Monday, September 5, 2011
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Saturday, September 3, 2011
Friday, July 15, 2011
Monday, July 4, 2011
Friday, June 17, 2011
Friday, April 29, 2011
Here's what we did.
First I gathered up materials to make a box to hold all of Baby L's fun summer writing materials: 1) a cereal box decorated with catalog clippings, 2) some stapled booklets of blank paper, and 3) some crayons, markers, tiny notepads, stickers, envelopes, and post-its:
Then I put it all together, so that Baby L has one transportable, totally fun, totally awesome SUMMER WRITING KIT! I even added in the mini-clipboard that the Easter Bunny brought her.
In the classroom, I love ending the school year by making reading kits and writing kits for the kids to take home for their summer reading and writing lives. You can spend the last week or two of reading workshop or writing workshop teaching the kids how to take care of and use their special summer kits so that by the time they leave for summer vacation, they've had plenty of practice with taking things out and putting them back, coming up with their own ideas for reading and writing projects, and dreaming up the kind of reading and writing they hope to do.
Here are some ideas that many teachers (and parents and caregivers) love!
For a container you could use:
- A giant zip-loc baggy
- Cloth bags ordered from Oriental Trading or other catalogue
- If you're a classroom teacher, sometimes parent volunteers are willing and able to sew beautiful bags for reading or writing kits. Thanks parents!
- Blank aluminum lunchboxes (available at some craft stores and websites) for children to decorate
- A typical pencil box
- Children could decorate whatever the container is with glued on pictures, stickers, or paint to personalize the kits
Some possibilities for tools to put in the Writing Kit:
- A notebook or notepad with blank paper (unlined for young children)
- “Special” summer writing paper with a place to sketch, and lines to write on just like writing workshop at school (photocopied onto colored paper to make it special; stapled or hole-punched and stuck on a ring to turn it into a notepad)
- Consider various paper sizes, decorating the paper with a stamp, photocopy a border or design onto it or placing a sticker at the top to turn it into “stationery”
- Colorful post-its, or post-its cut into shapes (stars, hearts, clouds, or other)
- Special glittery or colorfully designed pencils, pens or markers
- Envelopes and stamps, include a card with an address where children can to write to you and their new teacher(s) over the summer
- Post cards, greeting cards, notecards, etc.
- Poetry object(s) (seashells, stones, feathers, leaves, dried flowers, other)
- Recipe cards, list paper, How-To paper, mini-calendar
- Mini-staplers, tape, and/or glue sticks
- Personal Word Wall, Alphabet Chart, Blends Chart
- Collect favorite books to put in the reading kit
- Include books written by the child, other children, or by the teacher or parents or caregivers and friends
- Special book marks with reminders for things to think about while you read ("I'm wondering..." "This makes me think..." "I notice..."
- A tiny flashlight for reading under the covers
- Special post-its (of course!!)
- A tiny notebook for making a wish list of books, or for jotting or sketching ideas about the books
- A tiny calendar for tallying up how many books you read each day or how many pages you read (if you are an older kid who reads chapter books)
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Later that night, after Baby L went to bed, I emptied out all the eggs and cleaned them up so L could play with them in her play kitchen. As I popped open each egg and removed whatever candy or toys were inside it dawned on me that we could hide the eggs all over again in the house--why wait until Easter? What a fun game to play!
So that night I filled the eggs back up with stickers and hid them all over the house. Since L is only 1.5 years old, I hid them in plain sight. I didn't want her to lose interest after finding the first egg.
The next morning, Baby L found the first few "hidden" eggs immediately. It's easy to see why:
After she found the eggs on the stools, we started giving her clues to find the rest. "Look under the baby doll.... next to the wagon... on top of the coffee table..."
L totally understood that we were telling her generally where to look, but the prepositions-- under, over, in, on... those were tricky for her. We coached her with gestures, we pointed, we restated, we repeated and emphasized certain words. What great practice with grammar! said the teacher-voice inside my head. Oh just have fun...don't ruin it with grammar! said the non-teacher voice inside my head...as usual.
Either way, L loves our new game!
Teachers are constantly asking me for ideas for how to teach grammar. A really great resource for teachers of older children is The Power of Grammar, by Mary Ehrenworth and Vicki Vinton. You'll find lots of smart ways to teach grammar in a way that calls upon children's abilities to think creatively and meaningfully, rather than memorizing a bunch of grammar rules for a test, or filling out worksheets.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
One great thing about this book...
...and this book....
are the audio recordings of the books on the CDs that come with them. We have four or five books from this series and all of them are equally as beautiful. Baby L, Daddy B, and I loved listening to the the CDs all the way to the aquarium, and we felt like experts on sea life by the time we arrived!
And then, one of the first things we saw when we got there...
He (or she?) looked just like the turtles in our book!
But Baby L's (and Mommy and Daddy's) FAVORITE thing of all at the aquarium was this guy:
I nearly bought a stuffed animal version of the walrus, but it was Baby L who said, "Put back!"(One of her favorite things to say these days--especially if it's a food she doesn't want to eat). I listened to her and I put back the toy walrus... we really do not need any more stuffed animals... but I kind of wish I had brought him home to cuddle with!
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Sunday, April 3, 2011
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Amita Roy Shah is the author of It’s Time for Holi! Amita is also a consultant for several educational publishing companies, a researcher studying South Asian American women who become teachers, and is the mother of one super-smart kid!
Luckily for me, she was willing to take time out of her hectic schedule to answer some questions about her new book:
Tiny Reader: It’s Time for Holi! is your first children’s book. What inspired you to write a book about Holi?
Amita: The idea of Holi came to me when I was designing a Pre-K curriculum and realized that many Pre-K themes have to do with colors, seasons, and multicultural celebrations. Holi is the Indian festival of colors! People celebrate spring by throwing colors on one another…so I thought to myself, what child wouldn’t want to celebrate spring by throwing colors on their family and friends?!?
Tiny Reader: What’s a common question that children have for you about Indian culture, and how do you address it?
Amita: It’s not really a question but I think children are sometimes confused about the term “Indian." And in the United States the term is used to talk about Native American Indians the most. I think this term causes a lot of confusion, so I always make it a point to say that Holi is a celebration that started in the country of India but is now celebrated everywhere. I think it is also important for children to say “India” out loud and I hope the images from my book will help them develop a better understanding of Indians who are from the country of India.
Tiny Reader: What is your writing process?
Amita: My writing process has always been to write down whatever I am thinking at the moment and develop the structure, format, and language later! This has definitely worked for me. The first couple drafts of this book don’t really have a rhyme or rhythm and are just some ideas about roses, butterflies, birds, colors, and spring. It is funny to look back and see it all now.
Tiny Reader: What do you hope children will learn from reading your book?
Amita: I hope that all children get more exposure to the Indian culture. Throughout the book you will notice subtle images of the culture--such as the jewelry, the dress, the wall hangings, the containers with the colored powders, names of characters, etc. I also hope that children get really excited about spring and celebrating Holi at school or at home. Holi is about getting messy with colors so children can really do any activity that allows for them to make a mess with colors. I am going to have my son make colorful handprints or footprints with paint and throw some colored confetti on us at home. He will also go to a couple Holi celebrations that are taking place in the bay area. The other thing I hope for is that it helps validate the experiences of Indian children living in the United States. I think it is really important for children to see people like them and their families in books.
Tiny Reader: What does your son think about all this?
Amita: This is a great question! So let me give you a little more background. I needed the illustrations to look as realistic as possible--so my illustrator referenced our online family albums to create the characters. The boy in the book looks exactly like my son! So my son is absolutely ecstatic when he sees the book. He says, “Look! It’s the Deven book!” every time he sees it!
Tiny Reader: You are a busy lady—a researcher, a consultant, a mom, a children’s book author. What other projects do you have going on right now?
Amita: I think I thrive on multiple projects, so it’s actually a good thing that I have a lot going on. But I am also fortunate enough to have a flexible schedule that allows for me to prioritize projects so that my son always comes first. So with that, I do what I can when I can. Many people have already expressed an interest in a Diwali book... and I do have some ideas for that, so that might be next! I am also talking to a university about teaching part-time. But again, it all depends on time and scheduling!
Tiny Reader: What are your plans for the book now that it is published?
Amita: I have created a Facebook page, “It’s Time for Holi,” to write about all the latest happenings. But just to give you a couple highlights, I plan to do read-alouds at schools or community centers to get the word out. I just did a reading for children at Teachers College and will be at the Indian Community Center (ICC) this week. In the future, I hope to make a more interactive website for children to play virtual Holi game so children can virtually throw colors and get points! I also want to host a coloring contest during Holi and have children color some of the pages from my book. Those are just some ideas in the works to get children more involved in Holi activities
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Friday, March 18, 2011
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Monday, February 28, 2011
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Build Your Vocabulary.
And guess what, you can do the same at home!
Just collect up a whole bunch of books about a topic you and your little ones are interested in. Stick them in a box or a basket and have fun reading!
Baby L and I have been reading our winter books all season long. We've got stories, poems, board books, lift-the-flap books, nonfiction books, you name it. It's so much fun to watch Baby L make a connection from one book to another!