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Friday, September 30, 2011

We HEART Our Local Library!

My Little Reader and I have had our fair share of library story time disappointment. We did finally fall in love with a librarian at one library, only to have our hearts broken when she left her position at the library. And even though we did love her enthusiastic and engaging read alouds, the craft time following the story reading always seemed a bit lacking in thought and effort.

BUT now we have discovered Ms. Marsha at the library right across town from us, and we LOVE her story hours. She is able to keep her audience captivated (as captivated as you can keep several dozen toddlers and preschoolers) without shouting the words she's reading or rushing through the books. Her storytimes have distinct themes, and the crafts always correlate with the stories, and are well thought out.

I actually suggested to My Little Reader that we go to the story time at the library further away this week, because we had some books on hold, and he staunchly opposed me. He wanted to go to make "crafts" at "the small library." I didn't have the heart to deny his request, so we visited both libraries that day, and he had a ball.

This week there was a food theme to story hour. We missed the beginning (I can never seem to get anywhere on time lately), but made it in time for Marsupial Sue Presents The Runaway Pancake. Check out the pancake My Little Reader made. He insisted on making a face with the fixins, and then ate every last bite of it all.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Yes, You Can Play on the iPad

My kids have a technology addiction. Well, my older ones do. I am completely frustrated by this fact, even though I know I haven't had much influence over this addiction. (From what I hear, they were pretty screen addicted even in their native country.) And for several reasons I won't go into here, screens are just preferable over most other options for my adopted kiddos. And boy, is it ever harder to change an existing habit, or preference in someone, than it is to help guide those habits and preferences right from the beginning.

We don't forbid screen time, but we do try to limit it. It tends to not get turned on during the week because we are so busy with other things, but the weekends require the more heavy monitoring.

But there is one screen in our house that I don't mind the kids using as much; it's our iPad. We just recently purchased an iPad, and one of the main reasons for this purchase was to help make learning more appealing to, and fun for, our kids. We loaded it up with learning games and books and unveiled it.

The kids were initially thrilled about the purchase, but when they discovered that it didn't have all the junk games on it that they love so much on our iPhones (and that don't get to play anymore, because I'm tired of constantly being asked for my phone), it lost a little bit of it's initial appeal.

One of our criticisms of the iPad is that you can't really put restrictions on it, or have separate users like you can on a typical computer. So if my husband or I want to put a junk game on iPad for us, the kids end up seeing it and wanting to play it too. It's kind of maddening.

Despite it's drawbacks, if I can use something they're addicted to (screens), to help foster a love of reading, and to make reading and learning more appealing, I think it is a completely appropriate tool for them to have monitored access to.

Our favorite children's book for the iPad is The Monster At the End of This Book. The Tale of Peter Rabbit probably comes in at a close second. I have included some photos of My Little Reader and his cousins being read to on the iPad by their Papa.

I'm wondering what your thoughts are on iPads and eReaders. Like 'em? Hate 'em? What are your favorite books and educational apps?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Incredible Book Eating Boy

Last week was the first time I've taught a Literacy Launchpad lesson in over a year (visit my other blog here to get a peek at WHY I've been gone for a while)! It felt WONDERFUL to be back at it. You have no idea how much I was missing it!

We kicked it all off with The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers. It's a fun book, and it works really well to begin a year of incredible reading. The kids all seemed excited about being dubbed "Incredible Book Reading Boys/Girls."

We played a game where we fed Henry's mouth books, and then when that didn't go so well (made our "Henry" sick) we fed his brain books instead. Of course, we first had to create some good books to fill up that brain of his. We ended up with books about dinosaurs, tornados, rainbows, and pumpkins to name a few.

This week it will be fun to see their reaction to getting to go to "reading class" again now that they know what it's all about.

Here are a few photos of us feeding Henry's brain.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Reading Journals

As someone who enjoys reading, and enjoys reading to my children, I cannot believe it has never dawned on me (till now) to be keeping a record of the books we read. As I was driving home from visiting Chicago this weekend, I was thinking about how it would be nice to keep track of the books I have read. I started thinking about what a nice keepsake that might be for my kids and grandkids to have someday (I know I would love to see a journal of what my grandma was reading when she was my age). And then I started thinking about all the books I read with my kids, and all the fun we have talking about these stories and reading them over and over. And I wondered why I haven't been keeping track of all that! I am sad about all the reading memories I have let slip away from us, but I'm excited to go ahead and get going with our reading journaling NOW. Better late than never!

I found lots of suggestions online for what kinds of things you can reflect on and write about in your reading journal, but I plan to keep mine pretty simple. I would like to remember when I read the book, why I read the book, where I read the book (on a plane, vacation, at soccer practice), and then just some general reactions to the book. I would mostly like to use this journal as a way to help record my life. If it evolves into something more than that, fine, but I'm not going to put a lot of pressure on myself to be composing in-depth book reports on every book I read.

As far as journaling what my kids are reading, I plan to keep that simple too. I will follow the same basic guidelines as what I laid out above, but will include what my kids' reactions were, and any activities we may have done following and/or related to the book. I also might include what kinds of curiosity it sparked and what other books it may have led to us reading.
My children can't do much writing yet, so they can't contribute much to the journals yet in that regard, but I might try to have them add some drawings here and there.

I will probably keep it simple with some cheap, basic notebooks, unless I come up with some uber creative idea, or find a reading journal I just can't resist purchasing. You'll see I included a couple photos in this post of some cute ones I found online. You can purchase those HERE and HERE.

Ever kept a reading journal for yourself or your kids? Any tips or ideas to share? Chime in down in the comments! I'm all ears!