Monthly Archives: February 2012

Creating with Dr. Seuss


With Dr. Seuss’s birthday coming up (March 2nd, also Read Across America Day), I thought it would be fun to do a fun craft to go along with one of this popular books.

When I was younger, one of my favorite Dr. Seuss books was One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish. Needless to say, my mother’s copy is looking pretty sad from all the times we read the book together.

You may recall that the book begins by talking about all the different kinds of fish. Then the book proceeds to introduce many other interesting characters. As Dr. Seuss puts it, “Funny things are everywhere.”

This Friday, to celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday and Read Across America Day, why not read one of Dr. Seuss’s books and do a fun activity or art project with your child? If you read One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, you and your child can have fun with a fish art project, just like the one I did today.

Go ahead and download and print these outlines of different fish:

Fish 1
Fish 2
Fish 3 

The outlines look like these:

Once you have printed fish outlines,  you and your child can decorate the fish any way you wish. Go ahead and make them different, just as all the fish in Dr. Seuss’s book are different.

For this fish, I used a glue stick and scraps of paper. I also used puffy stickers for the eye and the little fin.

For this fish, I used colored pencils and outlined the fish with different layers of color.

For this last fish, I used glitter glue, which is easy to squirt on the page. Just remember that the glitter glue takes time to dry. You may need to set it aside over night before cutting around the edges.

Once you are done, go ahead and use these fish as decorations in your child’s room or on the fridge.

Do you have any plans for Read Across America Day? Please share with us.





Making Sentences—One Word at a Time


If you’re looking for a cheap and simple reading activity for your child, this is it. One Word at a Time is just paper words your child can form into sentences. All you need is paper, marker, and scissors.

Here’s What to Do:

  1. Using a standard 11×8.5 sheet of paper, cut the paper into four pieces, each piece about 2.75×8.5 inches.
  2. Write commonly used words on each cut-out piece. (Find the most commonly used words at You can write multiple words on each piece; just be sure each word is written in a large size. Also leave enough space between each word so you can cut between the words.
  3. Cut excess paper on each side so there is no white space on either side of the word.
  4. Spread out all the words on the floor.
  5. Let your child go crazy making sentences with the different words. You can also turn this into a contest with multiple children to see who can come up with the silliest sentence that is still grammatically correct.

Use these words to also teach parts of sentences. You can layout a simple sentence and teach your child about subject and object or about nouns, verbs, and adjectives.

You can also create punctuation marks (periods, commas, question marks, etc.) for your child to practice with.

A Few Other Ideas

Write s, ed, es, etc. on the cards to help make words plural, past tense, or fit with the perspective of the sentence (1st, 2nd, or 3rd person).

Write names of people you know on some of the cards.

Keep some blank cards and a marker close by for those spontaneous words you may not have thought of but your child really wants to use.

Do you have any any ideas for playing One Word at a Time? Play this game with your child and let us know what works and what doesn’t.

And don’t forget to enter our drawing for a free one-year subscription for Rusty and Rosy Reading™. Go here to learn how to enter.

Rusty and Rosy Drawing for FREE Software Subscription

rustyandrosy copy

Did you know that this Friday, March 2nd, is Read Across America Day? It’s a nation-wide celebration proclaimed by President Barack Obama last March. During the official proclamation, President Obama stated the following about the importance of reading:

“Hidden in the pages of books are extraordinary worlds and characters that can spark creativity and imagination, and unlock the potential that lies within each of our children. Reading is the foundation upon which all other learning is built, and on Read Across America Day, we reaffirm our commitment to supporting America’s next generation of great readers.”

Rusty and Rosy are excited about this day as well and are celebrating with a drawing to give away a few one-year subscriptions of Rusty and Rosy Reading™ software. If your child isn’t already experiencing the fun, excitement, and success of learning with Rusty and Rosy, now is your chance to get your child started.

Here’s how to enter to win:

  1. “Like” our Facebook page.
  2. Sign up for the drawing.
  3. Share the news with your friends.

You get one entry into the drawing by completing steps 1 and 2. You get a second entry for completing step 3. Complete all steps by simply going here.

The drawing goes through end-of-day Monday, March 5, 2012. Enter today.

And don’t forget to check us out here on the blog and on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest all week. We’ll be posting some fun tips, information, and quotes about books, literacy, and more.

Celebrating Reading

school boy reading

I have three very different children. Like me, my oldest loves to read. In school his teacher is constantly reminding him to put the book away and pay attention. He reads on the bus, in the car, in front of the TV. . . . We even catch him reading when we ask him to go from point A to point B. Somehow, he attempts to sneak a point A and a half in there and read a little more. He’s been reading chapter books since he was four; all he wanted for his eighth birthday was a Kindle. The joy of reading has always been within him.

My middle son loves books. He loves maze books and dot-to-dots. He adores being read to and paging through picture books. Nearly every evening we read humorous poetry together. But reading words hasn’t been his thing. He’s the type of child who needs to study and be certain he can do something exactly correct before he’ll jump in and do it, which is why the past few days have been so amazing for us.

After years of encouraging him to read to us, he asked to read a book to his sister before her nap last weekend. It was a simple board book, but he read every word to her with such pride. Every night this week he’s helped me read books to her. Most books are familiar in rhyme or repetition, but the joy I see on his face as he says the words he is certain are on the page is enlightening and fills me with such pride.

My youngest, at only two, favors active books. She wants to touch books and perform the stories. She wants to hear different ways a story can be read, which is why she loves it when we all take turns reading with her.

Books enlighten. Books encourage. Books raise esteem and help readers become lost in fantasies. This week kicks off Read Across America and, as we always do, our family will pause on March 2 and have thirty minutes of reading in Theodor Geisel’s (Dr. Seuss) memory and celebration of all he brought to children.

How is your family celebrating Read Across America?

Feature image courtesy of AKARAKINGDOMS /

Teaching Children about Rhymes


You may have noticed when reading stories to your children that a great deal of them, especially those for the younger children, rhyme. We start reading nursery rhymes early on, and as we progress through the Thomas the Tank and Dr. Seuss phases, kids begin to pick up on words that are sounding the same. By kindergarten they are learning the basics of rhyming. They are starting to write sentences and are completing worksheets where they have to write lists of words that rhyme.

I notice that my kids respond differently when I read stories that rhyme; they seem to remember the rhymes much easier than the words in traditional stories.

Here are some activities you can do to encourage your children to learn rhymes:

Make a Rhyming Story: Read books that rhyme to your child, then talk to him about the rhyming words. Can your child come up with other words that rhyme with those too? Have him write down words that rhyme and make his own story.

Greeting Cards:  Show your child greeting cards that contain rhymes and encourage him to make his own card with a rhyme and a picture to send to someone special or to give to his school teacher.

Rhyming Charades:  Play a game with your child(ren). Each player gets to point to a body part, or something in the room. The other players have to come up with a word that rhymes with the object being pointed to. The first person to call out a correct answer gets to choose the next object.

Rhyming Crafts: Make felt story boards or puppets so your child can act out nursery rhymes such as Humpty Dumpty, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and Hickory Dickory Dock.

Rhyming Activity Stations: Set up activity stations for the kids where they can learn a nursery rhyme and complete an activity.

  • Jack and Jill – Put water in a small pail and have a race. Whoever gets to the end first without spilling water is the winner.
  • Baa, Baa Black Sheep – Give the children a sheet of paper, a pencil, and cotton balls. Have them draw a sheep and then attach the cotton balls (as wool) over the body.
  • Cock-a-doodle-doo – Hide a fiddlestick and shoe and give clues on pieces of paper that tell where the fiddlestick and shoe can be found. For example, draw a picture of play kitchen, toy, or desk where the next clue can be found, and so on.
  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Star – Using yellow construction paper and gold glitter glue, have the kids make stars to hang from the ceiling.
  • Simple Simon – Have the children do coin rubbings on paper using crayons. Cut out their pennies and trade them for a pie for lunch.
  • Handy Pandy – Serve mini plum cakes and sugar candy for dessert.

Read rhyming books. Here are a few you might like to borrow from the library or a friend, if you don’t already have them at home.

  • The Gruffalo
  • Dr. Seuss books
  • Ook the Book and Other Silly Rhymes
  • We’re Going on a Bear Hunt
  • I Knew You Could
  • Bear Snores On

Read Across America Day Coming Up – Ideas for Reading with Your Child

girls reading together

“Hidden in the pages of books are extraordinary worlds and characters that can spark creativity and imagination, and unlock the potential that lies within each of our children. Reading is the foundation upon which all other learning is built, and on Read Across America Day, we reaffirm our commitment to supporting America’s next generation of great readers.” – President Barack Obama, Presidential Proclamation—Read Across America Day, 2011

Read Across America Day is almost here, and to take part in this great day we here at Rusty and Rosy (a.k.a. Waterford Institute™) are celebrating all week long. This next week you can expect informative blog posts, Facebook updates, and tweets to help in your family’s reading celebrations. You might find craft ideas, reading tips, book ideas, a giveaway. . . . You’ll have to tune in each day to learn more and benefit from all the fun we’ll be having next week.

But you don’t have to wait until next week to get started. Here are just a few tips to help you celebrate reading with your child:

Where to Read

  • In bed, just before your kids go to sleep
  • In a tent made of sheets
  • In the kitchen, while you’re cooking dinner (older children can read to you while you get dinner ready)
  • In the car
  • Outside (weather permitting); you can have a reading picnic
  • At the library
  • At school
  • On the couch
  • In the playhouse/tree house
  • In the office

What to Read

  • Books, of course
  • Street signs
  • Game rules and pieces (such as cards)
  • Recipes/cookbooks
  • Magazines (you can find some great kids’ magazines for you child)
  • Reading aps for your tablet, smartphone, or computer
  • Newspaper
  • Mail (send a letter to your child)

When to Read

  • Before bed time
  • During lunch (you can make a book-themed lunch)
  • While waiting in line at the drive through for the bank or restaurant
  • In the morning (a story is always a great thing to wake up to)
  • Any time, really!

Here are just a few other suggestions you can incorporate in your reading celebrations next week:

Let us know where, what, and when you read with your child.

Also find us on Pinterest for more great reading and education ideas.

Feature image courtesy of Phaitoon /

Using Your Noodle as You Doodle


It’s so interesting how you can find many different ways to get your little one to use her noodle. My seven-year-old loves journaling and notebooks. Recently, my mom bought her a small, pink doodling book that includes blank pages and pages that are partially drawn on. These page may have half a circle or an empty  playground and allows the doodler to use her imagination to finish the picture in any way she artistically sees fit. Unlike most activity books, this one doesn’t ask the child to do a crossword puzzle, or connect the dots. Of course, those are also fun and entertaining.

What this book does that is different is allow the child to use her imagination in a different way on each page. For example, my daughter will write a story then draw a picture about her story. Or she will finish a picture then write the story to match it. Or she may feel inspired to write about her day or something she recently did that was exciting. Each time she opens the book there are different ways in which she can use her noodle.

Drawing for children offers a number of different benefits. According to, one of the many benefits for children includes improving hand-eye coordination. When young children are asked to draw a portrait of something, they will learn how to make  comparisons between objects of different sizes or shapes. Comparing objects through art can be as simple as asking a child to draw a picture of children having fun outside. Through this task, they will learn to draw the bird smaller than the tree in a way that is realistically proportional.

Drawing also encourages children to use their imagination and develops their creative thinking skills into critical thinking skills, and it refines cognitive and creative skills. Plus, when it comes to holistic learning, drawing also improves a child’s ability to problem-solve, a skill that can add to  better grades and success in school.

The next time your child sits down to color, consider asking her to draw you a picture of a something she saw that day, either while on the playground or outside of her bedroom window. This will give her a great chance to practice some of those important skills and use her noodle as she doodles.

Surprising Milestones


Do your kids ever do things that surprise you? That make you ask, “where did you learn this?” As much as I try to be active with my children and involved in their education, sometimes they really say and do things that make me proud and surprised at the same time.

With my oldest, I was constantly monitoring her progress against the recommended milestones. I read to her, played with her, created flash cards and took her on educational outings. I was able to because I had time.

Now I have a 5-year-old, 3-year-old and a 14-month-old. My time is split every which way and I am not able to give my son’s education the same kind of attention I gave his sister. At first I felt guilty. Then I was scared he wouldn’t learn as well as his sister or stay on track.

Boy was I wrong!

He learns so much from his older sister! I also take him to play groups with older children and he picks up things from them. I take him to the library so I can play with the baby while he enjoys story time. Little things that give him the education he needs and give the baby the attention she needs.

Another thing that is really convenient for me and saves me time is the Rusty and Rosy Reading software. It emails me David’s progress as he completes games! I look over his shoulder and see him clicking letters and learning sounds, very content with his play time and what it is teaching him.

Yesterday, out of the blue, he told me he can spell. Shocked, since I have not even begun to teach him his letters yet, I asked him what he can spell.

L-I-Z-Z-I-E! He said proudly!

His sister’s name. What she spells constantly. I took that opportunity to tell him how proud I was of him and we reviewed the alphabet. Then he went immediately to play with his trains. He counted all of them. When did I teach him to count?

A sigh of relief. Having three children was not the educational tragedy I thought it would be.  As long as I am active in their education, provide them activities that stimulate their minds, and build on what they already know, they will be just fine!

Making Snowflakes without the Snow

qtip snowflake

It hasn’t been much of a winter in our neck of the woods. We’ve gotten just a couple inches of snowfall one weekend, then a couple light dustings since then. Since snowflakes have been in hiding, I thought it would be nice to make our own.

Qtip Snowflakes are an easy preschool activity but one that takes up a good chunk of time, perfect for cold or rainy days. The supplies needed are things most of us would have on hand.

  • Qtips (this design requires 18)
  • Glitter Glue or School Glue and glitter
  • Plastic wrap
  • Large piece of cardboard
  • Tape

cotton swab snowflake, winter, craft, kids, glitter glue

Start by firmly taping down plastic wrap on a large piece of cardboard. Since glue tends to take hours to dry, it’s a good idea to move your project somewhere safe to dry. I DIDN’T do this and we ended up having family dinner on the living room floor, picnic style.

Starting in the middle of your space, squeeze out a large (quarter size) blob of glitter glue. Following the pattern, stick your qtips into the glue, turning the swab to coat the end completely. Continue with the pattern, ensuring the ends are smothered so your snowflake doesn’t fall apart once it dries. We used four different colors of glitter glue for this snowflake. One would be fine too. Once all the cotton swabs are set into place, move your design to dry. I waited over night to be positively sure it wouldn’t come apart.

Using a piece of clear tape, I attached our snowflake to our back door. Hanging it in front of a window would be pretty too, but ours has curtains; I didn’t want to risk knocking into it over and over.

The final look is pretty and the process is inexpensive. This project should easily last an entire season and can be adjusted to mimic many designs; Christmas trees in December, fireworks in July, and suns in August. Younger children may need a little more help and maybe some extra squirts of glue when they aren’t looking, but older children can easily adapt this design into something more elaborate and larger. Their imagination is their limit.

Sorry: Now a Math Game

Math Sorry

When I worked as a tutor, I was always trying to come up with new ways to keep children learning even when they were playing games. One day I was trying to figure out how to make board games more educational for the children who could do a little math. I came up with Math Sorry, with easy-to-adapt rules.

What You’ll Need:

  • Sorry game board
  • Blank cards or paper cut into playing-card size

How to Prepare:

On the blank cards write math problems, depending on the skill of your child or the math he or she is currently learning. Place the cards in the card section of the game board. The cards may read something like “Go forward 7+1 spaces.”

How You Play:

Math Sorry is just like regular Sorry, only instead of using the cards that come with the board game, you use the math cards you’ll make for the game. When you or your child draws a card, you should read something like “Go forward 2+2 spaces” or go back “5-3” spaces. Follow the directions on the cards.

Go ahead and play the game, bumping each other back to Start and sliding forward when possible. First one to make it Home wins!

You can adapt the same concept to other games as well. For games that use a spinning wheel, you and your child can spin the wheel twice and add or subtract the numbers to move ahead or back.

This is a great game for your first or second grader!

Feature image courtesy of  LifeSupercharger / flickr.