Winter Olympics – Backyard Style

With the Olympics taking place in SOUTH KOREA this month, it’s easy to get the urge to want to go outdoors and have some winter fun. While it’s still cold and – maybe snowy – you can try a few games of your own and enjoy some homemade Olympics.  Check out these sights for winter snow fun.

1.  How to stage your own backyard winter Olympics:  Check out this site from PARENT MAP.  Everything from luge, to curling, all in your own neighborhood.      http://www.parentmap.com/article/backyard-winter-olympics-for-kids

2. Got snow?  Try these Olympic inspired activities at home:    http://rainorshinemamma.com/5-olympics-inspired-backyard-games-for-winter/

Watch ski-jumping. Skate, ski, jump and slide on the ice.  Or, are you a bob-sledder?  Curling?  Try sliding smooth rocks across a frozen driveway or sidewalk.  (NEVER ON A POND OR BODY OF WATER!!!)  Enjoy the games and be inspired to create some winter fun as well.

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David Harrison and Mary Jo Fresch Present: 7 KEYS TO RESEARCH FOR SUCCESSFUL WRITING! + Win a Free Copy

As teachers, how do we get reluctant students to embrace writing projects?  Many of them struggle to produce good content for writing projects in all subject areas.  That’s why YOU NEED THIS BOOK by Authors David Harrison and Mary Jo Fresch: 7 Keys to Research For Successful Writing.  Here’s David to tell you more about it:

Thank you for inviting me to your blog today, Darlene. I’m delighted to tell you about 7 KEYS TO RESEARCH FOR SUCCESSFUL WRITING! published October, 2017.

    What motivated you to write the book (a break away from your usual poetry)?

Kids ask authors, “How long does it take to write a book?” A variation is, “How many books can you write in a day?” When I explain that I must first learn about my subject before I can write about it, many look surprised. When I tell them I often spend as much time getting ready to write as I do writing, they look amazed. Kids in school aren’t accustomed to spending much time investigating what they are going to write about.

My writing partner for 7 KEYS TO RESEARCH FOR SUCCESSFUL WRITING is Mary Jo Fresch, Professor Emerita and Academy Professor of The Ohio State University. Prior to becoming an educator of pre-service and in-service teachers of Kindergarten to Grade 8 teachers, Mary Jo was a classroom teacher.

Together we have seen far too many writing-before-ready results. They are usually dismal at best and at worst convince students that writing is too hard and mysterious and not for them. The goal of our collaboration is to provide classroom teachers with a practical resource to help them demonstrate that writers don’t just pick up and a pen or sit down at the keyboard and start writing.

  • What was the collaboration like?

This is our sixth book together. Prior to 7 KEYS, we wrote a series of five titles called LEARNING THROUGH POETRY, each dealing with different aspect of sounds: consonants, vowels, blends, digraphs, and rimes. We come from different backgrounds but share much in common, including work ethic and goals, so we make a compatible team. Before and during a new project we discuss ideas by email and conference via SKYPE. Once we establish a direction and general outline we agree on our respective responsibilities and jump in.

In this case we decided to use my 50-year experience to demonstrate how writers prepare to write and Mary Jo’s deep knowledge of classroom and scholarly research to provide meaningful follow up activities. We adopted a word not used much — presearch – to show how writers get ready to get ready before they write that first word. That gave us shape and direction. The result falls into seven categories, or keys, which are important elements that lead to good writing.

  • Things you learned doing your own research for the book.

The first thing we learned was that nearly all books we could find that are meant to help young writers focus on the process of writing and how to improve it. We decided early on that teachers might not need yet another book about the act of writing. What they do need is a book about the act of getting ready to write, the kind of thoughtful, organized preparation that leads to good writing. Except for a page here, a chapter there, we didn’t see a lot of help out there.

The challenge was to find ways to make “doing your homework” seem necessary, fun, and un-daunting. My solution was to show by example what I do, and Mary Jo created imaginative and practical activities that children can relate to. This also gave me a chance to introduce two segments, one directed to teachers and one to kids. The ones to teachers are a cross between mini-PD sessions and personal asides meant to provide insight into the KEY in that chapter. Those meant for students are like a quick author’s visit that can be read as often as wished. They, too, set the stage for Mary Jo’s creative activities. 

  • Anything else you’d like to add?

Please let your readers know how one of them can win a free copy of 7 KEYS TO RESEARCH FOR SUCCESSFUL WRITING. We say the grade range is 3 and up but a university president recently told me he thinks more than a few freshmen could benefit from it. We hope readers will enjoy our book and feel free to leave their comments on Amazon.com. Mary Jo and I will present a 2-hour workshop on the subject in July at ILA in Austin. Maybe we’ll see some new friends there.

David is the prolific children’s poet and author of 100 titles. His books have received more than 50 honors, including Best Children’s Nonfiction Book of 2016 by Society of Midland Authors. He has been translated into twelve languages, anthologized in nearly 200 books, and appeared in dozens of magazines and interviews in print and online. Among other professional books are Easy Poetry Lessons that Dazzle and Delight with Bernice Cullinan and Rhymes for the Times, Literacy Strategies through Social Studies with Tim Rasinski.  Professional articles have appeared in Dragon Lode, Reading and Writing Quarterly, The Reading Teacher, New England Reading Association Journal, and others. David is trained in research, holds two degrees in science and two honorary doctorates in letters. He has performed 300 times across the country and abroad in conferences, schools, and workshops. He is Drury University’s Poet Laureate.  

Mary Jo is Professor Emerita and an Academy Professor of The Ohio State University. After years as a classroom teacher, She became an educator of pre-service and in-service teachers of Kindergarten to Grade 8 teachers. She speaks nationally and internationally about literacy-related topics and researches the developmental aspect of literacy learning. Her articles have appeared in peer reviewed journals, such as the Language Arts; Journal of Literacy Research; Reading and Writing Quarterly; Reading Psychology; The Reading Teacher; Journal of Just and Caring Education; and Journal of Children’s Literature.  She has authored/co-authored 19 books for teachers, including The Power of Picture Books (NCTE), Strategies for Effective Balanced Literacy (Shell Education); Engaging Minds in the English Language Arts Classrooms: The Surprising Power of Joy (ASCD) and Learning Through Poetry (Shell Education).

To have your name entered in the random drawing for a signed copy of 7 Keys to Research For Successful Writing, leave a comment below stating you will happily write a review of the book on Amazon/Goodreads.  Darlene will add your name to the list and ONE winner will be chosen and announced her on Wednesday, March 7, 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Chinese New Year!

Chinese Zodiac DogEven though 2018 celebrates the DOG, DRAGONS are always popular symbols of the celebration.  Here is a great and easy DRAGON BOOK MARK  craft you can make with your kids to join the celebration.

Here is the link to the step by step video directions for this fun craft:

https://www.redtedart.com/dragon-corner-bookmark-design/

Get Messy Making Valentines + The Benefits of Messy Play For Pre-schoolers.

The idea for today’s post comes from the wonderful website Red Ted Art.  This site is a treasure trove of art and craft projects with videos for kids of all ages.

PRE-K activity:  SHAVING CREAM VALENTINES:   https://www.redtedart.com/valentines-cards-for-kids/

Materials:  trays, shaving foam, red and pink non-toxic acrylic paint, craft sticks, hearts cut from white copy paper.

1. Squirt shaving foam into a deep tray and drizzle red and pink paint over the top of it.

2.Take Popsicle sticks and gently swirl the mixture around until the paint leaves a trail behind it through the shaving foam.

3. Press large paper hearts down into the mixture leaving them to completely dry.

Valentines Cards for Kids - easy and quick

Benefits of Messy Play for your Child

Whether you love to get messy or not, there is no doubt that the benefits of letting your kids enjoy messy play at home, definitely outweigh the post-session clean up operation.

With careful planning and preparation, there is no reason to stress the mess of setting up a messy play activity for your child. Instead sit back and enjoy watching them learning as they play.

  • Exploring different materials and textures with their hands provides an excellent work out for their developing fine motor skills.
  • Allowing your child to take charge of how they use the activity is great for their confidence and self-esteem.
  • It can be used to stimulate all of their senses or just a few at a time.
  • Listening too and talking to your child about what they are doing, works not only on building their language skills, but it is also helping to expand their growing creativity and imagination. It may look like a pile of mush to you, but listen to how your child’s imagination can bring it to life.

 Credit and thanks for the benefits of messy play go to:  http://www.craftykidsathome.com/horsie-horsie-messy-play/ 

Bianca Schulze:Helping Kids Select the “Right” Book + Win a Signed Copy.

It’s true … the New Year brings new books. Plenty of them! New books release for kids each year in the thousands. The great thing about new releases is that they often reflect on current cultural themes and affairs. And, finally, we are seeing the slow and steady inclusion of books with characters of diversity—for proof, just check out this list of middle grade picks that released in January: Best New Books For Tweens And Preteens | January 2018.

There are so many new books worthy of being read. But … how about the “classics,” shouldn’t we keep reading them, too? And, how do we help our kids select books they are likely to enjoy? Let’s explore these questions!

 How about the “classics,” shouldn’t we keep reading them, too?

A classic book reaches this prestigious status usually because the story has been bound by a timeless truth that resonates, through the ages, with our hearts and minds—humor, love, growing-up, loss, friendship, and more. And when a story truth continues to resonate years after a book’s publication, there is only one answer to the question: Should we keep reading these classics? If the topic interests you, absolutely!

While a book doesn’t have to be too many moons old to be considered a “classic,” a little bit of story aging needs to take place to harness that true nostalgic feeling that is automatically attached to the word classic. Classic books can be like a magical time traveling device that takes readers back to times past— just like new books, they can also reflect on cultural themes and affairs from the time of publication and still feel very relevant. They often give a glimpse into how things were and can also provoke discussions on how far we’ve come, and then inspire young minds to imagine how far we could possibly go.

 How do we help kids select books they are likely to enjoy?

When reading for pleasure (which numerous studies say influences a love of learning and improves social and empathy skills, among many other amazing benefits), I recommend starting with a book that is based on a theme or story line that interests the individual. When you go to the library or bookstore, find the librarian or bookseller and have your child share their age, some interests, and, if possible, share the title of a book they have previously enjoyed. This will very easily assist a knowledgeable librarian/bookseller in helping to identify a book that could be of possible interest. The next step: read the book synopsis. Sound good? Try it! Doesn’t sound quite right? That’s ok! Let the librarian/bookseller know what isn’t working and keep going until you find that book of interest that sparks some excitement. Raising kids who read for pleasure can take a village—find your village, work together and you’ll get there.

By finding a book of interest, a child is more likely to enjoy the reading experience and happily go for the next book (and the next, and the next, and the next). Libraries are great, because you can check out a few books (or lots) at a time. If a book is not making a connection with your reader and they’ve given it a chapter or two, in my opinion, there doesn’t need to be pressure to finish it—move onto the next one. The goal is to find books they love. Finding books they love can definitely lead to reading for pleasure, which, as mentioned above, can lead to kinder human beings and improvement in academic areas. So … remove the pressure and surround your child with as many options as possible. Something will take!

If you want to get started on this “finding the right book” quest pronto, I have put together a list of books, 101 Books to Read before You Grow Up (Quarto/Walter Foster Jr., 2016), sorted by age and genre that can be used as a literary journal to discover books of interest, to keep track of favorites, and it also provides “what-to-read next recommendations” for when a favorite is discovered. The journal can be taken to the library/bookstore to help the librarian/bookseller make even more recommendations based on likes, dislikes, and notes can be recorded by readers on the pages.   When selecting the books to be included in 101 Books to Read before You Grow Up (Quarto/Walter Foster Jr., 2016), I chose a combination of classic and contemporary picture books, beginning chapter books, graphic novels, and middle grade novels represented. With plenty of options, there is a starting point for which all readers can find a book style of interest, and then also expand on their preferred style of book and discover new reading pleasures.

I chose each of the books for their powers to entice kids to wonder, laugh, cry, and they will almost always close the book with a smile. Readers can discover both new and classic books that incite kindness, courage, and making good choices. Books that remember the struggles of those that came before us, and books that encourage us to always dream of the fantastical future ahead of us and those that will come after us. So go ahead and grab a copy from your favorite bookstore, head to the library and get those kiddos reading for pleasure!

IndieBound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781633221697&aff=childbkreview9

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2cEPtJT

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/101-books-to-read-before-you-grow-up-bianca-schulze/1123427825

Bianca Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review, a resource devoted to children’s literature and recognized by the American Library Association as a ‘Great Website for Kids.’ She is a reader, reviewer, mother and children’s book lover. Combined with her love of books and experience as a children’s bookseller, Bianca’s goal is to share her passion to help grow readers.

Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, she now lives with her husband and three children near Boulder, Colorado.

TheChildrensBookReview.com | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Google+

Would you like a copy of Bianca’s new Book?  Leave a comment and the promise that you will write a review of the book and your name will be entered in the random drawing.  The winner will be announced on this blog on Wednesday 2-21-18.

It’s Maple Syrup Time.

What comes from the sap of trees, doesn’t freeze in below zero temperatures, and is native to North America? 

MAPLE SYRUP.  In the eastern part of the US, maple trees fill our parks and forests.  While Canada and Vermont produce the most maple syrup, you can get sap from ANY maple tree that is at least 45 years old.  Sap runs like clear water when tapped; the texture and color we enjoy on our pancakes comes from reducing the sap into syrup through WOOD-FIRED EVAPORATORS.  It takes 40 gallons of sap to yield ONE GALLON of syrup – the reason why pure maple syrup cosst a lot more than pancake syrup which is made with high-fructose corn syrup and maple flavoring.  Once you’ve tasted the real thing, pancake syrup just doesn’t cut it.

If you’re looking for a family-friendly road trip, why not check out some of the Maple Sugaring Demonstrations in NJ and PA that usually run from late January through early March.  Here is just a sample of some of the many sites in the Eastern US.  Check each specific website for dates.  Some charge admission and require advance registration.

1. Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center in Chatham Township, NJ offers one-hour programs that teach you to identify and tap maple trees for sap collection at 1 and 2:30 PM every day rain or shine.      http://www.morrisparks.net

2. Reeves-Reed Arboretum, Summit, NJ:  http://www.reeves-reedarboretum.org

3. Duke Farms, Hillsborough, NJ:  http://www.dukefarms.org

4. Environmental Education Center, Basking Ridge, NJ:  http://www.somersetcountyparks.org

5. Peace Valley Nature Center, Doylestown, PA: http://www.peacevalleynaturecenter.org

6. Howell Living History Farm, Lambertville, NJ:  In addition to syrup making demonstrations, this program also offers butter making, flour milling and pancake eating! Admission is FREE.  http://www.howellfarm.org.

Check out the listings for farms near you and Have a Sap-Happy time!

For a detailed tutorial on how to tap your own maple trees:  https://kaitoridge.com/