EPIC! Books – Netflix for Books

Happy New Year friends! It’s been awhile, I know. I miss blogging but life just hasn’t allowed for much of it these past few months. I wanted to come on and say Happy New Year and to let you in on a gem of a resource that we’ve been using.

I never click ads on Facebook, typically they’re pretty irrelevant but a few months ago a Facebook ad caught my attention:

The Netflix of Children's Books

Whaaaaat???? I LOVE children’s literature, like a lot, so I knew I had to check it out. As I looked into it I thought it sounded too good to be true. When I found out that I could try it out free for 30 days, I was hooked. I immediately downloaded it and set up a profile for Big Sis. We’ve used it for a few months now and I knew I just had to share.

Here are some great things about Epic! Books:

  1. You can read the books on iPhone, iPad or computer
  2. Each book shows it’s lexile level, AR level, age level and approximate reading time.
  3. There are new books added each week (and now educational videos too!)
  4. There’s a good selection of good quality educational books from Time magazine, National Geographic, and others.
  5. There’s something for all kids and each kid gets their own customized profile to match their interests and ages. Little E loves it just as much as Big Sis does. Some of the books at Little E’s age level even sing the words in the book. So fun!
  6. For my teacher friends, you get to use the app for FREE!!!!

Here are just some of the great selection of books you’ll find in the Epic! app.

Fancy Nancy “I Can Read” in Read to Me format – These books have the option to be read aloud to your kiddos. So perfect for those emergent readers.

Epic! Books - Netflix for Kids Books

Nancy Clancy

Epic! Books - Netflix for Kids Books

I was particularly excited to see “Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine” as I have been trying to find a kid friendly book on her life.

Epic! Books - Netflix for Kids Books

Famous Children Series which tells stories from the early years of great composers and artists. These are also in “Read to Me” format.

Epic! Books - Netflix for Kids Books

Star Wars

Epic! Books - Netflix for Kids Books

 

Perhaps one of the most exciting for kids are the new activity books they just released. They have the “Lego Adventure” books, a Lego build-it-book, iSpy, recipe books, “Easy Magic Tricks”, “Cool Knitting”, “Science Around the House” and more!

Epic! Books - Netflix for Kids Books

 

Epic! Books - Netflix for Kids Books

Dover Classics like “Wind in the Willows” “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” “Jungle Book” “Anne of Green Gables” “The Secret Garden” and more

Epic! Books - Netflix for Kids Books

Berenstein Bears (including the “Big Book of Science and Nature”

Epic! Books - Netflix for Kids Books

There are also helpful resources like books on how to write a letter, or a research paper.

writing

There are so many other books on so many more topics. I could share all of the great ones with you but you really need to check it out for yourself. They have a 30 day free trial that I totally suggest you check out.

Book Reviews with Big Sis | Look a Book by Bob Staake

Here’s another book review by Big Sis. Dirk went to the library with her one day and picked out “Look a Book“ by Bob Staake.

Makenzie fell in love with it! We’ve borrowed it from the library at least three times, along with the second one, “Look Another Book” also by Bob Staake. She wanted to do a video review so I set up the camera and let her go for it. This girl cracks me up. Look for my review after her video.

Mom’s Review:
When Dirk brought this book home, I was like, “Oh, that’s fun. Not something I would get but it looks like fun.” As we read it more we all really liked it, even Little E. As you can see in Big Sis’ review, each page rhymes and there are picture cues so she can “read” almost the whole book. The scenes are super fun and while there is one thing to find on each page, we always choose other pictures that we have to find. I love that Big Sis can take ownership of the book and get excited about sitting down to read to US. I would definitely recommend this one.

Summer Reading Fun: Charlotte’s Web Handmade Toys & More

A few months ago Big Sis and I read “Charlotte’s Web” which was Big Sis’ very first chapter book. She was in the middle of taking a Farm Class and I knew that the themes in the book would correlate wonderfully with her class, and besides, who doesn’t LOVE Charlotte’s Web??? It’s one of my favorites!

Each day before her nap we sat in her bed and read a chapter of Charlotte’s Web. Sometimes it’s crazy and Little E is screaming or Big Sis is being easily distracted but most days we cuddle up and take a 10 minute break, just the two of us.

We had so much fun with this story that we decided to do a few activities, her favorite being the handmade Charlotte’s Web toys. Of course we had to share. :)

Charlotte's Web Pre-School Activities | Motherhood in the Trenches

These are all super easy crafts that allow you to repurpose stuff you have around your house! These toys provided opportunities for retelling and summarizing through play. We had a lot of fun with these.

To make Wilbur:

Materials:
approx. 32 oz. juice bottle, emptied
2 toilet paper rolls
pink pipe cleaner
pink construction paper
pink acrylic craft paint
black sharpie
hot glue
scissors

Directions:
Use the pink paint to paint the juice bottle, with the cap on. Let the bottle dry and give it a second coat. Paint the toilet paper rolls with the pink paint after you give the bottle a second coat, they should be fine with just one coat.

When the toilet paper rolls and bottle are dry, cut the rolls in half and hot glue them on one side of the bottle.

Cut the pipe cleaner (keep the rest of the pipe cleaner to make Templeton) to about two inches and curl it around a pencil or even your finger, this is the tail. Hot glue the pipe cleaner on the bottom of the bottle, on the opposite side that you’ve glued the legs (if you look at the picture this will be easier to understand).

Use the black Sharpie to draw two eyes, two nostrils and a mouth (again see the pic).

Cut two triangles from the pink construction paper  (save this paper for Templeton) and hot glue them onto the top area near the face to create the ears.

To make Templeton:

Materials:
Grey fun foam or construction paper
small pink pompom (if you don’t have one, just use a rolled up piece of paper and paint pink or take a small piece of cotton ball and paint that pink)
googly eyes
pink pipe cleaner (use the unused portion from making Wilbur)
pink construction paper (use the unused portion from making Wilbur)
scissors
hot glue

Cut a half circle on the grey fun foam (I failed to take a pic of this) from one end to the other end, look at this link for an idea on how to make the cone. Cut it out, glue one end to the other end. Glue on the googly eyes, pink pompom and pipe cleaner as the tail.

Charlotte's Web Pre-School Activities | Motherhood in the Trenches

To make Charlotte:

Materials:
Two brown pompoms
2 googly eyes
2 pipe cleaners, cut in half
hot glue

Directions:
Glue the two pompoms together. Glue the pipe cleaners across the body and bend for the arms. Glue the googly eyes on.

For Charlotte’s Web (from Modern Parents Messy Kids):

Materials:
White yarn
White glue, such as Elmer’s
Wax paper
Scissors
Medium bowl
Water

Directions:
Cut white yarn into lengths of 1-2 feet, depending on the desired diameter of the finished spiderweb. Pour the glue into a medium bowl. Thin it with water (about 3 parts glue to 1 part water). Cover your work surface with wax paper. Dip the yarn in the glue and then spread out on the wax paper. Continue with several more lengths of yarn, crossing them over the first at the center like spokes in a wheel, to create the base of the spiderweb.  Once the base is complete, connect the radiating yarn pieces with additional lengths of glue-soaked yarn spiraling around and around to create a spider web design. Let dry (this may take a couple of days) then turn over and pull off the wax paper. You’ll have a yarn spiderweb that holds its shape.

As we were reading Charlotte’s Web I had Big Sis make a Charlotte’s Web journal. I would say a portion of a sentence, in this case, “My favorite character is…” and I would write her answer down and then have her draw a picture. The picture is Charlotte and the big swirly scribbles are the web, this was during a phase when everything she drew was monochromatic, heh.

 

Charlotte's Web Pre-School Activities | Motherhood in the Trenches

Other questions I asked were,  ”If you were Charlotte what would you have written in your web?” “If you had your very own pig just like Fern did, what would you name it?”  ”What is your favorite part of the story?” “What do you think Templeton is going to do with the goose’s egg?

These questions aid in comprehension and make the book discussion so rich.

We also read some books, mostly about spiders, to go with the story. We read:

The Very Busy Spider: This was Big Sis’ favorite book. A spider lands on a fence post near a farm and a handful of farm animals ask her to do some activity with her but she is too busy spinning her web.

Are You a Spider? : A great non-fiction book for young kiddos. Information is presented in questions and reads like a storybook but it’s full of information about spiders.

 

Sophie’s Masterpiece: A sweet story about a spider who wants to spin beautiful creations all day but isn’t welcome anywhere, until she finds a special guest to stay with and creates a masterpiece for the guest. This was my favorite.

 

The Year at Maple Hill Farm: This book goes through all of the different aspects of the farm that change with each season. It’s a long book but even just looking through the pictures and talking about the book is a lot of fun.

Lastly, we took an 8 week farm class but if you’re not interested in a full farm class many farms have tours that you can go on.

Explore a Local Farm | Motherhood in the Trenches

 

Explore a Local Farm | Motherhood in the Trenches

It was so fun to talk about the animals on the farm in relation to “Charlotte’s Web.” If you’re in the Inland Empire check out Amy’s Farm which I wrote about here.

Do you have a favorite Children’s chapter book to read with your little ones? I’d love to hear about it!

Big Sis’ Favorite Books #1

Book Review with Big Sis | Motherhood in the Trenches

Every two weeks we go to the library and leave with a giant stack of library books. Each time we walk out the door with our giant stack of books I am amazed that we get to just walk out with a giant stack of books, for FREE. We are so blessed! I’ve mentioned before that I LOVE children’s literature. There’s something so magical and so exciting about immersing yourself into the stories.

In every batch we’ve had some really awesome books and some not so awesome ones. I’ve had a few moms ask us what some of our favorite books are to read so I thought I’d periodically let you in on some of our favorites. They are always changing so here are our favorites right now…

First up I had Big Sis pick her two  favorite books right now and the books she picked were “Shhh!” by Valeri Gorbachev and “Piggie Pie” by Margie Palatini. These aren’t the books I would have picked as her favorites right now but you can read about my picks below. ;)

Here’s Big Sis’ review of “Shhh!” by Valeri Gorbachev

Mom’s Review: It is a super cute book and full of imagination. It’s also great if you have a kiddo with a younger sibling. I have found myself referring back to the book while Little E is sleeping, reminding Big Sis to tiptoe like the big brother in the story does or to tell her animals to play quietly.

Big Sis’ review of “Piggie Pie”

Mom’s Review: While this is a super fun book, there are some elements that I’m not a big fan of. I love that it’s a play on the Old Macdonald song. Gritch the Witch visits Old Macdonald’s farm and incorporates some elements of the familiar song into the story. There are quite a few opportunities to ask anticipatory questions, which is super fun and also a key comprehension strategy (that’s the teacher part of me talking, heh). There are two aspects I’m not a fan of. First of all, witches aren’t my favorite thing. All of the casting of evil spells and her evil self just aren’t things that I like to incorporate into our home. I still read this book to Big Sis several times but it is preventing me from buying it. Also Gritch the Witch doesn’t speak kindly and says phrases like, “dumb duck” or “fork over the pork, you walking milk machine…” While these might be totally fine for some kids, I have a child who has an amazing memory and always seems to repeat the most offensive part of every movie and book, like the time she called me a “two-faced son of jackal” which she heard on Aladdin. Oye! So while neither of these things might be an issue for your family, they aren’t something that I want to read to her on a daily basis, which is a shame because I really, really like it! I would still recommend checking it out from the library and if those things don’t bother you then it’s a book that is well-written with so much fun inside.

Some other books we’re really enjoying are:

I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt. This is a story we have in a compilation book so it often gets forgotten but we recently rediscovered it and have been reading it quite a bit. The title comes from the line in the book, “But Mama, but Mama, what if I were a super smelly skunk, and I smelled so bad that my name was Stinky Face?” The book is full of what ifs as a little boy asks his mama what she would do if he were a big, smelly ape or an alligator with sharp pointy teeth. The mama always responds with some creative way to show her little one that she loves him. It’s imaginative and playful. We love it and I love to call Big Sis “Stinky Face” because she always smiles and says, “I’m not a stinky face!”

Curious George is always a favorite in our house. Big Sis loves to repeat the common line in every story, “He was a good little monkey but always very curious.” The favorites in our house are:

Curious George Feeds the Animals

Curious George Makes Pancakes

and Curious George and the Birthday Surprise

We would love to hear what books you’re loving right now so we can check them out too. Share in the comments or send us your link!