☀ Happy Summer Reading! ☀

Summer has officially begun which means it is time to sit back, relax, and read. My eleven year old asked me to make no plans for the first week so she could just read for long, uninterrupted, chunks of time. Yes, she is living the life.

The perfect craft to pair with summer reading is bookmark making. These are super simple and look way better than a receipt. All you need is some watercolor paper, scissors, watercolors, paint brush, water in a container, permanent marker and for the optional tassel, a hole puncher and embroidery floss.

  1. Cut paper to size.
  2. Write your name, favorite quote, of silly doodle in permanent marker.
  3. Paint over everything, even the permanent marker, with watercolors making sure to rinse your brush between colors.
  4. Done! For the optional tassel I followed this tutorial https://craftsselection.com/how-to-make-an-embroidery-thread-tassel/

These were made by 5. She chose not to write with marker.

What We Are Reading

9 and I are both engrossed in the KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES series by Shannon Messenger. There is action, magic, friendship, and betrayal spread over this 8.5 book series. We are both on Book 5, Lodestar, and it is a race to stay ahead of her so she doesn’t giveaway spoilers.

11 is reading through the PERCY JACKSON series by Rick Riordan so fast that I’m glad she was gifted the box set for her birthday. I love hearing her talk about all of the Greek mythology she has picked up from this series. She loves squealing over who is crushing on who.

5 loves to be read to so when we check out books from the library, we check out A LOT of books. I know a book is special when it comes time to return and she asks to renew instead. WATERCRESS by Andrea Yang and Jason Chin is that kind of special.


Not a Bag

It has been a bit since my last blog post. At the beginning of the pandemic I went full force crafting with the kids, but after a few months I was burned out and so were they. We took a break from construction paper and glue, but we never took a break from reading. Reading brought us places while we stayed safe at home. It gave us laughter and comfort and always something to do.

Lucky for us, our library kept us afloat in books. Our holds pickup was routinely the extra-large shopping bag on the table. When the library offered pajama story time from the comfort of your own couch, the youngest was introduced to NOT A BOX by Antoinette Portis, and some crafting returned to our home.

NOT A BOX celebrates imagination and all of the things you can create with, well, a box! It is simple and delightful. The companion, NOT A STICK, is just as wonderful. With an excess of paper bags from grocery pick-up, the youngest and I were inspired to create Not a Bag bags.


  • crayons/markers
  • scissors
  • glue/tape
  • Anything else you have around the house

We grabbed some paper bags and supplies, then got to work creating. What you see below is NOT a bag. It was some crafting fun.


Have you seen #2020PBVision Twittering about? Well, much like 2020, this giveaway plane is being built while flying. When the idea strikes, you have to run with it right? And with the help of my amazing critique group, we are building an airbus.

Even though 2020 has been a bit tough, now it’s time to have some fun to close out our year! 

We’re inviting you to look at 2020 with a picture book lens and examine things like plot, character, and voice. If you were to write a 2020 manuscript, what would your story look like?

So how does #2020PBVision work? 

Every day there will be one or two questions posted on Twitter by me, @MonicaAcker1, featuring my critique partners and their giveaway. Comment on the post using the #2020PBVision hashtag, retweet, and follow the featured writer to be eligible for that giveaway. At the end will be the grand prize- a group critique from all of us! Miss a post? No worries. Winners will be drawn at random from eligible entries on 1/3/2021 so you will have time to catch up.

Ready to celebrate the end of 2020? Ready to usher in 2021 with a happy flourish? Join the #2020PBVision buzz on Twitter!

Twitter links:

Ashley Wheelock giveaway – https://twitter.com/MonicaAcker1/status/1343225741677375488?s=20

Michele Ziemke giveaway – https://twitter.com/MonicaAcker1/status/1343337452354891778?s=20

Dea Brayden & Lindsay Ellis giveaway – https://twitter.com/MonicaAcker1/status/1343558286017245187?s=20

Heather Bell giveaway – https://twitter.com/MonicaAcker1/status/1343688995113463808?s=20

S. K. Wenger giveaway – https://twitter.com/MonicaAcker1/status/1343958974094311424?s=20

Monica Acker giveaway – https://twitter.com/MonicaAcker1/status/1344043716382777347?s=20

Laurie Carmody giveaway – https://twitter.com/MonicaAcker1/status/1344284402256379904?s=20

Lori Menning giveaway – https://twitter.com/MonicaAcker1/status/1344412962153521152?s=20

Full Group giveaway – https://twitter.com/MonicaAcker1/status/1344704845647790082?s=20

Halloweensie 2020

It is contest time again. Today is Halloween and also the DEADline for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Halloweensie contest. For a complete look at the rules visit her blog https://susannahill.com/2020/10/29/the-10th-annual-halloweensie-writing-contest-aahhhrrrooooooooo/

The Cliff notes is that the story must be:

  • about Halloween
  • for kids
  • 100 words or less
  • include the words skeleton, mask, and creep

My story is particularly scary because it came out in rhyme. I don’t write in rhyme but here it goes.

Monsters’ Ball (63 words)

Monsters gather, 
beasts convene
once a year
on Halloween. 

I sneak inside
through the door.
Monsters glide
across the floor. 

Witches tango. 
Franken twirls. 
A black cat’s tail
swats and swirls.

Skeletons jig. 
Mummies jive. 
Vampires waltz.
Winged bats dive. 

Ghosties float. 
Zombies leap. 
Giant spiders 
crawl and creep. 

I cut a rug.
I dip and sway.
My mask slips - 

Catching Thoughts

CATCHING THOUGHTS by Bonnie Clark and Summer Macon

CATCHING THOUGHTS, by Bonnie Clark and Summer Macon, is for everyone who has ever had that negative thought they can’t shake. The simple text and child-friendly illustrations help the reader take control of their thoughts by suggesting a shift in focus from the negative thought to the things that bring us joy. This method has helped my youngest get to sleep after a scary thought grabbed her before bed. It helped my older girls find the good in their very different summer. And it helped me feel less weighed down by life in 2020. We are making it a practice to find the joy, catch it, and hold on.

To win a copy of CATCHING THOUGHTS for your home or classroom comment below with your thoughts of joy and be sure to check out the craft below, inspired by this wonderful book.

Today’s craft is perfect for a bulletin board, at school or home, to give children a visual to go along with the thoughts of JOY or CALM or EXCITEMENT we are encouraging them to grab a hold of.

What you need:

  • Construction Paper
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • String
  • Pen, pencil, marker, or crayon
  • A printed photo of the child reaching up

From colored construction paper, have the child cut a few balloon shapes. On each balloon ask the child to write or draw something that brings them feelings of joy, or calm, or excitement. We flipped through the pages of CATCHING THOUGHTS to remind ourselves of all of the different positive feelings we could choose from. Then, have the child pose for a picture reaching up and print on photo paper or card stock. If you are unable to print a photo, the child can draw a picture of themselves reaching up. I cut each photo so no background was visible, attached our balloons of joy to the picture with string and tape, and hung up on our wall a visual reminder of the thoughts we are holding onto.

Happy Pig Day!

The Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems is one of my favorites and always a crowd-pleaser in my house. I mean, I always do the voices. In HAPPY PIG DAY! Piggie is excited to celebrate Pig Day, but Gerald is sad because, as an elephant, he feels unable to celebrate with his best friend. Piggie teaches Gerald that Pig Day is not only for pigs, but for anyone who loves pigs too, and the party ensues.

Usually, I read a picture book and it inspires a project or activity, but the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. After reading HAPPY PIG DAY! my four year-old daughter was set on throwing a party. And right now, who doesn’t need a party? So we prepped and I snuck in some important preschool lessons like writing invitations and using scissors to cut confetti. She snipped all day long. Yay, fine motor practice! Last, but not least, we made a tasty, party treat. Check out this super easy no-churn ice cream recipe https://www.spendwithpennies.com/3-ingredient-vanilla-ice-cream-no-churn/ (We added cocoa powder and marshmallows, yum!). So grab your scissors and something yummy and celebrate.

Taste Your Words

TASTE YOUR WORDS by Bonnie Clark and Todd Bright is a fast favorite in my house. The brilliant illustrations help tell the story of Amera and her words. After saying unkind words, Amera’s taste buds are flooded with yuck. When she realizes what is going on, Amera knows just how to fill her mouth with yummy tastes instead.

My four-year-old cannot get enough of this book. She loves the pictures, “reads” along, and tells her fighting sisters to “taste your words” (the big kids love the book as well). This book is a delightful read packed with a powerful message.

Since we are in crisis school, I set out to create a project inspired by TASTE YOUR WORDS that uses materials easily sourced in the house.

What you need:

  • scissors
  • glue
  • paper
  • marker
  • grocery store circular

Building fine motor skills, I had my daughter cut out pictures food from the grocery store circular. Then we sorted the food into things she thinks are yummy and those she thinks are yucky. She glued them down on the paper. After that we talked about yummy things to say and yucky things to say and put them in the corresponding column. Voila! She made a TASTE YOUR WORDS collage.

Spring Fling Kidlit Contest

The Spring Fling Kidlit Contest is all about being inspired. The task, created be Kaitlyn Sanchez and Ciara O’Neal, is to write a story in 150 words or less inspired by a spring GIF. I found my GIF on giphy.com, but saw it first in a Twitter post. Inspiration can come from anywhere. What inspires you this spring?

Scent-sational Spring (150 words)

I pick wildflowers for Mama while Daddy coaches Joey’s game. She will love their sweet scent better than Joey’s stinky shin guards. A scent-sational Mother’s Day surprise!

Sideline flowers are sparse, only weeds and dandelion puffs. Tiny umbrellas flutter away on the breeze. But nothing worthy of Mama’s bouquet. When Joey and his team suck on orange slices after the game, I edge closer to the woods.


I spy –  

sunshiny yellow flowers, like Mama’s golden hair

and –

teeny blossoms as blue as Joey’s jersey and Mama’s eyes

and –

sweet smelling purple flowers playing peek-a-boo around a tree.



I smell summer, and smiles, and the perfume Mama dabs behind her ears.

“Stella!” Dad yells.

I wave my bouquet in the air and run to Dad and Joey, but stumble over something furry and black in the blanket of flowers.

Poor thing must be lost.

“OK, Kitty?”



Go Girls Go!

With its bouncy rhyme and repetition, GO, GIRLS, GO! by Frances Gilbert and Allison Black (https://bookshop.org/books/go-girls-go/9781534424821), has quickly become one of my four-year-old’s favorite read alouds. She is so excited to be able to “read” the pages of GO, GIRLS, GO! and delights in seeing girls driving the many vehicles on each page.

What better activity to pair with GO, GIRLS, GO! then car driving art. The results are abstract and could totally be frame worthy.

What you need:

  • washable paint
  • roll of paper to cover table
  • toy cars
  • tub of soap and water

Make puddles of paint on your table covering and then go! Drive cars through the paint. You will make tracks, blend colors, and make the best kind of mess – the fun kind!

When your cars have completed their mess-making drive it is time for a car wash of course. We put our plastic tub of soap and water on a beach towel in the kitchen. Go ahead and get those cars sparkling clean. GO, GIRLS, GO!

The World Famous Valentiny Contest ❤

Susanna Hill is at it again, hosting the 5th annual Valentiny Contest. In 214 words or less, participants are asked to create a story for children in which someone feels curious. For more info on the contest, or any of the other amazing things Susanna Hill has to offer, visit: https://susannahill.com/2020/02/12/whats-in-your-heart-the-5th-annual-valentiny-writing-contest/

Stolen Heart (165 words)

“Momma, why do you love Daddy?” I ask. 
“Daddy stole my heart,” Momma says. 

I run to the window but…
with a wink and a wave, Daddy drives away.

Oh no! Daddy took Momma’s heart!

Why did Daddy steal Momma’s heart?
Does her ticker need tinkering?
Does the beat skip and jump?

Maybe I can build her a new one with my bumpy blocks.
I can’t give her a broken heart. 

Maybe I can give her the heart on my sleeve.
But this shirt is too small. 

Maybe I can cut one from rough red paper like my teacher did at school.
Ugh! These paper hearts look halfhearted.

My heart sinks. What will Momma do without her heart?

Then keys jiggle in the door.
Daddy’s back!
With flowers for Momma, and a necklace with…
a heart of gold!

Daddy gives me a heart too...
and it’s full of chocolates.

“For you kiddo,” Daddy says, “my little sweetheart.”