Posts Tagged ‘puzzles’

Can You See What I See? Toyland Express from Walter Wick

Posted on December 4th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts writes about Toyland Express by Walter WickCan You See What I See? Toyland Express written and illustrated by Walter Wick
Picture book published by Cartwheel Books, an imprint of Scholastic

I have written previously of my younger son’s fascination with picture puzzles. When he was four or five, he would spend countless hours searching for objects and noticing small differences between pictures. He loved to have a picture puzzle book as one of his bedtime stories. He is still a fan of puzzles and is very attentive to small details.

Picture puzzle book are wonderful for small children, they encourage kids and adults to slow down and take time to enjoy illustration. They demand that readers pause to examine and appreciate illustrations rather than turn the pages quickly. They also encourage concentration and attention to detail.

I am a big fan of Walter Wick’s work and have shared many of his books with children. Can You See What I See? Toyland Express takes this genre to a new level as it introduces a picture-narrative to the usual puzzle format.

We begin in a woodwork shop and can almost smell the woodshavings and sawdust. It is clear that a skilled craftsman is at work, creating train parts and other intriguing toys made from wood. Turning the page, the woodworker’s creations have been shifted to a large paint shop where bright colours are added to an amazing array of toys and toy parts.

Once painted, assembled and boxed, the Toyland Express – a cheery toy train – is prominently displayed in a toy store window, hoping to entice a buyer. Sure enough, the train, track, bits of scenery and characters become a treasured birthday gift for a young child. One can almost imagine the squeal of delight when the gift is opened.
Storytime Standouts shares an illustration from Toyland Express by Walter Wick
Gorgeous spreads take us from woodshop to paintshop; toy store to birthday party, soon the bright wooden train joins other toys in a child’s bedroom and undergoes transformations as the child changes the backdrop, accessories and scenery. Each scenes includes a rhyming list of hidden objects to find:

Can you see what I see?
A rocking horse,
a rolling hoop, a birthday candle,
an ice-cream scoop,

Eventually, the well-used train set is stored, with other discarded toys, to gather dust. All is not lost, however. A yard sale and refurbishment are just around the corner for the Toyland Express. Before long, the train is happily chugging through a new, modern world, consisting of blocks, paper, dominos, cars, boats and other toys.

Sure to captivate puzzle-solvers as they search for hidden and disguised objects, Toyland Express encourages imaginative play and delivers a “green” message. It may send readers scrambling to discover treasures at a neighbourhood yard sale or encourage children to consider the steps involved in creating toys.

Can You See What I See? Toyland Express from

Can You See What I See? Toyland Express at

Walter Wick Shares a Bounty of Riches for Treasure Seekers

Posted on November 1st, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts looks a puzzle book by Walter Wick, Can You See What I See? Treasure Ship Can You See What I See? Treasure Ship created by Walter Wick
Picture Puzzle Book published by Scholastic

Picture puzzles can be entertaining, intriguing and sometimes frustrating. As well, for our children, they represent a marvelous opportunity for cognitive development – especially when enjoyed with a chatty adult.

Apart from noticing very small details, the adult-child discussion that will accompany a book like Can You See What I See? Treasure Ship is not-to-be missed. image of a spread from Can You See What I See Treasure ShipAuthor/illustrator Walter Wick challenges his young readers to discover all sorts of wonderful words that they aren’t likely to encounter unless an adult is part of the experience.

So, come aboard, explore the bounty of intriguing illustrations and share these vocabulary treasures with your child: saber, peacock, hourglass, tattered, bugle and more.

Can You See What I See? Treasure Ship at

Can You See What I See? Treasure Ship at

Extend your child’s learning with these free pirate theme printables –

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Pirate

Pirate theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Pirate Map

Pirate theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

Exploring Special Alphabet Books

Posted on August 22nd, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Special Alphabet Books

Alphabet books come in an amazing array of themes and formats. Whether your child loves rescue vehicles, solving puzzles, cooking or nonsense rhymes, there are alphabets books to explore and enjoy.

Learning letter activities, games, printables, and alphabet picture booksNote: For printable alphabets, The Alphabet Song and activities to help your child learn the alphabet. be sure to check out our Alphabet Recognition page and our Printable Alphabets page.

Alphabet Explosion! Search and Count from Alien to Zebra by John Nickle

Alphabet Explosion presents 26 challenging visual puzzles that will appeal to both youngsters and adults. With a full-page illustration and the number of things to ‘spy’ for each letter, you and your child(ren) could spend hours with this book. On the page for ‘S’, we are told to look for 47 things that begin with ‘S’. You might expect a snake – but would you recognize ‘slithering’ as well? Good luck!

Alphabet Explosion!: Search and Count from Alien to Zebra at

Alphabet Explosion!: Search and Count from Alien to Zebra at

Alphabet Rescue – written by Audrey Wood, illustrated by Bruce Wood

Fans of Audrey and Bruce Wood’s Alphabet Adventure and Alphabet Mystery will be delighted to know about this new concept book. The creators could not have picked a more appealing storyline than to have the ‘little letters’ build their own fire truck. When the ‘big’ fire truck breaks down, it is up to the ‘little letters’ to come to the rescue and put out a fire in the letter-making factory. Beautiful illustrations have so much to offer those learning the alphabet.

Alphabet Rescue at

Alphabet Rescue at

Eating the Alphabet Fruits and Vegetables from A to Z By Lois Ehlert

Here’s a serving of veggies that will appeal to even the pickiest eater. Big, bold illustrations of familiar (apple) and not-so-familiar (jicama) fruits and vegetables make for a delightful alphabet book. Reading it might convince your child to sample something new and vitamin-rich, possibly the whole alphabet!

Eating the Alphabet: Fruits & Vegetables from A to Z at

Eating The Alphabet at

G is for One Gzonk! An Alpha-Number-Bet Book written and illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi (a.k.a. Tiny Diterlizzi)

In the Style of Dr. Seuss, here we meet Tiny DiTerlooney. He warns us that we ought to “say good-bye to boring books where bears can bounce a ball.” Instead, he uses delightful watercolor illustrations to introduce twenty-six highly original ‘Creachlings.’ Lots of fun – especially for older children who will relish an all-new take on the alphabet.

G Is for One Gzonk!: An Alpha-number-bet Book at

G Is for One Gzonk!: An Alpha-number-bet Book at

Read Sing Play ABC Sing-Along – written by Teddy Slater, illustrated by Liisa Chauncy Guida

Twenty-six sing-along songs, with mostly familiar tunes offer a fun introduction to letter sounds and rhyming. Fun illustrations (including ten touch and feel textures & four pull-tabs) together with a pleasing CD make this a great resource for families and classrooms.

Abc Sing-along at

ABC Sing-Along at

Alphabet Book

More excellent picture books you will want to check out!

Zookeeper Wonders ‘Where’s Walrus?’

Posted on February 28th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Where’s Walrus? – written and illustrated by Stephen Savage
Wordless picture book published by Scholastic

Well-crafted wordless picture books are terrific for young readers. They provide opportunities for children to ‘read’ the illustrations and retell the story. They are also super for multilingual families – a grandparent who does not speak English can enjoy the story-sharing experience in any language.

Where’s Walrus? is a stylish, bold look at a daring escape from the city zoo. While most of the zoo animals and their keeper nap, a walrus decides it is time for fun. His first destination is just outside the zoo gates. He jumps into a large fountain and reclines next to a stone mermaid. With the keeper in hot pursuit, he shifts to a coffee shop, a store window and a construction site. Later, he helps a crew of firefighters and joins a dance team. Each time the walrus moves, he changes his head covering and manages to evade detection. Young children will enjoy “finding” the walrus while the zookeeper searches in vain. For older children, the absurdity of the premis will add to the humor.

Where’s Walrus? will be an excellent addition to a classroom zoo theme. Extension activities could include choosing new a head covering and ‘hiding’ Walrus somewhere new.

Where’s Walrus? at

Where’s Walrus? at

Our page about Wordless and Almost Wordless Picture Books

Environmental Print – It’s Everywhere!

Posted on January 20th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

City Signs by Zoran Milich

In today’s Beginning to Read class we read City Signs. This is a great book to share with four and five year olds, particularly youngsters who are anxious to read. City Signs is a series of photographs that each include at least one word. The word is shown in context so young “readers” can use their detective skills to make an educated guess about the word. Some of the words are unmistakeable: ambulance, ice cream, life guard, horses. Other words are somewhat trickier: litter and supermarket both challenged the group I was with this afternoon.

For children who are desperate for reading success, looking for environmental print and encouraging them to read “EXIT,” “PUSH,” “BUS STOP” and “STARBUCKS” can be a real confidence builder.

Our free #1 Environmental Print printable for young children

image of PDF icon  Environmental Print 1

Our free #2 Environmental Print printable for young children

image of PDF icon  Environmental Print 2

City Signs at

City Signs at

Toy Shop

For further information about enjoying environmental print with young readers and a look at my photographs of environmental print, please follow this link.

Visit CitiPixBooks – Helping Children See the Urban Environment by Zoran Milich

Great Non Electronic Toy for Teens and Adults

Posted on January 5th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Image of Brainstring, a non electronic toyWhen Christmas shopping for my thirteen year old, I wanted a non electronic toy and I stumbled upon Brain String – Advanced. This non electronic, 3D puzzle was a “hit” in our home throughout the Christmas holidays as it was picked up by various family members. New puzzles were created and solved over and over again.

The puzzle features colour-coded elastic strings stretched within a transparent, symmetrical dome. The challenge is to work, by slightly stretching the strings, from outside the dome to create a knot inside it and then to solve the puzzle you created by manipulating the strings until you untangle the knot. This is done by moving the strings from surface to surface and hole to hole. The strings have colour-coded buttons that match the string colours. The buttons and strings move from hole to hole and surface to surface as you attempt to untangle your knot. Ideally, a “solved puzzle” will have like colours on each surface of the dome and no entangled strings.

A highly recommended non electronic toy for teens and adults who enjoy a mental challenge, Brain String Original is also available.

Brain String (Advanced) at

Brain String Teaser (Original) at

Brain String (Advanced) at

I Spy a Winner – How Picture Riddle Books Benefit Young Learners

Posted on November 21st, 2010 by Carolyn Hart

How Picture Riddle Books Benefit Young Learners

Noticing subtle differences in a Spot Seven book or hidden items in I Spy picture books, will ultimately help your child to differentiate between a N and a M or a d and a b.

For many preschool-aged children, there are ample opportunities to learn to recognize the alphabet. In the environment, STOP signs, SAFEWAY signage and license plates all expose youngsters to the world of print (especially uppercase letters). Alphabet books, wooden puzzles and magnetic letters abound. As adults, it can be tempting to approach alphabet recognition as a paper and pencil or workbook-based activity but there are many more ways to help our children learn to differentiate letters.Storytime Standouts writes about how the Spot Seven books can benefit young learners Especially with children who like tactile experiences (i.e. exploring the world through touch), let’s be adventurous. Spray some shaving cream in a pan and let your child practice her printing or “build” letters with Lego or K’Nex. In addition, whether at home or away, draw your child’s attention to how letters are alike and different. Noticing subtle differences in a Spot Seven book or hidden items in I Spy picture books, will ultimately help your child to differentiate between a N and a M or a d and a b.

Spot 7 School created by Kidslabel
Picture Riddle Book published by Chronicle Books

in this series, readers are shown two pictures and are challenged to find seven differences. In Spot 7 School the pictures are of classrooms, a playground and a hallway in addition to a science lab, gymnasium, etc. Afternotes provide clues for those who can’t find all of the differences.

Spot 7 School at

Spot 7 School at

 Storytime Standouts writes about how I Spy Spooky Night can benefit young learners

I Spy a Spooky Night riddles by Jean Marzollo and photographs by Walter Wick
Picture Riddle Book published by Scholastic

In our household, I Spy Spooky Night was always a favourite.  There is nothing mysterious about the fact that dark, eerie pictures grab the attention of youngsters.  “Okay now, who can find the hidden padlock, a chain and a broken bone?” It’s bone-chilling fun to spend time noticing small details and differences. Great for children aged four years and up.

A scarecrow, a key, a clothespin, a clock,
Two bowling pins, and KNOCK, KNOCK KNOCK!

I Spy Spooky Night at

I Spy Spooky Night at

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