Friday, September 30, 2011

Weekend Review: Limelight Larry

Oh no! It looks like Limelight Larry has hacked Ready. Set. Read! and posted a review of his book, Limelight Larry.*

Dear Readers,
I wrote a book. You should buy it. It was about a peacock named Limelight Larry. Yes, that is me. Or should I say, it was SUPPOSED to be a book about a peacock. I was going to strut around. I was going to show off. I know it doesn't sound like much of a plot, but it was going to be fantastic. Amazing. "The bees knees with a cherry on the top". Do you like that quote? It's from my book. I told you it was amazing.
There was just one little problem with the book. One reason, that I hesitated to recommend this book to you, dear reader. The problem began with a little mouse. He invaded my book. He stole the spotlight from me. And it didn't end there, my friend. The book got even worse. A bird joined him. And then an elephant, and a wolf, a bear and more until the book was completely cluttered.
It would have been a total loss. It would have been silly. I would have been smooshed into corner with crumpled feathers. I knew my loyal fans wanted a book about peacocks. I knew you wanted to see ME. I threw a big fit. I kicked everyone out of my book. I strutted around. I showed off. Then, I may have gotten a little scared. I may have missed my friends. I may have given in and let those critters back into my book... but not for long. I turned it around. I gave you the ending of your dreams.
Since the book is mostly about me, you should probably come read it. It is getting wonderful reviews all over the web. I promise, I'm not writing all of them.
Limelight Larry

* Ok, ok. This review was actually written by me, Jackie. It was my take on what Limelight Larry would say if he did write a post on my blog. Larry, if you want to guest post, I'll let you have the whole post all to yourself. I won't make you share the spotlight! I was provided a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinions. (or Larry's honest opinion?)

Here's where I'm linking up  Larry likes to link up:

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fall Scavenger Hunt

Our neighborhood is like a fall playground. It is very wooded with a variety of trees. If something falls from a tree, we probably have it in our  neighborhood-- acorns, seed pods, needles, leaves, gumballs, etc. It makes for a lot of yardwork this time of year. It also provides lots of exploration for the little guys.
My boys love to pick up acorns, sticks, and rocks and jam them in their pockets for later. "Later" generally turns into the wash cycle. At least we have clean nature around here! I think I saw this idea for collecting nature items minus the pockets at the It's Playtime link-up but now I can't find the exact post. Maybe this one?

 I created a scavenger hunt for extra fun and to increase those visual discrimination skills. Our Target dollar spot had the fall stickers. I made our lists on index cards to make them easy for little hands to hold.

A favorite book related to fall nature is The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger. I shared this book last year but it truly is one of my favorites!
The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger In this story, a little yellow leaf is not ready to fall from the big oak tree. The leaf finally spies a scarlet leaf and the two leaves decide to let go together. I love that among all of the books that describe fall concepts, there is a book about fall leaves that tells a heartwarming story about friendship, bravery, change, and letting go. And the illustrations? They are ah-mazing!!
Here's where I'm linking up this week:

It's Playtime at hands on : as we grow

play academy

Shibley Smiles

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Weekend Review: The Dancing Clock

I hear the Northeast is beautiful in the fall. Sadly, we can't make a road trip, but we can journey to Central Park on the pages of a new book. Without leaving our couch, we can take a trip near the Central Park Zoo.We can stop at the Delacorte Clock located at the entrance to the zoo. In the crisp autumn air, we can watch a musical clock with dancing animals. And we can hear the fictional tale of The Dancing Clock.

The Dancing Clock by Steve Metzger is an imaginative journey. Milo, a snow monkey at the zoo, wants to join the dancing animals on the clock, but he is locked behind his gate with the other zoo monkeys. He is so enraptured with the clock, he refuses to even play with the other monkeys. Finally, he makes an escape. He happily dances with each of the animals until the music ends and he is left all alone on his clock. He realizes the bronzed animals aren't warm or friendly like his monkey friends.  Milo learns an important lesson about true friends.
The book is written in rhyme with a nice flow. It would be an excellent choice for a read aloud. I love the idea of building a fictional story on a real landmark. The reader doesn't need background knowledge on the location to understand this story. However, using a real landmark allows the reader to extend his knowledge of the book in a variety of ways.The cartoonish illustrations, set in the fall in Central Park, make the book colorful and engaging.
We enjoyed our visit to The Dancing Clock in Central Park... maybe next visit we'll even leave our home!
Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for my review
Here's where I'm linking up. Check out these blogs for many more book reviews!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Three Billy Goats Fluff: Exploring Descriptive Language

The Three Billy Goats Fluff by Rachel Mortimer is a new twist on the classic The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Told mostly from the viewpoint of the troll, this story follows the classic plot of three goats who trip-trap across a troll's bridge. The troll is losing sleep and losing his temper. Luckily, mother goat has a knack for knitting and whips up a solution-- fluffy booties for the goats and earmuffs for the troll!

The word "fluffy" was a new word for Logan. I decided to use this book as a springboard for building on his descriptive vocabulary. We went on a hunt around the house looking for "fluffy" items. Of course, he had to using his new "ni-noculars" from Papa Higgins.

I was inspired to try this language lesson after reading an example lesson on descriptive words in the Literacy Beginnings Handbook by Gay Su Pinnell and Irene C. Fountas. Pinnell and Fountas explain that children's ability to express themselves is related to the words they understand. If they hear it and understand it, they will use it, right? This is important since vocabulary is a significant contribution to reading comprehension.
Other ways to build descriptive vocabulary:

  • sort a basket of household items by descriptive words (fluffy, rough, etc)
  • point out descriptive words in books or poems and then find an example of the word in the room
  • keep a list of descriptive words you have encountered

The boys loved this particular story, they also acted out the story at a local conservation center! This hike had lots of bridges which were perfect for my two trip-trapping goats!

We were sent a free copy of this book from TigerTales in exchange for our honest review.
Here's where I am linking this up:

It's Playtime at hands on : as we grow

Shibley Smiles

play academy

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Twin Tuesday: Book Review- Sam and Ben

Sam and Ben by Sylvia Pagan Westphal
Sam and Ben are twins. They once shared the same scrunched up space in their mommy's belly and they share the same birthdate. That's where the similarities end. They have different hair color and texture. They have different eye colors. They have different interests. Sam and Ben are twins, but they are also individuals.
The story of Sam and Ben is a great introduction to the concept of twins. It does explain that twins are the same age, have the same family, and the same birthdate. It also offers examples of ways twins can be different: in looks, in interests, in personalities. This book also included a mulitcultural element to the story. In this book, Sam and Ben have a Oma (representing their German heritage) and an Abuela (representing their Hispanic heritage). Including a variety of cultures in my children's book choices is important to me. The book is a portrait of a unique family with many cultural influences that come together and form two beautifully unique twin boys.
This book would probably work best for older preschool through grade 2. My three year old seemed just a little young for this book. There were so many concepts that were new to Logan. He has never experienced twins. Also, the words Oma and Abuela were new to him. The author also included words like Ah-bah, Ah-tan, and Tah-tan for the babies' siblings. Even I was confused as if those words were from another language or if they were just nicknames that babies had given their brothers and sisters.
We reviewed this book as an ebook which is always engaging for Logan! It's a very simple look with clean white pages and bright colors. This book doesn't have any interactive features in the ebook. I actually enjoyed that in a sense. Sometimes I get tired of ALL the bells and whistles that are literally on every page of some children's ebooks.
It seems this story is as old as time, we also read the biblical account of Jacob and Esau last week.
 Jacob and Esau were twins. Although they shared the same birthdate, that seems to be where the similarities ended. They didn't look alike. They had different interests. This story was a struggle for Logan because he has not experienced twins. However, the book Sam and Ben allowed him to draw from some background knowledge and understand the story better.

We also made these Jacob and Esau puppets. I asked Logan if he wanted to make Jacob and Esau or Sam and Ben. He picked Jake and E. We talked about differences in eye color, hair color, skin color and texture. It was another great opportunity to talk about ways that God created us and loves us in unique ways.

Disclosure: I was sent a free ebook from the publisher in exchange for my honest review of the book.

Friday, September 16, 2011

{Book Review} Don't Worry, Douglas! ~~ Writing Activity

Don't Worry Douglas by David Melling is the story of Douglas, a bear. Douglas is given a special hat from his father. His dad tells him to take good care of the hat, but Douglas is careless and causes the hat to unravel. His woolly hat turns into a spaghetti hat. While several animals find other uses for the hat, the woolly hat is unusable. Douglas is faced with the problem of telling his dad about the ruined hat. The story ends with a nice twist, and Douglas learns an important lesson about honesty.
Our favorite part of the story was the end. Author-illustrator David Melling got quite silly with the uses of many made up hats. And guess what? In our preschool boy filled house, the two favorite hats were the diaper hat and the potty hat. Surprise, surprise.
This also led to a conversation about the uses of many different types of hats. Following the interest of the boys,  we came up with a fun writing extension for this book.
We found all of our hats and tried them on. Of course, I had to take pictures of my little cuties.

We talked about the uses for the hats as we went and then we played a little game. I would ask a question, and they would pick the hat.
What hat would you wear if you were baking a pie?
What hat would you wear if you were cold?
What hat would you wear if it was raining?
What hat would you wear if you were building a house?
What hat would you wear if you were fighting a fire?

I then took their pictures and we created a book that followed this text pattern.

We love reading our new book along with Don't Worry, Douglas.

Disclaimer: I was sent a free copy of Don't Worry, Douglas! from Tiger Tales in exchange for my honest review of the book.

I am linking this up:

Shibley Smiles

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pizza Parlor Play- #PlayDohPlayDates

We love having friends over for themed playdates. While I do have very creative and crafty mommy friends, our mommy brains get fried from time to time. I generally turn to other bloggers for fantastic resources and craft ideas. But today, I have the opportunity to share a website that might help you come up with some fun play on your next playdate! You know, just in case your brain is feeling a little fried too.
We were given the opportunity to review the site, PLAY-DOH Playdates, a free resource from the PLAY-DOH company. The website provides several themes to chose from such as spring picnic, back to school, icecream shop, pizza shop, and more. We decided to try out September's theme of pizza shop.

Each theme includes step-by-step instructions to create PLAY-DOH fresh Ideas, printable crafts, and healthy snacks to help you host the perfect PLAY-DOH Play-Date!
The Fresh ideas section gives step by step instructions for making these fun pizza shop goodies.

Logan was soooo excited that he could put olives on his pizza. The boy is seriously addicted to olives.

I printed the crafts ahead of time. The crafts weren't anything my boys could make themselves (they are 3 and 1 1/2). But they loved the pizza box I made for them. And they loved the menu.
The menu was actually my favorite part of the entire playdate. I love incorporating writing into play. I just slipped the menu into sheet protector pages and gave the boys dry erase markers for taking orders. This allowed us to do the activity over and over and over.. .For little ones like this, scribbling next to the chosen food item is a great way to practice "writing". Using the menu also communicates the idea that text (and pictures) carry meaning!

For our snack, we chose the English Muffin Pizza. There is a step by step recipe included. 

Not only can your child make his own pizza, but the instructions are easy enough that even a preschooler can follow along with the picture. This was another great way to incorporate reading for a purpose.

Although... I'm not sure I can recommend make your own pizza night for a 1 year old. It was definitely followed up with BATHTIME!
The Little Red Hen (Makes a Pizza)While there is a lot of literacy involved in the play, I think it would be cool if PLAY-DOH had recommended books that matched the theme of the playdates. One that we read to accompany our pizza parlor play was The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza by Philemon Sturges. This is a cute retelling of the traditional little red hen with a twist on the ending!

We will definitely try out more of these fun playdates. In fact, I've already planned our next choice. I want to try out the Back to School Playdate because my oldest son will LOVE filling in this world map with playdough.

Disclosure: This post is part of a SocialMoms product evaluation, for which I’ve been selected. I’ve been compensated for my time with 8,000 My SocialMoms Rewards Points. The opinions expressed in this post are mine and don’t necessarily reflect the opinions of SocialMoms or Play-Doh.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Weekend Review: Books for Life's Experiences

Starting a new school year, adding a new sibling to the family, moving to a new neighborhood... growing up offers plenty of opportunities to experience change. Finding a book to match your child's experiences can be a helpful way to navigate those changes. We recently had the opportunity to review several new books from Groundwood Books. I noticed that several of them mirrored experiences that face not just our family, but many of families of young children.

This New Baby by Teddy Jam, illustrated by Virginia Johnson Most families of young children have had a chance to add a baby to the mix. This new book from Groundwood Books illustrates a poem that was originally published in 1998. The poetry and the pictures illustrate the love of parents for their new baby. The poetry is soothing and would be great to read aloud to a newborn while feeding or cuddling.

Caramba and HenryCaramba and Henry by Marie-Louise Gay This is the second book in a series about flying cats. The main character, a cat named Caramba, however, can't fly. The worst part of this is that Caramba has a little brother. A little brother, Henry, who can fly! Not only can he do something that Caramba can't, Caramba is supposed to keep up with him. Unfortunately, Henry is a somewhat mischievious little brother who has no intention of listening to Caramba-- or staying with him. In the end, Caramba is rewarded in a special way for his wonderful work as a big brother.
Flying cats might not sound relevant but many of you may have a mischievious face like this at your house.

For an older brother, learning how to deal with that pesky little brother can be tricky. This book is a good reminder that being a good big brother is an important task.

A Few BlocksA Few Blocks by Cybele Young Have you been struggling to get your less than eager student out the door for school each morning? In A Few Blocks, Viola is struggling to get her little brother Fergie to leave for school. By using her imagination, she is able to convince him to travel the few blocks to their school. They arrive at school by way of rocket blaster boots, on a ship searching for buried treasure, and by defeating a dragon along the way. The switch from reality to fantasy probably makes this book more appropriate for school aged children.

Disclosure: I received free review copies of these books from the publisher in exchange for my review.
Here's where I am linking up:

What books have you used to navigate the experiences of life?