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    adult books, currently reading

    What I’m Reading (in April 2015)

    Below are the two books I’m reading for the month of April.  I started reading another book, but didn’t like it so I picked up Gretchen Rubin’s latest book instead.  I’d love to hear what book(s) you’re reading this month.  Let me know in the comments if you care to share.

    ~Happy Reading!



    Status: Finished

    I read Gretchen’s other book, The Happiness Project years ago and loved it!  I’m hoping this book will be just as good if not better.  It’s supposed to answer the question, “How do we change our habits?”French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon


    Status: Finished
    As the cover of the book states, Karen Le Billon and her husband moved their family from North America to France where they “cured” picky eating, quit giving their kids snacks, and started living by 10 simple rules that eventually taught her kids to be happy eaters who eat healthy food.
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    children's literacy, sight words

    Fun With Sight Words: Cup Stacking

    Since my daughter Sparkles will be starting preschool in the fall, (she’s currently in a toddler preschool program for two-year olds) we’ve been playing with sight words quite a bit around here.  Therefore, I thought I’d share some of our sight word activities through a series of different posts called “Fun With Sight Words”.  This is the first post in the series.

    I believe in play-based learning for kids instead of drilling them with worksheets and flash cards.  So I try to add as much movement, interaction, and fun to our sight word practice as possible.  We practice our sight word lists throughout the week in various ways. The more exposure to the words that the kids get, the easier it seems to “stick” with them.  Along with books and lots of time spent reading comes learning phonics and sight words.

    Before I get into the activity, let’s talk about the importance of why children should learn sight words.

    When children enter school they are asked to learn these words by sight because they cannot be sounded out due to exceptions to phonetic rules.  They need to simply be learned by sight. Hence the term “sight words.”  Many sight words are “service” words. There is no “picture” to go with them. Words like “and” and “to”  are examples of these kinds of words. Learning these words helps children become fluent readers and also aids in comprehension.

    In order for sight words to be effective, create opportunities for your children to be exposed to high-frequency words through various activities including poems, songs, and word games. With the proper exposure and practice with sight words, children eventually recognize them instantly when reading independently or if they are being read to.

    Sight Word Activity: Cup Stacking

    My kids love stacking cups and so do I.  Something about it just makes me feel like a kid again.  Oh, and let’s not forget the best part – knocking them down afterwards!

    To do this activity all I did was cut out various sight words and glued them onto paper cups.  Easy peasy.  There are several different games that can be played stacking cups, but since my kids are still small we only use these cups in one of two ways.

    Activity #1
    We stack all of the cups and I read each sight word as we go along.  Once the “tower” is built I then point to each sight word and say it aloud again.  Sometimes the kids will say the words with me and sometimes they just listen.  Then we knock them all down!

    Activity #2
    I form short phrases or sentences and read the words aloud to the kids.  Again, I point to each word as I say it.

    As the kids get older we’ll incorporate more fun games with cup stacking.

    Do you have fun ways to learn sight words and/or spelling words?  Please comment below and share your ideas.

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    national poetry month, poetry challenge

    Poetry Reading and Craft Challenge for Kids: Week 2

    Happy Easter!

    This week we’ll be memorizing a poem about raindrops and flowers growing.  Please note the original author of the poem I selected is unknown in case you’re wondering.

    Here is the poem:

     

    You can either choose one of the two crafts we did or create your own.  The raindrops and umbrella craft should be pretty straightforward.  To do this you’ll need:

    • Cupcake liners (we used 2)
    • Scissors (or a sharp object to poke a hole through the top of the cupcake liner)
    • Pipecleaners (we used 1 and cut it in half)
    • Sharpie marker
    • 1 piece of construction paper (we used blue, but you could also use white or another color)
    • blue paint and paintbrushes (or a blue marker/crayon for the raindrops)
    • gluestick or glue gun
    If you and your kids want to tackle the paper plate flower craft you’ll need:
    • 1 white paper plate
    • 1 piece of green construction paper (for the flower stem and leaves)
    • 1 piece of white paper (for the flower petals)
    • scissors
    • paint and paintbrushes (we used purple, pink and yellow)
    • glue gun
    Here is a pictoral tutorial for both craft projects:
    Again, I’m not going to include step-by-step written instructions as I think these should be easy to figure out on your own.  As always, please ask questions if you need to.  I’m willing to help!I hope you and your little ones enjoy this week’s poem and craft project(s)!

     

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    currently reading, read aloud

    What the Kids are Reading (in April 2015)

    I seriously cannot believe we’re already in the month of April!  I swear time goes by so much faster when you have kids…or maybe it’s just me.

    Below you’ll find all of the books I’ll be reading to the kids for the month of April.  Since it’s Easter, National Poetry Month, and Earth Month I think I’ve selected a nice variety of books.

    This book is super cute!  It’s a wordless picture book, but the overall message of teamwork and working together is great!  Oh, and the pictures are just so adorable!  This would make a really cute Easter gift.  Sparkles cannot get enough of this book and neither can I.
    Through the story of a little boy named Felix, this charming book explains to children how being kind not only helps others, it helps them, too. As he goes about his day, Felix interacts with different people — his sister Anna, his grandfather, other family and friends. Some people are happy, but others are grumpy or sad. Using the metaphor of a bucket and dipper, Felix’ grandfather explains why the happy people make Felix feel good, while the others leave him feeling bad — and how Felix himself is affecting others, whether he means to or not.

     

    This book brings counting to life with a cute story about friendship!

     

    When Felix wakes up one morning, he finds an invisible bucket floating overhead. A rotten morning threatens his mood–and his bucket–drop by drop. Can Felix discover how to refill his bucket before it’s completely empty?

     

    Emma’s family is celebrating Easter! Emma and her little brother hunt for Easter eggs and candy. They go to church. Then relatives come over for a big meal.

     

    Giraffes Can’t Dance is a touching tale of Gerald the giraffe, who wants nothing more than to dance. With crooked knees and thin legs, it’s harder for a giraffe than you would think. Gerald is finally able to dance to his own tune when he gets some encouraging words from an unlikely friend.  Another favorite for the kiddos!

     

    Haiku poems just for boys…yes please!  My library had this on display so I snatched it up for my little man.  It contains a nice assortment of poems.

     

    Yes, this book has a hole right in the center of it…brilliant!  The kids get a kick out of putting their hands or any other objects lying around through the middle…so cute!  The Book with a Hole blasts a hole through the middle of the book itself. Sometimes the hole is an eye the reader can look through; sometimes it is a mouth and the reader’s fingers make the teeth! The next minute it is a plate (with food drawn by the reader on a sheet of paper behind the book), an obstacle to jump across, or a saucepan.

     

    This book has been on my “to-read-to-the-kids list” for a while and I finally got it.  Iggy has one passion: building. His parents are proud of his fabulous creations, though they’re sometimes surprised by his materials—who could forget the tower he built of dirty diapers?

     

    A classic favorite finds six lovable animals using humorous rhymes to help Lloyd the llama discover what kind of animal his mother is.

     

    I love this book more than the kids do.  Barbara Cooney’s story of Alice Rumphius, who longed to travel the world, live in a house by the sea, and do something to make the world more beautiful.

     

    This is definitely a book to add to your home library if you like prayers and teach your children to pray.  I bought this for the kids for Easter…so beautiful!  This poem is nice to recite at bedtime.

     

    This is another book I’ve been wanting to read to the kids for a while.  Such an inspiring book for girls and boys alike!

     

    I adore this book!  What a beautiful story about a tiny snail and a giant whale.  The overall message is fantastic…another winner from Julia Donaldson!

     

    The poems in this book are funny!  We love the one entitled ‘Maybe I’ll Sleep in the Bathtub Tonight’.
    Join Little Mole as he travels over land, air, and sea in search of an answer to his question: “How big is the world?”  Lovely story and beautifully illustrated.

     

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    national poetry month, poetry challenge

    Poetry Reading and Craft Challenge Week 1

    Since Spring has finally sprung (well, sort of if you live in the Northeast like me) and Easter is right around the corner, I thought we’d kick off the first week of this challenge with an Easter themed poem and activity.

    This poem — like all the ones I’ve chosen is short and should be pretty easy to memorize in one week.  The craft activity idea was inspired by my beloved Pinterest website.  I added my own personal touches just to spice it up a bit.

    Remember, the goal of this challenge is two-fold: to memorize the poems with your kids and work on the craft activity together at some point during the week.  That’s it!  Also, you don’t have to be crafty to work on the projects.  The main thing is for you and the kids to have fun and to have the experience together.  We’re not going for perfection here.

    Here is the first poem we’ll be memorizing:

     

    Click here if you’d like to print this poem.
    Here is the craft project: Peek-a-boo bunny!

    Click here to open this tutorial in a separate window.

    Craft Project Notes

    For this project you’ll need:

    • 2 white paper plates
    • green felt or construction paper
    • pink felt or construction paper (optional – for the inside of the bunny ears and nose)
    • pink fabric (optional – for the inside of the bunny ears nose – this is what I used)
    • green ribbon (optional – if you want to add a bow)
    • 1 black Sharpie marker
    • glue
    • scissors
    • stapler
    I think the pictoral tutorial is easy to follow so I won’t include step-by-step instructions.Don’t forget to recite the poem daily with your child(ren) and most importantly don’t forget to pull down the hands covering the bunny’s face when you say ‘peek-a-boo’ at the end of the poem.  So fun!

    I’d love to see your bunny craft projects or hear from you.  Feel free to drop me a line at hereweeread {at} gmail {dot} com or leave a comment in the comments section below.

    ~Until next time!

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    children's literacy, national poetry month, poetry challenge

    Poetry Reading and Craft Challenge for Kids!

    Calling all poetry lovers!

    In case you didn’t already know April is National Poetry Month.  I admit that I am not a big reader of poetry nowadays unless it’s in a children’s book. I enjoyed all of the Shel Silverstein classics as a child, but I kind of lost my interest in reading poetry sometime during high school.  You know, when it wasn’t required reading in school anymore…LOL!  I do love poetry though, especially poems that rhyme.

    That’s why I’m so glad to see there are so many wonderful poetry books out there for my children.  I think it is important to introduce poetry to kids from the very beginning of their lives.  Research shows that poetry promotes literacy, builds community, and fosters emotional resilience.  Awesome, right?

    In addition, when read aloud, poetry is rhythm and music and sounds and beats. Young children, babies and preschoolers included, may not understand all the words or meaning, but they’ll surely feel the rhythms, get curious about what the sounds mean and perhaps want to create their own.  I remember I used to love making up my own poems as a kid…oh, the memories!

    I also find it interesting that contrary to popular belief amongst kids, boys get really into poetry when brought in through rhythm and rhyme. It’s the most kinesthetic of all literature, it’s physical and full-bodied which activates your heart and soul.  Boys, included.  I really believe this to be true as I’ve witnessed Mr. Tickles seems to pay close attention whenever I’m reading them a book with catchy rhymes.

    So since National Poetry Month is coming up, I thought it would be fun to start a poetry reading challenge for kids.  See below for the deets…

    WHAT: A poetry reading and craft challenge for kids!  It doesn’t matter if your child is a newborn, toddler, preschooler, adolescent, pre-teen or teenager.  All kids (and adults) are welcome to participate.

    HOW:  This challenge will be simple.  All you need to do is memorize one (short) poem per week with your kids during the month of April.  In addition, you can do one of the crafts I suggest or choose your own.  The crafts will be related to the overall theme of the poem.  Don’t worry, you don’t need to be crafty either.

    WHEN: Starting this Sunday, March 29th, I’ll post the first poem of the week to be memorized as well as the craft(s) to go along with it.  You’ll have the whole week to memorize the poem with your kids and work on the craft(s) at your leisure.  The remaining poems/crafts will be introduced each Sunday on April 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th.

    I hope you’ll join me in this challenge with your little ones.  National Poetry Month is a great time to bring some poetry into your heart and home.

    Happy Reading!

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    reading tips

    Finding Time to Read

    Over the weekend someone asked me, “How do you find time to read when you have two small kids?”  My answer was simple: I make reading a priority.  I’m a true believer that people make or find time to do things that matter or are important to them.  Therefore, I make daily reading one of my priorities.

    I love reading. I love pushing myself to read, and I love making it a priority. I find it motivating to set big reading goals. But my highest priority ISN’T the total number of books I finish, but rather about being transformed by what I read. It’s about growing as a person. It’s about developing as a believer and of course being entertained in the process.

    I know you’re thinking that sounds great, but how can I manage to read with everything else I need to do?  Well, if you want to get into the habit of reading more here are a few tips:

    1. MAKE IT A PRIORITY.

    One of my weird pet peeves is when people complain about not ‘having’ enough time to do things.  Their excuse always starts off with, “I don’t have time to do this or I don’t have time to do that.”  Everyone has the same number of hours in a day, and if you truly WANT to read more you may have to CHOOSE reading over other things you also enjoy.  For example: watching television, surfing the Internet, etc.

    2. MAKE READING PART OF YOUR DAILY ROUTINE.

    I tend to read first thing in the morning when I wake up, during lunch time and right before bed.  By making reading a habit you’ll be surprised how many books you can get through without consciously working at it.

    I find if reading isn’t part of my regular routine, it’s easy to let days and weeks or even months go by without reading something. Once something is part of my daily routine I don’t have to think about whether or not I’ve done it today; of course I have, right when I always do.

    3. READ IN SNIPPETS

    What does this mean? It means while the water is heating for a cup of tea, I can read a page. It means when the kids are playing quietly for a few minutes, I can read another page. Anytime I have a moment, I can read a paragraph or maybe more. The key is to always have something to read with me.  Yes, I usually have a book stashed away in my purse or in the car.

    4. READ WHAT YOU LIKE.

    This one should go without saying, but many people tend to gravitate toward books that come highly recommended by others.  I’ve fallen into this trap before too.  Just because it’s a best seller, recommended by your best friend, co-worker, or recommended by a favorite resource, doesn’t mean that the book will be right for you. That’s ok – read what you like.

    5. “READ” AUDIO BOOKS

    When I had a daily commute into the office I made great use of that driving time by listening to audio books.  Now since I work from home I use audio books less often than I used to.  However, I still do use them on occasion when driving around town in the car by myself or with the kids.

    My library had a great selection, but if yours doesn’t, I’ve heard great things about the Audible program as a way to get audio books. My library offers books as CDs you can borrow, or as MP3 downloads you can get from home. Super simple, once you get it set up initially.

    No commute? I’ve listened to audio books while cleaning the house, exercising, or working on jigsaw puzzles.

    And keep in mind, narrators can make or break an audio book, so if you try one and don’t like it, don’t write off the entire realm of audio books. Try a different book (maybe even a different sort of book), and a different narrator to see if you enjoy it that way.

    6. READ TO YOUR KIDS

    Not only does this help develop a passion for reading in your children, it fosters a close relationship and lets you read more. Win, win, and win!

    You may have to be selective in the choice of reading material when you’re reading it aloud to your children, but there are plenty of great books for all ages. I fully agree with C.S. Lewis’ thoughts that a book that isn’t worth reading when you’re an adult isn’t worth reading when you’re a child.

    So there you have it!  See how easy it is to find more time to read if you truly want to do it?
    These tips are are pretty basic, but when put together they all add up. Ten minutes here, forty minutes there, and pretty soon, you’ve got a book read!  I hope this inspires you to make reading a priority in your life if you’ve decided that it is important to you.

    What are your thoughts?  How do you find time to read? Is there anything you’re spending time doing that you could cut back to allow more reading time?

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