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Video Games for STEM Summer Learning

Video Games for STEM Summer Learning

I have been working hard planning my son’s summer and it’s a video game themed summer but I plan to sneak in math, computer science, art and reading. He’s 10-years-old and will be a rising 5th grader.

Why video gamed learning? My son is screen obsessed. It’s not unusual to find him in front of TWO not just ONE screens at the same time! He will watching a YouTube video while playing a video game, and sometimes they are not even related. When we tell him to stop, he will quite sweetly, “You should be glad I am multi-tasking mom!”

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Middle School Writing: How to Use the COMMA

Middle School Writing: How to Use the COMMA

PickyKidPix asked me to help her edit her English assignment last night. She said that she’s having trouble with sentence fluency which is bringing her grade down. I wasn’t sure what “sentence fluency” means but after reading her essay and helping her fix it, I’ve decided that I need to do a four part series to help her, and hopefully other kids too on:

  • How to Use the Comma
  • Rich Vocabulary Part 1: Learning more words
  • Rich Vocabulary Part 2: Using the Thesaurus
  • The Art of Editing: Analyzing sentence structure and Taking Several Passes

Let’s get started on how to use the comma. I noticed that PickyKidPix’s first issue is that she just doesn’t the comma enough. I asked her if she reads her essay out loud to figure out pauses and she said that she did, but because she reads really fast, the lack of pauses sounds fine to her; hence she omits the necessary commas separating the descriptive phrases from the main sentence. That’s not good!

I’m pulling examples of where my daughter gets confused from Business Insider: 13 Rules for Using Commas Without Looking Like an Idiot. Read more…

17 Wonderful Multicultural Picture Books About Food

17 Wonderful Multicultural Picture Books About Food

My favorite way to learn about other cultures is through food. It can be intiminating to cook a new ethnic cuisine for the first time, so consider this list a menu of sorts to decide if there is anything you want to make at home. What wonderful multicultural picture books about food did I leave out? I’d love your favorites! Please share! Thanks!

 

Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto and Ed Martinez

One of my best friends growing up in Southern California is half Mexican and I would go to her house after opening presents at my house to eat tamales that her family purchased. Soon, my whole family would join me. My friend’s parents didn’t mind. I always heard that tamales are a bit tricky to make and I have always purchased them and steamed them at home.

In Too Many Tamales, Maria and her family make tamales for Christmas but she tries on her mama’s ring even though she’s not supposed to and loses mama’s diamond ring in the masa dough. Before mama finds out, she must get the other kids to help her eat the 24 tamales to locate the ring. It’s a lot of food but no ring appears. Did someone accidentally eat it? When Maria goes to confess to her mother, she makes a happy discovery … and now they need to make more tamales! [picture book, ages 4 and up]

tamales

A batch of Mexican tamales in the tamalera. Image from Wikipedia Read more…

Kobo Glo HD : Read Anywhere Anytime!

#KoboGloHD : Read Anywhere Anytime! Giveaway!

I received a Kobo Glo HD to review and it immediately disappeared, snatched up by my kids. We have other eReaders in the house but I had loaded this one with the new Rick Riordan ebook, The Crown of Ptolomy, and more Wonder stories by R. J. Palacio.

My son has been waiting for the newest Riordan book and he took theKobo Glo HD and went off to read it, despite being in the middle of three other books. Read more…

Poetry in Sports Books for Kids and the Kid Lit Blog Hop

Poetry in Sports Books for Kids and the Kid Lit Blog Hop

My son has a poet in residence for fourth grade. For three sessions, he’s learning to write poetry. There’s even homework assignments that he agonizes over. He’s had a poetry unit every year — in 2nd grade, he wrote a color poem based on Mary O’Neill, but this is the first year that the poetry seems to flow out of him. To encourage the poet inside him, I’m introducing books about sports that use poetry to tell the story.

Hoops by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Stephen T. Johnson

The ball

like a piece

of the thin long reach

of your body.

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Family Vacation in Costa Rica

Family Vacation in Costa Rica

Getting out of Boston during Snowmageddon was a challenge since we were scheduled to fly out on Sunday during a snowstorm and the next flight out after that was three days later and probably full. My husband spent hours trying to book a new flight, knowing that our flight would be canceled and managed to pull off a flight that left three days earlier on Friday before school vacation. We pulled our kids out of school for the day, spent the night in Houston and then spent another night near the airport in Liberia, Costa Rica, because the house we rented wasn’t available earlier.

Family vacation Costa Rica, Houston TX, Playa Flamingo, Guanacasta

I have to say that it was totally worth the mad scramble to get out before Mother Nature shut down Boston Logan airport! Houston turned out to be a food mecca for TexMex and BBQ. On the recommendation of a Dad Friend who grew up in Houston, we went to Pappacitos for TexMex and their sister restaurant, Pappas for BBQ. Both were exceptional!

Pappas, best BBQ in Houston, Family vacation Costa Rica, Houston TX, Playa Flamingo, Guanacasta

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Great Books for Reluctant Boy Readers

Great Books for Reluctant Boy Readers & GIVEAWAY

Please welcome author David Kelly of the Ballpark Mystery series and also my neighbor here in Newton, MA. We’re not exactly next door neighbors but we live in the same town! How cool is that? Other notable children’s book authors from Newton include Mitali Perkins (until she moved two years ago) and Karen Day. Jacqueline Davies of The Lemonade War series lives one town over in Needham, MA.

Today, David Kelly is writing about finding books for reluctant boy readers. His series is another great choice for boys or girls who like baseball, particularly those of the Red Sox Nation.

How about you? What books have kept your kids reading? Please share! Thanks! Read more…

How to Make Origami Shirukan Throwing Star

How to Make Origami Shirukan Throwing Star

My son was obsessed with learning how to fold an Origami Shirukan Throwing Star. He had trouble cutting perfectly square pieces of paper so I handed him My First Origami Kit which I received from a publisher to review.

Unfortunately, the book did not include instructions on how to make a Shirukan Throwing Star but the origami paper was beautiful and just the right size. The kit comes with a book, 60 papers, 150 stickers and 22 projects.

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PARCC Resources for Parents

PARCC Resources for Parents

My kids have been taking the PARCC standardized test for the new Common Core standards this past month. They do not enjoy standardized tests but the upside is that the elementary school Physical Education teacher opens the gym early on test days and has them play Pickle Ball. He says the research shows that exercise before tests helps them perform better so he’s happy to come to school early to run games for them.

In Massachusetts where I live, there was concern that the Common Core standards would be lower than the current ones. This concern is in the minority for most states but Massachusetts students score among the highest in the world in reading, math and science. Still, I can attest to anxiety among kids, parents and teachers when it comes to standardized tests. I know that my kids get stressed out even though they are well prepared. Read more…