Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Virtual Book Club author for July is Giles Andreae

Happy July! I hope you are enjoying your summer. I'm enjoying spending a lot of time with my boys, going on adventures, relaxing in our new tree house, and reading tons of great books! Not only are the boys busy reading, I've got quite the summer reading stack as well. We've been so busy enjoying summer, there hasn't been as much time for blogging. However, we're definitely keeping up with the Virtual Book Club for kids this summer. I'll also be sharing some of our favorite summer reads each Monday in July here at

Virtual Book Club for Kids

In case you are new to this, the virtual book club for kids is a group of over 20 bloggers who join together each month to share a favorite children's author. We announce the author at the beginning of each month. On the second Monday of the month, we host a linky party to share activities to accompany books by that author.

July author for the Virtual Book Club for Kids is Giles Andreae

In July we are featuring the works of Giles Andreae. His book, Rumble in the Jungle, was one of my son's first loved picture books. When Logan was about two years old, he would toddle to the book shelf and return this book to me every single time! I still have the beginning page memorized. Andreae has many wonderful picture books for children. Many of his books feature wonderful poems and silly rhymes.

Link up your Activities to the Virtual Book Club for Kids on July 14

Between now and July 14th, hit a bookstore or library and pick a favorite Giles Andreae book. Share it with your children or your class. Plan to come back here on July 14th to add it to the linky party or share in the comments.
I'll share our book choice and activities on that day as well. As I mentioned, I've been reading a lot this month too. I'm using strategies I'm learning in Fountas and Pinnell's "When Readers Struggle". My four year old is ready to begin phonemic awareness instruction. Giles Andreae's fun rhyming texts are a great place to start. Come back on the 14th of July and I'll share our strategies with all of you.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Giraffe that Walked to Paris

Summer is a relaxed time at our home. We try to hang out at the pool a LOT, spend time in our backyard, and visit fun places around town. We also try to make time for reading. According to the National Summer Learning Association , children lose an average of 2 months of knowledge during the summer vacation. If you multiply that by 6 years of Elementary School, that equates to at least 12 months of learning loss. Before we get too fixated on the numbers, however, it should be noted that the majority of the studies supporting this idea were conducted on low income families or on families who had less access to reading materials. In fact, the research shows that children in middle income families actually make slight GAINS over the summer. What the difference? I think one difference could be access and exposure to books and "life experiences". One study showed that by simply providing books to students who normally wouldn't have access to books, students retained as much knowledge as if they had gone to summer school. In order to go a little deeper with our summer reading this year, I'm trying out the Five in a Row Curriculum. The local library actually has all of the volumes of Five in a Row. I'll be sharing our favorite picks from Five in a Row here at Ready-Set-Read this summer.  I'll also be sharing a picture book of the day every day on my facebook page. These are book recommendations I have made as well as recommendations from other book bloggers. Today I am sharing, The Giraffe the Walked to Paris. 

The Giraffe that Walked to Paris Review

The Giraffe the Walked to Paris by Nancy Milton is the true story of a giraffe that was given as a gift from the Pasha of Egypt to the King of France. In 1826, the ruler of Egypt decided to give a gift to the King of France to appease him after a disagreement. There were no giraffes in France at the time, so the decision was made to send a giraffe to France. The book details the travels of La Giraffe and the reactions of the French people and the King. It is a well written, well illustrated story that kids will love to read over and over again!

Book Activities for The Giraffe that Walked to Paris

Introducing the Book to Kids

The Five in a Row book has wonderful suggestions for orienting your child to the book. For my boys (ages 4 and 6), we took a picture walk. We looked at the images of Egypt and talked about the landscape, weather, dress of the people. We also talked about the names of the characters in this book as their names sound different to my boys. Then we flipped to the pages that featured France. We talked again about the landscape, the dress of the people, and the potential time period. I also gave the boys a brief introduction to the plot.

Measuring a Giraffe

My goal for my little learners was to understand how tall a giraffe might be, compare heights, and use non standard measurements.
We went outside to our driveway and measured 11 feet, the height of La Giraffe. Then we measured our own heights and compared. We used rocks to measure and compare as well. Then Logan wondered, "If I stand on Tyson's head would I be the height of La Giraffe?" So, we drew it out on the driveway to find out.

When we came inside the boys were still interested in measuring. They used blocks to measure each other and compare heights.

Draw an Animal

In the story, the king of France is getting very impatient to receive his gift of a giraffe. He has never seen a real giraffe and can't hardly wait. One of his researchers is tasked with drawing a picture of a giraffe for the King. Of course, the researcher has never seen a real giraffe either. However, his picture is fairly close. I found this fun activity to try drawing a pangolin, an animal with which my boys would not have familiarity. I had to wikipedia pangolin and go off of their description.

Animal Movement

In the story, King Charles is surprised by how the giraffe walks. He compares the way La Giraffe walks to how his horses walk.  We used the animal movement cards from my free zoo unit to explore how a variety of animals move.

La Giraffe ends up in the French Zoo so many of the activities from my free zoo unit would be useful with this book. Some activities that your child might enjoy are:
Zoo Animal Cookies

Concept Sort: Zoo Versus Farm

Animal Roll and Count

Printable Early Reader Book "At the Zoo"

Sailboat Science and Wind Power

In The Giraffe that Walked to Paris, the Pasha of Egypt and his men must transport La Giraffe from Egypt to Southern France. This requires her to travel across the Mediterranean sea. They use a boat with sails powered by wind to travel. The boys were interested in exploring boats and wind power. We made these fun sailboats used our wind power to blow them across our water table. We also experimented with floating. We used foil to create a boat and tried to see how many people could float in one boat. It was pretty amazing to the boys that the boat that carried La Giraffe held people, a giraffe, cows, and an antelope!

This was a great longer picture book and Five in a Row was super helpful in suggestions for book activities. I'm enjoying exploring longer picture books with the boys at this age and reading closely on each of our rereadings. I'd recommend this for an educational and engaging summer read.

You can also find me busily pinning on Pinterest, tweeting on twitter, and chatting about the best Children’s literature on facebook and Google+.


Monday, June 16, 2014

The Very Lonely Firefly Book Activities

Welcome back to the June Virtual Book Club for Kids. This month we are celebrating the author Eric Carle. We've been exploring many Eric Carle books and recently completed a Reading and Writing About Insects Unit featuring Carle's books. This month, I decided to focus on building vocabulary. Vocabulary is one of the five components of reading instruction. It's super important! In fact, many studies have shown that a preschooler's oral vocabulary is the best predictor of future reading success. It's also important for my soon to be first grader to build his vocabulary. I feel that vocabulary instruction needs to happen in a constructivist approach. This means, I like for my boys to experience vocabulary in authentic texts and make generalizations about the words. Together, we talk about the words, apply the words, and firm up their working definitions of the words. It just makes sense that oral language skills should be built through conversations about words. However, vocabulary instruction does not have to be boring! We found a great way to practice the  vocabulary from our Eric Carle books by playing a night time vocabulary word sort game.

The Very Lonely Firefly

This month we chose to focus on Eric Carle's book, The Very Lonely Firefly. One summer night, a very lonely fireflies goes to search for firefly friends. He sees many lights in the night sky such as  owl's eyes and headlights, but it takes him several tries to find his firefly friends.

Vocabulary Word Sort

Who hasn't spent a summer night collecting fireflies into jars? We decided to play off that old tradition by collecting vocabulary words into jars.
I began by creating a word board. I used a black piece of paper decorated as a night sky with word cards placed on it. We've been reading several of Eric Carle's books about insects. My first grader also finished up an insects unit at the end of the school year. It seemed like a good choice to sort words by insects and land animals. I provided two jars to sort the insects and land animals. These are the words I wrote on the cards that I attached to the black paper.

Land animals:



praying mantis
stink bug
walking stick

To play the game: chose a word, read it (or I read it to them) and deposit the word into the correct jar.

This is a great game to play outdoors in the evening, perhaps while you wait for the fireflies to come out. Once they do, dump the vocabulary words and use the jars to collect fireflies.
Also, it's super fun to add glow sticks to the jars with vocabulary words... not for any educational reason, but just because glow sticks are fun. This is summer learning, it should be fun, right?

What you talking about?

After we played, we talked about the definition of insect. What makes us classify something as an insect. My super smart soon to be first grader already knew all about insects' three body parts and six legs. We were able to go through and firm up our knowledge about our sorts. In fact, Logan wondered if a centipede was, in fact, an insect. We checked it out and learned it is NOT an insect. Great conversations have a way of extending the learning!

This game was inspired by an apple picking sort game that I found in the book Vocabulary Games for the Classroom by Robert Marzano and Lindsay Carleton. The version in the book involves a relay race with the sort. Since it was dark when we were playing, I decided to leave out the racing. There are several ways to switch up this game and make it fun and meaningful for children.

Do you have a great idea to share for your favorite Eric Carle book? Link up your ideas here.


Monday, June 2, 2014

Virtual Book Club for Kids June Author is Eric Carle

Summer is a wonderful time to jump back into the Virtual Book Club for kids if you've been taking a break for the last few months like me. Not only does summer provide a wonderful opportunity to kick back, read a book, and do a book activity, and share it with friends, we also have a wonderful author to celebrate this month. Read on to find out how you can participate in the Virtual Book Club for kids. Gather ideas for your favorite Eric Carle books. Come back on June 9 to link up your projects or share your ideas in the comments.

Each month I participate with a group of about 20 other bloggers to feature a favorite author and share book activities. We announce the author on the 1st day of the month and then meet up on the 2nd Monday to start sharing ideas.

Eric Carle Book Club

June's author is Eric Carle

This month's featured author is Eric Carle. Eric Carle is the author of many well known and well loved picture books. Some of our favorite Eric Carle books include his books about Creepy Crawly insects such as The Very Clumsy Click Beetle, The Very Lonely Firefly, The Very Quiet Cricket, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. In fact, we just finished a unit on Reading and Writing Narrative Text using these books.

Eric Carle, Book Activities

One of the favorite activities in this unit was feeding the very hungry caterpillar.

Eric Carle, Book Activities

We've also explored "Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother Too?" and studied Eric Carle's art.

Eric Carle, Book Activities

And we love The Grouchy Ladybug. Check out these paper plate ladybugs we made.

Eric Carle, Book Activities

I can't wait to share more of our favorite Eric Carle book activities this month. You can find a complete list of Eric Carle books on his website. I'd love if you'd join us this month to explore this amazing children's author.

Here's how to participate:

Pick your favorite book by Eric Carle and read it with your child or class.
Create a book activity (craft, recipe, game, etc) to go along with the book.
Come back and share it with us on June 9th. The linky will be live for 3 weeks. Feel free to link up or look for ideas any time.  If you don't blog you can comment on my facebook wall, email me, or just leave a comment with your ideas.
All participants will have an opportunity to be featured on my facebook page and on Pinterest!
Let me know if you'll be participating by leaving a comment below.

You'll be able to find Eric Carle activities on these participating blogs as well:
Toddler ApprovedThe Educators’ Spin On ItRainy Day Mum3 Dinosaurs-Learn~Play~Imagine – Crafty Moms Share – Reading ConfettiInspiration Laboratories –Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas – Kids Yoga Stories – Enchanted Homeschooling MomReady-Set-Read – Boy Mama Teacher Mama – PlayDrMom – Fantastic Fun and Learning –Growing Book by BookRoyal Baloo – The Outlaw Mom® Blog – Kitchen Counter Chronicles – Teach Preschool – Mama Smiles – Coffe Cups and Crayons – Juggling With Kids – Here Come the Girls