a must-read for raising confident kids: ‘God Made Light’

a must read for raising confident kids | God Made Light | teachmama.com

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a must-read for raising confident kids: 'God Made Light'

As parents, one of the things that we want most for our kids is that they grow to be happy, healthy, and confident adults.

And one simple way that we can do that is to spend quality time with our kids, reminding them daily that they are special and that they are loved.

Reminding them, too, that God loves them and that through them, His light shines is another super-important piece to remember.

Recently one of my friends published a book that focuses on just this fact. The book is called, ‘God Made Light‘, and it’s beautiful and important and moving.

It’s something that every child should have on his or her bookshelf and a perfect addition to bedtime–or any time–reading.

You’ll love it.

Here’s the skinny. . .

I’ve known that my pal Jessica and her husband were working on this book for quite some time, so when it finally arrived at my door, I was over the moon.

a must-read for raising confident kids: 'God Made Light'

a must-read for raising confident kids: 'God Made Light'

And it was even more amazing than I imagined it to be.

The message of God Made Light is simple: that God made light and that light shines within all people. And that it’s our job to share the light with others.

I love it.

So even when times are tough for our kids, when they are having a tough day or are afraid of the shadows or when the sun sets, that need to remember that they are important and special and loved. a must-read for raising confident kids: 'God Made Light'

One of my favorite passages from the book is:

‘Cause you’re just like the sun

and the moon in the sky. . .

You’re as lustrous as twinkles that dazzle the eye.

You’re as splendid as lightening,

when it flashes so bright.

’cause on the day you were born,

God said, ‘Let there be light!’ 

Written by Matthew Paul Turner and illustrated by Matthew Paul Mewhorter, this book is the perfect combination of engaging, rhythmic language, a meaningful message, and engaging illustrations.

 

a must-read for raising confident kids: 'God Made Light'

a must-read for raising confident kids: 'God Made Light'

My kids love it. Cora has asked for it every night for the past few weeks. And without question, I’ll read it.

And to carry on the message of love and light and confidence, I’ve also been sending the kids to school with the God Made Light Encouragement Notes for Kids: 32 reminders that God’s light shines in you.

Love, love, love them.

Along with our Positive affirmation notes for kids, it’s a rockstar combination. And the fact that the notes carry on the same messaging as this special book? Rockstar.

a must-read for raising confident kids: 'God Made Light'

 

My feeling is this: the more that we talk about the fact that each one of us–including our children–carry God’s love with us everywhere, all day long and all through the night, the better.

I’m hoping that knowing they are not alone as they walk into these crazy tween years will make it that much easier for them.

 

a must-read for raising confident kids: 'God Made Light'

 

I’ll give this book to my nieces and nephews for Christmas, and I’ll give it as gifts for Baptisms and First Communions.  I love it.

And I do believe it’s the perfect thing for all families to find under the tree this season.

 

 

There are a few ways to buy God Made Light and the related products.  I’m doing what I can to grab the best deals possible for you:

Tons of great resources on the God Made Light website. Definitely check them out: http://godmadelight.com/

god made light freebies

 

It’s heartbreaking for us as parents to watch our little loves go through the inevitably difficult pre-tween, tween, and teen years. Let’s do what we can to make them as seamless and enjoyable and meaningful as we are able.

 

fyi: Though I did receive my copy of God Made Light from my friends Jessica and Matthew Paul Turner, my opinions here are all my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator.  Affiliate links are used in this post

understanding italics in fiction: text features and meaning

understanding italics in fiction: text features and meaning

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

 

understanding italics in fiction: text features and meaning | teachmama.comI’ve always tried to make a big deal about certain text features when we see them in fiction that we’re reading, especially bold and italics.

I’m cool like that.

There’s something about bold and italics that make me feel like they give us a teeny glimpse into what the author really wants us to understand in the text.  Or maybe I just can hear the characters’ voices more clearly when I can see what they would be emphasizing during conversations.

Or maybe I just tend to use them a  lot so I’m happy when I see them on someone else’s page.

Whatever it is, Cora and I had an interesting conversation about italics last night before bed, and I thought it was worth sharing.

If we had this chat, certainly other parents are having the italics chat as well.

. .  . or maybe we’re just a strange family.

Either way, it’s worth taking a look at if you do any read-alouds with your readers at home.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Understanding Italics in Fiction–Text Features and Meaning:

Cora was reading a book to me when it all started.

It was a book from her Media Center that she picked up yesterday called The Witch Who Was Afraid of Witches, by Alice Low, illustrated by Jane Manning. Very cute book geared toward readers in grades 2-4, about a little witch who is afraid of her two older, bossy and nasty sisters until she discovers her own magic one Halloween night.

understanding italics in fiction: text features and meaning

understanding italics in fiction: text features and meaning

 

Like I try to do during read-alouds, I let Cora’s first time reading through the italics and ignoring them go.

She didn’t alter the meaning of the text; she just ignored the text feature. It’s all good.

But when she finished the book and we were talking about it, I said, Man, I liked how fluently you read that story. You really do a good job of paying attention to the punctuation, especially when people are speaking. I showed her a few places where she did this, pointing out specific examples.

One thing I’d love for you to do next time you read it, though, is keep your eyes open for certain text features–like italics. I personally love italics and bold when I see it in books. Do you want to know why?

She nodded. understanding italics in fiction: text features and meaning

 

I like italics and bold because it kind of lets you know what the author wants the reader to emphasize.

Like here: (I flipped back to the beginning of the book.) I read, ‘Her oldest sister, Polly knew everything’.  See how ‘knew’ is in italics? The author wants us to say it with more emotion to make a point–that the oldest sister had a brain full of information.

Cora stopped me. She closed the book. 

Confidently, she declared: Well I don’t care about italics. The author is not the boss of me. 

 

understanding italics in fiction: text features and meaning

 

I honestly felt like I was in a bad sitcom.  I have not a clue where she ever heard that phrase, but not much surprises me from my tiniest.

Well that’s fine, I said. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to when it comes to reading. We really just want you to find good books that you enjoy and like reading. But the thing with italics and bold is–that they help ‘complete’ the story. Sure, you can read anything on the page–the words–and look at the illustrations–but if you ask me, text features like italics just take it a step further. They take the reading up a notch. Like beginners may just read the words, but experts may read it all–italics, bold, the whole thing. Because they want to get the whole picture. 

I showed her two other places in the text where the author used italics, focusing on the part when little witch Wendy was sad in her bed, hugging her broomstick. She says, ‘At least I have you. . . you give me a little witch power’.

We talked a bit about that statement and how it sounds different when a person reads it without emphasizing ‘you’ and with emphasizing ‘you’.

She wouldn’t budge. I didn’t convince her of the power of italics. . . but at least I got her thinking.  I hope.

 

Is this skill imperative for young readers’ understanding of a text? Must they be able to respond to every text feature they encounter in fiction or non-fiction texts?

Honestly, it’s not the hill I want to die on. (Notice deliberate use of italics, please.)

If kids are decoding the text in a book like this, and if they understand and appreciate the story, it’s all good. However, Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts, grade 2 requires that students understand how text features are used in nonfiction (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.2.5).

And if you jump on over to the fiction side of CCSS, you’ll see that students need to acknowledge different points of view of characters which they can express by reading in a different voice for each character when reading aloud (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.2.6)–so this is where understanding the text features in order to best understand the characters would come into play. Or when ‘integrating knowledge and ideas’ students have to use information gained from illustrations or words in a text . . . in order to demonstrate understanding of characters, plot, or setting (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.2.7). So does this count as ‘information gained from words in a text’? Hmmmm. 

So there you have it. They’ve got to understand how text features like this are used, but if they choose not to read it that way, it’s their choice. Kids just have to show that they understand what’s going on. And clearly, my kiddo gets that the author isn’t the boss of her.

 

fyi: affiliate links are used in this post

get kids to read: Kindle eBooks for reluctant readers

get kids to read | kindle ebooks for reluctant readers teachmama.com

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get kids to read | kindle for reluctant readers teachmama.com

These days, with school in full swing and cool ‘big guy’ neighbors across the street and a travel soccer team to keep him busy, my boy isn’t that big a fan of reading.

He’s into Pokemon (ugh). He’s wicked smart on Words With Friends.  And he spends a good amount of his free time thinking about how he can eke time out of his Screen Time Cards for Minecraft and AnimalJam.

Honestly, he’s one of the coolest kids I know. And lately, he just hasn’t been digging reading.

I get it. Often changes of schedules and shifts in season mean that my kids’ interests will ebb and flow, but Owen hasn’t deliberately reached for books for quite a few weeks.

It makes me a bit nervous, though, knowing that reading habits often change when kids hit middle school. A few short years, and he’s there.

One thing that’s helped a bit with Owen’s  little reading ‘dry spell’ is giving him a chance to read books digitally. eBooks.

It’s one way we get our kids to read–and really enjoy reading. Kindle eBooks.

And I truly think that in this day and age, a healthy mix of digital and traditional books is quite the norm–or it really should be–if we want our kids to grow as readers in the digital age.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Get Kids to Read–Kindle eBooks for Reluctant Readers:

Owen’s not the only one who is game for reading books on our Kindle.

get kids to read: Kindle eBooks for reluctant readers | teachmama.com

get kids to read: Kindle eBooks for reluctant readers

 

Maddy and Cora love it, too, so we often have to resort to figuring out whose day it is so that there’s no major battle.

I think there’s something about the simple holding of the Kindle device that I think my kids love. They love how light it is, how sleek it is, and how easy it is to navigate.

For reluctant readers, especially, Kindle eBooks are great for:

  • ease of use. Kids can find books in seconds.
  • organization.  My kids each have their own little collections.
  • convenience.  They can pick up where they last left off without worrying about finding a lost bookmark.  They can touch the corner of a page, and the bookmark is there–even able to sync to Kindle apps on all of their devices.
  • focus. Especially with chapter books, there’s not a whole lot of distracting fluff or add-ons in Kindle eBooks.
  • quality. Kids can long touch a word, and its definition appears along with the Wikipedia definition and translation option. I like this feature.

get kids to read: Kindle eBooks for reluctant readers

get kids to read: Kindle eBooks for reluctant readers

Kindle eBooks are also great for:

  • skill-building.  Long touch a word, and kids can highlight or make notes about a word or passage. Upon finishing a book or chapter, they can look back at all of the notes they made and share them via email.
  • increased comprehension.  Many books have the option of adding professional narration to the text which helps emerging and struggling readers better understand what fluent reading should sound like.
  • online safety.  The Parental Controls on Kindles are super, and the Kindle FreeTime piece is a huge bonus.  With Kindle FreeTime, I can assign a separate user for each of my kids, put books on their shelf, and make sure that when they’re in bed reading at night, that’s really what they’re doing.
  • variety. I’m a huge fan of the Kindle Unlimited which gives you a ton of free books each month. For a small fee (cheaper if you’re a member of Amazon Prime), you can score a boatload of books for every member of the family. We’ve had it for a month now, and we’ve really been happy with it.

get kids to read: Kindle eBooks for reluctant readers

 

The bottom line is that kids need a balance. They need a healthy combination of print and digital books to keep them interested and keep them savvy with both mediums.  But if a kid’s balking when it comes to reading and needs a kick-start, Kindle eBooks can do it.

As Junko Yokota and William H. Teale state, in their May 2014 article in The Reading Teacher:

Let us be clear from the start that we believe that both print and digital picture books should play central roles in early childhood literacy education.   The issue
in this instance is not one versus the other, but what works well for achieving which ends in particular situations or for particular lessons.

Junko, Yokota & William H., Teale (2014). Picture Books and the Digital WorldEducators Making Informed Choices. The Reading Teeacher, 67(8), 577–585. doi: 10.1002/trtr.1262

The article goes on to explain how important it is to choose quality eBooks but how often the ‘extras’ –music, supplementary features, add-ons, etc.–upset the integrity of the story.  It was an interesting read. Though my kids are now more reading chapter books on the Kindle and are past picture books on the devices, I did like what the authors had to say.

What’s your experience with Kindle eBooks? Have they been helpful in getting your kids reading and, more importantly, wanting to read?

Let me know–I’d love to hear it!

 

 

fyi: Staples sent our family a Kindle to help in the writing of this post, but as always, opinions are all my own, influenced only by my experience as an educator and parent.  Visit Staples.com for more on the Kindle. 

Some links are affiliate links.

nighttime reading with elementary schoolers: make it a date

nighttime reading with elementary schoolers teachmama.com

We’re back in business. nighttime reading with elementary schoolers | teachmama.com

School’s in session, and we’re all slowly but surely trying our best to adjust to our new fall schedules.

And we’re tired.

I mean it. Tired.  Kids are tired. Parents are tired. Everyone’s tired.

I know it will get easier, but man.

There’s nothing like those first few Friday afternoons of the school year, especially a Friday after a five-day week.

It’s literally all I can do to keep my kids composed from school to home.  They’re beat. They’ll cry at the drop of a hat, and they’re quick to argue, pick, and prod.

So especially because it’s a new school year and we’re all picking up new routines and schedules, it’s uber-important for us to sit down with our kids and read with them before bed. 

Really. No matter how old our kids are. Even if they’re in elementary school or middle school.

If they want to read with us, we should be game for it.

Make it a date.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Nighttime Reading with Elementary Schoolers–Make it a Date:

Put a reading schedule on the calendar in ink, rotating the days you read with each kiddo. Or read together. Or do it according to books. Read one book with one kid and while you do so, the others can read silently in their rooms.

I know very few of us have kids the same age, with the same interests, who want to read the same books.

You’ll figure it out.

Bottom line is that a lot can go down during bedtime reading, so it’s way too important to give up.

Kids want to hang with us. They most often think we’re pretty cool. So that guaranteed time at night is a super time for them to open up about school, friends, concerns, and dreams.

 

3 Reasons to Read with Your Elementary Schooler Every Night:

nighttime reading with elementary schoolers | teachmama.com

*****************

Bedtime Reading Strategies: birth to independent reading:

bedtime reading strategies | scholastic

Not sure where to begin? What books to read with your crew?

No fear. Check out Maggie McGuire’s Top 100 Books that Parents Love to Read to their Kids as a start.

It can be anything. The most important thing is that you’re reading. With your littles. No matter their age.

 

What’s your favorite bedtime read? I’d love to hear it! Share it in the comments!

Cheers, and happy reading during this incredibly exciting journey!

the fox and the crane: shadow puppets with printables

the fox and the crane: shadow puppets with printables | guest post by @liskarediska on teachmama.com

This week, Liska from Adventure in a Box shares a super-cool, totally new-to-teachmama.com idea.  So cool, it’s nuts.

Liska is a toymaker, a creator, a mom, an artist and a lover of books.  She is a Russian who has settled in Canada with her son and husband (and her husband just so happens to have one of the coolest jobs around!).

Today, Liska created printables for us and delivers a unique way of sharing The Fox and the Crane fable–with shadow puppets that you can print and use today. Awe-some.

Huge and happy thanks, Liska!

the fox and the crane: shadow puppets with printables | guest post by  @liskarediska on teachmama.com

  • The Fox and the Crane: Shadow Puppets with Printables, by Liska

Greetings to the readers of Teach Mama! My name is Liska, and when I do not run around, trying to keep up with my little son, I make toys and write at Adventure in a Box. Thank you, Amy, for inviting me to write here today. Teach Mama is a regular inspiration, so I am proud to be making an addition to such a fun resource.

When I was a little girl, personal computers had not made their way into most houses, and we only had two TV-channels. If I was lucky, I could catch one cartoon a day. However, we had a slide projector with a couple of cartoon-based slide shows. In my mind it is one of the dearest memories of my childhood: in the evenings someone would put a white bed sheet on the wall, and then tinker with the projector until the focus was just good enough, though never great. We would sit down, and watch the slides.

Where did that slide projector go? I do not know. However, I want for my son to have something as magical and mysterious to remember, and that’s how we came to stage shadow puppet shows, based on our favourite stories. In the evenings we dim all the lights, except for the one we place behind the parchment screen, and the shadows start moving.

Making a shadow puppet theatre can be very easy. Take a box and cut two holes in it, then stretch vellum or parchment paper across one hole. In the dark, place a direct light source behind the screen. Now try putting something between the light and the screen: it can be your hand or a toy.

The audience on the other side of the screen will see a silhouette. Usually, the closer you put the object to the screen, the crisper its silhouette will be.

the fox and the crane: shadow puppets with printables | guest post by  @liskarediska on teachmama.com

If, however, you feel like crafting and making a long-lasting project, you can also follow my tutorial on how to make a wooden puppet theatre.

For actors we sometimes use the previously-mentioned toys and hands, but our favourite ones are silhouettes, cut out of stiff black paper (80 lb or more). Held next to the screen, they give beautiful crisp shadows.

You can make elaborate performances with these card stock actors! Of course, it might be difficult to stage Alice in Wonderland right away, but most traditional fairy tales have a straightforward plot and few enough characters – they are the likeliest choices for being turned into shadow puppet shows.

the fox and the crane: shadow puppets with printables | guest post by  @liskarediska on teachmama.com

We have already made Little Red Riding Hood and Three Little Pigs, and today I would like to make one of Aesop’s fables – The Fox and the Crane. It is also known as The Fox and the Stork, and it has only two actors.

Once, the fox and the crane decided to become friends. The fox invited the crane to come over for a visit. When he came, the fox served soup in a shallow dish.

The fox could lap it up easily, but the crane could not. Nevertheless, he thanked the fox and invited her to come over the next day.

When the fox came to visit, the crane served soup in a flagon with a long narrow neck. The crane could access it, but the fox left hungry.

The moral of the story is usually presented as “if you trick someone, you might get the same treatment back”, but told with a slight change of accents, can also tell children that different households might have different traditions.

Making the designs of silhouettes is my favourite part, and I am happy to share them with you now. Please, download the silhouettes of the fox and the crane here. Transfer them onto the black paper and cut them out, using scissors for outlines and a hobby knife for small details. Alternatively, you can print the designs on a thick white paper and colour its back black, then cut the silhouettes out.

Print the silhouettes here: The-Fox-and-the-Crane-printables

the fox and the crane: shadow puppets with printables | guest post by  @liskarediska on teachmama.com

The-Fox-and-the-Crane-printables

Next, you will need some bamboo skewers and scotch tape. Tape the skewers to the back of the puppets and they are ready!

Now the lights will dim, and the play will begin. “Once, the fox and the crane decided to become friends…”

the fox and the crane: shadow puppets with printables | guest post by  @liskarediska on teachmama.com

If you like having a shadow theatre, you can always take this game further.

Make a program and tickets together with children, then give them to relatives and friends, inviting them over. The shadow theatres are great because they are suitable for many different ages: even a three-month-old baby will be naturally attracted to the high-contrast figures! Older children will like choosing stories to stage and giving a new dimension to their favourite books, helping to make puppets and tell their own stories with them.

I will be happy if you share pictures of your shadow shows!

Other articles by Adventure in a Box you might enjoy:

the fox and the crane: shadow puppets with printables | guest post by  @liskarediska on teachmama.comLiska lives in Southern Ontario, Canada, where she enjoys simple adventures among the vineyards and peach orchards with her family. It consists of her husband, an armourer, and a one-and-a-half-year-old son, who is as inquisitive and mischievous as any one-and-a-half-year-old could be. When not chasing him around, Liska likes to read books and make toys. Then she writes about it in her blog Adventure in a Box: there you can find book reviews and book-related activities that can interest children of different ages, as well as tutorials on how to make toys with and for children.
You can also find Liska onFacebook | Pinterest | Instagram

 

 Thank you, thank you, thank you, Liska!

I have absolutely been blown away by the Rockstar Sunday posts over here.

Each week, we’ve been highlighting one ‘rockstar’ in the parenting and education field.  These posts? Seriously awesome.

Anything from innovative reading activities to clever math crafts, from ways to teach kids shapes to ways to use gallon ziploc bags for fun and learning.  It’s awesome.  Crazy awesome.

If you’ve got an idea brewing and want to share, do let me know. You need not be a blogger or professional writer to share your piece.

Simply submit your idea to us! Easy peasy!

 rockstar sunday promo teachmama

You don’t have to have a blog of your own–just cool ideas to share! We look forward to hearing from you!

other posts in the series:

nonfiction reading in the summer: our must-have picks

nonfiction reading in the summer: our must-have picks teachmama.com

nonfiction reading in the summer: our must-have picks

I’ve said this before: June and July are crazy for us with our busy swim and dive schedules.

So honestly, any downtime my kids can get, I’m totally thankful for.

Even when Maddy, Owen, and Cora are not at practice, they want to be at the pool, hanging with their pals and swimming it up.  In the sun, moving and not stopping.  It is summer after all.

And busy summer kids don’t really want to stop to read unless the reading’s really good.

I’ve had to find really good reads and really fun activities for them to do to even compete with the awesome summer they’re having.

Lucky for us, I’ve scored some pretty fab nonfiction reads that I can’t wait to share.

And? I even have one to give away to one lucky reader. So exciting!

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Nonfiction Reading in the Summer–Our Must-Have Picks:

There aren’t many must-have picks but there don’t have to be.  (This first one is seriously rockstar, and this is the one I’m giving away!)

nonfiction reading in the summer | teachmama.com

Not only is the almanac full of fun facts and articles about everything from our world, to animals, to science, history, or geography, it also has an interactive component.

Readers can scan the National Geographic Scanner App and any time they see a little icon, they can use an Apple device or android device and learn even more. It’s awesome.

nonfiction reading in the summer | teachmama.com

nonfiction reading in the summer | teachmama.com

 

Pages of the National Geographic Kids 2015 Almanac are full of color, fun fonts, photographs, and diagrams, and each little section is more exciting than the next. It’s almost as if National Geographic Kids pulled the best parts of their magazines and shoved them all into one happy little paperback.

I totally love the:

  • great size: perfect for small hands and pool bags.
  • extraordinary content: quick to digest, easy on the eyes, and memorable. Kids will be eager to pick it up and learn more about subjects that interest them.
  • fabulous conversation starters: kids will want to talk about what they read which is awesome. Awesome.
  • tons of possible extensions: great reasons for kids to follow-up, learn more about the topics, even do the related activities.
  • fun facts and cool nonfiction reading!

I love this book. I love that it’s full of nonfiction reading that kids truly love, that they can pick up and digest in small doses–whenever they have the time!

The random facts that my kids are sharing at totally random times is absolutely a riot.

Did YOU know that Twinkies actually are not the best food for survival kits because their shelf life is only 45 days? Me neither. it’s on page 110.

—————————————————————-

nonfiction reading in the summer: our must-have picks

What I love about this collection is that the books are small and fit easily in the pool bag or backpack, and they’re chocked full of fun info for kids.

Every single fact begins with a ‘why’ question:

Why do football players put black grease under their eyes?

Why did Franklin Roosevelt use a wheelchair? 

Why are the Earth’s icecaps melting? 

Why are there so many different kinds of dogs? 

And each answer is accompanied by photos, illustrations, or drawings to explain the answer.

Super for kids to pick up on the go, read, and share with their pals.

 

————————————————————-

GIVEAWAY: Your very own copy of the National Geographic Kids 2015 Almanac.

Do you want to win your very own copy of the National Geographic Kids 2015 Almanac.??!  Yes, yes you do.

——————————-

Please use the Rafflecopter widget below to throw your name in the hat:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
By entering this giveaway, you are demonstrating your understanding of and compliance with theOfficial Sweepstakes Rules.

This giveaway ends Friday, July 25, 2014 at midnight ET and is open to folks here in the US only. Winner will be chosen by ‘Rafflecopter’ and will be notified on or around 07/25/14.  Winner must respond within three (3) days of notification or forfeit the prize, in which case an alternate winner will be selected.  All Official Sweepstakes Rules apply.

——————————-

 

fyi: I am proud to be a part of the National Geographic Kids Insiders Group.  This is an unsponsored post; as always, my opinions are all my own, influenced only by my personal experience as a parent and educator–and, of course, my three little nonfiction readers.

create a library plan: make the most of a trip to the library

make a library plan teachmama.com

Kids can be a little silly when it comes to picking out their own books at the library. create a library plan: make the most of a trip to the library

Where some can easily head right on over to the section they want, grab the books they want, and quickly find a quiet, cozy spot to read, others need . . . a little more direction.

And believe me, I’m all for giving kids time to browse the shelves, look around, relax and explore.

But really.

Our kids are so totally lucky to have so many books at their fingertips. Let’s give them a little direction so they can make the most of a trip to the library or to their school media center.

So after chatting with my pal Heather, and after my own kids’ crazy library book experiences, I decided to create a little Library Plan sheet.  They work.

They help give kids focus when they’re faced with All. Those. Books.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Create a Library Plan–Make the Most of a Trip to the Library:

create a library plan: make the most of a trip to the library

 

I am not lying when I say that in Owen’s first three years in elementary school, he brought the same random book about dogs home at least ten times. It was a small, hardcover book about chihuahuas. And the fifth time it landed on our kitchen table, I asked why he brought it home again, and he said Because I like it.

I suggested that he try searching for other books about chihuahuas or even other books about dogs, but he said, No. I like this one.

 

create a library plan: make the most of a trip to the library

create a library plan: make the most of a trip to the library

 

The next year, when the book ended up back at our house, I gave him a little more nudging. You’re sure you love that book that much? I mean, haven’t you memorized it by now? 

He assured me that he just ‘really liked it’.

What I learned is that Owen doesn’t really care about his library books. He really doesn’t.

His goal? Grab a book. Bring it back to his class. Bring it home.  Maybe take it out of his backpack, depending on the day–maybe not. Bring it back to school. Put it in the library bin. Done. Bam.  Check it off. Gimme the next thing.

create a library plan: make the most of a trip to the library

create a library plan: make the most of a trip to the library

 

So rather than have him do the same thing this summer–a time when we usually hit the library as a family pretty often–I decided it was time to make the Library Plan.

Heather asked me a while ago if I had anything she could use for her boys, and really, I didn’t.

But now I do.

Small enough to fit inside a pocket or in the cover of a current library book, the Library Plan is super-simple.

The Library Plan is here to download if you so choose: library book plan

create a library plan: make the most of a trip to the library

library book plan  | help kids make the most of a trip to the library!

It includes a space for titles that kids might be seeking, authors, and subjects. And in case you do your book searching from home, accessing your library’s card catalog via the library website like we often do, there’s a spot for notes, too. I thought that would be a great space to write down call numbers, messages, anything you want to remember from your at-home searching.

The Library Plan also includes a ‘think’ spot where all sorts of topics and ideas are added. I’m hoping that as Maddy, Owen, and Cora fill out their Plan sheets, these ideas jog their minds and helps to give them some things to think about or look for at the library.

And that’s it.

We used the Library Plans as the first day of our Tabletop Surprises this week, and they worked.

Really, truly helped to keep our afternoon trip to the library focused and productive.

 

What do you think? Will these work for your kids or students? What should we add or change? Do let me know!

best books for reading under the stars: scholastic summer reading challenge

http://www.scholastic.com/ups/campaigns/src-2014

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This summer, the kids and I plan on doing a whole lot of reading. summertime reading under the stars  scholastic summer reading challenge.png

Reading at the pool, out on the porch, reading on a blanket on the grass out back. And a whole lot of reading under the stars.

Maybe not every night, but you better believe that we’re going to rock it out for a few backyard campouts this summer.  Complete with flashlights, s’mores, bugspray, and a whole lot of blankets, we’re going to make the most of our ‘staycation summer’.

And though camping isn’t a staple in our lives, we do want to try it. Okay, so we’ve never actually taken the kids camping. . . does that make us the worst parents ever?  I mean, aren’t there worse things?–

The theme of Scholastic’s Summer Reading Challenge this year is ‘Reading Under the Stars’, so we’ve decided that this is our summer to do it.

Camping. In our back yard.

But first, we’ll do a whole lot of reading about camping and the stars to build and activate schema–to get those brains moving and to prepare our kids for the big night.

With a little help from Scholastic, I’ve gathered a handful of the best books for reading under the stars.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Best Books for Reading Under the Stars–Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge:

If you’re going to do it, you might as well really do it up.

 

best books for reading under the stars | scholastic summer reading teachmama.com

Before the big camp-out, we’ll read a little bit about camping, the stars and space so that when we’re gazing up at the night sky, we can at least (maybe?) identify some of the pictures up there.

So that when we’re packing for our big camp-out we’ll know what to throw in the bags.

So that during the crazy camp-out, we’ll kind of know what to expect. Kind of.

best books for reading under the stars  teachmama.com .png

We’ll check out a few oldies but goodies and a few new-to-us books about reading under the stars: 

 

scholastic summer reading challenge

Have your kids help Scholastic break last year’s world record of 176,438,473 minutes read during the summer!

 

summertime reading | scholastic

 

And we’ll also do all we can to rock it with the Scholastic Reading Under the Stars Summer Reading Challenge.

Every year we participate in the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge, and this summer is no different!

The deal?

  • We do it because reading rocks, and. . . well. . . kids need to read consistently and continually all summer long!
  • Summer reading should be fun, and this challenge is fun for kids; a free online reading timer, weekly challenges with rewards, prizes, and more.
  • There’s even a super-fun Summer Solstice Book Swap (via Google+ Hangout) on Thursday, June 19th at 9 p.m. EST with me (yay!) and my buddy, Allie McDonald of No Time for Flashcards.  Join us!!
  • Get more information and RSVP for the Google + hangout, click  here. To get some helpful tips before the Hangout, be sure to read my guide to planning your Summer Reading Book Review Party and Swap.

summertime reading | scholastic

summertime reading | scholastic

 

  • Kids can log their minutes and read big prizes;
  • Teachers can register students and track their progress;
  • Parents can download tons of free resources and articles about how to support literacy in the home and how to bring literacy home to their kids.
  • Awesome. Fun. Totally doing it.

And that’s it! Just a few little ways we’re slooooowly moving into the summer groove and slooooooly preparing ourselves for our big backyard camp-out!

 

Tell me: are you big into camping? Does your whole family go? 

But even more importantly: Is your family big into summer reading programs?  Why or why not?

Would love to hear your opinions in the comments!

 

fyi: This post was written as a partnership with Scholastic Circle.

Affiliate links are used within.

getting kids to love reading with a literacy club: LITClub

get kids to love reading litclub teachmama.com.png

get kids to love reading  litclub  teachmama.com.pngThis post about getting reluctant readers to love reading is written by Ali Dent of Courage on the Edge of Tomorrow.

Thank you, Ali, for this incredible post!

____________________

  • Getting Kids to Love Reading with a Literacy Club–LITClub, by Ali Dent

Reading doesn’t come easy to everyone. Is there hope for those of us who would rather be on the playground, soccer field, or climbing a tree?

How important is it for our children to enjoy books?

We have an innate hunger for STORY.

What happens to this craving when reading is difficult, as it was for my daughter who has dyslexia, or as it was for me as a child, because I measured myself against my peers who read much faster than I did? Most of the time, it gets stuffed down inside, and we forget we ever took pleasure in the magic of a story. My daughter believed she couldn’t. I decided I wouldn’t. However, our appetite didn’t die; it went into hiding.

Like a pet rabbit in a home full of hunting dogs, it lurks around in the heart and mind. Now and again, it sneaks out of its hole, hoping to find a solution. Disappointed, it retreats back into the shadows, wishing for a way to enjoy the light without fear.

 

2012, The Hobbit Dinner and a Movie

 

With high school looming in my daughter’s future, we needed a solution that would allow her to read, comprehend, and interpret the classic novels on her high school reading list. In middle school, I read a lot of her books aloud to her, but the high school reading load felt overwhelming to both of us.

After a great deal of prayer, we discovered an answer that met her reading goals and turned out to be a way to satisfy a reluctant reader’s craving for stories.

Whether a child’s avoidance of books is from diagnosed reading issues, or a habit of choosing to do other things instead, a literature club can meet your child’s hidden craving for story.

 

get kids to love reading | litclub

Literature club was the answer to our prayers. It was the solution to Matti’s reading difficulties. We set out to get the books read on time and, hopefully, retain some comprehension. To our surprise, we got way more than we bargained for. Matti accomplished her reading list, understood the books, was able to interpret them, and she made lifelong friends.

It’s been 12 years since that first literature club started. Since then, I’ve seen shy, avid readers transform into confident public speakers (discussions and project presentations draw them out of their shells). Kids who are more interested in sports and electronics than a really good story transform into kids that say, “Mom, if we have to drop an activity, please don’t let it be literature club.”

LITClub kids experience books in a unique way. A literature club is a monthly activity that places a high value on the social needs of children and their parents. This entices the kids to give reading a chance. Interacting with family and friends is important to children. Moms need the camaraderie, too. Hanging out with their friends and sharing a meal together make literature club acceptable, even in the beginning, to those who think their moms have lost their minds when they tell them they are joining a classical book club. In a short period of time, the experience changes their opinion about reading.

LITClub gives the kids something to look forward to. Sure, they had to read an old book before coming to the meeting. They also had to prepare a project. They make this sacrifice, concluding, “The work is a small sacrifice to spend an exciting evening with my friends.” Hanging out is enough motivation during the first two or three months to keep the kids coming back.

get kids to love reading | litclub

After 2, 3, or 4 books, the kids get hooked on more than the social time. They find out that talking about the stories is a lot more interesting than they had imagined. They find themselves looking forward to what their friends have to say about the book, in comparison to their own thoughts. Most kids enjoy batting around thoughts, ideas, and opinions with each other. At first, the kids think that presenting a project to a group is either intimidating, or pointless. It doesn’t take them long to look forward to this part, too.

5 reasons moms love the outcome!

1.  LITClub kids become skilled in rhetorical conversations. When our kids reach adulthood, they will be in relationships with people who aren’t like them. They need to know how to talk with others in away that doesn’t cause a fight. Literature club provides a platform for the kids to express their thoughts about BIG ideas and practice their responses to people who might oppose them. In literature club, we do this through book conversations. In addition, at least once a year, the kids have an opportunity to participate in a formal round-table discussion. After reading Animal Farm, the kids were divided into two teams. One side argued for socialism, the other team for free market trade. In this way, the kids learned a lot about themselves. They realized that they had strengths and weaknesses when put on the spot conversationally. In the end, practicing in a round-table forum, whether casually or formally, equips LITClub kids to talk to others about their faith and lifestyle in a respectful and effective way.

2.  LITClub provides a stage for kids to learn how to be friends with people that are similar to them and different from them. They learn how to discuss their differences, instead of becoming enemies because they don’t know how to love others who aren’t like them.

3.  LITClub kids’ written and spoken communication skills are honed through project creation and presentation. Projects are geared to be fun and require thoughtfulness to complete. The Denver, Colorado middle school club read Death Be Not Proud. Lee, the facilitator, gave them this project: If you were given the news that in 6 months you will be leaving this earth and life as you know it, what kind of important-things-I-want-to-do-in-life list would you come up with? Kind of a bucket list, but preferably not ‘I’d make sure I go to NASCAR or visit Disney World’ (although maybe those could be at the bottom of your list).

So, in other words, if the Lord were to announce to you that He will be here in 6 months to take you Home, what MEANINGFUL and IMPORTANT things would be on your bucket list? Make the list real for you (not everyone has to make sure they witness to 600 people or kiss the Pope’s ring).

get kids to love reading | litclub

 

4.  Projects are designed to mature the kids’ hearts and minds. Another tough, but very fruitful project that stretches the kids’ minds and hearts is the monologue project. After reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the kids were asked to choose a character and write a monologue from the character’s viewpoint.

The kicker was that the monologue had to defend slavery from the character’s worldview. Imagine how absurd slavery is, how much you hate it. Then imagine putting yourself in the shoes of one of those characters and writing a speech from that vantage point. This exercise not only educates, it changes us in a positive way. By stepping into the life of another person, seeing things from his perspective, we become more compassionate and able to love. Writing this type of project, and then presenting it before a group, sharpens speaking skills, while simultaneously building confidence.

5.  LITClub kids’ critical thinking skills are stirred up through planning and implementing cool projects. These projects are less crafty, and more interactive, like pretending to be a news reporter and interviewing a character, or creating an original board game based on the plot of the story, with strategy based on symbols and motifs. Critical thinking is the ability to think in a circular fashion that spirals deep and wide, as opposed to a linear train of thought.

Imagine an idea that is brought to light in a conversation, a newspaper, magazine, news program, or on the radio. Linear thinking hears it and jumps to the first conclusion that comes to mind, and either owns that conclusion, or accepts the commentator’s conclusions without question. Circular thinking, which we sometimes call rhetorical or Socratic conversation, is less quick to jump to conclusions. Circular thinking takes time to listen to the other side. It ponders past, present, and future, and weighs the costs and outcomes.

    • LITClub thinkers learn to ask questions.
    • LITClub thinkers learn and respect for others.
    • LITClub thinkers learn to listen.
    • LITClub thinkers learn patience.

In the end, LITClub thinkers desire to know and love others more than they want to prove a point. This opens up conversations, whereas linear conversations tend to end abruptly and, often, are never broached again.

It might seem that a reluctant book lover would turn up his nose to all of this. My daughter thought she wouldn’t make it through her reading list. I wondered if I would be up for the task. Some kids push against the idea of a LITClub because they are introverts. The idea of presenting a project to a group is terrifying. Another child may insist that he just can’t corral his brain long enough to read a whole book. Regardless of a child’s reason for digging in his heels, hang tough. When it’s all said and done, he will be so grateful to you for the gift of literature club.

How do you transform reading into an experience?

If you would like to share this amazing process with your children, there is a handbook called The LITClub, Transforming Reading into an Experience. All the work is already done for you. It starts out with an explanation of the club, and ends with four classic book studies, along with all the tools you need to enjoy your very own literature club experience.

You might want to try it out before you buy. If so, you can download this free eBook, Transforming the Hunger Games into an Experience. This eBook, completely free, includes a quick-start guide to the literature club experience, a themed menu, a completely ready-made discussion guide, and a project guide.

If you have questions, send a message to Ali Dent.

Thank yoAliDentu, thank you, THANK you, Ali, for sharing your worldview conversations expertise–and totally cool idea with us!

Ali Dent is an author and story lover. She grew up in Georgia and was educated at Berry College, where her heart for writing was trained and nurtured. She currently resides in Texas with her family.  Check out her book, The LitClub, on Amazon. 

 

 

 

This post is part of our new Rockstar Sunday posts.  Each week, I will highlight one ‘rockstar’ in the parenting and education field.  These posts? Seriously awesome.

Have something you’d like to share that in some way relates to fun learning, school, technology, education, or parenting? For a short time we’ll be accepting Rockstar Sunday guest posts.

rockstar sunday promo teachmama

The response to our Rockstar Sunday feature has been overwhelming. I am in awe of the ideas, submissions, and shares!

Having been in the blogging space for 5+ years, we know for sure that our readers are always up for fresh and fun ideas on literacy, math, technology, parenting, and learning in the every day. They love crafts, hands-on teaching ideas, printables, cooking with kids, and anything that makes their job as parents easier, better, and more fun.

You don’t have to have a blog of your own–just cool ideas to share! We look forward to hearing from you!

other posts in the series:

the ONLY thing parents need to know during read-alouds

most important thing for read alouds cover pinterest .png

most important thing for read alouds | teachmama.com

What should parents know about read-alouds? 

What must every read-aloud have? 

Should parents memorize a list of strategies, techniques, or questions?  

Must parents spend hundreds of dollars on reading material every day?  

Do parents need to set aside two hours every day for reading with their kids?   

No, no and no.

There’s one thing that every parent must know during read-alouds, and I know you will be surprised. I bet it’s not what you’re thinking.

I’d love for you to head over to Scholastic Parents’ Raise a Reader blog–where I spend a wee bit o’ my writing time–to check it out. Read it and then let me know what you think.

Here it is: The Most Important Thing to Remember During Read-Alouds.

—————————-

So.  What do you think? 

  • Do you agree or disagree with my points?
  • How does your child’s learning needs compare?
  • How does your parenting style compare to the ideas outlined in the post?
  • Would you say that your household is similar or different to the one outlined in this post?
  • What steps will you take to make changes in your home?
  • What foll0w-up questions do you have? How can I help you improve in this area?

 

Thanks for reading, my friends!

Don’t forget to subscribe to teachmama.com so you don’t miss a thing! 

black history month: resources for kids and families

black history month: resources for kids and families | printables, videos, books, & more from teachmama.com #weteach

post contains affiliate links

 

 

black history month resources for famillies

We often talk about race in our home, but lately my kids have become more and more curious about the struggles that many so many groups have faced–African-Americans in particular–throughout our history.

Yes, we have great books here, rich with information and ideas and stories, but I wanted a little more. We need a little more.

So rather than fumble through their questions about race, history, and segregation, I wanted to give Maddy, Owen, and Cora some clarity–as much of the whole story as I could.  

I want to be able to continue the conversation not only this month, Black History Month, but any time throughout the year.  So with the help of many great friends, I’ve assembled this list of Black History Month Resources for Families.

Above all, I wanted to recognize and respect the miles these Americans have walked, but I also wanted to celebrate their many successes.  The resources below seem to do just that.

I consider it a work in progress!

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Black History Month– Resources for Families:

It’s amazing the resources I managed to find–but it took some serious work–which is a problem in itself.

talking and reading about civil rights

books:

picture books for kids mlk

articles, sites:

must read books mlk

videos:

 


activities

 

What are your favorite resources? Do share them with us! 

 

huge and happy thanks to the amazing women who helped me assemble this list: Eva of SocaMom.com,  Monica Waugh-Benton, Erica of What We Do All Day, Deb of Living Montessori Now, Carly of Africa to America, Leanna of All Done Monkey, and more.  

fyi: affiliate links are used below: