Alphabet Letterpress Cookies... YUM!

Well, I finally did it! For the first time in my life, I made cookies from SCRATCH! ... And they were AWESOME! Thanks to the holiday break, I turned into a mama with too much time on my hands and a need to express my creative, crafty, homemaking side! I attempted to use an old recipe that my mom had passed onto me years ago, but as I was mixing the ingredients, it never really formed into dough, so I tweaked it a little and unbelievably, the cookies came out perfectly and so super tasty! After a few (dozen or so) test bites, I had enough to ice, sprinkle and decorate with candy during naptime and after, with the twins and my handmade sweets tow, we made Christmas deliveries the hospital, printshop and lucky neighbors!
Now that all of the cookies have been eaten, I haven't been able to stop thinking about making more. But because they are so time consuming, energy draining and tough to clean up after, I have resisted the urge to whip out my rolling pin once again. That was until today, when I found these Ah-mazing letterpress cookie cutters on Paper Source! Some genius found a way to combine my love of typography and baking, and now the possibilities of incorporating these cookies into fun learning games with my boys are flooding my mind!

I know Christmas is over and Santa is long gone, but I think I'm just going to have to treat myself to this gift! And at only $18.95 for 26 letters, an ampersand and an exclamation point, I know I'll never find such an amazing deal! So if you guys are in the cookie baking mood, you're going to LOVE this Fabulous Friday Freebie! Below is my mother's handed-down butter cookie recipe, tweaked by yours truly! And if you happen to use the letterpress cookie cutters, please post pics to share and possible learning games to use with these alphabet cookies!
Heather's Butter Cookies
(makes about 2 dozen cookies)

Place all ingredients in mixing bowl and mix until a putty like consistency is formed.

1.5 cups sifted cake flour
2 sticks melted unsalted butter
.75 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 egg yolk
.5 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

When a putty like dough consistency is realized, remove from mixer. Cut the dough into four equal pieces and roll each into a ball. Cover your workspace and rolling pin with an even heavy coat of flour and one at a time, roll each ball of dough out with a rolling pin until a flat even surface is formed into the shape of an oval with about a quarter of an inch thickness in height. Use your cookie cutter to cut out shapes of dough and place carefully on your baking sheet, about half of an inch apart. Place baking sheet into an oven at 350 degrees for 8 minutes or until edges of cookies begin to brown. Cool thoroughly, remove from pan, and start decorating!


White Elephant Inspiration

Every Christmas Eve, my mom and godmother host a family get-together/party with yummy enchiladas, tamales, queso, pico de gallo and other mexican goodies. And ever since my grandmother developed alzheimer's, I've hosted the Christmas Day dinner with the traditional favorites from Thanksgiving (i.e. macaroni, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing, etc.) But last year I decided to make it a little less formal and lot more fun by giving my party a "White Elephant" theme. It was SO. MUCH. FUN! The best gift of the night was definitely the inflatable big booty implant for jeans stuffing! No one wanted to end up with that one, but in the end, my sister's fiance was left with it and to everyone's surprise, he found the real gift, a $50 gift card, stashed inbetween the butt cheeks!

For many of my family and friends, this was the first time they had played the win/lose game of gift giving and since then, have been plotting and shopping for the tackiest, funniest gift to bring to the party this Christmas! So, as I was getting prepared to design the invitation for this year's party, I looked to Etsy for some elephant inspiration and completely fell in love with all of these goodies! I hope you love them too, I think they'd all make great gifts this year! Stay tuned tomorrow for a long overdue Fabulous Friday Freebie!


Contest Winner and Happy Thanksgiving!

Yay! Congratulations to Kayla! She is the winner of one custom silhouette calendar from last week's contest giveaway! *Doing a little happy dance for you!*

A big thank you to everyone who shared their unforgettable moments and wishing you all a very happy Thanksgiving! Be on the lookout for our next giveaway! It is sure to be the best yet!


Updates, a Celebration and a super duper Giveaway!

Wow! It has been incredibly crazy around here lately, as I'm sure you've gathered from my lack of postings! In the aftermath of my hectic Heartsy feature, we celebrated the boys' 2nd birthday, a trip to the Texas State Fair, Halloween, and the passing of my beloved Grandmother. Here are a few pics I am super late in sharing, but so sweet nonetheless! (Logan is Elmo, Jack is Cookie Monster, and I'm supposed to be Big Bird!)

We also had a chance to fit in a photo shoot with my absolute fave photographer, Kayla Barker of Spink Studio. These turned out so fantastic, especially considering I was busy chasing down two toddlers in red high heels along a rocky walking path! Here are some of my favorite shots from that day!

Those are going to make for an awesome Christmas card this year! Kayla is the best and a miracle worker with her camera! If you are in the West Texas area, definitely sign up for a session with her! She is ah-mazing!

But, honestly, the real reason I interrupted my crazy busy week to post this loooong overdue blogging, is to celebrate Pop Heart Press's 100th sale! Eeek! I am so giddy with pride, I've been doing my happy dance and smiling from ear to ear this entire week! And to celebrate, I am giving away a brand-spanking new item in my shop, the 2012 Custom Family Silhouettes Calendar! One lucky winner will receive this set of 12 colorful calendar sheets, padded together for a clean and quick tear off at the end of each month, finished with a heavy duty magnetic back, perfect for displaying on your fridge or desk! This super duper lucky Pop Heart reader will get to choose 12 silhouettes and ink colors to add spunky, whimsical personality to their custom calendar!

Here's how to WIN:
Leave a comment with one unforgettable, incredible moment in your life from this past year. It's as simple as that! On the day before Thanksgiving, I will randomly choose one winner to receive the custom silhouette calendar!

*** Earn one extra entry by including a link to this contest on your blog or Facebook page! Just be sure to link back here so I know who to give credit to!

I just want to thank you guys so much for your support, encouragement and loving words this year! It has meant more to me than you'll ever know!


Makes Me Think

One of my favorite friends from high school/college posted a link on Facebook tonight. In the infinite midst of oversaturated self-absorbed status updates, I'm not sure what made me click on this. I'm usually a scan and scram Facebook friend stalker, but something about this intrigued me. The link carried me over to a blog article titled, "101 Short Stories That Will Leave You Smiling, Crying and Thinking".

At first, the idea of reading 101 short stories seemed way too daunting a task for a worn-out, burned-out mom of 2 year old twin boys just trying to kill time and zone out before my husband turns off the lights and crawls into bed with me. I told myself that I would only read the first 10, but after reading a few short sentences, I just couldn't stop! By story 4, I had the full-on ugly cry and a confused husband walking in and wondering what just happened to his wife!

Makes Me Think is the originator of this awesome article. As stated on the MMT About page, sometimes the most random everyday encounters force us to stop and rethink the truths and perceptions we have ingrained in our minds. These encounters are educationally priceless. They spawn moments of deep thought and self-reflection that challenge the status quo and help us evolve as sensible individuals. Every day, users share their thought-provoking life stories and vote on stories that other users have shared. Some are happy, some are sad, and others twist your emotions, pulling them in several directions at once.

Here are my ten favorite stories that definitely "Made Me Think" (MMT). Please click on any of the links to read the entire article and share your favorite or one of your own stories that you'd like to add!

Today, after I watched my dog get run over by a car, I sat on the side of the road holding him and crying.  And just before he died, he licked the tears off my face.  MMT

Today, I was working in a coffee shop when 2 gay men walked in holding hands.  As you might expect, heads started turning.  Then a young girl at the table next to me asked her mom why 2 men were holding hands.  Her mom replied, “Because they love each other.”  MMT

Today, my richest friend growing up filed for bankruptcy and one of my poorest friends growing up purchased his second vacation home.  MMT

Today, I was all dressed up and waiting on my blind date to arrive.  He never showed up.  It made me feel ugly.  I thought he may have seen me from a distance and bailed.  Then as I left the restaurant alone, I heard a little girl ask her mom if I was a princess.  It made me smile and it MMT.'

Today in downtown San Diego, I watched a blue collar Mexican man get harassed for being Mexican.  It was a blatant act of discrimination.  And the man actually began crying.  As he left the office building, he took off his jacket. His t-shirt underneath read, “I love the USA!”  MMT

Today, I kissed my dad on the forehead as he passed away in a small hospital bed.  About 5 seconds after he passed, I realized it was the first time I had given him a kiss since I was a little boy.  MMT

Today, I interviewed a woman who is terminally ill.  “So,” I tried to delicately ask, “What is it like to wake up every morning and know that you are dying?”  “Well,” she responded, “What is it like to wake up every morning and pretend that you are not?”  MMT

Today, when I told my 8 year old son that all of our dreams are within reach as long as we follow our heart and take action, he asked me if it was always my dream to be a waitress.  MMT

Today, I asked my mentor – a very successful business man in his 70’s – what his top 3 tips are for success.  He smiled and said, “Read something no one else is reading, think something no one else is thinking, and do something no one else is doing.”  MMT

Today, I asked my 6 year old son what he wants to be when he grows up.  He said, “Mommy, all I want to be is happy.”  MMT


Dark Clouds

When I was a little girl, my dad and I joined a wonderful organization called "Indian Princesses". It was a group similar to Girl Scouts (sans the cookie sales, uniforms, badges, and award ceremonies). Actually, it wasn't at all like Girl Scouts, BUT we did go on father/daughter camping trips at least once a month! I have wonderful memories of horseback riding, hiking, swimming in the lake, building forts, and telling ghost stories while we roasted marshmallows by the fire.

One of my favorite and most vivid memories is of the first trip we took together when I was asked to choose my Indian Princess name. At the time, Disney's "Peter Pan" was a big hit so there were about 5 "Tiger Lily"s in each tribe. Other girls chose names like "Sunshine Bear" or "Pocahontas". I was about 4 years old at the time and needed a little guidance, so my dad told me to name myself after the most beautiful thing found in nature. As I looked around, my eyes were drawn upwards to heaven where rain clouds started to fill the purple sky, each magnificently highlighted by a silver lining. And I knew then that I had seen one of God's most beautiful creations, and subsequently named myself "Dark Cloud".

Tonight, as I sit nestled in my quilt, staring out the window at a sky lit with life of lightening, I am so grateful for God's blessing of rain in this humbling drought! And again, I am amazed at the beauty of a dark cloud!

1. Erin Spencer | 2. Spiro Creations | 3. Kosmika | 4. Letterpress | 5. Pop Heart Press 
6. Cactus Huggers | 7. Asilomar Works | 8. Claudia Varosio | 9. Funny Face Art


A State Fair Birthday Party and A Fabulous Friday Freebie!

Happy Friday everyone! Wow! You have no idea how happy I am that it's Finally Friday! Here's what's playing in my head right now!

LOVE that song! I have been as sick as a dog for a week straight with a stomach bug and am finally starting to feel like myself again! Just in time too, because the boys will be turning TWO next Saturday and I am way behind on planning their party! I'm super disappointed because last year I went ALL out! I made their invitations, birthday banner, cupcake toppers, birthday hats, sewed a tablecloth and baked and decorated their cakes and cupcakes. Here are some pics from their first birthday party. It was a county fair theme at our church's annual family fair!

This year, I just haven't been able to get out of bed, so (I can't believe I'm about to admit this) I actually sent out store bought invitations! Ooh! That hurt! The boys' invitations were so cute last year! I was half tempted to just reuse them with new wording! But what's done is done. (*Hanging my head in shame!)

Here is a pic of their invitation from last year, front and back.
So, for today's Fabulous Friday Freebie, I have decided to do something extra fabulous! If you love this invitation as much as I do, click on the link at the very bottom to download your FREE blank invitation, ready for you to place and type in your personal party information. It will look like this:

But for my very favorite fabulous readers/party planners (that's you!), I am offering something extra special! If you're not quite savvy on how to type in your party info on the blank invitation, send me your party details (name, date, place, how old, rsvp data, etc.) to my email, popheartpress@yahoo.com, and I will design and email a pdf version of your invite for FREE! You can get it printed at your local printshop, or just let me know if you need help with that too, and I'll set up a custom listing for you in the shop for printing costs! Enjoy you guys! And wish me luck on planning the final details of their second birthday party! They grow up so fast!


FINALLY! A Fabulous Friday Freebie!

Whew! This week has been crazy! In an attempt to get more done around the house, work from the printshop a little more consistently, and try to catch some free-time and a breather for myself every now and then, I signed the boys up for 2 different mothers-day-out programs! I thought this would be awesome! Mondays and Wednesdays at a neighboring church and Tuesdays and Thursdays at our home church. Wowza! What was I thinking?! Two different programs means two different sets of school supplies, two different schedules, two different sets of friends/potential birthday party invitees, and TOO much for mama to remember! I know it's only a matter of time before I forget where I dropped them off and show up to the wrong church to pick them up!

But on the bright side, I did find a little me time to do one of my favorite things this week, bloghopping! In my aimless wander I came across an awesome site called, "Homemade By Jill". Written by a mommy, crafter and sewer, this blog is jam-packed with amazing tutorials and printables, one of which was too good not to share! So for today's Fabulous Friday Freebie, hop on over to Jill's blog for these supercute alphabet flash cards, perfect for nursery decorations and as a playtime teaching tool! Enjoy and have a fantastic weekend everyone!


Raise A Child That Loves To Read!

I just recently became new friends with Dan Gilbert, an advocate for balanced learning and communications coordinator for Primrose Schools. I absolutely love his insightful tips, tricks and tools for teaching children in and out of the home and classroom! So when he offered to guest post today, I jumped at the chance! I hope you enjoy his article and please check out more about balanced learning at www.primroseschools.com!

Raise a Child That Loves to Read
by Dan Gilbert

Parents often wonder when they should begin reading to their children. No longer is reading associated with school-aged children, but children of all ages. Research shows that introducing books at an early age is one of the fundamental building blocks to a child’s literacy and success in school. In fact, the more books your little one has in her bookcase, the better for his or her academic future. It’s never too early to start reading to your child, even if he or she is still in the womb. Being read to allow a young child to hear the basic sounds of the English language and begin making these connections early on.

If you want to raise an active reader, the process must start at home. Robert Needlman, M.D., author of 
Dr. Spock’s Baby Basics and member of the Education Advisory Board for Primrose Schools; the Leader in Education Child Care, suggests that one of the most important things about nurturing a reader is to read with a child from a very early age.  You can start reading to your child at any age, although you will notice your infant taking more of an interest around six months. Start by introducing basic picture books to your child and point to different objects. You don’t have to read what the books say; instead, make the story interesting by personalizing it with your child’s name or other significant people in her life.

Most importantly, don’t think that there is a special set of rules you have to follow. The goal is to sit down and create a bonding experience with your child that is enjoyable for the two of you. You may want to pick the same time each day, just be sure that the story time is relaxing and not rushed through. This will show your child that reading is something to be enjoyed.

Choosing the right books is also important, so look for titles that are interesting and age-appropriate for your child. Generally speaking, the best books will have bright illustrations and simple language. It’s usually these basic books that are the favorites of young children. It’s also a good idea to choose books that you’ll enjoy as well. Kids love repetition, and this is how they learn to speak themselves, so you can expect to read the story multiple times. The more the story comes to life for you, the more animated and fun you can make it. Of course, the curiosity your child will exhibit will be enough to make you fall in love with reading all over again.

Try these simple tips that will help you create a rewarding, nurturing environment for your budding reader.

- Surround your child with a wide range of books. Keep several books in the bedroom and playroom so your child has access. Also encourage different types of books such as those on colors, letters, the weather or sharing.

- Read with your child from the time her or she an infant. Let them touch the pictures, repeat sounds and participate in the story.

- Place books in areas where your child may be waiting such as in the car or at the kitchen table.

- Connect with your child’s teacher by asking for a list of books the students are reading, or ones that relate to what the children are learning about. This is a wonderful opportunity to read with your child at night, while reflecting on the day’s experiences.

- You may notice older children wanting to read aloud and re-telling the story in their own words. This is a milestone in literacy development and shows that the child is making the right connections. Instead of being the reader, listen to your child and show the same interest that he or she’s given you in the past years. 

It's no surprise that infants have a natural curiosity for language development. Foster this interest by singing, talking and reading with your child today.


A Whirlwind Week!

Wow! The past two weeks have been a complete whirlwind! My head has finally stopped spinning and I can finally share my excitement! It all began at the end of August. Kit, the boys and I headed to Vegas for one final summer vacation to visit the in-laws! We had a fabulous time and I actually ended up winning a poker tournament on the last day of our stay! Woo hoo! Which is fantastic because, up until that point, not only had I lost all of my gambling money, but had begun begging for and subsequently losing money borrowed from my husband and dad! So I ended up winning just enough to pay back my debts and break even, which, in my book, is leaving a BIG winner! Here's a cute video we took in the backyard of Nana's House!

As soon as we returned, I was featured on a site called, "Heartsy" - a website similar to Groupon which offers amazing discounts and deals on handmade items from sellers on Etsy and Artfire. My deal ran from August 28-31 and offered $30 store credit for only $15! And $40 for VIP members! Needless to say, the deal was too good to be true, too good to pass up, and left me WAY too busy and exhausted to blog! I posted a link to the sale via my facebook fan page, so hopefully you all received the heads up! But if you haven't signed up yet, please become a Facebook fan today so you'll receive news about our next giveaway/sale/contest!

Orders are still trickling in, but I've finally completed and shipped out everything that was ordered this week! Whew! Now it's the holiday weekend, and though I desperately need rest, I have one more HUGE adventure awaiting me Tuesday! I have been so excited, nervous, anxious, thrilled, etc. about this announcement! There have been times that I thought I might burst if I don't share it with you! But now I finally can! Drumroll please....

My art will be framed, featured and up for sale in a new furniture boutique opening on Tuesday, September 6! Ahh! There just aren't enough words to express how elated I am! Not only have I found my passion and purpose, a way to work from home and still spend quality learning and loving time with Jack and Logan, and share my love of teaching and interior design with friends, family and fans in a creative, expressive way, I finally found peace in knowing who I am and how to best share my talents and ideas!

Please go check out the store when it opens Tuesday! It is called "ReFind Furnishings" and is located at 3211 W. Wadley, Ste. 16B here in Midland, Texas, right behind Murray's Deli, next door to JoAnn's Fine Gifts. Doors will open at 10 am. If you're anything like me, and absolutely love shopping for quality, beautiful furniture, art and accessories at an affordable price to dress your house, I just know you are going to love it! To find out more, check them out on their Facebook page and become a fan!


It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

This is my favorite time of year - the beginning of fall, tax free weekend, back to school shopping, and the excitement of meeting the new teacher and learning which friends will be sharing your classroom! Yesterday I posted pics of my sister's third grade room. Seeing everything all set up and hearing stories about how elated her new students and parents were to be greeted with such an inspiring room and teacher, I felt a little pang in my heart! It is quite bittersweet not to be decorating my own classroom this year! Especially, when lounging in her fabulous reading nook, my mind was flooded with memories of my past classrooms and ideas that I never had the chance to see through. I had always envisioned having an absurdly extensive book collection for my students to read from during free time and intriguing books to check out and take home to read at their leisure. I loved the idea of having personalized library cards posted on the inside of each book jacket, filled with names of former students who had shared the same adventures and fallen in love with the same characters. In the middle of my daydream, I realized that even though I'm unable to see my ideas carried out in my own classroom, I could still create and share for you guys and your little kiddos! So for today's Fabulous Friday Freebie, I present my personalized library cards! Just print them out on 8.5" x 11" heavyweight cardstock, sign your name at the top of each card, cut on the dotted lines, and attach with double sided sticky tape to the inside book jacket! I hope you guys love them!

I have really enjoyed seeing all of your classrooms, playrooms and homeschool setups! You guys are so inspiring! I wanted to jump in on the fun and share pics of my first grade classroom from my very first year of teaching! Enjoy and have a fabulous weekend!

Meet the Teacher!

Tomorrow is "Meet the Teacher" night for my sister. She has been scrambling around like a madwoman for weeks now getting everything prepared for her kiddos to start school next Monday. Her efforts have really paid off! I absolutely love her superstars at the movie theme! Completed with popcorn buckets holding their supplies, movie ticket stub name plates, and (my favorite) a drive-in movie life sized mural in her reading nook, her classroom is an awesome, inspiring space that any student would be excited to learn in and parents proud to send their kids to!

As a special back-to-school gift, I made her business card magnets to pass out tomorrow night when she meets her new students and parents. I thought it would make a fantastic impression and would be a great way for parents to keep her info close-by all year long!

If you know a special teacher that would love to hand out these amazing magnets to their students this year, go to the Pop Heart Press shop to find out how you can customize this awesome teacher's tool to fit any classroom theme!

I also wanted to send out a congratulations to Grace, winner of the postcard giveaway hosted by Primary Graffiti, and a special thank you to Cheryl, superblogger/teacher extraordinaire! I also sent out a coupon code just for the contest participants in the comments section! Check it out now to find what you won!


Fabulous Friday Freebie!

Hey guys! What an amazing, crazy week we've had! Our entire house is covered in dust and debris because... (drum roll please) we just got new windows put in! Ack! We are super excited! You may or may not know that three years ago, Kit and I bought the house that I grew up in from my parents. The first year we worked our little bottoms off tearing down wallpaper, painting, and replacing electrical outlets! Then, I found out I was pregnant... with twins! For the next nine months, the only projects we were able to pull off were putting the nursery and playroom together. Since then, we've repainted the exterior of the house and, just yesterday, finally replaced our awful, dirty, cloudy, mucky, yucky aluminum windows with brand spanking new energy efficient windows! I am in LOVE! Here is a pic of the house the day that we bought it.

And here is a pic of our freshly painted house with new windows! (Please disregard the dying grass! We are currently in one of the longest droughts ever!)

If you are interested in getting new windows and want to learn more, just send me a note! I'll hook you up with this fabulous company so you can learn more about saving on energy costs and, of course, making your house pretty! Bonus: this company also sends all of it's proceeds from recycling your old windows to St. Jude's! Awesome! Even if you're on the fence and/or commitment phobic, just give them a call and for listening to their info, you receive $100 FREE! It doesn't get much better than that!

For now, I'm off to Jason's Deli for dinner with my sister, Jack, and Logan and then the post office to send one lucky someone a custom designed teacher notepad for their birthday. Shh! It's a surprise! But I didn't want to leave you guys out! You can find today's Fabulous Friday Freebie at the Primary Graffiti blog. One lucky reader will win 4 custom designed postcards! Check it out! Contest ends Wednesday and it's super easy to enter your name! Good luck and have a fabulous weekend!


Top Ten Back to School Books

Well, the day has finally come. Today, I will meet the boys' first daycare teacher. I'm nervous and anxious. Will my boys make friends easily? What if I'm not there when they cry? Will the teacher watch them as carefully as I do? Maybe you have kiddos facing their own fears about the first day of school. This is probably the teacher side of me popping out, but I think reading a good book about what we may encounter can be very reassuring. So, I have compiled my top ten list of first day of school books. Try reading these with your kiddos (or by yourself if you're the one fearful of the first day, like me) the nights leading up to the big day. After their first day of school, encourage them to create their own book depicting details of the day's activities and friends they've met. If your kiddo is too young to write, have him/her draw the events while you jot down their words. This is a great way to get your kids to communicate after a long day and would be really great to share with their classmates the following day!

1. The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
I learned of this book while student teaching in college. One of our shy, quiet students had been walking around with his left hand closed tightly in a fist all day long. All of the sudden, during recess, we noticed him place his hand on his cheek and smile. From the rest of the day forward, he was fine. We couldn't figure out what happened until his mother picked him up that afternoon and explained that she had read to him The Kissing Hand. It made us all cry when we read it for ourselves.

Chester Raccoon doesn't want to go to school, he wants to stay home with his mother. She assures him that he'll love school, with its promise of new friends, new toys, and new books. Even better, she has a special secret that's been in the family for years--the Kissing Hand. Whenever he feels lonely at school, all he has to do is press his hand to his cheek to feel the warmth of his mother's kiss. Chester is so pleased with his Kissing Hand that he, in a genuinely touching moment, gives his mom a Kissing Hand, too, to comfort her when he is away.  

2. The Berenstein Bears Go To School
I just love the Berenstein Bears! They are one of my all-time favorite literary families. Sometimes I think of our family as the Bredimus Bears - Mama Bear, Papa Bear, Brother Bear Jack, and Brother Bear Logan! If only we could live in a treehouse!
Sister Bear is nervous about her first day of school, but overcomes her fears when she learns how fun it can be! 

3. Amelia Bedelia's First Day of School

Who hasn't fallen in love with Amelia Bedelia? I love how silly she is and especially love the play on words in these books. In this story, readers get a chance to meet the young Amelia. Great for upper grade students!

Amelia Bedelia is sure she will love everything about the first day of school. New friends, a new teacher, her own desk, music, books, gym, art, recess, and lunch. Amelia Bedelia can't wait. She takes her learning very seriously and interprets the assignments literally which ends up in hilarity! 

4. Chrysanthemum
Love this story! Makes me think back to one of my favorite first day of school homework assignments. I had the students go home that first night and ask their parents to write down how they decided to name their children - the story behind it, the history, the meaning of their name, etc. The next day I read all of them aloud. The kids loved hearing the stories their parents told and the parents loved sharing with us!

Until Chrysanthemum started kindergarten, she believed her parents when they said her name was perfect. But on the first day of school, Chrysanthemum begins to suspect that her name is far less than perfect, especially when her class dissolves into giggles upon hearing her name read aloud. A mean-spirited classmate, announces that Chrysanthemum's name takes up 13 letters. "That's half the letters in the alphabet!" she adds. Chrysanthemum wilts. Pretty soon the class makes playground threats to "pluck" Chrysanthemum and "smell her." In the end, what sustains Chrysanthemum is the steadfast love and support of her family. 

5. Countdown to Kindergarten
I read this book to the kindergartners that I student taught in college. It was a great opener for setting expectations, offering help, and teaching the students that everyone has been in your shoes (pun intended) at one point.
It's just ten days before kindergarten, and this little girl has heard all there is to know, from a first grader, about what it's going to be like. You can't bring your cat, you can't bring a stuffed animal, and the number one rule? You can't ask anyone for help. Ever. So what do you do when your shoes come untied, if you're the only one in the class who doesn't know how to tie them up again? Days nine, eight, seven and so on bring various shoelace disasters. The girl tangles the laces around her cat by accident; she drenches them with syrup on purpose. If all the girl's fears are for naught, at least they provide her with a conversation opener: at kindergarten, she commiserates with one, then two, then three new friends who can't tie their shoes either.

6. Wemberly Worried
A book for the constant worrywart. Perfect for someone like me! Wemberly is a little neurotic, but lovable at the same time. In the end, she finds a friend and is able to worry a little less.
Wemberly the mouse worries about everything: big things, like whether her parents might disappear in the middle of the night; little things, like whether she'll spill grape juice on her toy rabbit, Petal; and things in between, like whether she might shrink in the bathtub. What she is more worried about than anything else, however, is her first day at school. "What if no one else has spots? What if no one else wears stripes? What if no one else brings a doll? What if the teacher is mean? What if the room smells bad?" Happily, Miss Peachum introduces her to a kindred spirit right away. Jewel doesn't have spots, but she is wearing stripes and holding a doll. As Wemberly plays with her new friend, she still worries, but no more than usual. ("And sometimes even less.")

7. Mrs. Bindergarten Gets Ready For Kindergarten
An abiding admirer of alliteration am I. And also of this awesome book! Great read for kindergartners/first graders learning about the alphabet and alliteration. An abundance of amazing activities to accompany this album can I actualize!

On the first day of kindergarten, Miss Bindergarten must prepare her classroom for her beloved students. This noble, whimsical teacher greets her dark, summertime-empty classroom with an explosion of color--a bouquet of fall leaves, a goldfish, rolled-up posters, and shoeboxes full of no-doubt-delightful surprises. Meanwhile, her young students get ready, too: "Adam Krupp wakes up. Brenda Heath brushes her teeth.Christopher Beaker finds his sneaker." Author Joseph Slate matches each animal character with a letter of the alphabet, and readers can flip to the back to discover that Adam is an alligator, Brenda is a beaver, and Christopher is a cat--and so on, through the more obscure animals such as the quokka and the Uakari monkey. Youngsters will relish the scenes of school preparation, adorned by rhyming text: a mother iguana dragging her son Ian Lowe (who cries "I won't go!") out the front door, and the little vole Vicki Densel biting her pencil. And of course Miss Bindergarten is the kindergarten teacher we either remember fondly or wish we had. The final back-to-school classroom scene explodes with love and pride and the smell of freshly sharpened pencils.

8. The Night Before Kindergarten
A great story that follows the rhythm of the well-known tale, "T'was the Night Before Christmas". I love books that rhyme and the kids like a twist on the classic.
'Twas the night before kindergarten, and as they prepared,
kids were excited, and a little bit scared.
It's the first day of school! Join the kids as they prepare for kindergarten, packing school supplies, posing for pictures, and the hardest part of all-saying goodbye to Mom and Dad. But maybe it won't be so hard once they discover just how much fun kindergarten really is!

9. Kindergarten Rocks
Great example of how older siblings can bring comfort to fearful students. If able, have an older brother, sister or cousin read this to your kiddo. The kids just might feel a little better learning from the experiences of a peer.
Dexter Dugan is about to start kindergarten, and his stuffed dog, Rufus, "is an eensy teensy beensy bit scared" about it. Thankfully, Dex's third-grader sister, Jessie, sees that her brother is really the scared one and sets about cheerfully reassuring her sibling: "Don't worry, kindergarten rocks," says a cartoon bubble extending from Jessie. Dex's first-person narration maintains his false bravado. "I got Jessie to help me make a list of things Rufus was scared about. I'm not worried, though." The interplay of Dex's narrative, which addresses readers directly, and his cartoon-bubble exchanges with his sister respectfully and humorously covers a new student's cornucopia of concerns. The illustrations of Dex enjoying himself at school will reassure even the most fearful of the pre-kindergarten set.

10. First Day Jitters
A wonderful read for a first time teacher dealing with first day jitters, as well as for students to help illustrate that adults get nervous too, but it usually works out just fine!
A fresh twist on an annual crisis suffered by millions: the arrival of that dreaded day when school starts. The alarm rings, but Sarah Jane Hartwell just burrows deeper into her covers, announcing that shes not going, wailing ``I dont know anybody, and it will be hard, and . . . I just hate it, that's all.'' Finally, Mr. Hartwell firmly orders her down to breakfast, puts her in the car and drops her off to join the children flooding through the school doors. Aside from a few hints for the sharp-eyed, it artfully sets viewers up for the climactic revelation that Sarah Jane is not a student, but a teacher.

Originally Published 8.26.2010