Wednesday, November 30, 2011

5 Fantastic & Free Early Literacy Resources: Guest Blog from Bob Books

As a teacher, I used Bob Books very successfully to support my students’ developing reading skills. When I discovered the Bob Books Blog, I was thrilled. Although I’m no longer in the classroom, I’m still passionate about literacy and I know the people of Bob Books are too.

I’m delighted that Bob Books has given me permission to reprint the following blog, which was originally posted on September 16, 2011.

5 Fantastic & Free Early Literacy Resources
Now that fall has arrived, you might be thinking about how you can get your hands on some learning to read resources that will enhance or supplement what your child is being introduced to at preschool or school. Here are five terrific early literacy authorities worth looking into. Best part? They’re free!

A wealth of early childhood reading resources is as close and accessible as your local public library! Go in-person and meet with a librarian to discuss what you’re looking for and address your child’s specific needs, or, since most libraries are now online, login to check your library’s list of resources. While you’re there, take a peek at the monthly calendar to find out about children’s story times and special events.

With a vested interest in student achievement and early literacy, The Department of Education has some wonderfully useful guides and learning to read resources for parents, such as:
Helping Your Child Become a Reader:  PDF with fun activities parents can use to build children’s language skills. The guide includes a reading checklist, age group developmental milestones, book suggestions, and resources for children with reading problems or learning disabilities.
Reading Tips for Parents: This guide can help you understand the components of reading theory, sort out various early reading programs and obtain tips for things you can do at home to boost reading skills.
Eager to Learn: Educating Our Preschoolers: Suggestions for improving early childhood education in preschool, day care, and at home.
Put Reading First: Helping Your Child Learn to Read, A Parent Guide: Another guide for parents with information and tips on creating better readers at home and at school.
National Institute for Literacy Publications: A thorough list of publications for families and educators to help improve reading instruction for children, youth, and adults.
Starting Out Right: A Guide to Promoting Children’s Reading Success:  How children learn to read and how adults can help them.

Did you know that every year, 35% of American children start kindergarten without the language skills they need to learn to read? Literacy skills are an important part of a child’s health and well-being.
The AAPP includes helpful downloads including a patient guide for parents called How Can I Help My Child Learn to Read and a Literacy Toolkit that offers book lists, health literacy information and handouts.

Get Ready to Read! (GRTR), an initiative of the National Center for Learning Disabilities  is a national program focused on building early literacy skills of preschool children. GRTR brings research strategies, information and other resources to parents, preschools and caregivers. The translations section includes skill-building activities in Chinese, Arabic, Korean and Spanish. The website also offers screening tools if you are concerned about your child’s literacy development

Still haven’t found what you’re looking for or want something specifically in your area? Check out the literacy directory, which allows you to customize your search, based on zip code and types of programs.

Did we miss any? Be sure to let us know.
–posted by Allison Ellis
Republished with permission from Bob Books

Thank you, Bob Books for generously allowing me to reprint this blog!

Monday, November 28, 2011

The 12 Days of Christmas: Books for the Whole Family

The 12 Days of Christmas celebrates the 12 days between December 25th and Epiphany on January 6th. Knowing this, you’d think I’d wait and post this after Christmas, right? Well… I considered waiting, but this topic seemed like the perfect introduction to the Christmas season, so I decided to post it this week.

I love comparing and contrasting books with the same story, or in this case, the same song. I hope you’ll find a few you enjoy and then share with your family.

The Twelve Days of Christmas illustrated by Jan Brett
Like all of Jan Brett’s books, this book has delightful illustrations surrounded by borders of more delightful illustrations that tell a complementary story. Beautiful.

The 12 Days of Christmas illustrated by Rachel Isadora
The text is traditional but the wonderfully lively illustrations are set in Africa. At the end is the author's note about some of the African traditions depicted.

The 12 Days of Christmas illustrated by Tad Hills
Anita Pig’s boyfriend brings her the traditional gifts on each of the 12 days of Christmas. The gifts keep accumulating, filling her house to overflowing. This lift-the-flap book is charming.

The 12 Days of Christmas illustrated by Linnea Asplind Riley
Each bold cut-paper illustration beautifully fills each page. In the end, all the gifts crowd into a giant fold-out spread that defies counting.

The Twelve Days of Christmas illustrated by Dorothée Duntze
The illustrations are lovely and often rather funny. My favorite is the eight maid a-milking.

The Twelve Days of Christmas illustrated by David Delamare
All the illustrations feature animals, all dressed and with terrific expressions on their faces. The polar bear maidens milking cows is a hoot. In the last pages, there is information on the signs and symbols of Christmas, which the illustrator has hidden throughout the book.

The Twelve Days of Christmas in New York City by Lisa Adams
This is a really terrific book. On the left side of each page spread is a letter written by the narrator, telling her all about her visit with her cousin Daniel in NYC. The right page has a joyful illustration of each of the 12 days of her visit. The opening line gives you an idea: On the first day of Christmas, my cousin gave to me…a pigeon in a Central Park tree.

The Twelve Days of Christmas Dogs by Carolyn Conahan
The first verse gives you an idea: On the first day of Christmas, my best friend gave to me…a pug puppy under the tree. And how about six pooches playing, seven splashy swimmers, ten labs a-leaping. A perfect book for a dog lover!

Twelve Hidden Days of Christmas illustrated by Macky Pamintuan
The text is changed just a bit – On the first day of Christmas, Santa hid for me… – but the changes have created a fun hidden-pictures book. By the last days of Christmas, there’s a lot to look for!

More Christmas books are coming up on the next 2 Mondays! :)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Mother Goose Fun – Games and Activities

Monday's post of Mother Goose books got you started thinking about nursery rhymes and how fun they are. Today's post gives you some places to go online for more Mother Goose fun.

Mary Mary     Hard!

DLTK Coloring, Crafts and Activities  Scroll down to the nursery rhymes section.

I'll have more Mother Goose books and activities in January. Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Guest Blog: Discussing Quotes to Promote Literacy

Today's post comes from Steve Reifman. Steve has a new book, Changing Kids’ Lives One Quote at a Time: 121 Inspirational Sayings to Build Character in Children. Below, he shares some terrific ways to use quotes at home to promote literacy.
Discussing Quotes to Promote Literacy 
For the past fifteen years of my teaching career, I have incorporated the use of quotes into my classroom’s morning routine to inspire my students, start the day on a positive note, and build lasting habits of character. Discussing well-known sayings brings out the best in children and helps them focus on important ideas. It is my enthusiasm for this exercise and my firm belief in its effectiveness that led me to write my new book, Changing Kids‘ Lives One Quote at a Time: 121 Inspirational Sayings to Build Character in Children.

In addition to its character-building mission, our “Quote of the Day” conversations also offer a powerful way to promote literacy. When I speak of literacy, I am referring to the specific skills of reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking.

In its pure form the discussion begins when a student volunteer reads the “Quote of the Day” on the board. It is critical at this time to provide approximately thirty seconds of “wait time” so each child can then think about the quote, make sense of it, and perhaps even come up with an example of how the quote’s meaning applies to everyday life or connects to a habit of character.

To maximize student participation, the kids follow this “quiet think time” with a brief pair-share, in which each child has an opportunity both to express ideas and listen carefully to the partner’s thoughts. Next, a few volunteers share their interpretations of the quote’s meaning with the entire class. 

Finally, I close the activity by sharing some thoughts of my own. Whenever possible, I like to share a personal story that brings out the quote’s meaning in a deeper way. Storytelling is a powerful teaching strategy, and kids are likely to remember the stories and the lessons they contain for a long time to come.

Parents can follow the basic outline of this procedure when discussing quotes at home with their children. In addition, there are several ways that parents can modify this conversational structure to strengthen literary development.
  • Put one quote per day or week in your child’s lunch and discuss the quote’s meaning after school. Reading a quote at lunchtime is a novel experience for children, and the timing provides kids with several hours to think about the quote to prepare for the evening discussion, which can take place on the ride home, at the dinner table, or at bedtime. For example, with R. Herzog’s quote, “It is better to light a candle than complain about the darkness,” it may take children a while to figure out that the saying is telling them to adopt a problem solving attitude when life’s inevitable frustrations arise, not complain about them.
  • Analyze quotes for excellent word choice or interesting word play. In Rudy Benton’s quote, “7 days without exercise makes one weak,” discuss with your child how the word “weak” is spelled. The quote isn’t referring to a week on the calendar, but to the fact that if we don’t exercise, we will become weak.
  • Consider writing a quote or a set of quotes on your child’s placemat and discuss these sayings during a healthy breakfast. Over cereal and fruit, you and your child can discuss Bonnie Hopper’s quote, “The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little EXTRA!” Together, you can talk about how consistently giving that extra effort in school, in sports, and other endeavors can make a huge difference in the long run.
  • If you’re trying to sharpen your child’s writing skills, consider using quotes for journal writing. Simply choose a quote and ask your child to respond to it using one of the prompts listed below. (More prompts are provided in Changing Kids‘ Lives One Quote at a Time.)
    • Describe a time when you or someone you know demonstrated the main idea of this quote.
    • What do you think this quote means? Give examples.
    • Why do you think the speaker said this quote in the first place?
    • Describe how you can use the meaning of this quote to help others.
    • Describe how this quote can help you get along more effectively with other people.
  • For example, with Vince Lombardi’s quote, “If you'll not settle for anything less than your best, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish in your lives,” children may address the first prompt by describing a time when they finished a writing assignment at school and then continued to revise it to improve the story’s word choice and sentence structure, rather than put it away because they simply wanted to be done.
  • Choose a quote and ask your child to say whether (s)he agrees or disagrees with its meaning and then explain why. This type of exercise builds the critical thinking skill of evaluation (the highest level on the well-known Bloom’s taxonomy) and develops persuasive speaking skills. For example, when considering John Hancock’s quote, “The greatest ability in business is to get along with others,” a child may choose to disagree and argue that knowing how to do one’s job with knowledge and skill is more important than getting along with other people. This would likely lead to a very interesting conversation.
Discussing quotes with children is a powerful, engaging way to build character in children and develop valuable literacy skills. I hope you decide to give it a try.

Steve’s Bio:
Steve Reifman is a National Board Certified elementary school teacher in Santa Monica, CA. He is also the acclaimed author of several books, including his new book for parents and teachers, Changing Kids’ Lives One Quote at a Time: 121 Inspirational Sayings to Build Character in Children. More information about the book, endorsement statements, and a sample quote can be found at Steve's website, Teaching the Whole Child. Both the e-book and paperback versions of the book are now available for sale on Steve's website, and they will soon be available at all major online bookstores.

Many thanks to Steve for sharing with us today. If you have comments or questions for Steve, please write them in the Comments box.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mother Goose Forever! Nursery Rhymes for All! Part 1

Mother Goose is for babies, right? Wrong! Although I’ve listed some books that have straight-ahead nursery rhymes, the bulk of the books included are definitely not the traditional type. All the books are picture books (not just for little ones!) or picture story books. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Mary Engelbreit’s Mother Goose by Mary Engelbreit
This is quite a complete collection with 100 rhymes. Each page is illustrated by Mary Engelbreit’s wonderful pictures.

Mother Goose Picture Puzzles by Will Hillenbrand
20 well-known rhymes are written in rebus form. That is, key words (cat, pail, spider…) are represented by small pictures. The beauty of this book is the rebuses are labeled in each illustration, as a kind of mini dictionary.

Teddy Bears’ Mother Goose by Michael Hague
If you like teddy bears, this book is for you! Each of the 55 rhymes has at least one bear in it, always in the wonderful illustrations and often in the rhymes themselves. This little teddy went to market… Little Bear Blue.

Mamá Goose: A Latino Nursery Treasury by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy, illustrated by Maribel Suárez
If you are a Spanish-English speaking home, this book is just for you. It presents well-known Spanish nursery rhymes and then translates them into English. Don't speak Spanish? No matter - the rhymes are a delight for everyone to discover.

Previously by Allan Ahlberg, illustrated by Bruce Ingman
I love everything about this book: the backwards story line (incredibly clever), the illustrations (very funny), the main idea (how various nursery rhymes and fairy tales can be connected) – I even love the font (perfectly easy to read)!

The Neat Line by Pamela Duncan Edwards, illustrated by Diana Cain Bluthenthal
A young scribble practices until it becomes a straight line. It then goes on the solve the problems of Little Boy Blue, Jack and Jill and more. A super story.

The Daddy Goose Treasury by Vivian French
Ever wonder about the whole story behind the nursery rhymes? Well this book tells some pretty wild stories. Find out why the little dog laughed when the cow jumped over the moon. Discover the truth of Jack and Jill’s trek up the hill. And you’ll never guess how Dumpty was put together again.

The Green Mother Goose: Saving the World One Rhyme at a Time by Jan Peck and David Davis, illustrate by Carin Berger
The title tells it all. Familiar rhymes are rewritten with a green focus. Example: Jack be nimble, Jack be fun. Turn off the tap, Don’t let it run. It'd be a hoot to try writing some more, using favorite rhymes.

Truckery Rhymes by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by David Shannon, Loren Long and David Gordon
This book must have been very fun to create! Regular nursery rhymes are re-written so each one is about trucks. Example: Jack be nimble. Jack be quick. Jack smashed through the wall of brick. The illustrations are as fun as the rhymes. I wish I had this book when I was teaching!

Detective Blue by Steve Metzger, illustrated by Tedd Arnold
Little Boy Blue has become a detective in this graphic novel. He solves the mystery of the disappearance of Miss Muffet with the help of his nursery rhyme friends. Did you know there was a connection between Miss Muffet and Goldilocks? Me neither!

The Web Files by Margie Palatini, illustrated by Richard Egielski
Ducktective Web and his partner try to quack the case of the pilfered peck of perfectly picked pickled peppers. With all the tongue twisters in this book, you’re definitely going to want to read this book aloud! And make sure you ask your parent (or better yet, grandparent) to tell you how to say, “DUM DE DUM DUM” and the reason for Ducktective Web’s name.

The Jolly Postman, or, Other People's Letters by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
A mail carrier delivers letters to several famous fairy-tale characters such as Cinderella, the Big Bad Wolf, and the Three Bears. One of the fun things about this book is each letter can be removed from its envelope page and read separately.

There were way too many good nursery rhyme books to include in today’s post. Stay tuned for Part 2, coming up in late December.

I hope everyone has a lovely Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving Jokes and Riddles

In my family, some of us save up jokes to tell at Thanksgiving dinner. Well actually, I’m the only one who does that, but I’m pretty sure the others like them! If you’re the dinner jokester in your family, here are some good ones for you.

Knock Knock Jokes
Knock Knock.
Who's there?
Norma Lee.
Norma Lee who?
Norma Lee I don't eat this much!

Knock Knock.
Who's there?
Phillip. Phillip who?
Phillip a big plate and dig in!

Knock Knock.
Who's there?
Tamara who?
Tamara we'll have turkey leftovers!

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Dewey who?
Dewey have to wait long to eat?

Thanksgiving Riddles
What did the mama turkey say to her naughty son?
If your papa could see you now, he'd turn over in his gravy!

If April showers bring May flowers , what do May flowers bring?

If the Pilgrims were alive today, what would they be most famous for?
Their AGE

Why can't you take a turkey to church?
Because they use such fowl language

Can a turkey jump higher than the Empire State Building?
Yes - a building can't jump at all

Why did the police arrest the turkey?
They suspected it of fowl play

What kind of tan did Pilgrims get at the beach?

What is Thanksgiving for selfish people called?

What did the turkey say to the turkey hunter?
"Quack! Quack! Quack!"

What always comes at the end of Thanksgiving?
The letter "g"!

Which side of the turkey has the most feathers?
The outside!
What are the feathers on a turkey's wings called?
Turkey feathers

Why did they let the turkey join the band?
Because he had the drumsticks

What did the turkey say before it was roasted?
Boy! I'm stuffed!

What's blue and covered with feathers?
A turkey holding its breath!

What did the farmer say to the green pumpkin?
Why orange you orange?

When the Pilgrims landed, where did they stand?
On their feet!

What's the best thing to put into a pumpkin pie?
Your teeth!

Why did the Pilgrim eat a candle?
He wanted a light snack!

What kind of music did the Pilgrims listen to?
Plymouth Rock!

***Want a big challenge? Try these 17th Century riddles from the time of the Pilgrims.
 Who is he that runneth through the hedge, his house on his back?
A snail

What is ten men's length and ten men's strength and yet ten men cannot make it stand on its end?
A rope

What is it that is full all day and empty at night?

What is it that goeth about the wood and cannot get in?
The bark of a tree

I am called by the name of man, yet am as little as the mouse, when winter comes, I love to be, with my red gorget near the house.
          A bird called robin red breast (a robin)

The jokes and riddles came from these sites:

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thanksgiving Literacy Part 3: Cooking

Cooking with kids is the perfect literacy activity. You research ideas, read and follow directions, experience family closeness (at least most the time :)) and then you get to eat! What could be better!

You may already have your own holiday cooking traditions. Please share them in the Comments box below!

Here are some ideas I've come across. See if any of them will suit your family.

Disney Family

Kids Cooking Activities

Family Fun Magazine

Food Network

I hope your Thanksgiving is restful, yummy and full of blessings.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Celebrate Thanksgiving with Books Part 3

This is my last post about Thanksgiving books. As always, my book research has led me to read lots of books I hadn't read before. I hope you enjoy them! See Part 1 and Part 2 for more.

The Thanksgiving Door by Debby Atwell
After burning their Thanksgiving dinner, an old couple head for the local café. The café is closed but the immigrant family who owns the restaurant welcomes them to dinner. Their celebration is full of food, music and dancing. In the end, the couple is grateful they burned their dinner. This is a properly thankful Thanksgiving story.

Thank You, Sarah by Laurie Halse Anderson, illustrated by Matt Faulkner
In the early 1800s, Thanksgiving was celebrated in some states but not all. At least not until Sarah Hale, a magazine editor and author, persuaded President Lincoln to transform Thanksgiving Day into a national holiday. It took lots of persistence and work for her to make it happen, but she did it!

The Firefighters’ Thanksgiving by Maribeth Boelts, illustrated by Terry Widener
A group of firefighters work to cook a Thanksgiving dinner. But calls to fires, an injured friend, and cooking disasters mess up their cooking. What will they do?

Celebrate Thanksgiving by Deborah Heiligman
This book describes the history of Thanksgiving and how it is celebrated in the United States. With large print and lots of photographs, it’s a fun book to explore.

The Very First Thanksgiving Day byRhonda Gowler Greene, illustrated by Susan Gaber
This is a cumulative story in which rhyming verses tell the events leading up to the first Thanksgiving day. The structure is interesting – it starts with the dinner, traces the Pilgrims backward to England and then returns to the dinner. The paintings on each page are beautiful.

Duck for Turkey Day by Jacqueline Jules, illustrated by Kathryn Mitter
Tuyet’s Vietnamese family is having duck rather than turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. Tuyet tries to talk her family into having the traditional turkey, but she’s unsuccessful. However, when she gets back to school, she finds many of her classmates also had untraditional Thanksgiving meals.

Squanto’s Journey by Joseph Bruchac, illustrated by Greg Shed
Squanto tells about how he was captured by the British, sold into slavery in Spain, and then returned to the New World to become a guide and friend for the colonists. The story is well told and the illustrations are beautiful.

Thanksgiving by Kathryn Kyle
This is a Wonder Books Level 2 Reader. It combines a simple history of Thanksgiving with modern day Thanksgiving. If your family is doing Thanksgiving readings, this would be perfect for an early reader.

A Pioneer Thanksgiving by Barbara Greenwood, illustrated by Heather Collins
There’s something about Thanksgiving and Christmas that makes many of us want to look back in time. We wonder about how people celebrated holidays back then. This book weaves together stories, information and activities to show the life of a pioneer family at Thanksgiving. It is the second of the Pioneer Story books.

I hope each of you has a wonderful Thanksgiving. I send my blessings.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thanksgiving Games and Videos - Online

Last Friday, I gave you a bunch of games that don't need a computer. I hope you and your family found some you enjoyed. Did you have a favorite? Write it in the Comments box!

This week's Friday Fun post has online games and 2 videos about Thanksgiving.

Each of the following sites has a collection of Thanksgiving games and activities. Have fun!

The following videos came from

Check back next Friday for Thanksgiving jokes and riddles!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thanksgiving Literacy Part 2: Crafts

While compiling this collection of Thanksgiving crafts for families to do together, I concentrated (mostly) on the ones that focused on harvest, tradition and thankfulness. (See Part 1 for last week's ideas.)

Thanksgiving Collage
Collect old magazines, catalogs, and sales papers with plenty of pictures. Cut out pictures of the items you are most thankful for. Neatly mount pictures on colored paper. Beneath each picture, write the name of each item. Arrange pictures on poster, bulletin board, wall, or door.
Chain of Gratitude
Cut colored paper into one-inch strips. On each strip, write something you are thankful for. Tape or staple strips into rings and intertwine to form a "chain of gratitude." See who can form the longest chain!
Thanksgiving Certificates
List three or more people for whom you are thankful. Beside each person's name, write the things about that person for which you are thankful for. Now, create a "certificate of appreciation" to tell each person how much you appreciate him or her.

The following are from KabooseFamily CraftsDTLK and Artists Helping Children.

Next week I'll have lots of ideas for family cooking for Thanksgiving. If you send me one of your favorites in time, I'll add it!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Celebrate Thanksgiving with Books Part 2

Here are more Thanksgiving books. Next Monday, I’ll give you one more set. You can also check out last week’s Part 1.

The Thanksgiving Bowl by Virginia Knoll, illustrated by Philomena O’Neill
I love the idea of this Thanksgiving bowl. In this story, each member of a family writes an anonymous "I'm thankful for" note and places it in the Thanksgiving bowl. After the family guesses who wrote each note, the bowl is accidentally left outside. It rolls off on a year-long series of adventures.

The Perfect Thanksgiving by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Joann Adinolfi
This book tells the story of 2 families – one is perfect and one is not so perfect. Each family celebrates Thanksgiving in their own loving ways. Hooray for less-than-perfect families!

The Can-Do Thanksgiving by Marion Hess Pomeranc, illustrated by Nancy Cote
A girl is excited to help serve Thanksgiving dinner at the soup kitchen. When there’s a mishap in the kitchen, she and one of the kids being served help solve the problem.

The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh, illustrated by Helen Sewell
This book was written in 1954 – a long time ago! The text is somewhat old-fashioned and may contain some inaccuracies, but the story is told in a charming way.

How Many Days to America? A Thanksgiving Story by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Beth Peck
Refugees from a Caribbean island embark on a dangerous boat trip to America where they have a special reason to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Rivka’s First Thanksgiving by Elsa Okon Rael, illustrated by Maryann Kovalski
Rivka learns about Thanksgiving at school. But it’s a hard sell to get her immigrant family and her rabbi to agree that Thanksgiving is for all Americans, Jews and non-Jews alike. I like how Rivka approaches the problem with both strength and respect.

It’s Thanksgiving! by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Marylin Hafner
This collection of poems is just about Thanksgiving. They cover a wide range: family, the first Thanksgiving, school projects, football, turkeys, leftovers and more. It is a I Can Read Level 3 book.

Dr. Carbles is Losing His Marbles by Dan Gutman, illustrated by Jim Paillot
This is only sort of a Thanksgiving book but it’s such fun, I had to include it. When their weird but fun principal is fired for bringing a wild turkey to the school’s Thanksgiving Day assembly, A.J. and his friends plot to get him back. This is part of Dan Gutman’s My Weird School series. I look forward to reading more books from the series.

Katie Kazoo Switcheroo: Don’t Be Such a Turkey! by Nancy Krulik, illustrated by John and Wendy
Katie is a regular fourth grader, except for one thing: sometimes a magic wind switches her into a different person. In this story, Katie ends up as an actor playing a Pilgrim and later as a clown in the Thanksgiving Day parade. This is a fun book.

Have you discoovered new books that celebrate Thanksgiving? Write them in the Comments box!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Old-time Thanksgiving Games – No Computer Needed to Play!

The days around Thanksgiving often give us time to do family activities we don't always do, like playing games. Instead of pulling out Candy Land (not my favorite!), how about trying some of the games suggested on these sites...

Hub Pages (scroll down)

Did you find any good family games? Write them in the Comments box!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Thanksgiving Literacy Part 1: Getting Ready

In addition to reading a variety of Thanksgiving-related books (see Celebrate Thanksgiving with Books Part 1 ), consider trying some other activities that promote literacy. This week I’ll give several suggestions for getting ready for Thanksgiving Day. Next Wednesday, I’ll suggest several crafts. In the following week, I’ll offer several ideas and sites for using family cooking to promote literacy.

Many kids love making cards for family, friends and neighbors. Here are a couple of ideas to get started.
Thanksgiving Quotes for inside your cards

Let your kids help make the Thanksgiving table festive.
Other Table Decorations

Word Searches – You can find Thanksgiving word searches online but creating your own is a better literacy idea.
  • Brainstorm a list of Thanksgiving words.
  • Give each family member a piece of graph paper to create his own puzzle.
  • On the graph paper, write the letters of each word in the squares - up, down, diagonal. Avoid going backwards - it's too visually confusing (my bias).
  • Fill in the unused squares with random letters.
  • Exchange searches.
Crossword Puzzles (a little trickier)
  • Brainstorm a list of Thanksgiving words and their definitions (clues). Or let everyone come up with her own clues. The simplest clues are fill-in-the-blank sentences: My grandpa carved the _____.
  • Give each family member a piece of graph paper to create his own puzzle.
  • Lightly plot each word on the graph paper, in pencil, criss-crossing the words.
  • Once all the words have been plotted, heavily outline only the graph squares you used.
  • Number the words.
  • Write out your clues to correspond with the across and down words.
  • Carefully erase the words.
  • Exchange puzzles.
 T-H-A-N-K-S-G-I-V-I-N-G Words
Using the letters in Thanksgiving, create other words. Examples: hang, giving, sit… If you want, you can make it a contest to see who gets the most words. You can also give extra credit for longer words.

  • Plant a corn seed, popcorn, and candy corn. Make predictions on which will grow and then watch their progress! Some kids will actually think a candy corn tree may grow from the candy corn. After a few weeks, make comparisons of the real corn and candy corn.
  • Put an ear of corn in a pot filled with potting soil, half covering it with the soil. It will grow. Be sure to use field corn or Indian corn.
  • Or just take an ear of Indian corn and place it in a pie tin with water. The kernels of corn actually start growing!

These are just a few ways to promate literacy at Thanksgiving. What are some more ways you've thought up? Share in the Comments box!