Me and My Family Tree

Family Tree
Family Tree

We read “Me and My Family Tree” and turned it into a project. The girl in the book used crayon drawings of her relatives, but Sagan wanted words so I made a list, cut it apart and we stuck them on using the book as a guide. Sagan is an only child so we put him on the trunk to save space, and he has dozens of cousins so we only named the last two he played with to save our sanity. We made the branches with brown crayon and stuck hearts on to represent couples who are still married.

The Milkmaid and Her Pail Wild, Spectacular, Imaginary Eggs

Milkmaid and her Pail Craft
Imaginary Eggs
Imaginary Eggs

So this was our take for Wild, Spectacular, Imaginary eggs for the fable “The Milkmaid and Her Pail“, the origin of “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”


  • Wooden eggs sprayed with white primer
  • Rice paper
  • Markers (we used Crayola. Sharpie would also work.)
  • Rubbing alcohol for the grownup
  • Sparkle Mod Podge
  • A small paintbrush you don’t care about
  • Stuff to keep a mess from spreading. We used aluminum foil.

We scribbled splotches on the rice paper sitting on top of foil. The grownup dribbled rubbing alcohol on it.

We waited. And waited. And waited. Finally it dried.

TIP: You could probably skip this step completely if you have some fancy tissue paper in several colors, but then you don’t get to scribble. You can also use hand sanitizer for more control, but part of the fun is watching the colors bloom and learning about the Color Wheel.

We ripped the paper into pieces and decoupaged it onto the eggs with sparkle Mod Podge. Mom will probably go over them with resin while the Youngling sleeps for durability.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf

Boy Who Cried Wolf
Boy Who Cried Wolf Craft and Playlist
Boy Who Cried Wolf Craft and Playlist

So we’re doing a Child-led Classical Core Unschooling thing, I guess. Anyway, I take a reading topic based on any number of free curricula (or celestial events… or birthdays of famous people) and add things that match for “playing school”. The Boy Who Cried Wolf was the first story in a free Core-based first grade curriculum at It fits in with Classical and the Young Master likes wolves, so here we are.

We read it, answered the plot questions, watched a Cat in the Hat video about a wolf named Grayson, “A Howling Good Time”. (I’d link to Netflix but it’s giving me a Silverlight error, so….) We colored and read wolf and sheep science worksheets from Enchanted Learning. I adapted a Cemrel math lesson from cats and mice to sheep and wolves (It may be the first lesson plan in the first grade file.)

Then I set up a short playlist of different ways the story has been told on You Tube. It includes Muppets. I like Muppets!

We looked at Romulus and Remus art and learned some Latin in here somewhere.

We rewrote The Boy Who Cried Wolf and acted it out with him playing Batman (the townspeople), me playing Robin (the boy), and one of the cats playing a minion of Cat Woman (the wolf) coming to steal our ice cream (sheep).

After that we had art time. The promise of Art Time gets him to concentrate.

Sheep Card Craft
Sheep Card Craft

It’s not hard to figure out. Kraft greeting card, construction paper, googly eyes, cotton balls.

A three-year-old’s attention span being what it is, even though he likes “playing school” like Daniel Tiger, this took two days at 15-minutes to a half-hour here and there. That’s cool with me because the theme days are much more fun for both of us than filling in a stack of humorless worksheets. And we end up with a card to send to his grandparents!

Organize and Teach Reading with a Toy Library

How we turned those bins of tiny toys toddlers end up collecting into an organized set of teaching tools.



1. You need 26 containers.

Note: you’ll need more than 26 if you choose to use phonemes instead of letters. You know your child best so follow your instincts.

You can use what you like. Coffee cans, large plastic jars, food containers, a handbag collection, whatever is cheap and safe. I used leftover 6x6x8 Papermart gift boxes from a case I’ve had sitting around for too many years after I stopped selling gifts on eBay.

Gift Boxes

2. Label them with letters.

I used those stick-on foam letters because we happened to have them. You can use anything.

Labeled with letters

3. Fill with toys.

In went animal figures, tiny plushies, old measuring spoons, play food, interesting buttons, prizes from an Easter egg hunt, colored beading cord, scrabble tiles — practically anything that wasn’t a crayon or a Lego got sorted into the boxes. Then I supplemented them with two alphabet teaching sets because Sagan wanted “letters and numbers” for his third birthday.

P Toys

Within minutes he figured out he could find most toys by spelling the name. So when he wants a lion and a zebra, he gets out the L and Z boxes. When he wants cars, he goes to the C box.

The best part is when someone gives him something new, he tells me which box he can put it in when he gets home. And that’s where it goes because he loves being able to find his toys using the Power to Read.

130+ Pre-K to Grade 3 Counting and Place Value Books

From Mom:

This list is adapted from suggested reading in the US Dept. of Education’s Cemrel program, which I went through and my mother and grandmother taught back in the late 20th Century. Cemrel taught math through reading, songs, word problems, manipulatives and real-world application. You can get Cemrel teaching materials here in PDF form for as long as they stay there.

130+ Counting Books
130+ Counting Books

As the books below are at least 20 years old (that makes ME vintage, doesn’t it?), I suggest ordering them from your local library’s website if you can. Some of the books repeat year to year but I have kept the lists separated by age group.

Note: I did say they are at least 20 years old. That means some of them are time-tested classics but others may have social implications that are no longer mainstream. There are a few here my son won’t be reading and others I may use for discussions in cultural or gender bias.

We’ve already discussed how the monkeys could have been nicer to Cecily G….

Pre-K, Kindergarten and First Grade

Animal Numbers by Bert Kitchen
Anno’s Counting Book by Mitsumasa Anno
Anno’s Counting House by Mitsumasa Anno
April Rabbits, The by David Cleveland
Arthur’s Funny Money by Lillian Hoban
Babar’ s Counting Book by Laurent De Brunhoff
Bears on Wheels by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Berenstain Bears’ Counting Book, The by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Brian Wildsmith’s 1, 2, 3’s by Brian Wildsmith
Brian Wildsmith’s Twelve Days of Christmas by Brian Wildsmith
Brown Cow Farm: A Counting Book by D. Ipcar
Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
Cat Can’t Count, A by Blossom Budney
Cat Count by Betsy Lewin
Cecily G. and the 9 Monkeys by H. A. Rey
Chicken Little Count-to-ten by Margaret Friskey
Circus Numbers; A Counting Book by Rodney Peppe
Count and See by Tana Hoban
Count on Calico Cat by Donald Charles
Count on Clifford by Norman Bridwell
Counting Penguins: Zero to Nine by Caroline Walton Howe
Counting Sheep by John Archambault
Crictor by Tomi Ungerer
Crows: An Old Rhyme by Heide Holder
Dancing in the Moon: Counting Rhymes by Fritz Eichenberg
Day the Count Stopped Counting, The by David Korr
Demi’ s Count the Animals 1-2-3 by Demi
Fish Eyes: A Book You Can Count On by Lois Ehlert
Five Chinese Brothers, The by Claire H. Bishop and Kurt Weise
Five Little Ducks by Raffi
Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow
Five Little Monkeys Sitting in the Tree by Eileen Christelow
Hare and the Tortoise by Paul Galdone
Harriet Goes to the Circus by Betty Maestro
Hippos Go Berserk by Sandra Boynton
How Many Snails?: A Counting Book by Paul Giganti, Jr.
How Many Teeth? by Paul Showers
lfYou Take a Pencil by Fulvio Testa
Invitation to the Butteifly Ball, An by Jane H. Yolen
Jeanne-Marie Counts Her Sheep by Francoise
John Burningham’s 1 2 3 by John Burningham
Learn to Count by Richard Scarry
Little Monster’s Counting Book by Mercer Mayer
Little Red Hen: An Old Story, The by Margot Zemach
Marcel Marceau Counting Book, The by George Mendoza
Mitten: An Old Ukrainian Folktale, The by Alvin R. Tresselt
Moja Means One: Swahili Counting Book by Muriel Feelings
Mouse Count by Ellen Stoll Walsh A-1
Mouse Numbers and Letters by Jim Arnosky
Mr. Gumpy’ s Outing by John Burningham
Numbears: A Counting Book by Kathleen and Michael Hague
Number Families by Jane Jonas Srivastava
Number Ideas Through Pictures by Mannis Charosh
Numbers by Philip Carona
Numbers by Jan Pienkowski
Numbers on Parade by Anthony P. Kramer
Numbers: A Book by John J. Reiss
Numbers: A First Counting Book by Robert Allen
Odds and Evens by Thomas O’Brein
One Bear All Alone by Caroline Bucknall
One Crow: A Counting Rhyme by Jim Aylesworth
One Dancing Drum by Gail Kredenser
One Duck, Two Duck by Charlotte Pomerantz
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
1 Hunter by Pat Hutchins
1 is One by Tasha Tudor
One is the Engine: A Counting Book by Esther Meeks
One Old Oxford Ox by Nicola Bayley
One Snail and Me: A Book of Numbers by Emilie and Warren McLeod
One Step, Two . .. by Charlotte Zolotow
1, 2, 3 by Tana Hoban
One, Two, Three, An Animal Counting Book by Marc Brown
One, Two, Three, and Four No More? by Catherine Gray
1, 2, 3, to the Zoo: A Counting Book by Eric Carle
One Was Johnny by Maurice Sendak
One Watermelon Seed by Celia Barker Lottridge
One Woolly Wombat by Rod Trinca
Our Tooth Story: A Tale ofTwenty Teeth by Ethel and Leonard Kessler
Over in the Meadow by Paul Galdone
Over in the Meadow by John M. Langstaff
Over in the Meadow by Olive A. Wadsworth
Parade by Donald Crews
Project 1-2-3 by Eve Merriam
Pumpkin, Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington
Relatives Came, The by Cynthia Rylant
Richard Scarry’s Best Counting Book Ever by Richard Scarry
Right Number of Elephants, The by Jeff Sheppard
Rooster’s Off to See the World by Eric Carle
Rooster Who Set Out to See the World, The by Eric Carle
Sesame Street 1, 2, 3 Storybook, The by Emily Perl Kingsley
Sesame Street Book of Numbers, The by Falster
Sets and Numbers for the Very Young by Irving and Ruth Adler
Seven Little Monsters by Maurice Sendak
Seven Little Rabbits by John Becker
Shopping Basket, The by John Burningham
Six Foolish Fisherman: Based on Folktale by Benjamin Elkin
Six Little Ducks by Chris Conover
Sixes and Sevens by John Yoeman
So Many Cats! by Beatrice Schenk deRegniers
Stickybear Numbers by Richard Hefter
Still Another Number Book by S. Chwast and M. S. Moskof
Teddy Bears 1 to 10 by Susanna Gretz
Ten Alarm Camp-Out, The by Cathy Warren
Ten Apples Up on Top! by Theo. LeSieg (Dr. Seuss)
10 Bears in My Bed, A Goodnight Countdown by Stanley Mack
Ten Black Dots by Donald Crews
Ten Little Animals by Laura Jane Coats
Ten Little Elephants by Robert Leydenfrost
Ten Little Mice by Joyce Dunbar
Ten Little Rabbits by Virginia Grossman
Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang
Thirteen Days of Halloween, The by Carol Greene
This Old Man by Carol Jones
Three Bears, The by Paul Galdone
Three by Three by James Kruss
Three Little Kittens by Paul Galdone
Too Many Monsters by Susan Meddaugh
Twelve Days of Christmas, The by Robert Broomfield
Twelve Days of Christmas, The by Ilowka Karasz
Twelve Days of Christmas by Jack Kent
Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg
Up to Ten and Down Again by Lisa Campbell Ernst
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
What Comes in 2’s, 3’s, & 4’s? by Suzanne Aker
When Sheep Cannot Sleep, the Counting Book by Satoshi Kitamura
Who’s Counting? by Nancy Tafuri
Wildlife 1-2-3, A Nature Counting Book, The by Jan Thornhill
Witches Four by Marc Brown

Second Grade:

Billions of Bugs by Haris Petie
Count on Your Fingers African Style by Claudia Zaslavsky
Knots on A Counting Rope by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault
Less Than Nothing is Really Something by Robert Fromes
Numbers of Things by Helen Oxenbury
One Hundred Hungry Ants by Elinor J. Pinczes
Only One by Marc Harshman
Phoebe and the Hot Water Bottles by Terry Furchgott and Linda Dawson
17 Kings and 42 Elephants by Margaret Mahy
Shopping Basket, The by John Burningham
Socrates and the Three Little Pigs by Mitsumasa Anno and Tuyosi Mori
10 for Dinner by Jo Ellen Bogart
Ten What? A Mystery Counting Book by Russell Hoban
Twelve Circus Rings, The by Seymour Chwast
Two of Everything by Lily Toy Hong
Two Ways to Count to Ten by Ruby Dee
When the King Rides By by Margaret Mahy
Zero Is Not Nothing by Mindel and Harry Sitomer
Zero: Is It Something? Is It Nothing? by Claudia Zaslavsky

Third Grade:

Count on Your Fingers African Style by Claudia Zaslavsky
Count Your Way Through… (series highlighting different countries)  by Jim Haskins
Counting by Henry Pluckrose
How to Count Like a Martian by Glory St. John
Knots on a Counting Rope by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault
Less Than Nothing is Really Something by Robert Fromes
One Hundred Hungry Ants by Elinor J. Pinczes
One Is Unique by Marnie Luce
Only One by Marc Harshman
Phoebe and the Hot Water Bottles by Terry Furchgott and Linda Dawson
17 Kings and 42 Elephants by Margaret Mahy
666 Jelly Beans! All That by Malcolm Weiss
Ten What? A Mystery Counting Book by Russell Hoban
Twelve Circus Rings, The by Seymour Chwast
Two of Everything by Lily Toy Hong
Two Ways to Count to Ten by Ruby Dee
When the King Rides By by Margaret Mahy
Zero Is Not Nothing by Mindel and Harry Sitomer
Zero: Is It Something? Is It Nothing? by Claudia Zaslavsky
Zero Is Something by Marnie Luce