Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fingerpainting Letters!

Another Letter Activity!

Children learn with their whole bodies.  And that includes learning to read and write!

A great way to practice writing is to squirt a bunch of fingerpaints on slick paper and let them practice writing a letter over and over again in the slippery paint.

Supplies:  Fingerpaint (we used blue since younger sister, Shelli, is learning blue this week)
                Fingerpaint paper

Squirt on the fingerpaint and let them go.
Our letter of the week is the Letter S.
Angel wrote an S over and over again.

Shelli wrote an S and then decided to paint her hair and face blue!

Will she learn the color blue this week too??

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Letter S - Seashell Painting

This week's theme is Letter S.

Craft:  Seashell Painting

Gather your supplies:
cup of water

Let them paint the shells any color!
The lighter, brighter colors are prettiest!

Final results-
Beautiful Seashells!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Boys and Books

These are the facts: By fourth grade, the average boy is two years behind the average girl in reading and writing.

Boys make up 70% of special education classes and are four times more likely to have ADHD than girls.

Boys are 50% more likely to be retained a grade than girls and are three times more likely  to be placed in reading/learning disabilities settings.

Boys around the world score less well than girls in reading and writing and have lower motivation to read and write than their female counterparts.

14 year-old boys listed these as their top obstacles to reading:
  • Boring/no fun:  39.3%
  • No time/too busy:  29.8%
  • Like other activities better:  11.1%
  • Can't get into the stories:  7.7%
  • I'm not good at it:  4.3%

What can we do about this? 

Be aware of the differences between boys and girls when it comes to reading.

Boys read less fiction than girls. 

Boys are more inclined to read informational texts. 

Some boys are passionate about fantasy.

Boys tend to enjoy excapism and humor.

Provide boys with plenty of the kinds of books they prefer, from the time they are very young.

Provide picture books that contain messages of positive male values such as cooperation, courage, honesty, perseverance, respectfulness, responsibility and tolerance.

Books that appeal to boys:

Conspiracy 365 Series

True Adventure Collection

War Stories


Fantasy Quests


Pirate Adventures

True Stories:  Pirates

Improve Your Survival Skills




Tales of King Arthur

These are just a few of the types of books boys love.  Go to to order these books or look for others.  For personal assistance contact Tonya at

Sunday, February 21, 2010

ABC Scavenger Hunt

It is going to rain again this week!  That means more indoor time!  A great activity that is fun and reinforces letter and sound recognition is the great ABC Scavenger Hunt. 

First, place alphabet cards on the floor.

Then have your children run around the house looking for objects that start with the different letters of the alphabet.

We found a monkey puppet and a moose for the letter M.  Shoes, sandals and soccer ball for the letter S.

Shelli found yellow yarn for the letter Y.

This game was fun and the children didn't even know they were learning!  They learned letter and sound recognition while running around looking through their toys.

  Different children need different levels of help.  I would say the sound for Angel and she would brainstorm words that sounded the same. 

I just told Shelli what to go find!

Angel was proud to find 2 rabbits for the letter R.

We went in order from A to Z except when Shelli brought a toy out of order.  Then we would figure out what card her object belonged on!

They had a great time and even enjoyed the clean up.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Teach Your Child to Read in the Kitchen!

Children love to be in the kitchen cooking with you!  The best learning takes place when they are having fun. Follow these great ideas to teach important literacy skills while having fun with your children!

1.  Cook together and chat while you do.  When you cook with children, they learn how to combine ingredients, mix, stir and taste.  But they also learn language.  They use nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs as they talk about what they're doing.

2.  Read a recipe together.  The recipe is made of words and pictures that communicate exactly what to do.  By doing each step in order, the finished product will be delicious!

3.  Plan a grocery list.  Collect any coupons you can find.  Shop together.

4.  Read cookbooks!  Usborne has the best kid-friendly cookbooks such as The Children's World Cookbook,First Cookbook,
The Usborne Children's Cookbook,  Fairy Cooking,and The Usborne Healthy Cookbook.  Check out yesterday's book review on The Usborne Healthy Cookbook.

5.  Make your own menus.

6.  Make place-card labels with everyone's name.

7.  Read food labels and talk about nutrition.

8.  Make at least one meal a day when you can all sit down together and talk about your day.  Conversation builds vocabulary and togetherness.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Usborne Healthy Cookbook

What is healthy food?

What should you eat?

How much should you eat? 

"Having a healthy diet is all about eating the right amount of lots of different foods.  This book is packed with mouth-watering recipes to make you feel healthy and full of energy.  With each recipe, you can discover more about the ingredients and why they are so good for you."

Each recipe is presented on a double-page spread with a beautiful delicious looking picture of the finished product.  The instructions are broken down into easy steps with illustrations.

Under the list of ingredients are Healthy Food Facts that tell the important nutrients contained in the main ingredients of the recipe.

This book is a nutrition and cooking class rolled into one!

The recipes are very child friendly but also introduces new ingredients for recipes such as Leek and Mushroom Quinoa, Herby Falafels and Salmon in a Packet.

There are also old favorites such as Fruit Smoothies, Chicken Fajita Wraps and Mini Pizzas.

Food can be healthy and delicious!

Honey Berry Swirl
Found on page 58 & 59

Serves 4
2 oz flaked almonds
1 cup (5 oz) fresh raspberries
1 cup (5oz) fresh blueberries
1 1/2 cups low-fat vanilla yogurt
4 tablespoons clear, runny honey
4 small sprigs of fresh mint to decorate
4 glass tumblers or large wine glasses

1.  Spread out the flaked almonds on a baking tray.  Put them in the broiler on a medium heat for 3 minutes.  Watch them to make sure they don't burn.

2.  When the almonds are golden carfully take them out of the broiler, wearing oven gloves.  Leave the almonds on the tray to cool.  Set aside 4 raspberries.

3.  Mix together the blueberries and raspberries, then divide half of them between the 4 glasses.  Scatter half of the almonds over the berries.

4.  Put the yogurt in a mixing bowl.  Add 4 tablespoons of honey to the bowl.  Swirl the yogurt and honey together once or twice to create a marble effect.

5.  Spoon half of the yogurt mixture into the 4 glasses.  Scatter the rest of the berries over the yogurt.  Scatter the rest of the almonds on top.

6.  Divide the rest of the yogurt mixture between the glasses.  Put one raspberry and a sprig of fresh mint on top of each glass for decoration.

The Usborne Healthy Cookbook is $16.99 available at

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Benefits of Reading Aloud to Your Child

The Benefits of Reading Aloud to Your Child

1.  Reading to children at a higher level than they read introduces them to new words and ideas, and accelerates their reading progress.

2.  Children who are read to at least three times a week are almost twice as likely to score in the top 25% on standardized tests than those who are read to less than three times a week.

3.  Reading to your child creates a lasting bond between you and your child.

A child spends 900 hours a year in school and 7,800 hours at home - you are their primary teacher- you play an important role in your child's education!

Research shows that: 
  • Children who read the most read the best
  • The presence and ownership of books/magazines/newspapers at home is a key factor linked to success at school.
Three things to do TODAY to help your child develop good reading habits
  1. Create three book boxes, (shoe box, basket) filled with plenty of reading materials.  Place one by the kitchen table or where your child eats breakfast, one in the bathroom, and one next to your child's bed.
  2. Place a reading light by your child's bed.
  3. Allow your child to stay awake 20 minutes longer at bedtime if they choose to read in bed.
source:  Usborne Books & More January-July 2010 catalog

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Create Your Own Take-along Book Bags!

Children learn best when they do an activity that goes along with a story Book Bags are very educational and foster imagination, creative thinking and a love of books in children!  The library has book bags for check out and Usborne Books sells Kid Kits.  But you can make your own by combining a book, an activity or two and a few supplies to go with it.

A Book Bag is a great take-along, a handy way to carry literature and related activities wherever busy people go with their children. 

You can make one for your own children or put one together for a birthday or baby shower gift.

Here are some ideas!

The Farmyard Tales Storybook and The Complete Book of Farmyard Tales can be paired with train sets and farm animal toys.  The children can  act out stories such as Pig Gets Stuck, Naughty Sheep and Rusty's Train Ride as you read them aloud.

Another idea is to put together supplies needed to make paper bag puppets and lead the children to make animal puppets that can be used to act out the stories.

Put paper, pens and crayons in a kit with I Can Draw People, I Can Draw Animals or The Big Book of Playtime Activities. Take the bag along with you in the car and use in waiting rooms. Any of these would also make a great birthday gift!

Many of the books can be paired with a stuffed animal for a toddler's birthday or a baby shower gift.  The child can use the stuffed animal for acting out the story as well as a companion to read to! 

There are a lot of cute stuffed dogs and cats that will go with That's Not My Puppy and Find the Kitten.

I found a lot of finger puppets at garage sales that are perfectly paired with The Usborne Book of Fairy Tales.  Children can act out the Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and The Three Bears and Little Red Riding Hood.

Recycling Things to Make & Do is an easy one to pair with supplies!  Just collect paper towel rolls, toilet paper rolls, paper clips, rubber bands, nails, scraps of paper, glue and scissors.  Have everything ready to do the great activities inside! 

That's Not My Angel:  This next one just needs one Angel!  Not every family will be able to put this kid kit together!

Be creative!  Use these ideas to come up with your own Book Bags!  Your children will have fun learning!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Reach For The Stars!

Reach For the Stars!
Do you want to teach your children about community service?
How great would it be to give a brand new book to a child in our community whose family is going through some hard times?

Join our Read-a-thon and READ in order to earn books for your family and brand new books for children in need!

50% of donations collected will go to books as prizes for readers
The other 50% of donations collected will go to books for
Love INC.

  • When:  March 1- March 12

  • What:  Commit to read for 30 minutes a day for 10 days and gather pledges

  • How:  Pick up a pledge sheet at the Open House on February 27 or call Tonya Dirksen

  • Read and Collect Pledges

  • Turn in pledge sheets and donations to Tonya Dirksen by Monday, March 15.

  • Open House Rally

  • February 27, 11am-1pm (after Book Club 10-11am)
Questions?  Contact Tonya Dirksen (916) 812-2875 or