Category Archives: Tonya Staab

St. Patrick’s Day Books and Fun Food for Kids

St Patricks Day books and fun food for kids

St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17 and honors Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.

Although we tend to celebrate with St. Patrick’s Day parties, wearing green and indulging in a combination of Irish dishes and food that is green, it’s important for children to learn about the history of St. Patrick’s Day too.

Here 15 great books to read to your children this St. Patrick’s Day.

  • It’s St. Patrick’s Day, by Rebecca Gomez
  • The Story of Saint Patrick’s Day, by Patricia A. Pingry
  • The Story of the Leprechaun, by Katherine Tegen
  • Shamrocks, Harps and Shillelaghs: The Story of the St. Patrick’s Day Symbols, by Edna Barth
  • Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland, by Tomie dePaola
  • A Fine St. Patrick’s Day, by Susan Wojciechowski
  • Fiona’s Luck, by Teresa Bateman
  • That’s What Leprechauns Do, by Eve Bunting
  • The Luckiest St. Patrick’s Day Ever, by Teddy Slater
  • St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning, by Eve Bunting
  • Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato: An Irish Folktale, by Tomie dePaola
  • The Night Before St. Patrick’s Day, by Natasha Wing
  • Tales From Old Ireland (includes CD’s), by Malachy Doyle
  • Tim O’Toole and the Wee Folk, by Gerald McDermott
  • Clever Tom and the Leprechaun: An Old Irish Story, by Linda Shute

While reading these fabulous books, here some yummy green treats to enjoy too.

Valentine’s Day Lunch for Kids

Valentine's Day lunch for kids

Valentine’s Day is a day to be celebrated with all of your loved ones, that means the kids too.

They are bound to love this fun love themed lunch.

It’s delicious, simple, and so very sweet.


What you need:

  • cookie cutters in two sizes (large and small)
  • bread
  • sandwich filling – I used ham and cheese

Cut each slice of bread with the large cookie cutter. On one slice per sandwich cut out a smaller heart in the center. Add your favorite sandwich filling and assemble.

Trail Mix

What you need:

  • Popcorn or kettlecorn
  • Rice Chex
  • Dried cherries or cranberries
  • Marshmallows

I used the flat ‘stacker mallows’ and cut each with a small heart-shaped fondant cutter.

Combine all ingredients in a container and gently mix.

Other Treats

  • Elli: Quark (red velvet) – it looks like yogurt, but it’s actually a cheese. Top with fun Valentine’s Day themed sprinkles.
  • Strawberries – to make heart-shaped strawberries trim the top off the strawberry, turn the strawberry so that the narrowest part at the bottom is facing you. Make a ‘v’ shaped cut in the top of the strawberry, and then using a sharp knife cut the strawberry into thin slices.
  • Fruit Roll Ups – cut into thin strips and curled.


National Children’s Dental Health Month

National Children's Dental Health Month

Every year National Children’s Dental Health Month is celebrated in February.

If your little ones haven’t had their first check-up, now is the perfect time to schedule an appointment. This is also a great time for teaching children the importance of taking care of their teeth, along with correct brushing and flossing techniques.

Whether this is their first appointment or they’ve been to the dentist several times before, some children are nervous about these check-ups. Here are some books that might help with those dentist visit jitters, as well as those that offer advice on caring for teeth.

  • The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist, by Stan Berenstain
  • The Tooth Book, by Dr. Seuss
  • My Dentist, My Friend, by P. K. Hallinan
  • Brush, Brush, Brush, by Alicia Padron
  • Sesame Street Ready, Set, Brush: A Pop-Up Book, by Sesame Street
  • Food for Healthy Teeth, by Helen Frost
  • Dentist, by Jess Stockham
  • The Tooth Book: A Guide to Healthy Teeth and Gums, by Edward Miller
  • ABC Dentist: Healthy Teeth from A to Z, by Harriet Ziefert
  • Brush Your Teeth, Max and Millie, by Felicity Brooks

There is also a lot of excitement around losing baby teeth, leaving the tooth under the pillow and waking up to find money from the tooth fairy. In our house the tooth fairy leaves a gold coin for every tooth.

Here are a few more books kids will love about the tooth fairy and losing those first teeth.

  • Junie B., First Grader: Toothless Wonder, by Barbara Park
  • The Tooth That’s on the Loose!, by Chris Robertson
  • The Night Before The Tooth Fairy, by Natasha Wing
  • Fancy Nancy and the Too-Loose Tooth, by Jane O’Connor
  • You Think It’s Easy Being the Tooth Fairy?, by Sheri Bell-Rehwoldt
  • Tooth Fairy, by Audrey Wood
  • Dear Tooth Fairy, by Alan Durant
  • Loose Tooth (My First I Can Read Series), by Lola M. Schaefer
  • The Missing Tooth (Step into Reading Books Series: A Step 3 Book), by Joanna Cole
  • Trevor’s Wiggly-Wobbly Tooth, by Lester L. Laminack

Kids will love these felt craft projects too:

For more information visit the American Academy of Pediatrics and Healthy Children.

Bucket List Ideas for Kids

bucket list ideas for kids

Each year I write a bucket list. It’s not a bucket list for the rest of my life, but a bucket list for the next year; things I want to accomplish or learn, places I want to visit and fun things I want to try.

Last year for the first time I had my eldest son make a bucket list for this year. He scoffed at the idea at first, but a little pressure and discussion about it and he gave in and made one. Throughout the year we’ve been crossing things off that bucket list, things that I never knew he wanted to do – like get his scuba diving certification, bench press a certain weight, attend the release of Jordan shoes (who even knew you could line up at the crack of dawn for shoes, but you can apparently) and learn to drive a car. We haven’t crossed everything off his list, but because of this list I was able to help and support him in accomplishing as many things as possible.

This holiday season I will be sitting down with my younger kids and have them create their own bucket lists for next year. They will probably need a little more help coming up with ideas, so I’ve been making notes of things to suggest to them.

Before I share some of those ideas with you though, let me share a few tips for helping kids create a bucket list:

  • Make it doable. You may not get everything crossed off and that’s okay, this is just a guide, where they will feel a sense of accomplishment as they cross things off, and you will gain creative ideas on activities to do with them.
  • Keep it small. You don’t need 100 things on the list. Start with 20, kids won’t feel so overwhelmed.
  • Variety. Give them a variety of options for example – something to learn, something to do, a fun place to go, something totally for fun.
  • Alternatives. Instead of making a bucket list for a year, you could make a summer or autumn bucket list, or a list of things to do before they turn a certain age.

Now, here are a few ideas that might help you and your children make their bucket lists.

  1. Jump in mud puddles and make mud pies.
  2. Go on a scavenger hunt.
  3. Learn how to make my own breakfast.
  4. Plant and care for my own garden.
  5. Learn how to skip rocks.
  6. Go geocaching.
  7. Make a snowman that looks like Olaf from Disney’s Frozen.
  8. Learn how to hula hoop.
  9. Hike to a waterfall or to the top of a mountain.
  10. Write (or draw a picture of what you did) every day in a journal.
  11. Become a Jr Ranger at a State or National Park.
  12. Do something nice for someone else, just because.
  13. Go to the library every week, or at least once month.
  14. Fly a kite.
  15. Put on a magic show or puppet show.
  16. Camp outside under the stars and learn about the constellations.
  17. Watch a sunset and sunrise.
  18. Pay someone a compliment.
  19. Go tidepooling.
  20. Find a pen pal and write them a letter – contact your friends in other states or countries who have children to arrange this.
  21. Learn to play an instrument.
  22. Tie their own shoelaces.
  23. Go to the County Fair and indulge in the food and rides.
  24. Build a sandcastle and swim in the ocean.
  25. Have an egg and spoon or potato sack race.


Last-Minute Healthy Holiday Snack for Kids

last minute holiday snack for kids

With all of the special treats and fun food that come with holiday celebrations, it’s nice to add a few healthy ones into the mix too.

These melon Christmas trees are not only healthy, but simple enough for kids to make for themselves.

What you need:

  • Melon – you can use just honeydew, or get creative and layer honeydew with watermelon and cantaloupe.
  • Grapes
  • Wood skewers

Cut a slice of melon and then cut it into three uneven sized pieces.

Layer the melon on the wood skewer with the largest piece on the bottom and the smallest on top. Add a grape to the very top of your tree.

Kids will love the healthy holiday treat.

14 Days of Holiday Giving for Children

14 ways kids can give back over the holiday season

With the holidays upon us, it’s important to remind children that this is not only a time for receiving, but also a time for giving.

Here are 14 ways children can do something nice for others this holiday season.

  1. Clean out and donate: Have your kids clean out their closets and toy boxes. Donate clothing and shoes that no longer fit and toys and books they haven’t played with for a while to a local thrift store. There are many parents out there looking for gifts for their own children for their holidays.
  2. Donate money: Encourage them to put a few coins from their money box into holiday collection bins to help those less fortunate.
  3. Adopt a family: Adopt a family in need for the holidays, have your kids pick out special toys and games to give to the family’s children.
  4. Toy collections: Find out which organizations in your area are collecting new toys for kids. Take your child to the toy store and have them choose the new toy that will be donated.
  5. Bake and give: Bake delicious holiday treats with your kids. Help them to deliver these treats to neighbors or your local nursing home.
  6. Holiday bags for the homeless: Take your kids to the local dollar store and help them collect items for the homeless including hygiene items, warm hats and gloves, and non-perishable food items. Let the kids bag the items and then deliver to local homeless men and women, or to a local shelter.
  7. Sing Christmas Carols: Last year was the first time I’d had carolers knock on our door and sing. I cannot begin to tell you the joy it brought to our evening. My kids continued singing long after the carolers had left. So teach your kids a few Christmas carols and sing for your neighbors.
  8. Hospital donations: If you child is upgrading, or has lost interest in, the gaming console or games, encourage them to donate them to a local children’s hospital.
  9. Cook and serve meals: Sign up to serve meals at your local shelter, soup kitchen or Ronald McDonald House. Younger kids may not be able to serve food, but they could play games, or do crafts with any children there.
  10. Write letters: Even the youngest child can draw special pictures, while the older ones write letters to family and friends who do not live close by over the holidays. There is something special about receiving a handwritten letter, especially if you are feeling isolated over the holiday season.
  11. Gifts for the troops: Package up a box of leftover tinsel, handmade ornaments, candy canes, and more Christmas goodies to send to the troops. They will appreciate that little piece of home.
  12. Volunteer: Reach out to local volunteer organizations and find out if your kids can help hand out toys at hospitals, help out at local organizations, or package food items at the food bank. Generally the minimum age for volunteering is 6.
  13. Handmade cards: Have your kids make handmade holiday cards for children who will be spending the holiday season in hospital.
  14. Give love to animals: The holiday season is a prime time for families to drop their pets off for boarding while they travel to visit family. Contact these organizations and see if your children can help walk, play with, or feed the animals.

Making Thanksgiving Story Time Fun

turkey time with kids

Kids are going to love this cute craft, snack, and story time that’s perfect for not only kids who are just learning to read and need a quiet activity to do on their own, but also for the littlest ones, who love nothing more than a snuggle, a snack and a book being read to them.

This is what you will need to make the adorable turkey juice box:

  • card stock – brown (I used two shades), orange, red, green, yellow
  • Googly eyes
  • Scissors
  • Glue

Note: make sure you remove the straw from the juice box before you begin making the wrapper, otherwise it will be impossible for your child to pull out from behind the wrapper later.

Measure the height of your juice box and then wrap a tape measure all the way around it allowing an extra 1/2 to 1 cm in width. Cut the card stock to the measurements you took, wrap it around the juice box and glue it in place, making sure the join is at the back.

Cut a feather out of one color of card stock. It doesn’t have to be perfect and this is a great project for kids to do. Use that feather as a template and trace around it on the other colors of card stock. Cut them out and glue them onto the back of the juice box.

Cut out the wattle and beak from red and orange card stock and glue them onto the front of the juice box along with the googly eyes.

Serve your juice box turkey with a bowl of sliced apples.

This is the perfect snack for kids to enjoy while reading their favorite Thanksgiving books.


Let’s Celebrate Frankenstein Friday

Frankenstein Friday crafts, food and books for kids

Frankenstein Friday falls on the last Friday in October, which will be Friday 25th October this year. It’s a day that honors Frankenstein and his creator Mary Shelley, who in 1818 at the age of 19 starting writing the book which was published when she was 21.

Celebrate this favorite horror character in a not-so-spooky way for kids with these ideas, that are also perfect at this time of year when Halloween celebrations are in full swing.


These fun Frankenstein crafts and food ideas are sure to be a hit with kids.

And here’s one more. This is my 5-minute Frankenstein lunch.

This fun lunch contains:

  • Grape flavored juice box: wrapped in green paper with a fun Frankenstein face drawn on. Tip: make sure you remove the straw before wrapping the juice box.
  • Green veggie chips
  • Green grapes
  • Spinach wrap: these gluten free, nut free and dairy free spinach wraps are perfect for healthy kids lunches. Tip: pop it into the microwave for 10 seconds to soften the wrap before laying cheese, turkey or other filling over the top and rolling it up. Use an edible writing marker to draw a face on the wrap and cut the top of the wrap to resemble hair.
  • Want a little dessert on the side? Surprise them with a tub of green jelly.


  • The Monsters’ Monster, by Patrick McDonnell
  • Frankenstein, by Rick Walton
  • Dracula and Frankenstein are Friends, by Katherine Brown Tegen
  • Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich, by Adam Rex
  • Monster Mash, by David Catrow
  • Making Friends with Frankenstein, by Colin McNaughton

Do you have any other fun Frankenstein crafts, activities or fun food for kids? Please feel free to share them below in the comments.

Fall Paper Plate Crafts for Kids

Fall Paper Plate Crafts for Kids

It’s time for fall crafting! ¬†These paper plate crafts are quick, easy and require very few supplies, which is a huge plus, in fact you may find that you already have everything you need.

What you need:

  • Paper plates
  • Paint and paintbrush
  • Card stock, paper (in a variety of colors), or even paper grocery bags
  • Elmer’s school glue
  • Something round (i.e. small glass, bottle lid or an ‘o’ stamp – anything you can use to create circles for the eyes).
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Brads for the owl wings to make them move (optional) – you can just glue them into place, but they won’t move of course.

These paper plates are so simple to make that they require very little explanation, but let me give you a few tips:

Sketch the pieces that need to be cut out, you may want to help younger children with this, but older children will most likely be able to do this with little assistance.

Use as much scrap paper as possible for this project, don’t be afraid to use patterned paper like we did for leaves.

Instead of painting the pumpkin and apple plates, you could use plain or patterned paper.   My daughter loves to paint so she insisted she paint at least a couple of plates.

When gluing paper such as the feathers on the turkey plate, turn the plate face down and glue them to the back. Leave the plate face down until the glue dries, otherwise the paper will fall off.

What fall craft projects are you doing with your kids?

Fall Reading List

30 kids books for Fall and Thanksgiving


A time for the leaves to change color and fall from their branches.

A time to pick apples and pumpkins.

A time to give thanks.

I’ve rounded up 30 of the best books for the autumn season. Kids will love learning about why leaves change colors, why we give thanks, and explore more fun fall activities they can do.


  1. Count Down to Fall, by Fran Hawk
  2. Fall Mixed Up, by Bob Raczka
  3. Apples and Pumpkins, by Anne Rockwell
  4. Little Critter: The Fall Festival, by Mercer Mayer
  5. Pat Zietlow Miller
  6. The Apple Pie Tree, by Zoe Hall
  7. Leaf Man, by Lois Ehlert
  8. Fletcher and the Falling Leaves, by Julia Rawlinson
  9. In November, by Cynthia Rylant
  10. We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt, by Steve Metzger
  11. Apple Farmer Annie,
  12. Betsy Maestro
  13. Woody, Hazel and Little Pip, by Elsa Maartman Beskow
  14. Apple Cider Making Days, by Ann Purmell
  15. Autumnblings, by Douglas Florian


  1. ‘Twas The Night Before Thanksgiving,
  2. The Pilgrims’ First Thanksgiving, by Ann McGovern
  3. One Little, Two Little, Three Little Pilgrims,
  4. Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks,
  5. by Marion Hess Pomeranc
  6. Thanksgiving Rules, by Laurie Friedman
  7. … If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620, by Ann McGovern
  8. Mousekin’s Thanksgiving, by Edna Miller
  9. What is Thanksgiving?, by Michelle Medlock Adams
  10. The Night Before Thanksgiving, by Natasha Wing
  11. T is for Turkey: A True Thanksgiving Story, by Tanya Lee Stone
  12. Turkey Trouble, by Wendi Silvano

Do you have favorite books you read to your kids during fall and Thanksgiving? Leave the names in the comment section below to add to our reading list.