Read Alouds – January 2017

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A couple of days  ago, I shared what I had been reading. Naturally, I have been sharing wonderful books with my kiddos, too! Although not as much as I would like.

We have three “groupings” of read alouds currently: Picture Books for my young ones, Chapter Read Aloud for the Younger Half, and Family Read Aloud. Trust me; my big kiddos still gather round for the picture books or snatch them later.

Picture Books

Bear Counts – Several months ago I read Bear Colors. My two year old loved it.  Loved it. So when I saw Bear Counts at the library I grabbed it for him. Yes, he loved this one, too.. I’m not sure if it is the colorful illustrations, the cuddly bear, or the rhyming text but he enjoys it. Fun, colorful, and cute.

The Bear Who Couldn’t Sleep (Caroline Nastro) – Bear just can’t get to sleep! He decides to take a walk and enjoys the sights of the big city. Will bear ever be ready to snuggle up for the winter? Hibernation and New York City are clearly focal points here. It was not a favorite selection. We read it once and that seemed enough for the kiddos.

A Greyhound, A  Groundhog (Emily Jenkins) – This is a tongue twister book and I have a kiddo who loves them so I just had to request it. Well, I also like groundhogs so this had to be a win, right? Simple text partnered with simple illustrations made for a fun read. The animals are just cute! When I read it aloud my children were eager to see me get a bit tongue tied. While I didn’t get tongue tied we did enjoy this. As my nine year old pointed out “it would be a better tongue twister if you didn’t have pages to turn”. She is correct. Having to turn the pages after just a few words made this an easy one to read. However, you could easily use the book to memorize the tongue twister and then practice saying it quickly. Perfect!  Fun memory work!

Out of the Woods: A True Story of an Unforgettable Event (Rebecca Bond)-  This book made it home based purely on its cover. A hotel on the edge of a lake was a temporary home to a variety of personalities in the year 1914. The author’s grandfather was five and enjoyed the excitement such an assortment of people brought through the doors. Bond paints a vivid picture with her words of what life was like for Antonio at his hotel. That picture is enhanced with detailed pen and ink illustrations. A fire begins in the woods and those in the hotel head to the lake for safety. They soon are joined by the various animals of the woods that are seeking safety as well. This was an excellent book and my children found it very engaging. Highly recommend!

Younger Kid Read Aloud

We are currently reading the The Railway Children ( E Nesbit). We started it some time ago but with holidays and sickness we have made slow progress.  I don’t want my younger ones to miss out on the favorites I read to my older kiddos years ago. So I try to read books such as this during the morning or at lunch. Often my older ones will join us. Makes me heart smile.

Family Read Alouds

We finished up Ember Falls (S. D. Smith) a couple of weeks ago. My family thoroughly enjoyed The Green Ember and were eager for Book Two to be available. It was great to be back with Heather, Picket, Smalls, and my seven year old’s favorite, Helmer. The feel of Ember Falls was a bit heavier but that reflects well the trouble and hardship that is facing  our rabbit friends. As always, I recommend Smith’s books; they are exciting, adventurous stories with great characters. And I do hope that Smith is working on Book Three.

Our current family read aloud is The City of Ember (Jeanne DuPrau). This is the story of two children, Lina and Doon, who live in the city of Ember. Ember is an underground city built 200 years before by the Builders. Things are not going well in Ember as supplies are running out and no ones seems to care. Lina and Doon work together using  pieces of instructions left by the Builders to find a way to save the people of Ember. We are over halfway through this book and the children are eager to see how this all ends. When we began reading it, I was reminded a bit of The Giver (Lois Lowry). The purpose behind the two communities was different but  there are similarities in the people and their mindset. I am looking forward to a bit of discussion with my older people.

As we head into February, I want to do better are reading to my little ones. I have to purpose to take a moment, slow down from the busyness, and just enjoy a few good book with my young ones. And I need to start looking for the next family read aloud?

Thanks to Amy at Hope is the Word for  letting us join her in the Read Aloud Roundup!

 

New Books on the Way!

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In an effort to live in denial about how far behind I am on sharing what I have read this year, I decided to share a few new books that are on the way! I am always on the look out for new reads for the many book devourers that live in my house. Lately I have had a challenging time finding picture books for my younger crew. But! I happened to stumble across a few that I think my kiddos will enjoy.

 

We have all enjoyed the first two books in Jon Klassen’s Hat Trilogy Series: I Want My Hat Back and This is Not My Hat. The final book in this trilogy, We Found a Hat,  will be available on October 11th.

My library has it on order and I have already put in a request for it. While the books are marketed for the 4-8 year old range, you will likely find yourself smiling and enjoying a chuckle or two. A little humor, a bit of mischief, and some great characters make these excellent for the book basket.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie…is always a favorite picture book read aloud in our house. I am fairly confident that my kiddos and I could recite this book.  I might have been a wee bit excited to see that Laura Numeroff has a new book to add to this series: If You Give a Mouse a Brownie.

This is to be released October 18th and yes, my library has it on order and I have it requested. I think we will definitely have to whip up a batch of brownies when we read this one!

And another favorite author is Sandra Boynton. Love having her board books in a basket for my youngest book lovers. I must confess that Barnyard Dance might be my favorite. There is a new board book to add to your collection!

Dinosaur Dance was released yesterday, August 30th. I might have to toss this one in my cart to purchase because my library doesn’t even have it on order!!  It will make a great stocking stuffer for someone in my house.

Are there any new books you are looking forward to sharing with your children? Or even new books for yourself? Please let me know. I am always eager to add to our book stash!

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Talking Shapes – Early Literacy Resource Review

It seems that the current trend in the American education system is to begin pushing academics at younger ages each year. I am a firm supporter in the value of young children playing and exploring their world instead of sitting at a desk. However, as a mom with a wide age range of children, I have young ones who want to “do school” like their older siblings. While my four year old daughter does not sit down for formal learning each day, we do have opportunities for her to add to her knowledge in more structures ways.

Over the past few weeks we have been reviewing an early literacy resource from Talking Fingers Inc. Talking Shapes: A Supplemental Curriculum for Early Literacy is an online learning tool that gives exposure to young children (around 4 – 5 years of age) of letters, their sounds, and how those work together to form words, sentences, and stories.

**Please note that the above link takes you to the Talking Shapes: A Supplemental Curriculum for Early Literacy App. We did not review the app for this program but the online version.

Talking Shapes is a series of seven stories, told by two sisters, that introduces the 40 phonemes in the English language. To help children remember the phonemes, picture cues are used such as: cat for the letter C, hat for the letter H, and fox for the letter F. There are activities included to help with review and practice: drawing the letters, a game to recognize specific sounds/letters, and popping  balloons that match a word in the story.

Our Experience with Talking Shapes

When we received Talking Shapes a few weeks ago, my initial plan was to have Martha use the resource two – three times a week for about 10-15 minutes. Martha is 4.5 and has had no formal literacy instruction. This seemed like a fun, low pressure way for her to become familiar with letters and sounds. Unfortunately we have had a few issues with the program that have hindered much enjoyment or learning with Talking Shapes.

One aspect of the program is having the child draw the letters on the screen. A touch screen is recommended for this activity which seems a logical choice. I grabbed my Kindle Fire to pull up the online resource and it failed to load. I contacted Talking Shapes for tech support and was told:

“The Talking Shapes app will run on a desktop/laptop computer running MacOSX or Windows.  It will not run on mobile devices based on iOS or Android.  That’s why it doesn’t come up on your Android based Kindle fire.”

Since the only touch screens we have in our home are Kindle Fires this was disappointing but decided we could work around that and still benefit from the program. However, we continued to have technical issues. After being unable to load Talking Shapes on my computer, it was recommended to install Chrome. Instead of installing Chrome on my laptop (which is a bit outdated and running on Vista), I used another computer in our home that already had Chrome installed.

Every time Martha and I signed in to Talking Shapes it would take at least 10 – 15 minutes to load. I was concerned at first that it was an internet speed issue on my end but  it appears to be related to Talking Shapes. We are able to use other online learning resources, stream videos/movies, etc with no such delay time. It was a bit frustrating at first but I simply signed in and didn’t call Martha to the computer until it had fully loaded.

Not being about to use our Kindle Fires made the drawing the letters portion of the program basically useless. In theory, you should be able to use your mouse to “write” the letters. While Martha does have excellent fine motor skills for her age, she found writing the letters with the mouse difficult and frustrating. It didn’t take us long to learn that if you wiggle the mouse around enough, the letters will fill in without you actually “writing” them. Since this portion of the program wasn’t really usable for us, we opted for writing letters on the dry erase board.

We still listened to the stories and used the other activities. Martha enjoyed having her own time to do school.  Since our goal was exposure to letters and sounds and not mastery, I think that goal has been met despite our glitches. If you are interested in using Talking Shapes: A Supplemental Curriculum for Early Literacy, I would recommend contacting Talking Fingers to make sure it will work with the computer devices in your home. Also make sure to read other reviews from Crew Members to get a broader picture of this resource.

Talking Shapes {Talking Fingers Inc. Review}
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