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The Magic of Kinetic Sand

The Magic of Kinetic Sand

Kinetic Sand is a three-dimensional building toy made of 98% sand and 2% polydimethylsiloxane that mimics the physical properties of wet sand. Think of it as a concoction of sand + Silly Putty. That’s actually what it is.

The Magic of Kinetic Sand

It has an addicting “feel” quality to it. It looks like brown sugar but you can use it for sculpting, indoor play sand for children. The weird-but-good thing is that sticks to itself but not to most other materials or surfaces, and it does not dry out. Read more…

Processing: Coding for Kids

Processing: Coding for Kids

This week is Computer Science Education Week! I have been trying to get my 11-year-old son to program as a way to combat his love of screen time. It turns out that he likes making his own games so it’s a win-win situation.

learning scratch in 3rd grade

We started off when he was in third grade — he’s now in 5th grade — with a small group of boys learning Scratch with a high school student who tutored them. When the boys mastered Scratch, their tutor moved them to Processing, which is a version of Java (as I understand it). Read more…

Kimberly Clark products at Walmart

Stock up and Save on Kimberly Clark at Walmart

Thank you to Cottonelle, Kleenex, Scott and Viva for sponsoring this post. You can find great deals on all these products for the holidays at your local Walmart via the Ibotta app.

I’m way over due hosting my neighborhood moms’ book club. I had it all scheduled a year ago, only to find myself at Boston Children’s Hospital when my son needed surgery to remove a cyst the size of an egg in his neck. My book club is finally back on!

Kimberly Clark products at Walmart

I made a quick stop to Walmart to stock up for this party last week and was glad to save money on Cottonelle, Scott and Viva products that I will need using the Ibotta app. With the Ibotta app, I saved (and you can too): Read more…

Diversity Picture Books for 5th Grade

Diversity Picture Books for 5th Grade

I spent more time in my kids’ 5th grade classroom because I was the parent coordinator for our PTO Creative Arts and Sciences. I know that there are always shifts in curriculum due to Common Core but leeway, as well, for teachers to cover what they typically have done in the past. My kids studied these topics in 5th grade:

  • Native American (we brought in Native American Art program that compared the turtle creation myth using artwork from Native American tribes across the U.S.A.)
  • Colonial America (we brought in a program where a husband and wife role played colonists in the 1800s with a table of antiques from that period)
  • American Revolution (we took a field trip to The Freedom Trail that included a reenactment of the Boston Tea Party; we live near Boston)
  • Pre-Civil War/Slavery (I noticed the slavery unit included a book display of picture books on slavery and my kids talked about Henry’s Freedom Box at home)
  • World War II/Holocaust (Our 5th grade teachers touched on the Holocaust without getting two graphic. My daughter read Number the Stars and the classroom read aloud was The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark and The Cats in Krasinski Square)

I’d love to get your suggestions for books that support 5th Grade Common Core. Thanks for sharing!

p.s. Here are all the books in this series:

 

Diversity Picture Books for 5th Grade

Native American Picture Books for 5th Grade

Thirteen Moons on Turtle’s Back by Joseph Bruchac and Jonathan London, illustrated by Thomas Locker

In many Native American cultures, there a legend of how the world was created on the back of a giant sea turtle. Joseph Bruchac’s picture book goes further and describes how each of the thirteen moons of the year hold a story, reflected in the scales of the shell of a turtle. He tells these stories, reflecting different Native American tribes and the rhythms of nature, in lyrical free verse poetry. [poetry picture book, ages 6 and up]

Encounter by Jane Yolen, illustrated by David Shannon

This is the perspective from a young Taino boy on San Salvador when Christopher Columbus comes to the New World. Columbus carried away ten young Taino men and women back to Spain as slaves and their island was later colonized by the Spanish, changing their culture forever. [picture book, ages 6 and up]

Read more…

Diversity Picture Books for 4th Grade

Diversity Picture Books for 4th Grade

Multicultural Children’s Book Day has a new Classroom Reading Challenge in which we gift a FREE diversity hardcover book to teachers who commit to reading four diversity books to their students during the month of January. This program is generously underwritten by the Junior Library Guild. A sample of the books that we will be donating are here.

I totally get that teachers are busy and stressed trying to cover their curriculum and that time is precious. To complete the Classroom Reading Challenge, we encourage all teachers to use picture books for the four books. I am creating lists for grades 4th through 8th of advanced picture books that tie to the Common Core Curriculum. Valarie is creating advanced picture book lists for grades 9th through 12th.

During the fourth grade, my kids have always studied the Civil Rights Movement, turn of the century immigration, and geography of the 50 U.S. States. I also found Native American, and specifically Trail of Tears, on the Core Curriculum, but I believe that my kids studied colonial history of the United States in 5th grade but I will include Native American picture books for both grades.

What books am I missing? Please share! Thank you!

p.s. Here are all the books in this series:

4th Grade Multicultural Picture Books

Native American Picture Books for Fourth Grade

Saltypie: A Choctaw Journey from Darkness into Light by Tim Tingle, illustrated by Karen Clarkson

Debbie Reese of American Indians in Children’s Literature (AICL) blog has stressed the importance of showing contemporary Native Americans because kids seem to think that Native Americans do not exist now. I can see that misconception — it’s the similar to our 2nd grade unit on Ghana where kids think everyone lives in a rural village and that cities don’t exist in Africa.

Tim Tingle is an excellent children’s book author that I encourage everyone to check out. His picture book covers a multitude of Common Core and elementary school topics including bullying, immigration, Civil Rights and contemporary Indian Americans.

Tim’s grandmother, a member of the  Choctaw Nation, moves from Oklahoma to Texas as a young mother where she is greeted while standing on her front porch with a rock thrown to her head. It cuts her eye which leads eventually to losing her vision. Tim’s father is two years old at the time.

While there is certainly anger and a desire for revenge, his grandmother redirects this energy with “Saltypie”, a term that means “bad things happen; let it go.” Many years later, his grandmother undergoes successful eye transplant surgery but the blessing she taught those around her is to see without eyes. [advanced picture book, ages 6 and up]

Read more…

Left Brain STEM Toys for Kids

Left Brain STEM Toys for Kids

Jeanette and I love doing the Left Brain/Right Brain Gifts for Kids list. She is taking the Right Brain art toys today and I’m tackling Left Brain STEM toys with a math or science bent. Is that even right? I looked it up from About Education:

The Right Brain

According to the left-brain, right-brain dominance theory, the right side of the brain is best at expressive and creative tasks. Some of the abilities popularly associated with the right side of the brain include:

  • Recognizing faces
  • Expressing emotions
  • Music
  • Reading emotions
  • Color
  • Images
  • Intuition
  • Creativity

The Left Brain

The left-side of the brain is considered to be adept at tasks that involve logic, language, and analytical thinking. The left-brain is described as being better at:

  • Language
  • Logic
  • Critical thinking
  • Numbers
  • Reasoning

Recent research has shown that abilities in subjects such as math are strongest when both halves of the brain work together. The upshot? Get both sides of your kids’ brains working! This is the last day of our gift giving series. Thanks for reading them!

November 3, 2015: Gifts That Give Back (HersMine) (Last year’s: HersMine)
November 10, 2015: DIY Gift Ideas (HersMine) (Last year’s: HersMine)
November 17, 2015: Gender Bending Gifts for Kids (HersMine) (Last year’s: HersMine)
November 24, 2015: Gifts to Steal from Loved Ones (HersMine) (Last year’s: HersMine)
December 1, 2015: Left Brain/Right Brain Gifts for Kids  (Hers, Mine) (Last year’s: HersMine)

STEM Toys for Kids

Anatomically Correct Dolls with STEM Careers!

Are you seeking an anti-Barbie doll that is anatomically correct thus subliminally sending a message of body acceptance to your kids? You might like the Lottie dolls!

Fossil Hunter Lottie Doll, $25

Fossil Hunter Lottie Read more…

5th Grade Books from 5th Grade Boy

5th Grade Books from 5th Grade Boy

My 5th grade son is assigned more reading homework than my 8th grade daughter. He is supposed to read 30 minutes a day; my daughter just 2 hours a week. At my son’s Curriculum Night, his teacher explained that reading just 20 minutes a day dramatically increases a child’s vocabulary. Hence, she assigns them 30 minutes a night.

Educator's Briefing

From Educator’s Briefing

It’s not easy to get kids reading. My son will always choose screens over books so it’s helpful to assigned reading. I think it’s also important to making reading pleasurable so it becomes a lifelong habit. I choose a shortlist of books carefully for my son that he then selects from.

I also read out loud to my son every night. Reading aloud has the same benefit as independent reading but with an added incentive. I get to quiz my son as he reads, just to make sure he’s paying attention. Usually, I ask him about a vocabulary word in the book. One easy way is to give him a pair of opposites and have him pick the word meaning.

I hope your son can find books from my son’s list. Tell him that my son recommends them! It’s more convincing when it’s a peer recommendation so I have my son reviewing his book list.
Read more…

Grateful to Boston Children's Hospital

Grateful to Boston Children’s Hospital

It’s been a year since my son had surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital. November is a good time for gratitude and I’m grateful to have such an outstanding medical facility in my backyard.

son's surgery at Boston Children's Hospital

Our road to surgery started off innocuously enough. My son had a small lump on his throat. I thought it was swollen lymph nodes and paid it no mind. The lump got bigger and my husband expressed concern. We took our soon to the pediatrician who was quite sure that surgery was not going to be necessary but referred us to an eminent Ear, Nose, Throat pediatric specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital. This is the doctor, our pediatrician said, that he’d send his own kids too. I like those kinds of recommendations!
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Lynda Mullaly Hunt Author Visit: Fish in a Tree

Lynda Mullaly Hunt Author Visit: Fish in a Tree

PickyKidPix skipped her club soccer practice so we could see Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s author visit for Understanding Our Differences. Her sister, Grasshopper and Sensei, had the pleasure of hearing Lynda Mullaly Hunt speak to her middle school two years ago. She hadn’t even read her book but she raved about how Lynda was a  inspiring and down to earth speaker who overcame a tough childhood.

Fish is a Tree is a story of dyslexia through the eyes of a girl named Ally and how a middle school teacher changed her life.

Lynda Mullaly Hunt Author Visit: Fish in a Tree

PickyKidPix, however, read both One for the Murphys and Fish in a Tree so I thought she would enjoy meeting the author. She hates being left out so it was her chance to meet the author her sister had. Both chapter books are realistic fiction for ages 9 and up.

One for the Murphys is a powerful story about a foster child in the loving care of a family for the first time and how that experience changes her life.

I like to give my readers a sense of being there as well, so I taped Lynda’s presentation and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. Do you have questions for Lynda? Let me know and we can email her! Read more…