by Bonnie Pearson

I just spent the day processing apples – making pies and sauces, as well as drying apples. Since apples were on my mind, this installment of I Love to Read is about – apples!

Apples For Everyone


Apples for Everyone” by National Geographic is a picture book that follows the life cycle of an apple -from seed to blossom to fruit. The realistic pictures bring the orchard to your child.

Johnny Appleseed My Story


Now is also a great time to read about folk legend Johnny Appleseed (his birthday was September 26). The book, “Johnny Appleseed: My Story,” which is a STEP into reading book, is a great place to start.

Ten Apples Up On Top!



Finally, just for fun, try the Dr. Seuss classic, “Ten Apples Up on Top!


Story Stretcher Activity: Easy Applesauce

Pour one can of frozen apple juice concentrate into your slow cooker. Fill the slow cooker with sliced, peeled, and cored apples (if you don’t own an apple peeler/corer – it’s the best $20 ever spent). Cover the slow cooker and cook all day. Not only does your house smell great, but by the end of the day – you will have applesauce! Use a potato masher if you like chunky sauce, or run it through the blender for smooth sauce. I add cinnamon and nutmeg for extra flavor. Enjoy!

Trick or Treat!

by Suzanne Kasper

What do you do to make Halloween special? Do you go pumpkin hunting and carve jack-o’-lanterns? Do you decorate your house and hand out treats?

Halloween Fun Shrinky DinksThis year, consider creating a Halloween family heirloom with the Halloween Fun Shrinky Dinks Set! With 30 happy little Halloween ornaments for you to color and bake, this set is definitely more treat than trick. Your entire family will have a great time getting into the Halloween spirit while decorating this 11” velvet tree full of not-too-spooky ornaments.



Halloween Stinky StickersAre you looking for a trick-or-treat handout to replace candy? Something the kids will love? Check out these Halloween Stinky Stickers! This is a large pack of 60 licorice-scented scratch and sniff stickers in three designs that will be a huge hit with kids of all ages!



Peanuts Halloween Mini Bulletin Board SetWhen you think of Halloween, do you think of Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang? We sure do! You can bring this classic Halloween tradition to your home or classroom with the Peanuts Halloween Mini Bulletin Board Set! Create that special Halloween feel to wherever you decorate with this fantastically fun set that includes 60 pieces and 2 banners!


We wish you lots more treats than tricks!
Happy Halloween!

Fall Crafting for Kids!

by Suzanne Kasper

What is it about fall that brings out the craftiness in people? Perhaps it’s the cooler weather that beckons us indoors to sit in front of a fire with a cup of hot apple cider and a lap filled with yarn. It might be the falling leaves, acorns, and pine cones, which are all free crafting materials provided by Mother Nature. Whatever the reason, fall is a fantastic time to get crafty!

Quick Knit LoomDo you have children that are interested in knitting? Even if they don’t have the dexterity to hold knitting needles, they can start knitting now with the Quick Knit Loom! This is much like the wooden knitting looms of the past, but this loom has hooked tips on the pegs to keep your yarn from slipping off. Perfect for kids ages 7 and up, the Quick Knit Loom Kit includes 90 yards of yarn, large circle loom, 2-sided hand loom, tassel maker, and decorative buttons.


Multi-Craft Weaving Loom

If knitting isn’t their thing, what about weaving? Children ages 6 and up will love weaving on this extra-large wooden loom! The Multi-Craft Weaving Loom Kit includes 91 yards of yarn in assorted colors, a wooden needle, and an adjustable wooden frame that measures 16.5″ wide x 22.75″ tall. Kids will be able to create cool crafts for themselves and for giving as gifts!
Hip to be Square Crochet Kit


Now that fall has officially arrived, you might notice a chill in the air. With few exceptions, that chill will be sticking around for the next 6 months or so. Now is the perfect time to for kids to learn how to crochet their own scarf, bag, and hat that they will adore all season long! The Hip to be Square Crochet Kit includes 300 yards of assorted colored yarn, a crochet hook, a plastic needle, one finished square, and easy to understand instructions. Children ages 7 and up will be delighted by the retro groovy chic pieces that they can make with this kit!


We wish you all a Happy Fall, and Happy Crafting!

Make Your Classroom Cozy!

by Suzanne Kasper

School is in full swing, and summer is turning to fall. With the changing of the seasons also comes the desire for a cozier feel for your classroom. A few simple touches will give your classroom a welcoming feel that will keep you and your students warm all season long!

Fall Leaf Clings


Bring a fall feel to your windows, laminated materials, or any other glossy surface with Fall Leaf Clings! These reusable, residue-free clings allow you to decorate your filing cabinet this year, your windows next year, and your whiteboard the year after that!


Pumpkin Patch Bulletin Board SetYour bulletin board can be the centerpiece of your classroom with the Pumpkin Patch Bulletin Board Set! The large scarecrow measures over 16 inches tall, and pumpkins, 18 leaves, and 2 crows surround him. There are a total of 32 pieces (not all are shown in the photo) that you can use to design your own fall masterpiece!


Leaves Color Me CutoutsSpeaking of designing your own masterpiece, kids will love doing just that with these Leaves Color Me Cut-Outs! Each 6-inch leaf is ready to be colored by you and your students to allow everyone to put their mark on the room. Use on desks, calendars, or anywhere you would like to add a fabulous fall feel!


We would like to wish you all a spectacular fall filled with colorful leaves, pumpkin patches, and cozy classrooms!


Create Your Own Custom Classroom Design!

by Suzanne Kasper

Now that it is officially August, it is time to think about getting your classroom into shape. Have you decided how you’re going to decorate your space this year? Will you go with a single theme, or mix and match for an eclectic look?

Teal Polka Dot Paper LanternsA fun new item this year to add a new dimension to your decor is the paper lantern. The Teal Polka Dot Paper Lanterns would be smashing with any of the Boho Birds or Dots on Turquoise themed classroom decorations. You could even mix the Teal Polka Dot lanterns with Colorful Owls, Teal Appeal, Cat in the Hat, and Calypso accents to make your classroom pop!

Lime Polka Dot Paper Lanterns


Create a calm corner with the Lime Polka Dot Paper Lanterns. They will beautifully fill your space, and would look super with a Frogtastic, Jingle Jungle, or Lemon Lime motif.


Black and White Paper LanternsWhen it comes to the Black and White Paper Lanterns, Peanuts and Mustache design elements would lend themselves nicely. Add additional black and white mixed with pops of color around your room with the Black and White line of decorations. This line contains various patterns and bright colors, so you don’t have to worry about your room becoming too duo-chromatic.

Whichever design you choose for your room, make the space your own by adding cozy elements along with colors that you love. Being surrounded by the colors, patterns, and decor that makes you happy is a great way to kick off the new school year!

Happy designing!


Audio Books the Family Will Love!

by Bonnie Pearson

We are looking at the calendar, and the date already reads July 25th! Where did the time go? Some of you may have taken a summer vacation, and some of you are perhaps still waiting to go. If you have children, and if your vacation involves car travel, you are in the right place!

Even if you aren’t traveling a great distance, time spent in the car with antsy children may tend to drag. Audio books are a great way to pass the time in a car! If your children are old enough, you can even suggest that they follow along with the book.


Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile Book and CD SetSome of our favorite audio books include “Curious George,” “Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel,” and “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile.”



Henry HugginsFor children who are old enough to read chapter books, we’d like to suggest two series written by Beverly Cleary. First is the “Henry Huggins” series including Henry and Ribsy. These books are read by Neil Patrick Harris.


Ramona & BeezusThe second series includes “Beezus and Ramona.” This series is read by Stockard Channing, and her voicing for Ramona is spot on! Your entire family will be laughing along.


We suggest bringing along a few extra titles, as once children start reading, they often won’t want to stop!

Happy trails and safe travels to you!


Back to School 2014!

by Suzanne Kasper

I saw it just the other day – the first “Back to School” commercial. I thought that it couldn’t be that time already, but then I realized that we are into July. For most of the country, August is the month to get back at it, and teachers need to be ahead of the game.

We want to save you a lot of stress, so we put together an inclusive list of Back to School essentials that you can use as a jumping off point. Cross off what you don’t need, add what you do. This list will spark your memory so you can pick up things as you’re out and about this summer.

For personal items and classroom supplies, Learning Shop has lots of what you’ll need. Park at the door or shop online (free shipping on orders over $69!) to make crossing things off your list a piece of cake! For classroom furnishings, check your local Craigslist, garage sales, flee markets, and resale shops to add cozy touches and make your classroom uniquely you.

Personal Items

Classroom Supplies

Classroom Furnishings

  • Baskets/Bins
  • telescopeBean Bag Chairs
  • Book Shelves
  • Bulletin Board Sets
  • Carpets/Circle Time Rugs
  • CD/MP3 Player
  • Chair for the Teacher
  • Clock
  • Cubbies
  • DVD Player
  • Extension Cords
  • File Cabinet (locking)
  • Maps
  • Pocket Charts
  • Telescope
  • Throw Pillows

Most importantly, keep enjoying summer! We’ve still got two months right?


The Opening Act? Fun!

by Suzanne Kasper

Here we are, smack dab in the middle of summer! There are so many events that you love to attend with your family, but the young children in your group might not find joy in gazing at the clouds while waiting for the outdoor concert or fireworks to begin. To stave off their boredom, why not pack a few travel-friendly diversions that will keep kids entertained before the main event?

Color Wonder Stow & Go StudioLet their creativity shine wherever they go with the Color Wonder Creativity On-The-Go Stow & Go Studio! This kit includes writing surfaces with stay-put clips, a 12-page Color Wonder Activity Book, 2 storage compartments, 4 Color Wonder Mini Markers, and a marker caddy. Perhaps kids could draw a nearby person or thing and then have you guess who or what they’ve drawn!


Find It Kids GameGreat for one or more players, you can have hours of mess-free fun with Find It Kids! Spin, shake, and twist the container to reveal the different hidden items inside. Then check off each item as you find it on the included tally pad. This brightly colored game is completely contained and perfect for both individuals and entire families!



Spot It JrA fun family game we love bringing with us while waiting for our favorite outdoor events to begin is Spot It Jr! The small tin packs easily into our cooler or backpack, and the entire family loves playing! The object of the game is to spot matching colorful animals on the Spot It Jr. cards with only 2 matching animals between any 2 cards! The high-quality, glossy card stock will stand up to countless games played both indoors and out! Inside the tin you’ll find 31 playing cards and illustrated rules. Fun for 2-6 players, ages 4+.

We have lots more travel games, card games, and brainteasers that are easy to pack, and fun for the entire family! Throw one of these little gems into your bag before heading out and surprise everyone with a fun new tradition!


Car Travel Activities for Kids

by Laurel Smith

Time flies when you’re having fun – The miles fly by too! You can make a long family car trip seem a lot shorter if you have fun with your kids along the way. Plan ahead with a few car activities, and making the journey can be as much fun as the destination. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Family Car TripMake a Trip-Journal or Scrapbook 
Give everyone a big spiral bound sketchpad and a box of crayons or markers. Each day of the trip or for each event along the way, draw a picture of what you did that day, or draw a map of where you went, and write about it. You can also paste in souvenirs.

Get a Good Songbook With All the Lyrics 
It surprising how many songs you think you know, but you don’t really know all the words. Have a singing marathon and learn the old classics by heart.

Give Your Kids an Allowance for the Day 
Tell them that this money is for snacks, treats, souvenirs etc. Help them learn to budget their money and make good choices.

Let Your Children Have a Map
 Give your kids their own copy of a map of where you are going. Show them how far you have come, how much further there is to go and let them mark it with a crayon. Every time someone asks “How much further?” let them see for themselves. You might also like to get a compass and show them how it works along with the map.

Have Bubble Gum Blowing Contests 
The weirder the gum the better. Get it at the rest areas and try all the different flavors.

The License Plate Game
 Print a U.S. map or list of states for the license plate game off the computer and color in the states as you see license plates from each one. See if you can get all 50 states between Memorial Day and Labor Day. You might even record the time and date and the state where you saw it. This can be a family project as you build your “collection” of license plates together.

Road Trip BingoPrintable Car Games 
Print some activities to bring along on your trip such as Car Bingo, License Plate game, tic-tac-toe, lines and dots, scavenger hunt and more. You can find lots of printable car games here.

Cats Cradle or String Loops
 You just need a piece of string for this one.  See if you can make  “Jacob’s Ladder”, “Kitty Whiskers”, or play “Cats Cradle!”

Magnetic Board Games 
Do your children know how to play classic board games like Chess, Backgammon, Checkers, or Chinese Checkers?  What better time to learn than in the car to pass the time! The magnetic car versions of these games are nice because they are small and compact, and have easy ways to store the pieces so they don’t get lost.

Counting Cows 
Count the cows you see on your side of the car. If you pass a cemetery on your side of the car, you lose all your cows. The one with the most cows wins.

Read Out Loud
 This passes the time quickly in the car for the reader and for the family members who are listening.

Road TripLEGO Contest
 Have a contest to see who can build the best item that relates to where you are going. Use a shoebox to store the LEGOs, or large zip lock bags.

Guess How Far Away That Is 
Pick an object and have everyone guess how far away it is, then clock  it on your odometer.

Play Favorites
 Have everyone think of different “favorite” questions for the group. What’s your favorite… movie, flavor of ice cream, song, game, toy, place to visit, restaurant, book, animal, fish, etc. Be creative and don’t forget to ask the driver too!

Aluminum Art
 Give everyone a sheet of aluminum foil. Have them mold it into anything they want: animal shapes, Frisbees, balls, jewelry, crowns, headband, necklaces and masks. Be creative. It’s inexpensive fun and easy to clean up. Toddlers love this one too.

Remember that it’s sometimes nice to sit in the back of the van with your kids while Dad is doing the driving and play some games right along side them. You might be surprised at how much fun you have too. Happy travels!


Author: Laurel Smith is a former schoolteacher and mother of three who has logged thousands of road trip miles both as a kid and a mom. Visit her website for more than 101 travel games and activities for kids at and moms might also enjoy her other websites for free baby stuff and free makeup samples!

Find It Kids Game


Editor’s Note: Learning Shop offers tons of great travel games and activities.  Visit your local Learning Shop or shop online at,90.html.


Little House on the Prairie

by Bonnie Pearson

nos·tal·gia  noun  \nä-ˈstal-jə, nə- also nȯ-, nō-; nə-ˈstäl-\ pleasure and sadness that is caused by something from the past and wishing that you could experience it again.

Like me, I am sure there are many things that make you feel nostalgic – viewing old photographs, making cookies that your grandma used to make, or hearing a favorite old song.

Dance at Grandpa'sThe Book(s): Today’s book features are books that make me feel nostalgic. Welcome to Little House on the Prairie! Many of us grew up reading the yellow covered books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Years later, a series of picture books were published. The picture books focus on a specific event in the lives of the Ingalls family ( such as, “Dance at Grandpa’s”). These picture books are beautifully illustrated.


The Adventures of Laura & JackThe follow-up to these picture books is the series of chapter books. These books are adaptations of the novels, making them perfect for beginning readers. The chapter books pull stories from a number of books following a general theme. For example, one of the books is called, “Adventures of Laura & Jack.” This book contains stories about Laura and their dog, Jack.


Little House Paper DollsThe Story Stretcher: The paper dolls that accompany the books. Paper dolls are definitely something from the past. Your child will enjoy re-enacting the stories you read in the books.

Take time to introduce your child to this time in history. They may very well enjoy it just as much as you did when you were their age!