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12 Days of Christmas Books Advent Using Fabric Gift Bags

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

 I tried wrapping Christmas books for each day in December leading up to Christmas as a book advent.  Sure, kids love to pull off the paper, but I didn't like wasting all that paper and how much time it took to wrap the books.  I decided to create my own fabric gift bags to re-use each year. These are 'Sew' simple! I have very basic sewing skills. I'll try it if it has straight lines, no patterns and no pinning. These bags are pretty much like a little pillow case with a ribbon sewn onto the outside for tying.
The thing I love best about these books is that you can put 1 or more books inside for a surprise each day. Leave them under the tree for your children to open counting down the 12 days before Christmas (you could make 24 if you are really ambitious).

To see my instructions for the The 12 Days of Christmas Fabric Gift Bags, I shared them here:  Skip to My Lou. (originally posted Dec. 2014).

The bags can be used for a book advent (from books you already own or borrowed from the library or new gifts) or any other special gifts to count down to Christmas. Perfect for holiday gift giving to your children, family, friends or teachers.


This Truffula Tree elastic bookmark would be an excellent gift. It was quick and simple enough for kids to make too.  They could make one as a gift for a teacher, librarian or a grandparent.

See how to make the bookmark here.

Don't forget to visit my 12 Days of Christmas gift bags over at Skip to My Lou.

Thanks for stopping by.  Take a look around obSEUSSed for more kid and DIY crafts.

New Dr. Seuss Book App Review

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Cat in the the Hat is back! A new and improved version of this Dr. Seuss book is available as an iOS app July 16, 2015. This is not just an update on the original book app, it is entire separate app for those who want a little more interaction. Cat_in_the_Hat_book_app_obSEUSSed_review2

The Cat in the Hat - Read and Learn digital book has interactive activities in each scene compared to the previous version where you just read the book and tap on objects to hear the words.catReadLearn_Ad_500x500

Ocean House Media let me preview the app for review.  My 4 year old son and 6 year old niece took turns holding the iPad for each page. They did it all on their own without help from me. I just watched as they played.


It was a little tricky for them to learn when activities/games were available to play. After hearing the words on the page, children can tap the objects to hear the word. The objects move and make sounds. Children keep tapping until they find a hidden star in each scene that will open the activity.  The trick here is “scene” not page.  Many times the narrator reads a paragraph but clicking the arrow just brings more words for that scene.  The kids thought there would be a new game each time the narrator paused so they kept tapping items expecting to find the star and game.  We quickly learned that the game star will stay in the lower right corner if you have already played it for that scene. Once you turn the page to a new scene, the star goes away and you need to find a new one. Just explain that to your kids and they’ll get the hang of it.catReadLearn_Screenshot9

The interactive activities/games were simple enough for my 4-6 year olds.  Recognizing letters and sounds is helpful. The games encourage letter recognition and rhyming. This book is quiet long so I did notice they used the same game style several times throughout the book. There are 30 + short games/activities.  At first I was disappointed because I expected a new game style on every scene. Then I realized it was helpful to have the same styles because kids learn from repetition.

I also loved that it has a parent section that shows you the reading stats of how many minutes and pages your child has read.


My kids made it through the entire book and had fun working together to solve the games.


SIDE NOTE:  I have to tell you I used to have the old CD roms of the Dr. Seuss books. We loved the Dr. Seuss’ ABCs book. Every page had several interactive objects and sounds.  When the original Dr. Seuss book app came out we were a little sad that it only reads to you and tells you the words when you tap on objects. I was hopping for more interaction, and now we have it with this new, improved app.  You’ll find a lot more sounds, moving objects and interactive activities throughout the book.

You can download it from the app store here.  It is worth the $4.99 for the hours of fun and learning your little one will have.

See the Dr. Seuss Read and Learn app in action here:


Disclaimer: I was able to preview this app for free for review purposes and was not compensated to write this post. All opinions are my own.

5 Best Books about the Birds and the Bees Talk

Friday, May 1, 2015

Today I want to talk about something all parents will need at some point. Whether you’ve had “The Birds and the Bees Talk” with your kids or not, the point is to have an open, ongoing discussion with your kids, not just one talk.

Sure, the first time you talk about it with your children it can be a little awkward, but I promise, it will get easier.

My two tips for teaching about the birds and bees are:

  1. Use books (my 5 favorite)
  2. Create times for private discussions (Late Dates & more)


1.  Use Books (my five favorite ones)

At our obSEUSSed home, we use books all the time.  I want to share a few of our favorites on this subject. As I share these books you’ll see links to Amazon.  I am an affiliate and receive a percentage of sales made using the links.  I recommend checking books out from your library first to see if you like them too, then Amazon is one place to get them.  These are resource books and good ones to purchase to keep on your shelves. I checked #2 book out twice then realized I just needed to have it for years as I teach my three children.

BOOK 1 (set of 3):   30 Days of Sex Talks, Empowering Your Child with Knowledge of Sexual Intimacy by Educate Empower Kids. I asked to review this set of three books. I received the books for free but was not compensated to write this post. I am very passionate about this topic and would recommend these books to my friends and to you, my readers.

Volumes 1-3 cover  Ages 3-7, Ages 8-11 and Ages 12+.   I’ve got children in each of these age ranges.  Let me tell you, I sat down and read all three of them in one evening. They took about 45 minutes each. It was helpful to read the whole book to think about topics that are age appropriate and have the info in my mind for those moments when a discussion suddenly presents itself. I want to be prepared.  Each book is broken up into 30 topics so you can sit down with your child and show them 1-3 pages and cover the questions or bullet points in a short conversation. There are also downloadable discussion cards to print and use during your talks.

Here is a sample page.


The book walks you through exactly what to say if you are uncomfortable finding your own words.

It covers some basics like the difference between boys and girls, how to show appropriate affection, predators, curiosity, pornography, social media, teen relationships, healthy vs. abusive relationships and pregnancy.  They cover they topics in a very sensitive and informative format.  The pictures are modern and not too graphic, just right for kids. 

It has several authors from Educate Empower Kids and does not mention any particular religious overtones, but over all it seems to flow well with my Christian morals.  I agreed with all the topics they encourage you to discuss with your children.  They leave a lot of questions open ended so you can present your view to your child.  The 12+ book was a little too open on some subjects but it is probably realistic in today’s world and it made me think more about some topics I wasn’t as familiar with.  Use your own discretion as each of your children are different.  I strongly recommend having this set on your shelf and keeping it accessible for times you need an overview on topics you need to share with your children.

Here are two helpful articles I recommend on Educate Empower Kids, follow them for more tips:


Another great book to have on your shelf as a resource is How to Talk to Your Child about Sex by Linda and Richard Eyre.  I actually just saw Linda at the grocery store this morning but I don’t personally know her so I just pointed her out to my husband. Her daughter Saren is one of the founders of Power of Moms which I’m an ambassador for.


This husband and wife team are recognized for their plethora of parenting books on the NYT best sellers list.  This is the book I relied on to prep me for my first “Talk” with my children.  It is much longer and in depth, but you can pick out certain chapters to focus on.  It is Christian based,  very straightforward and shows how to teach this topic with love. You can pick one up pretty cheap on Amazon.



My next favorite resource is by American Girl, The Care and Keeping of You. I love the whole series of American Girl self care books.  This one has simple cartoon pictures and discusses the maturing of girls in a fun casual way, like friends talking. There are 3 versions for different ages: 1 for Younger Girls, 1 for Girls and 1 that is called The Care & Keeping of You 2 for older girls.


I Said No! A Kid-to-kid Guide to Keeping Private Parts Private by Zack and Kimberly King.  This is a great book about a boy’s true experience at a sleepover. It is written from his perspective showing kids what they need to watch for. It has a very powerful message.

 TRICKY PEOPLE: We often talk about certain topics with all three of our children together.  We remind them that there are some people who may try to trick them at some time, either showing their body parts or saying it is ok to touch their private parts, or showing them pictures of someone naked or asking them to say bad words or try to smoke or take drugs or drink alcohol.  The point is, we cover a lot of things very openly about people who may try to trick us.  It could be someone we know, a friend or family member or a stranger.  We want to recognize if they are trying to trick us or if anything makes us uncomfortable and tell them NO!  Then let mom and dad know if anyone tries to trick them.


Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today's Young Kids by Jenson and Poyner came out last year and has been a hot topic at play group.  As moms, we are concerned about the easy electronic access to pornography.  Children are being exposed much earlier and more often to pictures we need to protect them from.  This book helps you have that discussion with your daughters and sons and outlines a plan of what to do when you see an inappropriate picture. It also explains the science of how your brain becomes addicted to those images.

My Experience: I don’t let my kids have much electronic access but they’ve already seen pictures that make them uncomfortable.  We tried watching American Idol one night and  J. Lo is often wearing something too revealing, then a Victoria’s Secret commercial comes on.  Too much for young eyes.  Then my 8 year-old son went with Grandpa to the barber to get his hair cut.  He came home and was embarrassed to tell me he picked up a magazine that showed women’s chests in it. At first I was outraged thinking this barber leaves porn magazines out for his customers, then upon further research I found out it was the Sports Illustrated Swim Suit edition. – I guess that made me a little less upset because it wasn’t a subscription to a porn magazine, but it is pretty close. You never know where your kids will be exposed to it so you need to start the discussion earlier than you think. This book will help you do that.

Now, about how to have these discussions with your child once you’ve done some research:

2) Create times for private discussions (Late Dates & more)

We have three children. It is hard to have a private discussion without siblings interrupting.   We’ve realized we need to create those times and take advantage of any alone time to openly discuss age appropriate topics about maturing and relationships in a safe environment. Here are a few of our favorite ways to create times for private discussions.


LATE DATES:  Each child has a special night each month called a Late Date. Sometimes we do it twice a month.  They get to stay up an extra hour with mom and dad to talk, choose a snack and a special activity. The activity is often a board game or dice game like Tenzie (see above photo). Sometimes my son likes to choose a science project.  It is their choice.  They love having their Late Dates.  These times alone with each child allow us to ask questions like

  • Who do you play with most at recess?
  • Do your friends ever say things that are inappropriate?
  • Do you have questions about anything you’ve heard, or anything we’ve discussed before?
  • What can we help you with most?
  • Discuss special age-appropriate topics about maturing and relationships.  This approach made it very natural to start out with smaller topics about our bodies then build up to the birds and the bees talk. Then we keep talking about different topics as needed (see the first book above for 30 different topics).  It really made “The Talk” so much easier.

We’ve had such great discussions during these Late Dates.  Several of my friends have started doing Late Dates too with much success.  This creates a private, safe environment to discuss topics with mom and dad showing attention to each child as an individual. 

BATH TIME: This is a simple one to incorporate.  As you give your younger children baths, talk about how special their bodies are. Talk about the correct names for all their body parts. Talk about who is allowed to see their private parts and why they are private.  Ask them if they have questions about their bodies.

BED TIME:  As you tuck your child in before bed, ask a few simple questions or bring up a topic you think they may need to discuss.  This is a great time to read a picture book about bodies maturing then talk about it.  They don’t have anywhere else to be, no need to rush off and play. They know it is bed time and they have a few minutes having your attention.

Your Advice?

I hope some of these books and tips about creating private conversations will help you as you approach these sensitive topics.  I’d love to know if you have any other book suggestions or tips you’ve used. Please leave a comment below.



Read Across America: School Readathon and Printable Reading Log

Monday, March 2, 2015

Our elementary school PTA hosts a two-week read-a-thon for the students.  The past few years the theme has been Dr. Seuss so we coordinate it around Dr. Seuss’ birthday (March 2) which is also Read Across America Day. I have been lucky to help with the Dr. Seuss reading weeks for the last 3 years.
Students track their reading minutes for two weeks.  The top grade and the top student in each grade receive prizes.  All the students are rewarded with a Dr. Seuss Carnival Celebration at the end of the two weeks. The Cat in the Hat from our local PBS station (KBYU) attends our carnival.


Here is a sample of the reading log with details specific for our readathon.

I made a blank sheet that you can add to or use it like it is. There is also a version with 4 post card sized hats on one page.

Cat Hat outline Reading Log
I drew this hat inspired by the Cat in the Hat. This is available as a Free Printable to be used for educational purposes only in homes or classrooms. Please do not repost this image (or any others on this site) without permission.  See this printable and more Dr. Seuss printables here.

Accelerated Reader Challenge

This year we held an assembly read-a-thon for 45 minutes for all students in the gym.
They could take Accelerated Reading (A.R.) tests on laptops on the stage to correlate with the 'Read the Most Coast to Coast' National A.R. Challenge the same day. We showed the number of words being tracked nationally up on a screen. We had 20 laptop stations set up and kids lined up to take tests for an hour.

Nearly 600 students sat on the floor trying to quietly read. We handed out large Tootsie Pop suckers as they came in the door to help them stay quiet and enjoy a treat at the same time. I've blurred some faces to protect privacy.

I spotted one child reading Dr. Seuss and holding The Cat in the Hat.

Dr. Seuss Style Flash Mob

At the end of the read-a-thon one teacher stood in the middle of the room as I turned on the music and she started to dance.  10 seconds later, more teachers and a few PTA moms joined in the middle of the room and started dancing with a few coordinated moves ('Can Can" kicks and "The Wave" with books + more). Quickly, the students jumped to their feet and started dancing along too.  The entire room was a dance party dancing to the tune of Black Eyed Peas "I've Got a Feeling" song. The words were changed to "Gotta Keep Reading, cause this book's gonna be a good book!"  See a sample of this song on YouTube.

Click here to see a short video on Instagram. The sound is not good. I will post a better clip soon.

When watching the video back I spotted several kids who just sat on the floor and kept reading in the middle of the dance party. They were so into their books. I love that! I'm not even sure they realized the Grinch was up by the stage.

School Dr. Seuss Decorations

Our PTA created Dr. Seuss character cutouts with Dr. Seuss quotes and hung them throughout the hallways.  The large truffula trees each represent a grade to track reading minutes. At the end of the first and second week of the read-a-thon, a small Dr. Seuss character will climb the tree representing the minutes read. The first tree says ‘Whoville’ and represents our preschool and special needs classroom.

I made a few Truffula Trees too out of tissue paper and foam pool noodles or black plumbing foam. 

Principal Stuck on Reading
Our principal is a good sport. He got ‘Stuck on Reading’ for our school read-a-thon. These photos are from 2014 but we will be doing it again with our new principal on March 12.
obSEUSSed stuck reading 2014 XL (40) In the middle of the two week read-a-thon we asked students to bring their reading logs back to check in. If they have been reading, they got a piece of duct tape and got to tape the principal to the wall during lunch time.
He read several Dr. Seuss books while the kids added tape.
We used a white painters outfit so his clothes wouldn’t get ruined. He also wore the red and white stove pipe hat like The Cat in the Hat.
See how he is standing on a stack of books?  Once he was taped well, we took the books out and let him hang there. Truly ‘Stuck on Reading.’

We had five posters for popular Dr. Seuss books and asked the kids to sign their name and vote for their favorite.  I attached a cover of the books (from a bulletin board set) and a marker hooked to yarn so they could sign.  The kids had fun doing this while only 2-4 could be trying to tape the principal at a time.  It was also Fox in Socks Crazy Sock Day so there was a lot of energy buzzing around the read-a-thon for the day.  (What is your favorite Dr. Seuss book? Leave a comment below.)
obSEUSSed stuck reading Vote_Dr_Seuss_Books
Does your school do a read-a-thon? What kind of things do you do to motivate your students?  Have you ever had a read-a-thon at home?

The Top 10 Dr. Seuss Apps + Review, Giveaway and Sale

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

There are more than 50 Dr. Seuss digital book apps, all of them created by Oceanhouse Media. Just search the app store (available on iOS and Android) for SEUSS and you’ll see them all.  Oceanhouse uses the official Dr. Seuss illustrations staying true to his work and keeping that classic Dr. Seuss feeling as you read.  I still don’t think they’ll ever completely take the place of real paper books –at least I hope not- but apps bring a whole new interactive element to a child’s reading experience.
I was curious what the top 10 downloaded Dr. Seuss apps are, so I asked Oceanhouse. Here is the line-up:
Top 10 downloaded Dr. Seuss apps on iOS are… 
  1. Cat in the Hat
  2. ABCs
  3. Green Eggs and Ham
  4. The Lorax
  5. One Fish Two Fish
  6. How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
  7. Dr. Seuss Treasury
  8. Hop On Pop
  9. Dr. Seuss Bookshelf
  10. Fox In Socks
To get you started with these book apps, we've got a giveaway for 5 classics (3 Winners will be selected).  Giveaway has ended. Winners have been notified.
Seuss app giveaway 15 obSEUSSed

Oceanhouse Media has offered to give away the Dr. Seuss Beginner Book Collection #1 (see my previous review of these apps here.) to three of my readers. It includes 5 classic Dr. Seuss books for iOS: The Cat in the Hat, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, The FOOT Book, Mr. Brown Can MOO! Can You?, and Fox in Socks, all in one convenient place.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Regular price value of $14.99. This giveaway runs Feb. 26 – March 1, 2015. 3 winners will be randomly chosen at midnight MST on March 1, 2015.  I will email the code to the winner after confirmation. The code is for iOS apps.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of 3 Dr. Seuss omBooks and the Dr. Seuss Senders app for review. I’ve previously purchased many on my own too (because I love them). All opinions and experiences are my own.

I will also be giving a few Dr. Seuss ‘Happy Birthday’ book apps away on my Instagram feed this week so follow along (@victoria_obSEUSSed) to try to win a code.
obSEUSSed Victoria Instagram

Dr. Seuss Apps Review:
As I mentioned I have quite a few of the digital Dr. Seuss books already but I was happy to try out a few new ones. You can see my review of Oh the Thinks You Can Think app here.
We tried I Can Read with My Eyes Shut and Oh the Places You’ll Go.  They are the classic story, taken straight from the book. You can read it yourself, have it read to you and you decide when to turn the page or have it auto play where it turns the pages for you.
The ability to tap on the words or illustrations and have it say the word helps developing readers associate the words and pictures with word sounds.  All the sound effects are fun for kids too.

A great feature I’ve seen on most of the books (possibly all of them) is the ability to record your own voice and you become the narrator.  I like to record my voice so my kids can hear me reading the books to them as they play. My older kids like to take turns recording their voices every other page and adding sound effects at the end of their sentence.

oh the places Seuss App
Both of those apps are just like the books so you know what you’re getting.

InsideYourOutside1 Seuss appI was able to try Inside Your Outside from The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library. My kids spent the most time with this app and were fascinated by all the fun facts about bodies, like having 206 bones in our body. I really appreciate this book because I have Ankylosing Spondylitis (a form of arthritis that fuses my joints together) and I have a difficult time explaining it to my kids. The section on bones and joints was really helpful to have a better discussion with my kids about my bones.

Dr Seuss Senders app cover

I also tried the Dr. Seuss Senders app.  It offers pre-created graphics with cute Seussisms that you can share through email or save on your device and share on social media. I did suggest to Oceanhouse that it would be nice to see some square graphics that would work better to share on Instagram. They could also have more sharing options right in the app so you don’t have to save them on your device then share.  But I did like the cute graphics and sayings. I think they would be cute to print a few out and send in your child’s lunch box.
Dr Seuss Senders app MountainDr Seuss Senders app pulling

Dr. Seuss App Sale
Now is the time to grab your Dr. Seuss apps.  Oceanhouse media has a huge sale going on this week to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday and Read Across America day.


This is a great time to get the Dr. Seuss Treasury (giving you access to all the Dr. Seuss book apps).  I already have a huge list of the books individually, but if you are starting out this is a great option to have access to 50+ Dr. Seuss book apps.  It is free to try for a week then the next time you access it, it will ask you to upgrade to the subscription.  Try it FREE for 7 days, then subscribe for unlimited access to a library of 55 digital books you can take with you anywhere.
This is really great for teachers to have in the classroom to reuse year after year. 
If you download the Dr. Seuss Treasury (iOS) app now you can choose..
  • Free Book of the Month, available without a subscription
  • 1 month: $4.99 (NEW!)
  • 3 month: $10.99
  • 1 year: $34.99 (regular price $49.99)
  • Unlimited: $69.99 (regular price $99.99)
5 Best-Selling Titles - Just $0.99 each (Normally $3.99 - $4.99)
  • The Cat in the Hat
  • Green Eggs and Ham
  • One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish
  • Dr. Seuss’s ABC
  • Oh, the Places You'll Go!
All Classic Dr. Seuss titles - $1 OFF
All Learning Library titles - $2 OFF
  • Beginner Book Collection #1 - $9.99 (regular price $14.99)
  • Beginner Book Collection #2 - $9.99 (regular price $14.99)
  • Dr. Seuss Short Story Collection - $6.99 (regular price $9.99)
App Bundles (iOS only)
  • Dr. Seuss Beginner Book Apps - $19.99 (regular price $29.99)
  • What’s in the Water? - The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library (Dr. Seuss) - $13.99 (regular price $17.99)
Dr. Seuss Book Apps available here:
iOS App Store:
Google Play:


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