Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Can you relate?

I have four sons.
All of them - reluctant readers.
 
I feel like it is a never ending task- trying to encourage them to read.
 
Like that Greek tragic character who spends his eternities pushing a boulder up a hill...
 You know that guy? When he is close to the top- he stumbles
 and the rock rolls/tumbles down the hill only to have the task start again. 
 
If I am lucky- I find a series that one of my sons gets hooked on.
He'll read the whole series! I feel, for a month or so, satisfied that "Finally! He has realized the joy, magic, satisfaction of reading!" But then the series is over and back to square one.
 
 It's okay.
 I mean, like I have said before, this is my "mommy mission".
And if you knew me, in person, you would know..
I'm  pretty tenacious.
 
Having illiterate children- just isn't acceptable.
 
{partly- because I HATED to read when I was a child and now I can see how being a poor reader really made schooling and other aspects of my life harder. But more importantly- NOW I love to read! It is something that can be learned!}
 
So - my current up hill battle? My second grader.
We held book club last summer and that really motivated him- yay!
 
But there is no time during the school year to have book club.
He has now fallen in a rut.
Chapter books are just too daunting.
Nothing keeps his interest.
 
Every night was like pulling teeth to get him to read!
 
So- we have gone back to picture books.
 
 
I have decided (long ago) it is better that he reads-- regardless of what he reads.
He likes picture books.
He likes the satisfaction of finishing one, two , or three in one sitting.
He likes the pictures- who doesn't?
 
So while this may seem like a step backwards.. (regressing to picture books from chapter books)..
It's not. What is important is that kids read! And that they enjoy reading!
 
A cute series my second grader loves is..." The Night Before..." there are a few.
The Night Before Christmas,
The Night Before Easter,
The Night Before Halloween,
The Night Before St. Patrick's Day
The Night Before Summer Vacation...
 
I just wanted to share.
Don't give up on your reluctant reader!
It's a up hill battle - worth fighting.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Resolution Update

At the beginning of January I shared- I wanted to start cooking as a family- even if it was just once a week. Actually- I want my sons to learn how to cook... and I thought this would be a fun way to teach them.


January- I tried to record what we ate. Because I easily get in slumps and ruts. I thought it would be interesting to see what we actually eat.

Simple enough. Here is what we ate in January!

Jan1- Taco salad - We cooked this as a family, boys tolerated this experience.
Jan2- Wasabi restaurant Inspired marinade Chicken
Jan3- BBQ sandwiches
Jan4-Crockpot Chicken served over noodles
Jan5-Orange Glazed pork-chops with scallop potatoes- We cooked this together. My boys were not excited to peel potatoes. They resisted a bit. But I held strong, with my husband by my side.

Jan6-Left Overs: Chicken with noodles
Jan7-Left Over chicken: re-seasoned with curry= Crepeville inspired Curry Chicken Crepes
Jan8- Left over pork, with left over peppers from taco salad=  Pork/Apple Salad
Jan9-Tomato Soup with Kneaders Ends/bag of bread
Jan10- Pancakes for dinner
Jan11-Hamburger Helper (did I just type that!) Yes it is true. I'm not too proud to admit it.
Jan12-Chicken Cord on Bleu
Jan13- Bean soup and sausage- tasted okay on day one
Jan 14 Left over: Bean Soup and grilled cheese sandwiches- soup tasted great on day 2
Jan15- Cheese crusted chicken with broccoli
Jan16-Curry chicken crepes
Jan17-(Carrot soup w/rolls)- but we call it IRON MAN SOUP- so the kids will eat it. lol
Jan18-Chicken Pot Pies with Rice OR Chili and Rice (each person got to pick)
Jan19- Navaho Tacos- we cooked this as a family, at this point my husband is totally on board! He agrees cooking together is fun! Older boys are still complaining, but the youngest is a natural sue-chief! He loves helping in the kitchen now!

(Can you feel the "disgust" from my second son? He feels like he is wasting precious fleeting moments of freedom left in a Sunday night? With school tomorrow! How can I ask anything of him! lol)

Jan20-Mac-n-cheese and Smoking Apple restaurant inspired Corn Bread
Jan21- Pizza
Jan22- grilled cheese- (I've got sick boys- and this is what they want??)
Jan23-Cheese quesadillas (Still sick, still craving cheese?)
Jan24- Chicken Vesuvio (crock pot meal)- I am sick now... ugh, but dinner must still be served!

Missed the last 6 days of the month- I was sick! And it was pretty much YOYO. (Your On Your Own.) I think the boys ate a lot of cereal.

The three meals in blue, were from a cook book called, Six Ingredients or Less by Carlean Johnson.
They were delicious and easy peasy! I think I will be pulling more recipes from this cook book.



Monday, January 27, 2014

Book Review: Summer of the Woods by Steven K. Smith

Summer of the Woods



I became acquainted with Steven Smith- through twitter. He's a dad of three boys and an author! After reading the teaser introducing his first book,
 I thought," this might be a book my boys would love! I've got to get my hands on it!"
 
"When ten-year-old Derek and eight year old Sam moved with their family to Virginia, they have no idea what adventures the summer will bring. As the brothers explore their creaky old house and the deep surrounding woods, they uncover the mystery of a valuable coin collection stolen from the local museum sixty years earlier. Join the boys as they spend their  summer running from danger and searching the woods, secret caves, rushing waters, and hidden passageways for treasure and the rare 1877 Indian Head cent coin!"
 
 I contacted Steven and asked to review his book, Summer of the Woods.
He graciously sent copies for my son's book club!

To see ideas you can use for a book club- based on this book. Visit my book club outline pages. or click HERE.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!




Happy New Year!!!
 
I love the beginning of things... be a New Year, the beginning of a new school year, Mondays- the start of a new work week and even MORNINGS- the beginning of a new day!

I have been thinking about goals and resolutions a lot.
Blogging really motivates me to stay on-top of my goals.
One of the reasons, I have persisted in hosting book clubs for my sons... is because I have held myself accountable to this blog! To YOU! (I mean- yes all the benefits my sons have gained from hosting a book club are wonderful. And really that should be reward enough. But I knew it would be a labor of love- that sometimes they might not appreciate. I like having all these activities documented and posted- so when I hit those blue moments as a mom- and feel like a failure... I can scroll my blog and get a boost. It helps me not wallow in slumps.)

So I hope this doesn't annoy anyone- but I am going to be adding another feature up on the menu bar- "A Minute for Mom"

Here is where I am going to post about just ME things I am working on. Not at all related to books, book clubs, reading tips, preschool, etc. I've got some amazing goals for 2014 and I want to track them. Since I know from experience that blogging really keeps me motivated- I will be tracking my progress in this new section: Minute for Mom



Sorry about the lighting of this picture- this is a wall at my doctors office! I thought it was amazing!
I really love it. Especially the letters that aren't really letters: A-C-L-O-T-U-V

Really cute- and might be fun in someone's preschool.

Friday, December 6, 2013

As Promised!

 
I am scouring the Internet to find gifts outside the box!
(X-box, Play Station, Wii).
HERE is a link that will take you to my posts
about Inspiring Gift Ideas.

I have a philosophy about too much "gaming time". And let me disclose for the record- I am not ANTI Video Games. I just think MODERATION is important. I believe learning how to MANAGE YOUR TIME is needed.

So we have an Xbox. There are some benefits to video games. My brother, who is a doctor, says in medical school it was obvious the people who had games and who did not growing up. The medical students who DID - were able to maneuver the tools for surgeries involving - going into someones body with a probe. All those fine motor muscles in their hands, fine tuned already by using game controllers. There is a dexterity you develop- that is hard to develop any other way. That is just ONE benefit.

We have the Kinect- added to our Xbox. Now that we live in a snowy state- I love that my boys can still get moving- jumping, running in place, swinging, etc... by playing these games. There is a cute game I bought a few years ago for my preschool son who loved to dance. The songs are popular kids songs: Our version has Insy Winsy Spider, Jingle Bells, London Bridge, etc... and then many other popular songs. What I love is you can set a time limit (I usually do 20-30 min, make sure they get a work out.) AND you can set skill level! (So all the songs selected have dance moves he can do- and not get frustrated and quit.) Select START- and off he goes! There are kids dancing-- doing appropriate moves. They have boys and girls dancing.

SO- I want to make it clear. I am NOT anti Xbox.
Having said that- my philosophy about too much gaming is:
Kids today lack confidence. So many are stressed out and depressed. WHY?
There are probably a lot of factors.
But life isn't harder.
I think growing up in the Depression would be hard.
I think growing up during WW1 or WW2 would be hard.
I think growing up where you had to cut wood for your fire and grow your own food- would be hard.
Life has always been "hard".

But I do think life is different. Our children spend so much time in a virtual world- they don't gain real life experience that helps them build confidence in themselves to solve problems, do hard things, and gain confidence in their abilities.

For example: A child who builds his own dog house.... ( or any real/tangible/hands on experience)













Gains WAY more CONFIDENCE- EXPERIENCE-













and SATISFACTION, etc.. etc.. than the child who takes care of a virtual "pet" or reaches level 120 in some game.
Here my son was about 10 years old. We didn't even have a dog at the time- but boy did he want one! (read here) He was bored with nothing to do and I suggested he build something. He was working with just scrap wood we had. A neighbor saw his project and donated some additional ply wood for the tops and sides. We ended up getting a dog- about a year later.

So THAT is my goal this year- is to buy gifts that will inspire them. Help them DO. Gain some confidence, learn something NEW about themselves. Interact with people! (Face to face) 

It's a long shot.. (lol) but a worthy goal to strive for!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Great Gifts to give- that use more than just your thumbs!

Birthday and Christmas presents use to be so fun!
One year great-grandma sent my boys this gift.



I was touched by how thoughtful this gift was. (Grandma's are wonderful, GREAT-grandma's are inspired!) This was before I ever thought about book clubs for my boys. This probably was the first seed planted in my mind-- the importance of helping children connect to books and stories by adding a "hands on" element.


When my boys were little- they wanted toys! Things to extend their imagination. Now they want "toys"- that require no imagination, thought or effort. (Smart phones and Play Station games etc..)

When I heard my sons talk about their Christmas wish lists, I was getting depressed a little. But I am always up for a challenge. So I challenged myself to "think outside the (x)box" this year for Christmas.

I want to inspire my boys again- to use their brains and their imagination! lol

So I set the hook and bait......
Yesterday I brought home a simple electricity kit. ($20) (I thought it would be great for our family and also to use in my Kindergarten Prep.)

 This is a great kit- worth every penny. It comes with a story book that teaches simple principles and ideas about electricity. The kit is geared for 5-10 year olds. It has experiments they can do! Real circuits they can create to generate a pinwheel, a light, a buzzer and more.

After spending the day with this kit, my 14 year old and 16 year old said, "Okay- where's next step up kit? The ones for teenagers??"

I found this book and a kit at MAKER SHED.com that has all the wires and electronics you need to do half of the activities in the book. (They sell a kit with the electronics for the other half of the activities.) I said, "Gee I don't know, (wink/wink) the kit for your age is a little over a $100." Both my teenagers said, "We need it!" (I was thinking: Is this officially on your wish list??)

They took the bait!
I know my kids, YOUR kids are interested in so much MORE than video games, cell phones, social media.
They want and crave REAL experiences. Hands on learning- things that will build their confidence and inspire their minds.

So take the challenge this season. I am sure your kids already have plenty of access to computer games and media. Think outside the (x)box.

Come back and visit often, I will be posting great toys, games, and activities that will inspire.




Feel free to click on images in my posts of books and toys- they will link you to the actual sites where you can purchase them. I am an affiliate with Amazon.com, I get a small "tip" for referring people to buy from their site. But other sites, like MakerShed.com I have no affiliation with.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Preschool ideas

As promised our Preschool Story Time category is up with a handful of ideas for your preschool story time.
 
 
If you click on our sidebar Preschool button- you will see
what I do with my Kindergarten Prep class.
 
This year I am using Funshine Express monthly preschool curriculum kits.
It's like having the best teacher's aid- for the home base preschool teacher.
 



Every month comes with a curriculum guide with detailed lesson plans.
A dozen crafts with all the supplies packaged nicely in kits.
 
 
As always- you can find ideas and activities to help children of
all ages connect to books. Because you know what they say...
 
“The more you read,
the more you know.
The more you know,
the smarter you grow.
The smarter you grow,
the stronger your voice,
when speaking your mind
or making your choice.”
 
Thanks for stopping by and don't forget to "like" us!