Friday, November 21, 2014

Easy Chapter Books for New Readers

My little girl is reading like CRAZY!
And I feel like I can't keep up with her hunger for books.
So I go to the library check out a million books
 (well actually only 35, that's my limit).
But I am trying to find books she will love, AND that are on her level.

So I want to share with you what I have learned, by trial and error, and a little back ground knowledge from teaching Kindergarten and First Grade.

When she started out first grade she was reading. 
So I wanted to keep her reading, and push her just enough that she wouldn't feel like I was pushing her, but just feeding her new found skill.
So I got on to my libraries website, and started placing lots of holds.  Lots and lots!  
I think the library staff may go postal on me one day soon!
I started by putting holds on the "Step into Reading" series.
When she was ready for the next level, we would move up!
I only chose the cute fun ones that I knew she would like.
But I had a problem, 
we read through all the that library had of that series!

So I also found the "Scholastic Readers" series.
Which are also great!

Other series we like are: "World of Reading", "I Can Read", "Green Light Readers",  "Penguin Young Readers", "Passport to Reading" (more boy related),  "An I Can Read Book", and "DK Readers". 
I went searched these at the library by switching the "Title" search to "Series".

We also love any Mo Willems books.  They are so cute and engaging for young readers, and a great way for kids to develop fluency (aka not reading like a robot skills.)

Now I have coaxed her to read chapter books!
We started with the Mercy Watson series.
They are the best!
Fully colored, she doesn't even feel like she is reading a chapter book!

2. Ivy and Bean 
are so cute and have such fun and different personalities, great for any girl to relate to.

3. Books By James Kochalka
These are great for little boys! 
They are hilarious, and keep your attention.


4. Chris Van Dusen Books
These are by the same illustrator as Mercy Watson, so they have a similar feel.
Great books!

5. Amanda and Oliver Pig Series
This is a big sister little brother duo that my daughter loved!
Choose the "Amanda Pig" titles if you are a girl, and the "Oliver" titles if you are a boy.


6. Minnie and Moo
Are hilarious cows that go on adventures that make young readers giggle!  They are good for girls and boys, although both leading characters are female.

7. The Young Cam Jansen
These are are fun and short that have a good plot.  
They probably are not the best VERY first chapter book to introduce because they do take a bit of concentration, but they are great for a budding reader.

8. Bailey School Kids Jr. Books
So these are just like the older "Bailey School Kids" version, but with lots more pictures and they are shorter.
My little girl loved the one I could find for her, but I couldn't find any at my library...

9.  Bink and Gollie
These are more comic book style, but they are very cute and will keep young readers engaged!

10. Anything by Shel Silverstein
So these are not really chapter books, 
but they are longer books that are not full color.  
Young readers love the simple illustrations and fun language he uses.  I even gave my little girl a book of his poetry to read at night.  It was so fun to sit outside her door and hear her giggling at his poems!

My two cents is: start of slowly.  If your child starts to push back, then give them space and let them go back to their favorite (easier) books.  

Also, it is so fun for them to have you read to them.  Even if it is on their level it is good for them to hear you read.  It shows them how to be better readers, and gives them a chance to snuggle and bond with you.

Also, take frequent trips to the library.  Let them chose whatever they want, and show them new areas that they may be less familiar with. The more time they spend with books the better they.

Ok, I'm off to go place more holds on books!  
(Sorry library staff! But maybe not sorry because I am saving you from my two year old!!) 


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Yospe Summer Camp

 My Miss Sassy and I are so much a like that summers can be a little, or A LOT difficult.  Don't get me wrong I love the break from the structure of school.  I love jammie mornings, 9am breakfast, unbrushed hair.  I love spending time with her too, but the wide open day isn't great for our relationship.
So when I heard about the great idea to do your own summer camp (with just your own kids) from the Power of Mom's website I was excited! 

In the morning the need to get their chores done and then we can start our daily activity.  
We have Make-It Monday (for crafts and baking.)
Thinking Tuesday (homeschool day.)
Wet Wednesday (swimming, slip and slides, splash pads.)
Trip Thursday (visit mainly free fun places.)
Friend Friday (a day for scheduled playdates.)


Our main summer problem (or off track problem we've had 4 of those this year!) is that there is a major lack of structure and they ask to watch T.V. all day, and I give in half the time.  And then they get bored of watching T.V.  It's a total vicious cycle.  So my plan is to fill their summer WITHOUT having to be the ring master.


In the afternoon we have scheduled quiet time (another Power of Mom's idea).  We call it Center's to make it fun.  They read for 15 minutes- I even give them a timer.  Mr. H who is a non reader looks at the pictures for 15 minutes. 

Then they write in their journal. Each day I have different writing prompts for them.  The next 15 minutes they do an art project.  My kids love being creative so this can take them a lot longer than 15 minutes!  I found a ton of open ended art ideas that aren't super messy.  I created a pinterest board called "Invitation to Learn."  If they have done all of these three things then they can watch one show that they both have to agree upon.


They both have charts and when they finish their tasks then they earn a point. When they earn 20 points we are going to go to get snow cones.  (We've made a list of things that they really want to do and they are going to work on earning those things.)  To earn extra points I have workbooks they can do.  One page equals one point.

So the beauty of all of this is that they are not bored!
Actually the beauty of this is that they are downstairs while I am upstairs taking a nap, relaxing, getting extra work or chores done. It's a win win!


Friday, March 28, 2014

What teaching has to do with parenting


I have been working on renewing my teaching license (taking a lot of classes) and it's been a blessing in disguise. Not only had it made me grow as a teacher but it has helped me see that things that help with teaching and behavior management help as a mom too.


For example, transitions in a classroom are when kids can line up and go from one subject to the next smoothly. When students know what they're supposed to do, when and how they are supposed to do it, time is saved and there are less behavior problems. Yay hoo!

How does that relate to mommy hood? Kids from 2 mo to 18 years old benifit from routine and expectation. So think of a problem area in your day, a time that trips up your whole day, makes you frustrated or late. There is probably a transition problem with that part of your day. You expect something but your kids haven't quite got the memo. Time to train them!


For me it was the morning and getting dressed. My kids like to get up and watch a tv show. I needed them to get ready, but they would drag their feet. I said, after you watch for 15 minutes (half a pbs kids show) you have to get dressed, that's just the way we're going to do it at our house. (That statement gives me power baby!)

As long as I stay consistent it makes my whole day smoother. They know what I expect and when I expect it and they perform! Can I get a woot woot?

I did the same thing with bed time and it's helped. Bed time is still not the greatest but it's not so grizzly anymore.



So think about your day, where are the snags? Try training your kids, saying things like, sorry, that's just the way things are going to be now. And see if you can make some smooth transitions for your kids.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

E is for elephant

Every morning we work in our journals. 
I had them draw tree in the fall. 

I think they turned out so cute! 
I love seeing the world through their eyes.


Next while everyone was finishing up their journals. They played with magnets. It is great for them to explore with letters and numbers.

As well as exploring with shapes and colors. As the year progresses they will get more structure with this (as in making patterns.) 

Using "Handwriting Without Tears" Program we reviewed letter F and made the letter E with matching sticks, made by our amazing director and teacher.
It is so fun to watch them make letters with something other than a crayon or pencil. 
It really makes them use their brains differently.

We read the book Elmer the Elephant
By David McKee

This is a great back to school book about being proud of who you are.
At the end of the book all of the elephants dress up.
I asked the children to decorate their own elephants to reflect their personality.
It was fun to see what they came up with.


For our centers they dripped water on the letter Ee that was written on paper towels.
This was great for their fine motor skills, learning the letter Ee, and concentration.

We also had fun working on our numbers.

Here is my Ee Elephant post from last year:



PS I'm not endorsed by any of the mentioned links, I just wanted to make it easier for to find more info. :)

F is for families

We opened our Chinese-English preschool!

It's in my friends parents basement. {I know generous, right?}
This is the English room set up.

We are using the program "Handwriting Without Tears."
Which basically starts with the easiest letters to write, and progresses through the alphabet.
You can see the boards on the dresser in the back.

This is our Chinese room.
Totally adorable!

We started with Families so the children could learn how to say the names of family members in Chinese.

For the English portion (what I help teach),
we read the book Jonathan and His Mommy
Which is a really cute book about different steps he and his mommy take while they are walking.
It was a great transition book that we acted out.

We worked the letter sound and writing let letter.
There is an app called I Write Words.

Its a really great app for helping them learn how to properly form the letters. 


 It doesn't let them trace the letter the wrong way.  It was a great way to reward the children for good behavior. (Jake was listening really well, so he gets to play the letter game first!)
Get the lite version first, and see if you like it. :)
Just a little friendly advice.

We made the letter Ff out of faces.
Using the Do a Dot page from Confession of a Homeschooler


We put the family on the letter F

We sorted the mommies and the daddies


We also put play dough on the frog.
Because it was the first week we kept things pretty simple and fun.
That way we could focus on establishing rules and procedure.