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Get Kids Excited About Reading With These GREAT Story Books!

Having a hard time convincing your kids that reading a good book is just as much fun as a video game?  Or perhaps, you are finding it difficult to find a storybook to read with your kids that doesn’t involve the same old tired storylines?  Today, I am sharing with you my favorite books in the creative storylines category.  Hopefully, you will find more than one book on this list that your child will ask to read again and again (and you will be happy to do so because they are just that good)!!!

Book #1:  Once Upon A Cool Motorcycle Dude 

By:  Kevin O’Malley

He wants ogres, scary motorcyclists, and raging battles.  She wants flowers, hearts, ponies and princesses.  How will they solve the conflict and get a story written and make their teacher happy?  Read and find out!

Book #2:  Pssst!  It’s Me the Bogeyman!

By:  Barbara Park & Stephen Kroninger

This book provides a unique take on scaring children, its from the Bogeyman’s perspective!  Read it to see what has him so upset!

Book #3:  The Day The Crayons Quit

By:  Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers

This book is HILARIOUS!  Find out what happens when Duncan goes to get his crayons out of his desk, only to find they have gone on strike!!!                              Peach crayon is my hands down favorite!

Book #4:  Aliens Love Underpants

By:  Claire Freedman and Ben Cort

A story about what REALLY happens to our laundry when it is drying on the clothesline.

Book #5:  I Need My Monster

By:  Amanda Noll

Why would a little boy want a drooling scary monster under his bed?  What lengths will he go to in order to replace his missing monster? This book practically screams READ ME!!!!

posted by samantha in Parenting Tips and have No Comments

Fun With Sight Words: Part II

Continuing our theme of last week’s post on Sight Words made fun, I am posting a list of ideas to keep your kids engaged this week (assuming the kiddos have tired of the Sight Word Munching Monsters that we posted earlier).

The biggest key to sight word success is to interact with the words.  This means building them, writing them, drawing them and yes, even discussing them with mommy and daddy during “play time”.

        Sight Words Ideas

  1. Use wax sticks (like Wiki Stix) to spell out the words and make pictures for words.
  2. Use bathtub paint to draw and write “sight word graffiti” on the wall during bath time.
  3. Use toothpicks or scrabble tiles to spell out the words (for the toothpicks they can glue them down and display the paper on the fridge! :))
  4. Create coloring pages then color them in a creative way (see image below)

 

For the coloring pages, I would recommend finding a printable that is on a subject your child is interested in (my nephew loves Mario brothers).  I cut up tissue paper into small squares, with a little plate of glue and a pencil you can create the wonderful work of art you see below! (Photo courtesy my nephew!  He was doing color sight words).

posted by samantha in Education Advice,Parenting Tips and have No Comments

Making Sight Words Fun!

Sight words, the phrase alone is enough to make kids cry and parents desperate for an effective way to inject a little fun into an otherwise overwhelming and tedious job.  Recently my sister and nephew have been embarking on this journey themselves.  In an effort to help, the “Sight Word Munching Monsters” game was born.  My goal in creating this activity was to try and bring back the excitement my nephew first expressed at the prospect of going to kindergarten.  If you are seeking the same thing then try out our monsters game.

Materials:

  • Hot glue gun
  • Elmer’s glue with paint brush
  • 3 pieces of scrapbooking paper (8 x 11)
  • 1 scrapbooking paper block (small paper size)
  • Scissors
  • Copy paper (1 sheet)
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Clear shipping tape
  • Markers
  • 3 Plastic jars (Crystal Light works really well)
  • Box cutter or Exacto Knife
  • Velcro

Steps

  1. Remove wrapping from the Crystal Light jars, discard lids.
  2. Paint Elmer’s glue onto all sides of the jars (excluding bottoms).
  3. Roll the paper onto the jars (be sure to keep the paper even with the bottom).
  4. Set them aside to dry.
  5. While they are drying, create the site word “crackers”.
  6. Take the copy paper and create a 1” x 2” grid, cut the resulting rectangles out.
  7. Write the sight words on to the “crackers” (aka the rectangles).
  8. Laminate them by placing clear tape on the top and bottom and trimming each one.
  9. Once the tubes are dry, cut the excess paper at the top to look like hair. (by cutting “V’s” or skinny strips.
  10. Use the Exacto knife and cut  a hole into one side of the jar, make sure it is a little wider than 2”.
  11. Use the smaller scrapbooking paper to add details to your monsters.
  12. Create 3 circles; color one green one red and one yellow.
  13. Label the green circle “go”, the Yellow “slow” and the red “woah”
  14. Place the Velcro on the back of the circles; stick the other side to the plastic monster bodies.

How To Use Your Monsters:

  1. Lay out the site words in front of the monsters.
  2. Each monster plays a roll:
    • Woah – words needing more study time
    • Slow – words your child almost knows
    • Go – words your child knows
  3. If your child gets the word right they “feed” the site word cracker to the “Go” monster
  4. If they get the word right, but only after some help/clues, the site word gets fed to the “Slow” monster
  5. If they get the word wrong, even with prompting, the site word gets fed to the “Woah” monster.
  6. The goal of the activity is to move all of your crackers into the “Go” monster.
posted by samantha in Education Advice,Parenting Tips and have Comment (1)

Naturalist Notebooks Head to the Beach! Exploring our Amazing Coast!

This week’s theme pays homage to the end of summer and the beginning of the school year with a field trip…to…the…BEACH!!!!  What better way to finish off a Florida summer than to spend it learning about the ocean on one of our many beautiful beaches.

NOTEBOOK ACTIVITY:

Supplies you will need:

A bag

Clear tape

Pencil

Today is a scavenger hunt.  While at the beach you will be searching for the following common items  once you find them, you can tape them into your notebook, label them to take home and study.  (***NOTE, do not harvest any living organisms while on your quest, plant or animal.  The beach is a fragile ecosystem.*** ) In addition to the items below you need to collect sea shells from the surf to create your craft when you get home.  Be sure the shells are already empty.

Items to collect

A tiny piece of driftwood

The smallest complete shell you can find

A sea grass blade (they wash up on the beach all the time)

A photograph of you playing on the beach

Once you have collected your scavenger hunt items you can take them back to your area and tape them into your notebook (being careful to dry them off first)

Seashell Mobile

Supplies:

Seashells

String

Scissors

Branch from a tree (you can get this from your own yard)

Drill with a small drill bit

Steps:

1.  Drill holes in all the seashells you are going to string on your mobile.

2.  Cut three to four pieces of string, all different lengths.

3.  Thread the string through the first shell and tie a large knot underneath ( for extra security add hot glue).

4.  Continue threading on the shells, tying knots each time.  Separate and arrange your shells however you would like.

5.  Make loops at the end of the shell strings to hang them from the piece of wood.  Parents: check the mobile for balance as you put them on, too much weight on one side will not let the wood hang flat.

6.  Tie one piece of string to the balance point of the wood; this will become your hanger.

7.  Hang your mobile up wherever you wish.  Perhaps in your room so you can remember your wonderful beach trip or outside on your porch?  The choice is yours.

posted by samantha in Education Advice,Parenting Tips and have No Comments

Birding Is For The Birds: Teaching Kids to Appreciate Florida’s Native Bird Population

This week’s blog activity is devoted to the bird species of Central Florida, and more importantly to the hobby of birding.  Birding is a very simple pastime requiring only a quiet, natural place, binoculars, a camera and the internet (for identifying the birds that you don’t know).  Today, your family’s naturalist notebook activity will incorporate birding with a follow up craft to be able to attract birds to your own back yard!

For those of you that are looking for a location, other than your own back yard for observing birds, I highly recommend Mead Botanical Gardens.  They are located on 1300 S. Denning Drive in Winter Park, Florida.  They have a bird guide and checklist on their website that can assist you as you view the birds.  Download and print it out at:  http://www.meadgarden.org/programs/birding-checklist .

A Few Tips to increase the likelihood you and your children will see birds:

Early is better, the birds are out foraging and hunting.  Last week, while doing summer camp at Mead Gardens we saw a hawk and a barred owl flying around at about 830a.m.!

Quiet is key!  Birds scare easily, so adopt a no talking policy while hunting for birds.

What You Will Need:

Birding Field Trip:

Binoculars

Camera

Pencil

Naturalist Notebook

Snacks and water

Sunscreen

Hat

Sunglasses

Make Your Own Bird Feeder:

Empty juice carton

Acrylic or oil paints

Paint brushes

Scissors

Marker

Ribbon

Single hole puncher

Mesh bags

Bird Seed

Glue

Instructions:

Field Trip

You can choose any location you want for your birding field trip.  Then follow these easy steps:

1.  Have your camera and naturalist notebook handy.

2.  Walk around looking for birds, search the trees and the ground especially around a body of water (Florida has A LOT of wading birds, they might be fishing!).

3.  Once you find a specimen, snap its picture or sit down and put your drawing skills to the test.  If you choose the drawing option, this becomes page two of your naturalist notebook (for page one see last week’s blog post).

4.  If you took pictures, go home and print them out, then paste them into your naturalist notebook and hop on the internet to try and identify your birds, write the name of the bird species beside each photo.

Juice Carton Bird Feeder

The night or day before:

1.  Assemble supplies.

2.  Rinse out your juice carton and let it dry.

3.  Prime it with a base color of paint, depending on the colors on the carton you may need to use a darker color.

4.  Cut out holes on each side of the milk carton (see image).

After  the birding trip.

5.  Paint your carton with a colorful and attractive design (you might want to paint it a color that blends in with the environment like green or brown) Parents, you can teach children about camouflage during this activity as well!

6.  Fill the mesh bag full of bird seeds.

7.  Punch a hole through the top edge of the carton and string through your ribbon or hanger material.

8.  Go outside and hang up in a spot and wait for your birds to show up. When they do, you can sketch or photograph them and add them to your naturalist notebook too!

posted by samantha in Education Advice,Parenting Tips and have Comment (1)

To Maintain Your Academic Edge: Summer Break Can’t Be All Break!

Hi and welcome to YEA’s Education Tips Blog.  Today we are going to talk about simple things you can do to help your children maintain their

Science event at Mead Gardens

academic skills over the summer.  Let’s face it, if we let them, kids would languish all day long in front of video games, cell phones and Facebook : )  What can you do to make sure that they maintain a healthy balance between break time and academic time?

TIPS:

1.  Insist on 20-25 minutes of quiet reading time each day.  It works best if the entire family participates, when mom and dad model good habits, children are more likely to continue that habit throughout their lives.

2.  Spend a few times a week exploring applications of mathematics. Research shows that when a skill is seen as relevant to the child’s life, they are more likely to buy in, so the more real world you can make it the better the learning!

  • a. Teach your child to manage money by giving them a practice check book and blank checks (there are many online sites that sell kids blank check kits)
  • b. Buy books with number puzzles.
  • c. Allow your child to cook with you, have them do the measurements, to make it more complex, manipulate the measurements so that your child has to do some basic conversions.
  • d. Visit your local hardware stores for a schedule of kid’s building events.  Both Home Depot, and Lowes offer these events.
  • e. Take advantage of your child’s desire to play video games, and locate some good math programs online.

3.  Promote writing skills by having your child write for 20 minutes each day.

  • a. Give them a summer break journal, ask them to write about 1 great thing that happened each day.
  • b. Take them on a nature hike and afterward have your child write a poem or short story about the experience.
  • c. Pick an interesting picture off the web and have your child write a story about what is happening in the photo.

4.  Choose an educational camp for your child

  • a.  Try to find one that immerses them in their environment and is a combination of subject areas.
  • b. Choose a camp focused on an area where your child is weak, for example if they struggle in math, find a summer camp with a math focus…like an engineering camp or a robotics camp.

The most important thing to remember is you want your child working on their skills every day.  You want to make it fun and interesting.  Take lots of field trips and participate in local educational events when you can, use those as an opportunity to encourage reading, writing, math and scientific exploration.

Are you located in the Central Florida area?  If so, visit our website for more information on summer camps and education events hosted at Mead Gardens!  Hope to see you there!

posted by samantha in Education Advice and have No Comments