Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Last Day of Kindergarten

The Last Day of Kindergarten
How many of you are about to have a Kindergarten graduate?  I'm one of those proud moms!  I just purchased The Last Day of Kindergarten, by Nancy Loewen and I couldn't be happier!   It's the last day of school for this little girl and she's a little sad.  No more Mrs. Popinski, playing at centers, or losing teeth biting into birthday cupcakes.  Fortunately, it's time for summer activities like picnics, pool parties and staying up late.  It's also time to look forward to all of the new activities in first grade like field trips, eating lunch in the cafeteria and writing stories.  This is a perfect recap of the kindergarten year, focusing on all of the wonderful accomplishments, but clearly states the most important aspect of kindergarten...We did it!!  Here we come first grade!!!  This is a must read for all you soon to be first graders!!!  Congrats!

If you are looking for a book for the other graduates in your life, check out these book gifts for graduates!

Book Gifts for Graduates

Friday, May 25, 2012

Top 5 Reading Apps for Kids

Instead of Four for Friday, I'm shooting for five today!  Here are five of my favorite reading apps for the ipad or iphone!

For the very little ones in your house...

iPad Screenshot 1

  Super Why! PBS kids app highlights:
*  4 Different games within the app focusing on letter identification, letter sounds, letter tracing and word choice
*  Creates a virtual sticker book for rewards throughout the game
* $3.99

iPhone Screenshot 1Bob Books 2 App highlights:
* Make connections between letters and sounds by selecting letters to fit into boxes.  
*  Uses simple pictures that correspond directly to the words
*  Highlights words and sounds as they are read
*  Helps your little one to spell words with little or no help, depending on your level and amount of mistakes
*  $3.99

For the 5 to 8 year olds...

Bookster App highlights:
*  Read-along storytelling that reads to your kids
*  Records and plays their voices
*Teaches vocabulary
*Engaging narration by kids their age
* Turn-able pages, tap-able and highlighted words
*Free first book, all others between $1.99 and $3.99

For 8 to 12 year olds...

Nosy Crow's Cinderella App

Cinderella: Nosy Crow App features:
*  An interactive version of Cinderella
*  Help Cinderella tidy her house, dress the mean step sisters for the ball
*  Narrates with child voices
*Tons of fun activities, speech bubbles to add to text and sound effects

Bartleby's Book of Buttons - The Button at the Bottom of the Sea
Bartlebey's Book of Buttons app features:
*   Help Bartleby add buttons to his collection by traveling in a submarine to the bottom of the sea
*  Every page requires the reader to find the proper combination of actions to move to the next page
* Print stickers that have been awarded to you

What are your favorite reading apps?  Please fee free to add them here!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Summer Reading Tips

It's Tuesday, so that means tips!  It's also almost summer time!  I can't believe that Memorial day is this weekend!  The school year sure has flown by!  That summer reading list is about to arrive, but are you prepared?  Here are some tips on how to make the best of your summer reading.  Keeping up with summer reading can be one of the most important steps to a successful year in school, so why not make the best of it!

1.  Take a trip to your local library.  After viewing your list, there may be some books that you already own, or that you're interested in purchasing.  Head to the library for all other books.  Try to get there early so that you can request holds on the popular ones, if need be. 

2.  Create a flexible schedule.   Have your child pick out the most interesting books and schedule a time frame for completion.  Feel free to stray from the schedule at times, but use it as a guide.

3.  Log your reads.  There is nothing more rewarding than looking back at all the hard work and time spent reading.  Create a reward system for books read or time spent reading if your child is having difficulty staying motivated.  A picnic lunch at the park or a small toy seem to do the trick for many.

4.  If you will be doing a lot of traveling, consider buying or borrowing some audio books.  My kids love to listen to books on long rides.  I often hook my Kindle up to my car and listen along in the car.  If you're willing to listen to the robot voice, you can listen to almost any kindle book!

5.  Model, model, model.  Don't forget to pack your own books for the beach and show your children how much you enjoy the escape.   Scatter books, magazines and newspapers around the house.  Discuss current events listed in the newspaper.  Show your kids how much you appreciate all the different reading medias. 

6.  If your kids are older, consider reading the same books and have book discussions/clubs.   If your kids are younger, continue to read to them whenever possible!!!  What a great way to spend some quality family time!!

Stay tuned for more summer reading information!!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Penny and Her Song, by Kevin Henkes

Penny and Her SongYou can never go wrong with Kevin Henkes!  I finally got my paws on the recently released story, Penny and Her Song.  Penny is a new sister with a new song.  She is dying to share her jingle, but it never seems to be the right time! She might wake the baby, and you know the rules about singing at the dinner table.  Penny tries to sing by herself in her room, but it just doesn't have the same effect.  Finally, she gets to share her song with everyone.  Penny's performance is well worth the wait, as her song creates a family that helps to put the babies to sleep, as well.  What a great little story about patience and the journey of finding your new role in a growing family.

Who's it for? This is a simple, quiet book for the younger ones in  your life.  The reading level is 2.1.

Lesson plans/Activities:
1.  Create your own song!  Use a favorite tune and just change the words or sing a song from 1 to 10, just like Penny!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Disney Pixar's BRAVE

Brave Junior Novelization (Disney/Pixar Brave)June 22nd is the big day for Disney Pixar's movie, BRAVE.  We're gearing up for the big event in our house with a copy of  Brave Junior Novelization (Disney/Pixar Brave)!  It's a 120 page chapter book, wonderful for bedtime reading and excitement about the upcoming movie.  Princess Merida is a young girl from Scotland, with a mind of her own.  She doesn't quite fall into the pretty princess category and is determined to fight for what SHE believes in..not her mother wants for her.  However, her defiance causes a kingdom wide disaster that she is forced to fight for her family's safety.  She discovers the true meaning of BRAVE.  We are enjoying the chapter book thus far and are even more excited to watch the pages come to life in June!

Who's it for?  This book is perfect for the middle grade student, ages 8-10.  It is also a perfect read aloud for the younger crowd.

Don't forget to check out these books about BRAVE as well!  Here's an early chapter book for the younger grades and a easy reader for your new readers, as well!


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Lionel's Grand Adventure: Lionel and the Golden Rule

Lionel is not your typical athletic, popular guy from school.  In fact, he's quite the opposite..a little chubby, clumsy and quiet.  Needless to say, he's often ridiculed and harassed by his peers, and even his own mother and brother!  Upon moving into a new house, Lionel discovers a three-toed-potbellied walbaun foot in his closet and quickly realizes it's magical powers.  Just like Lionel's actions never quite turn out the way he would like, the walbaum's powers aren't quite perfected either.  When Lionel wishes to stop a dog chasing him, ready to eat him, the dog suddenly stops and starts to chase after his two tails! When he is forced to play in a baseball game deciding the town champions, Lionel is magically placed in a dugout of a major baseball league.  He doesn't save the day for his fellow teammates, but it is here that Lionel realizes the very important rule in life...the golden rule.  Lionel always tries his best and understands the importance of kindness to others, even when others are not so kind.  Even with a little magic from his trusty walbaun foot, Lionel conveys the important message of persistence, kindness, hard work and the art of being true to yourself.  Who could ask for anything more in a kid's book?

Who's it for?  This book is an early chapter book geared towards the early grades.  It is also a great read-aloud for the little ones.  It is humorous, yet clearly conveys an important lesson for all young readers.

I purchased Paul R. Hewlett's Lionel's Grand Adventure (Lionel and the Golden Rule) as an ebook for my kindle!  It will be FREE from on May 17th, 18th and 19th!!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Gift Ideas for the Graduate!

It's Four 4 Friday!  Here are some books just perfect for adding to a graduation gift or placing money into!  They really pertain to any graduation...preschool, grade school, high school or college!  Truthfully, these are great for any stage in life!  These are quick reads to give you some confidence and motivation through the tough times in life.  Congrats to all those graduates out there!!

 Cloudette, by Tom Lichtenheld,  is a story about a  little cloud, small enough to fit through small places and find great spots to watch fireworks.  However, does she have what it takes to make big things happen?

I Knew You Could!: A Book for All the Stops in Your Life
I Knew You Could!,  is a book for all stops in life! Few things turn out perfectly right from the start, but persistence and hard work definitely pay off!

Curious George Curious You: On Your Way!
Curious You: On Your Way!, by H.A. Rey, reinforces Georges outlook on life.  They'll always be new things to see and do and new dreams to attain.  Uncertainty and fear will pop up along the way, but your family and friends will always be there to help you!

Only One You
Only One You, by Linda Kranz is a favorite in our house!  This book consists of the simple lessons in life about how staying true to you leads to success and happiness in all aspects of life!

What are some of your favorites?  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

M is for Mom: a child's alphabet

M is for MomMother's day is right around the corner!!  We checked this great book out of the library just last week and we are loving it!  M is for Mom: A Child's Alphabet (Alphabet Books) takes us through an alphabet all about moms and all of the wonderful memories associated with a mother/child relationship.  I just love reading about the letter d and r...dressing up like mommy and reading our favorite books over and over again.  Along with each letter representation, each page boasts a famous quote or piece of information pertaining to mothers and their children.  You can read through the alphabet with your little ones or share even more information with your older ones with slightly longer attention spans.  This is not only a great Mother's day gift, but a wonderful gift for a new mom, as well.  Happy Mother's Day!!

Who's it for?  This book is a great read aloud for mothers and children.  It also serves as a great gift for any or seasoned!  The reading level is 4.7.

Lesson Plans/Activities:
1.  Create your own M is for Mom alphabet for your mom!  Brainstorm all of the wonderful things that remind you of your mother and tie them to a letter of the alphabet.  Draw pictures to accompany your words.  What a fabulously thoughtful gift idea!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tips on Tuesday: My Pile, Your Pile

Try this fun little game called My Pile, Your Pile.  A reading specialist introduced this game to me quite a while ago and I've been playing with my students and kids since!  Create flash cards to practice any number of reading skills, such as letters, letter sounds, high frequency words or high frequency word phrases.  Start turning over cards.  If your child knows the skills in a snap, have them  keep the card.  Make a pile in front of yourself with the cards that your child still needs to practice.  It makes learning just a little more fun! My daughter is so excited when her pile is bigger than mine!  I can easily see the words that she needs to practice in a snap, as well!

Letters:  Try making cards with lower case and upper case letters.  Start with letter identification.  Then move on to letter sounds.

High Frequency words:  Check out the Fry's Instant word list and make some cards.  Start with a small number and continue to add to them.  These words are said to make up about two-thirds of all the words students will encounter in elementary school reading.  It's good to know them in a snap!

High Frequency phrases:  There is a considerable amount of research that shows the benefits of reading in phrases.  Creating phrases using the Fry word list helps with reading fluency.  Try making some cards that look like these:
                     Who will make it?
                     How long are they?
                     This is a good day.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Dealing with Anxiety and the State Assessments

Wilma Jean - the Worry MachineIt's state testing time. We as parents and educators know what that means!!  Anxiety, stress and exhaustion.  Teachers, parents and students worry about how hard the test will be, if they're prepared and if they'll finish in the time given.  It's easy to get carried away with this anxiety, making it very difficult to concentrate.  Julia Cook's book, Wilma Jean the Worry Machine introduces us to Wilma Jean.  She is a worry machine!  She worries about tests, the weather, gym class.  You name it, she's worrying.  With all of the what ifs, Wilma's mom begins to get concerned and decides to take her to someone who can help.  The book then takes Wilma  Jean through a simple lesson, unveiling a wonderful way to manage worries.  After going through this simple lesson, Wilma Jean feels much better about her anxiety.  It turns out, there are a lot of things that she can control!  Looks like she'll be saying good-bye to her worry flu for a while!

Don't forget to take a peek at the last page of the book, as it lists a bunch of useful tips for dealing with an anxious child.  Anxiety is a serious illness, not to be taken lightly.

Who's it For?  This book is an excellent read aloud for the early and middle grade children.  It is also a wonderful way to spark a discussion about anxiety with a struggling child.

Lesson Plans/Activities:
1.  As a class, discuss all of your worries and categorize them into worries that you can control and ones that you cannot control.  Discuss strategies and role play different ways to curb anxiety, such as planning ahead and identifying "safe" friends and adults.

Disclosure:  I received this book from the author/publisher.  All of my opinions are my own.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Awaiting the Spectacular Super Moon...

This weekend, we will see the biggest full moon of the year. It is closest to the earth right now and you might hear people refer to it as a super moon! Here are some of my favorite books about the moon..take some time to read these and then check out that moon!!
Kitten's First Full Moon, by Kevin Henkes is a heartwarming tale of a kitten who mistakes the moon for a big bowl of milk!  She travels far away from home, chasing after that moon and jumping up to try to reach it.  Luckily, her bowl of milk is waiting for her right where it should be!

Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me
Eric Carles, Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me is a tale about a father's attempt to get the moon for his daughter.  He reaches the moon with his ladder, but finds that it's too big to carry!  This is a lovely tale, introducing the monthly lunar cycle in general terms.  Some of the pages fold out to double in size...a real crowd pleaser!  

And if the Moon Could Talk
 And If the Moon Could Talk, by Kate Banks, is
 a wonderful bedtime story about all of the things that the moon sees at bedtime!

Happy Birthday, Moon (Moonbear), by Frank Asch, is a book about a little bear who wants to give the moon a present.  He follows the moon to get closer to him, and ends up having a conversation with the moon about what he would like (it's really the bear's echoes).  Bear finds the perfect present!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

A big stack from the library to make it through National Screen-Free week!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

5 Activities to try after Reading a Book!

It's National Screen-Free week! Yep...that means no TV screens and no computers this week!  Are you participating?  Here are five activities to do with your kids after reading your favorite books this week!  Have fun!

1.  Act out your favorite scene from your book.  Dress like your characters and gather props!

2.  Create a limerick, a haiku or any other type of poem about your favorite character.   For example:

U-Unbelievably enormous
D-drools a lot
G- Good dog
E- Everybody loves him

3.  Design a new cover for your book including characters, setting and the problem.

4.  Create paper bag characters and put on a puppet show relating to your favorite book.  Cut a square hole in a cardboard box and use it as your stage.

5.  Write a new ending to your favorite story. Think about all of the things that might have happened or should have happened.

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