Spelling fun with Bananagram

We recently purchased the Bananagrams (basically scrabble in a cool banana pouch) that has 144 letter tiles so we could use the tiles for spelling practice.

I love the weight of the tiles -- they have real substance which provides nice sensory input. Unfortunately the letters are in all caps, but we'll work on that next.

I think it would be even more fun to have real 1" ceramic tiles to use with letters written in wet-erase markers!!!!

Today we worked on the "i_e" word patterns. Here are the word endings we laid out with the tiles:


We selected these consonants to experiment with as beginning sounds for these word endings:

  • b, d, f, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, v, w

Here are the words the kids "cooked up" and recognized as real words using those "ingredients:

  • bike, bite
  • dice, dime, dine, dire, dive
  • file, fine, fire, five
  • hide, hike, hive,
  • jive
  • kite
  • lice, like, lime, live
  • mice, mike, mile, mime, mine
  • nice, nile, nine
  • pile, pine, pipe
  • rice, ride, ripe
  • side, site
  • tide, tile, time, tire
  • vine
  • wine, wipe

Organizing our Pantry

As we prepare to revamp our pantry space, we continue to look for the products we need to make things functional and hopefully beautiful as well.


  • More functional storage to make use of vertical space
  • Decorative storage for dry good pantry items that will be on display
  • Get rid of plastic!

Solving the canned goods storage problem...

Here are some dispensers that can be used for storing canned goods to save space and help you figure out what you really have in your pantry!

This one is from living whole foods inc. I wonder if it is sturdy, but it seems to make good use of vertical space. I don't quite understand how you put the items in to achieve "first in first out" though. Apparently the top and middle rows alternate dropping to the bottom. Sounds confusing to me.

More are available from organize-it, with a chrome can rack and a stackable white plastic one. The chrome can rack has good reviews for its sturdiness and use of vertical space. But you would always have to remember to fill from the back to get the "first in first out." I'm not sure how you would fill from the back on the middle and lower rows. The plastic one is a drop down which is nice and it is stackable. But again, there are some complaints about sturdiness.

This smaller one is available through Amazon. This is nice and simple and not made of plastic so hopefully it is sturdy. But it isn't stackable and it isn't clear if it would hold all size cans.

No winner here yet. Gotta keep looking.

Storing bulk dry goods in a visually appealing way...


  • Glass storage jars - to get rid of plastic for health and environment concerns
  • Air tight seals - I tested out a large 2 gallon Heritage Hill container that is beautiful but found it didn't keep out the moisture.
  • Wide mouth opening for easy "scooping" - I tried pickle jars but they are too deep and the opening isn't quite wide enough
  • Square design for saving space. (Great suggestion from Rita Wilhelm of cluttergone!)
  • Large enough for bulk size purchases (varieties of rice, flour, sugar, bean, grains, etc.)
It turns out that this is a lot to wish for. This is hard to find as others have also found. So here are the options I am contemplating:

Click-Clack polycarbonate plastic jars from The Container Store that only go up to 4.2 quarts.

Oxo Pop plastic jars from Crate and Barrel but they only go up to 5.5 quarts.

French hermetic glass terrains from The Container Store, but they only go up to 34 ounces (4.25 cups).

Montana glass jars which go up to 2.5 gallon in size, but I wonder how well they seal. After reviewing sizes and customer reports, including this helpful one, I think I'm settled on the Anchor Hocking Montana Jars with the Brushed Nickel lids! The Winner!!

*UPDATE* These come in 48 oz, 64 oz, 96 oz, 1 gal, 1.5 gal, 2 gal, and 2.5 gal and have options of black, red, or brushed silver metal lids. It turns out these many options are difficult to find on store shelves and even online. The most comprehensive selection I've found online are available here.

Borosilicate glass and stainless jars from The Container Store that go up to 68 ounces (8.5 cups).

Stackable square glass containers up to 80 ounces from The Container Store with again, possibly questionable seals.

Food grade small, medium and large storage bins and flip-top acrylic containers for bagged items from King Arthur's flour who also happens to have thick glass refrigerator pitchers with seals that are imported from Italy! I've been looking for a glass pitcher with seals!!

Helping kids connect with their books

This was a really fun find. The author has lots of web resources to share along with stories, tips, and practical advice to make readers more connected to their books.

Want Dav Pilkey to show you how to draw dumb bunnies?
Using the Internet to acquaint children with authors and illustrators of children’s literature

by Jonda C. McNair, Ohio State University
The Dragon Lode, Vol. 19 • No. 1 • Fall, 2000
©2000 IRA Children’s Literature and Reading Special Interest Group

It's very much how I like to approach books too -- I love the human interest aspect. I guess it comes with the territory of being a psychologist.

That's why we got turned on to Nikki Grimes books. I always read the author/illustrator info on the back flaps to the kids and we discovered Ms. Grimes lives in the same city as their grandparents!

It's why we obsess over finding the names of people and places in Marc Brown's books (as this author mentions).

It's why we buy all the Grace Lin books, because we've read about her family history, follow her blog, and met her when she came to our town library (at our suggestion to the librarian!)

It's why I can tell you about the mother and daughter of the author of my favorite childhood book, and to find that she grew up in the same area that I did!

It's just another reminder that it's all about people and our connections to each other and our world.

Books from my childhood - Pictoral trip down memory lane

Wish List Books:

In our collection:

Books from my childhood

I'm putting up our Winter semester booklist so we can find and remember which library books we loved and want to check out again or purchase.

In doing so, I thought I would also log some of the books from my childhood. My kids, neices, and nephews are enjoying them too!

Here are some wonderful books from my childhood that my kids are enjoying too. Thanks for saving them, Mom!

There are also some that we had once upon a time but no longer have, possibly due to a basement water problem back home. So these (*) are on our wish list!

Interesting tidbits on Books from my Childhood

Little Mommy by Sharon Kane (1967)
This one is my favorite book from my childhood. The illustrations show so many of the toys, clothes, and environments I remembered. I had a dress like hers and a baby carriage like hers. There were so many "miniature" mommy accessories that I loved and now my daughter does too!

Interesting Tidbits:

  • Reissued in 2008 with a new cover and the deletion of the picture of the "candy pills" on the page where Betsy has the "mumbledybumps."

  • Interesting information on the author and illustrator of many children's books, Sharon Kane, her comics in the South Bend Tribune, and her inclusion at the Northern Indiana Historical Society in South Bend, Indiana.

  • Her mother, Eunice Young Smith, also wrote and illustrated beloved children's books that are also collectors items, including the popular series about a girl named Jennifer of which Sharon Kane now owns (according to a shelfari blog reader) the copyright renewed in 1977.

  • Her daughter, Jennifer Lehuaokalani Kane, is also an author and artist, being the 3rd generation of women to write stories that provide a unique historical perspective on life during the time of the story.
Andrew Henry's Meadow by Doris Burns (1965)

This one was among my slightly younger brother, Robb's favorite books. He recently discovered the copy at mom and dad's and went out to buy a copy right away.

My much younger brother never read it as a kid, but his toddler son "Ham" discovered it and wanted to read it every time he went to grandma and grandpa's house. So they bought a copy as well.

My 7 year old son read it and I asked him if he liked it and he said "It's only the best book ever written!" So we got him a copy.

I think all the boys love this book because the boy takes things apart, uses junk to make the greatest inventions, and runs away to create his own house and "kid's village" where all the creative children can pursue their interests within adult interference.

Interesting Tidbits:
  • It was reissued in 2005 as a 40th anniversary edition.
  • A film based on the book is in development and slated for a 2010 release date.
  • The book was inspired by the author's son and written while they lived on an island with no running water or electricity.
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