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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Will You Join Us For A Reading Challenge in 2012?

I'm hosting a reading challenge at Super Readers Book Club. All of the details are outlined below, I hope you will join us!

Excellence In Reading Challenge 2012

The Challenge
This is a fun reading challenge for kids in grades K-6. Parents you can get involved as well by reading these books aloud to your children. The goal is to read each book on one of these two lists by December 31, 2012.

How many books do I need to read?
There are 2 lists to choose from. The Grade K-3 list has a total of 60 books. The Grade 4-6 list has a total of 57 books. You can pick the order in which you read your books.

How do I sign up?
Visit Super Readers Book Club to sign up.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Making A Wooden Tangram

I had never heard of a tangram until I began reading homeschool blogs. I did some research and learned that tangrams are an ancient Chinese puzzle.  They consist of 7 pieces, called tans, made of geometric shapes. There is one square, 2 small triangles, 1 medium triangle, 2 larger triangles, and 1 parallelogram. The object is to create shapes using all 7 tans. The tans must lay flat and each piece must touch but none may overlap.

In my research I found an interesting interactive tangram puzzle at National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. I challenged Alexis to play and we had a lot of fun. There are mathematical benefits to tangrams. The experts say using tangrams helps you to gain a better understanding of geometry and spatial skills.

Since Alexis enjoyed the interactive game I decided to make her a wooden tangram puzzle.


 For mine, I used a scrap piece of wood found in my basement and cut it to 6 inches square. I created grid lines every 1.5 inches. Look at this tutorial on making a tangram for a more detailed explanation. (Foam sheets would work for this project as well.)


After I got all of my pieces cut, I painted each piece of my puzzle just to make it look a little nicer. You can see I also made a puzzle booklet of shapes to create with my tangram puzzle using these tangram templates


This is a cat I made with my puzzle pieces. Ok...thanks for reading about my tangram...I'm off to see if this homemade gift will impress my 7 year old.

**Just an afterthought...if you were to make 2 puzzles you could challenge an opponent to see who could make the desired shape the fastest.



Christmas Book Advent Days 17,18, 19, 20


Who's That Knocking on Christmas Eve? by Jan Brett
A Christmas book with trolls, what fun. Every year trolls invade Kyri's house and eat up her Christmas feast. This year the trolls have a surprise awaiting them, a big polar bear!


Baboushka by Arthur Sholey
 A Russian folktale, about a village where  everyone is talking about the new bright shining star in the sky, except Baboushka who is too busy cleaning her house. Three men, who are following the star, in search of a new baby King, ask Baboushka to join them on their journey. Baboushka is too busy cleaning, and refuses the offer. Later, Baboushka is filled with regret, so she sets off to Bethlehem with a bag of toys in search of the new born King. When she arrives, it is too late for the newborn is no longer there. Baboushka continues searching for the new King.

Christmas In Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren
This is a story of six children growing up in a small village in Sweden.

Christmas Is Coming by Claire Masurel
Juliette and her stuffed animals prepare for Christmas by baking goodies and trimming the tree. 










Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Book Advent Days 14, 15, 16

Christmas City: A Look Again Book by Michael Garland
Tommy's receives an invitation from Aunt Jeanne that sends him on an amazing adventure to Christmas City. A flying cab is awaiting to whisk Tommy away. On the journey, Tommy finds riddles left by Aunt Jeanne that will guide him to his final destination. 

This book is full of hidden pictures and words. We had to get out our pencil and paper to keep track of all of our findings. 

Sadie and the Snowman by Allen Morgan
Sadie builds a snowman but as it begins to melt she saves as much of the snowman as she possibly can. Every time it snows, Sadie rebuilds the snowman combining new snow with the old snow. Sadie rebuilds the snowman several times throughout the winter, forming a close friendship. As spring approaches, Sadie realizes there won't be anything left of her snowman so she saves a part of him for next winter.

Reindeer Christmas by Mark Kimball Moulton
Two children and their grandmother help a weak deer that is found in the forest. They feed the deer and keep it warm nursing it back to health. On Christmas morning, a gift from Santa is awaiting them explaining how they saved Christmas.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Book Advent Days 11, 12, 13

Pippi Longstocking's After Christmas Party


Snowmen At Night


A Pussycat's Christmas


Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Book Advent Day 10


Day 10: The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
We could not wait until the night before Christmas to read this classic. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Book Advent: Day 9


Day 9: A Christmas Story by Mary Chalmers
A young girl and her animal friends Hilary Cat and Emily Dog decorate a Christmas tree together. The star is missing and a Christmas tree is not complete without a star on top. The girl searches the area for a star and finds one in an unexpected way.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Book Advent: Day 8


Day 8: An Angel Just Like Me by Mary Hoffman
While decorating the Christmas tree, Tyler discovers the Angel tree topper is broken. Examining the angel Tyler wonders why he has never seen an angel that looks like him. Determined to find a black angel, Tyler searches the stores in the mall but cannot find any black angels. On Christmas Day, a surprise gift arrives at Tyler's door.

This is a great book that deals with questions that I'm sure many kids have. What color are the angels? Santa Claus? Jesus? When we finished reading this book, I asked Alexis some questions.
Me: "What color do you think angels are?"
Alexis: "I think angels are white."
Me: "Why?"
Alexis: "I just think that is the proper color for angels."
Me: "I think angels come in all colors."
She agreed  that angels are probably all colors.




Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Book Advent: Day 7

It is day 7 of our Christmas Book Advent and we are enjoying it so much.  All of our books are spread out underneath the Christmas tree and Alexis chooses one book to read each night. This system is working out very well for us. 


Day 7: If You Take A Mouse To The Movies by Laura Numeroff  
If you take a mouse to the movies, he'll ask for popcorn. Then he will want to string the popcorn. Now that mouse has a string of popcorn he will want a tree. The snow outside makes mouse think of snowmen and leads to a snowball fight. The story continues on until it brings him back to wanting popcorn again.
My daughter likes this book...me...not so much. Alexis's favorite part is the illustrations of the mouse in his green underpants adorned with candy canes, she finds this hilarious and I would have to agree. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Reading A Book A Day 'til Christmas: Book Advent Days 1-6

This Christmas our family is trying something new...a book Advent! Each night until Christmas we will read one Christmas book before bed. We fly by the seat of our pants in this family...so we did not use any official start date. I have not had the time to make any daily posts so I will list the books we have read so far. Perhaps, I can get on a daily schedule for our book Advent but I'm not going to hold my breath.

Day 1: Noel's Christmas Secret by Gregoire Solotareff  
We kicked off our book Advent with this French book that has been translated to English. This book is about a young boy named Noel and how he became Santa Claus.

Day 2: The Bears' Christmas by Stan and Jan Berenstain  
After opening gifts on Christmas Day, Daddy Bear takes his son out to play with his new skis, sled, and ice skates. Daddy bear has a few funny mishaps along the way but his son loves the lessons and has a great time. 

Day 3: How The Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss
You absolutely cannot go through the Christmas season without reading this classic book by Dr. Seuss. This is one of Alexis's faves and she loves the cartoon movie version as well. The Grinch HATES Christmas. He dresses himself like Santa Claus and  his dog as a reindeer and sets off for Who-ville, to steal everyones Christmas presents and trees. He even steals their food in an effort to keep Christmas from coming...but the Grinch's plan doesn't work. Christmas is here and the Who's are still happy...joyful even. The Grinch realizes that presents don't make Christmas...perhaps Christmas means a little more. We just love this book.

Day 4: God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergren
Little Cub asks his mama "Who 'vented Christmas? Was it Santa?" Mama explains to Little Cub how God gave us Christmas. To answer Cub's questions they go on a little journey to find God. Everywhere they go they find God, in the glaciers, the northern lights, and in the stars. And finally, they find Jesus the best present of all. 

Day 5: The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
The Polar Express is another favorite. We watch the movie every year but this was my first time reading the book. This is a wonderful story about the magic of Christmas.

Day 6: Beany Wakes Up For Christmas by Lisa Bassett
Scamp squirrel prepares for a Christmas celebration and for the day he gets to wake up his best friend Beany Bear. A story of friendship and love.




Visit Mouse Grows Mouse Learns to see what others are reading.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Blueberries For Sal

Blueberries For Sal by Robert McCloskey - A truly charming little book about a girl named Sal and her mother who go to Blueberry Hill to pick blueberries for canning. With the use of onomatopoeias, you can hear the blueberries hitting the bottom of Sal's tin pail...kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk! Blueberries For Sal is full of black and white illustrations that really gives this book that vintage feel. The beginning illustration brings back fond memories of my great grandmother's kitchen. I read this to my 7 year old daughter. She enjoyed it and recalls watching a film about it in Kindergarten.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Junie B. First Grader Jingle Bells, Batman Smells! (P.S. So Does May)


Junie B. First Grader Jingle Bells, Batman Smells! (P.S. So Does May) by Barbara Park

For our nightly ritual of reading aloud, Alexis picked this Junie B. First Grader book.  Junie B. and her classmate May just do not get along well together. They love to bicker and argue back and forth, while disrupting Mr. Scary's first grade classroom. It is the season of goodwill and Mr. Scary's first grade class must pick names for their Secret Santa gift. When Mr. Scary reaches Junie B., there is only one name left, and that name is May! Junie B. is shocked and angry because she does not want to buy a gift for that dumb old May. Mr. Scary tells Junie B. that doing good for someone you dislike is the truest form of goodwill. 

At the secret Santa Shop, Junie B. spies a Burp In A Bag on the $5 table. She really really wants to buy the Burp In A Bag for herself but she does not have enough money. Junie B.'s parent already gave her $5, but that money is just enough to buy each person in her family a gift at $1 each. Junie B. talks her grampa Miller into giving her another $5, so now she has enough to get the Burp In A Bag. But what about May's gift? She still needs $1 more but no one will give Junie B. any more money, so Junie B. decides that she will give May a piece of charcoal for her Christmas gift. 

May is getting more and more excited as Christmas approaches and cannot wait until the class exchanges their Secret Santa gifts. May tells Junie B. there is nothing she can do that will ruin this day for her. Junie B. sees how happy May is and wonders how May will react when she sees the coal in her gift bag. Is Junie B. feeling guilty? It is time to exchange gifts and Junie B. panics, has she made the right decision?

So far, this has been my favorite Junie B. story.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Invitation To Review K5 Learning

I just learned about this amazing and exciting opportunity to review K5 Learning  from Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns


K5 Learning has an online reading and math program for kindergarten to grade 5 students.  I've been given a 6 week free trial to test and write a review of their program.  If you are a blogger, you may want to check out their  open invitation to write an online learning review of their program.



Friday, November 18, 2011

What My Child Is Reading - November 18

 
Yard Sale -This was a book that Alexis chose for her Read To Feed project. Spudville is a quiet neighborhood where everyone keeps to themselves. One day Mr. Flotsam has a yard sale and out of curiosity the neighbors come and buy up all of the seemingly normal goods. The next day strange things happen to all of the goods. Mr. Rotelli bought a pasta maker that didn't have an off button and his house is filled with pasta. Mrs. Applebee's telephone is ringing with calls from her ancestors. At first the towns people are upset over their purchases but come to appreciate the gifts that each purchase brings. The magical purchases unite the townspeople and as a result creates a thriving community.

The Zack Files Don't Count On Dracula - This weeks read aloud was a funny tale of a boy named Zack and his friend Spencer who enter and win a contest to have dinner with the famous actor Mella Bugosi, a horror film star with a thick Transylvanian accent. Zack notices very strange things about Mella Bugosi, he avoids sunlight, sleeps in a coffin, and has V8 Juice labeled with blood types. Is Bugosi a vampire or is it all a part of his act.

Bringing The Rain To Kapiti Plain - This is an African Folktale from the country of Kenya. The Kapiti Plain was beautiful and green until a long period of drought caused all of the grass to dry up and die. All of the wild animals migrated elsewhere in search for food and water. Kipat, a local herdsmen and his cattle waited daily for the looming rain cloud to produce rain. The cows mooed for the rain to fall from the sky. As each day goes by, the cows grow weaker and skinnier. One day Kipat makes an arrow, from a feather that falls near him, and shoots the rain cloud causing it to burst open and rain.  With the rain, the brown grass turned green again giving new life to the plains and all of the animals that needed it for survival. 
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