Posted on: Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013 in Back to School, Conversation with kids, Conversations with kids, Family Activities, Listening to kids, parent involvement
Last week we talked about getting back into the school routine. Hopefully everyone is getting used to the school time schedule and the family balancing act is going well. This week we have a very important suggestion about one more thing to add to the routine.
Conversation is an exchange of thoughts and ideas. Asking your kids “How was school today” and receiving an answer of “Ok” is not conversation.
Consider adding a few minutes each day to get the kids to answer this – “Tell me one thing about your day.” This is much better than asking “How was school today?” Why? Because it encourages more than a one word answer and it will help you to know when things aren’t going so well. Sometimes kids are reluctant to share. However, if a routine has already been established, and suddenly the answers are limited to one or two words, or there is reluctance to respond at all, it may be a sign that something is troubling your child. Once a conversation routine has been established, it will make it easier for you to pick up on the change.
If you do notice a change, what should you do?
First, remember everyone can have an off day, so do not jump to conclusions and try not to “dig” for information. Instead talk about your day. After all, it’s possible that your day was a bit challenging too. Hopefully it won’t take long for the conversation to pick up again. If it doesn’t, be more direct after a day or two. It’s okay to ask what’s going on. Patiently listen. And then, you the parent, the ultimate teacher, will do what you do best – help your child.
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Posted on: Thursday, August 29th, 2013 in Book recommendations, fall, Science Books for kids, Seasons
As the kids routine changes from a carefree summer to the routine of school, the weather changes too. From the warm lazy days of summer to the brisk windy days of fall. These cooler temperatures and shorting days have their effects on people, animals and the rest of the world around us. One of the most noticeable are the trees when they begin to turn color. Our book recommendations this week help explain these changes to the kids. We’ll have more books about fall in future postings.
Fall Weather: Cooler Temperatures (Cloverleaf Books – Fall’s Here!) by Martha E. H. Rustad is for kids age 5 and up. “Brr! It’s starting to get chilly! Find out how weather changes during fall. See how people and animals get ready for cooler temperatures. Let’s grab our coats and mittens!
What happens in fall? Find out in the Fall’s Here! series, part of the Cloverleaf Books(tm) collection. These nonfiction picture books feature kid-friendly text and illustrations to make learning fun!” Review from Amazon.
When The Leaf Blew In by Steve Metzger is for kids age 3 to 5. “A wonderfully zany story about what happens on a farm when a leaf blows into the barn!
When the leaf blows into the barn,
The cow sneezes “Ah choo!”
And when the cow sneezes “Ah choo!”
The spider falls on top of the owl.
With simple, repetitive text and silly, expressive illustrations, children will fall for this hilarious autumn story about the way one leaf turns an entire barnyard upside down!” Review from Amazon.
Why Do Leaves Change Color? (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science, Stage 2) by Betsy Maestro is for kids age 5 to 9. “In the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science Stage 2 series, this is an informative concept book that explains what happens to leaves in autumn as they change colors and then separate from the tree. Krupinski’s bright gouache-and-colored pencil illustrations show a boy and a girl playing in a country landscape that changes with weather and light. There are also detailed pictures of leaves in different sizes, shapes, and colors. Maestro includes simple instructions for making a leaf rubbing and for pressing leaves, as well as suggestions for places to visit where the fall foliage is special. Hazel Rochman ” Review from Amazon
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Posted on: Tuesday, August 27th, 2013 in Activities for kids, Back to School, Conversation with kids, Homework, parent involvement
For some kids, the school year for 2013 -2014 is in session and for others it’s rapidly approaching! Hopefully everyone’s first day jitters are over or soon will be. Maybe homework has already been assigned and the routines that we’ve talked about in earlier blogs have been established. We hope they are having a positive effect in keeping stress to a minimum in balancing the family’s busy schedule.
Here is a quick check list to make sure you have all the bases covered and to help keep everyone smiling.
- Have your child create and maintain a calendar of daily activities
- Decide when homework will be done each day and add it to the calendar
- Establish a comfortable and quiet place for homework
- Discuss assignments before the kids get started
- Consider letting your child select what assignment to start with
- Decide together how much time to spend on each assignment before checking back with you (consider using a timer if it will help)
- Remind your children to check their work before they show it to you
Tips for Reading Homework using READS
- Select a question card and discuss the question with your child before beginning the 20 minutes of reading time
- Set a timer
- Have the child go to their reading nook where it’s comfortable and quiet
- At the end of the allotted reading time have the child answer the selected question. Use the READS Parent’s Manual as a guide to determine if your child answered the question correctly
- Once you and your child agree that the reading homework was done correctly add a sticker to the reward chart
Homework time can be the perfect opportunity to help your children on the path to becoming more independent. By guiding them through the routine, they will begin to realize that they are a part of the process and begin to feel a sense of accomplishment and pride.
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Posted on: Tuesday, August 20th, 2013 in Activities for kids, Back to School, Conversations with kids, Family Activities, parent involvement, talking to kids
Beginning a new school year is exciting for most kids. They’re happy to see their friends and hopefully looking forward to another year of learning. But if you are among the countless families that have moved to a new area, or have a child entering Kindergarten, here are some suggestions that may help alleviate your child’s worry about being the new kid.
Our first suggestion is to sit down and have a conversation with your kids about what their thoughts are concerning the new school year. Depending on their age, they may be reluctant to talk about this. One way to get the conversation started is to share a story about when you were little. My mom still chuckles (and I cringe) when she reminds me how I focused on whether to take a notebook the first day of school. Although it’s hard for me to believe it now, I thought that if I made the wrong choice my entire school year would be a disaster. Retelling stories like that make you remember how much children worry about “events” like the first day of school – and hopefully will make your kids worry a little less.
Some other ideas to get them ready for that first day are:
- Make a list of what they are getting excited about and then share it with other family members and friends.
- Make a list of concerns and talk about them, IF your kids want to.
- Take a walk or drive to the school building with a best friend’s family.
- Play on the playground at school.
- Go onto the school website and read about its history, calendar of events, the school lunch program, the school mascot, and whatever other information the website has to offer.
- Start a list of needed school supplies
If your family is new to the neighborhood, try to help your kids find some new friends. If you’re lucky maybe you can just walk outside, but if not, try visiting the library, local park, school playground, or local ice cream store. See if the community has sports teams and sign your children up.
And finally, plan an end of summer party for friends.
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Posted on: Tuesday, August 20th, 2013 in Back to School, Book recommendations, Books, Humor
The title says it all.
The Top 10 Ways to Ruin the First Day of School by Ken Derby is for kids in grades 3 through 5. “Fifth-grader Tony Madison is a magnet for trouble. Irrepressible, unstoppable, and outrageous, he is constantly thinking up ways to make it on to David Letterman’s show. He has his own collection of stupid human and pet tricks that he is sure will be his ticket to New York. After trying each new prank, he writes to the talk-show host and includes a top-10 list detailing his stunts. Unfortunately, most of these exploits end up with Tony in the principal’s office and his teacher, Mr. Gore, going home to change his clothes. One of his feats finally earns him the sought-after invitation (he makes the national news when he runs onto the field dressed as a bear during a professional football game). Tony, two of his friends, and Mr. Gore travel to New York City where Tony proceeds to wreak his own brand of havoc on the Big Apple. It all culminates with his arrival on Late Night escorted by Hell’s Angels on motorcycles. Humorous and lighthearted with a feisty and zany main character, this book will be enjoyed by readers who like offbeat plots and nonstop wacky action. - Terrie Dorio, Santa Monica Public Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.” Review from Amazon.
School Year Will Be the BEST! by Kay Winters is for kids in grades K through 3. “On the first day of school, the teacher gathers her students into a circle to share their wishes for the coming year. Some are negative (“I won’t be a vegetable in our school play”), some rosy (“I’ll look good in my school picture”), and some perhaps overly optimistic (“We’ll have SKATEBOARD DAY”), but as a group, they reflect a great many facets of the elementary-school experience. The text concludes with the teacher’s wish to “get to know each one of you,” which falls a bit flat. The final, wordless double-page spread, with happy children holding crayon pictures emblematic of their wishes, creates a more satisfying ending for this picture book. And, in the classroom, it could lead straight into the year’s first art project. The short text leaves plenty of space for Andriani to work in, and she uses it imaginatively, creating upbeat and sometimes comical ink-and-wash illustrations. A good discussion starter for the beginning of the school year. — Carolyn Phelan” Review from Amazon.
I Spy School Days: A Book of Picture Riddles by Jean Marzollo is for kids aged 4 through 8. : Fans of the elegantly energetic I Spy picture-puzzle series may wonder how Wick could top the lavish sets he created for I Spy Funhouse and I Spy Mystery. Here, however, he and Marzollo surpass their previous achievements-by reversing direction. While they stick to the same formula (under a full-bleed photo of artistically arrayed objects, verse challenges the reader to find various objects), this time they eschew special effects and razzle-dazzle compositions in favor of sunny spreads showcasing, for the most part, common items. Most sets are basic, from a classroom blackboard to a playground floor to a homemade puppet theater. But each apparently simple spread wordlessly and playfully reinforces learning skills. In a spread featuring plastic numerals from one to 12, for example, each number is surrounded by related objects; a building block emblazoned with “X” and a toy clown wagging the splayed fingers on his hands are among the items illustrating the number 10. The puppet theater is hung with cardboard cutouts of figures and props from classic fairy tales. Other sets teach such concepts as sets and patterns, cleverly integrating items seen on previous spreads. By stressing the value of everyday objects, this ingenious volume will encourage readers to look closely at not just the pictures, but at their own surroundings. Ages 3-8. Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.: Review from Amazon.
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Posted on: Thursday, August 15th, 2013 in Activities for kids, Book recommendations, Books, Humor, Joke, Reading, Summer
With a title like our book suggestions really don’t require any further explanation.
Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids by Rob Elliott is for kids 7 and up. What happens to race car drivers when they eat too much? They get indy-gestion. Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids provides children ages 7-10 many hours of fun and laughter. Young readers will have a blast sharing this collection of hundreds of one-liners, knock knock jokes, tongue twisters, and more with their friends and family! This brand new book will have children rolling on the floor with laughter and is sure to be a great gift idea for any child. Review from Amazon.
101 Dog and Cat Jokes for Kids (Animal Jokes for Kids – Joke Books for Kids vol. 13)101 Dog and Cat Jokes for Kids for Kids is a wonderful, natural way for children to improve their reading. They are able to practice their reading skills whilst enjoying themselves.
Joke books for kids have the added benefit of improving memories, and importantly, instilling confidence. Children are given a great reason to talk in front of groups and with practice are able to feel comfortable doing it.
Joke books for kids on kindle are also a fun way for a family to interact, laughing – or moaning – at the jokes.
How do cats freshen their breath?
Mouse – wash!
What dogs make the best hairdressers?
What kind of dog goes tick, tick, woof, woof, tick, tick, woof, woof?
A watch dog!
What animal has even more lives than a cat?
A toad – it is always croaking!
Why do you have to be careful when it starts raining cats and dogs?
You might step in a poodle!
Review from Amazon.
National Geographic Kids Just Joking: 300 Hilarious Jokes, Tricky Tongue Twisters, and Ridiculous Riddles is for kids 7 – 10.
Q: What happened to the frog that parked illegally?
A: He was toad away.
No thanks. I prefer peanuts.
Tongue Twister! Say this fast three times: See me sneak in my squeaky, reeking sneakers.
Q: What do you call a polar bear wearing earmuffs?
A: Anything you want. He can’t hear you!
Q: Why do magicians do so well in school?
A: They’re good at trick questions.
Review from Amazon.
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Posted on: Tuesday, August 13th, 2013 in Activities for kids, Back to School, Conversation with kids, Family Activities, Summer, Summer learning loss
End of August already? As an educator I’m thinking, “Oh no! How can summer be over, didn’t it just start?” As a parent, you may have similar thoughts because right now the kids don’t have to be rushed out of bed in the morning, and the lazy days of summer can be so relaxing.
Dealing with the reality that summer is coming to a rapid end can be challenging. Yesterday while I was at the mall, I saw countless families shopping for school supplies and they were all smiling, at least the kids were. The kids were focused on selecting the perfect notebooks, book bags and all the other stuff that can set the mood for a happy new school year or, for some, first day of school.
Just in case you haven’t already gone shopping try some of these suggestions for engaging the kids in “educational” type activities without them even knowing it.
- Start by planning a shopping trip to buy school supplies. Step 1 is to have the kids create a list of supplies that they want, or think they need, to make the upcoming new school year perfect.
- Younger kids can look at ads in the newspaper, cut out what appeals to them and make a “scrapbook.” They could also go on line, with your help, and look at the advertisements and create their own drawings, or make a list of their must have items.
- First and second graders could do similar activities but be responsible for adding up the items and figuring out how much these items actually cost.
- Give the older kids a budget to work with and let them use their math skills as they compile their list of supplies. They might have to make some hard decisions, or at least ask for you to increase their spending allowance. Be sure to encourage them to write an appeal for increased spending allotments.
- And, finally, READ READ READ!
As always our goal is for you, the ultimate teacher, to keep the kids engaged in learning and keeping their minds active without letting onto the fact that they are really taking part in educational activities. Getting them excited about going back to school by engaging them in planning will hopefully make those first few days more stress-free.
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Posted on: Thursday, August 8th, 2013 in Activities for kids, Book recommendations, Books, parent involvement, Summer, Summer Activities for Kids, Summer learning loss
As we wrote in our blog this week, as summer begins to wind down towards the end of August that’s the time when many people take their summer vacations just before the beginning of the new school year. To keep the kids busy and to continue to fight the dreaded “Summer Learning Loss” try these book suggestions.
How I Spent My Summer Vacation by Mark Teague is for kids ages 3 through 7. “An original fantasy told in rhyme. Wallace Bleff, who is reporting to his class about his summer vacation, tells of his travels west at the bidding of his parents, who felt his overactive imagination, needed a rest. He relates how en route to his Aunt Fern’s house, he is kidnapped by cowboys and voila, Kid Bleff is born. He joins the rawhide crowd; learns to rope, ride, and build fires; and becomes a “first-rate cowhand.” In celebration of the end of the roundup, Aunt Fern invites Wallace and new friends to a barbecue. When a cattle stampede nearly ruins the party, the young hero saves the day as he displays hidden talent as a matador and reverses the direction of the herd. The art is done in warm acrylics throughout, first to portray the classroom setting where Wallace’s yarn begins against the backdrop of the chalkboard, then segues into the sandy scenes of the Wild West, and back again. Teague strikes again with a unique idea, one teachers would do well to use. An excellent read-aloud choice for back-to-school reading in the classroom or the public library. Marsha McGrath, Clearwater Public Library, FL Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.” Review from Amazon.
National Geographic Kids Ultimate U.S. Road Trip Atlas: Maps, Games, Activities, and More for Hours of Backseat Fun is for kids ages 8 and up. “Keeping kids entertained while on a long drive can be a challenge, but the National Geographic Kids Ultimate U.S. Road Atlas can help. This book includes easy-to-read, simple road maps of each state and Washington, D.C., and a map of the United States. State symbols, cool things to do, boredom busters, fun facts, wacky roadside attractions, and games accompany the maps and provide engaging information with stunning photographs that will keep kids engaged for hours. In the back matter, a comprehensive index makes it easy for kids to look up names and places. To top it all off, everything is presented in colorful NG Kids style, allowing kids to learn as they ride and have a blast doing it!” Review from Amazon.
Rand McNally Kids’ Road Atlas. “A great first atlas to introduce young ones to the ways of the road!
Each state features a simplified road map, state facts, and a fun state-relatd activity. Answers for all games and puzzles are in the bck of the book with an index.
This colorful, fun-filled book is perfect for capturing kids’ interest and keeping them busy the whole trip.” Review from Amazon.
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Posted on: Tuesday, August 6th, 2013 in Activities for kids, Critical Thinking Skills, Family Activities, Imagination, Kid's imagination, Kids doing Research, parent involvement, Summer Activities for Kids, Summer learning loss
Tick tock – the summertime clock is quickly ticking away, Summer is coming to a rapid end. For many families the end of August is vacation time, or, to just totally relax after organized summer activities have ended and before school begins. But this is a great time for some creative thinking for the kids to help prevent that dreaded summer brain drain?
Try this for a family fun activity: tell everyone to imagine a dream vacation. You can choose a place that you normally go to or a totally new one; across town or across the country. Then ask everyone to come up with a list of five things that they absolutely must have to go on vacation. Now comes the fun part. After everyone shares their lists with one another, ask them to compose a new list BUT this time everyone has to pretend that it’s 100 years ago. The year is 1913. Remind the kids that there was no electronic “stuff.” Television and radio do not exist, and there are not computers, smart phones or iPads. Evan ice is a luxury. Does kind of make you think.
Depending on the age of the kids participating in this activity, you may want to suggest having the older ones do a little research online and the younger kids may want to look through some books at home or at the library.
As always, we would love to hear what your kids came up with. Thankfully, its 2013 so you can email us your kid’s lists and we’ll publish their ideas in a future blog.
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Posted on: Wednesday, July 31st, 2013 in Activities for kids, Back to School, Humor, Joke, Kids doing Research, parent involvement, Summer, Summer Activities for Kids, Summer learning loss
If you ask the kids to tell you something about August – they may tell you, somewhat sadly, that summer vacation is almost over. In reality most of them are starting to look forward to a new school year because they may be getting just a little bored.
See if you can pique their interest with some research projects. Research projects can be fun and can help reduce with summer learning loss. This week we are listing some fun facts that occur in August. Offer up some research time on the computer and let us know what else the kids have discovered about the last month of summer.
Facts for the month of August:
- August has two birthstones, the Peridot and the sardonyx.
- August also has two birth flowers, the gladiolus and the poppy.
- August is National Family Fun Month
- August is National Peach Month
- August is National Golf Month
- August is National Picnic Month
- August is Romance Awareness Month
- The zodiac signs for August are Leo (July 23 – August 22) and Virgo (August 23 – September 22)
Daily Fun Facts for the month of August:
- Friendship Day – first Sunday of August
- August 1, 1876 – Colorado, also known as the Centennial State, became the 38th state of the United States.
- August 2, 1909 – the Lincoln penny was issued.
- August 3, 1492 – Christopher Columbus set sail on his first voyage across the Atlantic.
- August 3rd is National Watermelon Day
- August 5, 1864 – During the Civil War, the Battle of Mobile Bay was won by the Union forces.
- August 5th – This is the day to celebrate the Spirit of Sisterhood.
- August 6, 1926 – Gertrude Ederle successfully swam the English Channel.
- August 6, 1945 – The first atomic bomb was used in warfare on Hiroshima, Japan.
- August 7, 1942 – the U.S. troops landed on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands during World War II.
- August 9, 1974 – Richard M. Nixon resigned from office, making him the first United States president to ever resign from office.
- August 12, 1877 – the phonograph was invented by Thomas Edison.
- August 12, 1898 – Hawaii was annexed by the United States.
- August 13th – Vinyl Record Day (you remember them, don’t you?)
- August 13th – National Lefthander’s Day!
- August 15th – Lemon Meringue Pie Day (my personal favorite!)
- August 16, 1977 – Elvis Presley died.
- August 20, 1630 -Lemonade was first served in Paris, France.
- August 24th – On this day in A.D 79, Mount Vesuvius erupted and destroyed the cities of Pompeii, Stabiae and Herculaneum.
- August 26 – Women’s Equality Day.
- August 28th – Full Moon on. Also known as Dog Day’s Moon. At 3:52 AM we can also see a total eclipse of the moon (if you want to get up early)
- August 30th – Today is National Toasted Marshmallow Day
Summer Joke: Why shouldn’t you tell secrets on the farm? Because the corn has ears, the potatoes have eyes and the beanstalks.
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