MaiStoryBook Library: The Bad Seed + Giant Sunflower Handprint Craft

Introducing the newly released, fall-flower-seed themed children’s book featured in this week’s MaiStoryBook Library Collection:

“The Bad Seed” by Jory John and  Pete Oswald

Book Synopsis and Review

This is a story about a baaaaaaaaaad seed. Even the other seeds gossip ~ *That seed is SO bad.* So, how bad is he? Well, if you really want to know: he glares and stares at people, doesn’t wash his hands OR feet, never tells the punch line to jokes *gasp*, and that’s not even the half of it! He has bad manners, a bad attitude, and makes bad choices. However, bad seed wasn’t always bad. And one day, bad seed changes his mind and decides ~ he’s tired of being angry and bad ~ he wants to be *happy.* But as he soon realizes, It’s hard to be good when you’ve been bad for so long. Can this clever little seed find the will power to change his ways for the good ~ and find happiness after all?

Author Jory John brings to life a character that is sure to have kids gasping in a *horrified delight* ~ That seed really is SO bad~ However, interlaced throughout the humorous series of bad choices, is a tale of understanding, self-worth, acceptance, and the transformative power of will and support to become the best self you can be. Pete Oswald’s striking illustrations exaggerate the emotive consequences of making bad and good choices, highlighting for children that their actions can affect the people around them. A read aloud book that is sure to evoke peals of laughter, this story is also perfect for sparking conversation about empathy , the influences of life experiences, and the possibility of positive change.

Vocabulary List

  • Mumble (p.4) say quietly
  • Pointless (p.8) hopeless
  • Humble (p.11) kind, doesn’t brag a lot
  • Drooped (p.14) bend over downward
  • Drifted (p.26) wandering around with nowhere to go

Themes/Main Ideas

  • Positive change: With enough determination and support, everyone has the chance to change for the better.
  • Actions have consequences: What happens to us during *life experiences* can influence our behaviors and actions. However, our actions have consequences: bad choices can make our friends upset or sad, while good choices can make our friends happy.

YouTube Video: Guided Shared-Reading Read Aloud Example

Example of a shared-reading Read Aloud of “The Bad Seed” – how to subtly introduce the vocabulary list words within the text, ask guided questions, and spark conversation!

*~Check it Out~*

Subscribe: MaiStoryBook Channel for additional read aloud videos!

Giant Sunflower Handprint Craft

* Sunflowers* ~ Giant yellow balls of brightness and beauty. My favorite fall flowers, these radiant delights fill me with joy with even  just a glimpse of their bright yellow petals and golden fall color. My dream ~ get lost wandering through a field of giant sunflowers, surrounded by towering stalks of golden light ~ But in the meantime, while I await for that day of sunflower immersion, what better way to celebrate these fall flowers than to create my very own Giant Sunflower Handprint Craft! A sunflower with my handprints for the petals *It’s like I’m becoming part sunflower* The perfect craft for this sunflower seed read aloud, whip out those sunglasses, and enjoy an afternoon in the autumn sun crafting bright yellow blossoms glowing with the handprint’s of your child.


  • paper towel roll
  • 2 pieces of green construction paper
  • 1 piece of  brown construction paper
  • Several pieces of yellow construction paper *varies depending on handprint size*
  • mini paper plate
  • green pipe cleaners
  • sunflower seeds
  • glue
  • scissors
  • tape


  • Use the mini paper plate to trace a circle on the brown construction paper.
  • Cut out the brown circle and glue it to the bottom of the plate.
    • We will glue on the seeds later to prevent them from falling off when attaching the various parts.

  • Next, trace your child’s handprints onto the yellow paper and cut them out.
    • Depending on your child’s hand size, number of handprints will vary. I have small hands and used five, so I’d approximate between 7-9 handprints.
  • Tape them to the other side of the brown paper plate.
    • Hint: make sure to tape along the edges of the plate so that the petals stay erect and don’t droop behind the brown center.

  • For the stem: wrap the green construction paper vertically around the paper towel roll and tape into place.
  • For the leaves: Bend the 2 pipe cleaners into leaf shape and tape behind the stem.
  • Tape the green stem to the back of the paper plate until secure.

  • Final Step: The Seeds!
    • Help your child drizzle glue in the brown center of the sunflower.
    • Give them a handful of seeds to stick onto the glue in the brown center *Opportunity to discuss how seeds come from the center of the flower ~ this is where Bad Seed from the story was born
    • Wait for the craft to dry before handling to prevent seeds from falling

Enjoy Your Giant Sunflower Handprint Craft!

  • Re-read the story with your own Giant Sunflower reading buddy.
  • Prop your sunflower in a vase to bring brightness and cheer to your home.
  •  Share your sunflower with a family member or friend to bring them happiness.
  • Visit your local gardening store to find actual sunflower seeds to plant as a further reading extension.

*~Overall, have some FALL FLOWER FUN, creating these handprint, bright blossoms. Please comment below  – tag me on Instagram @MaiStoryBookLibrary  – or post on FaceBook to share your photos of your own Giant Sunflower Handprint Crafts! I’d love to hear from you!~*

*Check Back on Next Friday for our New Reading Adventure*

*~Until next time, Happy Reading~*

Themed Book Collection: Autumn Apple Adventures

*Introducing MaiStoryBook’s first Fall Themed Book  Collection of the season:*

Autumn Apple Adventures

After an *almost* unbearably hot summer of sandals and sundresses, I’m ready to trade in my tank tops for checkered flannels and my beach towels for knitted quilts. My senses are already tingling with the arrival of fall!  I can  imagine  the cozy glow of my room, enshrouded with the scent of pumpkin pecan waffle candles. My tastebuds are craving that warm sip of cider and bite of freshly baked apple pie.  My skin is bracing for the cool crisp autumn breezes, and yearning for the warmth of goose-down jackets and soft woolen sweaters. With all of these delightful autumn feelings, what better way to start off the season than with a mini fall break getaway to Julian, a quaint little mountain town in *apple* country.

*Apples* ~ the epitome of fall flavors: apple pie, apple cider, caramel apples, apple fritters, freshly picked apples straight from the tree ~

My taste buds are watering! And what better way to enjoy these apple treats with your little ones, than to snuggle up  under a pile of blankets, with warm cups of cider or cool glasses of milk, indulging in apple delicacies with an apple themed children’s book read aloud in hand. Enjoy some fall downtime with your child, diving into a read aloud world of apple adventures, immersing your minds *and filling your mouths* with the essence of autumn.

So here is MaiStoryBook’s recommended reading list for an Autumn Apple Adventure! Please comment below and share your own apple adventure reading favorites to add to the list. I’ll add recommendations throughout the month ~ so that we can grow a thriving orchard of apple adventures!

Recommended Reading List: Autumn Apple Adventures

  1. Little Apple Goat by Caroline Jayne Church
  2. The Growing-Up Tree by Vera Rosenberry
  3. The Apple Doll by Elisa Kleven
  4. The Apple King by Francesca Bosca
  5. Applesauce Season by Eden Ross Upon, Illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein
  6. Toto’s Apple by Mathieu Lavoie
  7. Bring Me Some Apples and I’ll Make You a Pie by Robbin Gourley
  8. How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman

Take a sneak-peek inside this book collection:

  • Little Apple Goat
    • Little Apple Goat loves eating fruit from the abundant orchards on the farm. But one stormy night, the fruit trees are destroyed and the orchard is cleared. With fall soon approaching, and the farm animals anxiously anticipating the fruit harvest, will there be an autumn miracle on Little Apple Goat’s farm? A book filled with sweet illustrations and a cute little goat character, this book introduces young children to the changing seasons.
  • The Growing Up Tree
    • A generational tale of a boy and the apple tree he grows up with. When Alfred was a baby, his mama planted an apple seed from the most delicious apple she had ever eaten. Over the years, Alfred and the tree grow together, experiencing life and its stages. When Alfred dies of old age, the tree subsequently is struck down by the wind. However the circle of life continues as a small seedling sprouts from the split trunk of the tree. Great read for introducing the cycle of life and generations of people and living things.

  • The Apple Doll
    • A delightful tale of a young girl finding a way to connect her home-life with her school-life, sharing her special apple doll made from the apples of her very own apple tree with her new friends. The intricate instructions offer plenty for children to explore with each turning of the page. Plus, instructions are included on how to make your very own apple doll from real apples!
  • The Apple King
    • When worms invade the kings precious apple tree, he is outraged!! No one is allowed to touch the apples on his tree except him! Thus follows a series of events as the king tries every which way to rid the worms from his trees: magic, use of force, bribes, etc. However, the king will soon learn the important purpose of the worms in helping his beloved apple tree grow. In this satisfying story, a selfish king learns the joy of sharing and the happiness it brings.

  • Applesauce Season
    • The perfect story to get your tastebuds tingling for the tastes of fall, this story recounts a family’s applesauce-making tradition, describing the process from the beginning peeling of the apples to the final cooling and tasting, to the family reunion gathered around the resulting applesauce feast. Grab some bowls of apple sauce and discover with your child how applesauce is made with this colorfully illustrated tale of fall and family.
  • Toto’s Apple
    • Toto the worm spies an apple. He wants it. Problem is, Toto is way down on the ground, and the apple is way high up in the tree. When a bird flies by, an idea pops into Toto’s mind! Follow Toto through a sequence of clever attempts to reach his desired apple. Will he find a way to attain that satisfyingly sweet apple crunch??

  • Bring Me Some Apples and I’ll Make You a Pie
    • In this story about Edna Lewis, champion of the farm-to-table movement and local cuisine, we discover the roots of Lewis’ passion for using the freshest ingredients in her cooking. Decorated with beautiful watercolor illustrations, this story weaves together songs, folk rhymes, and five enticing kids-recipes to introduce children to the idea of where there food comes from, and the bounties of food each season brings.
  • How to Make and Apple Pie and See the World
    • When you and your little one want to make an apple pie but discover that the store is closed… what’s the solution? Well, stores are open in *other parts of the world~* Indulge in a warm slice of apple pie and a scoop of vanilla ice cream with your child as you dive into this story and travel the globe in search of the perfect ingredients to make your own apple pie. Wheat from Italy, milk form England’s pastures of cows, and apples straight from the trees of Vermont ~ I can already smell the warm cinnamon scent wafting from the oven!

*~I hope you enjoyed this mini Autumn Apple Adventure! Please comment below and share your own favorite autumn apple children’s books  to add to this themed collection.~*

*~Also, I’d love to  see and hear about your own Autumn Apple Read Aloud Adventures, so please share your experiences below in the comments – tag me on Instagram @MaiStoryBookLibrary  – or post on MaiStoryBook’s FaceBook page!~*

Plus, checkout out a read aloud of  my current Fall Favorite Story here. 

*~Until Next Time, Happy Reading~*

MaiStoryBook Library: Otis and the Scarecrow by Loren Long + Fall Nature Scarecrow Craft

Introducing the “First Day of Fall” themed children’s book featured in this week’s MaiStoryBook Library Collection:

“Otis and the Scarecrow” by Loren Long

Book Synopsis and Review

Otis the tractor is overjoyed when the farmer brings a new friend to the farm cornfields: a scarecrow! However, despite Otis and his friends’ attempts to welcome the scarecrow, it remains silent with a stern look on its face. Frustrated by the scarecrow’s lack of reciprocation to their warm greetings, the friends dash off to enjoy in the fall festivities. One day, while Otis and his friends amuse themselves playing the quiet game under the apple tree, a terrible storm blows in. As Otis and his friends huddle safely under the tree, Otis notices the scarecrow out in the cornfield, all alone and stuck in the rain. In the middle of this rainstorm, can Otis and his friends find a way to help scarecrow feel not so lonely?

Like our book last week, Iggy Peck Architect, this book is also part of a beloved series, starring Otis the farm tractor. Otis is the model of what being a kind, loyal, and inclusive friend truly means. Otis books are great for kids to learn foreshadowing and plot. Since each book follows the same formula, children pick up on the similar plot elements and can make predictions about what will happen next. The basic formula for these stories: Otis and his friends use a fun childhood game to help out a new friend in need. In the end, this new friend joins their ever growing group of friends.  Although these books are sequential in their addition of new friends, they can be read in any order and  still make sense. This book, the fifth in the series, with its lush illustrations of plump pumpkins, autumn windy weather, and stern scarecrows, is the perfect story to kick off the FIRST day of Fall!

Vocabulary List

  • Recalled (p. 3)  remembered
  • Musty ( p. 5)  old, moldy, smelly
  • Tattered (p. 6) torn with holes
  • Rambunctious (p. 10) wild with a lot of energy
  • Tuckered out (p. 11) grew tired

Themes/Main Ideas

  • Loneliness and Inclusion: How does it feel being lonely? What does it look like if someone is lonely? What can you do to make someone feel less lonely?
  • Kindness: Kindness can be given without expectation of something in return. Kindness spreads and can have a chain effect, giving more people richer and happier experiences.


YouTube Video: Guided Shared-Reading Read Aloud Example

Example of a shared-reading Read Aloud of “Otis and the Scarecrow” – how to subtly introduce the vocabulary list words within the text, ask guided questions, and spark conversation!

*~Check it Out~*

Subscribe: MaiStoryBook Channel for additional read aloud videos!

Fall Nature Scarecrow Craft

With the new autumn season, it’s the perfect time to explore the outside world with your child, and see how nature is changing for the colder fall weather. So shake out your flannels, pull up those jeans, and bundle up in your autumn coats for your first fall nature walk of the season! Take a little baggie with you to collect your fall goodies. Anything you find can be used for your Fall Nature Scarecrow: the falling leaves of gold and rust, the mini brown acorns dropped by the squirrels, the aged bark of the trees shedding their summer layers for their thicker, cool weather shell. Use this walk as an opportunity to talk to your child about the changing seasons and signs of fall. After your autumn stroll, gather your goodies, brew up a kettle of apple cider, and cozy up to an afternoon of fall crafting!

Non- Nature Materials:  

  • toilet paper roll
  • light brown sheet of paper (or whatever color you want for the face)
  • hot glue gun (recommended for gluing on nature materials)
  • orange triangle sticker/orange paper
  • small square of burlap material or textured paper
  • ribbon (try to choose a fall color: gold, red, brown, orange)

Nature Materials Suggestions *specific nature materials will vary depending on your nature walk finds*

  • small handful of fall leaves
  • small handful of dry grass
  • acorns
  • woodchips
  • short stick
  • fall colored flowers
  • tree bark


  • Cut out a rectangle of colored paper for the face that is the same height of the toilet paper roll. Roll the paper around the toilet paper roll and tape or glue into place
  • Prepare the hot glue gun. Choose two objects from the nature walk for your eyes *I chose 2 wood chips*. Glue them on.

  • Cut out an orange paper triangle, or use your triangle sticker and stick on the nose. *option to also use an object from your nature walk*
  • Using the hot glue gun, glue on acorns *or nature objects of your choice* onto the face in a smile shape.

  • Next, choose a variety of dry grasses and leaves for the stuffing at the top of the scarecrow’s head. I started with the dry grass. Use the hot glue gun to glue a small pinch of grasses across the top of the face.
  • Before adding the leaves, create and glue on the hat. The leaves will be glued on behind the hat in order to  ensure they aren’t covered.
  • To make the hat, trace a triangle onto a thin piece of bark, cut it out, and hot glue it on top of the dry grass at the top of the face.

  • Glue on the leaves to the back of the hat so they appear to be poking out from behind.
  • Choose a ribbon color.  Tie it around the bottom edge of the hat, in a bow if your child prefers.
  • Next, hot glue the stick to the inside-bottom of the toilet paper roll. This will be the body of the scarecrow.
  • Option to add clothing: Wrap the burlap cloth/textured paper around the top half of the stick, touching the scarecrow face. Tape or glue into place.
  • Add a tie: Wrap a ribbon around the top of the stick where the cloth and the toilet paper roll meet. Glue into place. Cut a small piece of ribbon for the tie piece and glue it to the center of the ribbon around the neck.

Enjoy Your Fall Nature Scarecrow!

  • Re-read the story with your own scarecrow reading buddy.
  • Take your scarecrow buddy on an autumn nature walk, showing your scarecrow where you found its parts and pointing out the signs of fall.
  •  Prop up your scarecrow in the ground outside your home, or in your room propped up in a pot of dirt.
  • Share your scarecrow buddy with a friend who may be lonely.

*~Overall, have some FALL FUN, strolling with your child on a nature walk, and creating fall nature scarecrows. Please comment below  – tag me on Instagram @MaiStoryBookLibrary  – or post on FaceBook to share your photos of your own Nature Walk Goodies and Fall Nature Scarecrows! I’d love to hear from you!~*

*Check Back on Next Friday for our New Reading Adventure*

*~Until next time, Happy Reading~*


Local Library Finds: Dreaming of Orange Fairies in Tornados of Words

Upon entering a bookstore, other than feeling absolutely euphoric to be surrounded by thousands of different worlds, snugged tightly in their jacket covers, I can’t help but to feel that bubbling of anxiety as the small voice squeaks from the back of my mind, *You can only buy one book- make the right choice! Don’t buy the wrong one– what a waste of money!* I find myself hecticly scrolling through my phone, searching through multiple open tabs: Goodreads, Amazon, NY Times Bestseller List, Random Blogs etc., scanning through reviews and counting the stars. Anyone relate??

If only there were a way I could take a bunch of books for *free*, read them, see if I like them, and then decide if I should buy them for my own *home*-library. Well, *drumrollllll* lucky for me, there is!!!

*~Welcome to the Library~*

The Library: With no limit to how many books you can check out, it is the perfect place to sample something new, check out whatever catches your eye, and expose your child to a vast new world of books, all for free!

Then, if you find that you’ve checked out a jackpot winner, and your child falls in love with a special book, you have a few options: 1) You could renew it multiple times *with limitations unfortunately,* 2) or return it and see if you can rent it right away again, 3) or you could make the trip to the bookstore and feel assured that you will be spending your money on a worthwhile copy of your child’s new favorite book~ a book that will follow along with them as they grow up, forever a part of their childhood and sparking memories of bedtime stories and snuggles upon a glance at its cover or a ruffle through its pages.

The library is teeming with up-to-date selections, as well as classics and old favorites. This past weekend I went to the library to check out some books on hold, and couldn’t resist renting a handful of extra books that caught my eye. Check out the Book List below to see some *fabulous* local library finds to look out for at your own library!

*Tip: If you have a library card, you can login to your account on their website to search for books by title and put them on hold. You will be notified through your account when the books are ready to pick up, and must simply drive to the library and find them waiting for you on the front desk! Super time-saver if you know what you want~ *But if you have the time, browse around; you never know what treasure you’ll find*

MaiStoryBook’s Local Library Finds

  1. A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers, Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston
  2. Gone with the Wand by Margie Palatini, Illustrated by Brian Ajhar
  3. Now! by Tracey Corderoy, Illustrated by Tim Warnes
  4. Otis and the Tornado by Loren Long
  5. Nothing Rhymes with Orange by Adam Rex

*~Take a sneak-peak inside these library gems~*

  • A Child of Books
    • This was my favorite find~ the beautiful figure drawings of Oliver Jeffers combined with the fine word print work of Sam Winston unite to create a luminous realm of books and words, a dreamworld of stories traversed by two young children on an adventure to unlock their imaginations. This stunning story brings to life the rewards of reading and the ability of books to unlock a lifetime of magic and adventure.
  • Gone with the Wand
    • Author Margie Palatini never fails to leave me giggling with glee over plays on words, allusions to childhood tales and nursery rhymes, and lively plots. For children living in a fantasy world, this book will tickle their fairy senses and give them a glimpse into the lives of the fairies. With its allusions to the classic princess fairytales, children will delight in the familiar references and be taken on journey through pixie dust~*

  • Now!
    • Adults, ever had that child who wanted something, NOW? The perfect book to talk to children about patience, this story follows Otto the rhino as he learns that right Now, isn’t always the best time, and that some things are definitely worth waiting for.

  • Otis and the Tornado
    • This book is part of a beloved series about Otis the tractor, who is loyal and kind, and leads his group of friends to play rambunctious childhood games. In each book, the group plays a new game. Later in the story, the game is then used to help out a new friend in need, who by the end of the book, joins their friend group. Thus, with each sequential book, Otis and his group of friends gains one new friend, growing their group in size. A beautiful book about friendship and acceptance, Otis is a model for how to treat others, even those who aren’t, at first, always nice in return.

  • Nothing Rhymes with Orange
    • If you’re ever looking for a laugh-out-loud book, this newly released quirky tale will have you chuckling with cheer. As a child, I can remember lounging lazily with my friends, challenging each other to find a word to rhyme with orange. If you’ve ever wondered how to crack the challenge, read this book to find out! There just may be something that rhymes with orange.

*~I hope you enjoyed these special gems I found! Please comment below and share your own Local Library Finds! I’m always looking for new treasures to read!~*

*~Shoutout to my local Library: Oceanside Civic Center Public Library~*

*Plus, checkout out a read aloud of one of my current favorites here. *

*~Until Next Time, Happy Reading~*

MaiStoryBook Library: Iggy Peck Architect by Beaty & Roberts + STEM Bridge Building Activity

Introducing the brilliantly creative children’s book featured in this week’s MaiStoryBook Library Collection:

“Iggy Peck Architect”  by Beaty and Roberts

Book Synopsis and Review

Ever since he was two, Iggy Peck has had a passion for building. From balancing towers of dirty diapers to constructing arches from pancakes and coconut cake, Iggy Peck is the master architect. However, not everyone appreciates his talent and ideas, especially not his second grade teacher. When Ms. Lila Greer demands he cease his building, Iggy Peck’s spirits are dashed and it appears that his days of designing and creating are over. That is, until one disastrous field trip when Ms. Lila Greer and the second grade class need Iggy Peck’s talents more than ever. With the help of his friends, a big idea, and a whole lot of creativity, can Iggy Peck the architect save the day?

Author Andrea Beaty and illustrator David Roberts combine their talents to create a series of children’s books about children and STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Their series promotes the rapidly growing  STEM field by celebrating the creativity and expression of young scientists and engineers. Each book follows a young child pursuing his or her passion in a STEM field despite adversity to challenges to their ideas. This book focuses on architecture and the imagination to design and build ideas. Written in rhyme, the flowing prose, engaging illustrations, and relevant topic make it the perfect book to get children excited about the wonders of science and engineering, and promote the exploration of their own fierce wonderings and creative passions.

Vocabulary List

  • Severe (p. 12) very mean
  • Avoid (p. 14) stay away from
  • Rear (p. 15)  in the back
  • Trestle (p. 22) skinny bridge
  • Cables (p. 25) the long strings or poles you see on bridges that help support the weight of the bridge

Themes/Main Ideas

  • Follow your passions and do what you love- you are never too young to pursue your dreams
  • Teamwork: You can face any challenge when you work together as a team

Vimeo Video: Guided Shared-Reading Read Aloud Example

Example of a shared-reading Read Aloud of “Iggy Peck Architect”– how to subtly introduce the vocabulary list words within the text, ask guided questions, and spark conversation!

Subscribe: MaiStoryBook Youtube Channel for additional read aloud videos!

Follow: MaiStoryBook on Vimeo for additional read aloud videos!

STEM Activity: Building Bridges

*~Introducing your child to STEM: Building Bridges out of Marshmallows and Spaghetti Sticks~*

This activity is actually adapted from a team-building classroom lesson plan and so includes introductory information leading up to STEM Bridge Building Activity. For children younger than 5, I recommend verbally reviewing the worksheet with them, and then starting with the activity. For children 5+, below is the step-by-step guide through the  activity. The activity can also be done with groups of children, so round up those siblings, or establish a new play-date hit! If it’s just you an your little one, be prepared for an afternoon of sticky hands and creative designs!

Introduction to Architecture

  • What is Architecture?
    • Designing buildings and making sure they are built the right way
  • What are some cool things architects have built in your own neighborhood?
    • Bridges, libraries, tall buildings
    • Playgrounds, Parks

ABCDE’s of Architecture

  • Ask: What is the problem you are trying to solve? What is the goal?
  • Brainstorm: What are some different ways to solve it? Sketch and label different possibilities. Try to come up with as many ideas as possible because the first idea is rarely the best one. Make sure you can explain your ideas. Keep in mind the materials you are given.
  • Design: Choose the best idea. Create a diagram and Label the parts to communicate your idea.
  • Create: Following your diagram, build the design using the given materials
  • Evaluate and rEfine: Test it. Does your design accomplish your goal? How can you make it better?
  • Link to Iggy Peck Architect:
    • What were some ABDCE’s your identified?
    • What was the problem trying to be solved?
    • How did they create the bridge?
    • Was is Successful?’
STEM Challenge: Building Bridges out of Marshmallows and Spaghetti 

For our STEM activity, individually, or in groups, you will be designing and building your very own bridges, using marshmallows and spaghetti sticks.

  • Uncooked spaghetti sticks
  • Mini marshamllows
  • A ruler
  • 2  materials (boxes or stacks of books to build the bridge across)
  • 1 weight (A small stuffed animal/ building blocks/bag of coins- something to test the strength of the bridge)

Objective/ Goal:
  • Using only marshmallows and spaghetti sticks, build a bridge spanning 12 inches (that means from one end of the bridge, to the other it must be 12 inches. Use the ruler to measure it) that is strong enough to hold *this amount of weight* (whatever your choice of weight is)

Fill out the worksheet.

Worksheet can be found HERE. First fill out steps A,B & D (from ABDCE’s).

*I did this activity with a 3rd grade class. Sample of their work are shown*

  • Ask: How do we build a __(bridge)__ that spans __(12)__inches and can hold __*your choice*__of weight using only __(marshmallows)__ and __(spaghetti)__?
  • Brainstorming: Your child/Each person must sketch an idea for the bridge in this space- so if you have 4 people in your group, you should have 4 sketches. *1 child= come up with at least 2 different designs*
  • Design:  Discuss with your child, or in groups, which design will be best. Or maybe you combine designs and ideas.  Circle which one you decide on, or draw a new one if you come up with a new idea

  • Create: You are now ready to build the bridge. Bring out materials, a handful of spaghetti sticks and mini marshmallows, the ruler, and the 2 materials. Measure a distance of 12 inches span between the 2 materials *textbooks in these examples.* Using only the marshmallows and spaghetti sticks, build a bridge that will support the test weight.

  • Evaluate: Have your child/the children explain what they built. Time to test it! Place the weight on the bridge and see if it is supportive enough. *You can continue to add more weight to test its breaking point and see how much weight your design can support. We used 1 gram cubes and started with 30 grams, consecutively adding 10 grams to test the breaking point.*


What was good about your design? What’s something you can do to make it stronger next time?

*~Overall, Have FUN watching your child become an architect and design and build their very own bridge.  Please share photos of your craft sessions and read aloud experiences below in the comments – tag me on Instagram @MaiStoryBookLibrary  – or post on FaceBook ! I’d love to hear from you!~*

*Teachers +Educators: The classroom lesson plan, including step-by-step instruction and a scripted guide to the classroom lesson, can be found here. *

*Check Back on Next Friday for our New Reading Adventure*

*~Until next time, Happy Reading~*

MaiStoryBook Library: The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend + Make Your Own Friend Craft

Introducing the beautifully illustrated, heart warming children’s book featured in this week’s MaiStoryBook Library Collection:

“The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend” by Dan Santat

Book Synopsis and Review

On a magical island far way, an imaginary friend waits to be imagined by his special friend. However, once left behind after watching all of his friends get imagined, he decides to do the unimaginable, and sail off the island to the real world in search of his special friend. He explores the bustling city, traverses across playgrounds, and climbs the tallest of trees before finally finding his special friend and receiving his special name: Beekle. Through a series of animated illustrations, we watch the creation of the bond of friendship, and discover how with a friend by your side, you have the courage and strength to do the impossible~

This is the deserving book of the Caldecott Medal Award 2015,  a medal awarded annualy to the illustrator of the best illustrated childrens picture book of the year. Writer and illustrator Dan Santat creates amazing illustrations, filling his book with pages of imaginative and beautiful pictures for your child to  explore and talk about. Throughout the pictures he weaves a beautiful story about friendship, imagination, and the courage to find your own place in the world. Beekle is a sweet, plumpy character, sure to win over the hearts of any child *and adult*, and the illustrations of the magical realm and abundance of imaginary friends will spark the imaginations of readers and perhaps unite *or reunite* them with their very own imaginary friend.

Vocabulary List

  • Eagerly (p.2) – When you are very excited and really want somtheing
  • Unimaginable (p.10) – Doing something that most people usually don’t do because they think it’s impossible
  • Courage (p.12) – bravery to do something that scares you
  • Familiar (p.17) – something you know about and have seen before
  • Realized (p.32)– when you understand something

Themes/Main Ideas

  • Friendship: Friends give you the courage to do the unimaginable
  • Imagination: The power of imagination can turn the impossible into possible

YouTube Video: Guided Shared-Reading Read Aloud Example

Example of a shared-reading Read Aloud of “The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend”: how to subtly introduce the vocabulary list words within the text, ask guided questions, and spark conversation!

Subscribe: MaiStoryBook Channel for additional read aloud videos!

Make Your Own Imaginary Friend Craft

After reading this story, my imagination couldn’t help but to wander and explore the possibilities of who my own imaginary friend. What would they look like? What color would they be? What are all the things we could do together? I was ready to create my very own imaginary friend! This is a delightful craft to encourage your child to dream up their own friend, and explore the unimaginable! Look forward to a craft full of creativity, imagination, and a glimpse into a magical world!


  • White paper
  • Colored construction paper
  • Cotton Balls
  • Puff balls- colored variety
  • Pipe cleaners- variety (Michaels has a nice variety pack including pipe cleaners, puff balls, and googly eyes!)
  • Googly eyes
  • Colored markers
  • Scissors
  • Glue + glitter glue or puffy paint
  • Imagination *


  • Trace and cutout 2* Beekle shapes on the white paper
    • *1 for making a Beekle, the other for making your own imaginary friend
For Beekle
  • Trace and cutout a crown from the yellow paper. Glue it to the top of the head.
  • With a marker, draw 2 black circles for the eyes and the smiling mouth
  • Help your child *sparingly* cover the white area with squiggles of glue
  • Pull apart and stick on white cotton balls
  • Enjoy your Beekle!

For Your Own Imaginary Friend

  • For this one, give your child free range of the supplies and see what they come up with!
  • Here are some tips/suggestions:
    • Use markers to color the body BEFORE gluing so the markers don’t get mixed with the glue and dry out
    • For crazy hair or antennas, poke holes at the top of the head to attach rainbow pipe cleaners. Curl or bend the pipe cleaners to the desired shape
    • Use Googly eyes, adding as many eyes as they want~in any place they want!
    • Use the puffy paint or glitter glue to paint on the mouth or add swirls and shapes to the body
    • Use colored puff balls for the body
    • Find any other materials, ribbons, or goodies from nature *leaves, flower petals* to add to the imaginary friend

Enjoy Your Imaginary Friends!

  • Take your imaginary friend to play with you throughout the day.
  • Re-read the story with your own imaginary friend.
  • Take them outside and *discover* the magical island your friend was born!

*~Overall, Have FUN watching your child imagine the unimaginable. Please comment below  – tag me on Instagram @MaiStoryBookLibrary  – or post on FaceBook to share your photos of your imaginary friend creations ! I’d love to hear from you!~*

*Check Back on Next Friday for our New Reading Adventure*

*~Until next time, Happy Reading~*

Themed Book Collection: *Mai* Childhood Bookshelf

So I decided to change this category from the Theme of the Month, to Themed Book Collections. There are just too many good books to recommend for only one book collection per month! This way, I get to share with you all more themed collections and more fantastic children’s books throughout the whole month!

*Introducing MaiStoryBooks’s first Themed Book Collection:*

*Mai* Childhood Bookshelf

Earlier this week, I climbed the rickety green ladder to the loft in my sister’s room, where a small bookshelf and miniature teddy bear couch created a cozy kids reading nook. Combing through a slightly dusty shelf of my old children’s books, I delved into flashbacks from the past: of pleas of *one more book* to avoid the inevitable nap time, of a slightly exasperated parent sneakily attempting to skip pages during the  20th reading of the same book *p.s. they weren’t successful- I knew the story inside and out by the 5th reading*, of *reading* to my younger brother- ignoring the unknown words and recreating versions of my own retelling.  Pulling out a pile of my favorites, I recalled my childhood as a little bookworm ~ the excitement of a bookstore + Jamba Juice smoothie outing, a library trip as a treat, the thrill of painting my own wooden bookcase to store my growing collection of books~ and I can’t wait to pass on this love for books to my own little ones ~ both as a teacher and a future parent!

For this first Themed Book Collection, I’m excited to share some of my favorite children’s books from my very own *childhood bookshelf*, plus maybe you’ll have a mini flashback of your own with these slightly older children books. Enjoy sharing with your child some of your own childhood favorites, perhaps something your parents read to you when you were younger~ connect the reading loop~!

So here is MaiStoryBook’s recommended reading list for the *Mai* childhood bookshelf theme – a collection of books that held my heart as a child. Please comment below and share your own childhood favorites to add to the list! I’ll add recommendations throughout the month ~ so that we can grow a community collection of children’s books from our very own *Childhood Bookshelves*

Recommended Reading List: *Mai* Childhood Bookshelf

  1. Let’s Go Froggy by Jonathan London
  2. Five Little Monkeys With Nothing To Do by Eileen Christelow
  3. Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow
  4. The Jolly Pocket Postman by Janet & Allen Ahlberg
  5. The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown, Illustrated by Clement Hurd
  6. Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara M. Joosse, Illustrated by Barbara Lavallee
  7. Chips & Cookie: The First Adventure by Peg Kehret, Illustrated by Leslie Beaber
  8. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff, Illustrated by Felicia Bond
  9. A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni
  10. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
  11. The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle
  12. Ten Items or Less by Stephanie Calmenson, Illustrated by Terri Super
  13. The Timid Little Kitten by Barbara Shook Hazen, Illustrated by Jan Pfloog
  14. Let’s Talk About…After Dark by Maria Vendrell & Rosa Capdevila
  15. Madeline in America by Ludwig Bemelmans and John Marciano
  16. Time for Bed by Men Fox, Illustrated by Jane Dyer
  17. Maya and The Town that Loved a Tree by Kiki & Kathryn Shaw, Illustrated by Kiki

Take a sneak-peek inside this book collection:

  • Let’s Go Froggy
    • Anyone read the Froggy books? The most outrageous little guy goes on the most hilarious daily adventures! Even the dentist is enjoyable with Froggy
  • Five Little Monkeys With Nothing To Do 
  • Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
    • Five Little Monkeys= five times as much mischief and fun
  • The Jolly Pocket Postman 
    • Delightful interactive book with envelopes with a actual pull out letters for different fairytale characters

  • The Runaway Bunny 
  • Mama, Do You Love Me? 
    • 2 similar books: both involve little ones testing the limits of their mother’s love, only to find that a mother’s love is limitless and unconditional. No matter what, mama loves you!

  • Chips & Cookie: The First Adventure 
    • As a child, I spent hours pouring over illustrations of a cookie candy land with a chocolate river. Perfect book for pairing with a warm batch of cookies and cool glass of milk.
  • If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
    • The little ones can make the biggest mess~ Give a mouse a cookie, and enjoy the tumultuous adventure that ensues. A classic!

  • A Color of His Own by Leo Lionni
    • A little chameleon tries to find his own color. A fun story about finding your true self and discovering who you are.
  • The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
    • Another classic of unconditional love ~
  • The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle
    • One of my favorite illustrators and storytellers, this interactive book teaches time with a series of flaps, colorful illustrations, and a quirky ladybug character.

  • Ten Items or Less 
    • Every kid has that book they read 50,000 times in a row: this was mine. The predictable counting scheme in this Little Golden Book, plus the enticement of watermelon, cereal, cookie snacks, and a special prize at the end captivated my wonder!
  • The Timid Little Kitten 
    • Another Little Golden Book, I couldn’t resist that adorable kitten! A sweet tale of finding your courage.
  • Let’s Talk About…After Dark 
    • As a child, I was terrified of the dark *honestly, still slightly am* This story relieved some of my fright by explaining all the living, hustling, and bustling continuing throughout the night and around the world. Plus, it’s a dual language book, written both in English and Vietnamese.

  • Madeline in America 
    • My favorite little girl growing up. In love with the cartoon TV show, I enjoyed the storybook version, relating the characters on the pages to the mini characters in my mind from the show. Engaging tales of a spunky little girl and her 11 other sister-friends.
  • Time for Bed
    • My official bedtime good night story, mainly I loved the illustrations of the baby animals and mama animals. The pages are filled with cute, comforting animals and a rhythmic storyline.
  • Maya and The Town that Loved a Tree
    • Main appeal: The book bears my namesake. However, this is a beautiful story about the environment and the power of trees and nature to bring people happiness and joy, and the importance of protecting our trees.

*~I hope you enjoyed this mini journey through my childhood bookshelf! Please comment below and share your own favorite children’s books from your childhood to add to this themed collection~*

Plus, checkout out a read aloud of one of my current favorites here. 

*~Until Next Time, Happy Reading~*


MaiStoryBook Library: The Day the Crayons Quit + Reading Buddy Craft & Imagination Drawing

Introducing the delightfully clever children’s book featured in this week’s MaiStoryBook Library Collection:

“The Day the Crayons Quit” by DayWalt and Jeffers

Book Synopsis and Review

Duncan, a mini budding artist, just wants to draw. But when he reaches for his prized artist tools, his box of crayons, he finds, instead, an ominous stack of letters. Who are they from, and where did his crayons go? And thus, begins a series of crafty and expressive letters from each crayon in the crayon box. Feelings of exhaustion, jealousy, gloom, and frustration bubble up from these letters as the crayons tell Duncan exactly how they feel they have been treated. Can Duncan find a way to listen and respond to his crayon friend’s needs in time for his classroom drawing project?

As an artist, this book about crayons revolting struck my funny bone- plus the thought of my artist tools suddenly refusing to work was slightly alarming! But beyond that, this is an incredibly fun book and cleverly written, a great read for not just children, but adults as well. For kids, this is a great book to facilitate rich conversation. First, there are ample opportunities to talk about colors: thinking about and labeling things of different colors. Jeffers’ illustrations delight with his child-like images capturing the spirit of Duncan, and his expansion on the use of normative versus creative use of colors. Second, parents can talk with children about empathy, how to understand how others feel and share in those feelings. For younger children, the book offers learning opportunities for being able to identify how people feel based on their body language. DayWalt’s creation of such expressive crayon characters in this story provide plenty of times to discuss emotions.

Vocabulary List 

  • Wheat (Beige Crayon)– plant that we make breads and pastas out of
  • Career (Green Crayon)– a job someone does for a long time
  • Stubby (Blue Crayon) – short and small
  • Occasional (Pink Crayon) – every once in awhile
  • Creativity (Last Page) – when you use your imagination to make something truly unique, something that’s all yours

Themes/Main Ideas

  • Feelings & Emotions
    • Empathy- being able to understand and share the emotions and feelings of someone else
    • Identifying emotions through body language and facial expression
  • Don’t be afraid to use your imagination:  use a rainbow of different colors, color outside the lines, dare to be different

YouTube Video: Guided Shared-Reading Read Aloud Example

Example of a shared-reading Read Aloud of “The Day the Crayons Quit”: how to subtly introduce the vocabulary list words within the text, ask guided questions, and spark conversation!

Subscribe: MaiStoryBook Channel for additional read aloud videos!

Reading Buddy Crayon Craft

This is a fun, simple craft to add a physical element to the story, and further bring the book and the characters to life. These miniature crayon action figures make fantastic reading buddies during a second reading of the story, or even your child’s own retelling of the story. Be prepared for an afternoon of puff balls, glue, and googly eyes~ your craft spot will look like a rainbow exploded!


  • Box of crayons
  • Pipe cleaners- Assorted colors
  • Mini Puff Balls – Assorted colors
  • Googly Eyes
  • Hot glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Black marker


  • Choose a color and gather materials: (ex. blue)
    • Have your child help you find all the blue materials: blue crayon, blue pipe cleaner, blue mini puff ball, 2 googly eyes

  • Glue materials
    • Glue on 2 googly eyes near the top of the crayon using Elmers glue or hot glue
    • Glue on the puff ball nose under the eyes – only works with hot glue gun or super glue. Do not use Elmers glue.
  • Draw on facial expression with black marker (ex. blue)
    • Discuss with your child how this color crayon felt during the story (For blue: was short, stubby, and overworked so he would have a sad frown)
  • Attach pipe cleaner arms and legs (ex. yellow)
    • Cut pipe cleaner into thirds- You will be using 2 of the 3 pieces
    • Wrap 1/3 of pipe cleaner around the top front of the crayon, beneath the math, and twist behind to secure. Pull the ends out to create arms
    • Wrap 1/3 of pipe cleaner around the bottom quarter of the crayon, twisting behind to secure, and pulling ends out and downward to create legs.
    • Narrate instructions and actions while twisting the pipe cleaners, or while the child twists
    • You can glue for extra security, but not necessary

Enjoy Your Reading Buddy!

  • Use crayon reading buddies as guides and action figures during a second telling of the story
  • Use crayon reading buddies as action figures to invent a new ending to the story, or retell the story in a mini puppet show!

*Psst, how many reading buddies do you spot in this photo??* 😉

Imagination Drawing

For a book all about colors and creativity, I had to throw in some drawing and coloring into the mix. And, *guilty!*, as an artist I couldn’t resist a good color/draw sesh. For this activity, simply give your child a couple blank pieces of paper, a box of crayons, and let their imaginations go wild!


  • Box of crayons or coloring/drawing utensils
  • 2-3 Blank pieces of paper
  • Imagination! & Creativity!


As the directions are pretty straight forward — give your child paper, crayons and let em’ loose — the following directions serve more as a guide for parents to have a conversation and educational dialogue with their child while they are coloring.

  •  If your child is coloring with a crayon color from the book, ask him/her what they recall about how that crayon felt and what they were asking of Duncan was.
  • Talk about different things that are the same color and different than the select crayon.
  • Prompt your child to try using colors for different objects they wouldn’t normally be used for (ex. orange whales, green water, purple strawberries)
  • Additionally, you can open to the last mural  illustration at the end of the book, and leave it open while your child draws and colors. Have a conversation about the pictures on the page,  what colors things are, and if Duncan listened to his crayon friends’ advice. Encourage your child to use *creativity* like Duncan did.

*~Overall, Have FUN seeing what your child dreams up.  Please share photos of your craft sessions and read aloud experiences below in the comments – tag me on Instagram @MaiStoryBookLibrary  – or post on FaceBook ! I’d love to hear from you!~*

*Check Back on Next Friday for our New Reading Adventure*

*~Until next time, Happy Reading~*