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    Winter Snow Fun with Hero Elementary on PBS Kids

    Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Hero Elementary on PBS Kids.

    I have two superpowers. I disappear into books and I am a book recommender! When some people are not sure what to read, they turn to me: the book recommender. I can use my mind and reading skills to take a journey through your reading history and think up the perfect next read for you.  Everyone has a superpower even though each person’s strength is different. What superpowers do you have?

    Have you heard of the show Hero Elementary on PBS KIDS?  Hero Elementary is an animated STEM series designed to give kids important tools to help them solve problems by encouraging them to act like scientists.  It is also filled with fun, age-appropriate superhero action geared towards kids ages 4 to 7.

    I love that the show features a diverse group of Super Students who are all learning to master their Superpowers of Science.

    The main cast includes:

    • Lucita Sky: a Latina girl who can fly; ironically, she is also afraid of heights.
    • Sara Snap: An Asian American girl who has two powers: teleportation and super-strength.
    • Benny Bubbles: A Caucasian boy with the ability to generate forcefield-like bubbles. Benny’s also an animal lover.
    • AJ Gadgets: an African-American boy with the ability to project his thoughts visibly to others (dubbed “thought projection”). AJ’s also an avid inventor, and on the autism spectrum.
    • Mr. Sparks: a Latino man who’s the students’ teacher. He does not seem to have any superpowers, but still can teach superheroes-in-training.
    • Fur Blur: the class pet; she is a hamster with super-speed.

    After watching the “Snowy Journey” episode of Hero Elementary, we were inspired by Sparks’ Crew and read books about snow and did a few snowman activities using construction paper and ice.  My kids enjoyed making different observations about what happens to ice in the heat as it started to melt.    

    We also learned why snow is the color white and talked about some animals that hibernate in the winter.  Hibernation was a topic covered in the Hero Elementary episode “Snowy Journey” so it was a nice way to tie it back to things that were discussed in the show.  (Do you see our book snowman pictured here in the background?  We had fun making that together!)

    Hero Elementary goes beyond just showing kids how science is present in everyday life, it empowers them to make a difference in their own backyards and beyond by actively doing science.  I would highly recommend this animated series for any young budding scientists and fans of superheroes.  Also, 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!

    This post is sponsored by Hero Elementary on PBS KIDS.

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    diverse books, parenting, product reviews

    How We Make Sleep, Reading and Diversity a Priority in Our Home

    Disclaimer: We partnered with Hatch to share a few thoughts about the Hatch Restore and Hatch Rest and to showcase how we’ve incorporated these products into our bedtime routine. As always, any opinions expressed are my own.

    Sleep. It is absolutely essential to our overall well being. There are so many benefits to getting a good night’s sleep like: memory retention, improved appetite, increased energy and mood regulation.

    Reading also has amazing benefits for both your physical and mental health and those benefits can last a lifetime. The same is true for the topic of diversity. It can benefit and enrich our world by providing more colorful life experiences and enhance our social relationships and communities.

    When people are well rested and well read they are more likely to have empathy and be open to embracing diversity and inclusion in order to build a balanced world for our future children. Yes, sleep, reading and diversity can go hand in hand if you allow it to.

    Our nightly bedtime routine usually consists of the following

    • eat dinner together as a family
    • 15 – 30 minute clean up time (wash dishes, clean the kitchen, put away toys, gather books for story time)
    • bath time
    • story time (15 – 20 minutes)
    • bedtime for the kids (their Hatch Rest alarm clock goes off at 8:30pm during the school week)
    • My Hatch Restore alarm goes off at 9:00pm to prepare my mind and body for sleep

    We’ve enjoyed incorporating our Hatch Rest and Hatch Restore into our nightly routine. It has really helped us make sleep more of a priority in our household. Since you can personalize Hatch devices to fit the normal rhythm of your family that really makes it so easy and seamless to set them up on your own using their handy app.

    When it comes to reading and diversity, these two topics have always been a priority for our family. When searching for books that serve as mirrors and windows for my children, I’m always mindful of exactly which books we choose to read. While we don’t discriminate when it comes to literature, I do make it a point to select diverse books that reflect my children and our family. Why?  Because I know if I don’t expose my kids to these books, they might not see them otherwise.

    I believe all children should be exposed to a wide range of people, experiences, abilities, races and cultures. As a parent, my goal is to present my children with a full spectrum of brown and Black characters in a variety of books. I want their experiences of story and representations of the world to include people of color, people they can imagine being like — people like Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, Misty Copeland, Michelle Obama, and Michael Jordan — or fictional characters with whom they can identify.

    I also use bedtime stories to help my children grow and learn about other important topics such as race, LGBTQ+ rights, disabilities, and mental health.

    If you’d like to make sleep, reading or diversity a priority in your home, here are a few tips:

    • Set a goal – Whenever something is important to me, I make it a goal. Make it a goal to get a certain number of hours of sleep each night (or week), read a certain number of books or incorporate diversity into your life in various ways if it’s important to you.
    • Establish a custom bedtime routine that matches the rhythm of your family’s schedule
    • Limit screen time and electronic devices before bed
    • Read a variety of diverse books that showcase people of all colors, religions, abilities and cultures
    • Use a sound machine like the Hatch Restore which also includes guided meditations to help encourage sleep before bedtime

    Your turn:  I would love to hear your favorite tips on how you make sleep, reading or diversity a priority in your life. Feel free to share in the comments.

    Meet Hatch Rest

    Rest is the magical all-in-one sleep must-have that parents are raving about. It can be controlled remotely from your phone and is completely customizable — making it a parent’s dream come true. Perfect for babies, toddlers, and big kids!

    Check out the features for Hatch Rest:

    ● Sound machine: Parents can choose from a range of sound options, from white noise to soft lullabies. Simply crank up the volume remotely when the dog barks or the neighbors throw a party.
    ● Night light: This feature provides soft and soothing for midnight feeding sessions, or parents can adjust to be bright and reassuring when the dark feels scary. Choose from a rainbow of colors to make it your own.
    ● Time-to-rise: Green means go! This feature enables parents to teach toddlers and preschoolers to stay in bed until it’s time to rise (and enjoy those extra minutes of sleep).

    Rest means that parents are no longer the bedtime bad guy, and bedtime struggles and early wake ups are a thing of the past.

    Designed for the Modern Nursery: Rest features a modern design with a night light, sound machine, and time-to-rise in one smart device.

    Controllable Remotely from Your Phone: Turn Rest on and off and change the volume and brightness remotely from your smartphone so there’s no need to disrupt a sleeping baby. Or, set programs to run each day to help your child get on a healthy sleep schedule.

    Personalized with Custom Colors and Sounds: Create the ideal sleep environment for your child’s unique sleep needs by choosing from a range of custom colors and sound choices. The night light feature, which stays cool to the touch, helps your child feel secure and has the option to stay on all night.

    The device also comes equipped with a toddler lock so only you can make adjustments when it’s enabled.

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    family fun, parenting

    The Library of Things: Amazing Free Perks Your Local Library May Offer

    Today libraries offer library card holders so much more than just something to read. For anyone on a budget, there are amazing perks and services available to take advantage of with your library card.

    For example, my daughter learned how to use the sewing machine for free at our local library. They made adorable fabric place mats and she’s so proud of how hers turned out. Although she already knows how to sew by hand, I also signed her up for the hand sewing class at the library.

    Here are some of the other perks and resources available at different libraries across the country:

    • Check out tools from the tool-lending library
    • Check out toys for children ages 2-6
    • Discounted or free passes to local attractions
    • Foreign language classes
    • Seed library to try out seeds in your garden or windowsill planter
    • Borrow infrared thermometers to improve the efficiency of your home
    • Try out podcasting microphones and equipment
    • Borrow board games
    • Learn a new skill by taking free courses online
    • Borrow knitting needles for your next knitting project
    • Check out a telescope!  (My local library has one you can check out and borrow)

    When I asked my Instagram community for some things their libraries offered, here are a few responses I received:

    I checked out a telescope!

    We’ve checked out power tools for home projects.

    All time favorite library experience was the library that will order any book from Amazon and have it delivered to your house if they don’t already have it at the library and then you just turn it into the library when you’re done! Who knew!!

    My local library has a 3D printer and some amazing kids STEM activities!

    The most unique thing we offer is dinner and a movie at the library. The library is transformed into a restaurant with decorations, candles, music playing, etc. Our teen volunteers work as servers.

    We checked out a state parks pass from our library to go camping for free.

    We LOVE our library! We’ve checked out board games, video games, toy kits (like musical instruments and building blocks), and even a coding robot! Ours now offers local museum and zoo passes to check out too, which is great for families with a tighter budget.

    We do so many great activities at our local library from having a Pinterest live class, learning macrame to making 80’s crafts. I love trivia nights. I have learned how to knit with my arms. We had adult science night and we had fun making rockets and testing them on a summer night.

    Our library has a “nature backpack” with a parking pass to the state parks, animal and plant ID books, and binoculars.

    My daughter went to a week of summer camp at the library. The theme was Spellbound. They did all sorts of magical activities: writing in invisible ink, making wands, and reading stories about magical creatures.

    Ours offer free tutoring to children, by certified teachers, during the week and on Saturdays. Our public libraries also offer movie nights, and theater performances. Without their help I couldn’t have the books, audio books, music and films my students enjoy in the classroom. I’m so grateful for public libraries!

    At my previous library gig we offered circulating bakeware! It was a lovely way for people to test different baked goods or create a treat for a loved one (or themselves!) without having to pay 20 to 30 dollars to procure the baking dish. We made some delicious cake donuts using a donut pan from the library.

    We love our library. Next week we are taking a Toddler Music Class in Spanish at our library.

    As you can see, you don’t have to be an avid reader to enjoy everything the library has to offer.  I encourage you to check with your local library and see if they also have a Library of Things you can check out besides books and audiobooks.

    Your turn: Are you a regular library user? Let me know the most unusual or interesting thing you ever did or checked out from a library.

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    family fun, parenting

    First Day of School Prayers for Children and Parents + 5 Day Prayer Challenge

    Tomorrow my children start their first day of school in a brand new environment.  Although I’m excited for them to start this new journey in a new school, I am also filled with a bit of anxiety and I just feel like praying—and I thought you might pray with me—for our children as they start a new year of school.

    I believe the best gift we give our kids as they head back to school is our prayers.  Whether it’s the first day of kindergarten, middle school, high school, or college, children need our prayers.  If you believe this too, I hope you’ll join me in a 5-day prayer challenge you can do on your own.

    In order to participate, all you need to do is recite the prayers below each morning for the first five days of school.  If you don’t like any of the prayers I’ve chosen, feel free to come up with your own prayers.  And of course, if you’re not the religious type then this challenge isn’t for you and that’s okay.  If your children already started their first day of school, no worries you can still participate.  Just recite the prayers each morning for five consecutive days with your children or on your own.

    I hope you find this prayer challenge to be helpful and will help spread the word if it’s something that resonates with you.

    Day One

    Dear God, Father of heavenly lights, Giver of perfect gifts,

    I give my child(ren) to you today and everyday.  Keep him/her and his/her schoolmates safe and protected, Father God.  I ask that this school year you would use every person, every experience and every lesson to shape him/her into Your image, to grow in his/her fruit of Your spirit.  God, grow in his/her heart.   Teach him/her to sacrifice like You did, giving up what he/she values for the good of others. Bless the teachers and administrators, God.  Keep them safe.  These men and women who have committed to invest in the next generation. Give them discernment and wisdom to see each student’s unique abilities and gifts. Multiply their preparation and may their plans be fruitful. Fill the day with moments of wonder. Remind them of their special place in the lives of their students and give them confidence in their abilities.  And for all the parents/grandparents, Lord, I pray for peace. Give us plenty to do so we don’t have time to fret. Let us be extraordinarily grateful for the privilege of parenting. Fill us with wisdom as we watch our babies grow. Grant us patience and kindness as they stretch their wings. Hold us close to You as we learn to let them go.  In Jesus name I/we pray, Amen.

    Day Two

    Dear Father God,

    Today, I ask You for godly, loyal friends for my child(ren). Friends who love purity, who are pure in heart, and gracious in speech, friends that will sharpen them and love them at all times.  Please give my child(ren) a heart of compassion. Help him/her/them to see situations from every perspective and to treat others like they would want to be treated. Give him/her/them a friendly and kind spirit. May he/she/they welcome friends with a smile.  God I pray my child(ren) would be wise when choosing friends. Give him/her/them discernment to find true friends and help them to build each other up. Give them the ability to say no when necessary and bravery to stand up for what is right. In Jesus name I/we pray, Amen.

    Day Three

    Dear Father God,

    Today I pray for Your care and protection throughout the school year. 
    Cover the schools in our area and across the nation with Your covering and protection.  I/we pray for vigilance among administrators and teachers as well as security personnel. Lord I/we pray that would-be perpetrators will be turned from their intentions and receive the corrective influences that are needed in their lives.  Lord, I/we pray that the school year will be successfully completed without incident. It is so.  In Jesus name I/we pray, Amen.

    Day Four

    Dear God,

    Today I come to you in prayer Lord, asking you to help my child(ren) experience peace this year. I pray he/she/they will not worry about things they cannot control, but that You will guard his/her/their hearts and minds and keep him/her/them trusting in You. I pray he/she/they will not only enjoy the peace of God, but peace with God. I pray he/she/they will develop a spirit of gratitude and thanksgiving as they look to You daily for their needs.  Grant him/her/them Your peace in their hearts and minds in great measure.  In Jesus name I/we pray, Amen.

    Day Five

    Dear Heavenly Father,

    Let this school year be their best year ever with excellent grades, favor with teachers and classmates and good behavior all covered by Your protection. Enable our children to continue growing in wisdom and stature all the days of their lives.  Let Your peace and understanding envelope them at all times.  Let your joy be their strength. Help them to trust You as their refuge and fortress.  Guard their minds from bad counsel and peer pressure. Bless them with Your Spirit of discernment to know and do what is right at all times.  Strengthen their heart and spirit to resist the devil, so that he/she will flee from them.  Teach them to cast all their anxiety upon You, trusting and genuinely knowing that You care for them.  Let Your light shine in their lives and cause all forms of darkness around them to flee. Make them strong and courageous in the presence of danger. Let them be assured You will never leave nor forsake them as they remain strong in You and Your mighty power.  In Jesus name I/we pray, Amen.

    Below I’ve also included a few short prayers for parents or kids to recite daily.  Source: Living Prayers.

    First Day of School Prayer
    (a parent’s prayer poem for their child starting school)

    Dear Lord,

    Fill her (his) heart with peace,
    Hold her (his) hand today,
    Help him/her feel secure and loved,
    Be with him/her we pray.
    May him/her smile and make new friends
    Paint and learn and play,
    Bless the teaching staff who care
    For little ones today.
    Lift my heart to trust that he’ll/she’ll
    Be overseen by you,
    Father God cover us
    On his/her first day at school.

    Amen.

    Prayer for a child starting a new school year
    (a simple prayer for a child of any age to say)

    Father God,

    Thank you for being beside me,
    Thank you for this new school year.
    Please be there to hold my hand,
    Please help me to relax and enjoy the day.
    Bring new friendships into my life,
    Bring new possibilities to learn and grow.
    Help me to pray in my heart to you if I am anxious,
    Help me to remember that you are always with me.

    Amen.

    School Morning Prayer
    (a simple prayer for primary school aged children to say)

    Father God,

    Be with us today
    Fill our hearts with joy
    Fill our minds with learning
    Fill our classrooms with peace
    Fill our lessons with fun
    Fill our friendships with kindness
    Fill our school with love

    Amen.

    If you’re looking for a few religious picture book recommendations for children, you might enjoy this post.

    Your turn: What will you pray for your children (grandchildren) as they go back to school? Feel free to share in the comments.

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    family fun, parenting

    3 Bookish Things I’m Grateful for This Year


    Thanksgiving Day is upon us once again here in the United States – it’s my absolute favorite holiday of the year.  Not only do I love eating yummy food, but I also love spending time being surrounded by family and friends.  And what is it about Thanksgiving that makes food taste so good on that specific day?

    This year I’ve been more intentional about showing gratitude and appreciation for the things and people I have in my life.  I thought since Thanksgiving is tomorrow it’s the perfect day for me to share a few bookish things I’m grateful for this year.

    1. 50 States 50 Books
    If you follow me on Instagram, you may have heard me talk about the awesome community service project I’m working on with my two children.  It’s called 50 States 50 Books.

    Started in July 2018 by my children, the mission of the 50 States 50 Books project has one main mission: help close the literacy gap in America and expose more children to diverse literature.  Our goal is to collect 50 diverse children’s books for each of the 50 U.S. states and donate them to deserving schools, libraries, and other organizations throughout the country.  So far, we’ve collected over 650 diverse children’s books and donated them to 13 different states.

    We’ll soon receive a gracious 800-book donation from a publishing company which will help us complete 16 additional states.  That will take our total to 29 completed states, with 21 remaining left.

    So far the excitement and support for our project has been amazing!  We’ve been featured in our local newspaper, local television morning talk show, The Huffington Post and Moneyish.  The kids’ school even got in on the action and allowed us to have 3 donation boxes throughout the school for our book drive.

    My kids also received a Kid Kindness grant for their project from Kindness Grows Here.  The money received from the grant will go towards our shipping and supplies expenses allowing us to ship books 50 at a time to 6-8 different states.

    If you’d like to support us by sending us new or gently used diverse children’s books for kids ages 0 – 17 you can send them here:

    50 States 50 Books
    P.O. Box 992
    Middletown, CT 06457

    To make monetary donations (to help us cover shipping and shipping supplies) please visit our Go Fund Me page.  My children also have a wish list of books to choose from if you’d like to make a book donation.  You can find the wish list here.

    2. The Bookstagram Community on Instagram
    Would you believe nearly 4 years ago I had no idea what Instagram was or how to use it?  Yeah, I was a little late to joining the social media world, but now I LOVE it – especially Instagram.  Instagram is the one social media platform that I gravitated to the most and it’s where I’ve found a sense of community.

    Prior to joining Instagram, I was clueless there was this whole bookstagram community of book lovers out there like myself.  I’m eternally grateful for the kind people I’ve met and collaborated with over the years.  By sharing, networking and collaborating with others, I’ve been able to grow my audience organically to over 35,000 people on Instagram alone.  I’ve also had the opportunity to work with brands and local businesses, libraries, connect with authors/illustrators and other bloggers.  Oh, and let’s not forget all of the wonderful books I’ve found out about from other book bloggers, parents and educators!  My TBR list is SO long because there are so many amazing books out there to read.

    3. Completing My First Library Program
    In September 2018, I began my first ever library program at one of my local libraries.  It turned out to be one of the best experiences I’ve had all year.  Each week we explored a different region around the world, read picture books and worked on craft projects.  The program was geared towards children up to age 6 and allowed us all to “travel around the world” through books.

    Each week taught me new lessons about things like: giving, sharing, patience, kindness, empathy, and using your imagination.  The kids also reminded me of the importance of incorporating laughter and play in your day.

    Overall, 2018 has been a good year for me and my family thus far.  With just a few more weeks left in the year, I’m excited to see the new bookish things I’ll be adding to my gratitude list in the weeks and months ahead.

    Your turn: What are some bookish (or non-bookish) things you’re grateful for this year?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    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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    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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