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Fun Fall Books and Activities for Kids!

School is back in session, there is a chill in the air, pumpkin spice lattes are back and I even had a fire in the fireplace for the first time in over five months… Fall has arrived!

As an educator and mom, I love the combination of reading books followed by an “extension activity”. Extension activities have lots of benefits such as getting children excited to read and teaching them how to connect a book to real life. Activities give a child a chance to use the language from the book in a new way and of course, you have more positive parent-child interaction! Extension activities take reading to a whole new and exciting level and don’t need to be time consuming or cost money.

This summer I fell in love with Usborne books after a friend of mine introduced them to me. There are a unique company that makes books for all ages that include fiction, non-fiction, activity books, pop up books and more! I ordered a bunch of them this summer for birthday gifts as they are typically a bit harder to find so I don’t have to worry about kids already owning the book. The best news about these books is that they can be found right here at any of the Denver Public Libraries. Just enter the titles and place a hold at your closest library.

Since I’m excited that Fall has arrived I wanted to share a few of our favorite Fall books and an extension activity for each as well. Happy Fall!taleoftwobeasts

  1. A Tale of Two Beasts” by Fiona Roberton- When a little girl rescues a strange beast from the woods, she takes him home. But for some reason, the little beast is not happy! There are two sides to every story, and this funny and charming tale is no exception. Fiona Roberton offers both points of view in this discussion-starting tale of the importance of seeing the world in different ways

Extension Activity:

a) Have your child create their own story with two perspectives. Older children could write their story themselves, younger children could verbalize it to the adult.

b) Ask a child to think of a situation in their own life that presented a problematic encounter with a friend or adult. Encourage them to share the situation that made them feel unhappy, mad, embarrassed etc.. Try and have them see both sides of the event from each persons perspective (just like in the book). This is a wonderful way to teach empathy, understanding and problem solving.

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  1. Secrets of the Apple Tree, Shine-A-Light Book” by Kane Millersecretsofappletree

Explore a tree up close and you will find a small world filled with great surprises! From worms wriggling among the roots, to birds nesting high in the branches, the hidden wonders of this amazing habitat are revealed when the page is held up to a light.

Extension Activity:

a) Do your own apple picking at a near by apple orchard! Look and touch the tree- the leaves, bark and fruit. Here are a few favorite around Denver: YaYa Farm & Orchard 6914 Ute Hwy Longmont, CO 80503; Happy Apple Farm 1190 1st Street, Penrose, CO 81240

b) Head to the grocery store and let your child pick out their own apple for a healthy snack. Talk to them about the different colors, textures and flavors. Have a taste test with a few different types of apples. Finally, cut open the apple horizontally across the middle and you will see a star with the seeds. There is a story you can share about the star here.

farmc) “ 1001 Things to Spot on the Farm” Usborne – This charming picture book shows scenes from farms around the world, and on every page, there are dozens of things to spot. The detailed pictures provide hours of looking and talking, and dedicated spotters will be unable to put the book down until they have found all the water buffaloes in the rice fields, the cocoa pods on the tropical farm, or eight lambs on the sheep farm. Counting sheep has never been so much fun!

Extension Activity:

  1. Bring the book with you in the car and have you child find what they “spot in the book” out the window! They will be amazed how many things from the book they find within their own world.
  2. Create your own Things to Spot. Use a sheet of paper and crayons or markers and have your child create their own Things to Spot page or book! Suggest they draw their house, playroom, or favorite place to play like a park or zoo and place special things to spot in their picture.

 

 

Elissa Sungar is the Co-Creator of If Not You, Who?  a free website that offers easy and fun in-home educational activities that help prepare children for kindergarten and life!  Her passion for early childhood education grew out of her experience as a pre-school teacher at Stanford University’s Bing Nursery School. Elissa loves spending time with her family and 1 year old son, hiking, running, tennis, yoga, cute workout clothes, good cheese, great baked goods and exploring Denver!   Twitter: @ElissaINYW

 

 

 

Parenting question: You Want to Read What?!

Dear Mama Drama:

I have three daughters ages 13, 11, and 8. They are all avid readers and generally read well above their age level. My eight-year-old wants to read whatever her sisters are reading, but as they get into their teens I am not always comfortable with the content.

When there is sexual content or violence, my eight-year-old is often confused, scared, and has had nightmares, especially after reading some of the vampire books.

The girls think it isn’t a big deal, but I do.  I am not sure how to handle this with them.

~ Raising Readers

Dear Raising:

Your concerns about your youngest daughter’s reading material are valid. The themes in books for teens and tweens focus on different experiences and thinking processes than books for younger children.

It can be difficult to find engaging books for advanced readers. I suggest working with your daughter’s teachers, the school or local librarian, or a clerk in the children’s section of a bookstore to find challenging yet age-appropriate books. Searching the internet for age-focused book lists can also be helpful, just be sure to read through the books first before you give them to your daughter.

You need to enlist your older daughters in supporting the limits you are setting on the books your youngest reads. Talk with them about your reasons and the impact you have observed reading these books has had on their sister. They don’t have to agree with you, but they do need to understand the influence they have on their sister. She looks up to them and wants to be as grown up as they are.

Find ways for the older girls to mentor and guide their sister. Have them make a list of the books they enjoyed when they were her age and share that with her. Encourage them to go to the library or bookstore to choose books together. With your girls being older you may not still read aloud at night. Consider reinstituting reading together as a family to bring these books to life.

With her sisters encouraging her to read age-appropriate books, your eight-year-old will be less resistant to waiting for the right time to read their books.

-Lisa Vratny-Smith

Screenwriter Terri Miller Talks With Us About Encouraging Imaginitive Storytelling For Kids

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Top 5 Digital Storybooks for iPhone and iPad

Books for the iPhone and iPad are some of my least favorite apps to review. There are thousands in the app store and many of them aren’t worth reader’s time or money. Having said that, there are some real winners out there that stand out from the crowd visually, interactively and creatively. I’ve narrowed the field down to my top 5, must-have storybook

Review and Giveaway: SmartyAnts Innovative and Interactive Reading Program

**CONTEST CLOSED. CONGRATULATIONS TO WINNER BRANDEE WALTER!**

This month, LeapFrog’s founder released a must-have reading program for children ages 4-7: SmartyAnts. I was sent the product and was asked to try it out.

Or rather, my kids were. Last I checked I’m a pretty good reader.

Problem is, my 6-year-old daughter Hadley isn’t. I’ve struggled to get her excited about reading but have been frustrated with her lack of patience and my lack of ability in knowing how and what to teach her.

SmartyAnts may just save me.

What It Is:

There are a couple of different components to this product.

1) The SmartyAnts Phonics Reading Pup is a cuddly, 11-inch-tall robotic dog that offers a fun, interactive way to learn to read.

2) The dog comes with a free one-month membership to the

Read your own book

Hate to read? Learning to read?
Read a book you wrote. Yes, you’ll have to write a book – more on that in a moment.
Melissa Depper, a youth services librarian at Arapaho Library District, reminded me today how helpful it is for struggling readers to read their own story. She said, “Have the child dictate to you a story. The story will be their vocabulary and their ideas. It makes it easier for the child to read it.”
Brilliant!
Even early, early readers . . . my four year old “wrote” a book this summer and it was a favorite pick for bedtime stories. She wrote words she knew like “pop,” “dad,” “mom” and illustrated every page. She felt so proud of her first book!
And now to write a book . . .
Do not panic.
You don’t have to buy a fancy book making kit but, if it helps, give it a try. Amazon carries one called IlluStory Make Your Own Story Kit However, no need to spend money, you can easily fold a stack of paper in half, staple and create a book of any length.
How do you choose a topic?
Write a small moment. Something from the day that just happened. Something that happened earlier.
Write about firsts – first day of school, first lost tooth, first trip to ______, first plane flight, first bike, etc.
Write about a pet – how you got the pet, how to take care of the pet, why you chose the pet, etc.
Stuck? Email me (melissa at milehighmams.com) or post a comment so everyone can help.  For more learning ideas go to Imagination Soup.

Happy writing!

Mama Drama: Hair Raising Reading

Dear Mama Drama:

I have three daughters ages 13, 11, and 8. They are all avid readers and generally read well above their age level. My eight year old wants to read whatever her sisters are reading, but as they get into their teens I am not always comfortable with the content.

When there is sexual content or violence, my eight-year-old is often confused, scared, and has had nightmares, especially after reading some of the vampire books.

The girls think it isn’t a big deal, but I do.  I am not sure how to handle this with them.

~ Raising Readers

(photo credit)

Dear Raising:

Your concerns about your youngest daughter’s reading material are valid. The themes in books for teens and tweens focus on different experiences and thinking processes than books for younger children.

It can be difficult to find engaging books for advanced readers. I suggest working with your daughter’s teachers, the school or local librarian, or a clerk in the children’s section of a bookstore to find challenging yet age appropriate books. Searching the internet for age focused book lists can also be helpful, just be sure to read through the books first before you give them to your daughter.

You need to enlist your older daughters in supporting the limits you are setting on the books your youngest reads. Talk with them about your reasons and the impact you have observed reading these books has had on their sister. They don’t have to agree with you, but they do need to understand the influence they have on their sister. She looks up to them and wants to be as grown up as they are.

Find ways for the older girls to mentor and guide their sister. Have them make a list of the books they enjoyed when they were her age and share that with her. Encourage them to go to the library or bookstore to choose books together. With your girls being older you may not still read aloud at night. Consider reinstituting reading together as a family to bring these books to life.

With her sisters encouraging her to read age appropriate books, your eight-year-old will be less resistant to waiting for the right time to read their books.

If you know of some great books for eight-year-olds please share. 🙂