• Top 10 Life Skills Kids Need Before College

    My book list of Top 10 Books to Teach Kids to Be More Responsible made me start to think about life skills that kids need before going off to college. That and the fact that my oldest, Grasshopper and Sensei, will be starting high school next fall so we have only 4 years to tackle this […]

  • Today I am on the Front Page of The Boston Globe

    Today I am on the front page of The Boston Globe for the past week of posts that I wrote on my microblog, I Love Newton, about the anti-Asian racism in the local high school musical, Thoroughly Modern Millie. School play’s stereotypes bring outcry and apology. “Millie” touches nerve in Newton by Ellen Ishkanian, Globe […]

  • Get Kids Reading Strategies: 12 Surefire Ways

    I searched five years of digital photographs looking for photos of my kids reading and I only came up with the handful here. Why? It’s not easy getting kids reading, especially to love reading enough that they choose it over more exciting things like screens, playdates or sports! I started my blog after my oldest […]

  • 10 Perfect Read Aloud Books for 3rd Grade

    I had the great fortune to meet The Nerdy Book Club founders at a dinner for Anne Ursu hosted by Walden Pond Press to celebrate her latest chapter book, The Real Boy. (It’s wonderful. I put it on my  Newbery 2014 Contenders list! And it just won a Middle Grade Fiction Nerdie). Colby Sharp, one of […]

  • Best Beginning Chapter Books for 2nd and 3rd Grade

    Best books for beginning readers from my library. This list is perfect for 2nd grade and 3rd grade.

  • How To: Create a Great Kids’ Book Club (Activity and Book Suggestions)

    Some ideas on how to set up a book club for your child with examples of successful book club meetings.

  • Top 10: Best Dragon Children’s Books (ages 2-16)

    The Mixed Up Files of Middle Grade Authors blog has a great post on dragons that preempted this post but I actually had been working on this for several weeks. There is something magical about dragons and I’m glad that some kids can keep the magic alive. I’ve gathered my favorite dragon books that range in age from picture books to young adult. What is your favorite dragon book? Please share!

  • Best Science Apps for Kids (ages 4-21)

    I am starting to buy into this idea of teaching and really connecting material through games and apps. I was sort of on board with this concept, but since playing around with The Elements (a Harry Potter version of the Periodic Table) that my brother-in-law turned me on to, I am now a believer as I saw, with my own eyes, how captivated my kids were with the Periodic Table, an otherwise dull chart.

  • Newbery Winners by Grade Appropriateness!

    Thank you to Hubpages for this information. There are additional book suggestions by grade if click here to see their post. I have added an asterisk to the books that I’ve read and loved (and two astericks for must reads!).

  • Best Picture Books That Teach Math Concepts

    Picture books can be a visual and fun way to introduce math concepts. I think it makes math less intimidating when it’s part of a story. For those kids who love math, it’s another way to eat it up!

Platypus Police Squad, Jarrett Krosoczka, author event for kids, mystery chapter book,

Crime Scene for Platypus Police Squad

It was a Friday afternoon. I got wind from Kellie at Walden Pond Publishing that something was going down in Dedham, Massachusetts at Blue Bunny Books. She warned me that similar suspicious activities had been happening there as it is owned by author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds of Ish and The Dot. Something involving Jarrett Krosoczka Playtpus Police Squad. I was intrigued. And wary. You can’t be too careful!

What do you think? Is this a crime scene?! The caution tape is certainly suspicious!

Platypus Police Squad, author event, Jarrett Krosoczka,

Why is there cake involved? And who were these two guys on the cake? Did they commit the crime?

Platypus Police Squad, author event, Jarrett Krosoczka,

No, it wasn’t the platypuses. They turned out to be the good guys. Maybe it’s this guy then! Do you know who he is?

photo

Or do you think these lunch ladies look suspicious? They did bring in milk and cookies though. Did you figure out that it’s author Jarrett Krosoczka that is holding the milk and cookies?

That isn’t a crime. Is the Lunch Lady and her sidekick Betty involved somehow? Are they in trouble? Maybe they are here incognito in the blue uniforms. I’m not sure. Read more…

win a website, Go Daddy, No Websitus contest

Help Your Favorite Small Business Win a Website Through Go Daddy

My mom friend Suzi Wilder  makes the most beautiful fused glass works of art. I buy them as presents for every wedding I am invited to. She works out of her house so I will go by when I need a gift and she will set up a display of her latest pieces on her dining room table.

A few years ago, she had a website, WilderGlassworks.com, but it’s no longer operational. It’s too bad because she does beautiful custom pieces that you could have ordered online. Here are a few examples but the photos do not do justice to her pieces!

Wilder Glassworks, Suzi Wilder, fused glass plattersRead more…

banned books for kids, YA banned books, YA challenged books, Phil Duncan's banned books

Three “Banned” Books Your Children Must Read

I’m so excited to introduce author Phil Duncan as my guest author today. His latest young adult book, Wax, is out (see bottom of post). Today, he has three banned or challenged books that he highly recommends.

By Phil Duncan

Much is made of banned and challenged books in schools, with constant debates springing up over age-appropriateness vs. freedom of expression and ideas. As a writer I am firmly on the side of fostering intellectual growth of children via challenging work, but I can also understand that some books — especially those aimed at young readers — might be too mature for certain age groups. So where is the middle ground in this politicized issue? How can we allow books to do what they’re meant to do — open up new worlds and ideas to our children — while also protecting young readers from material that may be too advanced?

The key to answering this question lies in investigating these books and finding out why they are “challenged” in the first place. Screening hundreds of books is a daunting task, so I’ve compiled a list of three books that I have read, either as a young reader, adult or both, that I believe are completely suitable for young readers (though they appear on the more conservative “challenged” books lists): Read more…

2nd grade china unit, 2nd grade china, china unit, red envelope activities

Red Envelope Crafts for 2nd Grade China Unit

My mom friend Stella who is Chinese explains the ins and outs of Chinese Red Envelope etiquette and significance to 2nd grade kids. We did a special presentation as part of their 2nd grade China Unit that included: the Chinese invention of paper money, red envelope craft and background, Chinese silk children’s clothes, and Chinese money. It was a lot of fun!

Chinese Red Envelope Facts and Trivia

Red envelopes are used to give gifts of money.  When I was a little kid, I would get red envelopes from older relatives on holidays, my birthday, or if I hadn’t seen someone for a long time.  When I got older, I also got red envelopes when I graduated from school, when I got married and even when my grandfather passed away.  

For Chinese New Year, only married people give red envelopes away to children and young single people (one of the downsides of getting married!).  The more money you give away, the more luck you will have for the new year.  

Chinese are very superstitious.  Even numbers are thought to be better luck than odd numbers so for better luck, a person would give someone two red envelopes instead of one.  4 is a bad luck number so you never want to give amounts of 4 like $4, $40, $44 and so on.  The number four in Chinese sounds like the word for die/death.  What’s another example of a bad luck amount??  

8 is the luckiest number so if you want to give someone $8 you would put $5 in one envelope and $3 in another or whatever combination you like but not $4 and $4!  The number 8 in Chinese sounds like the word for wealthy.   Read more…

Axel Avian

Summer Creative Writing Contest for Kids! Win $100!

Arundel Publishing is holding its first creative writing competition for kids and asking that all contestants write a short story using at least one of your favorite characters from the chapter book Agent Colt Shore: Domino 29 by Axel Avian.

They are looking for action packed stories that refrain from excessive amounts of violence and are overall positive-just like Colt Shore. The length can be whatever you decide. Also, there are two age groups for submission so please specify your age: 10-12 and 13- up.

The winners will receive a $100 cash prize, along with the chance to get their story published!

Please submit all stories by July 30th 2013, to Karen.lee@arundelpublishing.com

Happy Writing!

Axel Avian and Crew

 

Meet Axel Avian: 5 Qs and As

Do you want to meet author Axel Avian? Sure, why not, right??! Here’s 5 Quick Q and A’s with him! Read more…

graphic novels for boys, graphic novels for 3rd grade, third grade graphic novels

10 Great Graphic Novels for 3rd Grade

Julie Kirkwood, Creekside Learning
Julie Kirkwood, Creekside Learning • 5 hours ago
Mia, I wish I could pin a whole board in one pin! My son loves graphic novels and I am always looking for new ones for him. Thank you! Also enjoying perusing your lists of books today on the birds and the bees as well as safe touch. Such great resources!

PragmaticMom • 5 hours ago
Hi Julie. This ABCs series is a 5 part post so I hope you find some for your son. How old? I’d be happy to direct you to lists if he’s around 8. I’ve been reading tons with my little boy. He loves them too! I’d also be happy to research and post a customized list for you. I love making those!

Julie Kirkwood, Creekside Learning • 33 minutes ago
Hi Mia, that would be wonderful. He is about to turn 9 this month. He loves all things history and gaming. Thank you! Read more…

chapter books about poland for kids, picture books about poland for kids, kids books about poland, poland and books for kids

20 Books About Poland For Kids

Alexandra of familymobileapps.com left me a comment that said, “I love your specific lists! :) So, I wonder if Poland themed books for kids is too big or too little a challange for you? :)

So I thought, “No problem. I’ll research.”

But what I found was a striking lack of diversity in Polish themed books for kids: folk tales and Holocaust and that’s about it! I think this is possibly worse than Japanese American books for kids which seem to singularly focus on WWII internment.

Can you please help me identify more books? As for my list, here are my folk tales and Holocaust books about Poland for kids.

 

10 Books About Poland for Children

10. Seedfolks by Paul Fleishman and illustrated by Judy Petersen is an exception. I just happened to be reading this after PickyKidPix recommended it and checked it out at the library. Set in inner-city Cleveland, a rough neighborhood is transformed after a little girl dares to clear a patch in a garbage strewn vacant lot to plant a handful of lima bean seeds. Her neighborhood had undergone waves of transformation as new immigrants settled in and then moved out if they could afford to. Once full of Polish immigrants, only a few Caucasians remained but this particular elderly Polish lady plays a pivotal role in getting the lot transformed. An oblique reference to Poland, to be sure, but I wish there were more books with Polish American characters.

Read more…

summer learning activities for kids, CWIST, summer learning fun,

Free Site for Summer Learning Activities for Kids (CWIST)

I received an email from CWIST, a free website for parents and kids, and was intrigued by their idea:

  • Challenges or “cwists” are crowd-sourced from parents, educators, mom bloggers and experts and posted in the cwist library.
  • The cwists can be anything from organizing a community clean-up, researching fun facts for an upcoming family trip, completing a summer reading list or mastering good manners over time.
  • Upon successful completion of a cwist, kids choose parent-approved rewards which can range from a sleepover, day trip, toy or gadget they have wanted or something completely unique and original.
  • This seems like the perfect source for summer learning activities for kids!

Music and Science Fun for Kids

I was pretty impressed by the featured CWIST that was emailed to me. It’s a DIY craft CWIST with a science and music twist. Read more…

K'NEX competition for kids, K'NEX 2013 contest,

K’NEX Competition with Prizes: A Fun Summer Project!

This sounds fun for kids who like to create with K’NEX. The K’NEXpert Search challenges young builders to design & submit a creative, original model made entirely from K’NEX parts and are judged on creativity, uniqueness and detail.

K'NEX competition for kids, K'NEX 2013 contest,

The contest will have 4 grand-prize winners from four different age groups:

  • 5-6 years old
  • 7-8 years old
  • 9-11 years old
  • 12-14 years old (a new category this year)

Four imaginative children will each receive a prize package valued at $3,650.

Read more…