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January 27, 2015
by Jennifer Hughes
7 Comments

Secret to Foolproof Easy Blanket Forts. Instant Forts, Instant Fun!

This post is sponsored by Pop Secret. But I would have written about easy blanket forts and our love of Pop Secret popcorn anyway, because that’s how my family rolls.

Just the anticipation of hiding away in a blanket fort is sure to made any toddler giggle with excitement, let alone an adult. But no matter how hard I used to try to create the perfect magical fort, that sucker always seemed to slide off of the chairs, fall off of the couches and crumble onto the floor. Talk about heart-breaking disappointment!

Secret to a Sturdy Blanket Fort | The Jenny Evolution

I’m going to give you the ultimate secret on how to build the best DIY easy blanket forts around that your kids will love and will stay up! It only takes minutes to set up, so you can pull this together even on a weeknight without a second thought. And what would a fort adventure be without a little Pop Secret popcorn to make the night that much more magical? (Want even more magic? Grab a $1 coupon off Pop Secret popcorn!)

All you need is:

  • A table
  • 2 blankets, quilts, comforters or sheets
  • Couch cushions

Yes, that’s really all you need!

blanketfort2

To make our instant fort, we grabbed two picnic quilts. You could just as easily use sheets; however, the quilts do a bang-up job of blocking out the light so it feels that much more enclosed. I mean, if you’re going to make a fort, you might as well make it feel like a cave.

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If you have a rectangular table, put the edge of one blanket at the center of your table and lay it down over the end of the table. Place the other blanket on the other side. To create a door entrance, all you need to do is grab the corner of the blanket where they meet, turn it up in a triangle and lay the extra fabric onto the table.

Secret to an Easy Blanket Fort | The Jenny Evolution

If you’re using a sheet or something light weight, you can easily keep the fabric in place with clothes pins or chip clips. I wouldn’t recommend putting anything on the table to hold it in place as your kiddo could easily pull it off.

We took our couch cushions and placed them under the table. Who wants to lay on a hardwood floor, right? And to make it feel like a complete cushion, we threw on an additional blanket over the cushions. It became like a mini bed in the fort.

Easy Blanket Fort, Movie Night and Popcorn

We decided to make our fort like a cave and turn it into a mini movie theater. I threw in a camping lantern so the boys would have some light underneath the table but they weren’t having it once they pulled down the quilt corners. In complete darkness, the two of them laid out on the couch cushions. I set up my computer and popped in Dragons: Riders of Berk.

popcorn3

What movie night would be complete without popcorn? I popped in a bag of Pop Secret popcorn and the entire night was set up in just minutes!

The boys settled in and watched for a full hour without a peep. My husband and I kept trying to sneak in but we were banned. Banned! From my own blanket fort! (Sigh.) Well, I guess that’s a sign that the evening was a hit.

I figured I would have to at least sweep up the floor when we put the fort away. Nope. Our Boston Terrier Lucy was more than happy to oblige and catch any remaining uneaten kernels.

Save a Buck, Share the Fun

Hop over here for a $1-off coupon for Pop Secret. Pop Secret knows that fun, like popcorn, is better when it’s shared. Send Pop Secret your pillow fort stories and pictures on Facebook. You can upload them right to the Pop Secret timeline and tag them #PopSecretForts. They might just share a little something back!

January 27, 2015
by Jennifer Hughes
0 comments

Best New Books for Toddlers of 2014

Best New Books for Toddlers of 2014: Find these books at your local library or purchase through the affiliate links provided for your convenience. All recommendations are mine.

No doubt about it… there is nothing better than snuggling up with your toddler and sharing a wonderful book. Whether the book is silly or sweet, story time was always my personal favorite time with my kiddos.

Bring the joy of books and reading to your little one with my recommendations of the best new books for toddlers of 2014.

Best New Books for Toddlers of 2014 | The Jenny Evolution Best New Books for Toddlers of 2014


The Pigeon Needs a Bath! The Pigeon really needs a bath! Except, the Pigeon’s not so sure about that. Besides, he took a bath last month! Maybe. It’s going to take some serious convincing to try and get the Pigeon to take the plunge.


Flashlight: Inside a tent it’s cozy. But what is going on outside? Is it dark? Is it scary? Not if you have your trusty flashlight! Told solely through images and using a spare yet dramatic palette, artist Lizi Boyd has crafted a masterful exploration of night, nature, and art. Both lyrical and humorous, this visual poem—like the flashlight beam itself—reveals that there is magic in the darkness. We just have to look for it.


Mix It Up! Accept Hervé Tullet’s irresistible invitation to mix it up in a dazzling adventure of whimsy and wonder. Follow the artist’s simple instructions, and suddenly colors appear, mix, splatter, and vanish in a world powered only by the reader’s imagination. Tullet—who joins such greats as Eric Carle and Leo Lionni as a master of his craft—sets readers on an extraordinary interactive journey all within the printed page. Tullet prompts plenty of giggles in addition to a profound understanding of colors, and once again displays his unique genius and vision in a work that is a glorious and richly satisfying companion to Press Here.


Hi, Koo! With a featherlight touch and disarming charm, Jon J Muth–and his delightful little panda bear, Koo–challenge readers to stretch their minds and imaginations with twenty-six haikus about the four seasons.


Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters: The most inventive and irresistible book of the year spans a mere 26 letters (don’t they all!) and 112 pages. From an Astronaut who’s afraid of heights, to a Bridge that ends up burned between friends, to a Cup stuck in a cupboard and longing for freedom, Once Upon an Alphabet is a creative tour de force from A through Z. Slyly funny in a way kids can’t resist, and gorgeously illustrated in a way readers of all ages will pour over, this series of interconnected stories and characters explores the alphabet in a way that will forever raise the bar.


Little Humans: Street photographer and storyteller extraordinaire Brandon Stanton is the creator of the wildly popular blog “Humans of New York.” He is also the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Humans of New York. To create Little Humans, a 40-page photographic picture book for young children, he’s combined an original narrative with some of his favorite children’s photos from the blog, in addition to all-new exclusive portraits. The result is a hip, heartwarming ode to little humans everywhere.


Have You Seen My Dragon? In the heart of the city, among the taxis and towers, a small boy travels uptown and down, searching for his friend. Readers will certainly spot the glorious beast, plus an array of big-city icons they can count. Is the dragon taking the crosstown bus, or breathing his fiery breath below a busy street? Maybe he took a taxi to the zoo or is playing with the dogs in the park. Steve Light’s masterful pen-and-ink illustrations, decorated with meticulous splashes of color, elevate this counting book (numbers 1–20) to new heights. Maybe the dragon is up there, too!


A Perfectly Messed-Up Story:
In this interactive and engaging read-aloud, bestselling author and award-winning artist Patrick McDonnell creates a funny, engaging, and almost perfect story about embracing life’s messes. Little Louie’s story keeps getting messed up, and he’s not happy about it! What’s the point of telling his tale if he can’t tell it perfectly? But when he stops and takes a deep breath, he realizes that everything is actually just fine, and his story is a good one–imperfections and all.


Blizzard: Blizzard is based on John Rocco’s childhood experience during the now infamous Blizzard of 1978, which brought fifty-three inches of snow to his town in Rhode Island. Told with a brief text and dynamic illustrations, the book opens with a boy’s excitement upon seeing the first snowflake fall outside his classroom window. It ends with the neighborhood’s immense relief upon seeing the first snowplow break through on their street. In between the boy watches his familiar landscape transform into something alien, and readers watch him transform into a hero who puts the needs of others first.


Little Elliot, Big City: Amid the hustle and bustle of the big city, the big crowds and bigger buildings, Little Elliot leads a quiet life. In spite of the challenges he faces, Elliot finds many wonderful things to enjoy—like cupcakes! And when his problems seem insurmountable, Elliot discovers something even sweeter—a friend.


Maple: When Maple is tiny, her parents plant a maple tree in her honor. She and her tree grow up together, and even though a tree doesn’t always make an ideal playmate, it doesn’t mind when Maple is in the mood to be loud—which is often. Then Maple becomes a big sister, and finds that babies have their loud days, too. Fortunately, Maple and her beloved tree know just what the baby needs.


This Is a Moose: MOOSE? Yes, Moose! When a movie director tries to capture the life of a moose on film, he’s in for a big surprise. It turns out the moose has a dream bigger then just being a moose–he wants to be an astronaut and go to the moon. His forest friends step in to help him, and action ensues. Lots of action. Like a lacrosse-playing grandma, a gigantic slingshot into space, and a flying, superhero chipmunk.


Uni the Unicorn: In this clever twist on the age-old belief that there’s no such thing as unicorns, Uni the unicorn is told there’s no such thing as little girls! No matter what the grown-up unicorns say, Uni believes that little girls are real. Somewhere there must be a smart, strong, wonderful, magical little girl waiting to be best friends. In fact, far away (but not too far), a real little girl believes there is a unicorn waiting for her. This refreshing and sweet story of friendship reminds believers and nonbelievers alike that sometimes wishes really can come true.


Gaston: This is the story of four puppies: Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo, Ooh-La-La, and Gaston. Gaston works the hardest at his lessons on how to be a proper pooch. He sips—never slobbers! He yips—never yaps! And he walks with grace—never races! Gaston fits right in with his poodle sisters. But a chance encounter with a bulldog family in the park—Rocky, Ricky, Bruno, and Antoinette—reveals there’s been a mix-up, and so Gaston and Antoinette switch places. The new families look right…but they don’t feel right. Can these puppies follow their noses—and their hearts—to find where they belong?

Baby Bear: From Kadir Nelson, winner of the Caldecott Honor and the Coretta Scott King Author and Illustrator Awards, comes a transcendent picture book in the tradition of Margaret Wise Brown about a lost little bear searching for home. This simple story works on so many levels: as the tale of a bear who finds his way home with the help of his animal friends; as a reassuring way to show children how to comfort themselves and find their way in everyday life; and on a more philosophical level, as a method of teaching readers that by listening to your heart and trusting yourself, you will always find a true home within yourself—and that even when it feels like you are alone, you never really are.

January 26, 2015
by Jennifer Hughes
3 Comments

Best New Books for Babies of 2014

Best New Books for Babies of 2014: Find these books at your local library or purchase through the affiliate links provided for your convenience. All recommendations are mine.

Reading to babies helps them learn the sound of language, begin to recognize words and expose them to new concepts and ideas. In 2014, there were a lot of new books that came out for babies! But here are my top recommendations for any new mom looking for the best new books for babies.

Best New Baby Books of 2014 | The Jenny Evolution Best New Books for Babies of 2014


Ten Tiny Toes: Caroline Jayne Church brings her adorable toddler art and lovely rhymes to this joyful twist on the tried-and-true classic, HEAD, SHOULDERS, KNEES, AND TOES. From ears that wiggle to bellies that giggle, TEN TINY TOES is sure to inspire little ones as they learn to celebrate their “mouth, ears, eyes, nose, and a love that grows and grows.”


1-2-3 Peas: Meet the peas—the 1-2-3 Peas! Come along as they count from one to one hundred in this pea-filled board book that’s packed with bright, bold numbers and playful number-themed scenes. These tiny green mathematicians will have young readers everywhere calling for more peas, please!


If Animals Kissed Good Night: In a cozy bedtime chat with her mom, a young girl wonders how animal families might say good night. Would Wolf and his pup “kiss and then HOWL”? Would Bear and her cub “kiss and then GROWL”? But what about Sloth and her baby? They move soooo slooowwwww . . . they’re sure to be kissing from early evening until long after everyone else is fast asleep! With whimsical art and playful rhyming verse, this picture book is now in board book format for the first time, perfect for bedtime snuggles.


The Bunny Rabbit Show! You’ve got front-row seats to the cutest revue in town—hop on down to The Bunny Rabbit Show! The latest addition to Sandra Boynton’s phenomenal bestselling Boynton on Board series, this book stars a cast of high-kicking bunnies performing in perfect unison to a lively song all about . . . them.


Zoom, Zoom, Baby!: (Lift-The-Flap Books): In this transportation-themed board book from Karen Katz, little ones can lift the flaps on each spread to reveal adorable animals inside a variety of vehicles, such as a train, a plane, a truck, and more! But where is Baby? With Katz’s signature bright, striking art, this board book with its sturdy, easy-to-lift flaps is sure to zoom onto bookshelves everywhere.


Hot Dog, Cold Dog: Simple rhyming text and boldly graphic, funny illustrations show off the comically lovable proportions of the dachshund, with its short legs and long body, spirited nature, and cheerful temperament. Author Frann Preston Gannon reveals a surprising variety of wiener dog looks and shows kids all the fun these little dogs have as they visit the beach, cavort in the snow, dig in the garden, jump to the ceiling, and even ride a skateboard–all the while giving a lesson in opposites.


Peek-A-Zoo! Read the clue . . . guess the animal . . . giggle wildly . . . and repeat! At long last, board book virtuoso Nina Laden has created a companion to her beloved classic Peek-a Who? (one of Scholastic magazine’s 100 Greatest Books for Kids with more than 800,000 copies sold). Colorful pictures and a lively, rhyming text help children predict what animal is peeking through die-cut windows. The anticipation of what’s hiding on the next page and the bright, engaging illustrations will keep youngsters laughing and learning all the way to the surprise ending.


Edgar Gets Ready for Bed: A BabyLit® First Steps Picture Book:  Meet the plucky toddler Edgar the Raven! He’s mischievous, disobedient, and contrary. Dinnertime, cleanup-time, and bedtime are all met with one word: NEVERMORE! But as the evening winds to a close, Edgar’s mom knows just what to do to get her son into bed—a bedtime story.


Toot: A subject dear to children’s hearts is in the spotlight as Leslie Patricelli’s beloved baby character returns. Everybody does it: Kitty, Doggie, Daddy — even Mommy! And when Leslie Patricelli’s beloved bald baby does it while running, it sounds like a train. This frank and very funny look at a certain noisy body function is perfectly suited to the youngest of listeners, while their giggling older siblings will be happy to read it aloud.


Moo! When Cow gets her hooves on the farmer’s car, she takes it for a wild ride through the country. Moooo! But a bump in the road brings this joy ride to a troublesome end. Moo-moo. . . Has Cow learned her lesson about living life in the fast lane? Moo?


The Little Red Box of Bright and Early Board Books: A boxed set of four board books featuring P.D. Eastman’s famous dogs! Tucked inside this little red box topped with a sturdy handle are board book adaptations of the classic Beginner Books by P.D. Eastman: Go, Dog. Go!; Big Dog . . . Little Dog; The Alphabet Book; and Michael Frith’s I’ll Teach My Dog a Lot of Words. Perfect for the holidays, baby showers, and happy occasions of all kinds, this is a literacy-nurturing gift that babies can literally sink their teeth into!

January 22, 2015
by Jennifer Hughes
24 Comments

Friday Flash Blog No. 102 {Plus Features}

Friday Flash Blog is a flash mob of blogs, highlighting the best of bloggers from the week. Be sure to check them out (and the ones I’ve featured) as well as link up your own.

Weekly Thought: Martin Luther King Jr. has been on our mind this week. As a family that is always reading stories, I often use picture books as a way to open discussions with my kiddos. It’s never too early to talk to your kids about the teachings of MLK.

These are hysterical and fun! Mini Donut Party Horn People from Hoopla Palooza

These are hysterical and fun! Mini Donut Party Horn People from Hoopla Palooza

50+ Ideas to Decorate with Old Doors. Compiled by Little Brags

50+ Ideas to Decorate with Old Doors. Compiled by Little Brags

How to Make an Awesome Meringue. Tutorial from Titi Crafty

How to Make an Awesome Meringue. Tutorial from Titi Crafty

5 Things Teachers Wish Parents Knew from Working Mom Magic

5 Things Teachers Wish Parents Knew from Working Mom Magic

Red Velvet Pancakes with Cream Cheese Fluff. Recipe by This Silly Girl's Life

Red Velvet Pancakes with Cream Cheese Fluff. Recipe by This Silly Girl’s Life

Crock Pot Taco Chicken Bowls. Recipe by Jenn's Random Scraps

Crock Pot Taco Chicken Bowls. Recipe by Jenn’s Random Scraps

100s of Awesome Indoor Activities for Kids Under 5 from Hands On As We Grow

100s of Awesome Indoor Activities for Kids Under 5 from Hands On As We Grow

Valentine's Day Fortune Cookies. Baked by Just Short of Crazy

Valentine’s Day Fortune Cookies. Baked by Just Short of Crazy

Upcycled Nuts and Bolts Heart Craft. Tutorial by Mosswood Connections

Upcycled Nuts and Bolts Heart Craft. Tutorial by Mosswood Connections

5 Civil Rights Picture Books for Children from The Jenny Evolution

5 Civil Rights Picture Books for Children from The Jenny Evolution

 

Friday Flash Blog is a Flash Mob of Blogs

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January 21, 2015
by Jennifer Hughes
2 Comments

DIY Learning Alphabet Sensory Bottles

DIY Learning Alphabet Sensory Bottles – These bottles are easy to make but allow for loads of letter practice. This post contains affiliate links; however, all recommendations are mine.

Sensory bottles are a wonderful way for children to explore their world through their senses. By combining sensory and learning, you can help your child retain what they practice. By creating simple alphabet sensory bottles, you can help your child learn their letters, practice letter sounds and even work on simple spelling.

DIY Learning Alphabet Sensory Bottles | The Jenny Evolution

DIY Alphabet Sensory Bottles

Materials you’ll need:

Yes, that’s really all you need!

Instructions:

  1. Wash your water bottle
  2. Remove the labels. (Goo Gone is awesome for getting rid of labels!)
  3. Fill a small amount with rice. Add some of the alphabet beads. Repeat until you get close to the top.
  4. Be sure to leave some room in the bottle so the rice and beads can move above the bottle easily.
  5.  Super glue top on. (Some people prefer to glue gun the bottle closed.)
  6. Have fun!

For babies, the sound of the rice will be a fun effect.

DIY Learning Alphabet Sensory Bottles | The Jenny Evolution

Turn an Alphabet Sensory Bottle Into a Learning Lesson

You can also turn this simple alphabet sensory bottle into a broader learning lesson for your child.

For preschoolers and kindergarteners, here are some ideas you can do with this sensory bottle:

  • Turn this bottle into an “I Spy” game. Have them see how many of the letter H they can find.
  • Point to a letter and have them say the sound.
  • Take turns making a letter sound and having the other person locate the letter.

For early readers:

  • Take turns pointing to a letter and making the letter sound. Have the other person say a word that begins with that letter/sound.
  • Take turns pointing to a letter and making the letter sound. Have the other person say a word that ends with that letter/sound.
  • Locate a vowel and say a word that uses that vowel sound.
  • Have the child find 3-letter words among the letter beads.
  • See how can make the most 3-letter words. If they’re more advanced, try 4-letter words.

DIY Learning Alphabet Sensory Bottles | The Jenny Evolution

For the materials, visit these affiliate links provided for your convenience:

DIY Learning Alphabet Sensory Bottles | The Jenny Evolution

January 21, 2015
by Jennifer Hughes
0 comments

DIY Simple Sensory Bottles

Making a sensory bottle really isn’t as complicated as you might think. Find out how to make simple sensory bottles for your child in just minutes! (This post contains affiliate links; however, all recommendations are mine.)

Do you ever browse through Pinterest, seeing all of these amazing sensory activities moms are coming up with, only to think to yourself, “How on earth am I supposed to have the time and energy to make that?” I was certainly one of those moms. But I’m telling you that sensory bottles don’t have to be complicated at all to be hits with your kids!

With some simple materials, you can be making your own sensory bottles in absolutely no time!

DIY Simple Sensory Bottles | The Jenny Evolution

What You’ll Need to Get Started for Sensory Bottles

Materials you absolutely must have:

  • Empty water bottle (personally I like Voss bottled water because you can stand the bottle up on either end)
  • Super glue (you don’t want that sucker getting opened)

Additional materials you may already have:

  • Dried grains (rice, quinoa)
  • Dried beans (peas, kidney beans)
  • Dried pasta or other food items (popcorn kernels)
  • Baby oil
  • Water
  • Food coloring
  • Clear glue
  • Glitter
  • Buttons
  • Plastic gems/jewels
  • Beads
  • Fun art supplies (sequins, pipe cleaners, feathers, googly eyes, tissue paper)
  • Sand
  • Found objects (pebbles, pine needles, shells)
  • Ribbon
  • The list could go on!

Directions to Make Your Own Sensory Bottle

  1. Wash your water bottles
  2. Remove the labels. (Goo Gone is awesome for getting rid of labels!)
  3. Fill with your favorite stuff.
  4.  Super glue top on. (Some people prefer to glue gun the bottle closed.)
  5. Have fun! Let your child shake the bottle, swirl the contents or play I Spy.

Get Inspired with These Sensory Bottles

Here are some inspirational ideas to get you started. And remember, sensory bottles don’t have to have a liquid in them to be terrific sensory outlets for your child!

AlphabetSensory4

Alphabet Sensory Bottles | The Jenny Evolution

Calm Down Jars with Lego | Lemon Lime Adventures

Glowing Sensory Bottle for Bedtime | Kids Activities Blog

Nature Sensory Bottle | Carrots Are Orange

Glitter Sensory Bottle | Teaching Mama

Make a Wave Bottle | Hands on As We Grow

Weather-Inspired Sensory Bottles | Two Daloo

Magnetic Discovery Sensory Bottle | Preschool Inspirations

Rainbow Discovery Bottles | Fun at Home with Kids

Spring Flower Sensory Bottle | My Little 3

Even More Sensory Inspiration!

The Jenny Evolution has teamed up with some other amazing bloggers to bring you a plethora of sensory ideas. Be sure to check out the other amazing sensory play ideas on the 31 Days of Sensory Play Challenge!

January 20, 2015
by Jennifer Hughes
18 Comments

Sometimes It’s All About the Cars

Cars1

Any mom of boys knows this scene well. Some days, it’s just about the cars.

Wordless Wednesday on The Jenny Evolution

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January 20, 2015
by Jennifer
2 Comments

10 Valentine’s Day Sensory Bins

Valentine’s Day offers so many terrific sensory outlets. My favorite — the smell of chocolate! But for those kiddos of yours, they need some hands on sensory outlets. Sensory bins allow children to explore their world, manipulate materials and experience textures. From fine motor practice to visual stimulation, sensory bins host a plethora of learning outlets for children.

10 Valentine's Day Sensory Bins

10 Valentine’s Day Sensory Bins 

Valentine Sensory Bin. Click for more #sensory bin ideas for #ValentinesDay

Valentine Sensory Bin | The Chaos and The Clutter

Rose Scented Sensory Rice. Click for more #sensory bin ideas for #ValentinesDay

Rose Scented Sensory Rice | Growing a Jeweled Rose

Simple Valentine's Day Sensory Bin. Click for more #sensory bin ideas for #ValentinesDay

Simple Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin | Dirt & Dinosaurs

A Messy Valentine's Day Sensory Bin. Click for more #sensory bin ideas for #ValentinesDay

A Messy Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin | Smell the Daisiez

Valentine Sensory Bin and Learning Activities. Click for more #sensory bin ideas for #ValentinesDay

Valentine Sensory Bin and Learning Activities | Fantastic Fun and Learning

Valentine's Day Sensory Bin. Click for more #sensory bin ideas for #ValentinesDay

Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin | Jefferson Parish Parent

Valentines Sensory Tub. Click for more #sensory bin ideas for #ValentinesDay

Valentines Sensory Tub | Pre-School Play

Valentine's Day Sensory Bin. Click for more #sensory bin ideas for #ValentinesDay

Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin | Teaching Mama

Valentine's Sensory Play with Colored Rice. Click for more #sensory bin ideas for #ValentinesDay

Valentine’s Sensory Play with Colored Rice | Learn Play Imagine

How to Make a Valentine's Day Sensory Tub. Click for more #sensory bin ideas for #ValentinesDay

How to Make a Valentine’s Day Sensory Tub | Baby Savers

January 19, 2015
by Jennifer
0 comments

Picture Books About Basketball for Kids

Picture Books About Basketball for Kids: Find these books at your local library or use the affiliated links provided for your convenience. All recommendations are my own.

With winter comes snow, sports moving back indoors and basketball season! For kids who just can’t get enough of basketball, check out these picture books about basketball. They will surely spark your children’s incentive to get reading.

I write so often about books, I’ve put them in one central location and created a collection of all of my book lists on The Jenny Evolution! Find more great reading book lists here.

Picture Books About Basketball for Kids | The Jenny Evolution

Picture Books About Basketball for Kids

 Dream Big: Michael Jordan and the Pursuit of Olympic Gold
Dream Big: Michael Jordan and the Pursuit of Olympic Gold: Long before he became a professional All-Star basketball player, Michael Jordan had dreams of winning an Olympic gold medal—and with dedication and perseverance, that’s exactly what he did. This heartwarming picture book, written by Michael’s mother and illustrated by Barry Root, gives a rare glimpse into a sports hero’s childhood and emphasizes the role that good values play in success. An ideal companion to the New York Times bestselling Salt in His Shoes, Dream Big is an inspiration to all.

Basketball Belles: How Two Teams and One Scrappy Player Put Women's Hoops on the Map
Basketball Belles: How Two Teams and One Scrappy Player Put Women’s Hoops on the Map: This dynamic picture book about the birth of women’s basketball will keep young readers riveted. Raised on a cattle ranch, Agnes Morley was sent to Stanford University to learn to be a lady. Yet in no time she exchanged her breeches and spurs for bloomers and a basketball; and in April 1896 she made history. In a heart–pounding game against the University of California at Berkeley, Agnes led her team to victory in the first-ever intercollegiate women s basketball game, earning national attention and putting women s basketball on the map.

Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball
Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball:
Taking over a rowdy gym class right before winter vacation is not something James Naismith wants to do at all. The last two teachers of this class quit in frustration. The students–a bunch of energetic young men–are bored with all the regular games and activities. Naismith needs something new, exciting, and fast to keep the class happy or someone’s going to get hurt. Saving this class is going to take a genius. Discover the true story of how Naismith invented basketball in 1891 at a school in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Dino-basketball
Dino-basketball: When the carnivorous Meat face the herbivorous Grass Clippers, rims are sure to rattle! Ally-oops and rejections are the orders of the day as the dinos play a fast-paced full-court game. No one can establish a lead as the final seconds tick by. The fans are getting tense, and there’s a championship on the line. Which dino will step up and take it to the hoop? This exciting follow-up to Dino-Hockey, Dino-Soccer, and Dino-Baseball is sure to thrill dinosaur and sports lovers alike.

 Dickie V's ABCs and 1-2-3s: A Great Start for Young Superstars
Dickie V’s ABCs and 1-2-3s: A Great Start for Young Superstars:
It’s a children’s alphabet and counting book from the legendary ESPN college basketball analyst, Dick Vitale. Dick is a grandfather of five and a passionate advocate for early childhood development. In the book, children learn their alphabet through high-energy basketball words that Dick uses in his national broadcasts. For example, “D” is for “dunk” and “J” is for “jump.” In the counting section of the book, Dick leads kids in counting 1 to 10 using colorful basketballs.

Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream
Salt in His Shoes: Michael Jordan in Pursuit of a Dream: The mere mention of the name conjures up visions of basketball played at its absolute best. But as a child, Michael almost gave up on his hoop dreams, all because he feared he’d never grow tall enough to play the game that would one day make him famous. That’s when his mother and father stepped in and shared the invaluable lesson of what really goes into the making of a champion — patience, determination, and hard work.

Little Basketball
Little Basketball: Board Books for Little Sports! Now even the smallest of fans can enjoy a book about their favorite sport. Rhyming riddles accompanied by colorful artwork help introduce the game’s simplest, most basic elements.

Allie's Basketball Dream
Allie’s Basketball Dream: Allie’s always been hooked on basketball, but the boys she knows won’t play with her. On the verge of giving up, Allie has one last go at it–and she makes the basket! Inspired by her persistence, her friends all want to join in.

I write so often about books, I’ve put them in one central location and created a collection of all of my book lists on The Jenny Evolution! Find more great reading book lists here.

January 19, 2015
by Jennifer Hughes
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Jimmy Dean Delights Adds Yummy Convenience to Breakfast

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Jimmy Dean®. All opinions are 100% mine.

Mornings in my house can be absolutely hectic! From locating the boys’ shoes to getting them to finish any leftover homework, it can seem impossible to get a healthy, hot breakfast on the table. The new Jimmy Dean Delights has a fix.

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Jimmy Dean has come out with a delicious line of convenient breakfast sandwiches — and all of them are under 300 calories! Made with quality, real ingredients (such as eggs, sausage and cheese), combined with the unique savory blend of seasonings in Jimmy Dean sausage, these sandwiches were an absolute hit with everyone in my family. Individually wrapped, all I had to do was pop them into the microwave and they were ready in minutes.

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My boys particularly liked the Honey Wheat English Muffin made with Canadian bacon, egg whites and cheese. I enjoyed the Applewood Smoked English Muffin with a chicken sausage patty, egg whites and sharp American cheese. No one would have guessed they only had 250 calories or less.

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Jimmy Dean Delights frozen breakfast come in a variety of options, including:

  • Jimmy Dean Delights Chicken Sausage Egg & Cheese English Muffins
  • Jimmy Dean Delights Turkey Sausage Egg & Cheese English Muffins
  • Jimmy Dean Delights Canadian Bacon English Muffins
  • Jimmy Dean Delights Turkey Sausage Croissants
  • Jimmy Dean Delights Turkey Sausage Egg, & Cheese Flatbread
  • Jimmy Dean Delights Bacon, Egg & Cheese Flatbread

Get a Coupon for Jimmy Dean Delights

You can find these yummy breakfast items in the freezer section of Meijers as well as other participating grocers. You can save $1.00 on any one (1) Jimmy Dean Delights® Breakfast Sandwiches with Jimmy Dean Mperk at Meijer, which are available through Jan. 31, 2015. For more information visit Jimmy Dean and for delicious recipe ideas, check out Jimmy Dean on Pinterest.

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