The Importance of Front-Facing Books– and How to Display Them

The Importance of Front-Facing Books– and How to Display Them

If you’ve followed me for any period of time at all, then you know by now that I LOVE our front-facing bookshelf. It was an investment we chose to make almost 4 years ago (see photo below), and it has been worth every single penny. Being able to see the cover of a book is so beneficial in so many ways to children!

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The Benefits of Dirt and Mud Play — and the Easiest DIY Mud Kitchen Ever

The Benefits of Dirt and Mud Play —  and the Easiest DIY Mud Kitchen Ever

Our almost-four-year-old daughter is raising polar bears and panda bears in the bushes in our front yard. And, she feeds them sweet potatoes that she makes from the wood chips surrounding said bushes. She’s been raising these animals for more than a year, so we decided she needed some proper kitchen tools to help her along! Last Christmas, we bought her some stainless steel and aluminum cupspans, pots, spatulas, and spoons, and last spring, we made the simplest DIY mud kitchen that has ever been made. Why did we go to such lengths to encourage this play? Besides simply being an amazing creative outlet (I mean, think about the imagination required to keep those polar bears alive for so long!), did you know there are many, many other benefits to playing in dirt and mud? Read on for some of those benefits, as well as basic directions to our super simple mud kitchen!

Continue reading “The Benefits of Dirt and Mud Play — and the Easiest DIY Mud Kitchen Ever”

What We’re Doing to Combat the Summer Slide

What We’re Doing to Combat the Summer Slide

Parents, have you heard about summer learning loss, the summer slump, or the summer slide? Does what you’re hearing make you worry about what you need to do with your children over the summer to ensure they start a new school year fresh and ready to go, especially after such a strange finish to the most recent school year? Are you trying to do ALL THE THINGS to make this happen? Read on for a little info about summer learning loss, as well as what we’re doing in our house to keep skills up in fun and natural ways! Continue reading “What We’re Doing to Combat the Summer Slide”

Quick Writing Activity to Boost Neighborhood Morale

Quick Writing Activity to Boost Neighborhood Morale

A few weeks ago, I wrote a quick post with some easy ways to build literacy and writing skills in this time at home. In that post, I shared our “Have a Great Day!” sign that has been hanging on our front porch for close to two months now. Close to two months, and people still walk by, point and smile, stop to tell us how much they love it, and sometimes even take a picture of it! Today, I’ve got another porch sign for you to make — a sign thanking all your delivery people for their hard work and service.

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Being Your Child’s Writing Cheerleader

Being Your Child’s Writing Cheerleader

Notice any special publications on the bookshelf above? I’m reposting (with some edits) a post that I did more than ago, in the spring of 2019. But, I believe this information is even more important for you now, as parents are trying to navigate helping their children learn at home. Last week, I had the privilege of “attending” a virtual workshop for parents on how to help our children through writing workshop at home, put on by the lovely ladies from Inspire Literacy.

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Brain Games Sticker Puzzles

Brain Games Sticker Puzzles

Okay, all, if you’ve been around for a few months, you’ve likely read about our girls’ obsession with the Workman Publishing Paint by Sticker Kids books. While we still love them, of course, I recently discovered a sticker puzzle mosaic series — Brain Games Sticker by Number/Letter books, by Publications International! Continue reading “Brain Games Sticker Puzzles”

Reading “Facts of Life”

Reading “Facts of Life”

It’s pretty simple… More than 30 years of education research boils down to these two basic facts about reading enjoyment and achievement (from Jim Trelease, The Read-Aloud Handbook (7th edition), pages 6-7). Right now, we are the sole influences in our child’s reading lives. We must be modeling reading for them (I think I may need a whole post on that…), we must make reading pleasurable for them, and we must ensure that they are reading (both listening to books and reading/looking at books).

Because remember, as humans, we do things over and over again when they bring us pleasure, and we avoid things that bring displeasure or pain. Is reading pleasing to your child? What can you do to make the at-home reading experience more pleasurable?

And, just like riding a bike, hitting a baseball, or playing the piano, in order to get better at reading, we must practice it. The more we read, the better we get at it. Over and over again, research findings show that “students who read the most also read the best, achieve the most, and stay in school the longest.” (Trelease, page 7) Continue reading “Reading “Facts of Life””

Book Baskets and Daily Independent Reading Time

Book Baskets and Daily Independent Reading Time

At this point in school cancellations and shelter-in-place, you’ve likely seen the advice that if you only do one “school” thing a day, choose reading (either independent reading time or read-aloud time). And this advice is given for good reason — research shows that both the amount of time children spend reading and the amount they are read to are strongly correlated to academic performance in all subjects down the road (Jim Trelease thoroughly documents research on both read aloud time and sustained silent reading time in his book The Read-Aloud Handbook).

So, how’s that reading time going for you all? As you can imagine, the read-aloud time comes naturally in our house, so we just continued on with our normal read alouds (take a moment to read my Practical Tips for Making Read-Aloud Time Easier if you’re struggling with read-aloud time in your house). However, we’ve never had a formal time for everyone in the house to read independently. We’ve been given the gift of time, though, so there was no time like the present to make independent reading part of our daily ritual, too! Read on for some ideas on motivating your children to read independently. Continue reading “Book Baskets and Daily Independent Reading Time”

A Quick and Easy Literacy (and “P.E.”) Activity for Different Ages

A Quick and Easy Literacy (and “P.E.”) Activity for Different Ages

I’m coming at you today with an incredibly short and sweet way to combine your quarantine home-school literacy learning a P. E. class– the alphabet scavenger hunt! Brainchild of my amazing husband, this alphabet scavenger hunt reinvigorated family enthusiasm for our daily morning walk around the block AND helped the girls practice some of their reading and writing skills! Read on for a very brief description of this amazing family project. Continue reading “A Quick and Easy Literacy (and “P.E.”) Activity for Different Ages”

Caterpillar Day!

Caterpillar Day!

A few years ago, a friend introduced us to the wonder of raising our own caterpillars and watching them grow, metamorphosize, and fly away as butterflies. While we usually do this later in the spring, I had the foresight to order a caterpillar kit the day we learned school was cancelled for a while. So, for two weeks, we’ve been nurturing our caterpillars to their current chrysalis stage. And it dawned on me yesterday that this would make a very easy and terrifically fun theme for the morning! Read on to learn all about our caterpillar morning from yesterday and to see what our theme is going to be today. Continue reading “Caterpillar Day!”