books as gifts: holiday ideas for kids

books as gifts

post contains affiliate links

 

books as gifts

 

For any occasion, books are my go-to gift.

From baby showers to birthdays, graduations from preschool or highschool, for well-wishing or comfort-giving, books are a rockstar way to show people you care.

This holiday, my pal Allie and I have been sharing a ton of our book-giving recommendations over at the Scholastic Raise a Reader blog.

I’m sharing only a few of our picks here.

Please hop on over to Scholastic’s Raise a Reader to learn more about the books, picks, and ideas.

Here’s the skinny:

  • Books as Gifts–Holiday Ideas for Kids:

boxed sets for toddlers

great boxed sets for toddlers

book sets like:

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gifts for all kinds of princessesprincess books: gifts for every kind of princess

books like:

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best reading gifts for digital kidsbest reading gifts for digital kids

gifts like:

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10 ebooks for older readers10 eBooks: must-haves for older readers

I love the Storia eBook versions of these books for older readers (or check out the hardcopies below):

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book sets for kids who love adventure and mystery

book sets for kids who love adventure and mystery

book sets like:

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find best bookshow to find the perfect book gift for kids: using Scholastic’s Book Wizard

Not sure what to get but know for sure your child has some favorite authors, themes, or genres?

Check out Scholstic’s Book Wizard for more recommendations, catered specifically to your loved ones’ needs and levels!

Just a start here, friends. Just a start!

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fyi: affililate links are used in this post

important early literacy terms that every parent needs to know

important early literacy terms that every parent needs to know

Originally posted on ABC & 123, 4/05/10 & on teachmama.com on 5/10/10.literacy terms every parent must know   Sharing again because. . . well, it’s totally worth your read.

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We, as parents and our children’s very first teachers, can begin to support early literacy development as soon as our kiddos are born.

Many of us do this already and don’t even realize how much we are helping to build a solid foundation of learning for our children.

Talking our way through diaper changes and feedings, through trips to the park or the grocery store, we give our little ones their first unwritten lessons on language and learning. By reading books, reciting rhymes, and playing games with our toddlers, we take this learning a step further, and the possibilities for sneaking in lessons here and there are endless.

Here are a few literacy terms every parent must know as their children approach reading and step into preschool.

This list is hardly complete, but it includes the basics without the Reading teacher jargon that is sometimes tough to get through. In the next few weeks and months, I’ll spotlight these topics and more in greater detail and provide ways that parents can support their children’s learning in these areas.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Literacy Terms Every Parent Needs To Know:

 

literacy terms every parent must know

 

 

  • Comprehension: a complex process in which a reader interacts with a text in a specific context in order to construct meaning. Specific comprehension strategies should be taught and can be taught even before a child can read. Such strategies include making connections, questioning, visualizing, inferring, determining importance, and synthesizing.
  • Decoding: the process of figuring out a new word in a text. It’s really just deciphering text into understandable words.
  • Fluency: the ability to read orally with speed, accuracy, and expression while comprehending a given text.
  • High Frequency Words: are the words that appear most often in texts. Thanks to Drs. Dolch and Frye, we have age-leveled lists of these words beginning from the simplest in Kindergarten to the more difficult in upper grades.
  • Phonological Awareness: the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate sound units in words. It is one component of a comprehensive reading program and the precursor to solid literacy development.

literacy terms every parent must know

 

  • Phonemic Awareness: one component of phonological awareness. The ability to hear, identify, and manipulate the individual sounds in spoken words.
  • Phonics: an approach to teaching word identification that emphasizes letter-sound correspondences and their application to reading and spelling. The goal of phonics is to help children learn and apply the alphabetic principle–the understanding that there are systematic and predictable relationships between written letters and spoken words.
  • Sight Words: are words that do not often follow phonics rules, so emerging readers should learn them ‘by sight’ in order to read them quickly and accurately.
  • Vocabulary: a term used to describe the words that one must know in order to communicate with others, both orally and through print.

Want to have this sheet handy? Want to learn a little more?

Feel free to download the literacy terms every parent must know as a pdf to use as an easy reference. It includes these definitions, some in more detail, along with a few other words to know.

Still want more?  Search the navigation bar right under the header! Or check a few more resources for you:

tips and tricks for teaching emergent readers (with free printable early reader books!)

tips and tricks for teaching emergent readers

The following guest post is written by the incredibly talented (and busy!) Anna of The Measured Mom.  Anna is a former classroom teacher, currently a mom of four littles who will be joined by a fifth this winter!  Please check out her rockin blog.

tips and tricks for teaching emergent readers

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I’m thrilled to be guest posting here at Teach Mama! As a former first and second grade teacher and now mother to four little ones, I love teaching children how to read.

Today I’d like to share my tips and tricks for teaching emergent readers. You’ll also find some free printable emergent readers and links to even more!

  • Tips and Tricks for Teaching Emergent Readers (with Free Printable Early Reader Books!):

 

So first of all… what’s an emergent reader?

The term emergent reader can mean two things. It can mean the actual reader himself, or it can mean little books that beginning readers use when they’re just beginning to match voice to print. Let’s talk about the children themselves.

Emergent readers are beginning readers who…

  • know their alphabet and at least some letter sounds;
  • know the difference between a letter and a word;
  • have an basic sense of story (beginning, middle, end);
  • are beginning to match spoken words with print;
  • may recognize words in some contexts and not in others.

What behaviors do emergent readers exhibit?

  • They may use their finger to point to words as they read.
  • They read slowly (word by word).
  • They use the picture clues as they read.
  • They are learning to use beginning sounds to help solve harder words.

tips and tricks for teaching emergent readers (4) - the measured mom on teach mama

 

What kinds of books are best for emergent readers?

The best kind of books for emergent readers are little books with the same name: emergent readers. I’m not talking about phonics readers which can be laborious and painful for brand new readers who are probably not sounding out words with consistency.

I’m talking about little books that meet the following criteria:

  • They have strong picture support.
  • They use repetition, rhyme, or rhythm.
  • They have controlled, repeated vocabulary.
  • They use natural language.
  • Their text is large and clear with only 1-2 sentences per page.

tips and tricks for teaching emergent readers (2) - the measured mom on teach mama

How do we best teach emergent readers?

First of all, we get them books that they can read. Unfortunately, true emergent readers (the books) are extremely hard to find. You are unlikely to find them in your local library and can spend a small fortune purchasing them from the big education companies. Thankfully, you can find free or affordable emergent readers by doing a little hunting. Here are some of my favorite resources:

Reading A-Z.com ($90 for a year’s subscription and unlimited downloads)
Ohio State Keep Books (Books are only about 25 cents each – ask about Kid’s Sets if you want single copies instead of classroom sets)
This Reading Mama’s Reading the Alphabet curriculum
Free Emergent Reader Set  from The Measured Mom

That’s right – the last collection is from me! I’ve been creating four themed readers (such as animals, community helpers, and fairy tales) for each new sight word – starting simple (sight word a) and adding on as we go. You can access my growing collection by clicking on the image below:

free-emergent-reader-collection-the-measured-mom

And today I’m sharing a set of free emergent readers for you to use with your children at the very beginning of this stage! Get them here: Free Emergent Reader Set

To assemble these little books:

  • 1) Print pages 2-9 front to back (Page 1 is my Terms of Use).
  • 2) Be patient for the download and your printer – it may take a few minutes.
  • 3) Cut each page across the horizontal center.
  • 4) Insert the inner page of each book and staple with a long-armed stapler.

free books for emergent readers

How do we support emergent readers as they read?

1) We give helpful prompts.

  • Use the picture to help you.
  • Does the first letter of that word match what you said?
  • Did that sound right?
  • Get your mouth ready to say that word.

tips and tricks for teaching emergent readers (3) - the measured mom on teach mama

2) We celebrate what they do well.

  • That didn’t make sense and you went back and fixed it – good for you!
  • That was a funny page and you laughed! I can tell you’re really thinking about what you’re reading.
  • You didn’t know that word, but you used the picture to help you figure it out. That’s great!

tips and tricks for teaching emergent readers (1) - the measured mom on teach mama

3) We encourage them to grow as they move beyond emergent reading and into early reading.

  • Are you stuck? Try the first chunk of that word.
  • Look all the way through to the end of the word.
  • Sometimes if you’re stuck it helps to start back at the beginning of the sentence.
  • That sentence ends with an exclamation point. Show me how it sounds when you read that.

By reaching our emergent readers where they’re at and providing them with reading materials they love, we guide them on the path to a lifelong love of reading!

ANNA pic for blog!

Anna taught for eight years and received her MEd in Curriculum & Instruction before beginning her career as a stay-at-home mom. She loves to learn and grow with her daughter (age 6) and three little boys (5,3,1) – plus another blessing due in January! Anna shares free education resources for parents and teachers at The Measured Mom. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, Anna,  for sharing!

Looking for more activities for ringing in Halloween (and sneaking in a little learning) with your littles?

Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards:

quick and easy halloween ghost cookies

sweet spooky chocolate cookie ghosts

sweet spooky chocolate cookie ghosts

October has been an incredibly busy month for us, with me finishing up two classes on top of all of my other normal work.

However, our crazy schedule isn’t stopping us from having a whole lot of Halloween fun over here.

Our Halloween Banana Ghosts were a big hit way back when, so rather than stay healthy, I thought I’d mix it up a bit and really ‘up’ our sweet and fat intake and make Sweet, Spooky Halloween Cookie Ghosts.

White chocolate. Nutter Butters. Chocolate chips. Bam.

Actually, in all honesty, I wanted a quick and easy seasonal treat and I was craving Nutter Butters.  So that’s why we made them.

And because these cookies only need a handful of ingredients, there really is no recipe reading involved. But there’s a lot of basic sequencing with the repeated steps, so that is what I emphasized.

Cora was my helper, and by the time we were finished, yes we were covered in white chocolate, but we also had a full tray of fun ‘homemade’ cookies to share for Grandma’s birthday dinner that night.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Sweet, Spooky Halloween Cookie Ghosts:

Little hands are big helpers with these chocolatey treats, so be sure to gather your small helpers.

halloween cookie ghosts

You will need:

  • White chocolate chips
  • Mini milk chocolate chips
  • Regular sized milk chocolate chips
  • Nutter Butter cookies (or Vienna Fingers—any long oval cookie will work)
  • Cookie sheets lined with wax paper

spooky halloween cookies collage

1.  Prepare your cookie sheets by lining them with the wax paper.

Explain to your helper that you will need a spot to drop these sweet and spooky ghosts after they’re dipped, so you are thinking a head and preparing a spot for them.   The worst thing would be to have a drippy cookie with no place to put him to cool.

 

 spooky halloween cookies collage

2.  Melt the white chocolate chips.

I explained to Cora that when melting chocolate, it is really important to do it slowly and carefully. We didn’t want to place them in the microwave on high for five minutes or the chocolate would burn and get crusty.

spooky halloween cookies collage

Rather, we put the bowl in the microwave for 45 seconds, took it out and mixed it.

We put it in the microwave again for 45 seconds, mixed and repeated until the chocolate was totally smooth and melted.

 

She loved mixing the chocolate with the spatula and watching it become more and more smooth.

spooky halloween cookies collage

3.  Dip a cookie in the chocolate.

Easy as that.  Dip, twist to make sure it’s covered on the front and back, and place on the wax paper.

 

spooky halloween cookies collage

 

spooky halloween cookies collage

4.  Place the chocolate chip eyes and mouth onto the ghost.

We used mini chips for the eyes and regular-sized ones for the ‘BOO!’ mouth.

Cora did this job almost entirely by herself because her tiny fingers were better for the job. And of course I let her know that.

spooky halloween cookies collage

spooky halloween cookies collage

As we built our ghost cookies, I was careful to use sequential words like first, second, third, next, after, and last.

I tried to use words like before and after, left and right, top and bottom. Easy words I know she knows and covered in pre-k and Kindergarten but that I want her to use and remember.

halloween cookie ghosts

 

halloween cookie ghosts

 

I wanted to squeeze in as much meaningful everyday math vocabulary as I could, not only because it’s important for Cora to learn, but also because it’s great for her to use these words ‘in action’.  And really? It’s great for kids to have as much at-home practice of their at-school learning as possible.

For our family, some of the most fun and memorable learning has been done in our kitchen–over sweets.

Anyway, perfect no matter how much time you have to prep, these Sweet, Spooky Halloween Cookie Ghosts will sure to be a hit with kids of all ages.

 

Want a few more fall-inspired learning ideas?

Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards:

Or check out these popular Halloween posts:

5 great reasons to read words OUT of context

5 Great Reasons to Read Words OUT of Context by This Reading Mama

5 Great Reasons to Read Words OUT of Context

The following guest post is written by Becky Spence of This Reading Mama. Becky is a busy homeschooling mama of four littles, and she constantly shares super content on her site.  I’m always in awe of her.  Do take a peek!

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  • 5 Great Reasons to Eead Words OUT of Context:

It is important to “marinate” young children in books. You may have even seen the poster that lists the top 10 ways to help kids become better readers ~Read, Read, Read… But as important as it is to read words in context (within the text), it is also a good idea to pull words out of their context and ask readers to study them. This is especially true for young readers and struggling readers.

Here are five great reasons to read words out of context:

1. The Reader Relies too Heavily on Context

Have you ever noticed your reader using the picture or the context of the sentence to figure out unknown words?

This strategy is a normal part of literacy development (and is encouraged when kids are young), but it can develop into a problem if those young kids grow into older kids who are not equipped with proper strategies to decode unknown words. In this way, relying too heavily on context negatively impacts fluency and comprehension.

2. Focusing on Word Patterns

Teaching phonics by patterns is my absolute favorite way to teach phonics. I love to use words sorts because they are hands-on, developmentally appropriate, explicit, and flexible. To prepare a word sort, words are pulled out of context and studied by the pattern that they share (for example: rain, braid, train, and maid all share the AI pattern). Other word patterns, such as AY, are compared to the first pattern. This way of teaching phonics is so effective because it equips readers of all ages to look for patterns as they read (a.k.a. reading by analogy), the strategy proficient readers use.

3. The Reader has Memorized the Book

Sometimes, our children pick up books and “read” them to us. We begin to wonder, “Does she really know the words or has she just memorized the book?” This is especially true of early reader books with predictable text. Pulling the words out of context helps readers slow down and really focus on the words. One of my favorite activities to help young readers do this is writing down the words from a few sentences in the book (or the entire book, if it’s shorter), cutting them apart, and asking your young reader to re-build the sentences.

rebuilding sentences from an early reader

 

My son (at age 4), an early reader, loves doing this on our pocket chart. We rebuild sentences from texts quite a bit. He even likes to make a game out of it! (If you have an early reader, my Reading the Alphabet curriculum has this activity built into every lesson.)

4. Building Fluency

When readers recognize words by sight (within one second of seeing the word), they are more fluent readers. When readers are more fluent, their minds are freed up to focus on the meaning of the text–the purpose of reading. It’s a chain reaction. Am I saying that we should teach all words by sight? Absolutely not! (refer to reason #2). But some words are better learned by sight, especially those common words that kids see all the time in reading, such as the, of, have, etc. Teaching words by sight words does not need to be boring or even include flash cards. It can be fun and interactive! When you can make it multi-sensory, all the better!

5. Supporting Readers Before and After They Read

Sometimes, certain words need to be pulled out of context and introduced before reading. This is especially true of:

1-longer words that the reader would not know or have the strategies yet to figure out on his own or

2- words that, while the reader can figure them out, he does not understand the meaning.

To do this, I glance through the book ahead of time and jot down about three to four words that jump out at me as being difficult words. I jot them down on a dry erase board or piece of paper. Before my second grade son reads the book, I display and read those words to him. We discuss the meaning of the words and/or the features of the word.

Words can also be pulled from the context of the book after reading. For example, if your child continuously read a word incorrectly (without changing the meaning of the text), jot that word down. After your child finishes reading, display the word from the text and the word he said instead side-by-side and talk about each word. For example, if your child read steps instead of stairs, talk about what a good mistake he made because these two words share the common feature of st. But be sure to go a little further in the word. Explore how the middle and ends of those words are different. Doing this helps readers slow down and focus on the patterns within words.

 

While there are some great reasons to read words out of context, please hear me shout it from the rooftop that kids need to be taking what they learn out of context AND applying it to real reading and real writing (in context)!

The ultimate goal of reading and writing words out of context is to help readers comprehend and create texts in context. That sounds like a great goal to me!

 

HeadshotNew-150

Becky Spence a homeschooling mama of 4 little blessings. She is the author of This Reading Mama, where she shares reading and writing activities as well as free literacy curricula and printables. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google +.

 

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, Becky,  for sharing your reading expertise with us!

 

Looking for more activities for building strong reading skills in your children?

Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards:

Or check out the following early literacy blog posts:

halloween sensory bin and learning letter H

halloween sensory bin and learning letter H
post contains affiliate links

The following guest post is written by Jaime of Frogs & Snails & Puppy Dog Tails. Jaime is a busy, creative mom of three young boys, and her blog rocks. Check it out.

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We love holidays at our house. Especially fall holidays.  Halloween has become a not so scary holiday we love.  We have found our own ways, as well as some traditional ways, to have fun.

For instance, we had fun in a Halloween sensory bin last year. So this year I wanted to make the kids a new one for the up coming holiday.  Today I will be sharing how we made our sensory bin and the letter learning we added to it.

So what better letter to go over in the month of October than the letter H for Halloween? We did a fun craft and activity to go along with us talking about the letter H.
  • We did a letter H craft.

What we used:

What we did:

halloween sensory bin and learning letter H

I traced a letter H on the paper and let my 4 yr and 2 yr add Halloween stickers all over it.  This is an easy and fun craft for the kids.  They also get to work on fine motor skills while peeling and placing the stickers.

Now we had a fun decorations for our wall.
The kids loved how their H came out. We also talked about the orange color of the paper too.
halloween sensory bin and learning letter H
What I did:
I made my son a small sensory bin and placed it down inside an extra large plastic bin we have.  This was to help contain the rice mess as this would make for easy clean up.  Once the bin was set out, my son came to play.
halloween sensory bin and learning letter H
  • Halloween Sensory Bin with pumpkin spice rice.  My oldest loves to play in rice.  Since little brother usually just throws it everywhere I set this bin up just for my 4yr.
What I used:
halloween sensory bin and learning letter H
Of course he brought a truck!
He got right to running his hands through the rice.  I think he loves just exploring the texture of the rice.
He got to explore all his sense except taste.
We talked about the letters inside the bin and we went over the letter H sounds and talked about other words that started with the letter H.

halloween sensory bin and learning letter H

Holidays are a great time to have fun and adding a simple learning element to play is always a plus.
We hope you and your kids may have some letter H fun too.

All kids are different and only you can decide how you let your kids play. And with what materials you let them play with. My children are supervised when playing. Please keep this in mind with any post you read of mine!

 


I am an everyday stay at home mom. I have 3 boys ages 4 years to 10 months old.  I love to find fun activities, crafts, recipes…. for us to do together. When I am not washing clothes and chasing the boys around I enjoy sharing our activities and crafts on my  blog Frogs & Snails & Puppy Dog Tail.  You can also follow us through our PinterestFacebookTwitter,Google+,and our G+ community, All Things Kids.

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, Jaime,  for sharing!

Looking for more activities for ringing in Halloween (and sneaking in a little learning) with your littles?

Stop by and follow these great educational Pinterest boards:

fyi: affiliate links are used in this post

recipe reading (and cookie-eating)

recipe reading (and cookie eating) | iced pumpkin spice cookies

post contains affiliate links

iced pumpkin spice cookies cooking with kids

 

 

This post was originally published on December 12, 2009, but as I searched for our Iced Pumpkin Spice Cookie recipe, I found this oldie but goodie and realized that many would appreciate this fun, fall favorite.  Enjoy!

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Today was our holiday cookie-baking day. We baked a million cookies, and we’re still not finished.

As Maddy’s becoming a stronger reader, she has really enjoyed trying her hand at handling the recipe-reading herself. And with this recipe, I formatted the ‘Directions’ differently than I had before, with our muffin-making or fun with that ginormous zucchini.

This time, I roughly followed the structure of Mollie Katzen’s series–frame-by-frame instructions. But I simplified it just a bit, and it seemed to work well.

  • Recipe-Reading–Iced Pumpkin Cookies: We love these sweet cakey-cookies, and I (shhhh!) decided to make them again for my yearly cookie exchange with friends.

It’s an easy recipe, and Maddy, Owen, and Cora get a kick out of adding all of the spices. Plus, the cookies are nut-free, so my pals with allergies in the family can also enjoy them.

iced pumpkin spice cookies -Maddy’s adding spices. . .

The Kid-Friendly Iced Pumpkin Cookies Recipe is here to download. But if you’re exchanging with your pals, why reinvent the wheel–the Mom’s Cookie Exchange Iced Pumpkin Cookies Recipe is also here to download.

Because the recipe calls for ground cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and pumpkin–on top of the normal sugar, butter, egg, my kids seem to especially like making these. And every single time–every time–they want to try each spice.

iced pumpkin spice cookies . . . and Cora’s giving the spices a taste.

So I make tiny piles of the ingredients and let them taste each. Sure, every time Maddy, Owen, or Cora tastes cloves or nutmeg, they stick out their tongue and yell for water, but usually an M & M clears their tiny palates quickly.

I think it’s great to get kids familiar with the differences between salt, sugar, flour, and anything that’s safe to try.

iced pumpkin spice cookies The Pampered Chef cookie ballers
(or whatever they’re called. . . ) really make the job easier.

 

I slipped the recipe sheets into plastic sleeves so that the kids could write on them with crayon and then wipe it off for next time.

As we completed each step of the recipe, Maddy put a check in the appropriate box, just like she did as we gathered our ingredients before we began.

pumpkin spice cookies finished
Our finished Iced Pumpkin Cookies

 

 Our finished products tasted great and looked pretty darn good, too.

Recipe: Iced Pumpkin Cookies by teach mama

 

And that’s it for today. . . tons of cookies baked, and my little emerging readers got some practice reading and following the steps to the recipe as well.

Pour the milk, put some cookies on a plate, and let’s eat some sweets!

 

Do you want to take the recipe to a neighborhood cookie exchange? Print out the parent-version below:

Iced Pumpkin Cookies Recipe to Share by teach mama


fyi: affiliate links are used in this post

street signs for early literacy and math skill building

signs for early literacy learning

signs for early literacy learning

I’ve shared time and again the importance of using what is around you–environmental print–for early literacy and math skill-building.

Signs are everywhere, and they’re free.

And they can really help our little ones to become excited about reading.

Don’t believe me?

Try it.

I’m over at Scholastic Raise a Reader chatting about some ways you can use signs for your own little ones’ early literacy learning.  Check it out: Signs–Easiest Reading Your Kids Should Ever Do.

Want a little more?

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Street Signs For Early Literacy and Math Skill Building:

Check out these few posts about the same subject.

 

alphabet and reading on the roadAlphabet & Reading on the Road

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street signs for learningSigns, Signs, Everywhere are Signs

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street sign mathStreet Sign Math

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Happy street sign reading!!

the national book festival: what it is and why you should go

national book festival what it is and why you should go

national book festival what it is and why you should goThe National Book Festival is this weekend, September 21-23, 2013.

Go.

It’s awesome.

And it’s free.

It’s on the National Mall here in DC, but if you can’t make it, don’t fret.  There are tons of online resources available–so it’s kind of like you’re there even if you’re far from our Nation’s Capital.

Honestly, it’s one of my most favorite weekends of the year, and that’s not an exaggeration.

This year? On Saturday, I’m thrilled about trying to catch a glimpse of KEVIN HENKES (of Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, Owen, A Good Day, many others…), Fred Bowen (from our fave Washington Post section, the Kids Post), Veronica Roth (no joke! she wrote Divergent and Insurgent), the Poetry Out Loud winners, & more.

And Sunday? GIADA!!! Did you read about her new books for kids? Yes. She combines cooking and adventure and kids. We read all about it in the Kids Post this very day.  They’re called the Recipe for Adventure series, and the first takes place in Naples and the second in Paris.

Also? Mark Teague (LaRue books, Pigsty, and more), Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner & A Thousand Splendid Suns) & more.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • The National Book Festival–What it is and Why You Should Go:

Follow @LibraryCongress on twitter because the Library of Congress hosts the event along with honorary chairs, President and Mrs. Obama.   If you go, use #NatBookFest to add your tweets to the mix!

  • What it is: The festival is essentially a celebration of books and reading. It features 100+ authors, poets and illustrators in several pavilions where you can actually meet and hear firsthand a ton of different poets and authors, get books signed, have photos taken with storybook characters and participate in a variety of activities.

national book fest extras

So check out the schedule. Figure out what two or three authors you and your kids want to see. Then search your house for your favorite books by that author, shove the books, some sunscreen, some waters, and some snacks in your backpack, and get your tail on down first thing in the morning.

In the past, they’ve had reusable bags and posters available for visitors, and you just wander around, smiling and happy and in disbelief that you’re in the presence of seriously awesome literary rockstars.

  • Where it is: Between 9th and 14th Streets on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013 from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Sunday, Sept. 22 from noon to 5:30 p.m.   Rain or shine.
  • Why you should go: I wrote about the awesome of the National Book Festival last year, but it is worth repeating.

Check it out:

national book fest -- bring your family

This year:

  • Scholastic will be there again, sharing how a number of authors and illustrators have shown what Read Every Day means to them.  Check out information on Scholastic’s eBook platform, Storia, and Build A Book yourself!
  • PBS Kids will be there again, sharing news on the new series, Peg + Cat, and tons of favorite PBS Kids characters will be there for pictures, like Abby Cadabby from Sesame Street, Arthur, The Cat in the Hat, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Curious George, Daniel Tiger from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Martha from Martha Speaks, the cast of SUPER WHY!, WordGirl and Peg and Cat from the new PBS series.  Educator resources will also be shared. Love it!
  • The Digital Bookmobile will also be there again, along with a number of other cool tents, sponsors, and resources and activities for kids and families.

national book fest fun

Will we see you there?

If so, and you have a Girl Scout in your family, she can earn a National Book Festival badge just by going!

nat book fest girl scout badge

Need more information?

Have you been there before? What suggestions, advice, or experiences do you have to share?

Talk about some serious learning in the every day when and if you can make it down!

 

fyi: This is an unsponsored post, written only to share news of an awesome event I’d love to see more families in the DC metro area take advantage of.

Affiliate links are used in this post; when you click on a link, we get a teeny, tiny little percentage of the sale. Thank you!

school RULES! super-silly lunchbox joke notes

school RULES! super-silly lunchbox joke notes

post contains affiliate links

 

 

school rules lunchbox joke notes

It has been such an amazing summer.  I am desperately, terribly, incredibly sad to see it go.

But here we are.  Marching forward.

At my kids’ request, I whipped up another batch of lunchbox love notes.  This time, they’re silly, wacky, crazy, funny, and giggle-inducing.

They’ve asked for more jokes.  So fun.

And since school’s starting in a minute (waahhhh!), what better way to ring in the new school year than by celebrating their good, ole school days with School RULES! Lunchbox Joke Notes?

Right?  Right.

And really, the jokes help to keep things light for this mama who has a hard time with change.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • School RULES! Super-Silly Lunchbox Joke Notes: During our last summertime library trip, we grabbed a boatload of joke books, and I added the ones that were school-related to this 3-pager joke printable.

They’re funny.  I must admit.

school RULES lunchbox joke notes

school RULES lunchbox joke notes

And because Cora loves the pictures–and can still really benefit from using them to help her decode the text, as an early reader, I tried to add related art for each joke.

Amazing to think that last year’s Wordless Riddles Notes were mostly photos because she couldn’t read as much. Incredible what happens during that Kindergarten year! Our babies learn to read!

There are 24 superstar, hilarious, fabulous notes on these pages.

 

school RULES lunchbox joke notes

Cut the notes together if you have more than one kiddo. . .

school RULES lunchbox joke notes

then write a little love. . .

school RULES lunchbox joke notes

. . . and fold it so that the answer to the joke is hidden!

To make it easier for cutting (so I’m not spending three hours standing and cutting, standing and cutting), I simply grab three copies of the first sheet and cut those–three pages at once. Then I do the same for the second and third sheets.

I stack them in our cabinet so I can easily grab the first three on the pile, write a quick ‘Maddy, I love you! xoxo love Mom’ on the note–something short and sweet–and toss them in the lunchboxes.

The school RULES lunchbox joke notes are here to download and use for your own kiddos if you so choose. If you would, feel free to share with a buddy so that all kids get a little something silly in their lunch this year!

Print them here: school rules joke lunchbox notes

school rules lunchbox notes  | teachmama.com school rules joke lunchbox notes

I try to put the same note in each child’s lunch so I can make sure there aren’t repeats through the month, though that doesn’t always work.  Just clip them together in a little stack so they’re easy to grab when I’m making lunches two seconds before they leave the house.

I wouldn’t worry if your kiddo isn’t reading yet; you can still add lunchbox love notes and have your child ask the teacher to read it to him or her. I did that when Maddy, Owen, and Cora were teeny, and I really think that it helps kids build confidence, patience, manners, and communication skills.

Though teachers are super-busy, and we all know that, most likely he or she can find 15 seconds to read a silly note to a student.

And that’s it. Just a little something silly to get us moving in the right direction next week when school starts. Keeping it light for a few weeks of change.

Want a look at all of our lunchbox looooove notes? Here they are:

Need more awesome Back-to-School lunchy ideas? Definitely check out:

Here’s to a rockstar 2013-2014 school year and many more to come!

fyi: feel free to use the links below to more joke books if you’d like more silly  jokes in your life

learning during read-alouds: improving fluency

help kids improve fluency

help kids improve fluencyThis is a re-post of a November 16, 2011 post because it’s totally worth revisiting.

 

Fluency is a tricky–but totally important–element of reading comprehension.

No. Question. About it.

And though research is funny about fluency’s roll in reading comprehension, I’m a firm believer in the fact that in order to fully understand what is being read, it must be read fluently.

Lately, improving reading fluency has been my focus for Maddy and Owen. And I’ve realized that there are a ton of ways to make fluency practice fun, and I’ve been reminded that what works for one kiddo won’t always work for another.

Here’s the skinny:

  • Fluency: Fluency is defined by Pikulski & Chard as ‘efficient, effective word-recognition skills that permit a reader to construct the meaning of text. . . fluency is manifested in accurate, rapid, expressive oral reading and is applied during, and makes possible, silent reading comprehension.’

Their definition is a synthesis of the definitions in the Report of the National Reading Panel (NICHD, 2000) and The Literacy Dictionary (Harris & Hodges, 1995), so it’s pretty solid.

I, personally prefer the definition of fluency developed by Mrs. Victoria and her second-grade class (as shared in Cahill & Gregory’s article): Fluency is reading like you talk, not too fast and not too slow, with expression and no sounding out.  It’s also important to understand what you read.

I like that definition. It’s easy and basic and sums up–in language that everyone can understand–the beauty and importance of fluency.

tips for improving reading fluencyModel, model, model fluent reading. We HAVE to.

Though there’s debate over whether or not fluent reading involves comprehension, I’m going to get bold and say I truly believe there has to be a link between the two.  You cannot possibly read fluently without understanding what you’re reading, and you cannot truly understand what you’re reading if you’re not reading fluently.  Right? Right.

There. I said it.

So a few months back, when I was chatting with Maddy about a book she had just read–a simple Junie B. Jones chapter book–and she was unable to tell me what happened, I kind of secretly freaked out.  As I watched and listened and watched and listened some more over the next few days, I realized that something was off.

Maddy was speed-reading and not comprehending.  She sped through each page–skipping words and misreading words and barely breathing or paying attention to punctuation in the least.  And I think that part of the reason was to try to get to the parts of her Junie B. books where Junie B. used the type of language that isn’t permitted at our house.  (Why we have these books in our house, I’m not sure, but that’s a whole other story. . . ).

So I decided that if I was going to practice what I preach and not scream SLOW DOWN!!! Stop! What does that say?! NO!! You’re wrong!! then I needed to do some thinking and moving. And fast.

tips for improving reading fluencyJunie B. books . . . hard for fluency practice.

 

Here’s what I did to help Maddy improve her fluency:

1.  I modeled fluent reading.  I read, read, and read some more. I read the Junie B. books that I can barely stand. The books I want to throw out the window.

And gradually I invited Maddy to read a page here and there, and soon it evolved into me reading every other page. And it’s fine.  It’s better.

tips for improving reading fluency

I still shake my head and tsk and tsk more when Junie speaks like a baby or uses incorrect English grammar, but it’s fine. It won’t be forever.

And as we’re reading different texts together at night, Maddy’s more inclined to read more out loud as her confidence is increasing.

2.  I had her re-read.  For passages that made Maddy really giggle and laugh and widen her eyes at Junie’s horrid behavior, I read the whole passage one time, and then I’d shut the book and pretend to totally freak out.

I can’t believe this. I cannot believe her, Maddy. What is she DOING? Please re-read this paragraph just so I can hear it again. I don’t believe it.

And she gladly re-read.  And if she was speedy, I’d say, remember how it sounded when I read it–make it sound the same way.

3.  We tapped our fingers.  At the beginning, after numerous attempts at modeling and having Maddy re-read only to speed through a passage, I had her tap her thumb and pointer finger together at the end of each sentence.

I said, Okay, I can tell it’s hard to stop reading because you love Junie so much, but I’m having a hard time keeping up. And remember that fluent reading should sound like talking–and we have to talk slow enough so that people can understand what we’re saying, right?So how about after each sentence, we pinch our fingers together–just for a second–to remind us that we need to stop and breathe a sec? Sound okay?

She was game. And after a few awkward sentences, sometimes too-long pauses, the tapping became more natural, more habitual, and eventually her pace slowed to a more natural one.

And now she usually starts out tapping but scraps it a few pages in.

4.  We mixed it up. We read shorter pieces–poetry, magazine articles, news articles, craft books–you name it.

I recognize that Junie B. books can be difficult for fluent reading because (thankfully!) Maddy doesn’t speak like she does, so I wanted Maddy to really hear herself reading short texts that she could read fluently and with ease.  Anything goes–cereal boxes, ingredient lists, photo captions in the newspaper, short magazine blurbs and poems.

And so far, she’s digging it.

5.  We celebrate successes.  When Maddy reads a passage really well–paying attention to text pacing, expression, and content–I try to point out exactly what she did that rocked.  Instead of saying something generic like, Oh that sounded great, or I like how you read that, I really get specific.

Maddy, you sounded exactly like Warren might sound when he said that to Junie.  You really made his voice sound sad.  Or Maddy, love that short pause when you saw the hyphen–that’s exactly what it’s there for–a break.

 how full is your bucket

fyi: This is just a starting point!   There are a bazillion ways to make fluency practice fun–and I am eager to try them out and share the other things we’ve been doing over here–but I needed to initially have Maddy slow down and pay attention to punctuation.  She needed to breathe. And slowly–slowly!–she seems to be engaging more with the text, remembering more, and paying closer attention to the concepts now that she’s paying closer attention to the words on the page.

We’ll see. . . .

 

 More of the skinny:

When I really took a step back and looked at what Maddy was doing as far as reading, I was surprised–and slightly taken–by the fact that she wasn’t able to adequately summarize (or even explain just a little bit!) the texts she was reading.  And she reads a lot.

Ever since she was teeny, Maddy went to bed with a huge pile of books.  And as she read them, we’d either hear a thump! clunk. thump. . . thump, as she dropped them from her bed to the floor, or we’d find a big pile of books next to her tiny body when we checked on her before we turned in for the night.

For a long time, I didn’t worry about Maddy’s reading; she made great strides in Kindergarten and again in first grade, and when she hung out on the same level for a few months last year, neither my husband nor I sweated it. It’s normal for kids to make quick level-leaps in the beginning (especially through Kindergarten and first grade), and often, once they reach a certain point–they kind of stay stagnant.

There are a ton of levels in Kindergarten and grade one; ideally, kiddos move from level A to J during this time, as they move through Early Emergent and Emergent Reader Stages while they’re learning the basic concepts of print, alphabetic principles, phonological awareness, and early phonics.  And then in grade two, the move can seem small–K to P–but the strides are great.   Readers slowly begin to tackle more difficult sentence structures, less repetition, more of a reading comprehension focus.  They hang out in levels for a longer period of time, which is why there is a larger number of books in these level ranges.

This is another simple but totally important reading comprehension strategies as part of my Read-Aloud Learning series. I am LOVING it, and thanks to the following *awesome* articles I used as a reference for this post:

Applegate, M. D., Applegate, A. J. and Modla, V. B. (2009), “She’s My Best Reader; She Just Can’t Comprehend”: Studying the Relationship Between Fluency and Comprehension. The Reading Teacher, 62: 512–521. doi: 10.1598/RT.62.6.5

Cahill, M. A. and Gregory, A. E. (2011), Putting the Fun Back Into Fluency Instruction. The Reading Teacher, 65: 127–131. doi: 10.1002/TRTR.01018

Pikulski, J. J. and Chard, D. J. (2005), Fluency: Bridge Between Decoding and Reading Comprehension. The Reading Teacher, 58: 510–519. doi: 10.1598/RT.58.6.2