Posted on: Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 in Family Activities, parent involvement, Reading, Summer, Summer Activities for Kids, Summer learning loss
Continuing with our Summer Reading series of blogs, we would like to make another suggestion to ensure a summer full of reading. Our last few blogs were about how to stop summer learning loss and get even the most reluctant readers excited about reading. Today we encourage you to empower the kids by making them part of the process by having them help to create a positive at-home reading environment.
A reading-friendly home environment is more than just a quiet comfortable place to sit and read. A home reading environment checklist includes:
- Creating a special place for independent reading, which could be a bedroom, family room, or outdoor space
- Making books available around the house and in the car
- Establishing family reading time where adults and children read together or on their own
- Regular conversations about books, newspapers, magazines, movies or special television shows at family meals
Of course we encourage you to use READS to verify that the kids understand what they have read without your having to read everything that they read.
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Posted on: Thursday, June 13th, 2013 in Book recommendations, Books, Graphic Novel, parent involvement, Reading, Reading series for kids, Summer, Summer Activities for Kids, Summer learning loss
Our book suggestions this week continue the theme of books for the kids to read over the summer to help reduce summer learning loss. The key is t6o find out what the kids enjoy select reading material that matches their interest. If you do, they’ll enjoy the material and won’t even realize that they’re practicing their reading.
Binky Under Pressure (A Binky Adventure) by Ashley Spires is for kids age 7 to 10. “In Binky’s third adventure, our intrepid, sometimes accident-prone hero is shaken out of his routine when he’s forced to contend with Gracie, a dainty striped foster kitty who comes to live at Binky’s space station (aka his home at 42 Sentinel Parkway). Binky instantly resents the new arrival, whose cute face and perfect manners are downright annoying. Indeed, Gracie seems too perfect. So Binky decides to do some undercover investigating and discovers a shocking truth about the family guest. Soon Binky is thrust full-throttle into a situation that puts all his Space Cat skills to the ultimate test!” Review from Amazon.
The Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan is for kids age 10 and up. “Tall tale. Thriller. Gripping historical fiction. This artful, sparely told graphic novel — a tale of a boy in Dust Bowl America — will resonate with young readers today.
In Kansas in the year 1937, eleven-year-old Jack Clark faces his share of ordinary challenges: local bullies, his father’s failed expectations, a little sister with an eye for trouble. But he also has to deal with the effects of the Dust Bowl, including rising tensions in his small town and the spread of a shadowy illness. Certainly a case of “dust dementia” would explain who (or what) Jack has glimpsed in the Talbot’s abandoned barn — a sinister figure with a face like rain. In a land where it never rains, it’s hard to trust what you see with your own eyes — and harder still to take heart and be a hero when the time comes. With phenomenal pacing, sensitivity, and a sure command of suspense, Matt Phelan ushers us into a world where desperation is transformed by unexpected courage.” Review from Amazon.
Babymouse #1: Queen of the World! by Jennifer Holm is for kids age 7 to 10. “In this energetic comic by a brother-sister team (Jennifer’s Our Only May Amelia was a Newbery Honor Book), Babymouse, a wise-cracking rodent stand-in for your average, adventure-seeking nine-year-old, strives to capture popular Felicia’s goodwill, finally achieving her end at the expense of Wilson Weasel, truest of friends. But, wouldn’t you know it, Felicia’s world has little to offer a smart, fun-loving mouse, after all. The Holms spruce up some well-trod ground with breathless pacing and clever flights of Babymouse’s imagination, and their manic, pink-toned illustrations of Babymouse and her cohorts vigorously reflect the internal life of any million-ideas-a-minute middle-school student. Jesse Karp, Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved” Review from Amazon.
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Posted on: Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 in Activities for kids, Conversations with kids, Critical Thinking Skills, Family Activities, Library, parent involvement, Reading with kids, Summer Activities for Kids
Last week we suggested a trip to the library to help stop the summer learning slide. But what happens when you get to the library and your children selects books that they are not able to read?
When it comes to selecting a book most kids know what they want to read. Just like the grownups in their lives, they may ask friends, browse at the library or book store, or even go on line for ideas. Empowering your children by involving them in the process of selecting their own reading material is top on READS list for tips parents need to help with reading.
Since parents are the ultimate teachers they must however guide their kids carefully, albeit subtlety, while establishing ways to help their child to read and develop a love for the printed word. As we promised in last week’s blog today we are offering a few tips for the ultimate reading helper.
How to Select the Right Books and Reading Material
- Help your child create their summer reading list. During the school year, children are often assigned books that they must read – let summer reading be a time for them to read about topics that interest them. When children select their own books they are more highly motivated to read them.
- Offer a limited selection of books that may be recommended by the bookstore, library, or reading website (ours can be found throughout our Blogs, but allow the choice to be made by your child.
- In some cases, children will choose books that are too challenging for them. In that case, use the Five Finger Rule. Open the book to a random page and have your child begin reading. Every time a word is missed, one finger goes up. If all five fingers are up before the end of the page is reached then it’s time to select another book for independent reading. However, be sure to include that book as a shared read.
Get Involved and Ask Questions
True reading is defined as the ability to attach meaning to the printed word – simply saying the words out loud does not ensure comprehension. It is vital to a successful summer reading program that your child truly understands what they are reading. The best way to check for comprehension is by asking meaningful questions. This also promotes conversation between you and your child and helps your child to build their verbal communication skills.
An effective guide to asking meaningful questions is: Can my question be answered in one word? If the answer is yes, you may want to think of a more challenging question or add to the original question. For instance, many parents defer to, “Did you like the book?” or “Who was your favorite character?” These questions frequently generate a one or two word response. Such short answers don’t demonstrate comprehension.
Instead, before reading begins, decide what questions will be answered after reading time is completed. This sets a focus and a purpose. Think of a two-part question that challenges your child to explain an answer in depth. Ask instead, “Who was your favorite character and explain why using an example from the story?”
Busy parents and kids need time to take it easy, and balancing all the demands of modern life is not an easy job in today’s world. Spending time with your family by reading books, sharing information, and talking together creates a special time for you and your family. A successful summer reading program will enhance you and your child’s summer, not take away from it. All of these will lead your child to become an independent thinker and learner – the goal for the ultimate teachers.
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Posted on: Thursday, June 6th, 2013 in Book recommendations, Books, parent involvement, Reading, Reading series for kids, Summer, Summer Activities for Kids, Summer learning loss
Our blog this week was about Summer Learning Loss. One of the ways to reduce Summer Learning Loss is to keep the kids reading throughout the summer. This week’s book suggestions are books that are part of a series. If the kids enjoy one book in a series they are more likely to want read more of the books in the same series. If none of these books interest your kids go online or take the kids to the library to find a series that does and start them on a reading campaign that will take them through the summer and beyond.
The Mystery of the Missing Money (The Mystery Series, Short Story 1) by Paul Moxham is for kids of all ages. “When twelve year old Joe Mitchell, along with his two younger sisters, arrive at the sleepy seaside town of Smugglers Cove, they are expecting a quiet uneventful holiday. But the children get caught up in a mystery while exploring Bracknesh Castle. This ruined fortress sits on the outskirts of the village and, as the children soon discover, holds more secrets than they could ever imagine.
Follow the children as they explore the castle dungeons, get chased by bank robbers, crawl through a hidden tunnel, and more!
Set in 1950′s Britain, this adventure story is in the style of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five or a fast paced version of The Bobbsey Twins.” Review from Amazon.
The Monster That Ate My Socks by A.J. Cosmo is for kids in grades 2 – 4. “What happens to all those socks that go missing? Monsters eat them of course!” “This book has a fun story with cheerful, fitting art. The monster has the right combination of ugly monster-ness while being cute and charming to a child’s eye. The book has a clever ending that will make you grin, instead of the usual “moral of the story” type formulas.” Reviews from Amazon.
The Door in the Dragon’s Throat (The Cooper Kids Adventure Series #1) by Frank E. Peretti is for kids grade 4 and up. “The Door in the Dragon’s Throat reads like a shortened version of Raiders of the Lost Ark, but the hero succeeds because, in his own words, “we serve a mighty God who is greater than any curse.” Dr. Cooper and his children, Jay and Lila, have come to Nepur, in the Middle East, to enter the Dragon’s Throat and unlock the door which legend says hides a treasure. Every imaginable disaster befalls the man explosion, a kidnapping, falling boulders, a viper attack, earthquakes but in spite of numerous setbacks, the expedition succeeds. The writing is full of clichés and inconsistencies: a desert setting, a greedy king and his sly aide, a cavern in the earth where the forces of good and evil are fighting for control, an archaeologist who brandishes a gun as readily as he prays to God. The dialogue is stilted, and the vocabulary is too difficult for young readers who might overlook the poor characterization and heavily imposed theme of Christian belief. Far better fantasy adventures are Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising (Atheneum, 1973), Nancy Bond’s Country of Broken Stone (Atheneum, 1980) and Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword (Greenwillow, 1982). Constance Allen, Tabor Academy, Marion, Mass. Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.” Review from Amazon.
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Posted on: Tuesday, June 4th, 2013 in Conversation with kids, Conversations with kids, Critical Thinking Skills, Family Activities, parent involvement, Reading, Reading tips for kids, Summer, Summer learning loss
Summertime is only a few days away and school vacation quickly follows the arrival of summer. Many of us may remember a favorite childhood chant we use to scream – No more teachers – no more books … BUT wait – now as parents that has been replaced with – Summer Slide – OH NO- what should we do???
As we explained in our May 14th blog, titled “ Time to start planning how to avoid the dreaded Summer Learning Loss ”, “Summer Slide” does not refer to summer fun on water slides. It refers to the loss of some of the academic gains of the previous school year. The “Summer Slide” is common, but not inevitable.
Some fun ways to keep the kids learning, without letting them know they’re learning, is to start with a trip to your local library.
Many public libraries offer summer reading programs, which is a great way to keep your children reading during the summer months. Check out the programs at your local library and get your children excited about it. Make it a date every week to meet the other kids at the library and join in the activity.
Even if your public library is not planning such an event, you can create your own summer reading program.
- Plan a trip to the library with your children each week or every other week.
- Pick a theme based on the kids’ interests. Maybe they are into dinosaurs at the moment. Have them choose books about dinosaurs and let them tell you about what they read.
- Plan a trip to a local natural history museum if one is close, or rent a movie about the creatures to watch together. For a child who likes to work with their hands, make a diorama together of a prehistoric scene in a shoebox, and include small plastic dinosaurs as a reward.
Activities like this can work with many different kinds of interests.
It is easy to incorporate the READS reading comprehension systemr into these activities, too. The suggestions on the cards are a great way to determine if your child comprehends the material read. Choosing which cards to use each time promotes discussion and interaction between you and your child. It’s summer, keep it light, keep it fun, but by all means, keep them reading!
Feel free to share some of your own tips for encouraging young readers during the summer. We’d love to hear them.
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Posted on: Thursday, May 30th, 2013 in Book recommendations, Conversations with kids, Humor, Joke, Reading with kids
In our blog this week we told you about some of the lesser known holidays that we celebrate in June. One of them, occurring on June 8th is “Best Friend Day. To help your kids celebrate this special day our book suggestions this week all involve “Best Friends”. We hope you and your kids enjoy them and that they help provide some good material for discussions with the whole family.
Best Friends And Drama Queens (Allie Finkle’s Rules For Girls #3) by Meg Cabot is for kids in grades 3 to 5. “Allie looks forward to starting school again after winter vacation, but the arrival of a new girl, Cheyenne, changes everything. Within days, Cheyenne gathers a clique, starts a chase-and-kiss game at recess, and bullies most of her classmates into pairing off and “going with” each other, even though they’re not sure exactly what that means. Using Allie’s fresh voice and believable fourth-grade perspective, Cabot gets across her “let children be children” message in a way that will make sense to other kids. The third Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls book sympathetically portrays the broad emotional range of fourth-graders. –Carolyn Phelan -” Review from Amazon.
Cat Moves to Outer Space (Kids’ Chapter Book) (Best Friends in Space) by Debora Geary is for kids aged 4 to 9.
“There were a lot of things Cat didn’t know when she moved to outer space.
She didn’t know the food was all made from squished beans. She didn’t know there were mean kids named Weed. And she didn’t know you had to keep your room clean all the time.
But her new friend Arkali is pretty cool, even if he’s never eaten a real apple or met a unicorn.
Now they have a sick plant in the ship’s biosphere, and even magic and rabbit-poop tea aren’t helping.
Can Cat and Arkali find a solution?
Eleven full-page interior illustrations make this a fun read! Reading level is similar to Magic Tree House books.” Review from Amazon.
150 Knock Knock Jokes for Kids and their Best Friends – Joke Book for Kids by Adam Kisiel is for kids of all ages. “A collection of 150 best, editor-picked knock knock jokes for kids (and also for their fluffy friends on 4 paws). Suitable for kids of all ages who will enjoy reading and telling their best friends clean and great jokes assembled in this book.
Great fun for a whole family and a good opportunity to practice language!” Review from Amazon.
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Posted on: Tuesday, May 28th, 2013 in Holiday, Kids doing Research, parent involvement, Summer, talking to kids
June is almost here. It’s time to think about summer vacation, warm weather, relaxing days, and traditional holidays that lend themselves to family gatherings like Father’s Day on June16th. There’s also Flag Day, June 14th, a good learning opportunity for the kids and then there’s June 21st, the official first day of summer. But there are other holidays, not quite so well know, that the kids can learn about and share with you.
Here are just a few:
June 8th is Best Friend Day.
A best friend is someone really special. Celebrate the day by planning something fun to do together. Also remind the kids that making new best friends is a good thing.
June 15th is Smile Power Day
A smile is a wonderful thing. It has more power than a light bulb. It can light up the faces of everyone that sees it. Ask the kids to experiment and see what happens when they smile. Remind them of the well known fact that it takes more muscles to frown than smile.
And, finally, a day that should be a national holiday.
June 26th is Forgiveness Day
Kids need to be reminded that even best friends argue and that forgiveness can be a real challenge. Explain that the ability to forgive is something that we need to practice.
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Posted on: Thursday, May 23rd, 2013 in Book recommendations, Memorial Day, parent involvement, Reading with kids
The books we are suggesting for this year’s Memorial Day celebration range from funny to deeply moving. Each book helps to tells the story of Memorial Day in a different way but all of them help to explain what the true meaning of the day. All of these books are well worth reading for the kids and their parents. Have a wonderful holiday and remember to remember all those who made this day possible.
Memorial Day Surprise by Theresa Golding is for kids 5 to 7 years old. “It’s Memorial Day and Marco and Mama are going to see the parade. On their way, they pass Marco’s grandfather’s house. They usually stop to see Grandfather, but today Mama is in a rush because she has promised Marco a surprise. Marco can’t imagine what the surprise might be. Could it be the marching band? The fire engines? The candy tossed to the crowd by a woman dressed as the Statue of Liberty? Mama promises that it will be a better surprise than candy. As the parade goes by, Marco wishes his grandfather were with him to enjoy it. Then, marching down the street, come the veterans, wearing uniforms and shiny medals. But look! Who is that leading them? Marco never imagined the kind of surprise in store for him.” Review from Amazon.
Stars and Stripes Celebrate Memorial Day by Madeline Collins. “This book is dedicated in memory of the brave men and women who have fought to keep our country safe. Written by Madeline Collins for her Girl Scout Gold Award. Proceeds from the sale of this book are donated to ReMind: The Bob Wooddruff Foundation.
About the Author
Madeline Collins is a high school student where she is a member of the Science and National Honor Societies, as well as the president of the English Honor Society. She is a varsity field hockey and lacrosse player. She has been writing stories and poetry since first grade. Her artistic interests include drawing, painting, clay and jewelry design. This book was written and illustrated as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award. She lives in New Jersey with her parents, grandparents and brothers.” Review from Amazon.
The Wall by Eve Bunting is for kids age 4 to 8. “A boy and his father have come to the Vietnam War Memorial to look for the boy’s grandfather’s name among those who were killed in the war. They find his name surrounded, but far from lost, in the rows of print that “march side by side, like rows of soldiers.” “I’m proud that your grandfather’s name is on this wall,” says the boy’s father. The boy agrees, adding, “but I’d rather have my grandpa here.” Before this powerful book is half finished, readers will be deeply moved. Bunting’s understated prose captures the meaning of the memorial to the American people, especially to those who lost loved ones, without being maudlin or heavy-handed. Himler’s gauzy watercolors are a perfect accompaniment: impressionistic enough for the characters to appear as everymen. A sensitive and moving picture book, and a great discussion book as well. — Catherine vanSonnenberg, San Diego Public Library, CA Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.” Review from Amazon.
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Posted on: Tuesday, May 21st, 2013 in Conversation with kids, Family Activities, Memorial Day, parent involvement, talking to kids
Memorial Day weekend is just 4 days away – summer time is about to begin! We hope for sunny weather, barbecues and family picnics. Since many of our kids do not realize what Memorial Day is, besides time for families to come together and have a lot of delicious food, we suggest that this year you discuss the significance of this important day.
Give the kids a brief history lesson, or ask them to do a little research and find out some information to share. Let them know that Memorial Day, formerly called Decoration Day, is the day to remember and honor the men and women that literally gave their all for our country. It is the day that we should put flags outside, visit national memorials and think about how much so many gave to keep our country strong and free. .
Tell them that the practice of getting together with family and friends for Decoration Day started before the American Civil War. The concept of potluck meals was popular then too. People would spread sheets or tablecloths on the grass and spread various dishes of food out for all to eat.
After sharing this information, tell the kids to find out when the name changed to Memorial Day and why. Another good research topic is for the kids to find out the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day. They can write it up, draw pictures or discuss it with you.
Although the Memorial Day weekend has become a time to have fun and welcome summer, it’s important for the kids to understand the history behind the day. So fly your flags, attend a memorial day event and have a wonderful weekend with family and friends.
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Posted on: Friday, May 17th, 2013 in Activities for kids, Book recommendations, Critical Thinking Skills, Family Activities, parent involvement, Reading with kids, Summer, Summer learning loss
Our blog this week was about Summer Learning Loss or, as it’s more commonly know, Summer Brain Drain. These book suggestions are for kids and parents who are concerned with Summer Learning Loss and would like to start planning how to prevent it.
The Read-Aloud Handbook: Sixth Edition by Jim Trelease is for parents of kids from birth and up. “A New York Times and million copy bestseller, the classic handbook on reading aloud to children—revised and updated. Recommended by ‘Dear Abby’, The New York Times and The Washington Post, for three decades, millions of parents and educators have turned to Jim Trelease’s beloved classic to help countless children become avid readers through awakening their imaginations and improving their language skills. Now this new edition of The Read-Aloud Handbook imparts the benefits, rewards, and importance of reading aloud to children of a new generation. Supported by delightful anecdotes as well as the latest research, The Read-Aloud Handbook offers proven techniques and strategies—and the reasoning behind them—for helping children discover the pleasures of reading and setting them on the road to becoming lifelong readers. Penguin Books named The Read-Aloud Handbook as one of the seventy-five most important books it published in its seventy-five-year history.” Review from Amazon.
Brain Quest Workbook: Grade 1 by Lisa Trumbauer is for kids in, well, first grade. The Brain Quest series has pretty much any grade level available. “Jam-packed with hundreds of curriculum-based activities, exercises and games in every subject, Brain Quest Workbook: Grade 1 reinforces what kids are learning in the classroom. The workbook’s lively layout and easy-to-follow explanations make learning fun, interactive, and concrete. Plus it’s written to help parents follow and explain key concepts. Includes phonics, spelling, vocabulary, find the rhyme, addition, subtraction, skip counting, time, money, maps, science, brain boxes, and much, much more.” Review from Amazon.
Summer Bridge Activities: Bridging Grades Third to Fourth is a compilation by Summer Bridge Activities. “School Stops for Summer. Learning Never Should! Prevent summer learning loss with our award winning, best-selling summer learning series! Summer Bridge Activities: Bridging Grades Third to Fourth reinforces essential skills across the curriculum and helps prepare children for second grade. With 12 weeks’ worth of activities, completing Summer Bridge Activities™ is the perfect way to keep skills sharp all summer long!
- Reading Comprehension
- Addition and Subtraction
- Multiplication and Division
- Social Studies
- Character Development
- Easy Science Experiments
- Fitness Activities
- Outdoor Extension Activities
- Answer Key
Review from Amazon.
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