Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Twig Books for Early Writers from Playful Learning (& a Giveaway)

Some of you may remember that at the beginning of the summer, I had aspirations to write at least a weekly post for a Summer Writer's Camp series to get young kids writing...but life got busy and it never really got off the ground.

So you can imagine how excited I was when a copy of Playful Learning: Develop Your Child's Sense of Joy and Wonder by Mariah Bruehl showed up in my mailbox.  The whole first chapter is titled "Nurturing Young Authors" and features 7 different projects with somewhere around 14 different children's books to go along with them for inspiration.  It also has chapters about reading, math, science art, social studies, and citizenship, each with lots of projects and books for inspiration.  As far as I'm concerned, the only thing better than a fun kids' craft/learning idea is one that also goes along with an excellent children's book.  I didn't even make it through the second chapter before my hold list at the library filled up (seriously...we need to be able to put more than 25 books on hold at a time!), so you can bet we'll be doing more of the activities from this book in the coming weeks.  There are seriously so many great ideas in here.  For more information about the Playful Learning, Mariah Bruehl, and an upcoming E-course she's having, you can see her website here.

When I saw the simple way Mariah show to make Twig Books, I knew it would be the first project we'd try.  (The book also has several other fun ways to make books that we also plan on trying.)  One thing I've learned about Firecracker, is she loves to fill in blank books.  If you staple a few sheets of paper together, and leave them around, pretty soon she'll come over proud of a story...often only 3 or 4 sentences long and fairly repetitive, but her own story none the less.  The twig books looked like a fun variation...and now that we made one together, I'm sure Firecracker could make more all on her own.

They're super simple to make.  I started with several sheets of super wide-ruled children's paper.  (This was some my mom gave us, but I've seen similar tablets at the dollar store.  It's even better for kids' books if you have there's a place for pictures...and there's even a printable of that kind of paper in the book.)  Then I cut the paper in half, so we could make to books.

I cut some scrapbook paper the same size to use for a front and back cover.  While you're doing all the cutting you can send your child out to hunt for a few sticks.

You just punch two holes in the top.
Then stick a rubber band through one hole and hook it onto the twig.

Then pull the rubber band through the other hole and loop the twig...

...and you're done.

(If you used some super girly paper for the cover and added some ribbons, it would make the perfect journal to go with a reading of Fancy Nancy: Explorer Extraordinaire! --a long time favorite of ours.)

Before writing in the our twig book, we read A Book by Mordicai Gerstein, recommended by Mariah as inspiration for story writing in an earlier section.  It was a truly charming book...a little bit different from any other children's book I've read.  There's a little girl in it who knows she lives in a book, but doesn't know what her story is.  After exploring several different genres, she realizes none of them fit her, and her story is that she's going to write her own story and become an author.  It was perfect for Firecracker since she's told me several times she wants to be an author when she grows up (as well a a pilot, tractor driver, and a lot of other things.)

It's also a great lead in for a child to write a little story of their own.  In this case Firecracker decided she wanted to write about her class going to a Water Park.

She had a lot of fun writing her story.

And wanted me to take lots of pictures of the process.

I'm not sure if it was the fun new book that inspired it, but this story is by far Firecracker's best in terms of sentence structure variety.
The final text before she went to bed was, "My class is going to the water park.  We see a big water slide!!!! (She loves !! can you tell?)  It was sooo fast!!!!  I feel proud and wet."  And she plans to add more to her story tomorrow.

We made a second book for Little Brother.  He has recently learned to write his own name and LOVES practicing letters.  I was hoping he could do the activity with us...but alas he had no nap, and needed an early look for an update with his book tomorrow.

Whenever I get an offer to review a book or product, I'm always torn between the flattery from my little blog being noticed...and nervousness that I might be agreeing to "sell" something that I haven't had a chance to check out yet.  Once I had a chance to see Mariah's book, I had no reservations.  I truly love this book and highly recommend it.  I'm sure you'll hear much more about in the coming months as we read more of the books it recommends and try more of the activities.  I was provided a copy of this book to review for free, but received no other compensation for this post and the opinions expressed here are my own.

I'm also excited to announce that Mariah is offering one lucky reader, your very own copy of of Playful Learning: Develop Your Child's Sense of Joy and Wonder by Mariah Bruehl.  All you need to do to enter is become a follower of my blog through blogger, Facebook, or however you follow blogs AND leave one comment telling me you're a follower and maybe tell me about a fun book you've read with your kids if you want to be extra friendly.  Entries will close Sept. 9th at midnight and I'll choose a winner via a random number generator and announce the winner Saturday.  (Please be sure that your email address is connected to your blogger profile, or leave your email address with your comment.)

I'll be linking to:

Making The Girl Creative  Keeping It Simple abc button Photobucket giveaways A Mommy Adventures Katie's Nesting Spot Show and Tell Green Photobucket
Join us Saturdays at for the weekend wrap up party!


  1. Hi! I liked you on Facebook :) Thank you for the giveaway, and though I don't have kids, I like Michael Rosen's 'Dear Mother Goose'!

  2. I looked at the book on amazon using "look Inside" and it looks awesome! I won't have preschool/school aged kids for a while but that's a book I'll have to put on my list.
    We have a really nice library here, but I haven't looked in the kids section yet. I'll have to check it out though.
    It sounds like Firecracker had fun at the water park, and I love all her !!!!!.

  3. following you on facebook! we love the silly book "diary of a worm"...thanks for doing the giveaway!

    (also - commenting with my google account isn't working for some reason - my email is

  4. Oh how fun! I follow through GFC and RSS. And the favorite books around our house right now are Never Mail an Elephant and Dinosaurumpus. :)

  5. Lovely site! Lovely ideas! I am now your follower through blogger :) looking forward to learning more :) my four year old is currently enjoying tacky the penguin especially since I read with a fully animated voice :)

  6. Hi! I'm new to your blog but look forward to following it!
    ~ joey ~

  7. Hi,
    I just found your blog and will really enjoy reading it. My daughter-in-law is going to school to be a librarian so if I win the book we will share it. My grandkids love books and we like to read Grandfather Buffalo he's old and slow but he's still part of the herd. Kindof like grandparents!!!LOL Julie

  8. Follower through Google Friend Connect. I would love to win this book. Right now our favorite books are the Elephant and Piggy series by Mo Willems.

    erinb1 at aol dot com

  9. I shared this post with the Special Education teacher at my high school who works with adolescents with very low writing skills. I'd write more here, but I'm headed outside to look for twigs...I want one of those little journals for ME!

  10. I followed you on facebook! A good book I've read with my little one lately is My Heart is Like a Zoo!

    Thanks for the chance! :)

  11. I "liked" your blog at facebook. A fun book that I have begun to read to my kids is Life Of Fred: Apples.

    kaos2me at gmail dot com

  12. Hi Polly:
    I just wanted to let you know about the children's picture book I authored and illustrated. It found its way into Barnes and Noble and Books A Million. It's title is LITTLE LILLY' S POLKA DOT WORLD. It teaches children that going to the doctor is not so scary. Your kids will have fun on the interactive website based on the book- I also have a

    Am following you!

    THANKS- Wendy Reed

  13. Adding myself as a follower. Love the twig book idea, and would love to win the book!

  14. The book sounds amazing!! I'm a new follower and would love to win.

  15. Love this idea --- my daughter loves to write and draw so I'm sure she'd enjoy a book like this!

  16. I follow you on facebook now. I'm a children's librarian, so there are so so very many books that I love to share. Moo, Baa, La La La with my 2 year old, Magic Trixie graphic novels with my 6 year old, and The Write Start for fun writing ideas with both girls and kids at the library. I'm super excited to see Playful Learning!
    dogx88 at gmail dot com

  17. What a sweet project that my kids would love too! I love seeing that big smile on her face...I'm a fan of water slides too ;)
    I am a follower of your oh-so-inspiring blog! Thanks for the chance at this great giveaway!

  18. Hi there!!

    I follow you and I like you on facebook!:)

    One of Little One's favourites at the moment is Animal Gym (A Little Golden Book).

    Would LOVE to win this!

    Take care,

  19. I am your newest follower. I just happened upon you while visiting Sassy Sites. I'd love to win this book! My kids just started 1st grade and I'm less than impressed with the time they have for creativity. So, while I'm seriously thinking about yanking them out of school, this would provide good ideas for nurturing their creativity during their non-school hours!

    swandiva at hotmail dot calm

  20. Hi Polly! I follow your blog on Facebook, and I must thank you for sending us the Strawberry Shortcake books. I don't like them, but the kiddos want to read them every day.

  21. I just realized "don't like" doesn't sound very nice. More accurately, there are other books I would prefer to read with them, but The Strawberry Shortcake have become their favorites!

  22. I follow your blog! I would love to win this! I am studying to become a teacher and it looks like this book would be awesome to have on hand!

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  23. Looks like a great book. Thanks for the giveaway.

  24. I would LOVE to win Mariah's book! She's so inspiring. I love your blog and subscribed. My daughter just started kindergarten yesterday so we've been reading a lot of books about school. A favorite is Miss Bindergarten.

  25. What a great idea. I love crafting with twigs and this is wonderful. I would be thrilled if you shared this project on my Inspiration Board {link party}. I know my readers would really enjoy it.
    Thanks for the inspiration.
    carolyn | homework


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