Monday, November 19, 2012

The Popcorn Book by Tomie dePaola

Tomie dePaola, The Popcorn book, Tomie dePaola books, book activities,  author study

Welcome back to the Virtual Book Club for kids. This month the VBC is featuring books by one of my favorite authors, Tomie DePaola. Choosing a dePaola book for the VBC was tough. I finally decided to choose "The Popcorn Book". It was a fall favorite when I was teaching school. In fact, I used it with children through fifth grade! The Popcorn book isn't necessarily a Thanksgiving book, it can be used any time of the year. However, all of the references to Native Americans, corn, Thanksgiving, and food make it a great choice for Thanksgiving.

In the book, two boys are making popcorn. While one boys demonstrates a step by step process of popcorn popping (dos and don'ts), the other boy shares facts about popcorn. The illustrations and the story line convey humor, yet there is a lot of learning in the little book. This book is super versitale. My four year old was very engaged in the entire story, yet my fifth graders loved it too. Even my two year old loved hearing about the popcorn in a field that got too hot and started making popcorn "snow".
Since Thanksgiving is this week (how did that happen?) we focused all of our popcorn activities around Thanksgiving.
Popcorn Placemat
First, we made a thanksgiving placemat. I told the boys the story about the 5 kernels of corn.
Tomie dePaola, The Popcorn book, Tomie dePaola books, thanksgiving activities for kids, thanksgiving kids craft, book activities,  author study

The story is that in early New England, colonists put 5 kernels of corn on their plate to remember the days when there was very little food. In fact, food was rationed to just 5 pieces of corn a day.  I drew a plate, fork, and cup and let the boys glue just 5 kernels of 'pop'corn to their plates.  Then we discussed that we are blessed to have so much food. We talked about taking care of our bodies and eating balanced meals. We found some old magazines with delicious Thanksgiving food and we created Thanksgiving plates using a free template from
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We pasted a full plate and a 5 kernel plate on opposites sides of construction paper covered it with contact paper. It does make for a slightly bumpy placemat, but it works.

They boys have been using these placemats every day. I guess some of the moisture from washing them snuck through because one of the placemats is sprouting! Free science lesson.

Popcorn Turkey
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We also made a popcorn turkey. I found an adorable one on Pinterest from One Charming Party. They have a great tutorial for making this bird out of paper bags and filling it up with popcorn. We made our popcorn on the stovetop following the directions from The Popcorn Book.  I let the boys help me make our popcorn turkey so it wasn't quite as perfect. They loved participating. We used glue, duct tape, and scotch tape rather than a glue gun. Then we had a popcorn feast!
Tomie dePaola, The Popcorn book, Tomie dePaola books, thanksgiving activities for kids, thanksgiving kids craft, book activities,  author study

Popcorn Painting
Free Thanksgiving Coloring Sheets, Tomie dePaola, The Popcorn book, Tomie dePaola books, thanksgiving activities for kids, thanksgiving kids craft, book activities,  author study

I also planned an activity to expanded our knowledge  about other types of corn and explore "indian" or multicolored corn. I created this color by number coloring sheet. The plan was to use q-tips dipped in paint to fill it in. Nobody was very interested in painting the last few days, so the project has not been completed. I wanted to share the freebie with all of you in case your kids are interested. If mine take an interest in it, I'll update the post.

Popcorn Words
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As a reading teacher, I couldn't have a popcorn unit without including popcorn words. Popcorn words is a fun way to talk about sight words that pop up frequently in reading.
There are many fun ways to practice popcorn words. We  like to play pass the popcorn- a movie themed game. We fill a can (or a popcorn tub) with words and pass it. Each person reads the word on the popcorn. If the player reads the word correctly, he keeps the popcorn. This continues until a player gets the card that with the director's board. He says, "Cut" and everyone count their popcorn. The player with the most corn wins!
You can get a free copy of this game by clicking on the picture below.
Tomie dePaola, The Popcorn book, Tomie dePaola books, thanksgiving activities for kids, thanksgiving kids craft, book activities,  author study
We will be exploring a ton of Tomie dePaola books in the next few months as we check out the amazing ideas  shared on these blogs

Now it is your chance to share your ideas. Here are the rules for linking up.
  1. Link up only posts inspired byTomie dePaola that share children's book inspired crafts, activities, recipes, etc. Any other posts will be deleted.
  2. Visit other blog posts on the linky and comment on or share the ones you love!
  3. Grab the button and share it on your post if you'd like.
Ps. If you haven't been around much since the last book club, just a heads up I am now!! The old url will redirect you here, but it's an exciting change for me. So come back to on  December 1st to find out the December VBC author!

Here's where I am sharing:

Friday, November 16, 2012

Kids Giving #blog4cause

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In this season of giving, it's easy for my boys to shift their focus to a season of getting. It's easy for all of us, really.  We are bombarded with commercials and images of lovely items that we all want under our Christmas tree. As an adult, I've seen the joy that comes with  sharing with others during the holidays. That joy is something I want to give to my boys. So, I was super excited when Teachmama and a few other bloggers announced Blog4cause. The idea behind it is that little hands can make a big difference if we as parents shift their thinking from getting to giving. #Blog4cause allows participants to pick their own causes and share them. I love this idea because it allows me to choose causes that are important to me and causes that I think my boys will relate to. I also love that they have a linky party so I can check out other opportunities for service.
For our first project this year, we decided join our church in the Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan's purse. This organization collects shoe boxes that donors fill with treats, toys, and essential supplies for children living in poverty around the world. We chose to fill a box for a 2-4 year old boy.  
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Tyson does a lot of shopping with me while Logan is at school, so Logan got the job of designated packer. First he looked through all of the items and he wanted to keep them all for himself. As we packed, I explained that there were some kids in the world who didn't have as much as he did. Likely this box would be the only Christmas present the child would get. It literally blew his mind as he thought about all the presents he would get from the many, many people who love him. By the end, he was all about helping this little boy. He even reminded me that I had packed a toothbrush and forgotten toothpaste. Duh, mom!
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Not only did Logan learn a little about giving, but I added a little literacy learning to this activity. Operation Christmas Child encourages givers to add a personal note to their box. They even have a printable "All about Me" worksheet for kids. Logan and I filled it out together, sharing the pen, modeling some good writing skills. Then he did a little bit of coloring on the sheet and on the box.
I really wanted to pick at least one International Project to participate in this year. My sister's family is in the process of adopting a little girl from China-- they are flying into Shanghai tonight and meeting her in just days-- and part of our family's heart is overseas right now. It excites me that Operation Christmas Child will take this little gift of love somewhere across the world. I also love participating in Operation Christmas Child because it allows a kid to help another kid. We've been praying for the little boy that receives our gift.  We hope that he will feel loved!
Check out more #blog4cause ideas on the linky party here.  How do you help your child realize the joy of giving during the holiday season?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Holiday Gift Guide: New Books

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I always try to stuff the stockings at our house with books. I also try to sneak in a book to all of my nephews along with their gift. I'm probably known as that crazy Aunt that always gives us a book!  This year, I was sorting through some new books from Tiger Tales. I thought it would be fun to share my top four favorites of the Tiger Tales fall line as a holiday gift guide. I still haven't choosen all of the books I'll be giving away this year, if you have some to add to my holiday gift guide, I'd love your input!

The Really, Really, Really Big Dinosaur by Richard Byrne In this story, a little dinosaur is being bullied by a "big" dinosaur. The little dinosaur stands up to the big dinosaur by claiming to have back up in the form of a best friend who is a really, really big dinosaur. As the big dinosaur continues to harass, the reader begins to realize the really, really big dinosaur is there and has been there all along, hidden in the pictures! The dinosaur friends then team up to teach the "big" dinosaur a lesson and help him to be kinder. This is a really imaginative story, the illustrations are great, it's funny, and once kids discover the secret of the story, they'll want to read it over and over again!

Counting Birds by Jing Jing Tsong is a super fun counting book. Each bird lands in the tree with his own distinct bird call. The calls are cummulative and children will love hearing them build through out the story. New birds join the tree one by one until a visitor arrives to scare them all away. The story is fun to read. The repeating sounds encourage active participation from children. Preschool concepts such as counting and colors are introduced in an engaging way. The best part though, are the cool modern illustrations! This book would make a beautiful gift or an attractive addition to your home library.

It's Holiday Time by Elizabeth Bennett. For little family members, padded board books are a favorite gift each year. I especially love books like It's Holiday Time that incorporate glitter and texture through out. This is a great way to engage very young learners with the book! In this story, a family is busily preparing for the holidays by shopping, baking and wrapping, caroling, visiting, and giving. The rhyming text and the soft illustrations make this book a warm reminder of the joy of holiday time!

 Big Book of My World by Kali Stileman is not only a word book that introduces early concepts, it is also an interactive activity book. The pictures are clear and well labeled. Children are able to classify, label, count, and more! The illustrations are modern and engaging. On every page there is at least one owl "hidden" on the page. Both of my boys, ages 2 and 4 love this book!

Will you tuck in books under the tree this year? Lets all share our favorites and create a working holiday gift guide. I could totally use some help on this one. Leave the title(s) you are choosing (Or chose last year), the age of the child, and whether they are a boy or a girl.

An example of a few that I am buying this year:
Time to Eat by Robin Page and Steve Jenkins, age 4, boy
Knuffle Bunny Too by Mo Willems, age 2, boy

I can not wait for your recommendations!

Disclaimer: The books reviewed in this post were provided free to me by Tiger Tales in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not compensated to write this post.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Making the Most of Read Aloud Time

Welcome  to my friends from the Mehlville Organization for Mother's Support (MOMS) Club. I am so honored  they asked me to come and speak to their group.  Tonight I am speaking to this group of parents on how to engage children in read alouds. It's confession time over at the MOMS club tonight as I'm admitting to them that sometimes the children of reading specialists don't even listen during read alouds. Yep, that's right, sometimes my boys do more humming, shoving, and page turning than listening to stories.  I'm sharing with them how I've taken those frustrating read aloud times and worked them into more engaging moments for sharing books. I'm hoping that I can offer some easy tips to these parents to help grow their children into strong readers. If you aren't a part of the MOMs club meeting tonight, you are welcome to hang out here at Ready. Set. Read and "listen in" as I share some reading tips, helpful links, and rewarding read aloud books.
Tonight at the MOMS Club, we are chatting about the question, "How can we better engage children in read aloud time so they can reap the benefits?" Brain research supports the idea that learning grows as children see what they are learning, hear it, participate actively, talk about it, and have an emotional attachment to their learning. Tonight we are discussing visual learning, auditory learning, and active participation.
1. Visual Learning during read alouds
One quick and easy way to help children visualize their learning during read aloud time is to create Prop Baskets. I've used these prop baskets in the past to introduce or review fairy tales with kids. You can find examples of fairy tale prop baskets by clicking the picture or link below. 
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By the way, fairy tales are a great choice for read aloud time.  Fairy tales help children to do many things.

  • Require the brain to attend to details
  • Activate problem solving skills
  • Use skills of predicting and meaning-making
  • Experience heightened emotions
There is even a story that Einstein recommended fairy tales as a way to grow a child's intelligence! 

2.  Auditory Learning during read alouds

Not only do children need to engage their eyes during read aloud time, they need to use their ears to make reading more engaging. When children use their ears to learn, we call this auditory learning.
My boys definitely have the ability to tune me out.  There is an old trick that has been passed down from generation to generation for enaging your child's sense of hearing. I bet you've even used this old trick at least once. Have you ever been known to use your child's name to grab their attention?  Probably your mom or dad called your full name once or twice when you were a child, too. 
During read aloud time we certainly don't want to scream our child's name, but slipping a name into a story can be a quick and easy way to get a child's attention. Nursery rhymes are quick and easy ways to slip in your child's name. Nursery rhymes are important stuff too. Mem Fox says, "Children who know 8 nursery rhymes by heart by age 4 will be among the best readers by the time they are 8." If you are looking for a nursery rhyme activity, check out my Nursery Rhyme Printable Books for Emergent Readers in my Teachers pay Teachers store. This is a priced item--- but it's free to members of the MOMS club. (Email me with questions,
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Another great way to engage children's sense of hearing is with audio books and ebooks. Check out some of my favorites here:
read alouds, books for read alouds, reading tips, reading strategies, ebooks for kids
read alouds, books for read alouds, reading tips, reading strategies, audio books for kids

3.  Active Participation during read alouds
Finally, we are tackling the topic of active participation during read aloud time.  Specifically we are talking about helping children be active participants through speech.  Choosing the right book for a child is imperative to engaging children in read alouds. Finding books that are repetitive is important in helping children join in the reading. Locating a book that allows a child to be silly, scream, roar, or laugh along is not only fun, it actually increases the amount of learning they will retain. 

I did an experiement with the moms group tonight. I read aloud the book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day. I asked them to join on the repetitive phrase, "It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day!" I hope they left the meeting with a little less stress after the end of potentially long day as parents! Sometimes it's good to let it out! If you are looking for great repetitive texts, check out this post on 20 repetitive books that you don't want to miss!

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Thanks to the MOMS club for having me as a speaker.  I hope you come back to visit Ready. Set. Read. Thanks to the rest of my readers who were virtual participants through this blog post! 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Great Audio Books

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A few months ago, the boys discovered Pete the Cat. We had previously read Pete books but I had never introduced them to the audio version of the book. Once they heard the story as performed by author and storyteller, Eric Litwin, they were hooked. They listened to "I Love my White Shoes" on repeat everywhere we went! Although I am also a fan of Pete the Cat, after our in car CD player had logged several hundred miles of Pete the Cat, I began to have a need to search for other, different audio books. The boys actually didn't care to make a switch, they were happy with rePete. 

I began with this list from the American Library Association of Notable Children's recordings. As we listened, I kept a record of our favorites. As we checked out the audio books, I started noticing many of them were recorded by Weston Woods, and so we started checking out more by Weston Woods. Here is a list of the biggest hits in audio books for my two year old and four year old. 

Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!  Weston Woods
Jim Gill Presents Music Play for Folks of All Stripes Jim Gill, Inc.
Stone Soup Weston Woods
Chicken Little  Weston Woods
If You Were a Penguin  Live Oak Media
Splat the Cat   Weston Woods
The Jesus Storybook Bible  Zonderkids
Ramona’s World. Performed by Stockard Channing
Strega Nona.  Recorded Books, Inc

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We also found these playaway video recordings. Our library has these little video media players that are already loaded with videorecordings of books. Many of them were previously recorded by Weston Woods. The boys loved one called, Owen: and other stories about families. There were great classic stories by Kevin Henkes, Rosemary Wells, and Emily Jenkins. They were recorded by famous actors. We've been using these in the car too. They are very helpful at parent pick up time. Just be aware that if you check one out of your local library, the fines to replace them are going to be higher than just a book or a cd.

Our library doesn't have every audio book available for check out and I bought several for the purpose of reviewing for this post. It was helpful to have other bloggers come alongside and share reviews of audio books as well. Looking at good recommendations helped me to chooose the best books for my kids without spending money on stuff the kids wouldn't enjoy. I found these books on CD/ audio book recommendations for early learners all the way through middle school from Busy Kids = Happy Mom very helpful.

Another way to score audio books for kids without spending money is to check online and to check for free story apps. 

 Storynory is a site with  free audio files for books. These are original stories and also fairy tales and folktales. I also like that they have a "junior" section with stories for younger children and recordings of nursery rhymes. 

I also like the podcasts from storycub. In fact, their recording of All about Poop, a children's book by Kate Hayes, was #1 in itunes. 

As you can see, in this digital age there are so many ways for children to access books. Children have the ability to listen to stories read in a variety of ways. There should be something they can enjoy right at their fingertips. Of course, once they fall in love with one story, they may want to hear it over and over and over again!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

7 Thanksgiving books for kids

Thanksgiving day is coming soon! Before it's time to eat the turkey, we are diving into a few favorite Thanksgiving picture books. The first two books are good for explaining the historical part of Thanksgiving to older preschoolers through elementary aged learners. The last two are funny turkey stories for the same age group. At the end of the post, there are some great books for even younger toddlers and preschoolers. In the past, I've used those books to focus on being thankful. I'm excited to introduce more about history of Thanksgiving with my four year old this year. If you are looking for more holiday books, check out my holiday children's books on ready-set-read.

thanksgiving books for kids, holiday children's books

Thanksgiving Books for Kids

Thanksgiving books for kids, Thanksgiving Day, Anne Rockwell Thanksgiving Day by Anne Rockwell This story begins with a question to the child, "Do you know why we celebrate Thanksgiving?" Then the book paints a picture of the first Thanksgiving. In the story, a teacher reads a book to her class about the first Thanksgiving while the class prepares and puts on a play about the story. There are pictures illustrations depicting the teacher's storybook as well as pictures of young children dressed up as the various characters. This approach makes the book intriguing for young kids while providing a glimpse of history. This seems to be a fairly historically accurate representation of the first Thanksgiving. The story ends by connecting the first Thanksgiving to some of our traditions today. This is my favorite book for introducing the historical story of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving books for kids, T is for Turkey T is for Turkey by Tanya Lee Stone In this story, an elementary school puts on a play that tells the true facts about thanksgiving. The story is told in the format of an alphabet book with rhyming couplets. It introduces a lot of vocabulary like colonists,Wampanoag tribe, Massasoit, pilgrims, pompion (I had to look that one up!), squanto, and venison. The pictures are cartoonish but engaging. The book could be used to orally tell the Thanksgiving story to a young child.  It even dispells some popular myths of the first Thanksgiving- like how the Pilgrims dressed and what they might have actually eaten.

Thanksgiving books for kids, A Turkey for Thanksgiving, Eve Bunting A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting The story begins with a paper turkey gracing Mrs. Moose's table. When she tells Mr. Moose that she'd love to have a real turkey for Thanksgiving, he sets out to find the real thing. He is joined by his friends rabbit, goat, sheep, and porcupine. With his friends to help, Mr. Moose finds the perfect, fat turkey and takes him home to Mrs. Moose. The turkey is terrified until Mrs. Moose offers him a chair. She wants him as a guest for Thanksgiving, not as a meal! When I checked this book out at the library, an older librarian noticed my selection. She was so excited to see this book getting checked out. She told me, "I've been reading that book for years and years and every kid that hears it, love it." That's a pretty top-notch review!

Thanksgiving Books for Kids, Gracias the Thanksgiving Turkey, Joy Cowley Gracias The Thanksgiving Turkey by Joy Cowley  Miguel's father, a truck driver, sends him a turkey to fatten up for Thanksgiving along with a promise to be home to help eat the turkey.Gradually, Miguel and the turkey, Gracias, become friends.In fact, Miguel gets so worried about Gracias, he even takes him to church and has him blessed by the priest! The family decides the must now eat chicken for Thanksgiving because no one wants to eat a blessed pet! However, Miguel still worries if his father will make it home for Thanksgiving.

Other Thanksgiving books we've read:

Thanksgiving Mice by Bethany Roberts
Thanksgiving is Here by Diane Goode
Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks by Margaret Sutherland

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

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Virtual Book Club for Kids November

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It's time to announce the November author for the Virtual Book Club for Kids. This month we will be featuring books from a wonderful author and illustrator, Tomie DePaola. I have loved seeing your the ideas that are linked up each month in the Virtual Book Club for kids. We have a great resource for teaching books by many fantastic authors.
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Everyone is welcome to participate in the November Virtual Book Club

1. Comment below and let me know you'll be joining us for the book club this month.
2. Choose a book by Tomie dePaola and read it to your class or family. Here is Tomie dePaola's author page on Amazon
3. Create a book activity to go with the book (craft, activity, cooking project, etc)
4. Come back and link it up on November 19th. The linky will be live for 3 weeks so feel free to add more than one project or link up later.
I hope you pick a Tomie dePaola book and join us on November 19th  as we share wonderful books and activities.

Here are the other bloggers who are participating in hosting the book club

Friday, November 2, 2012

President Craft, Book, and Writing Activity

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Logan (my four year old) made this cute president craft yesterday at preschool to remind mom and dad to go vote! Now that he is four... and a half... I feel that it is  appropriate to introduce concepts about our country in simple ways. For instance, he has learned to say the Pledge of Allegiance at school. We have talked briefly about the role of the President of the United States. We have even talked about voting and I have taken him to the polling place with me. In very simple ways, he can now understand the idea of voting for a person who has good qualities. I can be President Too! is a good book about Presidents and would be a great choice this election season.

I can be President Too! by Yanitzia Canetti is a wonderful election themed book for preschool through early elementary.  The book features fourteen children who all share a paragraph explaning why he or she would make a good president. The children who are featured are very diverse. Each child also represents a character trait like generous, honest, determined, etc. This would be a wonderful book for character education as well.

This book would also be a great mentor text to use when explaining simple persuasive paragraphs. I have created a free election themed writing activity to use with this book. In this activity, students will use a flag themed graphic organizer to plan a paragraph. The student will share why he or she would make a wonderful president. Students will use the prewriting graphic organizer to compose a persuasive paragraph with a topic sentence and four supporting details.

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You can get this FREE in my Teachers Pay Teachers store! Don't forget to follow my store for more great freebies. I plan on release a big freebie when I hit 100 followers!

Here's Where I am sharing:

The Sunday Showcase, The Learning Laboratory Book Sharing Monday, Hey Mom! Look What I DidKids Co-op, What My Child is ReadingFree Literacy Resources