All posts in 4) Grade 3-5

percy jackson book club for boys,

Percy Jackson Book Club for Boys

3rd Grade Book Club for Boys

We used Percy Jackson’s The Lightening Thief graphic novel for a book club for boys. I had big plans initially. Blue food. Lots of indoor games. Duct tape fun.

When the book club rolled around though, I was tired  with low energy so I ended up doing a very low key book club. No blue food. Spaghetti and meatballs delivered instead.

duct tape sword craft, duct tape and aluminum foil craft for boys,

The first thing we did was break out the duct tape which I had purchased at Staples a few weeks ago and squirreled away. I had a new roll of heavy duty aluminum foil, tape, copy paper, and scissors. Read more…

4th grade chapter books, chapter books set in Chicago, urban chapter books for kids,

Chapter Books for Boys Set in Chicago

Books for Boys Set in Urban Chicago

I love researching very specific book requests for kids! I received this request from Nadine:

Hey! I have been searching for books with an “inner city” vibe. My son is 9 and read The Spraypaint Mystery and The Case of the Missing Trophy by Angela Medearis. Both times he was able to relate parts of the books to “Chicago Stuff.”
He made mention of the different names (we spend a lot of time visiting family in Chicago). I am trying to find books in the 4th-6th grade level with urban/inner city references. I am not coming up with anything in my search and I thought of you! Maybe a possible “Book List” inspiration in the future?
Thanks in advance … 
Nadine C-S
For this challenge, I needed a Chi-Town partner in crime so I called upon my blogging friend, who resides in Chicago and blogs at CraftWhack and Artchoo!. Read more…
Jerry Spinelli and Clare Vanderpool, author visits, Newbery authors, meeting children's authors, meet children's authors, Maniac Magee, Stargirl, Moon Over Manifest, Hokey Pokey, Navigating Early

Meeting Jerry Spinelli and Clare Vanderpool

Author Visit with Newbery Winners Spinelli and Vanderpool

PickyKidPix and I were excited to meet Newbery winning authors Jerry Spinelli and Clare Vanderpool who have been on the road together promoting their latest works.

At first glance, they are a pair of contrasts.

Jerry Spinelli and Clare Vanderpool, Needham Library Newbery author event

Clare looks like a young mom. She has two chapter books under her belt. I had met her at a Random House LiveChat along with Rebecca Stead, yet another Newbery winner. Not a real life meeting per se, more of a Twitter Party-like atmosphere. But she remembered it, and if she didn’t remember me exactly — I was one of a half-dozen co-hosts — she was as gracious and charming as she was on the LiveChat.

pragmatic mom, clare vanderpoolRead more…

soccer for girls, coaching girls soccer, beautiful, boston breakers coaching film, why girl soccer players are different

I’m a Girl Soccer Player: Coach Me Differently

The Word Syndicate, a Massachusetts-based production company, is teaming up with the Boston Breakers, one of America’s premier women’s professional soccer teams, to produce a groundbreaking new film for girls called “Beautiful: Teaching Girls Soccer the Boston Breakers Way” but they need your help!

Kickstarter Project for Girls Soccer with the Boston Breakers

Kickstarter funding is all or nothing – if we don’t reach our fundraising goal in 30 days, “Beautiful” will not be made.

Girls and Soccer: The Positives

Soccer offers huge benefits for girls – the self-confidence, the friendships, the joy taken in hard work and achievement. And those are just the results you can see. Studies show that girls who play soccer and other sports reap benefits that stay with them throughout their lives, including:

  • Better grades in school
  • Better jobs after college
  • Lowered risks of obesity and other health problems
  • Lowered likelihood of involvement in early sexual activity

Girls and Soccer: The Down Side

But girls’ soccer also has a lesser-known dark side. Young female players are different from boys in fundamental ways, both physically and psychologically – and the failure to address those differences has led to a rash of problems. Here are just a few:

  • Girls who play soccer are more likely to suffer a serious concussion than any other young athlete except boys who play tackle football (more than boys who play soccer, lacrosse, or hockey)!!
  • After puberty, girls are as much as six times more likely to suffer a serious knee injury (ACL, MCL) injury than a boy playing the same sport.
  • Inappropriate coaching and competitive pressure to win and train harder and longer are resulting in higher rates of burnout and girls quitting, potentially depriving them of a lifetime of benefits.
  • The top women’s coaches in the world all say that girl athletes process information and feedback very differently from boys – but that those differences aren’t widely understood or regularly incorporated into youth coaching. Read more…
Krishna, Demi, Hindu religion books for kids, world religion books for kids, chapter books for kids on India

Hindu Picture Book by Demi

Hindu Picture Book and Chapter Book for Kids

The great Hindu god Vishnu, greatest of all gods, promises to help bring peace to earth when evil demon kings try to kill all the good rulers of earth. He will be reborn on earth as a child named Krisha. Does this story sound vaguely familiar?! We notice a rebirth theme in World Religions!

The Fantastic Adventures of Krishna by Demi tells the story of Krishna, rescued from certain death to be raised by two cowherds. The evil demon king Kasma not deterred, sending demon after demon to destroy Krishna, to no avail. Krishna prevails in the end, destroying Kasma and wandering the earth teaching people how to live together in peace and joy. Demi, as usual, makes this story easy to read with her gorgeous colorful illustrations.

We are trying to learn more about World Religions through picture books at my house since we don’t attend church and I personally know very little about the Hindu religion. My only reference point to Krishna were the Hare Krishnas I’d seen at airports (pre-9/11 security) which always made me feel uneasy.

It was with great delight that action adventure Zoe and Zac and the Ghost Leopard by Lars Guignard landed in my lap. Think Percy Jackson or Kane Chronicles Goes to India and you get the gist!

Like a Rick Riordan action adventure series, this chapter book for ages 9 and up has the requisite elements to draw kids in:

  • special powers our heroes must discover within themselves
  • a supernatural bad guy
  • the fate of the world resting upon their success
  • help from deities (that is where Krishna and other Hindu gods come into play)
  • something that must be saved
  • travel that traverses an entire country, in this case India

I definitely want more Zoe and Zac and wait expectantly for the next installment. Riordan takes us from Greek to Roman to Egyptian ancient gods. It’s just a small leap to travel to India next! Author Lars Guignard went to high school in the Indian Himalayas and he really gives a sense of place as Zoe and Zac traverse through India both in crowded chaos of cities and more tranquil wooded rural areas.

The lines blur between religion and mythology as they should — isn’t mythology just ancient religious beliefs? — and what remains is the probably the most exciting world religion/mythology home study unit ever! I’d use the Demi picture book after reading Zoe and Zac, just as a quick aside to explain the story of Kirshna who makes an appearance in the chapter book.

Krishna, Demi, Hindu religion books for kids, world religion books for kids, chapter books for kids on India

 To view the books at Amazon, please click on image of book or click here to see at Barnes and Noble.


fun fun elmo, sesame street chinese, learn chinese, kids learn chinese

Teach Kids Mandarin Chinese in a Fun Way

Teach Kids Chinese Through Songs

When my kids were younger, I found that Spanish Sesame Street, Plaza Sesamo, entertained my kids while also teaching them Spanish. Songs were also an effective and pleasant way to expose my kids to foreign languages. As my kids got older — 2nd or 3rd grade — they rebelled and no longer would allow Plaza Sesamo DVDs in the car. They preferred silence. Ditto to foreign language CDs.

My point is that there is a window when kids are open to learning foreign languages. Both their brains and attitudes are receptive. As they grow older, not only do they not want to learn, but also making the sounds are more challenging.

I was excited to discover that Sesame Street is now in Chinese with a series geared for teaching kids Mandarin. For a CD of fun songs to accompany your Chinese language experience, try A Little Mandarin by NYC mom Toni Wang.

I’m not saying that this combination will have your kids conversing in Mandarin, but you are laying a foundation both for training their ear and for exposing them to the concept of non-word for word translation. Who knows? This might be the introduction that makes them actually want to learn Chinese when they are older. I’m still shocked that both of my girls are choosing to learn Mandarin as their mandatory foreign language in middle school!

How about you? Are your kids getting exposure to foreign languages? How do you manage this? Please share your tips!!! Read more…

March Madness reading competition, school wide reading competition, school reading competition,

Our School’s March Madness Reading Competition

School Wide Reading Competition: March Madness

I blogged a lot about our elementary school’s March Madness reading competition and have tried to answer emails about the rules of engagement. The rules have changed over the last 8 years since we’ve first started. Also, my recollection is hazy at best.  All I know is that my kids read like crazy to win that extra P.E. session and we all win in the end, no matter what place their class ends up in.

getting kids reading, kids and reading, reading strategies, reading competitions, school reading competition

This year, the competition has started again and I am posting the rules in hopes that it inspires your school to pick up the torch and try this reading competition next year. It’s a lot of fun and I do really notice a marked improvement in my kids’ reading abilities after just one month of reading madness!

march madness reading competition scoreboard

MARCH MADNESS  READING CELEBRATION

  • The Peirce School March Madness Reading Celebration will begin on Friday, March 1 and run through Thursday, April 4.
  • The kickoff will take place at our town meeting on March 1 and each classroom will be randomly assigned the name of an actual NCAA basketball team.
  • Students will earn points for their team based on the number of minutes read daily at home during March Madness.
  • Each student will log their daily reading onto the paper reading log and enter their WEEKLY MINUTES read into an online database AT HOME every Thursday evening. 
  • Students will hand in the paper copy of their reading log to their classroom teacher every Friday morning and should begin to log their weekly minutes read into the online database on Thursday, March 7.  Students should continue to log their weekly minutes read every Thursday evening up until Thursday, April 4.
  • Team points earned will be tallied and recorded every week onto a large graph in the main hallway.
  • Books read in school are not eligible for points.
  • Books read as part of nightly reading can be counted.  (March Madness reading does not have to be in addition to regular home reading, although we hope students will be more inclined to read).
  • There will be a separate point system for grades K-1 and for grades 2-5. 
March Madness reading competition

My mom friend Melissa says, “Quietest play date ever! Everyone is reading for the March Madness reading competition.”

Read more…

Noodle.org, education search engine, educational search engine, college search engine

Education Search Engine: Noodle.org

Getting into College Search Engine

From the creators of the Princeton Review, meet Noodle.org. It’s a personalized recommendation engine in Beta geared towards education. It’s focus is on the best way to help users — from parents and adults to high schoolers — to find the best schools and programs to fit their needs. Think of it as an interactive Princeton Review library of all their published works plus everything collectively in their brains.

Noodle.org, education search engine, educational search engine, college search engine

Stressed about getting your high school student into college? This is a good place to start your journey. Noodle.org is FREE and allows users to search colleges, graduate programs and K-12 schools, find study abroad programs, identify the best local tutors and test prep programs, search for a guidance counselor or education consultant, and access hundreds of thousands of free learning materials.

  • Noodle.org features data on over 130,000 schools and hundreds of thousands of education providers
  • Noodle.org offers content from the most credible sources, including federal and state education departments and agencies, LinkedIn, Forbes, Newsweek, YouTube Education, and US News & World Report
  • Users can select from over 350,000 interactive learning materials covering an expansive range of subjects, compiled from noteworthy sources such as National Geographic, The Smithsonian, Khan Academy and BigThink
  • With over 120,000 K-12 schools, 2,900 4-year colleges, 5,000 graduate programs,135 study abroad programs and 80,000 tutoring listings, Noodle.org has the largest compilation of education resources found anywhere on the web
  • Once users narrow their search selection and want to engage with friends, family and others who have shared experiences, Noodle.org enables them to share their findings from the site via Facebook and Twitter, and save their results for easy access Read more…
best new chapter books, best books for kids, best chapter books, 5th grade books for kids, 6th grade books for kids, 4th grade books for kids,

Great New Chapter Books For Ages 9 and Up

Best Chapter Books for Ages 9 and Up

Need new book ideas to keep your 4th grader, 5th grader, 6th grader or 7th grader reading? From realistic fiction to action adventure series, here are some new discoveries to get excited to read.

What if your child is a reluctant reader? Try the Orca Currents series or a graphic novel. For Percy Jackson fans, try the graphic novel of The Lightening Thief or The Ghost Leopard for a new action adventure series that is similar.

Kids who like Newbery quality book and realistic fiction will find Sharon Creech’s latest, The Great Unexpected, to be her finest work to date. See You at Harry’s and Precious Bones with both make you wonder why they didn’t get a Newbery nod. Alas, all these great books can’t win the Newbery!

What are your child’s favorite chapter books or graphic novels?

 

Oracle by Alex Van Tol

The Orca Currents series targets middle school reluctant readers with pocket-sized very short chapter books and a high interest fast-moving plot. Each line on the page has 8 words or less! It’s a formula that works. 8th grader Owen has a crush on the Queen Bee Mean Girl Camryn, who in turn, is crushing on his older brother. With the help of Hannah, the class president, Owen sets up an anonymous blog that gives relationship advice. It seems to be working but Camryn discovers the truth and Owen must face the music. Middle school boys who find girls puzzling but attractive are the natural audience for this quick read. [chapter book, ages 11 and up]

Read more…