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

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

post contains affiliate links

 

 

 

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

read magic tricks: cool, fun focused reading

read magic tricks: cool, fun focused reading

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Magic is one of those things that totally intrigues kids.read magic tricks: cool, fun focused reading
They want to know how the tricks work, they want to know why the tricks work, and they want to know as much as they can to trick their friends and family.
So when I saw that Melissa & Doug had a brand, new Magician Role Play Set, I knew that my kids would love it since they’re longtime fans of the other Magic Sets.
Cora learned first-hand recently how much time and effort magic takes to really get those tricks down.
But before long, she had our family–and her buddies–wondering how she was pulling that rabbit out of her hat.
Reading magic tricks gave her the chance to do some cool, fun, and totally focused reading.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Read Magic Tricks–Cool, Fun Focused Reading:

The teeny little magic instruction booklet that comes with this Magician Role Play Set is the perfect size for little hands, and the challenge of reading the text and following the instructions was just the right level for young readers.

read magic tricks: cool, fun focused reading

read magic tricks: cool, fun focused reading

This kind of activity takes reading to a different level. No longer are kids reading for pleasure; rather, they’re reading to make something happen. They’re reading to follow directions and understand the actions they must take in order to trick their audience.

It’s not easy.

And we had to work a bit together to read the text, practice, and re-read to make sure we understood.

read magic tricks: cool, fun focused reading

The tricks are simple: pulling a rabbit out of the hat, making a coin disappear, and making a wand float in air.

And in that sense, I thought they were great for early readers like Cora.

After a lot of practice, she was able to perform.

read magic tricks: cool, fun focused reading

read magic tricks: cool, fun focused reading

Brady and I loved the show!

And because she’s tricky like that, she was quick to take her show on the road. . .

. . . even if the road was only her brother’s soccer practice.  It didn’t matter. The kids loved it, and everyone wanted their turn with the cape, hat, and magic wand.

read magic tricks: cool, fun focused reading | teachmama.com

read magic tricks: cool, fun focused reading | teachmama.com

Super cute.

The kids absolutely loved the challenge of reading the magic trick how-to book so that they can put on a magic show for others.

Huge thanks to Melissa & Doug for creating products that get our kids reading and thinking and sharing the excitement with others!

 read magic tricks: cool, fun focused reading

melissa doug blog ambassador button

 

fyi: I wrote this post as part of the Melissa & Doug Blog Ambassador program.   Melissa & Doug has long created rockstar products that nurture creativity and thought in our children, which is why I am so proud to be a part of this program.

As always, my opinions and ideas are my own, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator.  Affiliate links are used in this post which means that any time you click and purchase using these links, we get a teeny, tiny percentage which helps run this site and keep the content free for you.

fire safety connects with learning at sparkyschoolhouse.org

fire safety connects with learning at sparkyschoolhouse.org

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fire safety connects with learning at sparkyschoolhouse  teachmama.com

Fire safety and learning? Right.

Fire safety is one of those topics that seem to only come up either at a school assembly or when something awful and scary happens in the news.

But it’s a topic–like many difficult topics–that I truly believe should be a frequent, familiar conversation for families.

So when I was asked to take a look at a new app from sparkyschoolhouse.org, you better believe I was game.

It’s an app that does, truly combine important information about fire safety along with fun learning.

I’m thrilled to see the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) doing what they can to be present, ‘in the mix’ of today’s many apps on the market.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Very simply, this is an app you want on your iPad, tablet, or phone. Any mobile device you use, throw it on there.

fire safety connects with learning at sparkyschoolhouse.org

 

fire safety connects with learning at sparkyschoolhouse.org

Because really? It’s got what every parent wants in the complete app package: reading, games, and learning in an easy-to-use platform.

Kids will want to use it because there’s variety, and parents dig it because it all counts. 

I’ve caught Maddy, Owen, and Cora all using the app on separate occasions even after I introduced it to them a few weeks ago. And for me, that’s a serious win.

Sparky and the Case of the Missing Smoke Alarms is an app and story experience–one of those cool ways that learning and games are integrated into a story. The plus? It’s really well done.

 

fire safety connects with learning at sparkyschoolhouse.org

 

fire safety connects with learning at sparkyschoolhouse.org

 

Be forewarned, though: ‘What’s that sound?’ song will be stuck in your head for days on end. But maybe it will remind parents to change the batteries in their smoke alarms?

Overall, the kids and I liked the following elements of Sparky and the Case of the Missing Smoke Alarms:

  • the game. Players help Sparky collect smoke alarms around town and collect batteries as well–because he does have to recharge, after all.
  • the graphics. Simple and clear but not too babyish.
  • the learning. After each section, kids were doing math problems to unlock the next level! Owen totally loved this part.
  • the story. Engaging enough for older readers, with words that are highlighted as they’re read–which is always something parents should look for.
  • the video. Funny. And catchy. And cool.
  • the resources. Tons of resources–printables which include reading, math, word problems. Lesson plans for teachers. Simple, printable games to use as extensions if you have a family discussion about fire safety.

fire safety connects with learning at sparkyschoolhouse.org

Sparky and the Case of the Missing Smoke Alarms is an app created by NFPA, a nonprofit dedicated to spreading the word about fire safety, and it’s been around for years and years. I know I totally remember Sparky the Fire Dog from way back when I was in school, so it’s cool to see him back in action, rocking and rolling in apps that work for today’s kids, too.

Check out the site and Sparky and the Case of the Missing Smoke Alarms app! iTunes  |  Google Play

What do you think? I’d love to hear  your thoughts on this app!

 

fyi: This post is written as part of a partnership with NFPA. All opinions are my own, as always, influenced only by my experience as a parent and educator. 

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.

quick, kid-friendly after school snack: Bagel Bites (and $100 Visa gift card giveaway!)

quick, kid-friendly after school snack Bagel Bites teachmama.com

I can hardly believe that the new school year is almost upon us.quick, kid-friendly after school snack: Bagel Bites | teachmama.com

But it is.

And before I know it, our home will be a whirlwind of paper, pencils, and new backpacks. Lunch bags, homework, projects, and field trips.

And though I know how important it is to keep our kids’ lives balanced, what usually makes me crazy is the after school activities–the extra-curriculars. The running home, unpacking backpacks, speeding through snack, and heading back out the door only to return home two or three hours later.

Even though our goal is to have each child choose one after school activity, as they get older, the activities run several times a week. So where soccer or dance once was a happy Saturday morning family event, now it’s become two practices a week with games or rehearsals on the weekends.  Not always easy.

So often our kids do a lot of grabbing food on the go.  And as they get older, I’ve had to explore different options. Quicker snacks with more belly-filling potential.

Bagel Bites are a quick, kid-friendly after school snack that I’ll definitely be reaching for more this year. Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Quick, Kid-Friendly After School Snack–Bagel Bites:

I need snacks that one kid can grab and prepare on his or her own while I help the other two with their homework.

quick, kid-friendly after school snack: Bagel Bites | teachmama.com quick, kid-friendly after school snack: Bagel Bites | teachmama.com

And snacks that will get my kids through activities and to dinner when we return? Even better.

Why I’ll pick up Bagel Bites for my busy, active kiddos:

  • Bagel Bites only use real cheese – Mozzarella, Cheddar and Monterey Jack.
  • They make their own tomato sauce from scratch.
  • Bagel Bites mixes their bagel dough from scratch every day on site, using high-quality ingredients.
  • Zero grams of trans fat per serving.
  • Bagel Bites® snacks are baked, never fried.

quick, kid-friendly after school snack: Bagel Bites | teachmama.com quick, kid-friendly after school snack: Bagel Bites | teachmama.com

And? You can see all the ingredients that are part of Bagel Bites snacks, which makes me more inclined to hand them to my kids.

Bagel Bites snacks are fun, quick, easy, convenient and quality snacks that I won’t hesitate to pick up because I know they’re worth my time–and my kids’ time.  

quick, kid-friendly after school snack: Bagel Bites | teachmama.com

The super-cool thing?  One teachmama.com reader can now win a $100 Visa gift card to kick-off the back-to-school season!  The winner can use his or her $100 for anything–supplies, snacks, whatever. And actually, everyone’s a winner here because you can score a Bagel Bites coupon just for kicks!

————————————————————-

GIVEAWAY:  $100 Visa gift card Provided by Bagel Bites. Do you want a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card just in time for the new school year??!  Yes, yes you do.

——————————-

To enter to win, please leave a comment below sharing your answer:

  • What is your favorite anytime snack?

Sweepstakes Rules:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post

2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post

3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post

4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 8/25-9/28.

Be sure to visit the Bagel Bites brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

happy first day flowers for teachers, secretaries, or principal (& giveaway!)

happy first day teacher flowers teachmama.com

As a paid Quaker Classroom Ambassador, I am eager to share information about Quaker Up For Classrooms.

 

Back to school time is here.happy first day flowers for teachers, secretaries, or principal

And for many teachers and school employees, that means this is the busiest time of the year.  Busiest.

And with busy often comes stress.

For us, flowers often make a lot of that stress disappear.  Or. . . okay. If not disappear, then at least lessen.  A little.

So we share our de-stressors with those people with whom our kids will be spending the greater part of their little lives for the next 180 days: teachers.  

We love to share happy first day flowers with our new teachers, secretaries, or principal that first week of school–as a way to say thank you, welcome back, and let’s make it a rockstar year.

Though it may seem like this is a huge expense for us, it’s not. We’ve got some secrets to share.

And? I’ve got a super-fun, huge and awesome gift pack to give away to de-stress your life.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Happy First Day Flowers for Teachers, Secretaries, or Principal:

Whether your kiddos bring flowers for their teachers or the office staff, it doesn’t matter.

The idea is that we’re giving great people big thanks for doing hard work.  If your kids are hesitant to bring flowers for their teachers on the first day, it’s cool.

 

happy first day flowers for teachers, secretaries, or principal

happy first day flowers for teachers, secretaries, or principal | teachmama.com

 

First, we hit our local thrift store.

You got it. The under-used, often forgotten little gem that yields more surprises than you’d ever think. We love our thrift store, and we’re lucky that we’ve got a great one very close to us.

We buy enough small flower vases to cover everyone we need. Sometimes we’ve done just teachers. Some years we’ve done just office staff. It’s always different.

Often the vases are $. 25 to $ .50! And sometimes? They’re half price!

Serious deal.

 

happy first day flowers for teachers, secretaries, or principal | teachmama.com

 

happy first day flowers for teachers, secretaries, or principal | teachmama.com

 

Then we hit the grocery stores.

We buy several bouquets of flowers–whatever is on sale.

I’m betting that if money is tight for you and you hit a local florist and explain what you’re doing, they’d be quick to offer you some donations. Everyone loves teachers, and most people are thrilled to say thank you to them.

 

happy first day flowers for teachers, secretaries, or principal | teachmama.com

 

happy first day flowers for teachers, secretaries, or principal | teachmama.com

And then? The fun part–the part that my kids love: filling the vases.

We do a mix of monochromatic and mixed arrangements, and really? They all look beautiful. How could they not?

We finish them off with a pretty ribbon, and they’re ready to go.

Our Happy First Day Flowers put a smile not only on our faces–but they put smiles on the recipients’ as well.  

 

These little ‘Happy First Day Flowers’ can be used any time of the year–and honestly, if they’re for no occasion, the better.

Everyone loves to get flowers. Everyone.

Especially surprise flowers.

 

—————————————————————

GIVEAWAY: Here’s what our Quaker gift pack looked like–yours will be similar!

 [comments are closed! Alicia C chosen winner by random.org]

GIVEAWAY: a ROCKSTAR Quaker Gift Pack that includes a variety of back-to-school items and Quaker products, including:

  • An LED Light-up Alarm Clock featuring a color-changing display, dual alarm clock perfect for busy families and music player compatible with any music-playing device
  • A Travel Oatmeal Bowl & Spoon Set for breakfast on-the-go
  • A Collapsible Lunch Container ideal for packing school snacks and lunches in one
  • A $25 Visa gift card to create your very own teacher appreciation gifts
  • A variety of specially-marked AdoptAClassroom.org Quaker products, including Quaker Instant Oatmeal, Life Cereal and Quaker Oatmeal Squares
  • Total giveaway value is approximately $92.00

Do you want to win a Quaker Gift pack? YES! Yes, you do!

 

All you have to do is leave a comment here telling me the name of your favorite teacher and why you loved him or her.

 

For extra entries, get creative, yo!!:

  • Share this post on your Facebook page–very easy!
  • Share this post with a friend (just tell me who you shared it with!)
  • Pin this post on Pinterest! (Use ‘pin it!’ button below post!)
  • G+  this post on Google+  (Use the G+ button below post!)

 

By entering this super-quick giveaway, you are demonstrating your understanding of and compliance with the Official Sweepstakes Rules.

HURRY! This giveaway ends Friday, September 5, 2014 at midnight ET. Winner will be chosen by ‘And the Winner is. . .’ and will be notified on or around 9/05/14.  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: Thank you to Quaker and AdoptaClassroom.org for creating this program. I am proud to be a Quaker Classroom Ambassador.  Quaker is providing the prizes for this program at no cost to me. This program is not administered or sponsored by Quaker or its affiliates, but solely by teach mama media, llc. 

 

summer fun for older kids: tabletop surprises

summer fun for older kids: tabletop surprises

summer fun for older kids: teachmama.com tabletop surprises

I say it’s ‘summer fun for older kids’ only because my kids are no longer toddlers or preschoolers–they’re big-time elementary schoolers.

They know what they want, and they’ve been totally digging our tabletop surprises.

It’s hard for me to believe that my kids are really ‘big kids’, but they really are.  Maddy is a rising 5th grader, Owen’s a rising 3rd grader, and Cora is (gasp!) starting 2nd grade in the fall. 

No more babies, toddlers, or preschoolers. No more Kindergarten anxiety. Now we’re all into chapter books, writing stories, and mastering math facts.

We’re also now moving quickly toward school-mode and even did our back-to-school shopping on Monday, after the kids and I shopped, charted, and searched for the best prices around.  And though our week this week was broken by a trip to Nanny and Pap’s house, we did manage to keep up with our tabletop surprises, even if we rocked some mazes in the car en route.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Summer Fun for Older Kids–Tabletop Surprises:

A quickie re-cap of the week. Be sure to follow us on instagram as we share our daily adventures!

monday:

back-to-school shopping! having the kids figure out the BEST place for deals and steals = real-world math at its finest! #tabletopsurprises #summer #timeisflying #backtoschool

tuesday:

art! and playing with some of the coolest museum websites around! #tabletopsurprises #summer #familyfun #art

 

 

wednesday:

mazes, mazes, mazes! #tabletopsuprises #summer #familyfun

 

 

thursday:

a free ticket to get dirty in the summer #tabletopsuprises #summer #freeplay #play

 

 

friday:

slow start to our day but we’re getting there. . .rainy, gray day will hopefully be brighter with our own watercolor rainbows #tabletopsuprises #summer #creativekids #momsofinstagram #familyfun

 

Check out all the fun we’re having this summer! 

Follow along on Instagram and leave YOUR user name in the comments so we can follow YOUR #tabletopsurprises adventures!

 

Want the skinny on #tabletopsurprises? Wonder what in the world I’m talking about?

Check it out:

tabletop surprise email promo 400 teachmama.com.png

 

 

what to say when kids make reading mistakes

what to say when kids make reading mistakes teachmama.com

originally published on 8/5/10 but sharing again because we all need these refreshers. . . 

 

what to say when kids make reading mistakes teachmama.comSo what should you say when a child makes mistake during reading?

I’ve been asked this question so many times by my friends, by parents of students I tutor, and by many, many readers of this blog.

And because we’ve run into this situation most recently this week after our trip to the library for fish books, I thought I’d share some ways that parents–and teachers–can handle those tough, uncomfortable times when kids make reading mistakes.

These are ways that I handle times when Maddy makes mistakes, these are the things I said when I listened to her classmates read when I volunteered at her school, and these are things I say when I’m tutoring and working with students.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • What to Say When Kids Make Reading Mistakes: Sure, our first inclination is to just give kiddos the word–especially if we’re in a time crunch or if the child is an especially slow reader.

Child: Something must be wr-wr wh-whh. Wrrroooo. Wruu. I don’t know.

Parent: It’s ‘wrong’. ‘Wrong.’ ‘Something must be wrong with. . .’

Child: Oh. ‘Something must be wrong with the sun to-today.’

The kiddo gets off easy and will soon learn that all he has to do is make some feeble attempts at sounding out a word in order to get Mom or Dad–or teacher–to throw him the rope.

We’ve all done it, but it sure isn’t a great habit.

 

When kids blindly choose a book to read,they may run into some reading problemos. Teach them to choose just right books.

There are ways we can use these exciting and (sometimes) trying times during emerging reader read-alouds as jumping off points for learning. If we just keep a few phrases in our back pockets, our kids really might start to become stronger readers before our eyes. . .

When kids won’t even try to sound out a word or they won’t budge, say:

  • Think about the letters you recognize and the sounds they make. What sound does this letter make (point to first letter)? Let me hear you make the sound. Now what sound does this letter make (point to second letter)? Let’s put the sounds together. . .
  • Look at the letters you know in the word and the picture on the page. The picture is here to help you. Think about the sound this letter makes (point to first letter of word) and what you see in the picture. . .

what to say when kids make reading mistakes

  • Think about what’s going on in this story. You just read, (read previous line). Look at the picture, look at the word, and think about what might happen next.
  • Skip the word you don’t know and move to the next word you can read.
  • You might not recognize this word, but I know you know this word (cover the first letter and let him read the part he knows—at from ‘bat’). Think about the sound that ‘b’ makes, put the sounds together, and you’ll have it!
  • You just read this word on the previous page, and you read it correctly. Use your detective eyes, find the word on the other page, and see if that helps.

what to say when kids make reading mistakes

When a child makes an error on a page and moves right on by like nothing happened, even if what she read makes no sense: Let her go! Don’t interrupt mid-reading; instead consider saying at the end of the sentence, phrase, or paragraph:

  • Are you correct?
  • Read it again and check closely.
  • Can you find the tricky part?
  • It’s in this line.
  • I’ll point it out and help you find it.

Use this prompt occasionally even when your child reads the words correctly!

That way she’ll get in the habit of self-monitoring while she’s reading solo.

Remember also to use the above prompts in order–that way beginning with a general question (Are you correct?) will have her go back and check her work without your help and specific direction!

what to say when kids make reading mistakes

what to say when kids make reading mistakes | teachmama.com

If you’d like to have these prompts as a pdf, you may download what to say when kids make reading mistakes.  It has a little more explanation and information and will hopefully be something worthwhile to keep on hand!

Cheers, and happy reading during this incredibly exciting journey!

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!

fun, kid-friendly learning at baseball games

learning at baseball games teachmama.com

Originally published June 6, 2011 but republished today because, well, it’s worth it.

 

learning at baseball games | teachmama.com blankThis past week, we experienced something totally new and exciting–a rite of passage of sorts.  We walked into a new chapter in our lives, and I can hardly believe it: we watched six innings of a baseball game.

Live and in person.  On a Friday night.  With two of our kids. And it was really, really fun.

We’ve tried it before–all three kids on a sunny summer afternoon, in the sweltering heat.

And it was not fun.

And the games we attended when I was pregnant, and I tried–unsuccessfully–to sit comfortably with a kid (or kids) on and off of my lap, it was even less fun.

So this time, with two kids who were a bit older–7 and 5 years old–it was a lot different.

We missed Cora–for sure–but at 4, she’s still pretty much done by 7:30, which is when our game started on Friday. So she had a blast at a National’s game last weekend with her Dad and instead got to hang with her grandparents on Friday night.

Every now and again–in between eating french fries, pistachios, and ice-cream and cheering for the O’s–we did a few things that got our kids’ brains moving and eyes focused.

In doing so, we realized that it’s very easy to sneak in some kid-friendly learning at baseball games.

Yes, Maddy and Owen could sit for a whole lot longer than they were able to in the past, but my husband and I still did a little bit of entertaining to keep the kids focused during the game–very natural, totally low-key, no-stress learning that involved reading, numbers, and games.

Here’s what we did:

  • Watched the Game: Okay, not the whole time. Not even the majority of the time. But that’s what we went for, so that’s what we started out doing. But seriously, the Orioles aren’t ranked even a little bit in the league, so it’s no wonder that things started to slow down almost as soon as it began.  So yes, we watched the game.

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learning at baseball games | teachmama.com blank

 

Maddy and Owen understand the basics because they played t-ball last spring.  So teaching the game wasn’t absolutely necessary.  But if they didn’t understand it, of course that’s where we’d begin.

  • Players’ Numbers: Just asking, Which player is on first base? What’s his number? or Which guy has the largest number on his shirt? Can you find the player with the smallest number? Who’s wearing a larger number–the guy on first base or the first base coach? gave Maddy and Owen a little something to look for during down-times.

Just talking about the numbers–and having kids recognize them and identify them–is a great learning opportunity for younger kids. Often kids don’t have many opportunities to identify double-digit numbers; this is a fun place to have them practice.

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talking about the numbers on uniforms helps get kids familiar with double-digits

 

  • Keeping Score: I remember my dad scoring the Yankee games I attended with him as a kid, and I loved how the numbers and symbols fit inside each box–and how the whole thing could tell the story of the game.

Though admittedly I’m not a major sports fan, keeping score–along with eating ballpark snacks–may be my two favorite parts of baseball games. It’s not that difficult, and it’s actually easy to teach kids how to keep score at a baseball game–though I do think Owen is on the young side for it.

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I taught him the basics, but the great thing is that there’s really no wrong way; like keeping track in Running Records, you can make it your own because you’re doing it for you.

Not only is there counting and number-writing, but there’s also writing with the names of the players. It’s a great way to stay focused during the game and get familiar with the players.

 

 

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This fastball was 91 mph. 91 MPH?!!

 

  • Watch the Pitch Speeds: Once I showed Maddy and Owen where the pitching speeds were, they were in awe.  And for a good long while they watched and squealed when every pitch speed appeared.

We’d compare numbers, talk about which was the highest, and sigh deeply when speeds were in the 80’s. When we saw the first ‘curveball’ come up, we got all excited, and we talked about why the speed might be lower for the curveball vs the fastball.

It’s insane to think about how fast these guys are throwing balls, but it’s something that kids probably won’t understand for a good long while.

 

  • Snacking: I know, the total obvious. But snacking was a great way for us to pass time at the game. There’s an unwritten rule about having to stop at the vendors before you enter the stadium and buying waters and peanuts (or pistachios), and once inside the stadium, how can you pass up ballpark dogs, pretzels, and ice-cream? You can’t. I can’t. We didn’t.

There is a tiny bit of reading inside Cracker Jack boxes. . . does that count for learning? Okay, I thought not.

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Mmmmmm, ice-cream at a ballpark? Sure. Even if it’s that crazy dot-kind.

 

  • Lefties vs Righties: My Maddy is a leftie, so after we did a close examinatio n of her baseball glove, smiling big about the ‘Girls Rule’ written inside it, we counted the players who were left-handedThen we counted the ones who were right-handed. For a while we kept an eye on the batters’ swings to see if one inning would have more lefties than righties batting, but then we lost count and moved on to something else.

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How many lefties were on the field? Not nearly as many righties. . .

 

  • I Spy–Words in the Park: There are SO many words to read in a ballpark, it’s nuts. From the ads on the fence to the names on the scoreboard, to the words on the concessions, words are everywhere.

So when the kids started squirming, we played a few rounds of ‘I Spy–Words in the Park’. We’d say, I spy the word, ‘win’. And we’d squint and search until we found it.  Sometimes, we’d say, I spy a word that begins with the letter ‘g’. . . and we’d go from there. Either way works.

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Either way gets kids looking for words, searching for letters, and at least looking (kind of) at the field.

  • Kid Program: I was totally impressed to see that Camden Yards–an extremely family-friendly ballpark to begin with–added yet another awesome  feature to its gig: a kid program.  I happily paid $3 for the program because I knew that if there was one teeny-tiny word search in there, Owen would be a happy, happy camper.

And there was not only a word search–a HUGE one–but there were easy-to-read articles, mazes, and a kid score card. Woot!

I plan to pull this pup out during homework time this week; we didn’t finish it all and still need to read some articles.

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My happy O-man: rockin’ the word search

  • Take a Walk: Walk around the stadium, let the kids look at the people, the stands, the workers, the restaurants, the different levels.

We luckily scored a great spot at the ‘O’ pretzel window, so Maddy and Owen got to watch soft pretzels being made into huge ‘O’s before they sank their teeth into one a little later.  There’s a lot to talk about in a stadium, a lot of great spots for people-watching and game-watching on the many tv’s planted here and there.

learning at baseball games | teachmama.com blankThe pretzel-makers were so nice!!

Camden Yards–and most major league stadiums at this point–has a great spot where kids can

play, so we spent some time there on our way out. Maddy and Owen had their picture taken in front of a wall-sized stadium photo, they played on the park equipment, and they tried to throw some fastball in the speed cages.

  • Play the Games: If you’re into the silly games on the scoreboard, your kids will be into the games, too. So we cheered when I (somehow) managed to keep my eye on the crab hiding the baseball in the mix-up cartoon, and we sang and danced along with the ‘Fans of the Game’ who were featured on screen.

Try to catch the t-shirts they throw in the air, play the word scrambles on the screen, and guess the player trivia–even if you don’t really know the players that well. It’s all for fun, and being a part of the experience–an active part–makes it more fun for everyone.

Seriously, if you’ve got a big voice, start the wave. Your kids will think you’re the bomb.

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  • Catch a Ball: If you’re close enough, and you plan well, catching a ball can be a highlight.

My husband had Maddy and Owen ready when the O’s were on the field and made their second out; and the second the third was made, the three of them ran down to the dugout and waved and hooted and hollered until a player tossed them a game ball. WOO-hoo!!

Now sure, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but with some planning and prep, it’s possible–and it sure makes the game fun!

 

And that’s it. With a very busy week of no preschool, lots of deadlines, lots of great things in the works, and a lot of time spent on the summertime learning eBook–that’s about all we could muster.

We are very thankful to our neighbors who share these special tickets with us every so year; we could never afford these kind of insanely fabulous seats, and we are very grateful for their generosity.

fyi. . . Some sites I plan to check out in the next few years that may be helpful to some families now:

 

10 best father’s day gifts (stuff Dad REALLY wants!)

10 fathers day gifts he really wants | teachmama.com

This post is sponsored by Walmart.

10 fathers day gifts he really wants cover.png

 

No more ties, mugs, shaving sets, or gift cards.

No more Father’s day Coupon Books, mouse pads, t-shirts, or DVDs.

Dad’s seen them all, and he has more than enough of these kinds of gifts. This year, we’re thinking outside the box a bit.

We’re getting the dads in our life something really special for Father’s Day, something really different.

My husband is an incredible father to our children. He really is.

So when Father’s Day rolls around, I want to do my best to show him how much I appreciate him and all he does.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • 10 Best Father’s Day Gifts (Stuff Dad REALLY Wants!):  We all know he says he loves the underwear and socks (and sure, he needs them. . . ) but how about something a little more exciting this year?

 10 fathers day gifts he really wants experience gifts  teachmama.com.

Experience Gifts:

1.  Ball Game: Wrap up a new baseball gloveicon or baseball hat, but surprise Dad with tickets to see his favorite team.  Professional baseball games can get expensive, so consider attending a minor league or local college game—they’re just as fun!

2.  Hiking day: Introduce your dad to the awesome art of geocaching and give him a handheld GPSicon.  Geocaching is an absolute blast, and not only will Dad be intrigued, he’ll be totally up for the challenge of finding those caches!

3.  Concert: Bring some of Dad’s music to life by finding out when his favorite group is coming to town.  Tickets to a concert may be a little pricey, but isn’t Dad worth it?

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Gifts of Knowledge:

4.  Classes: Wrap up a course book from the local community college and tell Dad that he can register for a course he’s wanted to take next semester.  Or if Dad’s not the studying type (or already has the degrees he wants!), find a class that aligns with his hobbies or interests. Consider: riding lessons, woodworking lessons, cooking lessons, or dance lessons (with Mom, of course!).

5. Training: Sometimes it’s hard for dads to admit they need help with something, so a private trainer is the answer.  Whether it’s a personal trainer at the gym, a few hours with the golf pro at the course, or solo time with a speed coach, whatever Dad loves, there’s a pro out there to help him improve.

6.  Stylist: Though he may not think he needs a personal stylist or a make-over, many dads need a little jumpstart to move them in the direction of finding their best self.  Most department stores or salons offer styling and make-overs. Believe me, Dad will love it.

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Subscription Gifts:

7.  Music Channel: Tons of music subscription channels are on the market now, so shop around and find one that suits Dad’s needs.  Wrap up a pair of headphones along with a note explaining the gift, and Dad will be a happy guy.

8.  Favorite Television Channel:  Whether Dad loves movies or sports, news or the arts, there is a premium subscription channel for him. Treat him to his favorite for a few months, and I’m betting he’ll be over the moon.

9.  Magazine Subscription:  Time, Sports Illustrated, Vibe, or National Geographic. People, Wired, Men’s Health, or Car & Driver. Though we’re in the digital age, magazines are still super fun to receive, read, and share.

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Gifts of Love:

10.  Really, all Dad wants for Father’s Day is to know he is loved and respected by his family, so do for him what you know he will love and appreciate.  Consider:

  • Making all the meals for the day
  • Taking over Dad’s household chores for the day
  • Treating Dad to a foot massage or back rub
  • Putting on a show or play for Dad
  • Playing music or singing a song for Dad
  • Writing a story about Dad or a poem for him

What are your favorite ways to celebrate Dad on his big day? I’d love to hear your ideas about what has worked—and what has not worked—for the Dad in your life!

Do let us know in the comments!

 

fyi: I am blogging on behalf of Walmart.com and received compensation for my time, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Walmart’s. Shop online and save money to live better at http://www.walmart.com.