Multicultural Children’s Book Day!

Critters And Crayons is thrilled to participate in Multicultural Children’s Book Day to celebrate diversity in literature this year!  In addition to many fellow bloggers who are supporting the event this year, MCCBD has been made possible because of the following great sponsors!

MCCBD’s  2015 Sponsors include Platinum Sponsors: Wisdom Tales Press, Daybreak Press Global Bookshop, Gold SponsorsSatya House,,   Author Stephen Hodges and the Magic Poof, Silver Sponsors: Junior Library GuildCapstone Publishing, Lee and Low Books,  The Omnibus Publishing. Bronze Sponsors:Double Dutch Dolls, Bliss Group Books, Snuggle with Picture Books Publishing,  Rainbow Books,   Author FeliciaCapers,  Chronicle Books   Muslim Writers Publishing ,East West Discovery Press.

Our family was thrilled to receive the book, The Rainbow Files Book #1:  The Day I Was The Only Kid In School , a very fun book that sparked meaningful conversation and great laughs.

The Rainbow Files The Day I Was The Only Kid In School

We sat down on a rainy day to read the book together.  Our second grade daughter started the reading by exclaiming that she knew it would be a fun book because she had already done a “Picture Walk”!

Before reading the story, we read the prologue about the authors, Maria T. and April E. Kelly.  They are a mother-daughter team who worked together on the story.  Maria’s young daughter, April, collaborated on the story as she and her mom made up bedtime stories during Maria’s active cancer treatment.

The Day I Was The Only Kid In School

The main theme of this book (without giving away too many spoilers) centers on the loneliness (or the even more accurate term used by Maria to describe what her daughter felt during that cancer treatment process, “aloneness”) that a child can feel.

There were many points of laughter for the kids as we wandered through the odd-awful-turned-very-memorable day of the third grade narrator who winds up being the only child at school one day.  The perspective was child-relatable, and the storytelling was full of unexpected turns and details that delighted the kids.

When I asked them what their favorite parts of the story were, they loved hearing about how a student became the teacher, and taught all of the teachers how to finally do their hair and make-up.  They also loved all of the fun sounds in the book, which aided enthusiastic storytelling through onomatopoetic literary devices throughout the story.

The Day I Was The Only Kid In School


This has been a fantastic experience.  When I asked the kids if they were glad to participate in the event and to read The Day I Was The Only Kid In School, they agreed that it was awesome.  My Kindergartener and Second Grader definitely recommend this book for other kids!




If you want to learn more about Multicultural Children’s Book Day (MCCBD), and have a chance to win some great book packages, please take a look at the information below!


To find more information via social media, be sure to use hashtag:  #ReadYourWorld



Join the Multicultural Children’s Book Day Twitter Party on Jan 27th 9:00pm and use hashtag: #ReadYourWorld to win 10 book packages!



Find Author interviews and more on the MCCBD blog here:



Platinum Sponsor Wisdom Tales Press is hosting a book giveaway on their website that anyone can enter. Winner will receive 6 Wisdom Tales Books of their choice. Book #giveaway at Wisdom Tales Press! Winner will receive 6 Wisdom Tales Books of their choice. #ReadYourWorld



-MCCBD now has it’s own! A is a free online newspaper that aggregates information on the topic of multicultural books for kids from all over the Internet. Please feel free subscribe and stay up-to-date with this topic.



#ReadYour World




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Duck Tape Pumpkins!



Duck Tape Pumpkins Critters And Crayons-3


Making Duck Tape Pumpkins Is An Easy & Fun Fall Family Activity!


Duck Tape Pumpkins By Critters And Crayons-1


This activity was perfect for our kindergarten son.
He enjoyed applying and smoothing strips of tape in a color he chose to the outside of the pumpkin.


Duck Tape Pumpkins By Critters And Crayons


The children spotted pumpkin decorating kits of their favorite animals at the store.
They applied the foam pieces using bits of duck tape and the adhesives in the kits to the covered pumpkins (great for fine motor skills and little hands!)


Duck Tape By Pumpkins Critters And Crayons 4


Our 5-year old son was delighted with the T-Rex pumpkin that he created by himself!


Duck Tape By Pumpkins By Critters And Crayons


Our daughter chose to apply black glitter paint to the outside of the Duck Tape in places.


Easy Duck Tape Pumpkins By Critters And Crayons


This activity actually stretched over two nights for our family.


 The first night, the children selected their decorating items and applied the duck tape to the pumpkins.


On the second night, they finished them up.


Both children were simply thrilled with the results after doing so much of the work themselves!





Family Night No-Carve Jack-O-Lantern Bar!



   Glow Stick Bath, Jack-O-Lantern Canvases, & Corn Counting!



Maple Leaf Ghost Bouquet


Indian Corn Rubbing!


Autumn Crafts & Treats!




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A Nature Explorer Bedroom For Kids!

A Nature Explorer Bedroom For Kids

For The Little Ones Who Love Nature & Adventure…


We recently moved into a new home and left our son’s bunk bed in Texas.

In the midst of packing and unpacking, we still haven’t had time to go out and find a new one, but after looking around, we figured out that we had everything we needed to give our son a room he’d love!

Our little boy wants to be Paleontologist, loves Indiana Jones, Dinosaurs, Crocodiles, and Nature, so it made sense to turn his room into a Nature Explorer-Adventurer’s Campsite using our family’s camping and outdoor gear.


A Nature Explorer Bedroom For Kids!

Our Nature Explorer’s Bedroom!






First, we set-up the 4-Person Tent in the middle of the room.  We laid down the area rug to help the mattress stay in place, to protect the tent floor, and to give our son something soft to walk around on inside his new bedroom tent.

Once we blew up the mattress and positioned it in the center of the tent, we put on our son’s bedding.

(Mom Confession! I was tempted to purchase new dino-themed bedding, but stopped myself.  The goal was to make use of what we had on hand to make this bedroom!)

Once the bed was set-up, we “sandbagged” the edges of the tent with rolled blankets and quilts to aid stability.  This actually was a help for Mom since I was running out of places to store the extra linen!

We placed a small bedside table next to the mattress with a T-rex nightlite, a flashlight, and his favorite animal stories.

His yellow lawn chair fit the theme perfectly so we positioned outside of the tent for reading, and for holding his safari vest and adventure hat.

We reserved a space in the room (not pictured) for him to display his favorite dinosaurs and crocodiles, and to store his habitat-building kit, books, and a small bin of kinetic sand.


This was a simple and inexpensive kid’s bedroom solution and our children absolutely love it!

The best thing about it is that we can keep the tent up as long as he still loves it, and then pack it away for family camping trips!





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Trying New Flavors With Kids: Dragon Fruit

We recently watched the movie, How To Train Your Dragon 2, and have a little boy how says he wants to grow up to become an archaeologist to find dinosaur bones, OR a Dragon Scientist.

SO, when we walked past this cool looking fruit today in HEB Plus, we had to pick it up and put it into our cart!

It was named “DRAGON FRUIT” and we had no idea what to expect!


How To Cut A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons

Trying New Flavors With Kids: Dragon Fruit


When we got home, we looked up a few facts about it, and learned that a Dragon Fruit is actually a member of the Cactus Family!

They are found in Southeast Asia, Central and South America, and Israel. We found ours at HEB Plus in Laredo, Texas!

The most  interesting thing that we learned tonight is that the cool multi-purpose tool we use to help us in our Guacamole preparation to slice and pit avocados, The Avocado Shark, actually is the PERFECT Dragonfruit Slicing And Scooping Tool!  




You can see the process we used to slice and eat the dragon fruit below.


How To Cut A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-1

Step 1: Try New Flavors….Buy The Dragonfruit When You Find It!


How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-2

Step 2: Slice The Dragonfruit Down The Center Lengthwise.


How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-4

Step 3: Open The Dragonfruit To Reveal The White & Black Inside!


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Step 4: Prepare To Scoop Out The Dragon Fruit. A Multi-Purpose Avocado Slicing/Pitting Tool Like The Avocado Shark Is Awesome For This Step!


How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-8

Step 5: Scoop Out The Dragon Fruit After Cutting Around The Edges Of The Peel!


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Step 6: Slice The Fruit Like You Would Slice An Apple


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Step 7: Cut The Dragon Fruit Into Bite-Sized Pieces.


How To Eat A Dragon Fruit Critters And Crayons-12

Step 8: Eat The Dragon Fruit!


I’ll admit, the inside of the dragon fruit took everyone in the family by surprise!

It was entirely new and unexpected, and so was the flavor!

The Flavor, by the way, was very much like a mild kiwi!


We’re going to keep trying new flavors, particularly for exotic fruits and vegetables we find at markets.

Our Family Night Dragon Fruit Adventure Was A Hit With The Kids!


It’s Got The Kindergartener’s Seal Of Approval….

And That Is A Hefty Endorsement!


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Dandelion Seed Bottles & Haiku Gift ~ Teacher Appreciation Week


This year we wanted to do something fun and nature-oriented for Teacher Appreciation Week!

You might remember the kids’ School Supply Cake last year?   That was a fun project, too!


To Make The Dandelion Seed Bottles & Haiku Gifts You See Here, You Will Need:

  • 1 Small glass bottle with cork
  • Dandelion(s), preferably with seeds still attached to wispy parts
  • 3 Feet of thin leather cording, ribbon, or other cording for each glass jar
  • Scissors
  • Scrapbook Paper or Card For Haiku
  • Pen or Marker


We found some pretty little glass bottles at a craft store and our daughter wanted to place dandelion wisps inside for her teachers.

The children picked the last dandelion we could find in our backyard for this project!

Surprisingly, one dandelion was plenty to fill 9 little glass jars!


Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Idea, Dandelion Seed Bottles And Haiku From Critters And Crayons, LLC


The kids placed one to two dandelion seeds into each glass jar.

Handling the seeds and getting them into the small openings was a fantastic fine motor skills activity!

We tried to keep the wispy parts of the flower attached to the seed because we just love the way they look inside the bottles!


Some Quick Tips:

  • If you have a knitting needle, or something similar like a rubber band loom needle, you can use it to help move the dandelion seeds into position inside the bottles.
  • I recommend placing your dandelion in a small container to protect the wisps from flying off!
  • I don’t recommend gluing the cork onto the bottle so the recipient can change contents later if he/she would like to.


Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Idea, Dandelion Seed Bottles And Haiku From Critters And Crayons, LLC


We had more seeds and wisps to add, but we loved the simple, beautiful look  of each bottle with one to two seeds.


Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Idea, Dandelion Seed Bottles And Haiku From Critters And Crayons, LLC


The remaining seeds DO look quite pretty in the extra bottles…


Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Idea, Dandelion Seed Bottles And Haiku From Critters And Crayons, LLC


Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Idea, Dandelion Seed Bottles And Haiku From Critters And Crayons, LLC


I helped the kids with the last part of the gift by cutting 36″ lengths of thin, tan leather cord for each of the bottles the kids had prepared.

I tied the knots around the neck of each bottle and then knotted the very ends of the cord so that the teachers could use the bottles as a necklace or lanyard.


The very last thing we did to complete the gift was to develop a short poem called a Haiku to give with the gift.



  • Haiku refers to a traditional Japanese Poem consisting of 17 syllables broken into three lines following  a rhythm of 5-7-5 for on/off syllables.
  • That may sound very technical but it was easiest to explain to our kids by clapping as we practiced saying possible stanzas as we built the poem.
  • Haiku also usually contains a “nature” element, and a clear break between two ideas.
  • Haiku are often witty.


I realized after we settled on our finished poem for the teachers, that we had mixed up the number of syllables.

Instead of 5-7-5, our poem was set to a  7-5-7 rhythm.


Apparently, English-Contemporary Haiku has been breaking the rules for some time now, so I’m going with “It’s an English-Contemporary Haiku Pattern”.

Haha!  :)

Here is our English-Contemporary Haiku the kids helped to develop for their teachers!

   “You taught me to ride the wind.

I landed safely

by MYSELF.  Thank You.”

                                                                   ~Tricia,  Critters And Crayons

Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Idea, Dandelion Seed Bottles And Haiku From Critters And Crayons, LLC











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Fortune Cookie Messages For Outnumbered Parents At Kite Festivals

These Are The Days We'll Remember...At The Laredo Kite Festival.  By Critters And Crayons.

At The Laredo Kite Festival


One of the festivals we absolutely love to attend each year in Laredo is the Kite Festival in March.

Today, we attended our fourth.

This means that we have attended since our children were in diapers, nursing, learning to crawl, learning to walk, learning to talk….all the way up to this year.

This year is the first year both children are past all of those milestones, but they can also both hold their own kites, fly their own kites, and be genuinely interested in holding and flying their own kites.  

They can do these things after getting just a little bit of help by Mom or Dad to catch the wind, of course.

I have to say, though, there is one truth that appears to be self-evident and inviolable.

If I had a fortune cookie message to foretell my future or offer sage advice about taking more than one child to any Kite Festival alone, it would read:


“Winds Favor The Wise Parent Who Is Not Outnumbered By Children Or Kites.”


Another possible fortune cookie message might bring a different perspective while delivering the same message:


“One Foolish Parent With Two Children At Kite Festival
 Will Be Entangled In The Strings Of Crashed Kites.”


Each year, we pile into the mini-van on a beautiful, but very hot day, with our newly selected kites.  We walk to the festival from our distant parking spots.  
We find a plot of land that is not completely marshy and that is not so packed with people that we might get one of our kites airborne.


But, the unspoken and unfair Law Of Wind Dynamics For Parents ALWAYS kicks in.


That law, in case you have not experienced it firsthand is:


“Your Child’s Kite Will Only Fly When Your Other Child’s Kite Crashes Into Some Unassuming Picnickers.”


And this Law is also supported by a couple of Theorums:


“The Vertical Height Of One Child’s Kite Is Directly Proportional To The Vertical Drop Of Your Other Child’s Kite.”


“If You Rescue One Child’s Kite By Gaining Wind Resistance By Running,

You Will Surely Run Through A Mudhole Where You Sink 3 Inches Before Kite Still Crashes Into Some Unassuming Picnickers.”


(Seriously, I cannot believe they didn’t move the first time.)


But, do you know what?


I’m certain we’ll be back, again, next year.


We may have muddy shoes and ankles, and some tangled kite string, and maybe even some occasionally frustrated children who haven’t completely grasped how to keep their kites in the air for longer than a few minutes, but, overall, we’re making some serious improvement.


Next year, we may be able to break that Law Of Wind Dynamics For Parents and its supporting Theorums.


Maybe, our Fortune Cookie Message, if we had a fortune cookie with a message about the Kite Festival, might read:


“Outnumbered Parent At Kite Festival Will See Two Kites In Air Simultaneously.”


or, maybe:


“You Will Not Trip On Tangled Kite Strings This Year.”


That would be cool.


But, maybe next year this fortune could really happen:


“You Will Remember To Wear Crappy Shoes To Places Where You Know You Will Run Through Mud.”


And, maybe, just maybe, some folks will get this fortune cookie message:


“Picnicker Who Moves After Kite Crashes Into Face Finishes Rest Of PB&J In Peace.”


But, I want to wish “Cheers” to all of the families out during the pretty Spring Days doing these kinds of activities.


There is humor in them, and sometimes, a little frustration.  
Yes.  Sometimes, you cave to the frustration after that Law Of Wind Dynamics For Parents kicks you in the teeth and ruins your shoes, again…when those imaginary fortune cookies foretold the future you should have predicted yourself.


For instance, I FINALLY cut the streamers completely off of one kite, and even sliced clean through the strings from the kite handle to regain the circulation to my legs after a near tourniquet had been formed by an errant kite with a very strong and determined child yanking on the other end.


I DID offer to pay the screaming child for the damage but she ran off to find her parents before I could give her any money.


(Um…..Really Sorry About That If It Belonged To Your Kid And You’re Reading This Now After Wondering Why Your Wailing Kid Brought Back A Kite Frame, But I Couldn’t Feel Anything Below My Ankle…..)


Seriously, though.


Days Like Today Are Never Boring. The Never-Boring Days Are The Real Memory-Makers.






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Making Molecules With Kids!

I woke up yesterday morning to quite a surprise.

Back in November, I posted THIS to The Critters And Crayons Facebook Page.

Santa was going to be bringing the kids a cool Molecule Building Kit.

He totally did.

But, the kids thought it was more like a set of tinker toys and they built car shapes, and crocodiles, flowers and other things out of the contents immediately.

BUT YESTERDAY Our daughter said,

I made the particles on the back of that box Santa brought us.



I promise I have never used the word “particle” with my child.  Where did she learn that word?

She says she learned it when Batman was talking about splitting up something called “Particles”.   Go figure.

She didn’t know what she had made, but it was a real joy to  RELEARN all of the molecules I hadn’t looked at since 11th grade Chemistry class!

Water Molecule (H20) From Critters And Crayons "Making Molecules With Kids!"

Water Molecule (H2O). Two Hydrogen Atoms Linked To One Oxygen Atom!


Our 6-year old was fascinated to learn that the water we drink and that comes flowing from our faucets looks like the model she’d made in its tiniest, tiniest building block form!

She had also formed the molecule below  without knowing exactly what she had made while following the diagrams on the back of the kit box…..


Hydrogen Peroxide Molecule From Critters And Crayons Post "Making Molecules With Kids!"

The Hydrogen Peroxide Molecule (H2O2).


I explained that the stuff we use to clean her ears and earrings looks just like the model she made if we were able to see it in its smallest form-  Lots and lots and lots of these make up what we use in that brown bottle!


And, then we had fun looking up the rest that she had constructed so quietly in the play area….


Molecules From Critters And Crayons Post "Making Molecules With Kids!"


Can you guess what they all are?

Don’t worry.  I had to look them all up, too!

Top Left:   Diatomic Nitrogen Molecule (N2) 

Top Right:  Hydrogen Peroxide Molecule (H2O2)

Middle Left:  Diatomic Oxygen Molecule (O2)

Middle Right:  Water Molecule (H2O)

Lower Left:  Methane Molecule (CH4)


What I love about this molecule kit is that it invites kids to play and learn without even realizing it.

There is a lot to build upon from this very beginning point of building the molecules according to the diagrams and explaining what each of the molecules actually IS to a first grader.

We can keep these models up, or break them down again- but, as the years progress, we will be able to delve into more complex concepts like the differences between Diatomic Molecules, Ionic Bonds, Covalent Bonds, Organic Compounds, and other things I’m going to have to get smart on, all over again.

I found our kit at a local craft store, but you can find them online, too!

I am so glad I happened across this “Making Molecules” activity for kids.


The FloraCraft Molecule Kit


I need to remember to thank Santa next year for the awesome toy.  And, I think I may have him throw in a “Chemistry For Dummies” book for me, too.  :)

Speaking of Chemistry…..


I came across some amazing ideas centered on Chemistry and Molecules….


Hostess With The Mostess did a round-up of Clever & Creative Mad Scientist Party Ideas For Girls

Lightbulb Books Made Molecules Using Straws And Play Doh

High Hill Homeschool’s Marshmallow And Toothpick Molecules

Kids Activities Blog Atoms & Molecules:  10 Fun Ways To Learn!


So, do you remember anything from your 11th grade chemistry class?


Oh, Good.  I thought I was alone. 





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Teaching Kids About Culture With The Elf On A Shelf

We have a very Curious Elf On A Shelf.


Teaching Kids About Culture With The Elf On A Shelf


Time is scarce so our elf, is very thankfully, not too into mischief and messes.

He IS a very curious Elf, though.

Each morning, the kids find him on top of something that came from a different place in the world.

And, each evening, we sit down at the computer together and they excited ask questions about whatever it is that they found the Elf sitting on or in or under that morning.

We simply Google Away together.

And, each image or map or costume they see triggers another question and another search.

An example of what our curious Elf On The Shelf taught the kids this morning when they found him on the Mongolian String Instrument was that it was not simply a “HORSEY BANJO”, which is what they called it when they found Snowflower Flaky Sassypants sitting on top of the traditional horse-handle like a rocking horse.

It’s called a “MATOUQUIN“.


It is from MONGOLIA.




 The MATOUQUIN is shaped like a TRAPEZOID.



The kids now know that Snowflower The Elf is NOT simply  sitting on a Horsey Banjo.

So far, we’ve explored Mexico, Afghanistan, and Mongolia alongside our very globally curious Elf On A Shelf.

I wonder where she’ll take us tomorrow?



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A Hopping Popping Christmas Literacy Event!

I hope you’ll come out to to see me and my friends at Laredo 8 HEB Plus for a super fun literacy event on November 30th!

I’ll be reading some old Christmas favorites and the kids are going to enjoy some fantastic stomping on the Bubble Wrapped Floor and Christmas Tree Painting With…..

 Bubble-Wrap, of course!



HEB Plus Critters And Crayons Literacy Event A Hopping Popping Christmas




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Family Night No-Carve Jack-O-Lantern Bar

We chose not to carve pumpkins this year….


But, We Totally Turned Family Night

Into A No-Carve Jack-O-Lantern Bar!


family night jackolantern bar-1-4


We rolled out that awesome roll of butcher paper in the kitchen to get our Family Night Jack-O-Lantern Bar ready for action!

Then, we put the pumpkins and craft materials along the paper so we each had a workspace.


I didn’t want to waste anything in our first aid kit, so I used a leftover white crepe paper party streamer and googly eyes to make a mummy pumpkin!


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Mommy’s Mummy Pumpkin!


Our pre-school son used the gold and white paint that was set out, the sponge brushes and googly eyes to make his Scary Vampire Jack-O-Lantern!


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Our Son’s Scary Vampire Jack-O-Lantern!


My husband used the shiny stickers and googly eyes to make a Man-O-Lantern with a goatee!


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Dad’s Man-O-Lantern!


And our fashion-loving first grader blinged her squash out!


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Our Daughter’s Jeweled-Up Pumpkin!


You can see how we did it here!


family night jackolantern bar-2-4

We’ve never done this before, but the Jack-O-Lantern Bar Family Night was a big hit!

We love how the whole family looks in squash form, with everyone’s personality looking right back at us on those pumpkin faces!


Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!







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