• 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!

  • Top 10: Best Beginning Chapter Book Series (ages 6-9)

    Dragons and aliens and dinosaurs, oh my! And for girls, there are interesting slightly mischieveous girls to meet as well as cousins who are really sweet. Short chapter book series can often have repetitive plot lines about nothing or language that is neither rich nor interesting. There is something special about each of these book series for the child AND the adult reading along.

Mondrian for kids, Mondrian art project, art project for kid, master artists, abstract art project for kids

Mondrian Music and Art Project for Kids

Mondrian Art and Music Project for Kids

I didn’t realize how much Piet Mondrian was influenced by the music of his day, jazzy blues called Boogie Woogie. I was more familiar with his simple geometrical shapes and primary colors (blue, red, yellow) that he used to express reality, nature and logic. This piece, the Boogie Woogie, takes the beat of jazz and turns it into a geometric design.

Let’s learn about Piet Mondrian:

Mondrian, who had escaped to New York from Europe after the outbreak of World War II, delighted in the city’s architecture. He was also fascinated by American jazz, particularly boogie-woogie, finding its syncopated beat, irreverent approach to melody, and improvisational aesthetic akin to what he called, in his own work, the “destruction of natural appearance; and construction through continuous opposition of pure means—dynamic rhythm.” In this painting, his penultimate, Mondrian replaced the black grid that had long governed his canvases with predominantly yellow lines that intersect at points marked by squares of blue and red. These atomized bands of stuttering chromatic pulses, interrupted by light gray, create paths across the canvas suggesting the city’s grid, the movement of traffic, and blinking electric lights, as well as the rhythms of jazz. from MOMA Read more…

winter books for kids, winter picture books, winter chapter books, winter novel in verse

Top 10 Winter Books for Kids

Winter Books and Activities for Kids

We are in the midst of a blizzard so it made sense to pull out all our winter books as we are trapped inside for two days. I’m not a fan of winter themed books. You know, the books that are tagged as winter and are usually boring with a lot of hibernation going on.

Nemo, blizzard,

 

 

I’d rather read a book that just happens to include winter but has a way of inveigling its way into my mind and heart. Books you remember long past when winter is over. These books do that for me. I remember some from my own childhood. Others have special associations. What are your favorite winter books? Please share!

Favorite Winter Books From Readers

Thank you so much to readers who offer up their very favorite winter books for kids!

Jen Fischer recommends Snow Sounds and Trouble with Trolls.

 

MaryAnne of Mama Smiles loves Red Sled. (Wouldn’t you know it? There are two Red Sled books. One is by Lita Judge, the other is by Patricia Thomas. I am guessing it’s the one by Patricia Thomas).

 

Susan Marx of Read Aloud Guide suggests Lois Elhert’s Snowballs. She says, “Engaging text and illustrations makes a snow family come alive in Lois Ehlert’s “Snowballs”. Young children learn how to make a snow family using many different objects. This book is sure to foster children’s creativity as well as encourage them to bundle up and spend fun time outside during the winter. See “Help Me Get Ready To Read” for other wintry books.www.readaloudguide.com Happy Reading Aloud!”

 

@granolasusan on Twitter recommends Cynthia Rylant’s Snow.

 Catherine of Story Snug loves Bear Snores On and One Snowy Night.

 

Bernadette from Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas loves Snow by P. D. Eastman.

Erica of What Do We Do All Day recommends chapter books Icefall and Breadcrumbs.

 

Favorite Winter Books for Kids

1. Best Winter Inner City Picture Book

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

Hands down, this is our favorite winter picture book. Never has the inner city seemed more appealing. Since two of my kids spent a few years in the city, this is especially fun for us to see Brownstones and snow piled high. Life was like this during the big storm when we lived in the South End of Boston.

Read more…

vinyl signs, birthday banners,

Signs for Celebrating

Graduation Banners to Celebrate

When PickyKidPix was younger, she went to a cooperative nursery school. As part of the reduced tuition fees, parents had to help out at the preschool. I was a parent helper in the classroom but I also had an administrative job in charge of marketing the preschool for the following year’s enrollment. I had a very small marketing budget so the first thing I did was make several vinyl banners and hang them up around town.

It was very effective. Too effective, in fact. Soon, calls started coming in both for enrollment and equally for sign placement.

The highway department called saying that the banners could not be hung on an overpass. The banners might come loose, fall down below to oncoming traffic, and cause an accident. Turns out when this happens, they get sued. I used heavy duty flex ties and checked the signs frequently, but that didn’t matter. Down it went.

The sign by the subway station with lots of street traffic  was run by a neighborhood group who decided that only banners of artists could be allowed on the fence. Preschools were no longer welcome. Too bad, this sign generated a lot of calls for our school. Read more…

International Book Giving Day, Valentine's Day and Book Giving Day

International Book Giving Day

Give a Book for International Book Giving Day

Did you know that today is both Valentine’s Day AND International Book Giving Day? It’s easy to celebrate both since both holidays are about giving! And if you really want to go crazy, February is both Heart Smart Month AND Black History Month. There’s a lot to celebrate in such a short month!

 

International Book Giving Day

International Book Giving Day is a 100% volunteer initiative aimed at increasing children’s access to and enthusiasm for books. We are inviting individuals to 1) give a book to a friend or family member, 2) leave a book in a waiting room for children to read, or 3) donate a gently used book to a local library, hospital or shelter or to an organization that distributes used books to children in need. You are also welcome to organize a book drive, fundraiser, volunteer event, book swap, story time session, etc. See bookgivingday.com! Read more…

Newton MA, Victorian house in Newton,

Humblebrag Parenting

The Parent HumbleBrag

How do you keep a clear head in a town that races to nowhere and the measure of success is how busy your kids are? I have two pieces of advice:

  • No one can get sick or injured. Flu shots are mandatory. Products like Mucinex can help keep you going when you do succumb.
  • Kids and Parents: Run your own race.

My mom friend Penny grew up in the town we live in. I think of our suburb as full of transplants from all over the place. I forget that there are a chunk of parents who actually grew up here, went away, and then came back to raise their families. At coffee today, she was bothered by the new parenting humblebrag that she encountered when bumping into a high school classmate who also returned to Newton.

Newton MA, Victorian house in Newton,A Victorian house in Newton, MA that dares to be different.

“Do you remember,” Penny asked, “when everyone would brag about how many hours they worked?”

“You mean, post college?”

“Yeah, when we used to work 50 to 100 hour work weeks?”

The number of hours worked was a proxy for how important and/or successful you were apparently.

Read more…

healthy heart month, Campbell's contest, canned soup

Heart Smart for February

Heart Smart for Your Loved Ones

My husband’s cholesterol is a little high and he’s tried diet and exercise to bring it down. It helped a little but Lipitor is even more effective. Still, he likes to go off Lipitor for a while just to be off meds, so we’ll shop and cook with more vigilance to make sure we’re eating super healthy when he does that.

Some swaps are pretty simple.

We use extra virgin olive oil as our cooking oil of choice for pretty much everything except baking.

Instead of white rice, I’ll mix half the amount with brown rice. The trick to that is to soak the brown rice overnight so that it cooks at the same rate as the white rice. My Korean mother-in-law taught me that. And if you forget to do that the night before, add hot water to the brown rice for a few hours before cooking.

Oatmeal is also something I push. PickyKidPix and I both like oatmeal — steel-cut or quick oats — but no one else in the family does.  It’s delicious with a little brown sugar and berries and is proven to bring down cholesterol levels. So, for my husband, his oats of choice is Cheerios. I also grind up oats in my blender to sneak it into baked goods like cookies. No one is the wiser for that!

Home made soup is another strategy for getting our kids to eat more cooked vegetables We also welcome the warmth during our cold New England winters! My husband uses the Cooks Illustrated‘s chicken noodle soup recipe and it’s a big hit with our kids.

The problem though, is that it’s very time-consuming.  It’s a multi-step process including making stock and then making the actual soup. I personally don’t have the time or the patience to follow the recipe but I enjoy the end result when my husband is in the mood for an all day cooking project.  Read more…

monthly blog goals,

Monthly Blogging Goals Check Up

Monthly Blogging Goals for February

I was a little nervous to check up on how I did on my blogging goals last month. I know I didn’t read enough middle grade chapter books. I am posting daily instead of 4 times a week too. Ah well!

monthly blog goals,

This month, I am revising my goals since I clearly am having trouble hitting them.

1) Focusing on 1 social network

This hit home:

Copyblogger suggests picking just one social network where your audience seems to congregate and then putting in the time and energy to really do it right. You can focus on others later.

That makes sense to me. I am punting all other social media networks with the exception of Pinterest. No more messing around on Sulia or trying to learn Instagram. And I’m on maintenance mode on Twitter in terms of growing my following. Read more…

Chinese New Year party, Chinese New Year arts and crafts, Chinese New Year Party for Kids, Chinese New Year crafts for kids,

Chinese New Year Crafts for Kids

Chinese New Year 2013: The Year of the Snake

My daughter’s Middle School Chinese teacher is throwing a great Chinese New Year’s party for all her students — 60 of them plus siblings! She is planning crafts, games, cooking demonstrations and a pot luck. In addition, her students will perform — in Chinese — both skits and songs. It’s ambitious! Luckily, a lot of parents are also helping out.

year of the snake, happy chinese new year, chinese new year snake painting, grasshopper and sensei

Grasshopper and Sensei’s Year of the Snake painting.

The parent volunteer committee met to go over the activities.

Some are coming from this book: Read more…

Look Another Book, Bob Staake, seek and find picture books, search and find picture books, seek and find, search and find

Picture Book of the Day: Look! Another Book!

Seek and Find Picture Books for Kids

My son and I love Seek and Find picture books. We even find things to find in picture books where the items are somewhat secret. Picture books that are also games make reading interactive and fun! Look! Another Book! by Bob Staake My son loves search and find books and we both fell in love with Look! A Book! a few years ago. His new book is equally wonderful! Staake’s delightful artwork include die-cuts in the shape of different size circles highlighting details of his illustrations. We also like the rhyming text that tells you what to find. There are 125 things to find in total. Read more…