Jobs of a Preschooler · Ramblings · Themed Books

Nature Walk: How Many Butterflies and Moths?

(This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission at no extra charge to you if you click on a link and make a purchase.)

I had mentioned in a previous post that your little ones can be scientists by taking a nature walk to make some fun discoveries. I have talked about finding tracks, nests, and interesting creatures before. Today, I thought it would be fun to search for butterflies and moths.

Although I am definitely not a lepidopterist (a person who studies moths or butterflies), there are some books that provide details about moths and butterflies.

Books about Moths and Butterflies

Butterflies and Moths: Explore Nature with Fun Facts and Activities by DK

Butterfly or Moth?: How Do You Know by Melissa Stewart

Butterflies and Moths by David Carter

Moth and Butterfly Search

Typically, moths have fat feathery antennae, and butterflies have slender antennae with “balls” at the tips. Butterflies are often found during the day, whereas moths often prefer nights. Butterflies make chrysalises, and moths make cocoons.

This is a picture of a monarch butterfly we found on a trail we were walking on one day. Did you know you can tell a male and female monarch butterfly apart by looking at the markings on the wings when they are open? The males have black spots, and the females don’t.

These caterpillars shown on the milkweed plants are not technically butterflies (yet), but it is fun to see the different stages of a butterfly. Did you know monarch caterpillars can only eat milkweed plants?

monarch caterpillars on milkweed

I took the caterpillar picture at a monarch butterfly event we attended. Families were allowed to take home a caterpillar to raise and later release.

The book How to Raise Monarch Butterflies by Carol Pasternak is a great resource if you would like to raise your own monarch butterflies.

Some nature centers allow visitors to help tag monarch butterflies. The small tags help track monarchs during their long migration. More information about monarch tagging can be found on Monarch Watch.

I think this is an eastern tiger swallowtail. We were walking and saw it along the side of a road.

If you know what this guy is, please let me know.

A moth, a beetle, and a fly all flew on to a tree…

butterfly, beetle, and fly

…and then I took a picture.

Speaking of butterflies and flies, another book to check out is I, Fly by Bridget Heos about a fly that feels underappreciated. He thinks butterflies get too much attention, so he attempts to enlighten a classroom full of kids about flies. Readers learn quite a few facts about flies through the fly’s humorous discussion.

How many butterflies and moths can you find?

Here are some more posts you may be interested in reading:

Nature Walk: Whose Tracks Are These?

Nature Walk: Where Will You Find a Nest?

14 Children’s Books About Flowers

14 Children’s Books About Seeds, Plants, and Gardening


Ramblings · Themed Books

55 Children’s Books About Dads

(This post contains affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission at no extra charge to you if you click on a link and make a purchase. Thank you!)

Father’s Day is already less than two weeks away!

If you are looking for a fun gift or card for kids to make this Father’s Day, you can check out 15 DIY Father’s Day gifts and cards that I compiled for Hands On As We Grow.

If you are looking for children’s books about dads, then keep reading! With so many options to choose from (a total of 55), I hope you are able to find at least one that fits your needs.

Many of these books are available at my library according to the online library catalog; however, I did not check them all out and preview them ahead of time like I have done in the past.

Children’s Books About Dads

Always Daddy’s Princess by Karen Kingsbury

Ask Me by Bernard Waber

Baby Dance by Ann Taylor 

Because I’m Your Dad by Ahmet Zappa

Because Your Daddy Loves You by Andrew Clements

Dad and the Dinosaur by Gennifer Choldenko 

Dad By My Side by Soosh 

Dad Can do Anything by Martin Thomas 

Daddy Hug by Tim Warnes

Daddy Hugs by Nancy Tafuri 

Daddy Hugs 1-2-3 by Karen Katz

Daddy’s Girl by Helen Foster James

Daddy is a Cozy Hug by Rhonda Gowler Greene

Dad’s Book of Awesome Science Experiments: From Boiling Ice and Exploding Soap to Erupting Volcanoes and Launching Rockets, 30 Inventive Experiments to Excite the Whole Family by Mike Adamick

Days With Dad by Nari Hong

Faster! Faster! by Leslie Patricelli 

God Made Daddy Special by Glenys Nellist 

Hero Dad by Melinda Hardin

Higher! Higher! by Leslie Patricelli 

How to Surprise a Dad by Jean Reagan

If I Didn’t Have You by Alan Katz

I Love Dad by Joanna Walsh & Judi Abbot

I Love Dad With the Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

I Love My Daddy by Giles Andreae 

I Love My Daddy Because…by Laurel Porter-Gaylord

I Love Pop!: A Celebration of Dads by Dr. Seuss

I Love You Daddy by Jilliam Harker

I Need All of It by Petra Postert 

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

Just Like Daddy by Ovi Nedelcu

Just Me and My Dad by Mercer Mayer 

Lola Loves Stories by Anna McQuinn 

Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects by Mark Frauenfelder

Me and My Dad! by Alison Ritchie 

My Cat Looks Like My Dad by Thao Lam

My Dad and Me by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

My Dad and Me by Tania Cox

My Dad is Amazing! by Sabrina Moyle

My Dad is Big and Strong, Bu/t…A Bedtime Story by Coralie Saudo 

My Father Knows the Names of Things by Jane Yolen

Naptastrophe! by Jarrett J. Krosoczka 

Nelly Gnu and Daddy Too by Anna Dewdney 

Night Job by Karen Hesse

Pet Dad by Elanna Allen

Shopping with Dad by Matt Harvey 

Thank You, God, for Daddy by Amy Parker 

The Berenstain Bears and the Papa’s Day Surprise by Stan and Jan Berenstain

The Night Before Father’s Day by Natasha Wing

The 10 Best Things About My Dad by Christine Loomis

Things To Do With Dad by Sam Zuppardi 

What Dads Can’t Do by Douglas Wood

When Dads Don’t Grow Up by Marjorie Blain Parker 

Why I Love My Daddy by Daniel Howarth

You and Me, Me and You by Miguel Tanco 

Your Baby’s First Word Will Be Dada by Jimmy Fallon

What is your favorite book about a dad?

Check out even more themed books:

Ramblings · Themed Books

5 Interactive Educational Children’s Books

(This post contains affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission at no additional charge to you if you click a link and make a purchase. Thank you!)

At my most recent writer’s meeting, someone mentioned a children’s book that allowed you to see additional pictures on a page by shining a flashlight through the back of the page. I had never seen that before, so I had to find the book for myself.

Since my writer’s meeting takes place at a library, I searched for the book before I left. The specific book that was mentioned was not at my library; however, I was pleased to discover there is an entire series of this type of book.

It is called “A Shine-A-Light Book” series. Have you seen these books before?

If not, I encourage you to check them out with the little ones in your life (or for yourself if you are like me and just want to see them). Not only do they provide interactive entertainment by finding the hidden picture(s) on each page, but they are also educational.

Here is a sample from Secrets of the Seashore by Carron Brown & Alyssa Nassner, which was published by Kane Miller (2014).  The text on the page explains what a tide pool is and then asks a question to the reader.

Illustration from Secrets of the Seashore by Carron Brown & Alyssa Nassner (Kane Miller, 2014)

When the reader shines a light through the page, they discover creatures in the tide pool. The next page explains what is found.

Illustration from Secrets of the Seashore by Carron Brown & Alyssa Nassner (Kane Miller, 2014)

Isn’t that fun? I love it! Below I have listed five books that are part of the A Shine-A-Light Book series for you to check out on your own.

A Shine-A-Light Book Series

Secrets of Winter by Carron Brown & Georgina Tee 

Find a wood frog, hare, grouse, bumblebee, tiny snails, and more as you learn about animals in the winter. The last pages include additional information about changing colors, falling leaves, hibernation, nocturnal animals, food stores, animal shelters, snowshoes, and how animals can still eat during the winter.

Secrets of the Rainforest by Carron Brown & Alyssa Nassner

Find a butterfly, spider monkey, tree frog, snake, sloth, and more as you learn about animals and plants that live in the rainforest. The last pages include additional information about the levels of the rainforest such as the upper canopy and lower levels, roots, river animals, pitcher plants, and more.

Secrets of the Seashore by Carron Brown & Alyssa Nassner

Find mussels, barnacles, sea anemones, shrimp, and more as you learn about animals that live in or near the sea. The last pages include additional information about clams burrowing in sand, whelks, crabs, gulls, sea otters, fish trapped in tide pools, seaweed, octopuses, and filtering water.

Secrets of the Vegetable Garden by Carron Brown & Giordano Poloni

Find a scarecrow, the necessities of a plant, and more as you learn about plants and animals in or near a vegetable garden. The last pages include additional information about seeds, the parts of a plant (roots, stem, and leaf), flowers, nectar, pollen, and fruit.

Secrets of the Apple Tree by Carron Brown & Alyssa Nassner

Find worms, leaves, a lizard, rabbits, a moth, and more as you learn about what can be found in, around, and under an apple tree. The last pages include additional information about what is in the soil, what may be found in leaves, who may hide in cracks, burrowers, hidden colors, spiders, birds, bumblebees, and squirrel dens.

Which one is your favorite?

For more book ideas, check out the following posts:

Ramblings · Writing Appearances

2019 Goals Update and Behind-the-Scenes Peek at Current Project

(This post contains affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission at no extra charge to you if you click on a link and make a purchase. Thank you!)

I can’t believe we are already in May! How are you doing on your goals so far for this year?

2019 Goals Update

2019 Writing Goals Update

I have been making some progress on my writing goals for this year. I am still writing for Hands On As We Grow, writing at least two posts each month for my website’s blog, attending writer’s meetings, and serving as a Network Chair for SCBWI Iowa.

I have also researched, written a proposal, and submitted a children’s nonfiction project. I did write a rough draft to one children’s book manuscript that will probably not go anywhere beyond my kitchen table and started revising a different children’s book manuscript.

I also submitted an additional children’s book manuscript I had written last year to some literary agents and publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts. For those of you who don’t know, unsolicited manuscripts are simply manuscripts that have not been requested by the publisher or represented by a literary agent. I haven’t been able to get either of the children’s books I submitted this year accepted by a publisher or literary agent (hopefully yet).

Although I have received quite a few rejection letters this year, I still have been able to have some of my works accepted. My proposals for course ideas were approved, and I have created two courses for Schoolhouse Teachers (only the one called Foods and Food Production has been published so far).

Foods and Food Production

I also wrote an article for The Old Schoolhouse, which should be published some time this year in a resource they are putting together for homeschool parents.

In addition to that, I received an email saying that a short true humorous writing I submitted to Reader’s Digest in September of 2017 should be published in an upcoming issue. I had forgotten about that writing and was surprised to hear something about it 20 months later, but I am excited to have it published!

So, the goals I have not completed yet include attending an SCBWI conference (which I hope to do in September), being accepted by a literary agent, working on a nonfiction project for adults (not sure if I am still wanting to pursue this idea), possibly joining Twitter, and doing at least one school visit or story time.

I recently came up with a new idea that was not written as one of my goals for this year, which I have just started working on. I thought it would be fun to share a behind-the-scenes peek of this project with you.

Behind-The-Scenes Peek

Both of my daughters enjoy writing, and they have recently been reading quite a few books about writing and writing prompts.

Two of the books they have really enjoyed include:

The Creativity Project edited by Colby Sharp


Writer to Writer: From Think to Ink by Gail Carson Levine.

As they have been doing their own writing research and writing projects, I thought it would be fun to create a journal filled with 52 adventurous writing prompts for kids. I chose the number 52 so there is one writing prompt for each week of the year.

After deciding I wanted to create adventurous writing prompts, I did some research on Amazon looking at styles of other writing prompt journals for kids. The “look inside” feature has been so helpful!

Some questions I asked myself as I was looking at the other writing prompt journals for kids included:

  1. How many other writing prompt journals are there?
  2. How many reviews are there for each?
  3. What do the reviews say (both positive and negative)?
  4. How is the interior laid out?
  5. What is the size of the book?
  6. Who published the book?
  7. How can mine be different/better?
  8. What did the book description say?
  9. What is the cost?
  10. What are the recommended ages?

It appeared there were many positive reviews for the writing prompt journals that were available, so there seems to be a desire (possibly even a need) for them. I decided what I am wanting to create will be different in style and technique, so it wouldn’t appear I was merely copying someone else’s journal. I also noticed many of them were self-published, and they still had quite a few reviews.

I decided I would move forward with the idea of an adventurous writing prompt journal for kids. I had used Createspace (owned by Amazon) when I self-published Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles and Jobs of a Preschooler, which I thought worked out quite well. Createspace; however, no longer publishes books, and my previously published books have been moved over to KDP Print (also owned by Amazon).

When books are traditionally published, authors don’t have to worry about all of the formatting, illustrations, and layout designs. Since this will be self-published, I will need to make sure I understand how to properly format it. So, I have been doing some research on how to use KDP Print and properly format books.

Here are two pages I printed from KDP Print’s instructions about formatting books.

I looked at other books and notebooks I have at home (along with the journals found on Amazon) and decided I would like the journal to be 9.25″x7.5″. Using a template found on KDP, I determined the paper size and the margins I need.

I want to include pictures within my journal, so I searched Pixabay for photos available for commercial use. I found quite a few that I am interested in and signed up for an account with Pixabay (which isn’t required).

Signing up for the account actually took longer than I was expecting because I had to create a username and password and click on pictures shown on one of those Captcha pages to make sure I wasn’t a robot (which I always seem to have issues with) only to be told the username had already been taken. I finally (after about twenty minutes) was able to use the sixth user name I chose.

I noticed many of the journals on Amazon were plain on top, and I want something that stands out a little more. I experimented with a few different designs using a compass (found on Pixabay) on the top, so that I can number the writing prompts.

I tried a plain compass with a number in the middle, a compass on a map with a number in the middle, and the plain compass with a number in the middle with a border around the entire page. Trying to get the number in the middle of the compass proved to be a little challenging for me, but I got it!

I personally like the border around the entire page, but I decided to ask my daughters what they thought individually.

They both agreed the border around the entire page with the simple compass looked the best, so that is what I am going to attempt to do. Hopefully, I can figure out how to format the border properly taking into account the margins, trim size, and gutter. I’m not very computer savvy, so it will be interesting.

Even though I will be numbering the writing prompts at the top of the page, I would really like to have a page number at the bottom of each of the pages. So, I experimented with that for a little bit, too.

I like the numbers that look like “-1-” better than just “1”, so I hope to do that on the pages that have the lines. Unfortunately, I am having difficulty figuring out how to put the page numbers on the bottoms of the pages when they have a border. I guess I will have to do some research to see if it is even possible with the program I have.

I then printed off a few variations of lines on pages to determine how far apart I wanted them. I noticed some of the negative reviews on journals were due to the fact that the lines were too close together making it a challenge to write.

I felt like Goldilocks: The first lines were too close together, the next lines were too far apart, but the third lines seemed just right until…my daughter looked at them and said the lines were too dark.

Hmmm. Something I hadn’t considered.

So, I played around with different fonts to make the lines less bold while still keeping them the same distance apart as the third set of lines (since we had all agreed that was the right distance).

My one daughter liked the less bold lines, but my other daughter disapproved. I guess that’s something else I will have to play around with a little more.

I had noticed some of the negative reviews on other writing journals stated there were not enough lines to write a full response to the writing prompt, so I want to make sure I have plenty of space for the writing prompts. I also really want to include pictures that correspond with the writing prompts since many positive reviews reflected on how much the pictures were appreciated.

The pictures are going to have to be printed grayscale within the journal because having color pictures throughout raises the cost of them considerably. I personally like the look of the grayscale pictures, and the other journals I saw that included pictures did use grayscale pictures, too.

I printed a page with a picture taking up only half a page with lines on top and another page with the same picture taking up the entire page. I definitely like the whole page picture better because it stands out so much more and because that allows me even more space for lines.

Next, I tried to determine whether the full page picture would be better right before the writing prompt or right after the page of lines for the writing prompt.

Both of my daughters and I ended up agreeing it would probably be better to have the full page picture immediately before the writing prompt.

Then, I had to choose which font looked best for the actual writing prompt portion. I was trying to find something that would fit with the adventurous theme yet still be easily legible.

It took some time, but my daughters and I finally all agreed on one font. For now at least. We’ll see if the final journal still has the same font.

I played around with single spacing and double spacing with the writing prompts and decided the single spacing looked much better.

I took quite a few notes on the pages I had printed so I can refer back to them later. This also reaffirmed that the line spacing we chose seems to be the best fit.

While previewing the other writing prompt journals, I noticed some of them start immediately with the writing prompts while others have a page for the owner to write his or her name.

I really liked the ones that had the additional name page, so I played around with a picture and created a name page.

This Journal Belongs to...

I put together a list of other possible additional pages such as title page, copyright page, a note to the writer (introduction), Table of Contents, and credits for pictures page. I’m not sure if I will include all of these pages, but it is something for me to consider.

Now that I have some of the nitty-gritty details figured out (which may end up being changed as I progress on this project), I should probably actually write the writing prompts using the list of 55 adventurous topics to include within the journal I created. I included a few extras in case some can’t be used for some reason.

Once I have all of the writing prompts completed, I will attempt to format all of the pages properly, decide on a title,  create a cover, choose a selling price, and upload the manuscript and cover to KDP Print. Hopefully, I will actually complete this journal within the next few months- my newest goal!

Do you have any suggestions for this adventurous writing prompt journal for kids?



Why I Like Rejection Letters

(This post contains affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission at no extra charge to you if you click on a link and make a purchase. Thank you!)

You may think I’m crazy (or being sarcastic) if I were to tell you I like rejection letters, but let me explain.

I would love to have all of my manuscripts accepted. Really, I would. At this point, I would love for at least one children’s book manuscript to be accepted this year! However, I know all of my manuscripts will not be accepted, so I greatly appreciate the responses I get even when they are rejections.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Some publishers are too busy to respond due to the large number of submissions they receive. These publishers often state on their submission’s page that you can assume they have passed on your manuscript if you haven’t heard from them within a set amount of time (such as 6 months).

I understand why they do that, but I tend to start second guessing myself when I don’t hear anything. Did I send the manuscript to the correct address? Did they actually receive it? Did I write my address in the correct spot on the SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope)? Was I suppose to include a SASE? You get the idea.

Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

So, rejection letters at least acknowledge the fact my manuscript was actually received. That is why I like receiving rejection letters – even if they are the generic letters sent to everyone that has been rejected by that publisher.

My favorite rejection letters, though, are the ones that tell me they like my manuscript, but it doesn’t fit in the publisher’s current list. This tells me my manuscript was good enough to actually warrant a personal response.

Late last year, I received a rejection letter of a manuscript eleven months after I had submitted the manuscript. Sure, I was disappointed. But I was also super excited I had received a response.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Whenever I receive a rejection letter, I feel like I should write a thank you note in return. But then I worry I will be wasting their time even more by sending them a thank you.

I tend to over think things.

One thing anyone who wants to be a writer should know is that rejections are part of the process. J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected by 12 publishers. Theodor Geisel (better known as Dr. Seuss) received 27 rejections for his first book before it was published.

As George Sheldon says in Start Your Own Freelance Writing Business and More,  “Your ideas or work can be rejected for any number of reasons. It is not always that you have created something terrible (although that could be the reason). Your idea could be rejected because the editor just bought a similar piece…The editor is in a bad mood. These are all things you can not control. Expect rejections.”

Sure, this quote was specifically dealing with nonfiction writings for freelance writing work and not children’s book manuscripts, but the concept is the same.

At my most recent writer meeting, we talked about rejections and why children’s book manuscripts may be rejected. Some reasons can not be controlled but others can.

Here are some possible reasons for rejections we discussed:

  1. length of the manuscript/word count (either too long or too short)
  2. too lesson-driven
  3. too much competition for subject in current market
  4. age of character doesn’t fit age of audience
  5. lacks conflict
  6. character not developed enough
  7. inappropriate topic for audience age
  8. topic is too overdone and manuscript isn’t unique enough to stand out
  9. not enough of a story arc
  10. sent manuscript to someone who isn’t interested in style presented

So far, I have had nine official rejection letters this year…one literally came in as I was writing this paragraph! The fact I am receiving rejections means that I am actually submitting my work and attempting to put it out there to the world.

True, I could self-publish books to bypass the rejection letters. I did self-publish Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles and Jobs of a Preschooler, and I have other ideas I have not submitted that I am considering self-publishing in the future. But, there are some manuscripts I have that I would prefer to have traditionally published. There are pros and cons to self-publishing and traditional publishing, and I hope to continue pursuing both options.

Laura Purdie Salas states “I’m aiming for 200 rejections this year!” in her book entitled Making a Living Writing Books for Kids.

Although I am not aiming that high (this year at least), I do intend to continue sending out queries and manuscripts. After all, if I don’t send them out, I won’t have any chance of getting my books accepted by a traditional publisher or literary agent.

goals picture

What obstacle are you not going to let stand in your way this year to achieve your goals?