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Thursday, October 15, 2015

New Child's Play Books!

I love seeing Child's Play's big brown box of books show up on my porch every few months. The kids and I get to test drive new titles and see what we think. Child's Play is an independent publisher, specializing in whole child development, learning through play, life skills, and values. Their stuff is so pretty and fun. The latest additions to their collections got a thumbs up from us! Check it out.

The What's That board book series encourages guessing, prediction, and memory skills. Four titles in the series include CHOO! CHOO!, SNAP! SNAP!, TAP! TAP!, and TOOT! TOOT!What's that noise? Lift the flap and find out! Lift the flap books are my go-to's with little ones. Always a hit! Familiar themes and vibrant illustrations will mean many, repeated, and fun-filled readings.

The Seasons board book series has a separate charm all its own (Titles include Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter). Each season has something special about it, and in these books you get to explore each one. You will follow these whimsically illustrated  children as they spend time discovering the joys of indoor and outdoor play. And the durability of these board books means you can tote them around with you in each season and read them indoors or out!

We also read a couple new Child's Play picture books and they were adorable! Crunch! by Carolyn Rabei features the cutest little guinea pig named Crunch. He loves to eat and is shocked when a mouse named Cheddar asks to share his food. Trade for a hug? Nope. But Crunch ends up regretting his decision and sets out to find the hungry little mouse.

The last book was Ailsa Burrow's The Jar of Happiness. In this sweet book, Meg shares her "jar of happiness" with friends when they are down and need a little lift. Then one day the jar goes missing. Can she ever be happy again? But Meg's friends help her find new ways to be happy. We loved the super-cute cat in this story; he made us smile and giggle!

All books that are definitely worth your time and great additions to your library!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Fun Thing to Do at the Library!

I always struggle with ways to get my boys actively involved in book selection at the library. My oldest girl always begs to go to the library and keeps herself very busy searching for books while we're there. My two boys love reading books, but they often depend on me a little too much to pick out good books for them don't always put much effort into themselves on our library trips. My middle one is getting better bit by bit, but My Little Reader will still usually just quickly grab a few books to fill his bag and then want to go play with the trains or the computers.

This week we were all on a hunt for some new Christmas books to read (it was our Advent calendar activity for that day). I looked up some Christmas-y titles on the computer card catalog and starting browsing the shelves to find the books on my list.

My boys were wandering aimlessly so I enlisted their help. "Can you boys help me find this list of books? There's a lot of them. Work together and start by looking for 'E FON', then see if you find a Christmas book there." (I didn't write down all the book titles on my list.)

They were so excited to go hunting! My little guy wasn't able to find the call numbers himself, but with a little help from his big brother or from me, he could! Trying to then hunt out the Christmas title with that particular call number I gave them was like a treasure hunt. They were so proud of themselves with each book they found.

When we completed hunting out the books on our list, they begged me to make a new list so they could find some more. They seriously could have done that all day. And what great practice with their library skills and even practice with their alphabet and spelling.

To Have a Fun Library Book Hunt...

1. Choose a theme of books to look for (Holiday, Dogs, Back to School, etc.)

2. Do a computer catalog search and make a list of books to hunt for o
n the shelves. (You could involve your kids in this part too if you want.) Decide if you want to write down the book titles or just let your chosen theme guide your kiddos in hunting out the correct books.

3. Give your kids a list of the library call numbers your copied from the computer catalog. Or verbally tell your kids the call numbers as you go. If you want, you could write a few separate call numbers on separate sheets of paper and give one paper to each child. Let them race to find all the books on their list (if you trust them to not get too competitive and disruptive).

4. Assist younger children with this activity. It's great fun and helps them practice their alphabet and library skills. We sang the alphabet song a few times as we hunted for our books.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

We Love Goodreads! How 'Bout You?

Do you utilize any of the handy online tools or apps for readers? I admit, I'm not very tech savvy, but I do love Goodreads for keeping track of what both my kids and myself have been reading. Keeping track of what we read on Goodreads is useful because...

  • We homeschool, so I like to have our books recorded for academic record keeping. And I know I'm not going to misplace my Goodreads list like I might misplace a notebook, or even a document on my computer. 
  • It gives the kids (and me) a feeling of accomplishment to look back over how many books we've read. My daughter and I participated in the Goodreads 2013 reading challenge this year and far surpassed our reading goals we set for ourselves. We're looking forward to setting a higher goal next year and really pushing ourselves!
  • It helps us identify what our reading interests are by observing patterns in what types of genres, authors and topics we tend to gravitate toward, and enjoy the most.
  • It helps us find new books we want to read. We can pull up our Goodreads account easily while we're at the library and find a book from our "want to read" list. Or we can get the name of that author whose book we loved, so we can find more stuff by them. 
  • It's really easy to use. I have the app on my smartphone and every time I read a picture book (several times a day) with My Little Reader, I can punch it into my app and easily record it. I always have my phone with me, so I don't have to go hunting down a notebook or my computer to log each book we read, which means I'm less likely to forget to log a book. 

I know Goodreads has a lot of features we don't even utilize yet. There are book clubs on there, and ways to explore new books to read, and you can converse and socialize with friends on your friend list about what you're reading. Honestly, I think my kids probably know how to use all that stuff better than me. My older two kids have their own accounts, so they take ownership in recording their own reading on there, and they use it to come up with new books to search for at the library.

I'm including a few photos here of some favorites that my boys and I read together recently (I'm sorry I haven't updated our family bookshelf on my sidebar in forever. It's on my to-do list.)

What other book apps and websites do I need to know about? I know there must be other good ones I'm missing out on!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fun Books and Activities for October

Need some quick ideas to make October a cool month of reading? Look no further! I've got a few for you right here!

Make your own books and story pieces of The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything.

Enjoy the beautiful weather with some autumn reading adventures and Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf.

Spider fun with The Itsy Bitsy Spider at home... or in the classroom.

Cool Stuff to do with Spooky Carrots.

Beautiful creations with Leafman.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

New, Fabulous Halloween Book and Activity!

Charlotte Gunnufson sent us a copy of her new book Halloween Hustle and the kids and I have been enjoying it immensely. I have actually had to get onto my kids a bit about them dragging the book all over the house (and out to the car on errand trips), before I got a chance to post a review while the book still looked nice and new!

I planned to sit down and read and play with the book today with My Little Reader since it's aimed at kids around his age (he's in kindergarten). But my older son (9) couldn't resist the fun and wanted to join us too! 

I thought it would be fun to make our own little skeletons that could do the Halloween Hustle as we read the story, and fall down just like the skeleton in the book. My Little Reader decided he wanted to make a mummy like the one in the book. After some hard work, and a couple revisions, he had it the way he wanted. We each attached our creations to popsicle sticks for marionette-style puppets. 

I used simple white yarn (because that's what I had in my craft cabinet) to attach the mummy and skeleton to the popsicle stick handles. We punched holes and used twisty ties (again, using what I had handy) to make the puppets' joints move so they could hustle. 

Isn't that an adorable mummy? I think so!

The story is full of fun and whimsical Halloween-type characters that are headed to a party on Halloween night (warning: there is a zombie in the story that is a little on the gross side). While observing the cover, My Little Reader wondered how the skeleton would be able to dance without falling apart since he has no skin or muscles, and he was right on the money with his wonderings. Turns out the skeleton has quite the trouble staying put together as he dances through this tale. 

The rhyming text makes it lots of fun. And we love that it has a happy ending for the skeleton. 

And it really says something when my nine year old thinks a picture book is cool enough to sit and listen to mom read it. 

The skeleton would be easy enough to use even without the string and popsicle sticks attached. You could make the jointed skeleton out of card stock and simply let your child hold him with his hands and make him dance. Be sure you use card stock - I don't think regular paper, or even construction paper, would be heavy enough to work very well. 

I have included a pattern for the skeleton that I made (below). I do not have a pattern for the mummy My Little Reader made. But your little reader could make their own mummy, or could create a puppet based on another character in the book. You could make all the characters and do a puppet show of the story!

Check out the book trailer here!

And learn how to do the "Halloween Hustle" here!

Have fun! And I would love to see some pics of your puppets you make!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Kindergarten Book Talk

This weekend I had My Little Reader give a book talk on one of our recent library picks that he enjoyed.

Consider having your child record a book talk about one of their favorite books and let them share it with friends and family, or their classmates at school! Encourage them talk about books with others!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sight Word Practice

I have never done much sight work with My Little Reader. But now that he's a kindergartner, it seems more important. And the trick to get My Little Reader engaged with what he's learning is to make it a game. So we keep our sight word practice fun, low-key, and low-pressure. He's only five, and I'm trying to remember that forcing him down the reading road before he's ready will do more harm than good long term.

Sight Word Memory is the game we started with. We're focusing on just five sight words to begin with. I made my own cards for the game out of index cards. My Little Reader decided to underline the words on the cards, because he was getting confused about which direction they were supposed to go.

Once he was doing well with Sight Word Memory, we moved on to Sight Word Dash. I took our memory cards and put one of each word in a place in the house (I just spread them on the floor or table). I took MLR down the hall and told him a word to go find; he had to dash down the hall to the room they were in and come back with the correct word card. Then I repeated those steps till he had retrieved all the sight word cards. I would either give him a time limit on a timer or just time to see how fast he could complete the task (we played both ways). He loved this game, and wanted me to have a chance to play too. He set the game up for me just as I did for him, and he read me each word I had to go find and bring back. This variation of the game was great practice for him too since he had to read each word that I was to go find.

Then we played Sight Word Dig. I happened to have a bucket of dry beans (weird, I know). If you don't have dry beans handy, you can pick some up pretty cheap at the store. Or you could use rice, sand, or something similar. We wrote each word on a small piece of paper, and buried them in the sand. Then we took turns digging for the words in bucket of beans. MLR wanted to use the timer again. When it was MLR's turn to dig I would tell him each word to dig for. When it was my turn to dig, MLR would read me each word I needed to dig for off of the sight word cards.

As we continue our sight word practice, I'll share more fun ways we're practicing our sight words!