getting kids to love reading with a literacy club: LITClub

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

Thank you, Ali, for this incredible post!

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

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

How important is it for our children to enjoy books?

We have an innate hunger for STORY.

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

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

 

2012, The Hobbit Dinner and a Movie

 

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

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

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

 

get kids to love reading | litclub

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

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

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

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

get kids to love reading | litclub

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

5 reasons moms love the outcome!

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

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

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

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

get kids to love reading | litclub

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you transform reading into an experience?

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

other posts in the series:

the ONLY thing parents need to know during read-alouds

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most important thing for read alouds | teachmama.com

What should parents know about read-alouds? 

What must every read-aloud have? 

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

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

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

No, no and no.

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

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

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

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So.  What do you think? 

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

 

Thanks for reading, my friends!

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

money poems, money songs: fun ways to teach kids about money

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originally published on 5.14.10

post contains affiliate links

 

 

money poems, money poems  teachmama.com

Maddy’s been learning about money in school. Pennies, nickels, dimes–and she’s been talking 1’s, 5’s, and 10’s like nobody’s business.

Add her big half-dollars from her Pap and the ever-busy Tooth Fairy, and Maddy’s money jars are growing along her knowledge of coins and money.

So today, while she was home from school with a pinkish eye (which didn’t even turn out to be pink eye–woo-hoo!), we poemed it up a bit. And sang a little. And some of it’s even on video.

  • Money Poems, Money Songs: Many thanks to Maddy’s awesome kindergarten team of teachers who sent her home with several of these money-poems a few weeks back.

Along with a few that I added myself, we sang money songs and read money poems between baking, playing, gardening, and (of course) tending to that somewhat sore, slightly pink eye.

I printed out the money poems, money songs sheet which you may certainly download. I didn’t even use cardstock this time, although I always think that’s helpful.

money poems, money poems  teachmama.comtwo of the poems: I Have a Shiny Penny & Ten Pennies
money poems, money poems  teachmama.com

Maddy cut out the piggy bank and coins, and I cut the opening for her. Unlike her excitement over decorating the Cookie Jar Poem pieces, she wasn’t too keen on beautifying her piggy bank. She was more into preparing to ham it up for the video camera, which I brought out after she read the poems a few times to Owen, Cora, and me.

Because Maddy had read some of these poems several times already, I brought out the video camera so she could watch herself do the reading. She was pumped–ready to roll–and once the camera started recording, she got funny and nervous. We watched her read two poems, and then she said it was enough.

money poems, money poems teachmama.com

Maybe she really felt uncomfortable with how she looked or sounded; I’m not sure. Maybe it was because Cora and Owen lost interest and started making flowers and sippy cups (don’t ask) out of Tinker Toys.

Either way, I didn’t push it. I was happy to have her home, happy to have her excited about reading the poems, and happy that she was looking forward to playing with her brother and sister. (From a distance, of course, for fear of them catching her pinkish-eye.)

money poems, money poems teachmama.com

 

fyi: Some of these Money Poems, Money Songs I love, and some are just well, not my favorites. I’m not a fan of slant rhyme (thin/ten; coin/find), and I did take some liberties with changing punctuation or wording here and there. Be forewarned, and my apologies to the real poets, wherever they may be.

But I am a huge fan of the big re-read as an attempt to increase emerging readers’ confidence, familiarity with a text, and overall fluency. With shorter pieces, like poems and leveled texts, re-reading is especially easy and incredibly worthwhile.

It’s no secret that the best approach to supporting our emerging readers is providing them with a balanced reading program–one that promotes phonological awareness, fluency, phonics, reading comprehension strategies, and writing development on a daily basis (NICHD 2000).

Fluency is an incredibly easy element to work on at home, with our little learners, and there’s tons of cool ways of doing so. Whether it’s with a video recording, an echo read, a choral read, or reading into the ole mic, re-reading texts is important. Fluency can be increased through repeated oral reading with feedback and guidance (NICHD 2000); it’s just a matter of coming up with interesting ways of convincing our kiddos to pick up that book again. And again. And again. And then maybe one more time.

I know it’s something that I have been working on with Maddy for the last few months, and it’s something I’ll make more of an effort to share in future posts. Thanks for reading!

thanks for the inspiration:
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel. Teaching Children to Read: Reports of the Subgroups. (NIH Publication No. 00–4754. Washington, DC. US Government Printing Office.

Pressley, M., Gaskins, I.W., & Fingeret, L. (2006). Instruction and Development of Reading Fluency in Struggling Readers. In S. Samuels, & A.E. Farstrup (Eds.), What Research Has to Say About Fluency Instruction (pp. 47-69). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

 

Want a few more posts about money, money, money money!?

early literacy game for kids: read a word, build a snowman

early literacy game for kids: read a word, build a snowman

read a word, build a snowman | teachmama.com

originally published December 20, 2009 

We have had a ton of snow dropped on us in the last two days; clearly, my kiddos have snow on the brain.

So I knew that if I wanted to sneak in a little bit of early literacy learning over here while we were stuck in the house, I had to capitalize on their current love interest: snow!

Sure, we’ve been reading, coloring, and playing with Legos (and don’t get me wrong–along with our fair share of teasing, arguing, and crying), but those sight words are just so darn easy to stick into games that I found inspiration in one of my old faves and turned it into a snowy day read a word, build a snowman face.

An early literacy game for kids.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Build a Snowman Game: This is so easy.

First, I used cardstock and printed out two copies of the read a word, build a snowman face, which includes a snowman’s face and five parts–two coal eyes, a carrot nose, a coal mouth, and a hat.

You can download it here: read a word, build a snowman face.

Then I printed two copies of thebecause Maddy seemed ready, and I knew I was going to be on Owen’s ‘team’ while we played today.

read a word, build a snowman | early literacy game | sight words | teachmama.com

Owen’s five word cards

Finally, I grabbed Maddy and Owen and asked if they wanted to build an inside snowman before their rest times today. Of course, they looked at me like I was crazy, but then they finally said, “YES!!”

I said, We’re going to play a new game today to celebrate the snow, and it’s called ‘Build a Snowman Game‘. We’ll use some of Maddy’s word cards, and all you need to know is that the game is kind of like ‘Go Fish’. Remember that game?

I need you to put all of these tiny word cards face down in a pile. Then Maddy, you’ll take your snowman face, and Owen you take our snowman face, and we’ll get started.

read a word, build a snowman | early literacy game | sight words | teachmama.com

 

read a word, build a snowman | early literacy game | sight words | teachmama.comOwen had two word pairs, so he earned two snowman parts:
a nose and mouth.

Essentially, the object is to be the first player to complete her snowman face. But in order to put an eye, or a nose, a mouth, or a hat on your snowman, you need to find matching word pairs.

Each player begins with five word cards and should have at least five cards at all times.

We put our word cards on green paper plates because, for some reason, we had two green plates were in our living room. We also kept our word cards face up because we wanted to help each other out a bit.

 

read a word, build a snowman | early literacy game | sight words | teachmama.com

Players put down any pairs they pick, and they can add a piece to the snowman when they find a pair. Then, like Go Fish, player one asks player two if she has a word from his hand, and if she does, she gives it to him; if not, player one grabs a card from the pile.

When one person completes a snowman face, then she’s the winner–as long as she can read each of her five word pairs!

We made sure to read the words as we went along, and I also used brown M & M’s as the snowman’s eyes. (Seriously, why not? They look like eyes, and after the cookies and candy my kids have been putting away, what’s two more M & M’s except more holiday game fun?)

read a word, build a snowman | early literacy game | sight words | teachmama.com

read a word, build a snowman | early literacy game | sight words | teachmama.comYa-hoo! Owen and I completed our face!

They liked it. They really seemed to enjoy the game, and they were excited-giddy even before they ate their chocolate. Kids like to create faces, and this was simple enough that they could manage the word reading and face building and not be overwhelmed.

I think that tomorrow we’ll do it with the Early Emergent Words or the Letter Cards. Or maybe both. And I’m seeing more ‘Face Building-Scene Creating’ Games in our long, cold, snowy-winter future. . .

read a word, build a snowman | early literacy game | sight words | teachmama.com

read a word, build a snowman | early literacy game | sight words | teachmama.com

The cool thing about this game is that I can use it for any level–letters if one of my kiddos needs work on letter recognition or any level of sight words that I need. Feel free to do the same.

And I’m jumping for joy! I just re-saved all of the files as pdf’s and will be saving that way from here on out; maybe that will be easier for my friends to open and use the files at home. Let me know what you think. Happy Snowman Building!

10 must-read multicultural children’s books

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10 must-read multicultural children's books | recommendations for younger and older readers @teachmama

Today is Multicultural Children’s Book Day, and we are celebrating diversity in children’s literature!

Woo-hoo!  You better believe I’m all for it.

Our kids must read a wide variety of books, books that feature characters of all shapes and sizes. They need to read about different families, foods, and cultures.  Different holidays, customs, and crafts.  Different experiences, events, and celebrations.

It’s imperative that our books reflect the world around us, and, in my opinion, there’s no better way to open up the doors of conversation and learning rather than with books.

And though there are a million, trillion books out there, today you’ll be able to add some great, new titles to your list for your next library trip, thanks to my list here and the many other bloggers who are writing about their favorite multicultural children’s books today.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • 10 Must-Read Multicultural Children’s Books: I’ll be honest. I’m kind of cheating here.

Narrowing this list down was pretty tricky for me, since I have a boatload of favorite multicultural children’s books.

But what I also realized is that because my own kiddos (10, 8, and 6 years old) are slowly moving over to that YA (young adult) bookshelf, my picks are a bit of both.

I couldn’t help it.

My top five must-read multicultural children’s books are:

  • Cora Cooks Pancit, by Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore  | Little Cora learns the art of cooking pancit with the help of her mama on a rare day when her brother and sisters are out of the house.
  • The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush, by Tomie de Paola  |  I love Tomie de Paola’s take on this Indian legend about how a young boy, the artist of his tribe, creates a painting to fulfill his Dream-Vision.
  • So Far from the Sea, by Even Bunting  |  The Iwasaki family visits Manzanar, where Japanese were interned during WWII, and little Laura says goodbye to her Grandfather in a touching and memorable way.
  • The Legend of the Bluebonnet, by Tomie de Paola  |  The story of a courageous Comanche girl and how she parts with her most prized possession in order to help her people is moving and unforgettable.
  • Mama’s Saris, by Pooja Makhijani  |  I have always loved the grace and beauty of not only the sari but the story of how important it is for a little girl to wear a sari like her mother.
  • I also love, love, love the A Child’s Day series–a day in the life of a child in some part of the word.   It’s a photo journal, a glimpse into what life is like for children all around the world. Love these.

diversity quote maya angelou |  teachmama.com @teachmama

For slightly older kids, I love these multicultural books for young adult (ya) readers:

  • The Recipe for Adventure series, by Giada DeLaurentiis  | (ages 7-12)  Adventure, cooking, and a whole lot of Italian family is the focus of this series which follows Alfie and his sister Emilia all over the world as they solve mysteries and sample food along the way.
  • Aloha, Kanani, by Lisa Yee  |  (ages 8+)  Kanani’s Hawaiian life is totally foreign to her New York City cousin, Rachel, but the girls have a whole summer to learn from each other and embrace their differences.
  • Children of the River, by Linda Crew  | (ages 9+) Sundara and her family move to Oregon to escape the Khmer Rouge army, and Sundara struggles with balancing her Cambodian identity with the new American lifestyle.
  • The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros  |  (ages 13+)  Beautiful and poetic, this coming of age story tells Esperanza’s experiences growing up in the inner city.
  • The Contender, by Robert Lipsyte  |  (ages 13+ ) Alfred works hard to stay out of trouble, but he finds out that a winner isn’t always the guy who comes out on top.

It’s really just a start. I have a ton more to recommend, but I do want you to check out other folks’ recommendations as well!

Want to know a bit more about Multicultural Children’s Book Day? Sure you do.

blogger buttonMission of Multicultural Children’s Book Day: Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day, Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book/Audrey Press are on a mission to change all of that. Their mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these types of books into classrooms and libraries.

Another goal of this exciting event is create a compilation of books and favorite reads that will provide not only a new reading list for the winter, but also a way to expose brilliant books to families, teachers, and libraries.

The event’s sponsors are Wisdom Tales Press, Lee & Low Books Chronicle Books, and Susan Daniel Fayad: Author of  My Grandfather’s Masbaha.

Do check out the other great bloggers who are participating in the Multicultural Children’s Book Day event:  

2GirlsLostInaBook · 365 Days of Motherhood · A Bilingual Baby · A Simple Life, Really? · Africa to America · After School Smarty Pants · All Done Monkey · Andi’s Kids Books · Anita Brown Bag  · Austin Gilkeson · Barbara Ann Mojica ·  Books My Kids Read · Bottom Shelf Books · Cats Eat Dogs · Chasing The Donkey · Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac · Children’s Books Heal · Church o Books · CitizenBeta · Crafty Moms Share · Discovering The World Through My Son’s Eyes · Early Words · Flowering Minds · Franticmommy · Gathering Books · GEO Librarian · Gladys Barbieri · Going in Circles · Growing Book by Book · iGame Mom · I’m Not The Nanny · InCulture Parent · Itsy Bitsy Mom ·Just Children’s BooksKid World Citizen · Kristi’s Book Nook · Mama Lady Books · Mama Smiles · Mission Read · Mother Daughter Book Reviews · Mrs AOk · MrsTeeLoveLifeLaughter · Ms. Yingling Reads · Multicultural Kids Blog · One Sweet World · Open Wide The World · P is for Preschooler · Rapenzel Dreams · School4Boys · Sharon the Librarian · Spanish Playground · Sprout’s Bookshelf · Squishable Baby · Stanley and Katrina · Teach Mama · The Art of Home Education · The Brain Lair · The Educators’ Spin On It · The Family-Ship Experience · The Yellow Door Paperie · This Kid Reviews Books  · Trishap’s Books · Unconventional Librarian · Vicki Arnold · We3Three · World for Learning · Wrapped in Foil 

 

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summarizing: at-home practice of a super-important reading skill

summary checklist teachmama.com

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summarizing: at-home practice of a super-important reading skill | close reading a text

The other day, Maddy came home with not necessarily a homework assignment but a challenge from her fourth grade teacher: find the story of Prometheus and explain the connection between ‘Flame’ (an interactive pen in her classroom) and the story.

What was to be nothing more than a five or ten minute reading and jotting down of ideas turned into a quick refresher on how to summarize a passage.

Summarizing is a difficult task when it comes to reading, and it’s made more difficult when the text is challenging.  Myths are hard! All those names! The crazy things that those gods and goddesses do!

But with some modeled help of close reading, it was a little easier.

Here’s the skinny. . . 

  • Summarizing– At-Home Practice of a Super-Important Reading Skill:  In order to adequately summarize a text, the reader has to totally understand what he or she read.

‘Close Reading’ is actually a specific, deliberate reading strategy used to aid readers in comprehension. 

I chose to use it because of the difficulty of the myth.

Close Reading passages helps aid students with comprehension, and often Close Reading is used with nonfiction texts. However, it can be used for just about any passage if need be.

Essentially, Close Reading is just what it sounds like–looking very closely at a text or passage. ‘During a close reading, students explore the deep structures of a text. . . identifying the ‘bones’ of the passage’ (

Close Reading involves several prescribed steps that are really pretty simple:

1. First reading: teacher shares purpose and students annotate (highlight or mark) text

2. Chatting and charting: talk about what was read and chart on sheet or on graphic organizer

3. Second reading: return to text to answer several specific text-dependent questions

4. Chatting and charting: talk about what was read and what new information was gleaned

5. Independence: students somehow demonstrate their new understanding, making connections, inferences, independently and with confidence

summarizing summarizing close reading steps | teachmama.com

At home, after my kids have spent an entire day at school, it’s hard to push them to do something that sounds as involved as this.  But really? Because we did this together, it wasn’t all that hard.

In order to complete Maddy’s homework challenge, we first searched for “Prometheus Story” and found How Prometheus Gave Fire to Man, which I printed and stapled together.

I handed it to her and thought we were finished. But when I asked her to tell me what happened in the story, she had a really hard time.

summarizing: at-home practice of a super-important reading skill

Zeus, this god, like was angry with Prometheus and his brother. They were all fighting.  Wait.  I’m not sure. Prometheus . . . he’s this . . . I don’t know. 

Okay, well let’s look at it together, then.

Grab a pen or a highlighter. Let’s read it. We’re going to highlight all of the important information. We want the information–not the teeny details, okay?  Let’s focus on finding out who exactly Prometheus was.

summarizing: at-home practice of a super-important reading skill

We read the first few paragraphs together–it was only a 2 1/2 page print out–and I took the lead and thought aloud as I identified all of the important information on the first page.  She took over for the second page.

For any first reading, it’s helpful for kids to have a reason to read. Maddy’s reason was to find out who Prometheus was.

After we finished the first reading, we went back and I said, Okay, let’s look back at the highlighted words and phrases and read them.

So we did.  Any questions she had, I answered with ‘Let’s go back to the text to find out.‘ After she was clear on the basics, we were ready for a second quick look at the text.

We should have a better idea of who Prometheus is after this reading, but I want you to read through it one last time thinking specifically about what your teacher asked you: ‘How does the story of Prometheus compare to Flame?’ (Again, Flame is this interactive pen they have in their classroom.)

She read through it a second time, with this specific focus.

I said, Your teacher wants you to bring in an index card with a few pieces of information about the Prometheus story on it. What might be the first thing you write down?   A summary of this short text can be written in 2-3 sentences and should cover only what is essential: what happened and why, who was involved and what was the outcome.

 

summary checklist  teachmama.com

We talked through her quick summary, making sure it was specific and concise.  If I thought she added something that wasn’t necessary, I asked, ‘Is that a detail or essential information?’

Then I asked again: How does the story of Prometheus compare to Flame in your classroom? 

She thought for a minute, looked down at her index card, and looked at me. I think the story connects to Flame in our classroom because when Prometheus gave humans fire, he gave them a lot of power. Maybe Flame gives us power to do things in our school?  (Yaaaaay! Hip, hip hooray! She got it!)

I think you have a really good idea there. Take it to school tomorrow and see what your teacher says.

Summaries are super-important. And Close Readings are important, too.

But what’s most important for kids is to have them recognize the connection between what they’re reading and their own little lives.

In a recent article in The Reading Teacher, the authors explained that this was the key in their research with Close Reading in a fifth grade classroom: ‘Connecting close reading to real-world applications and writing tasks motivated students to review the text with attention to detail, language, and back-ground knowledge’ (p 118 Students’ Close Reading of Science Texts)

For Maddy, her connection was understanding what she read so that she could go back to school and share her findings with the class.

And that’s it.  Quick summary talk during homework time.  I’ll definitely be doing what I can from home on summarizing; it’s a super-important skill and big for all English Language Arts Common Core grade levels.

 

Three cheers to the following resources for help with this piece:

Grant, Maria C , Lapp, Diane , Moss, Barbara & , Johnson, Kelly. (2013). Students’ Close Reading of Science Texts: What’s Now? What’s Next?. The Reading Teacher, 67(2), 109–119.

Strategies That Work: Teaching Comprehension for Understanding and Engagement (2007), Harvey & Goudvis.

Guiding Readers and Writers (Grades 3-6): Teaching, Comprehension, Genre, and Content Literacy (2000), Fountas & Pinnell.

 

fyi: affiliate links are used in this post

 

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

holiday baking with kids eBook: 15 kid-friendly, family-favorite recipes and treats

holiday baking with kids

post contains affiliate links

 

 

holiday baking with kids eBook on teachmama.com

It’s no secret that I am a crazy huge fan of getting kids in the kitchen.

Early and often, let’s tie those aprons onto our littles, pull the stepstools out, and let our kids cook, bake, and make meals with us.  But let’s plan a bit and put our kids in the driver’s seat.

Let’s let ‘em read and gather ingredients.

Let’s let ‘em understand and follow steps.

Let’s let’ ‘em measure flour, crack eggs, and drizzle icing on the cookies they put on cooling racks.

Why not?

The kitchen is a classroom right there in the center of so many of our homes. It’s the hub. The happy place. The command station.

holiday baking with kids

So what better way of kicking off this exciting and joyous, sweet-filled season than by bringing our kids into the kitchen for some serious holiday baking?

The holiday baking with kids eBook is here to save the day.  You can grab it for $10.00 which is quite a steal for a book you can use online and in hard copy.

Here’s the skinny. . .

Really. It’s pretty cool.

  • 15 kid-friendly recipes.  Fifteen.  Many never before shared on teachmama.com.

holiday baking with kids eBook teachmama.com

  • Favorites.  Like Kiss Cookies and Chocolate Chip and Sugar Cookies.  And Iced Pumpkin Spice Cookies and Death by Chocolate and Lemon Squares.  And? Our Christmas Morning Ugly Breakfast recipe.

holiday baking with kids ebook from teachmama

  • Made kid-friendly with large, clear font.  Created with attention to what early readers need as they learn and expand their reading skills, the font is large so kids can read it even the recipe book is on the counter and they are standing on a stool.

holiday baking with kids ebook ingredients

  • Layout that works.  Kid-tested for the last five years, this layout really works.

Recipe step-by-step instructions are large and are accompanied by a relevant photo to clarify instructions.  Kids can check off ingredients as they gather them, and if the paper is in a plastic sheet protector, a crayon or dry erase marker will easily wipe clean when finished.  Photos for every ingredient and recipe step.

holiday baking with kids ebook ingredients

  • Consistent format. Actions are in bold. Ingredients are underlined. Photos for almost everything.  The format is consistent. Kids especially thrive on consistency.

See? I’m looking out for you. We’re in this together. I got your back. Always.

 holiday baking with kids eBook teachmama.com

Sure, it’s hard when kids are involved sometimes because the mess may be bigger, or we may be crunched for time, or we may just want to enjoy some peace while kids are watching tv and we can prepare dinner, but as parents, we must jump on these prime opportunities for learning and fun with our kids.

holilday baking with kids ebook print - 1

 

holilday baking with kids ebook print - 2

 

holilday baking with kids ebook print - 3

 

holilday baking with kids ebook print - 4

Ready? Let’s do it.

My friends, the Holiday Baking with Kids eBook is a sweet $10.00.  You can print it as many times as you need, so really, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Mostly because my readers are rockstar and always read their email from me first thing. So I wanted to offer you guys a little gift.

The Holiday Baking with Kids eBook is quite the holiday deal.

HUGE and happy thanks to my awesome mama for always inviting us into the kitchen with her when we were little. I would never be so welcoming into my own kitchen if I hadn’t learned from her as an excellent example.  Big *hugs!* to you, Mom!  Love you!

What about you?  How do you feel about kids in the kitchen?  Is there a favorite recipe I need to add to the next one? Let me know!

fyi: Affiliate 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:

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: