Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Hero Elementary on PBS KIDS.
My kids LOVE slime! They like to squish it in their hands and add different colors to it. They also enjoy watching slime making videos to get new ideas. Not only is slime fun to make and play with, it’s also a great tactile activity that involves lots of learning and science.
After having so much fun making our own bubble solution at home last month thanks to Hero Elementary, this time we decided use the “Make Your Own Slime” printable (courtesy of Science Buddies) to make a few different batches of slime. Watch the Science Buddies slime video here.
Have you and your children checked out the Hero Elementary show on PBSKIDS.org yet?
Geared towards children ages 4 – 7, Hero Elementary stars a diverse team of Super Students called Sparks’ Crew: Lucita Sky, AJ Gadgets, Sara Snap, and Benny Bubbles, led by their quirky and enthusiastic teacher, Mr. Sparks. Together they help people, problem solve, and try to make the world a better place for everyone.
As a science geek, I enjoy this show because the science curriculum addresses crucial components of children’s learning. It’s important for children to be able to understand their ability to develop and test ideas, ask questions, predict, and observe. These skills are also known to contribute to learning in other content areas, such as literacy, language development and critical thinking. Hero Elementary also showcases character and social-emotional concepts such as kindness, empathy, and commitment to working together to solve problems.
To make our own slime, we followed the easy step-by-step instructions listed on the printable and shown in the Science Buddies video. Our first batch of slime turned out okay. Once it settled for a few hours into our jars, the kids noticed we added too much contact lens solution. So, we tried again.
The second batch was much better and had the right consistency. It wasn’t too sticky or too slimy and had a nice amount of stretch. It was interesting to watch the kids measure each ingredient so carefully because they wanted to get their slime “just right.” Making slime is an awesome activity that uses scientific principles in everyday life to find solutions, answer questions and figure things out. As with anything you try in life, you may not get it right on your first attempt and that’s okay. You always try again. Yes, even when making slime.
Watching Hero Elementary can help children embrace their “Superpowers of Science” by combining science and literacy to build powerful learning. We always enjoy applying the lessons learned on screen at home.
If you are homeschooling or if your kids are participating in distance or hybrid learning, Hero Elementary can be used to supplement core curriculum and extend science lessons into real life. Give it a try!
You can watch Hero Elementary on PBS KIDS. Check your local listings for showtimes or watch anytime on PBSKIDS.org or on the PBS KIDS video app.
Are you looking for clean and high-quality carbs for your family with ingredients you can actually pronounce? Enter Wildgrain. The first-ever bake-from-frozen subscription box for clean carbs.
One of my goals this year is to eat healthier focusing on foods with clean ingredients that also have nutritional benefits. That’s why I’m so excited that I discovered Wildgrain Box! Have you heard of them yet? Each Wildgrain Box includes ready-to-bake frozen breads, pastas and pastries all delivered to your door with FREE shipping!
Customers receive a Wildgrain Box by default every month, but you can change your delivery frequency at any time. You can also skip boxes and change the date your account is charged. There is no time commitment for your subscription and you can cancel anytime.
Look at how much food was included in my box! You can make 30+ individual meals with each Wildgrain Box. The best part? All new customers will receive FREE sourdough rolls in every box for the life of their subscription. Oh, and did I mention they always offer FREE shipping?
Go here to check out this awesome box for yourself. I am seriously impressed with it and am anxiously awaiting our next box to come in the mail. Use my code HEREWEEREAD to get $10 off your first box.
Your turn: Have you tried Wildgrain Box yet? Feel free to share in the comments and let me know your experience.
One of the joys of blogging is meeting other like-minded book lovers who share the same taste in books as you do. From the time I met author Nicole Blades, she and I clicked since with both have an affinity for great literature. Bonus points for us living in the same state and only a few miles apart from one another. She was the perfect person to read President Barack Obama’s memoir, A Promised Land with.
In case you haven’t read it yet, check out the synopsis below from the publisher.
Synopsis In the stirring, highly anticipated first volume of his presidential memoirs, Barack Obama tells the story of his improbable odyssey from young man searching for his identity to leader of the free world, describing in strikingly personal detail both his political education and the landmark moments of the first term of his historic presidency—a time of dramatic transformation and turmoil.
Obama takes readers on a compelling journey from his earliest political aspirations to the pivotal Iowa caucus victory that demonstrated the power of grassroots activism to the watershed night of November 4, 2008, when he was elected 44th president of the United States, becoming the first African American to hold the nation’s highest office.
Reflecting on the presidency, he offers a unique and thoughtful exploration of both the awesome reach and the limits of presidential power, as well as singular insights into the dynamics of U.S. partisan politics and international diplomacy. Obama brings readers inside the Oval Office and the White House Situation Room, and to Moscow, Cairo, Beijing, and points beyond. We are privy to his thoughts as he assembles his cabinet, wrestles with a global financial crisis, takes the measure of Vladimir Putin, overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds to secure passage of the Affordable Care Act, clashes with generals about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, tackles Wall Street reform, responds to the devastating Deepwater Horizon blowout, and authorizes Operation Neptune’s Spear, which leads to the death of Osama bin Laden.
It was kind of fitting that the first book I finished in 2021 was Barack Obama’s instant bestselling memoir, A Promised Land. Mind, I started the book just after Thanksgiving 2020… but, listen, as you know, this thing is more than 700 pages long! For someone who typically shies away from books over 500 pages (375-ish is kind of the sweet spot), the fact that I read it cover to cover is a triumph.
A Promised Land is good. Really good. So good that I’m ready for volume two of his memoir. (That thing better not be 900 pages, though, B! *long stare*) Obama is naturally smart, charming, and funny, and it all comes through on the page. He feels like a real person with humor and humanity. (He even drops a few F-bombs, which made me giggle a little.)
The book is beautifully written—candid and revealing while also being interesting and filled with warmth. The man knows how to tell a riveting story. And the details! He describes people places, rooms, even “The Beast”—the armored limo that is the presidential state car—with such precision, paying attention to even the smallest note. For example, he mentions a nun with a face as “grooved as a peach pit”…I mean, you can totally see the face, right? There are plenty of moments like that, where his words paint a clear picture. It’s not an easy task to do as a writer. It is a remarkable skill, fueled by an honest interest and curiosity in people, their lives, and your shared moments with them.
Early in the book, the essential question is posed: Why you, Barack? Why do you need to be president? His answer, in part, is one of my favorite quotes from the book:
“…Here’s one thing I know for sure, though. I know that the day I raise my right hand and take the oath to be president of the United States, the world will start looking at America differently. I know that kids around this country—Black kids, Hispanic kids, kids who don’t fit in—they’ll see themselves differently, too, their horizons lifted, their possibilities expanded. And that alone… that would be worth it.”
Listen. When I read that passage, I read it again, slowly. Then I got my Oprah on and highlighted the quote, and marked it with one of those sticky note flag strips. I wanted to remember it. I wanted to remember how it made me feel: Inspired.
A Promised Land. What can I say? I expected this book to be a winner and it did not disappoint! Although it was long, I savored every page of this book like a fine wine. I will admit, it’s hefty 700+ page count was daunting in the beginning, but since Barack Obama is such an enjoyable and natural storyteller that definitely helped make it feel less daunting. And since I had the homie, Nicole Blades, holding me accountable to finish our “assigned” chapters, that definitely helped too.
It was refreshing to hear Obama admit to his mistakes, doubt himself on different occasions, climb out of credit card debt, get more insight into his relationship with Michelle, learn about his mom and have the ability to re-live the 2008 election, which I personally refer to as the “Yes We Can” era.
I found myself laughing out loud in some parts, shedding tears, and nodding in full agreement during other parts of the book. Oh, how I miss the Obama family dearly! Lucky for us, we get to enjoy his words here in A Promised Land and then again in Volume 2 once it’s released. Oh, and let’s not forget about Michelle’s book Becoming and both of their podcasts on Spotify!
I am in awe of the Obama family and have total admiration for them and their service. It’s a delight to hear a politician speak so candidly and eloquently with honesty and dignity. The one word that kept running through my mind while reading this book was: hope. Hope for a better future for my children and this world.
Here are two of my favorite quotes from the book:
“there are people in the world who think only about themselves. They don’t care what happens to other people so long as they get what they want. They put other people down to make themselves feel important. “Then there are people who do the opposite, who are able to imagine how others must feel, and make sure that they don’t do things that hurt people. “So,” she said, looking me squarely in the eye. “Which kind of person do you want to be?” ― Barack Obama, A Promised Land
“But you don’t choose the time. The time chooses you. Either you seize what may turn out to be the only chance you have, or you decide you’re willing to live with the knowledge that the chance has passed you by.” ― Barack Obama, A Promised Land
Nicole Blades is a novelist, speaker, and journalist who has been putting her stories on paper since the third grade. Born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, by Caribbean parents, Nicole moved to New York City and launched her journalism career working at Essence magazine. She later co-founded the online magazine SheNetworks, and worked as an editor at ESPN and Women’s Health.
As a freelance journalist, Nicole’s articles and essays have appeared in The New York Times,Runner’s World, Women’s Health, Good Housekeeping, Health, MarieClaire.com, WashingtonPost.com, and more. Her latest book, HAVE YOU MET NORA?, along with her previous novels, THE THUNDER BENEATH US and EARTH’S WATERS, are available wherever books are sold.
Nicole is a proud member of the Tall Poppy Writers, a professional group of women writers committed to supporting and promoting its members’ work and connecting authors with readers. And she is also a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer.
She has been a presenter and guest speaker at conferences such as Massachusetts Conference for Women; The Muse & the Marketplace; Mom 2.0 Summit; Well-Read Black Girl Festival; Writer’s Digest Conference; the Women’s Fiction Writers Association Retreat, and the Surrey International Writers’ Conference.
Nicole lives in New England with her husband and their son. You may find her on social media at: Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
Charnaie loves connecting people with diverse and inclusive books, kid-friendly products and family experiences they will love. She has been reading aloud with both of her children daily since they were born.
Charnaie is a wife, mom and a former Computer Programmer by education. She have over 15 years of experience in the Information Technology field and has both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Computer Science/Information Technology. She is now an author, podcast host, speaker, Digital Creator/Influencer and the founder of her children’s soon-to-be non-profit organization 50 States 50 Books where they collect and donate diverse children’s books to deserving kids in each of the 50 U.S. states.
Her blog Here Wee Read, is where she expresses her creativity and passion for reading, diverse literature, and literacy. More than anything else, she cares about connecting people with great books that they love because she believe that books are an absolute necessity . Her passion for diversity and inclusion is driven by a desire for everyone to have his or her own voice, whether it be through books, television, or other media. Charnaie believes it’s important that people of all races, and all ethnicities, are able to see themselves represented and included.
Charnaie lives in New England with her husband and their daughter and son. You may find her on social media at: Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
I chose the comprehsive course that also has a practicum in order to learn the approach and methods inside and out. My ultimate goal is to become a Certified Orton-Gillingham Tutor if possible. I took my training course through IMSE (The Institute for Multi-Sensory Education). There are other companies that train in the Orton-Gillingham methodology.
What is Orton-Gillingham? “Orton-Gillingham is a highly structured approach that breaks reading and spelling down into smaller skills involving letters and sounds, and then building on these skills over time. It was the first approach to use explicit, direct, sequential, systematic, multi-sensory instruction to teach reading, which is not only effective for all students but essential for teaching students with dyslexia.” (Definition taken from the IMSE website.)
The History of Orton-Gillingham “Orton-Gillingham was among the first teaching approaches designed to help struggling readers by explicitly teaching the connections between letters and sounds. In the 1930s, neuropsychiatrist and pathologist Dr. Samuel T. Orton and educator, psychologist Anna Gillingham developed the Orton-Gillingham approach to reading instruction for students with “word-blindness,” which would later become known as dyslexia.” (Definition taken from the IMSE website.)
What is the Orton-Gillingham Methodology? The Orton-Gillingham Methodology is a direct, multisensory, structured, sequential, diagnostic, and prescriptive way to teach literacy. When reading, writing, and spelling does not come easily to individuals, such as those with dyslexia (or any new or struggling readers). It is most properly understood and practiced as an approach, not a method, program, or system. In the hands of a well-trained and experienced instructor, it is a powerful tool of exceptional breadth, depth, and flexibility.
It has been proven by research that when using a diagnostic, systematic, structured, multisensory approach faithfully, you take the guesswork out of reading.
My Training Course Experience I’ll be honest and say I had no idea what to expect prior to taking this training course. While I was familiar with Orton-Gillingham, I had never used it and really didn’t know that much about it besides it being an effective approach to teach reading.
Since I don’t have an education background, (I have an IT background) I was unsure how quickly I’d be able to catch on and grasp the concepts. However, the instructor for our class at IMSE was AMAZING! She was a delight to learn from and very knowledge about all things Orton-Gillingham, literacy and phonological awareness. She made me feel at ease from day one right up until the last day.
Due to COVID, my training course was virtual and I had about 15 – 17 other people in my class. I was glad that the course was interactive giving you the opportunity to work in smaller groups during breakout sessions. The small group time allowed you time to really practice and hone the skills being taught by the instructor. In addition, it gives you the opportunity to communicate with others in the class and provide each other with constructive feedback.
The class started at 8am each day and finished up around 3:30pm for a total of 30 hours of Orton-Gillingham training. At the end of the course you receive a certificate of completion for the course. Please note: That certificate doesn’t mean you are a Certifified OG tutor, there is additonal training required for that which includes the practicum.
Phonological Awareness: Assessment Tools & Strategies by Zgonc
IMSE Phoneme Grapheme Card Pack
IMSE Syllable Division Cards
Set 1 IMSE Decodable Readers
Sand (for kinesthetic learning)
IMSE Interactive OG (online lesson planning tool) One-year subscription (additional years will require a renewal fee)
Some of the concepts I learned in the course include:
Encoding and decoding words
Syllable division patterns (multi-syllable words)
Guidelines for Weekly Lesson Planning for Students
Here are a few things I learned that I thought were interesting:
Dyslexia affects 1 in 5 people and it runs in families. Children DO NOT outgrow dyslexia. Children with dyslexia grow up to be adults with dyslexia.
Our brains are wired for speech, not reading.
The four phases of reading: pre-alphabetic phase, partial-alphabetic phase, full alphabetic phase, and consolidated phase.
The six stages of reading development
The Cat/Kite Rule (The Rules for letters C & K)
My training experience was absolutely amazing and so eye-opening! Who knew learning to read and teaching others to read could be so seamless and easy to comprehend? Throughout the course I kept thinking, all children should have the access to be able to learn to read this way. I definitely believe Orton-Gillingham should indeed be taught in every classroom. I truly believe Orton-Gillingham can make all children better readers. Here are a few reasons why I think this based on the things I learned during my training:
The Orton-Gillingham methodology uses systematic instruction techniques and resources to teach new concepts in the exact same way every time. By doing this, the brain is not expending energy trying to figure out a new method. Instead, the brain expects the routine of learning and can focus on the new concept being taught. Brilliant and way less confusing!
When teaching new concepts, the steps are clear and teach the rules one at a time. Each step builds from the previous step, building from simple to complex.
Learning is individualized to each student. Students should be able to move through the program at an individualized pace which allows for developing fluency and automaticity for each step. Students only move from one step to the next as they build fluency for each level of language skills.
Each student’s skill development is monitored along the way with assessments. The instructional practices are built upon what was observed in the previous lesson and what is judged to be necessary to move the student forward in the next lesson.
It’s also important to note that students with dyslexia need to master the same basic knowledge about language as any other learner. However, because of their dyslexia, they sometimes need more help when it comes to sorting, recognizing, and organizing language.
How I’m Planning to Use My Orton-Gillingham Training
As I mentioned earlier, my utlimate goal is to become a Certified Orton-Gillingham Tutor to help beginning and struggling readers learn how to read better. Since taking the course I’ve been continuing to use the skills I learned in class with my two children at home. I am also working with a Certified OG Instructor who is giving me a few hours of coaching in preparation for me embarking on the practicum. The practicum is a lot of work and it requires you to pass the KPEERI exam.
In addition, I have now acquired my first Kindergarten student who I will be tutoring starting next month. I need to complete 50 hours of tutoring which will be great pracice for me and allow me to keep my skills sharp. I’m excited for this new journey and look forward to seeing the progress my student makes in the coming months.
I’ll keep you posted on my journey along the way!
If you’d like more information about Orton-Gillingham or the Institute for Multi-Sensory Education please visit the IMSE website. There you can also find out the training requirements and pricing for each of the courses they offer. You can also purchase some of their products.
Your turn: What questions do you have about Orton-Gillingham? Feel free to ask your questions in the comments.
To celebrate the release of One Step Further by Katherine Johnson and her daughters Joylette Hylick and Katherine Moore, and illustrated by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow on January 5th, blogs across the web are featuring exclusive photos and stories from the life of NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson, plus 5 chances to win a hardcover copy!
Music and Math
A never-before-seen interview with Katherine and her daughters that didn’t end up in the final book
Joylette and Kathy in 1954
Joylette: Our whole family was also very musical. We played instruments: piano, organ, violin, cello. Music is a lot like math. One beat, two beats, three beats, four.
Kathy: Our home was full of music. Music and math.
Katherine: We found joy with each other and in music.
Joylette: Mom directed the church choir and each of us sang in one choir or another. I also joined and played piano for the glee club at school. In 8th grade, I learned the violin. Our school orchestra conductor warned the other kids not to laugh when—
Kathy: At first, their orchestra sounded like cats!
Joylette: Did you snicker?
Kathy: I smiled.
Katherine: In the meantime, Jimmie started getting hammering headaches. The doctors said he needed surgery.
Joylette: Daddy kept getting weaker and weaker while I was in high school.
Kathy: His sickness was scary. “Lower your voices. Try to help.”
Joylette: Playing music comforted me. Four beats to a measure. Half notes. Quarter notes. I understood music’s symphonies and rhythms, unlike life’s. I conducted the student choir, performed Handel’s “Messiah” and learned the organ.
Kathy: Taking care of Daddy made me dream of being a physical therapist.
Joylette: That summer we spent our days with him at the hospital.
Katherine: Every generation pushes the next one forward, just as each note propels the next.
Some of the family’s sheet music
Joylette: My parents’ passion for music had helped me find mine.
Kathy: Their love of education made our brilliant minds shine.
Joylette: In 1958, Hampton University offered me a partial music scholarship. I majored in math, but played piano and organ, sang, and helped conduct the choir.
Kathy: In high school, I sang and played piano. Since Joylette and Connie had played violin, I moved to my own rhythm. I found the cello mellow and soothing.
Joylette: Eventually, I played the 9-foot grand piano and the big organ in Hampton’s Ogden Hall.
This inspirational picture book reveals what is was like for a young black mother of three to navigate the difficult world of the 1950s and 60s and to succeed in an unwelcoming industry to become one of the now legendary “hidden figures” of NASA computing and space research.
Johnson’s own empowering narrative is complemented by the recollections of her two daughters about their mother’s work and insights about how she illuminated their paths, including one daughter’s fight for civil rights and another’s journey to become a NASA mathematician herself. The narrative gracefully weaves together Johnson’s personal story, her influence on her daughters’ formative years, her and her daughters’ fight for civil rights, and her lasting impact on NASA and space exploration. Filled with personal reflections, exclusive family archival photos, and striking illustrations, readers will be immersed in this deeply personal portrayal of female empowerment, women in STEM, and the breaking down of race barriers across generations. Historical notes, photo/illustration notes, and a time line put the story into historical and modern-day context.
The inspirational tale of Johnson’s perseverance is both intimate and global, showcasing the drive of each generation to push one step further than the last. With its evocative family album-style format and novel approach to storytelling, One Step Further is sure to inspire the next generation of rising stars.
“Engaging, collage-style art augments the text, with speech bubbles, archival family photographs, and Barlow’s child-friendly illustrations. Concurrently accessible and intimate, this book will both inform readers and inspire them to reach for the stars.”
“A concise, engaging story of a Black family in the South during the Civil Rights era.”
“The blend of Johnson’s and her daughters’ voices is intimate and inspiring.”
Joylette (L), Kathy (R), Katherine (F)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Katherine Johnson was an American mathematician whose calculations of orbital mechanics as a NASA employee were critical to the success of the first and subsequent U.S. crewed spaceflights. She calculated and analyzed the flight paths of many spacecraft during her more than three decades with the U.S. space program, and her work helped send astronauts to the moon. She died on February 24, 2020.
ABOUT THE CO-AUTHORS:Joylette Goble Hylick and Katherine “Kathy” Goble Moore grew up during the space race of the 1960s but never fully grasped their mother’s role in it until years later. Hylick graduated from Hampton University and received a Master’s at Drexel University. She followed in her mother’s footsteps, working at NASA as a mathematician before taking a job with Lockheed Martin as a Senior Requirements Engineer. She lives today in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. After attending Bennett College and Hampton University, and receiving a Masters of Science in Information Systems from Montclair State University (formerly Montclair State College), Moore spent 33 years working in public education as an educator and guidance counselor in New Jersey. She currently resides in Greensboro, North Carolina.
ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR: Charnelle Pinkney Barlow, granddaughter of Caldecott-winning illustrator Jerry Pinkney, was surrounded by art as a child. Her passion for illustration grew after being introduced to the world of watercolors. She received her BFA in Illustration from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and her MFA in Illustration as Visual Essay from the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
Have you seen this new SBP Learning series of picture books from the publisher Sleeping Bear Press? It features nonfiction social justice topics like: anti-racism, equality and racial justice. Sleeping Bear Press is generously sponsoring this giveway for one (1) winner to receive a copy of two of the latest books in the series. Check out the synopsis below from the publisher to read more about these informative books and enter the giveaway for your chance to win. Good Luck!
Topics on race in America have been avoided in children’s education for too long–allowing racist systems to continue to thrive. Racial Justice in America: Topics for Change explores current questions around race in comprehensive, honest, and age-appropriate ways. Developed in conjunction with educator, advocate, and author Kelisa Wing to reach children of all races and encourage them to approach race issues with open eyes and minds.
Millions of Americans have marched and protested to fight inequality and to bring about social change. These large gatherings, filled with powerful and courageous voices, have shined a light on important issues and resulted in new laws. This book covers some of the most famous marches in U.S. history–and encourages readers to stand up for the things they believe in.
Meet seventeen year-old Denver and her friends Dali and Shak. They are three high school friends who dream of escaping from their white hometown and becoming famous singers. The girls end up meeting one of the hottest R&B stars, Sean “Mercury” Ellis who takes them under his wing.
Muted is a young adult novel written completely in verse, and this is where this story excels. The format of the verse does an excellent job portraying Denver’s story. It has a diverse cast and an LBGTQ+ main character who is in love with her best friend. The ending of this book left me in complete shock…WOW! Check out the synopsis below from the publisher.
Synopsis For seventeen-year-old Denver, music is everything. Writing, performing, and her ultimate goal: escaping her very small, very white hometown.
So Denver is more than ready on the day she and her best friends Dali and Shak sing their way into the orbit of the biggest R&B star in the world, Sean “Mercury” Ellis. Merc gives them everything: parties, perks, wild nights — plus hours and hours in the recording studio. Even the painful sacrifices and the lies the girls have to tell are all worth it.
Until they’re not.
Denver begins to realize that she’s trapped in Merc’s world, struggling to hold on to her own voice. As the dream turns into a nightmare, she must make a choice: lose her big break, or get broken.
Inspired by true events, Muted is a fearless exploration of the dark side of the music industry, the business of exploitation, how a girl’s dreams can be used against her — and what it takes to fight back.
About the Author Tami Charles is a former teacher and full-time author of picture books, middle grade and young adult novels, and nonfiction. As a teacher, she made it her mission to introduce her students to all types of literature, but especially diverse books. While it was refreshing to see a better selection than what she was accustomed to as a child, Tami felt there weren’t nearly as many diverse books as she’d hoped for. It was then that she decided to reignite her passion for writing. Tami is the author of the middle grade novels Like Vanessa, Definitely Daphne, and Becoming Beatriz, and the picture book Freedom Soup.
The Giveaway! Enter to win a Muted prize pack that includes: 1 copy of Muted by Tami Charles 1 wireless rechargeable bluetooth speaker 1 retro tape cassette wallet
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