Archive for the ‘preschool’ Category

Welcome to the July edition of I Can Read: A Carnival Celebrating New Readers. This carnival runs for 3 days in the middle of each month and I’m excited to be this month’s host. We’re sharing reviews of Easy Readers and Short Chapter Books that can set emerging readers on the path to confident reading and a love of books as well as tips on getting kids started reading.

Easy Readers are books with simple text for readers who have just become ready to read a whole book.  Some great examples are the Mr. Putter and Tabby series, Green Eggs and Ham, the Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems.  Short Chapter Books are accessible to readers who are ready for a longer book but need larger text, more space on the page and pictures in the text. If you need more information about Easy Readers and Short Chapter Books, there are excellent definitions at the very first I Can Read Carnival page.

If you have a review of one of these types of books, either fiction or non-fiction or a post about the first steps in the reading journey, add a comment with your link, and I will add your post to the Carnival.  I will take submissions for the next three days (July 16-18).

My older daughter has been reading short chapter books for the last year, and she now devours them rapidly often staying up to finish one whole. These books have helped her gain confidence as a reader and take pride in her ability to read a whole chapter book.  Her favorites series include:

Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne

Pony-Crazed Princess by Diana Kimpton

The Secrets of Droon by Tony Abbott

Rainbow Fairies by Daisy Meadows

Keeker and the Sneaky Pony by Hadley Higginson

Catwings by Ursula K. LeGuin

Magic School Bus Chapter Books by Eva Moore

My younger daughter has learned to recognize letters and has become interested in the sounds they make. She loves reading books to herself, telling herself the stories after she’s heard them read aloud or making up her own stories. A few weeks ago, we checked out the first two books in Mo Willems’ new Cat the Cat series. She adored them and asked me to read them several times in a row. The next day she came running out to me and said. I can read all the words in this book. The book was Cat the Cat Who Is That. The simple, repetitive text allows even very young children to read the book on their own. Even though my daughter may not truly recognize the words yet, she will eventually, and for now she has the pleasure of reading a book to herself. I highly recommend all the Cat the Cat books!

I look forward to reading all your posts!

Posts from the Kidlitosphere:

Brenda Kahn has a review of Lulu and the Brontosaurus, a short chapter book that sounds delightful.

Earlier this week, I posted a review of It’s Best to Leave a Snake Alone, a non-fiction easy reader.

Dee has an interview with Sheryl Gwyther that includes tips for writing Short Chapter Books.

Read about Dizzy Izzy, the lastest in Jon Sciesczka’s Trucktown series at NC Teacher Stuff.

Learn about a princess who’d rather be a clown at The Book Chook.

Roberta at Wrapped in Foil shares Life Cycle of an Oak Tree, a non-fiction easy reader.

Zoe has a post about using picture dictionaries for early readers at Playing by the Book.


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We’re going to be focusing on farms over the next few week with C so I’ve started pulling together some of our favorite farm-themed books. I hadn’t realized how many farm books we owned or how many titles a search would generate.  You’ll certainly have no problem finding plenty of books about farms, but here are some of our favorites:

No! No! Titus by Claire Masurel

Hush Hush It’s Sleepytime by Peggy Parish

A Day on the Farm by Nancy Fielding Hulick

The Fuzzy Little Duckling by Jane Werner Watson

The above two are included in Little Golden Book Collection: Farm Tales

Hen Hears Gossip by Megan MacDonald

Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington

Apples Here by Will Hubbell

DK’s See How They Grow series (duck, pony, lamb. pig, chick, calf, bunny)

1001 Things to Spot on the Farm

Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown

Little Red Hen by Byron Barton

Usborne’s Animal Hide and Seek

Usborne’s Farmyard Tales series

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This week, much to her delight, I filled C’s workbox with the materials for the farm unit of her I’m Ready To Learn program. One of the suggestions for week 1 is to build a corral for stuffed animals. For our version, I drew the outline of a barn on a large sheet of paper. M and C colored it in. Then we put it up on the wall and surrounded it with a corral made of wrapping paper tubes.  I used some folded blankets to support the tubes and help them look more like a fence.  M and C gathered lots of animals to go in the corral and later, after this picture was taken, we hung a blue blanket with clouds on it  from the window and taped on a paper sun.

The I’m Ready to Learn program comes with an activity box filled with small objects like animal shaped erasers and finger puppets.  The objects represent lots of colors, sizes, and textures.  Suggested activities for these objects include separating by color, by shape, using them for counting, etc.  So far, C adores them (M is quite pleased with them too) so we’ve been doing lots of sorting.

We watched The Princess and the Frog for the third time on Sunday night which inspired me to set up a Zydeco station on Pandora radio and the girls danced like crazy.  A fun musical exploration and a great way to get some energy out!

This week, we started a tidepool/beach unit study leading up to a trip to the beach. I’d planned to have M draw the different beach zones and include animals and/or plants that would be found in each area, but she must have read my mind because as I was reading One Small Square: Seashore to her, she made this wonderful drawing of a beach with different creatures in the zone where they’d be found.

C has been rapidly working through the preschool math sheets at Learning Page, especially those with an ocean theme.  The last few mornings she’s asked me to print out her math first thing, and M has helped her with it while I made breakfast.  I love watching M teaching her little sister and watching C’s proud face when she realizes she can circle the answer herself or draw a line to match up two objects.

Monday was a rainy day and we spent the first part of the morning snuggled on the couch watching Blue Planet, a great accompaniment to our tidepool/beach study.

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Over the last few weeks, I’ve spent many a night pouring over homeschool curriculum catalogs, websites, and downloadable samples, feeding my planning obsession and my love of booklists and actually trying to nail down what we’ll be doing in the fall (or the summer if we choose to continue with certain subjects) as we start M’s 2nd grade year.  I think I’m finally done or as done as I’ll ever be since I’m learning fast that homeschooling is about constant tweaking (at least for us).

Here’s what I’ve got planned:

Math – continuing with Singapore Primary Math using the textbook, workbook and home instructor’s guides, supplementing with games, and extra work on topics M enjoys like Geometry from Mammoth Math or other sources

Science – R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey’s Chemistry Level 1 – published by Pandia Press (creators of History Odyssey), R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey is serious science with fun experiments and plenty of hands on enjoyment.  With the girls love of animals we will no doubt add in plenty of habitat study, nature walks, and ocean science.

Language Arts – Harcourt’s Flash Kids’ Complete Curriculum workbook and All About Spelling, supplemented by M reading to me, activities I find online or create, and more Madlibs which M loves.

History Odyssey – Ancients Level 1 which uses Story of the World Vol 1 and Usborne’s Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History as spines. We’ll be done with our prehistory study in about a month so ancient history is the next logical thing.  I had the fortune to find a Sonlight Core I (Ancient History) Instructor’s Guide very cheaply at a sale.  I like many things about it but they don’t include enough hands on activities for us.  HO has far more hands on projects which M enjoys and C can help with.  I’m sure I will pull things from Sonlight as well as the Story of the World activity book and other catalogs and booklists.  I’ve already planned to substitute some of the experiments in Ancient Science for the History Pockets work in HO since I can tell that History Pockets wouldn’t appeal to M.

Read Alouds – We’ll continue to follow M’s interests, revisit old friends and discover new ones at the library, but I like the comprehension question and activities in the Sonlight Core 1 guide so I think we will work our way through those read alouds this year.

Foreign Language – continuing with Minimus Latin which M loves.  She’s expressed an interest in French but I think we will wait a bit since our schedule is quite full already!

Logic – continuing with Mind Benders and Mathematical Analogies from The Critical Thinking Company

Art – We may use Artistic Pursuits Book 1.  It  includes a study of ancient art which would fit in well with our history, but I’m not sure if M will want to do an art curriculum or just continue to do lots of art on her own.

Music – continuing with our casual study of composers and instruments using Story of the Orchestra and simply listening and dancing

C is asking more and more often for her own homeschool work.  She’s very interested in learning letters and numbers and math concepts like patterns and counting.  So I’ve ordered Winter Promise’s I’m Ready to Learn curriculum for her.  We will move through it slowly, possibly making it into a two year curriculum.

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Rainbow Cupcakes

To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and the first day of spring, we made these rainbow cupcakes from Family Fun. The girls loved the bright colors and though I was nervous that the layered effect would not work out like the magazine picture, the inside of the cupcakes was indeed just like a rainbow.  These would be perfect to celebrate spring, when learning about rainbows, or anytime you need some cheer.  You could not be uncheered by a rainbow cupcake.

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Share a Story - Shape a Future I’m very excited to be participating in Day 5 of Share a Story – Shape a Future. Today’s theme is Reading for the Next Generation, and the wonderful Jen Robinson is the host for today so hop on over to her blog for more information.

Babies and young children love being silly, and they love watching adults act silly. If you take your child to storytime at the library or if they go to a preschool or child care center, chances are the librarian or teacher acts quite a bit silly when she or he reads.  She or he might make noises, use funny voices, act out what is happening in exaggerated motions.  The children love it, because the stories come alive to them when sound effects and gestures are added in.

But when it comes time to read to your child, grandchild, niece, nephew, or young friend, most adults feel ridiculous roaring like a giant or mooing like a cow.  How do we get over our embarrassment at making barnyard noises or pantomiming an elephant sneezing?

I have some suggestions that may help you make small changes in how you read and lead you to eventually roar and yelp and baa and crawl around like the silliest of adults.  Several of them encourage you to get your child involved in the silliness.  It’s always easier to let the sillies out when you do it together. I also have a list of some books that cry out to be read by your silliest self.

1) Pause as you’re reading and have your child make silly noises.  This way, you make room for silliness while working up to honking, trumpeting, and baaing yourself.  Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell is a great title for this. Pause as your child looks at each animal and ask them to make it’s sound.  You could ask them to move around like the animal too.  Their silliness just might be infectious. Moo Baa La La La by Sandra Boynton is another title you can have fun with.  Instead of simply saying “moo” or “baa”, have your child make their most cow-like moo, and then join them.  You’ll feel less silly together.

2) Choose one sound effect to ham it up on in a book.  You might read a book about a train and really let go on the whistle (Freight Train by Donald Crews or Choo Choo by Virginia Lee Burton are good choices).  Or read The Three Little Pigs and blow like crazy when the wolf tries to blow down the houses.

3) Pick one character in a story and give them a funny voice.  In Ollie by Olivier Dunrea, Ollie the gosling doesn’t want to come out of his egg.  He says “I won’t come out!” over and over.  Say it in your best pouting toddler voice.  Or read Sandra Boynton’s The Belly Button Book and use your smallest, squeakiest voice to say “be bo”, the baby hippo word for belly button.

4) When you come to words that describe or suggest a sound (onomatopoeia), don’t just read them, make the sound.  If a train “puffs” down the train, then puff as you read it.  If a bubble goes “pop” them make the sound instead of reading the word.

5) Ask your child to act out the story as you read. Or pick a part to act out and let your child be another character.  Read Three Billy Goats Gruff and let your child tramp tramp over the bridge while you reach out to get them like the troll. Or read Blueberries for Sal by Robert McClosky and encourage your child to imitate Little Sal, kuplink, kuplank, kuplunking blueberries in a pail.  Pretend to be a shocked mama bear, finding her baby missing and a child following her instead.

6) With babies, read simple word and picture books or alphabet books, point to an object and make the sound or a gesture to go with it.  Mime eating a banana, make a noise like a tractor, pretend to lick an ice cream cone.

How every you let your sillies out, know that your child will love it, and you will be giving them the gift exciting, engaging stories that will follow them far into the future.

More books for silly reading:

The Three Bears (you can hardly resist making a deep voice for Papa Bear and squeaky voice for Baby Bear)

The Pigeon Finds A Hotdog by Mo Willems (the pigeon is too loud and brash and silly to allow you to read his words calmly)

Elephant and Piggie by Mo Willems (filled with chances to shout, jump, and make funny faces as you act out the feelings of these two friends)

Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? by Dr. Seuss (the whole book invites you to make funny sounds)

Helen Oxenbury’s baby books (Tickle, Tickle, All Fall Down, Clap Hands, and Say Goodnight) – these are perfect for acting out (my 2.5yo first clapped and waved while listening to these stories)

Gossie and Gertie by Olivier Dunrea – a great opportunity for using your best exasperated voice

Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton – written like a song, calls out for clapping and stomping

Giddy Up! Let’s Ride! by Flora McDonell – great for reading with a child on your lap while you “giddy up” like the horses and other animals in the book

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Making a “naked” egg by soaking an egg in vinegar. Helping us see the difference between hard-shelled reptilian and bird eggs and soft amphibian eggs. (Yes, the Christmas-y snowmen plates are still out.)

Making imprint fossils with coffee grounds

A Valentine craft with the art group.

Making lots of set ups with block and animals

Making ourselves fancy

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