Got Books?…Read Aloud.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 is World Read Aloud Day.  You can take part in this celebration to promote reading by reading your favorite books aloud to shut-ins, children in hospitals, family, friends, seniors and even the dog.  You can download a FREE KIT with ideas  on how to honor the day at:

Children’s Poetry Contest

The following information was taken from the February Newsletter for

Calling all poets! TIME For Kids has a challenge for you: Write a funny, rhyming poem. It must be an original poem that does not copy another poet’s work. Enter it in the TIME For Kids Poetry Contest. The grand-prize winner will receive an online class visit from poet Kenn Nesbitt. The grand-prize winner and three finalists will each get a signed copy of Nesbitt’s newest book of poetry, The Armpit of Doom: Funny Poems for Kids, and their poems will be published at timeforkids.comPoet Kenn Nesbitt will judge the poetry contest.

WHAT: Write a funny, rhyming poem and enter it in the TFK Poetry Contest. Poet Kenn Nesbitt will look for originality, creativity, humor and rhyme in the style of his own poetry. To read some of Nesbitt’s poems, go to

HOW: Send your poem by e-mail to The subject line of your e-mail message should read “TFK POETRY CONTEST.” Be sure to include your first name only, your e-mail address and your parents’ e-mail address. Contest is open to students who are 8 to 13 years old. Read below for the official rules.

DEADLINE: March 1, 2013



Storytelling 101

Do you have children who love to make up stories?  Are they always creating characters and acting out scenes during imaginative play?  Here is a website that allows children and teens to write stories and have them published online to share with others.  Check out  and let the storyteller in your family go to work.

Does Anyone Want My…

Now that spring is right around the corner, we all want to clean house and get rid of some clutter.  I have found three sites that would LOVE to take your child’s old clothing, stuffed toys or video games.

1. If your kids’ rooms are stuffed with “nearly new” stuffed animals, consider donating some of them to LOVING HUGS, which sends them to children in war zones, refugee camps, and orphanages where they’ll find loving new friends.

2. When your baby has outgrown his tiny new wardrobe, you might want to pass it on to NEWBORNS IN NEED. This organization provides child-care essentials for a baby’s first weeks of life to hospitals serving impoverished babies.

3. The GET WELL GAMERS FOUNDATION believes that playing video games can help hospitalized children forget their pain.  You can send new or used games to their headquarters in California.

Encouraging Literacy 101

How can parents promote literacy and language development in young children?  It is currently the trend in education to emphasize drilling sight words and pushing young children to read and write in Kindergarten and even preschool.  While there is inherently nothing wrong with encouraging children to read, many 3-6 year olds aren’t ready for this.  What they are ready for is age-appropriate experiences that will not only increase language development and vocabulary, but will also go a long way toward promoting literacy. Here are a few suggestions for encouraging language development in young children.

  1. Help your child to talk.  Talk to your child constantly. Tell him the names of things and what they are used for.  Recite nursery rhymes and play rhyming games.  Ask your child questions that require more than a yes or no response. Let them practice asking you questions.  DON”T use baby talk; always speak clearly.
  2. Give Your Child Experiences.  Take her shopping, let her help do things around the house. Your child will learn a lot from simple chores like sweeping, folding clothes, matching socks, picking up toys, setting the table, washing dishes. Encouraging independence builds self-esteem which in turn makes for an eager learner.
  3. Go somewhere with your child. Visit zoos, museums, restaurants (where one is required to sit quietly and use utensils to eat). Go to the library, the airport, the park, playground, nature preserve, beach, petting zoo, etc.  The more your child experiences first hand, the richer his vocabulary will be.
  4. Play with your child. Do craft projects together that include cutting, pasting, drawing and painting. Competence in fine motor activities is an important skill in learning to write.  The best way to learn how to use scissors, pens and pencils is through practice.  Using clay and PlayDoh also exercises fine motor muscles. Bake something from scratch. Play simple games like “Go Fish”, “Hide and Seek” “Scavenger Hunt”.  Teach your child to catch/throw balls of various sizes.  Help her learn to fly a kite, catch a fish, ride a tricycle/bicycle/sled, build a sand castle. Run, hop, skip, and jump together.  It felt good when you were a kid and it still feels good now. Play house and let your child be the parent and you be the kid.  Blow bubbles, make silly faces in the mirror, dance and sing.
  5. Help your child notice shapes, sizes, sounds, and colors. The grocery store is filled with sensory opportunities. Count and sort fruits and vegetables by size and color. Count the windows, doors, cups, plates, hats, or whatever around the house. Gather a pile of objects and sort them into categories. Have a RED DAY (or color of your choice) where everyone wears red, plays with red toys and eats red food.
  6. Buy toys that require thinking and imagination. Blocks, puzzles, take-apart toys, markers and paper, puppets, are all good choices. Build a tent by throwing a sheet over the kitchen table. Pack a lunch box with “camping food” add some pillows or sleeping bags and pretend to be camping.  Let kids play with boxes…they LOVE them and will amaze you with the ways they use them. Put on a show and sing, dance, do tricks taking turns being audience/performer. If you play video games, do it together and talk about it afterwards.
  7. Encourage curiosity. Experience nature first hand by taking a walk together.  Look for birds, insects and other wildlife.  Turn over rocks and fallen logs after a rainstorm and try to identify the bugs clinging to the surface. Feed birds by coating a pine cone with peanut butter and rolling it in birdseed.  Hang them from trees and watch the birds come by.  Borrow binoculars and a Field Guide from the library to identify them. Take things apart to see how they work.  Get dirty!  It’s okay to play in dirt and mud; it will make your child  happier to be outside.  Plant something together and watch it grow.
  8. Make something together. A macaroni or Cheerios necklace, a clay pot, a paper bag puppet, a paper hat, greeting cards, cookies.  Use fabric glue to cover an empty can with felt and store pencils and other items in it. Every time your child makes something herself, her confidence and abilities grow.
  9. Read to your child. Take books out of the library and read together. Let your child see you reading as well.  Children learn by example.  Make up stories of your own and use props to act them out.  A good site for self-publishing stories is

You may notice many of the suggestions require very little in terms of money.  ALL require you to spend time in meaningful interaction with your child enjoying everyday things. Being present – in the moment – to engage and talk to your child about the world around her is the best way to promote literacy and language development.  HAVE FUN!

Celebrate Random Acts of…Pancakes?!

This post will honor two events taking place this week: Today kicks off Random Acts of Kindness Week.  Why not do something special for someone?  Here’s a unique idea that combines kindness with another event: Pancake Week. Host an informal brunch sometime this week for friends, some lonely seniors, a neighbor you’d like to get to know better, or some kids who could use some TLC. Here is a healthy recipe for MULTIGRAIN PANCAKES that taste great with syrup, berries, or even ice cream. (see photo)

To get more inspiration  for performing acts of kindness, visit:



¼ c white flour,  ¼ c whole wheat flour,      ¼ c quick oats (not instant) 1T wheat germ, 1T brown sugar        1 t baking powder      1 egg                ½ c + 1 T milk,  2 T oil

1. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. 2.  Combine egg, milk and oil.  Stir into dry ingredients until moist.  If mixture is too thick, thin it out with milk…one tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency.  The thinner the batter, the thinner the pancakes.  3. Pour onto hot, greased griddle.  Serve with STRAWBERRY or BLUEBERRY SYRUP.

To make syrup:  Place one pint (2 cups) of fresh or frozen berries in a blender.  Add 1 T. honey and puree until smooth.  Serve as is or warm it up in the microwave for 30 seconds and pour over the pancakes.

Say “Happy Valentine’s Day” With Hand-made Cards

My blogger friend Gail Terp is my guest this week with some excellent sites you and your children can visit for all things having to do with Valentine’s Day and card making. Visit Gail’s site for even more activities:   Here is her post:

Valentine’s Day is such a friendly holiday, isn’t it? Love, candy, cards… lots to like! And there are scads of ways to boost literacy skills. This week I’ll give suggestions for making cards and other crafty type things. Next week, I’ll suggest several ideas for other Valentine’s Day activities.CARDS: Many kids love making cards. Of course, all you really need is to just put out a bunch of paper, doilies, glue, glitter… But if you want some other ideas, here are several to get started.

First, you need to know how to easily cut out hearts.

eHow  Cutting Out Hearts   This video shows how to cut out hearts, plus shows some ideas of what to do with them.

Artists Helping Children  Magically Appearing Name Card   Ingenious!

Spoonful   Valentine’s Day Card Ideas  Several ideas.  Scratch and Win Card  I wish I’d thought of this! My students would have LOVED it!

Danielle’s Place   Valentine’s Day Crafts for Kids  Cards, card holders and crafts

Ever wonder how I Love You is said in other languages? Just don’t ask me how to pronounce them!

Je t’aime French   Te amo Spanish   Wo ai ni Chinese (Mandarin)   Ik hou van jou Dutch

Ich liebe dich German   Ani ohev otach (male)    Ani ohevet otcha (female) Hebrew

Volim te Croatian  Ai shite masu Japanese, female speech

Ai shiteru yo Japanese, male speech  Mi amas vin Esperanto  Amo-te Portuguese  Jag älskar dig Swedish


Artists Helping Children  Woven Heart Basket  There are 2 versions given – difficult and easy.  Valentine’s Day Chocolate Bar Wrapper  A sweet idea…  Heart People  Consider adding speech bubbles!   Drawing and Making Animals Out of  Hearts  Definitely cute.Valentine’s Day Peas and Toothpick Heart and Arrow Craft   Odd, but looks fun!

Martha Stewart  Heart-Shaped Crafts  Click the arrows to see all 33 crafts – looks like lots of fun!

Do you have Valentine’s Day crafts that your family enjoys? Tell about them in the Comments Box!