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    summer reading

    94 Days of Summer: 5 Things to Do Before Summer Break Begins

    There are 94 days of summer break this year.  That breaks down to: 8,121,600 seconds, 135,360 minutes, 2,256 hours.  How do you and your family plan to spend that time?

    It’s amazing how quickly the school year flies by, isn’t it?  Although summer doesn’t officially begin until June 21st, many schools are now in the last month of the school year including my daughter’s toddler program at her preschool.

    It’s hard to believe we’re almost at the halfway point for the year 2015.  That means summer break is right around the corner.  We signed up Sparkles for five weeks of summer camp including one week of vacation Bible school.  Mr. Tickles is still too young so he’ll still be at daycare during the week.

    In my previous life, (before kids) I had grandiose plans of how hubby and I would soak up the glorious sun, kick back and drink ice-cold lemonade, or finally get to visit friends, family and places that we couldn’t seem to fit into our winter schedules.  Now that we have a family I’ve had to scale back our plans for summer and plan more things to do as a family.

    I won’t bore you with our family summer bucket list, instead I’ll list five book related tasks I recommed you tackle now so you can relax later and make the most of your summer fun.

    1. Find a summer reading program or challenge for your kid(s) to participate in.  Your local library is a good place to start.  Every public library has a different summer reading program, but almost all of them have rewards and prizes for kids as well as fun events.  Alternatively, you can search online for challenges like the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge.  Want to know about more challenges like this?  Stay tuned for a post next week where I’ll be giving you the scoop on some other reading programs for kids.

    2. Make a summer bucket reading list and a general summer bucket list of potential things to do.  If you have older children have a family meeting and ask everyone to come up with 3-5 things that they absolutely want to do this summer (e.g., go on a hike, take a long bike ride, have a picnic, camp, visit a local museum or other attraction). Schedule these activities on the calendar now (and make reservations or buy tickets, if needed) to make sure they happen.  Also, pick out some books that relate to the things on your list so the kids will be familiar with your adventure beforehand.

    3. Organize a summer reading and activity essentials tote for your car so you’re prepared for any adventure or get stuck waiting somewhere. Here’s a sample list of what to include:

    • Books, books, and more books!
    • Audiobooks
    • Magazines (for children and adults)
    • Sidewalk chalk
    • Bubbles! (who doesn’t love bubbles?)
    • Coloring books
    • Blank sheets of paper
    • Crayons, Markers, Bingo Markers, Pencils
    • Beach toys like pails, shovels, rakes, sand shapers, and trucks
    Of course you’ll want to include other items such as: bottled water, sunscreen, first-aid kit, etc.

    4.  Make a generic weekly plan. I started doing this last summer and found it to be so helpful.  It’s inevitable that other things will come up, but I like to have a loose weekly plan that I use when I don’t have the time, energy, or money to plan an exciting summer adventure.

    For example:
    Monday – Library Day to pick up books, magazines, and DVDs for the week.
    Tuesday – Playground Day
    Wednesday – Nature/Outdoor Activities
    Thursday – Cooking or Crafts
    Friday – Water Activities: Swimming, Splash Pad, Water Table
    Saturday – Playdates with friends/family
    Sunday – Family Day and Church

    5. Read books about safety and talk about it too.  Accidents can happen anytime, but since we tend to spend more time outdoors during the summer months the kids are more likely to get hurt.  If you have smaller children like me, read books about safety.  For older kids, have regular, age-appropriate conversations with your kids so that topics like playgrounds, swimming pools, private parts, being aware of their surroundings, bullying, and drugs are normal conversations rather than scary topics.

    Your turn:  Are you a (neurotic) planner like me or do you like to just wing it?  What do you and your kids have planned for this summer?  Please feel free to share in the comments.

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    our latest obsession, read aloud

    Our Latest Obsession: Wearable Books

    Every now and then I’ll have one of those moments when I think, “Why didn’t I think of that?”  That’s exactly what I said when I came across a series of wearable books written by by Donald Lemke and Bob Lentz.

    What a simple idea:  a book of beards.  And one of masks.  And one of hats. And one of teeth.  How fun!  I think they’re definitely worth checking out if you haven’t done so already.  Especially if you have younger children ages 5 and younger.  Although older children may enjoy these books too.


    Note: This is not my daughter in the picture.

    These fun, interactive board books are great for children and adults alike.  They allow for make-believe games and hilarous snapshot memories!  So far we’ve only read the Book-O-Beards book in this series.  Next, we’re going to check out the Book-O-Hats.  I think the kids might be a bit too young for the Book-O-Masks and the Book-O-Teeth.  I’m not sure if they’d be a bit scared so I’m just going to steer clear of those two until they’re a bit older.  We’ve definitely had our fair share of laughs with the Book-O-Beards book though.

    Book-O-Beards allows children (and adults) to become a lumberjack, a pirate, a cowboy, a sailor, a police officer, or Santa.  It also helps kids role-play different  personas as they try on some full-spread, fully bushy beards.  Plus, there are catchy rhymes, colorful illustrations, and interactive dialogue.  You can’t go wrong with these cute read-alouds to spice up your story time.

    Your turn:  Have you ever read any of the wearable books in this series?  What are some other fun, interactive books you’ve read with your kids?

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    children's literacy

    Fostering a Love of Math in Young Kids

    While I’m very comfortable with reading to my children and exposing them to rich vocabulary and literature, I also want promote early math skills.  Since I know early math knowledge is equally as important as reading, I’ve been very cognizant of terminology I’m using and activities I am doing with both of my kids, ages 2 1/2 and 17 months.  In additon, I started looking for some fun math (and science) books for kids.

    Three awesome books we’ve been reading together are: The Grapes of Math, Math Curse, and Science Verse (my book includes a FREE bonus CD which is fun to listen to in the car).  I highly recommend checking these out if you haven’t already.  I think they are a fun way to introduce kids to math and science through books.  An added bonus is they’re funny too (Math Curse and Science Verse) and The Grapes of Math will help stimulate your brain too.  Don’t worry, the answers are in the back of the book, but try them on your own first.

     

    From the day they are born, children are mathematicians.  Born with billions of brain cells they are human computing wizards!  Children are constructing knowledge constantly as they interact mentally, physically, and socially with their environment and with others around them.My kids may not be able to add or subtract yet, but I know the relationships they are making and their interaction with a stimulating environment is promoting them to construct a foundation and framework for what will eventually be mathematical concepts.

    Reading to children will always be important for promoting early literacy.  Along with books and vocabulary, however, ensure that you are also exposing those budding brains to math terminology and concepts. The benefits will be lifelong and hopefully your children will thank you for it – someday.Your turn:  Do you promote early math skills with your children?  If so, how?  What other math and science related books for kids would you recommend?  Feel free to let me know in the comments.

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    currently reading, read aloud

    What the Kids are Reading (in May 2015)

    This month I went a little crazy with the amount of books I placed on hold and checked out from the library.  There are so many great books out there and I just want to read them all!  I still have several books that I’m waiting for at the library so I may do another post about the additional books we’ll be reading this month in the coming weeks.Here are some of the books I’m reading aloud to the kids this month:
    Did you know President Barack Obama is also an author?  In this tender, beautiful letter to his daughters, President Barack Obama has written a moving tribute to thirteen groundbreaking Americans and the ideals that have shaped our nation. From the artistry of Georgia O’Keeffe, to the courage of Jackie Robinson, to the patriotism of George Washington, President Obama sees the traits of these heroes within his own children, and within all of America’s children.

    What a fantastic book!  Each day features a different influential figure in African-American history, from Crispus Attucks, the first man shot in the Boston Massacre, sparking the Revolutionary War, to Madame C. J. Walker, who after years of adversity became the wealthiest black woman in the country, as well as one of the wealthiest black Americans, to Barack Obama, the country’s first African-American president.

    Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall

    Red: A Crayon’s Story, by Michael Hall, is about being true to your inner self and following your own path despite obstacles that may come your way.
    Please, Mr. Panda by Steve Anthony
    What is the proper way to ask Mr. Panda for doughnuts?  Patiently and politely, Mr. Panda asks the animals he comes across if they would like a doughnut. A penguin, a skunk, and a whale all say yes, but they do not remember to say “please” and “thank you.” Is anyone worthy of Mr. Panda’s doughnuts?Get Up and Go! by Nancy Carlson
    This cute book will get you and your little ones up and moving!
    Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina

    I never read this book as a child so I was excited to finally read it to my kids.  A tale of a peddler, some monkeys and their monkey business.

    Red by Jan De Kinder

    This heartfelt book inspires readers to find the courage to take a stance against bullying and show compassion towards others.

    The Daddy Mountain by Jules Feiffer

    This is a cute book that my husband has been reading to the kids at night.  A nice way to get dads involved in storytime.  The kids love this one!

    Dog by Matthew Van Fleet

    We’re huge dog lovers so naturally I was drawn to this adorable book.  The kids love pulling the tabs and flaps to see what surprises they will find.

    -Ed as in Bed by Amanda Rondeau

    An easy reader book that introduces, in brief text and illustrations, the use of the letter combination “ed” in such words as “bed,” “shed,” “red,” and “sled.”

    Heads by Matthew Van Fleet

    This book is similar to Dog and written by the same author.  Heads – wooly, bump and hairy – never has such a collection of animal heads been so much fun!

    If You Were Born a Kitten by Marion Dane Bauer

    I featured this book in my post about books to read for Mother’s Day.  This book is ABSOLUTELY beautiful.  The illustrations are immaculate and the message is wonderful.  The book talks about many different animal babies and what it’s like for them to come into this world, ending with a human baby and mother of course.

    I Love You as Much by Laura Krauss Melmed

    Another book featured in my post about books to read for Mother’s Day.  Different animal mommies say how much they love their little ones (the camel: as much as the desert is dry).  These statements are paired with wonderful, tender illustrations– I cannot believe I have not seen this book before now!

    Saturday is Dadurday by Robin Pulver

    A really cute book about a girl and her dad.  For Mimi, the best day of the week is always Saturday, because she gets to spend it with just her Dad.
    Please, Puppy, Please by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee

    Isn’t the cover of this book so adorable?  In page after page of tail-wagging fun, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Spike Lee and his wife, Beacon Award-winning producer Tonya Lewis Lee, take a close-up look at what happens when a couple of high-energy toddlers meet their match in an adventurous pup who has no plans of letting up.

    Wynken, Blynken & Nod by Eugene Field

    A great bedtime poem to read to kids at night.  In this poem, three fishermen in a wooden shoe catch stars in their nets of silver and gold.

    What Mommies Do Best by Laura Numeroff

    Another book featured in my post about books to read for Mother’s Day.  This book is SO great.  (and BONUS you get two books in one with this puppy, so you can celebrate Daddies too.)

    Supertruck by Stephen Savage

    A simple story about a super hero truck.  My son likes this, but my daughter isn’t really into it.

    -Um as in Drum by Nancy Tuminelly

    Another easy reader book that ntroduces, in brief text and illustrations, the use of the letter combination “um” in such words as “drum,” “chum,” “hum,” and “scum.”

    Tails by Matthew Van Fleet

    Pull tabs, lift-able flaps, tufts of fur, and even a scratch-and-sniff skunk tail provide plenty of tactile surprises. Along the way, kids will learn about counting, opposites, and how animals use their tails.

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    adult books, currently reading

    What I’m Reading (in May 2015)

    Below are the two books I plan to read this month.  What books do you have in your queue for the month of May?  Feel free to let me know in the comments.

    Design Mom: How to Live With Kids A Room-By-Room Guide by Gabrielle Stanley Blair

    Status: Finished

     

    In this book Gabrielle Stanley Blair offers a room-by-room guide to keeping things sane, organized, creative, and stylish. She provides advice on getting the most out of even the smallest spaces; simple fixes that make it easy for little ones to help out around the house; ingenious storage solutions for the never-ending stream of kid stuff; rainy-day DIY projects; and much, much more.
    Time Management Magic: How To Get More Done Every Day And Move From Surviving To Thriving by Lee Cockerell

    Status: Finished

    Executive Time Management Secrets from a Life at Disney… During Lee Cockerell’s career at Disney as the Senior Operating Executive of Walt Disney World Resort, he led a team of 40,000 Cast Members (employees) and was responsible for the operations of 20 resort hotels, 4 theme parks, 2 water parks and the ESPN Sports Complex. As you can imagine, Lee had to become a time management expert, first as a means of survival and then as a way to help others make the best use of their time. The time management secrets he developed have become one of his most requested corporate training lectures and are now available to you in this tell–all book.
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    children's literacy, read aloud

    6 Children’s Magazines for Babies to Nine Year-Olds

    Last December I began checking out children’s magazines to read aloud to the kids.  I saw a magazine on display at the library one day and decided to skim through it.  Needless to say, I liked what I saw so I immediately started browsing through some of the other magazines and ended up checking out ten by the time I was done.

    I want my children to have a varied reading diet that exposes them to different types of reading material and helps them make connections with the real world. That’s important to me and I know it will benefit them in the future.

    As I’ve been reading these children’s magazines over the past five months, I’ve come to realize a few surprising things:

    • A wonderful feature about children’s magazines is their format. They don’t tend to have long items of text. Instead you find short stories, short articles, text boxes with bullet points, illustrations with captions – lots of snippets and textual treats for little ones. For a child who is beginning to read independently, but not sold on the whole reading thing, a chapter book might be off-putting. The format of magazines may be much more attractive.  Food for thought for those of you with older kids.
    • In magazines, you can find articles that further children’s knowledge and interest in all sorts of topics, from pets to gardening. You’ll find different text types too – narratives, recounts and recipes all of it aimed at their interests.
    • Magazines are an excellent vehicle for teaching kids elements of visual literacy. They’re a great source of maps, tables, illustrations, graphs, pie charts, labels, captions, cartoons, and diagrams.
    • I introduced the kids to some new vocabulary words that I probably wouldn’t have come across in some of the books we read.
    • My daughter has become familiar with the different parts of a magazine, like the cover story, the table of contents, the date, and page numbers.

    Pretty cool, huh?

    Here are some magazines I recommend:

    Babybug Magazine
    Ages 6 mos.–3 yrs.
    This board-book style magazine offers babies simple stories and rhymes with lots of photos. It features regular characters, like Kim and Carrots, and includes a page of read-aloud tips and child development info on a page just for caregivers.  Made with nontoxic ink, rounded corners, and no staples.  This magazine is a favorite for both of my kids!

    Highlights High Five Magazine
    Ages 2–6
    Stories, poems, “The Adventures of Spot” comic strip, and activities like looking for hidden objects in pictures appear in each issue. Also included are a read-aloud story in English and Spanish and a removable activity section.  (I also learned there is a sister magazine called Highlights Hello aimed at kids ages birth – 2.)

    Ladybug Magazine
    Ages 3-6
    This magazine offers enchanting stories and poems to read aloud that are just the right length for a cozy cuddle and is sure to spark young imaginations and develop a love of reading that will last a lifetime.  Another favorite!

    National Geographic Little Kids
    Ages 3-6
    Sized for small hands, this magazine is packed with color photographs, animal stories, features about different cultures, simple science activities, puzzles and games. A recent issue asks why mother kangaroos have pouches and has an activity to help children explore the sense of taste.  This is another favorite!

    Ranger Rick Jr.
    Ages 3-7
    Through color photos, stories, illustrations, and games, children learn about nature, animals, and the world around them. Each issue features lots of animal photos, easy-to-follow text, a pull-out poster, games, jokes, and drawing activities.

    Ask Magazine
    Ages 6-9
    Ask is a magazine about science, history, inventors, artists, and more, all written just for 6- to 9-year-olds – the most curious people on the planet!

    There are so many other children’s magazines you could choose from.  I’m excited to know there is an assortment of magazines that focus on various topics including social studies, cooking, sports, and history that are both educational and entertaining.

    Your turn:  Do you give your kids access to a wide range of reading material which includes magazines?  What children’s magazines would you recommend?

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    holiday books, read aloud

    10 Books to Read for Mother’s Day Plus a Bonus Book

    Reading to my children is the main reason I started this blog.  I love reading and want to help other moms, dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles and teachers (and anyone who interacts with children for that matter) find new books. Good books!  Books you can’t put down because your kids ask for them again and again books!

    So, since Mother’s Day is just around the corner, I’m providing you with 10 children’s books starring moms plus a bonus book.  I hope you enjoy them.

    The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman is a favorite around here starring mom, Mrs. Peters.  I love her story and the resolution– and I adore Marla Frazee’s illustrations!  Oh, and seriously, that is a lot of quality rhyming!

    Just What Mama Needs by Sharlee Mullins Glenn is the cutest little story.  Introducing young Abby who pretends to be all kinds of different things & the Mama is just the best!  She always embraces Abby’s imagination- it’s adorable, trust me.

    Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman: When a baby bird hatches all alone and falls from his nest, he goes to search for his mother. He asks everyone he meets, from a dog to a plane: “Are you my mother?” I love the moment of recognition when he finally meets his mother.

    Love You Forever by Robert Munsch: This is a story about the unstoppable nature of a mother’s love. This mother sings to her sleeping baby: “I’ll love you forever / I’ll love you for always / As long as I’m living / My baby you’ll be” and continues singing it through all the stages of her child’s life until the time when she’s too old and frail to hold him — and he holds her.

     I Love You As Much… by Laura Krauss Melmed is the loveliest of books!  Different animal mommies say how much they love their little ones (the camel: as much as the desert is dry).  These statements are paired with wonderful, tender illustrations– I cannot believe I have not seen this book before now!  Thanks to my local library for having it on display.

    What Moms Can’t Do by Douglas Wood is a funny book about things a child thinks his mom can’t do.  This little guy has a pretty entertaining take on his mom’s ability to get stuff done.  My favorite, “Sometimes moms can’t hear themselves think (I can relate).” Cute story!

    If You Were Born a Kitten by Marion Dane Bauer: This book is ABSOLUTELY beautiful.  The illustrations are immaculate and the message is wonderful.  The book talks about many different animal babies and what it’s like for them to come into this world, ending with a human baby and mother of course.

    Mem Fox’s Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes is a fantastic poetic story told by a loving mother about little babies from all over the world, all so different- yet they all have ten little fingers & ten little toes.

    Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney: I love Llama Llama and his wonderful mama!   Here we see them in a totally typical mom/child moment– which thankfully is resolved happily and not by them leaving the store as quickly as possible with Llama Llama screaming in her arms (not that that’s ever happened to me or anything.)

    Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino: When you want a funny book with great rhymes that you won’t mind reading over and over this hits the spot.  My kids loved having this one read to them.  Lloyd the llama is looking for his mama and asks all kinds of bird and animal babies if their mamas are llamas, which gets excited young readers (and their mamas) guessing about what creature exactly each baby is. There’s a satisfying ending and enchanting illustrations.

    BONUS: What Mommies Do Best by Laura Numeroff: This book is SO great.  (and BONUS you get two books in one with this puppy, so you can celebrate Daddies too.)

    Hopefully this list helps get you in a Mother’s Day mood.  Grab one of these and a kiddo and get reading!

    Your turn:  What are some of your favorite children’s books starring moms?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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