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Mashup Covering Parenting, Children’s Literature + EducationPragmaticMom : PragmaticMom
  • Top 10: Best Picture Books for Spring

    You wouldn’t guess that it’s spring here in Boston given the snow we’ve been getting in April! Still, I am dreaming of spring and getting my little garden going. These are my favorite picture books for garden inspiration. These books demonstrate that gardens can transform an environment, bring neighbors closer, and even become a political […]

  • African-American Female Musicians Picture Books

    March is Women’s History Month so I’ve started off with a video of a musician that is new to me, Hazel Dorothy Scott, a jazz prodigy who was prominent during the 1930s and 1940s. I could not find a picture book biography on her (yet) but here’s hoping that someone will write out. In the […]

  • 5 Amazing Multicultural Novels in Verse and the Kid Lit Blog Hop

    It’s been such a great year for those who love both multicultural/diversity/inclusive books for kids AND novels in verse! I picked five amazing favorites that I’ve loved from this past year and hope that the popularity of these books will encourage more diversity books to be published! What are your favorite novels in verse? Please […]

  • What Do Muslims Really Want Anyway?! 17 Books on Muslim World for Kids

    Please welcome my guest poster today, author Elsa Marston who is my resident Middle Eastern Children’s literature go to! She has a list of recommended books for kids and teens at the bottom of the post. ———— Lately we’ve been reading about terrorist actions by Muslims in Europe and other places, events that have again […]

  • 10 Perfect Read Alouds for 4th Grade

    Fourth grade at my elementary school marks a really interesting immigration unit that introduced my kids to their first group project experience. They learned, the hard way, about freeloaders but the end result was a “Wax Museum” where each child played a wax statue that, when prompted by dropping in a fake coin in a […]

  • 10 Perfect Read Aloud Books for 2nd Grade

    I chose a collection of some of my favorite chapter books and picture books for second grade read alouds. Truth be told, I don’t really remember exactly what books my kids were read to in the classroom during 2nd grade. For some reason, it’s drawing a blank at our house. Second grade at our elementary […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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 […]

  • 23 Great Picture Books for 5th Grade

    A reader asked me for a list of picture books appropriate for 4th and 5th grade. I wasn’t sure myself. Sure, there are advanced picture books but does the list have to hit the Core Curriculum agenda? Don’t 4th and 5th graders want to read solely chapter books, having left picture books behind in 1st […]

12 Exciting Medieval Times Books for Kids

12 Exciting Medieval Times Books for Kids

Kids who like knights, princesses, and castles will like books set in Medieval Times. Adam Gidwitz writes in the back notes of The Inquisitor’s Tale:

I hope, if nothing else, this book has convinced you that the Middle Ages were not “dark” (never call them the dark ages), but rather an amazing, vibrant, dynamic period. Universities were invented, the modern financial system was born, kingship as we know it developed — and so did the modern strife the currently grips our world.

It was a time when people were defining how they lived with the “other,” with people who were different from them. The parallels between our time and theirs are rich, poignant, and, to often, tragic.

The Middle Ages, or Medieval Times, in Europe was a thousand-year period of history that started in 500 AD until 1500 AD. It gets a bad rap in books as evidenced by 1o Worst Misconceptions About Medieval Life You’d Get From Fantasy Books:

  1. Peasants were a single class of people who were more or less equal to one another.
  2. Inns were public houses with big common halls below and rooms above.
  3. You would never see a woman engaged in a trade such as armorer or merchant.
  4. People had horrible table manners, throwing bones and scraps on the floor.
  5. People distrusted all forms of magic and witches were frequently burned.
  6. Men’s clothing was always practical and functional.
  7. Servants were all low-class people.
  8. Medicine was based on pure superstition.
  9. The most powerful military force consisted of armored knights riding into battle.
  10. Only men’s pleasure was important.

I found different kinds of books to bring this period alive from fiction books to a folk tale, a play, and an art history book on castles and knights. If your kids like this period, there’s a lot of options to see what life was like just through books.

How about you? What period of history fascinates you?

10 Exciting Medieval Times Books for Kids

10. Marguerite Makes a Book by Bruce Robertson, illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt

Set during the 1400’s, Marguerite’s father is the most famous manuscript illuminator in Paris. He’s trying to finish a prayer book for Lady Isabelle, his patron, but his hands are trembling with age lately. Together, he sets off with his daughter to get the materials they need. Marguerite uses egg whites, goose feathers, gold leaf, powdered silver, soot, honey, parsley, spices, wax, Lapis lazuli stone and other natural materials to make the paint for the book. With careful concentration, she finishes her father’s book, just in time for Lady Isabelle’s name day event. The illustrations in this lovely picture book include illuminations decorating the text, just like Marguerite’s father would have done. [picture book, ages 5 and up]

Read more…

RISD Admissions, Rhode Island School of Design

Applying to RISD: Advice from Antonio Peters in Admissions

RISD offered an admission session for parents of pre-college students this year. Antonio Peters led this informative session. I’ve condensed the one hour session into fourteen minutes in the video below.

RISD Admissions, Rhode Island School of Design

RISD Admissions Presentation for Pre-College Parents. How to apply and get into RISD by Antonio Peters, Assistant Director of Admissions.

Some pertinent information:

  • Show growth in your portfolio and be sure to label the circumstances in which the piece was created. Show timeframe of when piece was created … high school versus pre-college program. In class assignment versus private art teacher versus something I did at home for myself. Read more…
Skittles Rainbow Science Experiment Fail

Easy and Fun Rainbow Science Experiments

A rainbow is made of the colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. Where did the rainbow come from? All the colors exist in sunlight. We can’t see them because they are mixed together.

When sunlight moves from the air to the water in the glass, it bends in a special way. When it bends, the light separates into all the colors of the rainbow. It’s called refraction. From How To Make a Rainbow video

We tried this on our own but with much poorer results.

Skittles Rainbow Science Experiment Fail

Our hypothesis: our plate was too large. Try again with smaller plate so the colors have less area to run together.

This is another fun rainbow experiment to try.

Rainbow Books for Kids

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert

The flowers in a garden represent the colors of the rainbow in this beautifully illustrated picture book. Can you find the hidden heart shape that Lois Ehlert hides in all her books? [picture book, ages 2 and up]

The Magic School Bus Makes A Rainbow: A Book About Color by Joanna Cole, illusgtrated by  Carolyn Braken and Bruce Degen

Ms. Frizzle and her class ride into a whitelight pinball machine to learn about color and light. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

 To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

I am an Amazon affiliate which means if you buy anything through my blog, I get a very small kickback at no cost to you. I use this money to pay for postage and handling for my giveaways.


Hawaiian Folk Tales & Children's Books

Hawaiian Folk Tales & Children’s Books

When I was a child, a relative in Hawaii from my mother’s side that I’d never met sent me two picture books as a Christmas present. It was a little weird because they didn’t send a gift for either of two siblings, nor did they indicate that this was a shared gift.

Pua Pua Lena Lena and the Magic Kiha-Pu by Guy & Pam Buffet, illustrated by Guy Buffet

One book was a Hawaiian folk tale of Pua Pua Lena Lena, a kind of magical dog who has to  retrieve the kiha pu, a conch shell that sounds an alarm if an enemy is approaching the kingdom, from spirits who have stolen it. This is his punishment for accidentally stealing plants from the Royal Garden in order to make awa tea for his master.

I also received a beautiful version of Momotaro, the peach boy warrior, a Japanese folk tale.

Both books were treasured favorites of mine, and I still have both copies. Since then, I’ve been fortunate to visit Hawaii a few times. My husband played golf for the University of Hawaii which is another connection that brings us back there.

I’m working on a series of Folk Tale posts from Asia and the Pacific Islands. Korea was my first. Today’s post celebrates Folk Tales from Hawaii. Because I had trouble finding these stories, I’ve also included Hawaiian notable picture book biographies.

p.s. I also have a post on Pearl Harbor Books for Kids.

p.p.s. This is the second post of my Folk Tale series. The first one is 16 Great Korean Folk Tales for Kids. Read more…

Visiting West Coast Art Schools

Visiting West Coast Art Schools & Foodie Stops Nearby

We are planning our family summer vacation trip around art and design school visits for my oldest, Grasshopper and Sensei, who is a rising senior in high school. Her wish list for this trip includes a visit to the Chihuly Gardens in Seattle so we will be driving from San Francisco to Vancouver, British Columbia, with a pit stop along the way in Seattle. For anyone planning a similar trip, note that rental car places will not let you return the car in another country, including Canada. Thus, we have to fly out of Seattle in order to drop the car off.

We are also doing a quick leg in Southern California to see a few schools, and my mother as well. At 92, she’s now in an independent living home, so we plan to see her and take her out for a meals. Foodie stops are important for all legs of the trip, and I’m including my research on those in this post below. My mother likes Asian food that is both delicious, plentiful, and inexpensive. We all joke that she must have a hollow leg because her appetite is impressive.

How about you? Any foodie stops you recommend for us to check out in Southbay California, San Francisco, Seattle and/or Vancouver, British Columbia? Thanks for sharing.

Art Schools Southern California

California Institute of the Arts: CalArts

California Institute of the Arts: CalArts

My daughter is interested in the very competitive computer animation program at CalArts. Read more…

31+ STEM Books to Inspire Girls

31+ STEM Books to Inspire Girls

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on Tuesday, which found that 15-year-old girls around the world, outperform boys in science – except for in the United States, Britain and Canada. via The Guardian

Breaking down theNational Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores by gender, girls averaged 151 points (out of a possible 300), three points higher than for boys in the first-ever Technology and Engineering Literacy (TEL) assessment was given in 2014. via The Atlantic

So what is it? Girls are better than boys at science? Or girls are worse at science? Or girls in higher socio-economic brackets outperform boys?

What’s the end goal? Karen Peterson, the chief executive of the National Girls Collaborative Project, says  it’s to “increase their persistence and resilience in STEM studies so that those early kernels of interest translate into meaningful careers.”

As a mom of two girls, I am of the opinion that it’s the parents’ job to pay attention to where the child leads you. For my oldest, her path is towards art school. For my middle daughter, a STEM career mixed with an entrepreneur’s drive seems likely. And yet, the big thinkers at RISD think they very well will end up at the same place. For what is STEM without creativity?

If you peruse the timeline of female scientists and their picture book biographies, one thing is clear. If someone really wants a career in science, she’s not going to let anything stop her. Here’s to the progress women have made in science, and here’s to supporting all girls as they find their passion in life.

What are your favorite STEM books that inspire girls? Thanks for sharing!

STEM Picture Books for Girls

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty

Life might have its failures, but this was not it.

The only true failure can come if you quit.

Rosie is an closet inventor after she thought her cheese hat python deterrent hat was ridiculed. She uses the hat with some tweaks into a flying contraption for her aunt and learns that failure is the problem solving tool of an engineer. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts

Ada didn’t speak until she turned three, but when she did, she was full of questions, especially about why? Turns out, she has all the traits and the heart of a great scientist (though she’s also an exhausting kid to raise!). [picture book, ages 4 and up]

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

A little girl has an amazing idea that she’s going to make the most magnificent thing! All she has to do is make it. But making her magnificent thing leads down a frustrating path of trial and error. This book best reflects–Inspiration + motivation + passion = Endless possibilities. The girl’s emotional journey reminds a child not to quit. [picture book ages 3 and up]

Read more…

Dr. Seuss Museum Oh The Places They Don't Go

Dr. Seuss Museum Invite then Crickets

I wanted to share some of the correspondence that I’ve had with Dr. Seuss Museum’s Director of Public Relations and Marketing, Karen Fisk. It started after this AP article was published and I was included in the AP video.

Oh the Places You’ll Go! Dr. Seuss museum opens its doors Associated Press

“The first national museum dedicated to the beloved children’s author and illustrator Dr. Seuss has opened in his hometown of Springfield, Mass. But Theodore Geisel’s early controversial political illustrations are conspicuously absent.” (June 5)AP

Karen Fisk contacted me to invite me to visit.

 

May 25, 2017

Hi Mia,

I wanted to say hello and reach out to see if you would like to visit the Dr. Seuss Museum as my guest. Please let me know.

We have not yet completed the work we are doing to acknowledge and discuss the work Theodor Geisel did that you address in your most recent column, but we know it is important and complicated and needs to be discussed.  We intend to have programming and literature on the subject.

Hope to hear from you soon,

Karen

Karen Fisk

Director of Public Relations & Marketing

Springfield Museums & Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden Read more…

Diverse Children's Books

#DiverseKidLit Socioeconomic Diversity

Our theme for this #DiverseKidLit is socioeconomic diversity. Kids from all economic brackets should be able to find themselves in books – as well as to learn about the lives of others in different economic situations. (As always, the theme is only a suggestion. Diverse posts on alternate topics are always welcome.)

What Is #DiverseKidLit?

Diverse Children’s Books is a book-sharing meme designed to promote the reading and writing of children’s books that feature diverse characters. This community embraces all kinds of diversity including (and certainly not limited to) diverse, inclusive, multicultural, and global books for children of all backgrounds.

We encourage everyone who shares to support this blogging community by visiting and leaving comments for at least three others. Please also consider following the hosts on at least one of their social media outlets. Spread the word using #diversekidlit and/or adding our button to your site and your diverse posts.

DiverseKidLit

Read more…

Baby & Boxing Announcements

Baby & Boxing Announcements

Thank you to Basic Invite for sponsoring this post. My opinions, as always, are my own.

My boxing trainer is not a man of many words and doesn’t tend to share details of his private life so it’s up to me and my mom friends who have been training with him for over five years to extract this information.

Mia Wenjen and Marc Gargaro at Nonantum Boxing Club

Typically, we train in small groups of two or three, occasionally ramping up to five. Once in a while, though, it’s just one lonesome person. That was me last week. On my own for a one hour private lesson. It’s a great learning opportunity, but I like and need the rest period that one or two other compatriots provide. Read more…