All posts by

picture book of the day, poetry for kids, Forest Has a Song, Amy Ludwig VanDerpool

Picture Book Poetry Collection for Spring

I met Amy Ludwig VanDerwater at KidLitCon a couple of years ago during a break out session called Poetry Friday. How I ended up in a poetry session indicates how in over my head I was at this conference full of children’s book bloggers. I had the feeling I used to get in Organic Chemistry class;  I have no idea what anyone is saying but just write everything down and hope to god that I can figure it out later.

How I Met Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

All that day, there were mysterious and overlapping acronyms thrown around. (I’m convinced that acronyms are the key for exclusion. They are a secret language of sorts).

ARC versus arc.

ARC = Advanced Release Copy versus an arc of a story. How confusing that they are both thrown around in a single day.

MG confused me too. Once I figured out MG = Middle Grade, I was still confused. Middle school versus Middle grade? There is no Middle grade school where I live!

I find poetry intimidating in general so when the nice women of Poetry Friday encouraged the blogger audience to participate in their weekly link up by composing a poem and then posting it, I thought, “Why not just get naked and sing karaoke to boot? Then my humiliation will be complete.”

They seemed like professional writers, for whom poetry is a skill they possessed from birth and have honed to lethal ability like MMA fighting. Frankly, I’d rather fight in a cage than write a poem. I think it would be less embarrassing. Read more…

Mexico crafts for kids, Mexico party for kids, 2nd grade Mexico unit, 2nd Grade studies Mexico

Mexico Day Party Crafts for Kids

Cinco de Mayo Crafts Party for Kids

In second grade, the kids travel the globe to study Mexico, China and Ghana. It’s a wonderful social studies unit that culminates in a Mexico Day party that can also be used for a Cinco de Mayo party for kids.

Our teacher set up six stations and had parent volunteers run each station. It took about 3 hours for the party and the unit itself lasted about a month. I was in charge of the dried bean maraca craft.

Map of Mexico

The kids learned about the geography of Mexico.

photo-4

By the end of the unit, they learned a lot! I liked how they asked questions throughout and found answers. It was all tracked on this chart.

2nd graders learn about Mexico, 2nd grade Mexico unit

Paper Plate Maraca Craft for Kids

The maraca craft was pretty easy. The tricky part was putting in just a handful of beans and then stapling the folded paper plate without letting any escape. I did the stapling.

What you need for the Paper Plate Maraca Craft:

  • Dried beans
  • Paper Plates
  • Stapler
  • Streamers
  • Markers or crayons

paper plate maraca craft for kids, mexico craftsRead more…

best tv shows for tweens, best tv for teens, best tv for tweens

Best TV Shows for Tweens Approved by Moms

I was complaining on Twitter with Stacey Loscalzo about the lack of decent programming for tweens when we decided to collect the handful of TV shows that are both mom and tween approved. It’s sad that there are so few given the quality and plethora of shows for toddlers and preschoolers. It was tween Disney shows that set me off. I think Stacey and I bonded over the word “inane” to describe the shows of twenty-somethings playing tweens. But if not Disney, what?

I polled the ladies at my hair salon and one of the best ideas was creating a show based on The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. “Why can’t they base a show on that?” my hair stylist Tricia lamented? Why not, indeed?

Another stylist says that she watches Glee with her girls. Her girls’ friends discuss the show anyway and she is fine with them watching it as long as she’s there too to help explain it and put it into context. (There is a lot of sexuality in Glee that make it off-limits for some parents to approve of for their tweens.)

Best TV for Tweens

I polled my family  and the play dates next. This is the list that made the cut:

  • It’s All on the Line (Joe Zee the Creative Director of Elle Magazine helps struggling designers make a go of their business. His ideas are on pointe but it’s fun to watch whether or not a) they listen to him and b) have what it takes to change.)
  • Make It or Break It (My 11-year-old loves this gymnastics drama of girls trying to make the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Olympics team. It made her convert our basement into a gym using camping pads you put under your sleeping bag. She taught herself no-hands cartwheel after watching marathon session of this show. There are some serious themes like anorexia and sex offender though. The girls are in high school so this show is a little old for her.)
  • The Voice (My husband says the new judges Usher and Shakira were surprisingly articulate and funny. I like watching the contestants follow their dreams.)
  • Cake Boss (We love Buddy and his wacky family feels like extended family if you watch a lot of the shows. The creativity of each gigantic cake keeps us plugged in.)
  • D.C. Cupcakes (We might have to trek to Boston to check out their latest outpost because of this show. I saw the episode where they baked thousands of cupcakes to send to the troops in the Mid East. Those ladies are amazing!)
  • Cupcake War (I approve of any cooking competition show on Food TV Network. Some kids are riveted by the competitiveness, the creativity, and the agony of defeat.)
  • Modern Family (Our 5th grade play date Devin approves of this show for 5th graders and older. It brings her family together and they love it so much they record it.)
  • CNN Kids (Our fifth grade kids watch this daily at school).
  • Friends (My kids were amazed to discover that we watched Friends a decade ago. I love how nice they are.)
  • Julie of My Shiny Monkey says, “For your Tween TV post, if you need more recommendations, we love watching these shows together: Shark Tank (business lessons), How It’s Made (engineering), Modern Family (relationships), and Jon Stewart’s Daily Show (world events).”

    How about you? What are your tweens watching that you approve of? Stacey weighs in next! Read more…

    video gaming and learning, video games and brain development, learning and exercise, boys and video games, boys and learning, boys and exercise

    Connection Between Exercise and Learning

    Brain Research on Learning, Exercise, and Video Games!

    Please welcome my guest author, Sarah Clachar, who has some alarming news about children’s brain development and video gaming. On the positive side, exercise and learning are also related. After reading her article, I started carting around my son’s 500+ page Percy Jackson book and little baggies full of legos in my purse for him to use instead of his iPod Touch while we wait at restaurants.

    What do you do to keep your kids off screens and active? PLEASE share! We could all use more ideas, especially me! Thank you!

     

    What Goes Best With A Good Book?

    What’s the best thing you could have with a good book?
    A banana muffin? Nope.
    A cup of tea? Nope.
    A nice comfy chair? A roaring fireplace? A quiet evening? All good things . . .

    But Nope. Nope. And nope.

    It’s exercise. Read more…
    1 world football project, soccer for kids in war zones

    Soccer Ball for Kids That is as Durable as Their Spirit

    It’s so easy to support kids in war torn areas. Just buy a One World Futbol and a durable soccer ball that can withstand harsh terrain will be donated to kids in Darfur and other places including war zones and refugee camps. This ball lasts! It never requires a pump and it lasts decades!

    One World Futbol: World’s Most Durable Ball

    The co-founder of One World Futbol, Tim Jahnigen, had this to say about the project: “The One World Futbol projects strives to improve the lives of youth and adults in disadvantaged communities worldwide by distributing an ultra-durable soccer ball to organizations on the ground in war zones, refugee camps, inner cities, and harsh environments for use in their work with communities in need.”

    1 world futbol project, 1 world football projectRead more…

    Ancient Egypt books for kids, museum trip bring books alive for kids, kids and reading, Kane Chronicles,

    Art Museum Visit Brings Books Alive

    My mom friend Loren from Felix Doolittle Fine Stationery sent me these photos with this note about a trip to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts with her 9-year-old son who had just finished reading The Kane Chronicles series by Rick Riordan. Ancient Egypt and action adventure had suddenly made museums desirable!

    Julian also read From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg, a personal favorite of mine, but an award winning book that I haven’t yet been able to convince my own kids to read.

    Museum Outings Bring Chapter Books Alive

    She says, “On MLK Day, Felix, Julian, and I went to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA).  It’s not often that I can convince Julian that a day at the museum is a good idea, but he was just as excited as I was.

    MFA, Museum of Fine ArtsCould this statue be similar to the mysterious one in From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler?  Read more…

    flying trapeze book club for kids, the girls who could fly book club, book club for boys, book club for girls, trapeze book club for kids

    A Little Too Exciting Flying Trapeze Book Club for Kids

    Does this not sounds like the most amazing book club for older kids ever? My Mom Friend Katherine and her daughter came up with this combo for our girls who are now in 5th grade. It would work for a range of ages from 9 on up though! I think it would also be really fun for a book club for boys too!

    5th Grade Book Club for Girls: Trapeze School!

    • Chapter book The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester
    • Trapeze School field trip

    PickyKidPix loves trapezing! Here she goes with a catch and release!

    A Little Too Exciting: Book Club Starts with a Crash! Read more…

    color poems, 2nd grade poetry, 2nd grade color poems, mary o'neill

    Poetry by 2nd Grade Boys

    I visited some poets in 2nd grade (my son and his classmates) for a parent visiting day and thought they’d be perfect to celebrate  National Poetry Month in April. 

    2nd Grade Poetry

    The 2nd grade poems composed color poems using What is Black? by Mary O’Neill as their model. The poem was in my son’s notebook and all marked up. I guess he studied it carefully.

    color poems, 2nd grade poetry, 2nd grade poems by boys, poetry 2nd grade, poetry month 2nd grade

    I wasn’t able to find What is Black? online but I did find Mary O’Neill’s What is Red?

    What is Red? by Mary O’Neill

    Red is sunset

    Blazing and bright.

    Red is feeling brave

    With all your might.

    Red is a sunburn

    Spot on your nose.

    Sometimes red

    Is a red, red, rose.

    Red squiggles out

    When you cut your hand.

    Red is a brick

    And the sound of a band.

    Red is hotness

    You get inside

    When you’re embarassed

    And want to hide.

    Fire-cracker, fire-engine

    Fire- flicker red–

    And you’re angry

    Red runs through your head.

    Red is an Indian,

    A Valentine heart.

    The trimmings on

    A circus cart.

    Red is a lipstick

    Red is a shout

    Red is a signal

    That says “WATCH OUT!”

    Red is great big

    Rubber ball.

    Red is the giantest

    Color of all.

    Red is a show-off.

    No doubt about it.

    But can you imagine

    Living without it?  Read more…

    Irises book club for girl, YA book club for girls, 7th grade book club for girls, painting book club for girls, art book club for middle school

    7th Grade Book Club for Girls: Irises

    YA Book Irises Reflects Middle School Life

    It was with great difficulty that I managed to schedule a book club for my 7th grader, Grasshopper and Sensei, and there are only four girls in her book club! Yes, they are so busy these days!

    I have to confess that I’ve been so busy that this is the first book club I’ve hosted where I didn’t pick the book or even read it! My daughter discovered it at school and thought everyone would like it. She assured me that an “easy” book club would be fine and to stop stressing.

    7th grade book club, 8th grade book club, book club for teens

    Her friend Isabelle arrived at 6:45 pm after dance. Jane’s family had forgotten so she arrived shortly after that. And somehow Rachel’s parents missed the memo. Read more…