Archive for April, 2013

teaching poetry at home, teaching poetry to kids, reading poems at home, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Forest has a song

Teaching Poetry at Home To Your Kids

For the last day of April and National Poetry Month, I am so excited to welcome my guest author, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater of poetry picture book Forest Has a Song. She has inspired me, a poetry-phobe to explore poetry with her gentle coaxing so I asked her to please write a post on teaching poetry at home with kids.

In concluding my month celebrating National Poetry Month, I hope that all of us feel more comfortable with poetry and will enjoy it the rest of the year with our kids. What poetry books are your favorites? Please share!

Teaching Poetry at Home to Your Children

Laughing and pointing, all five of us sat and watched as Cali and Sage, our two Border Collie mixes, wrestled on the rug. Charmed again by the antics of animals, nine-year-old Henry commented, “You know…if we didn’t have pets, we would be different people.” Henry was right. And his exact words have stayed in my mind for the past two years; they were a spoken poem. Read more…

Screen Free Week, strategies for Screen Free Week, Screen Free Week ideas,

Attempting Screen Free Week April 29 – May 5 2013

I’m not sure why, but our school had a screen free day last month. These screen free challenges are particularly difficult for my kids, hooked as they are to their iPhones, iPod Touch, computer, TV and Wii. Did I miss any? Does the Color Nook and Kindle count too?

Successful Screen Free Day Last Month

I was shocked when my little boy, 2nd grade, burst out of school with a plan to stay screen free. He cooked it up with his 3rd grade best friend Sam. They were going to:

  • Jump on Sam’s trampoline
  • Go inside and eat a snack
  • Play Clue and other board games
  • Go back outside and jump on the trampoline some more
  • Read books (our March Madness school reading competition was still going on)

It was imperative that he go to his friend’s house so his request was happily granted. Three hours later, he came home and announced that 1) We need to buy Clue (I had thrown our board game away ages ago), and 2) Going screen free for the day was not as hard as he had thought. Read more…

book club for Kane Chronicles, activities for Rick Riordan books

Kane Chronicles Series Activities for Kids: Poppins Book Nook

This month the Poppins Book Nook is about Wizards. I looked up the definition to make sure that my book choice was appropriate.

Wizards, Sorcerers and Magicians, Oh My!

wiz·ard  (wzrd)


1. One who practices magic; a sorcerer or magician.
2. A skilled or clever person: a wizard at math.
3. Archaic A sage.

Wizards (or Magicians) in Rick Riordan’s Kane Chronicles

Ah, a magician is part of the definition. Phew! My son and I have been reading Rick Riordan’s books since the fall. We finally finished the last one this week. It was the third and final book of The Kane Chronicles, The Serpent’s Shadow (The Kane Chronicles, Book Three).
third grade poem, third grade poetry unit, third grade poems,

3rd Grade Poetry and Dreams Coming True

PickyKidPix‘s 3rd grade dream came true recently. Her third grade poetry unit produced this poem which articulated her dreams that were unbeknownst to us, her parents. It’s funny how all her dreams are contained in this poem about herself.

In the past two years, PickyKidPix went from the first travel soccer team, to the third team, and back up to the second team. There was some drama when she missed the cut for a new club team in our town. As parent, it’s so painful to watch your child’s heart break.

I’m proud of her though. For her resilience. For her determination. And for never giving up. She made another Club Soccer team and has been practicing hard all year trying to get better. She wants to make the top team! Will she? It almost doesn’t matter. Life lessons being learned here.

Read more…

monkey jealousy experiment, monkey fairness experiment

Fairness and Morality: Nurture or Nature?

My husband gave me this funny video but it’s actually a serious study on the source of morality: nurture or nature? The video is taken from a TED talk by Frans de Waal, primatologist and author of several popular books. His talk is called Moral behavior in Animals.

In this experiment, two Capuchin monkeys are presented with an unfairness scenario.  As de Waal notes, cucumbers are acceptable  food for the monkeys, but they prefer grapes. De Waal claims that monkeys like food in proportion to its price at the supermarket — he’s a funny guy and worth watching if you have 18 minutes. Read more…

poetry books for kids to read, best poetry for kids, best poetry books for kids, kids poetry books

Top 10: Best Poetry Books for Kids

Oh how I’ve procrastinated this list. I think I’ve been “working” on it for more than a year. I feel somewhat fraudulent posting on best poetry books for kids because I’m no expert. National Poetry Month is forcing me to face my own fear of poetry to finally complete this list.

Poetry for April has permeated our house. My kids are all doing poetry units at school. No coincidence, I think.

The other week, PickyKidPix had to go to the library to research poems of oppression for her school poetry project. (Strange topic, right? Her friend Devin has “rain” as a poetry topic). We asked the librarian where the poetry books were. I had no idea there was a HUGE section of poetry books for kids in the Non-Fiction section!

It was eye-opening to realize the poetry books are NOT organized by topic. I’m no expert on the Dewey Decimal system but I’m not sure this is the best way to organize poetry books for kids. We pored over  four bookcases of poetry books looking for people of color which is a little like searching for that proverbial needle. Nevertheless, we found this small pile.

poetry for kids on oppression

After digging for poetry books, I realize that sometimes it’s nice to have a list served up to you. I hope this list serves you well!

Please share your favorite poetry books for kids. Together we can build this list. Thanks so much! Read more…

5th grade poetry

5th Grade Poetry: Help Please!

April as National Poetry Month has hit our elementary school. Both my kids have been hard at work composing poems at school. My son’s 2nd grade poetry unit did not requiring rhyming and it was modeled after color poems by Mary O’Neill. Poetry gets more challenging in 5th grade as I discovered in our recent Parent Teacher conference.

The 5th grade Parent Teacher conferences have expanded to include the student. PickyKidPix showed me her poem during our Parent/Teacher/Student conference this past week. She did a beautiful job rhyming and illustrating her poem.

5th grade poems have to rhyme! I did not realize that. The first line gave her a bit of trouble so I wanted to see if anyone could help her out.

5th Grade Poetry Unit with Rhyming Challenge

Lucy the llasket is a __________________.

When you see her  you will know why

Read more…

Boston Marathon Bombings, soccer game after Boston Marathon bombings

Boston Marathon Newton Perspective

The Boston Marathon bombings hit a little too close to home. My office is a few buildings from the finish line but thankfully my work colleagues, friends and families were spared.  My work friend, Aaron Tang (“Tango”) shot images immediately after the bombings from our 4th floor office window which has a clear view of the finish line. They ended up everywhere including CNN.


Image ABC News.

My building, at the corner of Exeter and Boylston, was between the two explosions. It’s the shorter one with red brick facade. I think being on the corner saved us as the rest of the block on either side are continuous buildings that touch each other. Read more…

earth day giveaway for kids, earth day book giveaway for kids, barefoot books earth day giveaway

Earth Day Giveaways for Kids :: 3 Barefoot Books

Barefoot Books and I have teamed up for an Earth Day Giveaway for Kids. 3 winners will be able to choose any book of their choice!

Here’s how you win:

1) Go to the Barefoot Bookstore here to select the book you want to win. Too lazy to click off my blog? I totally understand. Here’s a cheat sheet of what I’d pick myself:

Barefoot Book of Earth Tales

Learn how different cultures around the world set out to live in harmony with the natural world through seven folk tales.  Each tale is followed by a hands-on activity that promotes green living and reinforces the eco-messages of the stories.

The Barefoot Book of Earth TalesRead more…