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October 2018

    parenting, product reviews, revolution math, STEM, technology

    Help Your Kids Fall In Love with Math (And Reading Too!) With Revolution Math

    Disclaimer: This post is brought to you in partnership with Revolution Math, an interactive online math and story-based program for kids in grades 2-5. Get your first month of Revolution Math plus a math learning kit for $1 with the code WEEREAD1!

    Education has always been extremely important to me.  When I was a child I used to always say I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up.  Well, when I finally “grew up” I changed my mind and decided on the computer field instead.  Perhaps some day I’ll be a college professor and finally have the opportunity to fulfill my dreams of teaching.  For now, I’ll settle as being my children’s first teacher.

    I knew even before I had children that I didn’t want their learning to be left entirely up to the school system.  I make it a point to supplement whatever they are learning in school at home with my own teachings by making it fun.  One way I supplement education at home is by using an awesome interactive online math and story-based curriculum called Revolution Math.  Have you heard of it before?  If you follow me on Instagram, you may have heard me talk about it in my stories.  Try It Out for 30 Days for JUST $1 (No strings attached – I promise!)

    Math was always my favorite subject in school.  I want my kids to like math or at least do well in it even if they don’t love it as much as I do.  Did you know research suggests that early math skills are a better predictor of academic success than early reading skills?

    What Is Revolution Math?
    Revolution Math is an innovative program designed to help 2nd-5th graders develop their math skills and an overall love of learning. The live, online interface integrates an interactive learning experience with a story-based curriculum and Common Core aligned math games. Students enjoy a small class size of only 4 students, allowing them to build confidence under the instruction of a dedicated teacher.  Check out their brief introductory online videos for more information.

    Our Experience
    My daughter has been using Revolution Math (we pay for this program with our own money) for the past two months.  I can honestly say she is truly enjoying it and most importantly she’s learning advanced math skills for her grade.  While the program is recommended for kids in grades 2-5, they also accept first grade students like my daughter.

    Initially, some of the concepts were a bit difficult for her to grasp (as with learning anything new), but I’ve seen lots of improvement over the past two months.  She is now able to do one, two, three and four digit addition and subtraction problems a lot easier using the concepts learned through the program without any worry or anxiety like she initially had.

    Here are a few of the things my daughter has learned so far:

    • Place value charting to decompose addends for 2-digit + 2-digit addition and 3-digit + 2-digit addition
    • Different ways to represent three-digit numbers
    • Finding patterns
    • “Bundling”, “exchanging” or “carrying” from a lower place value to a higher one

    I’ve loved witnessing the progress and confidence I’ve seen in my daughter over the past two months.  It’s also been great to see her build a relationship with her online teacher (the teacher remains the same each week) and on occasion participate in class with other students.

    Other added benefits are parents receive a weekly update on the math tutoring session which includes cool apps and strategies you can use at home to reinforce learning.  Also, registered subscribers can access additional drills for practice playing the Revolution math game.  Finally, kids earn gems each lesson that can be traded in for kid-friendly prizes from the Revolution Math Rewards store.  Who doesn’t love an incentive?  I know I sure do!  My daughter is currently saving up her gems for a fidget spinner.

    Are you excited yet?  Do you want to help your children fall in LOVE with math (and reading too!)?

    Try It Out for 30 Days for JUST $1 (No strings attached – I promise!)
    You seriously can’t go wrong with this deal – it’s like getting 4 high-quality math classes for just $0.25 cents each if you break it down.  To me, this is a no-brainer to sign up for a 30-day trial especially if you have kids in grades 1-5.  Plus, you get a math learning kit which is yours to keep and doesn’t have to be returned.  Win-win!  I only share brands and products that my family truly uses, values and trusts and Revolution Math has gained our trust over the past two months.

    The learning kit includes several math manipulatives: graph paper, dice, place value number tiles, a protractor and masks to use for the story time portion of the course.  Be sure to use my code ‘WEEREAD1’ to take advantage of this fantastic deal for just $1 and tell them I sent you!

    Your turn: Are you ready to raise a math whiz?  Have you heard of Revolution Math before?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    black history, children's books, diverse books

    Hammering for Freedom (A Book Review)

    Hammering for Freedom by Rita Lorraine Hubbard, illustrated by John Holyfield

    Publisher: Lee and Low Books
    Format: Hardcover
    Pages: 32
    Age Range: 7-10
    Grade Level: 1-2

    Synopsis
    Born into slavery in Tennessee, William Lewis learned the blacksmith trade as soon as he was old enough to grip a hammer. He proved to be an exceptional blacksmith and earned so much money fixing old tools and creating new ones that he was allowed to keep a little money for himself. With just a few coins in his pocket, Bill set a daring plan in motion: he was determined to free his family.

    Winner of Lee & Low s New Voices Award and a Junior Library Guild selection, Hammering for Freedom tells the true story of one man s skill, hard work, and resolve to keep his family together.

    Reflection
    Hammering for Freedom introduces readers to William “Bill” Lewis, born into slavery in Tennessee. Bill learned the blacksmith trade as soon as he was old enough to grip a hammer.

    Once he mastered the blacksmith trade, Bill set a goal to save his money and buy his entire family’s freedom at the age of 26. He knew the slave owners rented to enslaved men and women to make extra money, so Bill asked the slave owner to let him rent himself. Bill paid $350 per year to rent his freedom. After he paid the rent from his savings, Bill still had money leftover to open his own blacksmith shop. He became the first African American blacksmith in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

    When Bill paid for his freedom he began saving again to buy his wife’s freedom, his son’s freedom, his mother, aunt, siblings, the whole dang family!

    This is a feel good story. It made me cry happy tears to see this Black man overcome the odds, work hard, set an elaborate goal and achieve it all to keep his family together. It took him 26 years to buy freedom for his entire family, but he got it done…like a boss! And then what does Bill do after all that? He pays $2,000 cash for a two-story home for his family to live in. Back in those days most White people couldn’t afford to do that. Bill Lewis is my new hero!

    Check this one out if you get a chance. I’m so in love with it and I’m thrilled to now know about William “Bill” Lewis and introduce this story to my kids. Recommended for ages 7-10 and up. 

    Your turn: Have you ever heard of William “Bill” Lewis before?  Did you read this story yet?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    family fun, literary road trip series

    Literary Road Trip Series: Riverview Farms Fall Festival at Robb’s Farm


    Disclaimer:
    Riverview Farms for provided my family with complimentary admission to the Fall Festival in exchange for writing an honest review. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.

    The Riverview Farm Fall Festival Season kicked off Saturday September 8, 2018 and runs through the first weekend in November.  The festival is held at Robb’s Farm in South Glastonbury and is open Fridays noon-6pm and Saturday & Sunday 10am-6pm.

    Robb’s Farm is well-known for their ice cream and in the fall, they partner with Riverview Farms to bring a Fall Festival to the area.  The festival includes hayrides, a pumpkin bounce house, corn maze, pumpkins, baby animals, pony rides (on weekends) and goodies to eat.  Did somebody say apple fritters and ice cream?  Yum!  We were able to check out almost everything on our recent literary road trip.

    Riverview Farms Fall events includes a petting zoo, hay rides, face painting, birthday parties, tours, baby chicks to hold, plus a 24′ Pumpkin Bounce.  There was a birthday party going on the day we visited and it looked like the kids attending were having a blast!  Riverview Farms also operates a petting zoo out of the Old Cider Mill in Glastonbury in the fall, which would be another family-friendly place to visit for animal lovers.

    Here were the things we were able to check out during our visit back in September:

    • Hayride
    • Pumpkin Bounce
    • Apple Fritters – Highly Recommended. (They are melt in your mouth good!)
    • Plenty of photo opportunities

    We also went in to check out the ice cream shop because the kids wanted water to drink since it was quite warm outside.  They have an assortment of refrigerated juices and bottled water inside the ice cream shop.  Although we didn’t taste their ice cream it sure looked good.  Plus, it’s all homemade and there is a nice variety of flavors to choose from.  We ate our apple fritters, drank water and had an impromptu story time on the picnic tables under the pavilion.

    The kids said they enjoyed the hayride the most followed by the pumpkin bounce house.  I enjoyed the hayride too, but was happy I donned my comfy Koral workout pants instead of wearing shorts because there was lots of hay on the seats of the wagon.

    The kids and I headed to the Glastonbury Public Library after our trip which was just a short car ride away.  I had the opportunity to read a little and check out some new books while the kids spent about an hour playing in the adorable play house at the library.  It was the prefect way to end our fun-filled mommy and me literary adventure.  We’ll definitely be back next fall to visit the Fall Festival again!

    Glastonbury Public Library

    After Thanksgiving, Robb’s Farm opens their Holiday Shop featuring trees, wreaths, hand-made bows, garland, kissing balls, seasonal pots and seasonal plants.

    Your turn: Have you ever visited the Riverview Farms Fall Festival?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    children's books, giveaways

    The Sharing Secret by La Shell Wooten + A Book Giveaway!

    The Sharing Secret by La Shell Wooten, illustrated by Nathaniel Mary Quinn



    The smell of baking reminds me of my Nana, whom I loved dearly. She passed away many years ago and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss her. My Nana and I were very close. She was kind, funny and very talented in the kitchen. Nothing tops my Nana’s sweet potato pie!  Reading The Sharing Secret brings back fond memories of helping my Nana bake sweet potato pies.  There’s also some awesome lessons and reminders about sharing and karma, which are two things my Nana also believed in.

    The Sharing Secret introduces young readers to Asai; a boy who learns about making choices during a trip to his grandfather’s bakery. Asai’s private baking lesson gives him an opportunity to learn how sharing with others is actually like giving a gift to himself. A colorful imagery where learning about cakes and karma is painted into every page.

    Enter below to win an autographed copy of this newly released picture book in time for the holidays.  Good Luck!

    About the Author

    La Shell Wooten is a New York City mom who wrote her inaugural children’s book to help young people learn that a good life is created by our choices. Her endowment as a licensed mental health professional, life coach, teacher, healer, feng shui consultant and now author are among the gifts she shares with the world. As the mother of two boys, Wooten wrote The Sharing Secret to teach children about the laws of karma in an age-appropriate way and to feature young boys of color as lead characters in children’s literature. La Shell hopes The Sharing Secret and its’ follow-up Good Hands will inform and delight young readers.

    The Giveaway!
    One (1) US resident (age 18 and over) will win an author and illustrator signed copy of the picture book The Sharing Secret.  All entries must be received by November 4th by 11:59pm EST.  Good Luck!

    The Sharing Secret

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    children's literacy, eeboo, parenting, read aloud, reading tips, storytelling

    4 Ways To Enhance Story Time With Kids

    Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post.  All of the products mentioned here were purchased with our own money.

    It’s no secret that reading aloud to kids has been recognized as the single most important activity that leads to literacy acquisition.  Now, reading aloud may seem simple, especially if the children you’re reading to are infants and aren’t as mobile or easily distracted as some older kids.  I’ve learned from reading with my own children and reading in front of various groups of kids that it’s not always so easy to keep them engaged.

    Having a memorable story time experience sometimes requires you to be able to catch – and hold –a child’s attention from start to finish.  This includes everything from ensuring you choose meaningful books with intention (before story time even begins) to any possible extension/craft activities you may do after the story is over.

    Below I’ve shared four different ways I like to enhance story time at home with my own children.  But before we jump right into those, let me also share a few other things I like to keep in mind prior to reading books with my kids.  Note: I DO NOT always have time to do all of these things because sometimes life gets in the way.  Am I right?  However, if I have time to prepare ahead then I will follow these steps.

    1. Select a small pile of books to read for story time.  If it’s a book we’ve never read with them before I’ll write a brief and catchy 1-2 sentence introduction to let the kids know (briefly) what the book is about.  Of course, doing this requires you to read or skim it beforehand.

    2. Write a brief list of open-ended questions I may want to ask the kids as follow-up questions once the story is over.  See my first enhancement tip (reading comprehension cubes) below for a simple way to do this if you can’t think of any questions on your own.

    3. Have an extension/craft activity ready for the kids to do together after the story is over.  I usually choose simple activities that relate to the book(s) in some way.

    Here are the four ways I enhance story time when reading aloud with my kids:

    1. Reading Comprehension Cubes by Learning Resources
    We’ve had these story time cubes for a while now and they are always a hit with my kids!  They really help us have a deeper discussion about the story afterwards.  These cubes offer a total of 3 dozen different questions to test, challenge, and enhance your kids’ comprehension of the books they read.

    Simple roll the red cubes for questions before reading. Toss the blue cubes for questions about the story in progress. Roll the green cubes for questions after reading.

    2. Mindfulness Activities Before and After Story Time

    These mindfulness cards are so fun for doing things like “shaking out the sillies” before story time or taking a few deep breaths afterwards.

    This boxed card deck includes 50 creative mindfulness games, visualizations and exercises divided into 5 categories to help children feel grounded, find calm, improve focus, practice loving-kindness and relax.

    3. Tell Me a Story Cards from eeBoo

    I’ve mentioned these cards before on the blog, (click here to read) but they are worth mentioned again.

    Tell Me a Story Creative Story Cards.  These cards are my “secret weapon” I use when I want an alternative to reading books and they are perfect for honing my storytelling skills.  Recommended for ages 3 and up, the deck of 36 beautifully illustrated cards assist children in creating their own stories.

    An endless number of stories are possible by placing any number of the cards in any order. Short stories, long stories, kids create a new story every time they shuffle the deck. The whole family can make a game out of the cards, by taking turns picking cards and telling a story together. Parents, grandparents and teachers will find the cards useful as an aid in their own storytelling.

    To use the cards, you simply lay as many as you want out in front of you in an order that tells your story.

    4. Use educational flashcards like ABC Me Flashcards (or another set of flashcards you enjoy).

    Designed to be used in a myriad of ways, ABC Me Flashcards are illustrated in vibrant colors with easy to understand wording on the back. They begin with the alphabet but A isn’t for apple. This time, A is for Africa. And so from A to Z or from Africa to Zora Neal Hurston, younger children can learn their ABC’s and older children can use the same cards to learn about their history.

    I like to pair these with non-fiction picture or early chapter books when reading aloud with the kids.  They help make a connection with the person or event we’re reading about in a fun way.


    These are just a few examples of how you can keep your young audience engaged during story time.  I hope you find these tips helpful to help get you started and to put your best foot forward if you want to enhance story time.

    Your turn: What other tips would you add to this list?  How do you enhance story time with kids?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    book reviews, children's books

    Tomorrow I’ll Be Brave Blog Tour: Teaching Kids About Bravery

    Tomorrow I’ll Be Brave by Jessica Hische

    Recommended Ages: 3-7

    Synopsis
    Tomorrow I’ll be all the things I tried to be today:
    Adventurous, Strong, Smart, Curious, Creative, Confident, & Brave.
    And if I wasn’t one of them, I know that it’s OK.

    Journey through a world filled with positive and beautifully hand-lettered words of widsom, inspiration, and motivation. As this book reminds readers, tomorrow is another day, full of endless opportunities–all you have to do is decide to make the day yours.

    Reflection
    As a parent, I’m always mindful to ensure I’m setting good examples for my kids while also teaching them valuable life lessons that will benefit them in their adult lives.  Like many parents and caregivers, I want my children to grow up and lead successful lives.  While there are many things that lead to success and happiness, I believe one of the most powerful things is courage.

    During the average person’s lifetime, they will likely experience successes, failures, rejections, and many unexpected turns.  That’s why I think it’s important to instill courage in children from a young age and continuously expose them to safe opportunities where they can practice being brave in real life scenarios.

    For example, my daughter sometimes gets anxious if she’s picked up a bit later than usual at school.  This is especially true at the start of any new school year or after an extended break from school.  It usually takes her about a week or two to get back into the school routine after being at home during school breaks.  If she’s picked up late she will cry non-stop until either myself or my husband arrives.  Whenever this happens, my husband and I reassure her that one of us will always be there to pick her up from school.  We also read lots of books about anxiety, having courage, and being brave like Tomorrow I’ll Be Brave.  It’s the perfect book to read to give kids the courage to keep going, to find a different way, and of course the courage to try and be brave in the first place.

    This book teaches kids that bravery isn’t about something magical that happens inside us to make us ‘not scared’. It’s about something magical that happens inside us to make us push through fear, self-doubt, anxiety, and do the things that feel hard or risky or frightening. Sometimes, being brave only has to happen for seconds at a time – just long enough to be brave enough.  This book also reminded me about one of the most important parts of being brave: knowing that somewhere inside of you, ‘brave’ will be there when you need it, whether you feel it or not.

    There is also a fantastic overall message that rings loud and clear in this book:

    Tomorrow I’ll be all the things I tried to be today…and if I wasn’t one of them, I know that it’s okay.

    Children get the reassurance that if they haven’t been any of the things they hoped to be today, there is always tomorrow, which is full of endless opportunities.  I think that messages give children space for imperfection which is a great growth staple.

    In summary, there are so many great things I enjoyed about this book:

    • It teaches children they are strong, that they can cope, and that they are not as fragile as they might sometimes feel.
    • There are wonderful vocabulary words like: adventurous, curious, confident, brave
    • Kids understand brave is about doing what’s best for them
    • Encourages children’s sense of adventure

    Check this one out if you’re looking for a picture book to help have a discussion about bravery and courage with your little readers.

    About the Author
    Jessica Hische grew up in Pennsylvania. She currently lives in San Francisco, where she works as a letterer, illustrator, type designer, and relentless procrastiworker. Clients include Wes Anderson, Dave Eggers, The New York Times, Tiffany & Co., OXFAM America, McSweeney’s, American Express, Target, Victoria’s Secret, Chronicle Books, Nike, and Samsung.

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    children's books, giveaways

    The Gift of Story Time + A Board Book Bundle Giveaway!

    Little Simon sent me these adorable board books to check out and is partnering with me for a giveaway!  Read on to find out how you can enter to win.

     

    Little Simon board books make the perfect gift for all of the young readers in your life!  With cute and creative illustrations, accessible and engaging stories, and the perfect size and durability, these books are great for new parents and for reading aloud.  These fun series teach important lessons and concepts through adorable characters, interesting stories, and hilarious creatures!

    Here are the titles included in this board book giveaway:

    We enjoyed reading all of the books in this bundle, but our personal favorites are Dia De los Muertos and This Little Scientist.  I’m so impressed with how informative and easy to understand both of these books are for young readers.  With Dia De los Muertos, kids can learn about the holiday as well as a few Spanish words that are weaved into the story while enjoying the colorful and bold illustrations.  This Little Scientist provides young readers with a nice introduction to a diverse group of male and female scientists including: Neil deGrasse Tyson, Marie Curie, Isaac Newton, Katherine Johnson and more!

    To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment below.  Open to US residents age 18 and over ONLY.  Giveaway ends on October 25, 2018 at 11:59pm.  The winner will be notified by email on October 26, 2018.  For an extra entry, enter on my Instagram page.  Good Luck!

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