have you seen ducklingQuality picture books that make children laugh, wriggle and jiggle, and learn something new every time they open the cover, are gems. They are written and illustrated for that purpose.

And so it is with Have You Seen My Duckling? Nancy Tafuri, a giant in the field of children’s literature, received the Caldecott Honor for her beautiful picture book.

The story has few words. It’s told through pictures. Mother Duck loses her eighth duckling and sails frantically around the pond, the rest of her family behind her.

“Have you seen my duckling?” Mother duck asks the pond animals: bird, turtle, beaver, and fish. None of them has seen her baby. But baby duck is never really lost, only cleverly hidden in each picture.

This hide-and-seek feature makes the storybook a game. Children can’t help but respond when they spot the hidden duckling on every page.

Have You Seen My Duckling? is a wonderful story for parent and child. Each page offers something different to talk about. From toddler to preschooler, it’s a perfect read-aloud for story time and belongs on your little one’s bookshelf.

Playful Early Learning

  • Look at the cover. Name the animal mother and count her little ones.
  • Open to the title page. Find the venturesome duckling.
  • As you read aloud, be sure to point out the details of every picture. The pictures tell the story.
  • Search for the missing duckling on each page. (Duckling isn’t lost, just adventuring.)
  • On the last page, count and make sure all eight ducklings are safe with Mother Duck.

When young children memorize storybooks, they think and act like readers. This is a beautiful beginning to a lifetime of loving books—and reading.

Henri1407 / Pixabay

Henri1407 / Pixabay

As communication by big and small keyboards increases, studies reveal that writing by hand decreases. In fact, the common core standards call for teaching handwriting only in kindergarten and first grade.

But it is writing by hand that helps a child’s brain develop, and improves memory and confidence. Handwriting engages the child in learning far beyond keyboarding.

In her New York Times article, What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades, Maria Konnikova reports on a study from Karin James, an Indiana University psychologist. Dr. James used a brain scanner to see how handwriting affected activity in children’s brains.

The findings?

“When children drew a letter freehand, they exhibited increased activity in three significant areas of the brain, which didn’t happen when they traced or typed the letter.”

Handwriting literally increases brain activity.

Free-form writing can predict a child’s academic success in ways the keyboarding can’t. When children write by hand, they not only produce more words, but express more ideas.

So what’s the take-away for parents?

From drawing to scribbling to writing, make writing by hand a part of open-ended play in your home. Write with your child during playtime and show how writing by hand works.

For easy-to-use ideas, visit my link. See ten ways to incorporate writing play into your everyday living.









Tex, a captivating children’s book by Dorie McCullough Lawson, features a boy and his big imagination. With stunning photographs and simple words, Luke, who lives near the ocean, dreams of being a cowboy on a cattle ranch.

In Luke’s dream, he’s Tex, a little cowboy who works hard all day long. With his cowdog Sue, and his horse Thunder, Tex checks fences with Cowboy Jim. He irrigates the land, rounds up the cows, plows the fields, and takes a little rest at the end of the day.

The rich photographs make this story irresistible. Each page makes you feel what Tex feels while you experience his western adventure. You’ll want to ride the open range, sleep in the bunkhouse, and steer the tractor. On the last page, the story ends with a sweet good-night that shows it was all a dream. “It’s been a long day for a cowboy. So long, Tex.”

Would you ever guess that nonfiction can be so much fun?

Playful Early Learning:


  • Look at the picture on the cover
  • Talk about Tex, his clothes, rope, and boots
  • Find the cow in the distance


  • Read aloud slowly, and pause after each picture
  • Repeat some wonderful words such as ranch, bunkhouse, irrigates, fence, and herd


  • Look for details in the pictures, and name what you see
  • Find the day-to-day activities on a working ranch