Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle

My son and daughter are five years apart, so sometimes it’s difficult to find read alouds that interest both of them. I was so excited that Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle was a hit with both of them! Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle was first published in 1947, but somehow it stayed off my radar until a few years ago when I heard a bit of it during a storytime read aloud. Even then, I didn’t really take notice (perhaps because I was still in a sleep-deprived haze from my newborn daughter). As I tell my son, though, sometimes you come back to a book you thought you wouldn’t like and discover it’s wonderful, and I’m so glad we came back to Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle!

The children of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s town are much like children everywhere. They’re kind, funny, imaginative, and flawed. Some of them don’t want to do their work, some are picky eaters, and some are just downright rude. And, like parents everywhere, their moms and dads sometimes reach the ends of their ropes and look for help. In this case, it comes from Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, who is always ready with a crazy cure, from planting seeds on a child who doesn’t want to bathe to labeling every single item belonging to a selfish child. However outlandish the child’s behavior is, the cure is sure to be equally over the top!

Betty MacDonald has written a story that provides many opportunities for some really good discussions. Behaviors and attitudes are easy topics to bring up, especially since most children have displayed many (if not all) of the ones in the book at some point in time. Instead of being preachy and didactic, though, MacDonald has Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle solve these problems in hilarious ways so that it doesn’t seem so personal when you are discussing the same problems with your children. It’s nice to have something lighthearted to refer back to when I’m reminding children that yes, they do need to take showers, even if they bathed two days ago! Also, because this book was written so long ago, some of the home situations and even some of the language may not be so familiar to all kids, so these are great points of discussion, too.

If your children like Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, there are four more books in the series. We read all of them aloud, but they are geared toward elementary school readers if you don’t want to continue the series as read alouds. All of the books were enjoyable, but I think the original book is the best. If you want to start your school year off with a read aloud that everyone can enjoy, try Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

Tea Time with Raphael

One of the greatest painters of the Renaissance, Raphael Sanzio was born on April 6, 1483.  As a child, Raphael learned about art alongside his father, who was also an artist.  He was a quick learner and was able to take everything his teachers taught him and then move beyond to make his artwork special.  The people in Raphael’s paintings look very realistic and he was able to make it seem as though they were moving very naturally.  Most of Raphael’s paintings are religious and he is well known for his portraits of the Madonna and Child.  Raphael died on his birthday in 1520, and though he was just 37 years old, he left behind a large number of paintings and murals that are still famous today.

If you want to try your hand at being a Renaissance-style artist, you can make your own frescoes!  Just mix up some plaster and pour it into a shallow disposable pan or dish (like a disposable cake pan).  Before the plaster sets completely, paint a picture with tempera paint.  When the plaster is completely dry, carefully remove it from the pan and you will have an art project that would look lovely displayed on an easel or given as a gift!

Raphael Notebook Page

Tea Time with Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh was born in the Netherlands on March 30, 1853.  He tried a variety of different jobs but never found success at any of them–including painting.  In spite of this, he produced more than 2,000 works of art in his lifetime.  Van Gogh died in France on July 29, 1890.  He is now one of the world’s most famous artists and even if your children haven’t studied him they can probably recognize some of his most famous works.

There are some wonderful books on Van Gogh geared toward children!  Some of our favorites are:

After you’ve learned a bit about Van Gogh, you might want to try some art projects!  It’s fun to try a new kind of paint or a different medium, but don’t get so concerned about being authentic that you don’t have a good time.  It’s okay to substitute materials, especially when you’re working with young kids.  I definitely wasn’t going to spend the money (or clean up the resulting mess) to have my three year old try her hand at oil painting, so we used oil pastels instead.  Focus on the style of the artist and talk about supplies they actually and enjoy yourselves, even if you aren’t making your masterpiece exactly like Van Gogh would have!    Why not give one of these projects a try at your next tea time?


We always have a snack at our tea time, and if I can, I like to make something that goes along with the artist we’re studying.  Isn’t this sunflower snack cute?  Or maybe some sparkling stars?

If you want to have something for your child’s notebook, try this notebooking page!