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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!