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our latest obsession

    audio books, our latest obsession, storytelling

    Our Latest Obsession: Playaway Bookpacks!

    If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen an image I posted a few days ago about Playaway audio bookpacks.  Playaway is a better listening experience combining an easy-to-use player with an entire audiobook(s).  Each bookpack comes with books (or one single book), a player, and a AAA battery.  You just plug in a pair of headphones!

    The audio book(s) are already pre-loaded on the player so there’s nothing to download…just put in the battery, plug in your headphones and press play.  Easy, peasy!  My local library carries a variety of Playaway bookpacks for both children and adults.  So far we’ve enjoyed listening to classic books like Make Way for Ducklings, The Cricket in Times Square, and more modern books like Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.

    playaway

    Prior to finding out about Playaway the kids and I hadn’t really explored audiobooks much .  I actually thought about purchasing a subscription through an audio book service before in the past, but now there’s no need to spend that extra money when I can just go to the library and check out a Playaway bookpack.

    The player has 5 different narration speeds so you can find the reading pace that best suits your needs.  You can also adjust the volume, reverse by chapter, fast forward to the next chapter, and rewind/fast forward within the chapter.

    Playaway bookpacks are ideal for any upcoming travel by car, plane, bus, or train.  Everyone can listen to their own audiobook on the go!  They are also ideal for long commutes to work.

    Check out your local library to see if they carry these wonderful audiobook packs.  We’re obsessed with these gems!  If they’re not available at your library – request them!

    For more information about Playaway bookpacks check out their website here.

    Disclaimer:  This is not a sponsored post.  All opinions expressed are my own.

    Your turn:  Have you ever heard of Playaway?  What’s your favorite way to listen to audiobooks?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    children's books, our latest obsession, read aloud

    Our Latest Obsession: Dinosaur Books!

    The kids and I are counting down the days until the movie The Good Dinosaur opens on November 25th.  Have you seen the movie trailer yet?  We’re currently obsessed with all things dinosaur, especially books!  Check out some of the kids’ favorite dinosaur books below that we’ve been reading.

    Brontorina by James Howe
    brontorina
    Book Synopsis:  This book is a sweet tale about fulfilling your heart’s desire no matter what shape or size you may be.  Brontorina is a rather large orange dinosaur who desperately longs to dance. Although she meets many obstacles along her path, she knows in her heart she is to be a ballerina.  Ultimately, her size is only outmatched by her sweet determination and the affection of some kind-hearted people.  A lovely book for any and all who feel unsuited for something they long to be.

    Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems
    goldilocksanddinosaurs
    Book Synopsis:  Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs is a new take on the fairy-tale classic Goldilocks and the Three Bears, so funny and so original—it could only come from the brilliant mind of Mo Willems.

    Once upon a time, there were three hungry Dinosaurs: Papa Dinosaur, Mama Dinosaur . . . and a Dinosaur who happened to be visiting from Norway.

    One day—for no particular reason—they decided to tidy up their house, make the beds, and prepare pudding of varying temperatures. And then—for no particular reason—they decided to go . . . someplace else. They were definitely not setting a trap for some succulent, unsupervised little girl.  Definitely not!

    Tyrannosaurus Drip by Julia Donaldson

    TyrannosaurusDrip
    Julia Donaldson is my favorite children’s book author.  I believe she has an amazing gift of delivering high quality books with easy-to-read rhythm and rhymes that appeal to a range of ages.  I enjoy reading Julia’s books as much as my kids love to hear them so I am always happy when one of them is requested.

    Book Synopsis: Everyone knows that tyrannosauruses are big and scary, so when a placid duckbill dinosaur’s egg ends up in the wrong nest confusion is sure to ensue! When the baby dinosaur hatches out, he’s so out of place that his grisly big sisters call him Tyrannosaurus Drip. Poor little Drip: all he wants is a quiet life munching on water weed.

    Dinoblock by Christopher Franceschelli
    dinoblock
    If you’ve read the books Alphablock and Countablock then you may also enjoy Dinoblock.

    Book Synopsis:  This book features thick pages cut into the shapes of dinosaurs!  Readers will be introduced to more than 20 different kinds of dinosaurs via die-cuts of their unique silhouettes and the illuminating comparisons to familiar things from a young child’s world. I stretch high like the ladder on a fire truck. I am a Brachiosaurus. As children touch the pages, they have a chance to guess the dinosaur and appreciate the uniqueness of its silhouette.

    If You Happen to Have a Dinosaur by Linda Bailey
    ifyouhappentohaveadinosaur
    Book Synopsis:  If you happen to have a dinosaur, lying around your living room, and you don’t know what to do with it … why don’t you use it as a can opener? It will make a terrific nutcracker too! There are oodles of uses for a dinosaur — from a fine umbrella to an excellent kite and a dandy pillow, not to mention a reliable burglar alarm and the perfect excuse to forget your homework. This delightfully absurd exploration of the domestic uses of dinosaurs — and the things dinos just aren’t good for at all — is guaranteed to tickle funny bones and spark imaginations. If you read carefully, you’ll learn how to make your dinosaur last a very long time.

    How Do Dinosaurs Play with Their Friends? by Jane Yolen

    howdodinosaursplaywiththeirfriends
    Book Synopsis:  This brilliantly illustrated board book is packed with rhymes that will teach children how. Mark Teague’s laugh-aloud illustrations, along with Jane Yolen’s playful text, will show children that “playing nice” can be easy and fun. Perfect for parents to read aloud with their children, this book is as humorous as it is instructive.

    The Mine-O-Saur by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
    themineosaur
    Book Synopsis:  Do you have a little one who doesn’t like to share?  The Mine-O-Saur is a selfish dinosaur who constantly takes everything away from the other dinosaurs at school.  Eventually, the Mine-O-Saur realizes that having everything for himself is not fun if the result is having no one to play with.

    Edwina, The Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct by Mo Willems
    edwinathedinosaur
    Book Synopsis:  Edwina is one of the most helpful dinosaurs around who also happens to make really good chocolate chip cookies.  Everyone loves Edwina—except for a know-it-all little boy named Reginald. He is determined to convince everyone, including Edwina, that dinosaurs are extinct. If you love Willems, you’ll really like this one.  Before you read this book with the little ones, bake some chocolate chip cookies to go along with it for story time.  The kids will love it!

    Just for fun:  Pixar has been so gracious as to create The Good Dinosaur Coloring Pages that are free for you to print and use.  You can download the coloring pages PDF file here.

    I’ve also included a fun Laurie Berkner video that has constantly been on replay in our house.  So fun!

    Disclaimer:  I am not affiliated with Disney or Laurie Berkner nor was I compensated to write this blog post.

    Your turn:  Are you and your little ones looking forward to seeing The Good Dinosaur during the Thanksgiving holiday?  What are some of your favorite dinosaur books?

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    our latest obsession

    Our Latest Obsession: Song School Latin & Why I’m Learning Latin

    About fours months ago, I started studying Latin.  Although Latin is considered to be a dead language that isn’t spoken anymore, I was intrigued to learn it for a few reasons which I’ll mention below.  Through my own personal studies, I came across an awesome DVD for the kids called Song School Latin.  The kids and I are now obsessed with watching this DVD over and over.  The songs are so fun and catchy and we’re learning Latin words at the same time.  Score!

    Now, please understand I’m not advocating that young children need to learn Latin or any other foreign language.  I believe it’s important for kids to have a good grasp on phonics and their native language before learning a new one.  However, if multiple languages are spoken by parents or caregivers at home then kids will naturally pick them up on their own through frequent interactions.  Ok, enough of my little disclaimer…let me tell you what Song School Latin is and why I’m learning Latin.

    schoolsonglatin
    Song School Latin is a program that allows you to start Latin, in a fun and kid-friendly way.  The program is recommended for children ages 6 – 12 years old, but my kids are almost 2 and 3 years old and they love it!  Latin vocabulary is taught through kid friendly songs. This is not an immersion program, instead of the songs being fully in Latin, the Latin words are incorporated into English lyrics, which makes it easier for kids to internalize the meaning of the Latin words by listening to the songs.  The songs are fun and catchy which makes it easy to learn the Latin words and retain them.

    Another fun resource I found for the kids are these FREE printable Latin Coloring Pages.

    Why I’m Learning Latin
    When I learned that 50% of all English words come from Latin and 90% of all polysyllabic words come from Latin I immediately became curious to learn it.  To me, it makes perfect sense to learn the logic and root of the English language and romance languages like Spanish.  Here are some other reasons why I wanted to learn Latin:

    • Studying Latin prepares students to master English and foreign languages.
    • Students of Latin typically score the highest on SATs and tests on English vocabulary!
    • Latin will enhance your learning experience and open up a world of vocabulary and knowledge you never knew existed.
    • Latin is the language of law, medicine, science, music, art, philosophy, literature, and theology.  Knowing Latin and roots of words used in any of these professions is a tremendous help.
    • Latin develops the mental ability to sort and analyze logically at a young age. This ability enhances academic progress in nearly every other subject.
    • Monuments and art all over the world are frequently graced with Latin.  Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to translate what is written on your own?
    • I think the Ancient Romans and Greeks are so cool!  Enough said.
    • I want to start reading more classical books and really understand them.

    I hope you found this mini review of Song School Latin to be useful.  I’ve read it’s really popular in homeschool environments as well for those of you who homeschool your kids.

    Your turn:  Did you enjoy this post?  Have you ever watched the Song School Latin DVD with your kids?  What other Latin resources have you come across for kids that have been useful?  Want to know what resources and books I’m using to study Latin?  Feel free to let me know in the comments.

     

     

     

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    family fun, our latest obsession

    Our Latest Obsession: Tenzi!

    In our family, Sunday is reserved for Family Day.  It’s the one day of the week we make it a point to spend quality time together doing family-friendly activities.  A few weeks ago, I started looking for different games we could play as a family and I stumbled upon Tenzi.  This gem is great for the entire family to play.  Yes, even daddy gets in on the fun – score!

    What Is Tenzi?
    Tenzi is our absolute favorite family game right now.  It’s is a fast paced dice game that can literally keep you entertained for hours. It’s easy for kids of all ages to participate and our family has crazy fun when we play.  Sparkles seems to understand the concept of the game, but Mr. Tickles is too young to know what’s going on.  He just gets a kick out of throwing his dice around!

    Each player has their own set of colored dice.  When the game starts, everyone starts rolling their dice as fast as they can. With each roll, a player may choose to keep a certain number. Once they have all 10 dice on the same number, that player will shout “Tenzi!” declaring them the winner of the game. The other players continue rolling until they’ve all gotten 10 matching dice.  There are lots of variations, which are included in the instructions, and we enjoy all of them. It’s a race against chance and everyone is dying to yell “Tenzi!” before anybody else does.

    I know you’re probably thinking – “That’s it?!” Yes, that’s it – sort of. Because the play is so fast and furious (and close), you find yourself wanting to play “just one more round”. You can run through multiple rounds in just a few minutes.  Oh yeah, and once you’ve mastered Tenzi, there are a few other game options mentioned in the instructions, like “Splitzi” where you must now get five of one number and five of another to win.

    Still confused?  Watch this video below to see Tenzi in action.

    A very worthwhile addition to Tenzi is an expansion card deck 77 Ways to Play Tenzi.  I’ve read the games on the cards open up so many more creative ways to use the Tenzi dice!  We didn’t purchase the expansion card deck, but we may if we ever decide to spice up the game a bit.

    Sunday afternoons and game nights have been a lot more fun lately since we started playing Tenzi!

    Your turn:  What are your family’s favorite games? Have you ever played Tenzi before?  How and when does your family play together?  Feel free to let me know 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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    our latest obsession, read aloud

    Our Latest Obsession: Elephant and Piggie Books

    Have you ever heard of the Elephant and Piggie series written by Mo Willems?

    I came across these books by accident.  I was looking for another book written by Mo that I thought was in the easy reader section instead of the picture books section.  Well, I’m so happy I ended up looking in the wrong section because that mistake led me to this awesome series of books!

    Some of you may already be familiar with Elephant and Piggie, but I had never heard of them until a few weeks ago.  First off let me say I love the author Mo Willems so I expected these books would be good, but not this good!

    I may be a wee bit obsessed with them, more so than my kids, but they seem to love these books too.  So far our favorites are: I Broke My Trunk, Waiting is Not Easy, We Are in a Book, Let’s Go for a Drive, I Am Invited to a Party!, Should I Share My Ice Cream? and I Love My New Toy.  I’ll be adding all of these books (plus more) to our list of books we’ve read in the coming weeks.

    I won’t give too much away about each of the books, but I’ll let you know Elephant (Gerald) and Piggie are best friends.  Each book takes them on another “adventure” together.  Apart from the humor, I love the simplicity of these books.  The illustrations, expressions and word bubbles are so well done making reading simple for kids.  Plus, they have a lot of repetition of sight words so they are great for beginning readers.

    I haven’t purchased any of these books for our home collection yet, but I certainly will be adding these gems to our library.  For now I’ve been enjoying checking out as many of them as I can from the library.

    Your turn:  Have you read any of the Elephant and Piggie books to your kids?  If so, what are some of your favorites?  Feel free to let me know in the comments.

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