Kittens For Keeps

KittensforKeeps.JPGWe selected Kittens for Keeps (previously printed as Jenny’s Surprise Summer) by Mary C. Olson as the last book of the school year to study.

My daughter loves both kittens and ocean life, so we were super excited to start this book!  My husband ordered a mix of plush gray kittens  and an orange tabby kitten for the kids.  We read the book and introduced them to their kittens.  They were in love!  That morning they cuddled their kittens while playing our Kittens for Keeps BINGO with Mommy and Daddy.

I wanted to start this row off with a cute sensory story box, so I laid everything out for the kids to enjoy!  I started with our yellow corn (as sand), and blue flat bottom marbles as the ocean and added little figures to go along with the vocabulary cards I made for this row.

I set up our first learning lane, including our story sensory box, the night before.  I think I was more excited than the kids!  Parker dug in and started to match up the figures with the vocabulary cards.  The vocabulary words are included in my Kittens for Keeps printable pack.  We did this activity throughout our row of this precious book.


I created a Bible memory verse printable pack to go along with Kitten for Keeps.  The little girl in the story has a big decision to make so we chose to memorize, “If you need wisdom, ask God.” (James 1:5).  Click here to grab your FREE copy.

Bible Lessons


During this unit, we read quite a few Bible stories that revolved around the water.  One morning I made them a “money in the fish” breakfast with “fish” waffles, a sausage “dock”, and a chocolate gold coin.  We read “Money in a Fish” from our beginner’s Bible.  The kids really enjoyed this “read and eat” :).

Unfortunately, this was the only Bible lesson I caught on camera, but there are so many other wonderful stories that work with this row (i.e. Jonah, Jesus and the storm, fishing without a catch, the boy who shared his lunch, wise King Solomon, etc.)

Language Arts

This row quickly became an eclectic mix of kittens, water, and everything ocean.  We rented countless books from the Library.  We finished our Sonlight studies with the older kids, so all of our attention was devoted to this row.  We had a great time and made many fun memories together!


I created several phonics match worksheets in my Kittens for Keeps pack.  He matched up the items with their starting sound.  The ABC Shells & Pails set is broken into three separate worksheets, so he was able to work on a different phonics worksheet throughout this unit.  Click here to grab the first ABC Shells and Pails worksheet for FREE.


I wholeheartedly believe that phonics is the very best way to teach kids how to read.  It’s like giving them the keys to a treasure chest and they figure out how to open it.  The moment they start to sound out words on their own, they feel so proud and happy in their accomplishment!  Parker is really doing well with his CVC words and often is up for a challenge.  Here he matches the cat words with their picture.

In addition to reading CVC words, Parker is learning his sight words.  Oh how tricky they can be.  We pulled out Jordan’s pirate sight word game as well as a fishing for sight word bin I set up with blue rice.  He even fed a few to his brother’s “old lady” (a recycled parmesan cheese container with the “old lady who swallowed a…” taped on it).

Math & Critical Thinking

Number Recognition

Parker continued to work on activities strengthening his number recognition and counting from 1-10 and 11-20.

Parker and Jordan both worked on puzzles and fun critical thinking activities like Sudoku and “which one is different”.  I also made a “which one is different” for this book.  It’s available for purchase in my Kittens for Keeps printable pack.

Critical Thinking

I created a few fun math activities that would help hone Parker’s critical thinking skills.  He worked on them throughout this row.

Both the pattern activity as well as the which one is different worksheet are included in my Kittens for Keeps printable pack for sale, but you can click here to download the shadow match activity for FREE.


Science was a large part of this row.  We spent quite a bit of time learning about cats and the ocean zones, and other fun things along the way.  Sometimes our journey through one book can lead us on a long and winding road full of fun surprises.


We couldn’t row this book without devoting some science time to our feline friend.  We chose to read Cats by Gail Gibbons.  I created some science materials to compliment this read-aloud.

Gail Gibbons books are wonderful additions to our science studies, but they aren’t really suitable for preschoolers.  That morning I brought out our kitten nomenclature cards and we went over the parts of the kittens, the definition of each, and let the kids work on their label the kitten worksheet.

The Kitten Science Pack is for purchase, but you can download the worksheet here for FREE.

The kids also added some fun cat printables in their lapbooks.

Here’s a few cat picture books we read during this row, but our favorites were Sneakers the Seaside Cat and A Kitten Called Moonlight.

Ocean Zone Project

We created an ocean zone project that we worked on throughout this unit.  We started on the beach and waded into the deeper waters.

The Beach

We started our ocean science unit on the beach.  We read so many wonderful books about shells, seagulls, and beach feet.


Going into this unit, I figured we would study seashells while learning about the beach, but I never really thought about studying feet!  I found Beach Feet at our public library and felt inspired to create a Human Foot science pack.

This was a really cute book that everyone thoroughly enjoyed!  We went over the various parts of the foot using Parker’s cute little feet as a reference.

Afterwards, the kids color coded the parts of the feet in their lapbook inserts.  You can download a copy of it for FREE here.


We continued our study of beach life by studying seagulls.  We read Grayboy, a story about an injured seagull and felt inspired to create a watercolor art project.  The kids sketched a scene of Grayboy.

They took their sketches to the kitchen and painted them with watercolors.  They turned out beautiful!

I printed some Hello Ocean lapbook inserts from homeschoolshare and the kids added them to their lapbooks.

We continued reading several more books about the beach.  The kids really enjoyed the various beach books, especially A Beach Tail.


We took a step closer to the ocean by visiting the shoreline zone and exploring all the treasures that appear in this zone.

We read about the shoreline, the low and high tides, and the treasures left behind.  We couldn’t study the shoreline without bringing out one of our favorite, Beachcombing by Jim Arnosky.

The kids took sometime sketching various shells and creatures found in this zone and added them to their notebooks.

We read Hello Ocean and brought out our shells and put them in our sensory tray.  The kids took time to inspect the different shells and listen to the ocean.

Afterwards, the kids added more shell inserts to their lapbooks.

We also read The Legend of the Sand Dollar and made sand dollar cookies and brewed some tea.  If that wasn’t enough playing in the sand, we played in our sensory sand box too!


After studying each zone, the kids would stick all of their creature drawings on their zone chart.

The Surface Waters

We waded into the surface waters and swam to the coral reef!  In my opinion, the most beautiful part of the ocean.

We read God Made the Ocean from The Happy Day Family Treasury Book.  It’s always refreshing to read a science book that acknowledges God creating this beautiful world we live in.  We also read The Magic School Bus Takes a Dive.


One of our coral reef books talked about sea sponges acting as a natural filter for our oceans.  There was even a sponge experiment at the end of the book.

We went into the kitchen and got right to work.  The kids started cutting up some greens to add to our “ocean water” to muck it up.

They then poured the “murkey sea water” over our “sea sponge” to see how it acts like a filter catching the debris, keeping the water clean.


After learning about coral reefs and the surface waters, we decided to make some “coral rice-krispy reefs”.

We melted our butter and marshmallows, then added our pink “coral” color.  I made a big coral reef and individual ones.

Next, we tinted some marzipan and the kids created little coral reef sea creatures to add on top.  This was one of their favorite activities!

Sunlit Zone

The sunlit zone has many fantastic creatures.  Many of which you can see at the aquarium.  We read several books about the surface waters.

Haley fell in love with  My Visit to the Aquarium by Aliki.  She took quite a bit of time sketching sea creatures from this book.

We even took an imaginary dive into the sunlit waters to explore all kinds of fantastic sea life!  I created a sensory bin with sea creatures and matching creature cards.


My kids LOVE slime!  I set out an invitation to play with ocean slime.  The kids were so excited.

We combined our two blue slimes and they made a really ooey, gooey, mess!  The kids LOVED it….the sea creatures got slimed BIG TIME!


Parker was really interested in the Octonauts and asked that I add them to our learning lane.  I created a big sensory bin with water beads and all of Haley’s Octonaut toys.  They were SO excited and had so much fun with this bin.

I even added some Octonaut printables from 1+1+1=1.  Parker was so happy :).


Haley’s favorite sea creature is the Blue Marlin.  So, we bought a special Blue Marlin book and she did an animal report on it.

We even found a really cool Blue Marlin art tutorial.  Unfortunately, we only sailed through the Sunlit Zone.  Maybe next year we’ll dive to the bottom first and make our way up!

Sink/Float Experiment

We talked about the ocean and why certain things float on the surface.  The kids remembered previous science lessons on this subject and knew that air inside an object will help keep it afloat.

The kids marked their predictions, tested each object, and marked the actual result.

Salt Water Density Experiment

First, the kids watched a science video about water and we talked about how water is composed of 2 Hydrogen atoms and 1 Oxygen atom.  We brought out our Hydrogen and Oxygen cards from the periodic table of elements.


We headed for the lab, I mean Kitchen 🙂 to prepare our water density experiment.

We set out two glasses of water, one would remain fresh tap water and the other would be salt water.  The kids added salt to that glass and mixed it well.

saltwaterexp4Haley dropped the egg into the fresh water and it sank to the bottom of the cup.

Next, Jordan dropped his egg into the salt water glass and it floated.  We talked about how the salt water density was greater than the density of the egg which caused the egg to float!

We rowed this book for several weeks, but we still couldn’t dive deep enough!  Perhaps, we’ll visit the ocean depths next year when we row My Blue Boat.  This was such a wonderful year, full of fun activities, and cherished memories we will keep forever!

As with my other blog posts, feel free to check out my Kittens for Keeps Pinterest board and our Kittens for Keeps youtube playlist.


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