your Typical Dragon”

Welcome to Dinovember and some dragon fun activities—after all dragons are like dinosaurs and we’ll start with some children’s dragon books and stories. Since we’ve done some dinosaur activities before we thought we’d try something a little bit different. Dragons.

children's dragon books

Dragons can be pretty scary, although Mike the Knight’s dragon Sparkie, is quite friendly. Toothless isn’t terribly scary either. We don’t often talk about dragons, but Little Sister knew they breathed fire and roared. A great way to learn about something new is with books so we found some at our local library.

Not Your Typical Dragon by Dan Bar-el and Tim Bowers is a very funny story of a dragon with a special birthday. This is the day the dragon will breathe fire just like all the other dragons. Or will he? Somehow, what comes out is quite unexpected, like whipped cream, teddy bears, and bandaids. This is a surprise to the dragon’s family and, feeling like a disappointment, the dragon runs away. With a friend, he tries a variety of solutions, like research, and eating hot foods and spices. The road to acceptance is bumpy, but it does happen. The family is quite proud of their unique dragon.

children's dragon books

Little Sister has asked for this story over and over. Now, whenever we need something and don’t have it, we wish we had a dragon to breathe it for us. What a fun story with a great message. It’s okay to be different.

Same and different isn’t an easy concept for kids but it is an important thinking skill. The amount of information that our brains take in every day is overwhelming. The brain uses strategies to reduce this amount. One of these is same and different. For example, instead of remembering 10 details about dinosaurs plus 10 about dragons, we can remember the 10 about dinosaurs and add a couple of how dragons are different. That makes a smaller amount.

children's dragon books

I asked Little Sister how dinosaurs and dragons were different. She replied that dragons breathed fire and had wings. How they were the same was harder. She told me another detail about dinosaurs: they were big. I asked if dinosaurs had tails and listened as she told me about long tails. I followed up by asking if dragons had tails. She knew that they did. Together, we figured out that dragons and dinosaurs both have tails so that’s something the same.

Elmo and Abby talk about this. Kids need lots of experiences with same and different. The brain figures this out itself. We can support this learning by talking about same and different, showing it, and reading books. Do you have the same idea or a different one?

Fall Book Magic: Fall Books and Stories for Young Children

Magic You Can Do Right At Home!

Reading and sharing books and stories to kids is so powerful for brain development it’s almost magic and what could be better than some fall book magic? Here are some wonderful ones to share with your child.

fall book magic kids

Before reading Anne O’Brien and Susan Gal’s awesome book, see how many magic spells you and your child can think of, like Abracadabra and Hocus Pocus. At our house, even the adults say Open Sesame when opening the garage door. Once you’ve thought of a few, get ready for the spell of Hocus Pocus, It’s Fall and be enchanted.

The pictures and words bring the autumn season right to your laps. The pages spread out, the colors pop off the page, and the words tickle the ear. Afterwards, go for a walk outside, maybe find a stick for a wand, and think of some more magic words. What a delightful book.

fall book magic kidsHave you heard of the very silly song, There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly? It’s been around for a few generations and the old lady swallows one item after another to get rid of the fly. Of course, each item gets bigger and bigger until she swallows a horse.  The book, There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves, by Lucille Colandro, is like the song.

The leaves are brightly colored but that doesn’t make them taste any better.

fall book magic kidsLeaf Jumpers by Carole Gerber and Leslie Evans is exactly what kids like to do in leaves, jump right in. The bigger the pile, the better. The words and pictures are so vivid we can almost smell the smells and touch the lines and bumps of the leaves. The book includes the names of some common leaves and their shapes. Maybe you can find some too?

fall book magic kidsApplesauce Season by Eden Lipson and Mordicai Gerstein turns making applesauce into an adventure. Information about apples is woven into the story. Have we been taking apples for granted? We won’t after this book. Making applesauce is the perfect activity after reading. It makes the book come to life. Another fall book magic.

These are just four of dozens and dozens of books about fall. But the books you read to your child can be about anything. Reading books and stories downloads language into the brain. It also increases the brain’s processing speed for language. What are some of your seasonal and other favorites to share with kids?

Fun Bus Activities #1: Bus Books for Kids

Ride the Bus with Books and Stories

The Saturday Morning Lego Club at our local library is riding the bus, with bus books for kids and other fun bus activities. Hop on with us!


There are some wonderful bus books for kids. Have you and your child shared, “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” by Mo Willems? This silly story is loved by kids who also often sit in the driver’s seat of any vehicle and pretend to drive. Adults think the pigeon sounds exactly like kids who are whining, pleading, negotiating and using other strategies to get their way. In any case, the pictures show the end of the story and kids figure it out pretty quickly to get the joke.

transportation books for kids

In “The Bus Ride,” by Marianne Dubuc, a little girl is taking the bus by herself to grandmother’s house. Unfortunately, not that many kids will be able to have the same experience of going alone but the bus is a fact of life for many of us. The bus ride turns into quite an adventure. Do you and your child ever take the bus? As you travel along, imagine some adventures of your own.

books about buses for kids

Or how about a bus ride on a dinosaur, like “Gus, The Dinosaur Bus,” by Julia Liu. With a bus as big as the dinosaur, there are some pretty big issues, but what a wonderful solution in this story.

books about buses for kids

The Magic School Bus is always going on wild adventures and taking Miss Frizzle and her class. They explore from outer space to inside bodies, encounter tiny bats and enormous dinosaurs, travel under the ocean and deep in the jungle. Kids can hitch a ride anytime and anywhere. Many of these books are available as TV shows and videos as well, but they don’t come with the advantage of a lap and somebody who can listen to questions. Especially questions that drive adults batty.

bus books for kids

Another famous bus is #2857. The book, “Rosa’s Bus: The Ride to Civil Rights” by Jo S. Kittinger is more appropriate for older kids. A defining moment in our history, recent events are showing that we need to connect with each other and evaluate our own sense of fairness. A story in a book can make it easier to have discussions with children.

books about buses

Stay tuned for some more fun bus activities for kids. Are there some other books and stories about buses your child likes?

Children’s Books About the Olympics and Medals for Reading

One way to get in the spirit of the Games is to share children’s books about the Olympics and win a medal for reading-well, listening to adults read. Kids ask questions and while we watch the Games, they will want to know why. There are lots of books for older kids, but not many for … Continue reading Children’s Books About the Olympics and Medals for Reading

Space Activities #6: Children’s Space Books

Children’s space books are almost as numerous as the stars in the sky! Space is a really popular theme for children’s books. There are wonderful picture books about space with amazing photographs and illustrations. National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Space by Catherine Hughes and David Aguilar is one of these. It answers … Continue reading Space Activities #6: Children’s Space Books

Space Activities #3: Nursery Rhymes and Language Learning for Kids

Today’s play-of-the-day, nursery rhymes language learning for kids, is inspired by the photos the space probe Juno is sending back of Jupiter’s moons. Since there are 4 of them, would kids on Jupiter have to add a few words? Hey diddle, diddle, the cat and the fiddle, The cow jumped over the moon, and the moon, … Continue reading Space Activities #3: Nursery Rhymes and Language Learning for Kids

Transportation Play Activities #1: Transportation Books for Kids

Children have all different kinds of interests. We can support kids by finding books they like. Here are some great transportation books for kids. One of the favorite transportation books for kids of a whole range of ages is Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go. Did you know this was published in … Continue reading Transportation Play Activities #1: Transportation Books for Kids

Bubble Fun and Learning #19: Alphabet Bubbles

After a busy weekend camping, Little Sister seemed played out. With colored felts, she had some quiet fun doing alphabet bubbles. When it comes to kids being ready for school, many parents and caregivers ask, “Does my child need to know the alphabet before kindergarten?” The answer isn’t a straightforward yes or no. Having some … Continue reading Bubble Fun and Learning #19: Alphabet Bubbles

Bubble Activities #7:  Children’s Books about Bubbles

Would it surprise you to know there are some wonderful children’s stories and books about bubbles? And not just the kind in the bathtub. The Bubble Factory by Tomie de Paola tells the story of a girl and boy, twins, who visit the factory where their grandpa used to work. What would workers in a … Continue reading Bubble Activities #7:  Children’s Books about Bubbles

Word Play for Kids = Fun and Exercise for Brains

Celebrate Dr. Seuss with Word Play Fun For a play-of-the-day, how about some word play for kids, a la Dr. Seuss? Books written by Dr. Seuss have been loved for decades. They are full of fun and play, especially word play. What a great way to celebrate Dr. Seuss. Dr. Seuss stories have wonderful rhymes. … Continue reading Word Play for Kids = Fun and Exercise for Brains