Author Archives: Sara Holman

A Green St. Patrick’s Day


St. Patrick’s Day is this Saturday, and that means green day—a day all about green. For younger children who are learning colors, this is a great day to have fun with the color green.

What can you do with the color green? Here are just a few ideas:

Make green food: You can make green eggs and ham for breakfast (and maybe read the book a little later). You can also color lunchmeat green with food coloring or make green meatloaf for dinner. Or, for a simple green meal, make a green salad.

Color in only greens: Find all the different shades of green you can and color or draw—create a picture. You can use crayons, paints, markers, glitter, etc.

Find the green: It’s like “Where’s Waldo.” Go throughout the house with your child and have your child find all the greens—anything that is the color green. This is a great way to make sure your child understands the concept of this color. You can even have a prize for finding so many “greens.”

Play color-matching game: Like memory. You can make a color-matching game with just an even number of cards and some crayons. Color the back of the cards using the crayons. Make sure each color is on two cards. Flip all the cards over and see if your child can match the right colors. Also have your child say the name of the color to practice the concept of matching the word with the object.

Read books with the color green in illustrations: As you read the book with your child, you can point out the colors on each page. You can also play “Find the Green” and point out all the green colors on a page.

This St. Patrick’s Day is full of learning opportunities, besides teaching your young child about the color green. Put on you creative hats and have fun.

Do you have any fun educational plans for this St. Patrick’s Day?

Feature image courtesy of digitalart /

An Educational April Fools’ Day


April Fools’ Day is not normally thought of as a day for education. It’s that day you may dread when your kids try to out-trick you or each other. Silly pranks such as putting a whoopee cushion on a chair or hiding the toilet paper may ensue all day long.

This April Fools’ Day, you can join in the celebration and steer your children’s celebrations in a new direction. Give them something fun and educational to occupy their creative minds. How about a book?

Here are just five books you might put on your April Fools’ Day reading list:

  1. April Fool, Phyllis! written by Susanna Leonard Hill and illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler. In this fun tale, Phyllis’s instincts tell her a storm is coming, but being April Fools Day, no one will believe her. She must get everyone to safety before the storm hits.
  2. Disney’s: Winnie the Pooh’s Silly Day written by Bruce Talkington and illustrated by Robbin Cuddy. In a this adventure with the lovable Pooh bear and his friends, Pooh sets out in search of the April Fool.
  3. Michael Le Soufflé and the April Fool written and illustrated by Peter Welling. Have you ever wondered how April Fools’ Day got started? In this silly tale you’ll find out. This book also includes fun French words and a glossary in the back.
  4. Mud Flat April Fool written by James Stevenson. It must be April Fools’ Day with all the strange things happening in the town of Mud Flat: someone’s head is on backward, someone disappears with a puff of smoke, and more.
  5. April Fool! Watch Out at School! written and illustrated by Diane deGroat. Poor Gilbert’s plans to play pranks on April Fools’ Day are disrupted when everyone gets him instead. But can Gilbert get Lewis, the bully, before Lewis gets him?

And don’t forget, with each book comes plenty of educational activities. After reading the book, have your kids write their own April Fools’ Day stories. Talk about how the characters in the story solved their problems. Draw pictures. You can have a lot of fun with these holiday books.

With April Fools’ Day just around the corner, do you have any special plans with your kids to celebrate?

10 Creative Places to Read a Book


There are the usual places you read with your child—on the couch, in bed (with child tucked in and you sitting on the covers), at the kitchen table. And then there are the creative places, places that help the reading time you have with your child feel more special, magical, and mystical. They are places new and inviting to adventure. They are places that say, “This is our special time together; let’s discover something while we’re at it.”

You know these places. You’ve probably found yourself reading a good book in them yourself. Now it’s time to invite your child to these places to give him an experience that will help him gain a love for reading.

The following are just 10 places you can enjoy a good book with your child. Of course, you probably know some great places of your own that are not on this list.

  1. Inside a make-shift tent: All you need is a few sheets or blankets and some kitchen chairs. Before reading time, drape the sheets or blankets over the chairs to create a tent. Then cuddle inside with some blankets, pillows, and a good book. With the cozy interior, you can even have a nice little nap after you’ve finished the book.
  2. Under a tree: Maybe under a little grove of trees. There’s always something magical about reading a good book under a tree. It helps you feel a part of nature. With Spring coming up, you’re sure to find some warm weather. On these days, enjoy the sun, the shade, the grass, and a good  book.
  3. In a treehouse or playhouse: Your child may have a special place in a treehouse or playhouse. Why not find a place together inside and read a book that helps the magic and imagination of this special place come alive?
  4. In a hammock: Who doesn’t love cuddling in a hammock? Your child’s company and a good book is just what the Spring weather ordered.
  5. In the closet: Sounds a little funny at first, but children always find magical moments in tiny spaces, like closets. All you need is a few blankets, pillows, and a fun story to make the tiny space more enchanted.
  6. Under the covers: Children love the feeling of being under the covers with a flashlight and a good secret. Why not make that secret a book? You can whisper the words and no one outside the blankets will be the wiser.
  7. Online: If you have a family member who lives far away, you can make reading time special by having your child read a book with that family member over video chat.
  8. On a swing: I have great memories of sitting with my grandparents in their porch swing. It was always comfortable and peaceful sitting there. If you have a porch swing (or even an outside bench or chairs) make good use of these peaceful moments with a good book.
  9. In front of a mirror: What child doesn’t like to watch himself in the mirror? Reading in front of a mirror can be turned into a game—maybe make the same faces as the characters in the book’s illustrations.
  10. In a garden: Just like reading under a tree, reading in a garden can make the time magical, especially if you and your child are surrounded by bunches of flowers.

Do you have any creative reading places around your house?

Feature photo courtesy of jannoon028 /

Rusty and Rosy Giveaway Winners Announced

Image converted using ifftoany

Congratulations to our giveaway winners: Peggy C, Krista G, Theresa G, Jennie O, and Rebecca H. They each will receive a one-year subscription for Rusty and Rosy Reading™—children’s educational, interactive software that teaches your child to read. Winners, we know you and your child will enjoy the learning to read with Rusty and Rosy! (Winners, please check your e-mail for additional information.)

For those who may be unfamiliar with the program, Rusty and Rosy Reading is your child’s door to educational fun and an interactive learning experience, with appealing stories, original characters, and engaging songs. As your child navigates through the program, she laughs, sings, and grows in confidence while building important reading skills.

Through Rusty and Rosy Reading, you and your child experience

  • Personalized learning – Rusty and Rosy Reading adapts to your child’s learning needs and provides the instruction necessary to help your child master each skill.
  • Proven effective curriculum– The instruction is based on years of research, proven teaching principles, and the latest and most effective methods in curriculum design.
  • Fun – As your child learns concepts through songs and progresses through the interactive activities, she has so much fun she wants to keep learning.
  • Child-friendly atmosphere – With a child-oriented interface and simple controls, your child can easily log in and navigate the program independently.
  • Parental control – You can easily monitor your child’s progress through the program so you can see where she is improving or where she needs help; you can also access additional material for your child to learn offline.
  • Enriching content – Your child learns phonics, vocabulary, grammar, comprehension, and more through songs, pre-assessments, instruction, practice, books, and post assessments for each skill.
  • Three full years of content – The software is packed full of activities and learning concepts to last your child from preschool to second grade.

To learn more about Rusty and Rosy Reading, go here.

Thank you to everyone who entered our giveaway. Keep an eye out for upcoming giveaways and promotions!

Celebrate Read Across America Day


Today is Read Across America Day, first established by President Barack Obama March 1, 2011. We celebrate this day to remember the importance of reading and literacy, and to re-assert the importance for parents, teachers, and communities to encourage children to read. As President Obama puts it:

“Parents and mentors can help build fundamental skills by reading aloud to children regularly, discussing the story, and encouraging children to ask questions on words or content they do not understand. By passing a passion for literature on to our sons and daughters, we prepare them to be lifelong, successful readers, and we provide them with an essential skill necessary for academic achievement.”

Reading is important for many aspects of our lives. We read as we drive down the road; we read to accomplish our work; we read as we surf the Internet. Our children are growing up in a world where words are everywhere, and to succeed, they need to learn the fundamentals of reading early on, including deciphering new words, analyzing text, and comprehending text.

Our President puts it best:

“Our Nation’s young people rely on the critical thinking and analytical skills gained from reading to build other areas of knowledge, including the subjects of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The next generation’s ability to excel in these disciplines is crucial to America’s strength and prosperity in the 21st century.”

So, what steps do we now take to encourage a love of reading in our children so they will succeed throughout their lives? We read to them and show them the “fun” behind each story. Reading is fun because it takes us into a new world and shows us new things. And with a world of books at our fingertips through libraries, bookstores, the Internet, and different technologies, we can read about any subject. The point is to make reading fun!

Is it any wonder that this important day falls upon the birthday of one of the most influential American children’s authors? Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was born this day in 1904. It was in the late 50s that he released his ever-popular The Cat in the Hat, which was only the beginning of a collection of books created to help children learn to read through fun, plot-filled stories. Instead of learning to read with “Dick and Jane,” our children have a library full of learn-to-read books that are not only interesting to children but parents as well.

Today, to celebrate Read Across America Day, find a little time to just read with your child. Read a short book, a long book, a pop-up book, an interactive book, a book on your smartphone or tablet, a book about pirates or princesses, a book about dinosaurs or Amelia Earhart. . . . Read about anything. Just read.

Here are just a few things we did around the office to celebrate our day:

We had a visit from Rusty and sat down with him for story time.


Rusty also visited the kids in our Community Center, a free community program provided by Waterford Institute™ for children ages four to six (preschool age) that uses Waterford’s reading software program, the school equivalent to Rusty and Rosy Reading™.


Read the full Presidential Proclamation—Read Across America Day, 2011 here.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss

Birthday Cake

Dr. Seuss books have long been a story-time favorite. The silly rhymes, made-up words, unique characters, and creative plots have captured the attention of young children since 1957, when The Cat in the Hat first debuted.

But did you know that when Theodor Seuss Geisel (the man we all know as Dr. Seuss) first began writing for Houghton Mifflin, it was with the task to create an entertaining story for six- to seven-year-olds using a specified list of words?

The story begins with William Spaulding, director of Houghton Mifflin’s educational division, challenging Geisel to write an entertaining story using a list of 200 words first graders should know or be learning. This challenge was the result of a published article by Philip Nel who asserted that “Johnny can’t read” because Dick and Jane are boring stories to children.

Geisel was hesitant to take on the challenge but he did. A year and a half later, Seuss published The Cat in the Hat, which used exactly 236 words to tell a fun story about a mischievous cat who helps relieve a boring day for a couple children.

Soon after, Geisel released Green Eggs and Ham, which uses 50 unique words to tell a fun story about a character afraid to try a new food. But when he finally gives into Sam, he is surprised to find that he does like green eggs and ham.

Geisel wrote a total of 44 books, some of which are now full-length motion pictures. He also received two Academy awards, two Emmy awards, a Peabody award, and the Pulitzer Prize.

But perhaps Geisel’s greatest achievement has been to provide fun, readable books with unique illustrations that have helped children learn to read for generations. Parents who loved Dr. Seuss as a child are sharing their love with their children. And children everywhere are sharing in adventures with Dr. Seuss’s Cat in the Hat, Horton the elephant, Fox in Sox, and so many other lovable characters.

Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss! (March 2nd)

Feature image courtesy of digitalart /
A special thank you to the following for a great history on Dr. Seuss:
npr Books

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.

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 /