Monday, July 30, 2012

What Time Is It, Mr. Crocodile?

What Time Is It, Mr. Crocodile?,  by Judy Sierra, is a fun book for children learning to tell time.  Mr. Crocodile’s hilarious antics with the monkeys in this book will have you and your child laughing!  On each page, the monkeys ask Mr. Crocodile what time it is.  He tells them in rhyming verse, while the reader can look at the clock and read the time.  We won’t spoil the twist in the story that makes Mr. Crocodile change his schedule.  You and your child can read to find out the change!

Note:  This book could also be used in primary grades to teach editing marks.  Mr. Crocodile’s change of schedule involves editing and revising which could be pointed out to children as they are learning about writing.

*What do you think is the funniest thing in this book?
*What rhyming words did you hear?
*What’s your favorite time of the day?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Pattern Blocks

Melissa and Doug Pattern Blocks are a great tool for children to learn to copy shapes and then make their own designs using pattern blocks. This is a learning activity that can be used with children of various ages at the same time. The blocks can be used in learning to identify colors, identify shapes, sorting, and using parts to make new shapes.  We’ve had fun with these in making pictures of our own after the cards have been used.  The new shapes can be used to make new cards and provide a challenge for other children.  Have fun with these blocks!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Stringing Beads

Identifying the kinds of things that interest your child helps make wise purchases of activities to add to a home collection.  Melissa and Doug Wooden Stringing Beads were the next set of lacing/stringing beads we purchased after the Melissa and Doug Lacing Beads.  They, too, have been a much played with activity in our home.  The letters are used to spell words and make patterns with the colored blocks.  Sometimes they are made into necklaces and worn for several days. Other times they are just strung for fun.   Often the beads are used in creative ways of sorting (color, size, letter, etc.).  It’s fun to see how a child will take a toy and personalize it with his/her own style of learning!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Lacing Beads

We’re always on the look out for toys that provide fun, creativity, and learning.  We enjoy having lots of kinesthetic activities to develop eye-hand coordination.  One of the favorite items for the toddler/preschool age was the Melissa and Doug Wooden Lacing Beads.  Although we had several kinds of lacing activities, we found that this brand stood up to the wear and tear of daily activity.  The varied types and bright colors of the beads also made it hold our child’s attention as simple lacing moved up to patterns with shapes and numbers.  The blocks are also sturdy enough for stacking which added to this toy’s versatility.  We’ve spent countless hours playing with these fun beads!  

Friday, July 20, 2012

Can I Play Too?

Can I Play Too?, by Mo Willems, is another delightful story about Gerald and Piggie.  We love to read these books!  They are perfect for the beginning reader to practice known words, learn new words, and most importantly, enjoy a good book.  There is much to learn about friendship in these books, and this one has an important lesson about learning to include others.  We find it quite amazing that such a short story can make us laugh and learn at the same time.  Enjoy!

*How do you think Snake feels about having no arms?
*How do Gerald and Piggie try to include Snake?
*What did you learn about friendship?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Are You Ready to Play Outside?

Are You Ready to Play Outside?, by Mo Willems, finds Piggie having problems with the weather while she is trying to play outside.  Her friend, Gerald, comes to the rescue by helping Piggie.  Once again, Willems uses a simple story to illustrate friendship in a way that is easy for young children to understand.  As with other books by Willems, this is a book that can be read over and over for enjoyment. 

*What do you like to play outside?
*Have you ever felt like Piggie?
*How does Gerald show his friendship?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My Friend is Sad

My Friend is Sad, by Mo Willems, is an insightful story about friendship.  Children can read along to find out why Gerald is sad and how Piggie tries to make him happy.  We love how Willems uses his character’s facial expressions and body language to tell the story along with the words.  An important lesson about friendship is found in this story.

*Have you ever felt sad like Gerald?
*What is Piggie trying to do help Gerald?
*Do you think Gerald is happy at the end of the story?
*What did you learn about friendship?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I Am Invited to a Party!

I Am Invited to a Party!, by Mo Willems, is an imaginative story that can be read and enjoyed by beginning readers. Gerald and Piggie are in a dilemma about what to wear to a party.  You’ll have fun following along with their decisions about costumes.  Since dress-up time is an important part of play at our house, we especially enjoyed seeing Gerald and Piggie dress up.  We laughed out loud at the ending!

*What was your favorite costume?
*How do you like to dress up?
*What do you think they did at the party?

Monday, July 16, 2012

I Broke My Trunk!

Mo Willems is such a masterful storyteller and illustrator.  We can’t wait to read each of his books.  We’ve been checking out several of his books from our public library this summer.  They’re great for beginning readers and fun for the whole family.
I Broke My Trunk! garnered a lot of laughs in our home!  Gerald has broken his trunk and tells Piggie the story of how it happened.  Of course there are lots of twists and turns in the story---that’s what makes a story by Willems so fun!  We hope that your family is familiar with Gerald and Piggie.  If you’re not, we hope you meet them soon!

*Had you figured out how Gerald broke his trunk?
*What was the funniest part of the story?
*How do you think Piggie felt at the end of the story?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Summer Bridge Activities

Finding a summer routine that allows plenty of time for fun and relaxation is important to us as a family.  We also know that sometimes a routine for children can successfully include some structured time so learning is maintained.  One activity that has been successful (and fun) for us this is using the Summer Bridge Activities workbook published by Carson Dellosa.

The things we like is that learning is presented in a fun format.  The activities are divided into three sections of 20 days each with bonus activities.  A day’s activities include a front and back page.  Goals can be set, simple physical activities are offered, and high interest activities are included.  It’s also been a great way to discover any skills that need additional reinforcement and what modalities of learning are strengths. 

Although spending summer doing workbooks is not the way we want to spend our time, we have found that having a few minutes each morning using this workbook helps establish a routine of learning.  It has been so successful for us that we hope to use the series next summer.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Cow Loves Cookies

The Cow Loves Cookies, by Karma Wilson, is a fun, rhyming read aloud that just invites the listeners to join along!  The playful story tells what Farmer feeds each of his animals, especially the cow.  Colorful verbs help the reader/listener imagine the animals eating.  The illustrations by Marcellus Hall just add to the fun of this story. 

Why does the cow love cookies?  You’ll have to read this delightful story to find out why!  Have fun!

*What’s your favorite animal?
*Can you think of other farm animals that the farmer might need to feed?
*What kind of cookies would you feed the cow?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Learning about Estimating

Summer is a great time to incorporate everyday learning into our routine. We’re trying to have fun this summer while we review academic skills from the school year.   Here are some things we’re doing with estimating:

*Water play:  Using different size pitchers, bowls, and droppers to determine how much water another object can hold.

*Peanut shells:  At a local restaurant we estimated how many peanuts were in various sized shells.  Fun!

*Water evaporation:  Pour water in a shaded area of the sidewalk and then on a sunny area of the sidewalk using the same container each time.  Which one evaporates more quickly?

*Sidewalk chalk:  Draw a long line and have your child estimate how many steps it takes to walk it.

*Beads:  Estimate how many beads will fit on a lacing string.

We hope you have fun with these ideas!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

But Not the Hippopotamus

But Not the Hippopotamus, by Sandra Boynton, is a board book written in the humorous, rhyming Boynton style.  The illustrations of the animals will bring laughs as they appear in unusual places.  The simplicity and rhyming of the words make this a book that children easily memorize.  We’ve enjoyed re-reading it many times.  Have fun!

*What rhyming words do you hear?
*How do you think the hippopotamus felt?
*Can you make up another rhyme to go in the story?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

David and the Giant

David and the Giant, by Emily Little, tells the inspiring story of David and Goliath.  This book is an easy to read book for beginning readers.  David and the Giant is a great way to initiate conversations about faith. We enjoy having books like this in our home library to teach about our faith in God through an exciting context. We hope you enjoy reading and discussing this book too!

*Why wasn’t David afraid?
*How do you think the Giant felt?
*Have you ever felt like David did in this story? 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Collecting Memories, Part 2

I love to scrapbook with Project Life, and I’ve found that our daughter also loves having her own photos of favorite events.  At first, I put pictures for her in a small 4 by 6 photo album.  This made it easy for her to carry and handle.  However, as she has developed more writing skills we’ve begun using a larger photo album that has space for writing beside each photo.  This has been a great way for her to label her photos as she goes back and looks at pictures of friends, family, and events.  Labeling the pictures with names has become very important to her.  We think it’s a great way for her to develop writing skills while she collects memories.  For another way we collect memories, check here.  

Do you have a way to for your children to collect their memories?  We’d love to hear about them!

Ideas for Photo Albums with Children:

*Let children pick from a variety of photos.
*Photos don't need to be in chronological order.
*Ask young children what they'd like to write about the photo.
*We label some photos with names only and others with dates, places, and other information.
*Leave space to add to the collection.  We like to do a few at a time so it's not overwhelming, but still remains fun.
*Ask children what photos they would like to take/have parents take at new events.
*Keep things fun!  Use colored pencils, stickers, etc. to add creativity to the writing spaces.