Children's Finds

Recent Children’s Discoveries.

By: Jen Shoop

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Five different clusters of children’s discoveries/finds —

01. Homework station. My daughter now has daily homework (!) and we decided that the best way to ensure she completes it is to designate a place and a time for it. She often has after-school activities/play-dates/library or playground pit-stops, so our plan is that whenever she gets home and changes out of her uniform, she goes straight to her homework station before doing anything else (playing, bath, etc — we still do bath before dinner as I find it is one less hurdle to worry about at bedtime). She’s a diligent little lady so I don’t anticipate running into any issues with this, but have already conceptualized a homework completion chart we can hang in her room if we do. She has a children’s desk and chair in her bedroom, but, for now, we’d prefer she do it downstairs in our kitchen, for a few reasons. First, she’ll be modeling homework completion for my son, and second, my husband’s office is right off the kitchen / I am often in the kitchen, so there’s a higher likelihood that we will be around to help, review, and generally stay on top of what she’s learning. I ordered her this acrylic mat, a new pen case, pencils, erasers (so cute — scented and in the shape of macarons!), and a sharpener so that we have all of the materials she needs in one place, on hand.

02. Interactive toys. A few things that have been big hits with my children lately: our Pipsticks sticker subscription (my children cannot wait for this to arrive each month! I usually open the package myself and parcel out a few sticker sets when needed, e.g., at restaurants, at Church, on a rainy Saturday, etc) and my daughter’s Botley robot. The robot is so clever — your child can “program” it to do certain things, maneuvers, etc, and some of them are really cheeky/funny. For example, there’s a “ghost” setting and my daughter loves to turn off the lights and have Botley jive back and forth, saying “ooooh” after she’s entered the proper sequence of commands. I also recently purchased this magnetic story-telling set and this Plus Plus “learn the flags” kit — I’ve stowed them away as potential Christmas gifts, but sometimes there are those wild weekend mornings where you need a distraction.

03. Halloween prep. I love to mark the seasons with themed books, toys, activities, sticker sets, decor, etc. I always bring out the mini pumpkin waffle maker and use Trader Joe’s pumpkin waffle mix a few times during September/October, and I have a few decorations we like to put out. This year, I’m eyeing a this fun ghost garland for our mantel or maybe my daughter’s bookshelf, a few new books for our library (this, this, this) and a few fun Halloween activity books (this, this, this). And though we watch the Charlie Brown Halloween movie and “Room on the Broom” ad nauseum in October, we don’t have the Charlie Brown book or the Room in the Broom Tonies figure, so think I’ll also buy those.

04. Everyday fall clothing. Still filling in some gaps in my son’s wardrobe (most of my daughter’s wardrobe here, and some cute ideas for boys here), and I wanted to share that these velcro sneakers from NB are SO cute and so easy for him to put on himself. He wears them daily to school. I think I’m going to order the next size up in green just so we have them. Also just added this faded sweatshirt to my cart in the taupe and blue colors for him!

05. H&M home finds. OMG — H&M has the most adorable children’s home decor! I love…








Not seen above, but I took my children to the bookstore last weekend as a special “buy some new books for the new school year” excursion, and they both made a bee-line for the Captain Underpants / Dogman series. Wah! I try not to betray any emotion about this, as I’m excited they are excited to read, no matter what the material. I’ve made an uncomfortable peace with those books because, as graphic novels, they are fantastic “on-ramps” to reading — children can use the images/context clues to help with reading before they can sound out all the words, and my daughter felt SO empowered by them, as they are big, long, hard-cover tomes, and she was maybe five when she first started borrowing them at the library. They also do have some interesting words — my daughter was asking what “thus” meant the other day after reading one. But (!) The themes are terrible, the characters are unkind to one another, and there are deliberate misspellings, instances of incorrect grammar, and occasional bad language. It’s enough to make you groan as a parent. Still, it has always been my philosophy to let my children read what they wish — I just want them to love reading! I read books of questionable substance all the time, so who am I to preclude them from finding joy on the page in their own lanes?! I was also chatting with a girlfriend over the weekend who said her mother banned “Baby-Sitter’s Club” in her home, and she’s long wondered whether those prohibitions prevented her from falling in love with reading, as she’s not a big reader to this day.

Anyhow, on this trip, I let them both select one Dogman / Capt Underpants book (“one graphic novel” was the rule), and then asked my daughter to pick two chapter books and my son to pick two picture books. My son chose, with some gentle guidance and one firm “no, not a Paw Patrol book,” Lyle, Lyle Crocodile (he loved the movie but we didn’t own the book — it is charming!) and The Serious Goose (he was fixated on the mirror page). My daughter chose The Princess in Black (recommended by a mom friend of mine, so I was able to steer her in this direction) and Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid. I shared a photo of the former on Instagram, mentioning how I was looking for alternative to Dogman, over the weekend and many Magpies had other recommendations that I wanted to pass along for young/early readers:








I shared more books for early readers here that we’ve loved in the past.

P.S. “There are so many moments of motherhood where I have felt I am bouncing nervously at the edge of a high diving board. How am I ever going to get two children to a birthday party on time by myself, and then extricate them without meltdowns when it’s time to go? How can I possibly make it through this day with my newly-crawling baby? Will the tantrums ever stop? I don’t know how to get my child to sleep! You can’t, you can’t, you can’t — and then you can.” Read the full essay here.

P.P.S. Fall outerwear for children.

P.P.P.S. Sweet Amazon finds for littles.

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6 thoughts on “Recent Children’s Discoveries.

  1. I always love that our eldest daughters are the same age and on the same path, and I am similarly raising a little bookworm! My kids share a room so I gifted my daughter a little clip-on light so she can stay up a bit later than her sister and read, and I feel such joy every time I come in her room and find her intently buried in a book! Great suggestions above– I would add Ivy & Bean (cute Netflix show to accompany the books if desired, also!) and she is currently reading Audrey L & Audrey W, and I’m finding that it’s good timing because it seems to have accessible, comforting themes around new classes at the start of school, friendships, kids who might be unkind, etc.

    1. Oo thank you so much for these!

      Also, which clip light did you get? We bought her this really cute one from Pottery Barn but it didn’t clip on her bed properly so we had to return. Suggestions? Thank you!


      1. This one clips on to the actual book!! It was originally mine, because I am an insomniac and needed a way to read without waking my husband in the wee hours. Nothing fancy but definitely does the trick:
        (tried to shorten the gargantuan amazon link but in case that doesn’t work, try “Energizer LED Book Light Flex, Book Light for Reading in Bed”)

  2. If your daughter likes The Princess in Black, another fantastic early chapter series is Sophie Mouse. The books are charming and the main characters are brother and sister mice.

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