Archive for March, 2013

March 26, 2013

Win something to read when you’re done swimming

Are you taking the kids to the lake this summer? Maybe you are going for awhile and need something to do when it’s time to come in from the sun? Or they need a break from the rain? Reading A Day At The Lake would be a great place to start, and then they could make up their own sound-alike words. “Flippity swish wish we were fish” is such a great line. Younger kids could think of alternatives for “flippity swish”. What are some other good words (or neologisms, they don’t have to be real words!) for fish movement? Or instead of fish, what about a butterfly, bird, cat, dog, squirrel, deer, raccoon, small child, car, motor boat, sail boat…I could go on forever!


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Literacy doesn’t have to end when school is out and it doesn’t have to be limited to reading and writing. You could think of these words over ice cream cones on the porch or fish tacos at the dinner table. Encourage your kids to play with words–after they’ve played outside–and they will be hitting all kinds of multiple intelligences on what they think is just a fun family vacation.

I love the way this book plays with words, and your kids just might be inspired by that. There is some not-overwhelming rhyme, some great onomatopoeia (look that one up with the kids if they don’t know it yet!), gorgeous illustrations as you can see, and when it’s all said and done, a very fun day at the lake.

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Win this great book by commenting below. Tell me what you like to do with your kids in the summer, and if you have any good ideas about keeping literacy alive in between campouts, let me know that, too! You have until Saturday, March 29th, at midnight Eastern time to leave your comment. Winners will be announced next week. MAKE SURE YOU LEAVE YOUR EMAIL OR SOME WAY FOR ME TO CONTACT YOU IN CASE YOU WIN!

aDayattheLake_coverTitle: A Day at the Lake
Authors: Stephanie Wallingford and Dawn Rynders
Illustrator: Erica Pelton Villnave
Genre: Picture Book
Age: 0 – 7

Want more chances to win this book? Check out the full blog tour schedule here.

March 25, 2013

I won and you can, too!

Thank you to all who voted for my story, Little Fox’s Springs, which won second place in Susanna Hill’s blog contest! In the spirit of contests and all things Spring, I will be holding a giveaway here tomorrow for the very awesome book, A Day At the Lake. Come back tomorrow and enter to win! Happy Passover and Easter week everyone! I’m sure the flowers will be here soon. Here’s a sneak peak at tomorrow’s book:

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March 20, 2013

Vote for Little Fox (and me!)

Vote for Little Fox (and me!)

It’s the first day of Spring today, or so my know-it-all 5yo tells me. But no one told the Michigan weather gods because it’s 25 and snowing right now. I love the snow. I really do, but I’m kind of done with it. I have seeds ready to plant! I have a bike to ride! I have outdoor furniture to sit in!

So, in honor of the Spring that I wish was here, I wrote a short story for a Spring-themed contest. And I’m one of the seven finalists! (Out of 40-something, I think). You can vote for me. (Little Fox’s Springs, entry #6) at this link. Thanks in advance!

March 18, 2013

What’s Spring?

There’s no better way to get kids interacting with reading than by writing their own stories. For little kids, you can have them tell you a story and you can write it down. Give them a prompt, or choose a favorite book and have then write a sequel. Or choose a favorite character and have them write another story with that character.

Older kids might like to rewrite a favorite story from the point of view of a more minor character, inventing things that happen to that character when they are “off camera”, or not on the page of the actual book.

To get my creative juices going, I’m responding today to a writing prompt on the awesome Susanna Hill’s blog. The challenge was to write a story about Spring in 350 words or less that ends with a specific line. Here’s my attempt. (349 words!*)

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Little Fox’s Springs

Little Fox was almost one year old.

LIttle Fox remembered summer. He played in the sun and swam in the brook.

Little Fox remembered fall. He hid in the leaves and ran with the wind.

Little Fox remembered winter. He cuddled with his mama and tunneled in the snow.

But he didn’t remember spring. It was so long ago!

“What’s spring?” he asked his mama.

“Spring is when you were born,” said his mama.

“Hmmmm,” said Little Fox.

Little Fox tiptoed out of his den. He found Jackrabbit.

“What’s spring?” he asked Jackrabbit.

“A spring is a bounce!” said Jackrabbit. “Here, I’ll show you.” And Jackrabbit sprung around the meadow and back to Little Fox.

“Hmmmm,” said Little Fox.

Little Fox now had a spring in his step. But he still wasn’t sure how he would know when spring was here. He found Raven.

“What’s spring?” he asked Raven.

“A spring is a coil that wiggles and jiggles. Here, I’ll show you.” And Raven flew to his nest, rifled through twigs and toys and carried a spring back to Little Fox.

“Hmmmm,” said Little Fox.

Little Fox now had a spring in his step and a new toy spring in his paw. But he still wasn’t sure how he would know when spring was here. He saw Moose.

“What’s spring?” he asked Moose.

“A spring is delicious!” said Moose. “Here, I’ll show you.” And Moose trod to a small hole in the moss where clear water was bubbling. Little Fox took a drink.

“Hmmmm,” said Little Fox, licking his lips.

Little Fox now had a spring in his step and a toy spring in his paw and some fresh spring water in his tummy. But he still wasn’t sure how he would know when spring was here. He saw Deer.

“What’s spring?” he asked Deer.

But Deer couldn’t talk. She was busy with two very tiny, very spotted fawns.

Little Fox remembered what his mama had said. He was born in the spring. The fawn gave Little Fox a slobbery kiss.

Little Fox knew spring was here at last.

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Now you write your story!

*Note to contest judges: I don’t have a Word Processor on my new(!) computer yet, so I entered this into seven (7!) different online word counters. 349 was the number that came up most often (3 times). 3 counters got a lower number and 1 got a higher number, so it seemed safe to assume I’m within the legal limit!

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March 7, 2013

You can’t put the kids in a cardboard box, but you can call on Neville, Boomer, and Big Ernie

We did it last summer. The neighbors are doing it this summer. It’s as American as apple pie and the Fourth of July: the long distance move. The snow might still be on the ground, but I can hear the birds chirping, and they aren’t the only ones looking for a new nest. I can tell by the posts on my neighborhood moms’ group that many human families will soon be following suit. (***Note to people who aren’t moving soon: just skip the next part and read the bit about “Neville”, a great picture book. Then go back to Facebook and thank the heavens you don’t have to move.)

Let’s be honest, nobody likes moving. But let’s be honest again, I only thought I knew how hard moving was when my husband and I moved from the east coast to the Pacific Northwest. And then from the Pacific Northwest to the South. But I didn’t know, not until we moved from the South to the Midwest. It wasn’t the locations that mattered so much, but the cargo: we now had two kids. Things were about to get interesting.

And what do I do when things with my kids get interesting? That’s right, I buy books. Here are some that were awesomely helpful during that time:

neville

Title: Neville
Author: Norton Juster
Illustrator: G. Brian Karas

Neville was our absolute favorite. It was recommended by a fellow children’s book lover in Nashville. Unlike the others mentioned here, it’s not meant as a how-to on moving, but just a great picture book that happens to be about a kid who just moved. A young boy ventures out into his new neighborhood fairly certain that his mom is WRONG when she hints that he might make friends just by walking down the street. But what happens when he stands on the corner and yells “NEVILLE!” at the top of his lungs? Well, you’ll have to read it to find out. I’d recommend this one even if you aren’t moving.

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Title: Berenstain’s Bears Moving Day
Authors/Illustrators: Stan and Jan Berenstain

Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day. Some people like these famous bears, some people don’t. And while I understand that they are long and a little preachy, especially by today’s trendy and zen-like picture books, I happen to love the Berenstein bears. And my kids do, too. They tell it like it is, and as long as you agree, they are the way to go. I think this one is an especially good one and definitely useful for a kid who is moving. Brother Bear is sad to leave his cave and his friends, but he learns to love his new tree house (the one we all know and love from other Berenstein Bear books) and find new friends.

boomersbigday

Title: Boomer’s Big Day
Author: Constance W. McGeorge
Illustrator: Mary Whyte

Boomer’s Big Day might be my favorite, especially for the littlest set (2 and up). Boomer is a dog and the family doesn’t really play a major role at all in the story, which I think is nice–it really hits that kid-centric point of view where everything revolves around their world, they aren’t getting enough information, and they are trying to figure it out for themselves. Boomer’s troubles start when he can’t understand why he isn’t getting his morning walk, escalate when his favorite toys are boxed up, but disappear when he sees…his new backyard!

bigerniesnewhome

Title: Big Ernie’s New Home
Authors/Ilustrators: Teresa and Whitney Martin

Big Ernie’s New Home also uses an animal as the point-of-view character, although Big Ernie (a cat) has a friend (Little Henry) who is going through the move right beside him. A little more prose than Boomer, so it might be better for a slightly older crowd (4 and up perhaps) or littler ones who can sit through a story. (It’s not long by any means, but I guess it seems that way in comparison with other books–picture books are getting shorter and shorter every year. One thing I liked about Big Ernie is that it doesn’t make the assumption that the kid is moving to a better place, which some of the books do. It’s a different place (in this case Santa Fe) and doesn’t describe the new house.

Title: Usborne First Experiences: Moving House
Author: Anne Civardi
Illustrator: Stephen Cartwright

Usborne First Experiences: Moving House was a nice short read, factual but with a story about a family. This family is moving across town, so they are able to visit their house before they move. (This was not the case with us, and as a result my son didn’t request this one as much and I didn’t pick it up as much). The book also includes details about how their new house is getting painted and new carpets before they move in, and compares the old house, which is an attached row house, to the new house, a large stand-alone home. If those facts match up, or at least don’t conflict with your story too much, this–while not great literature–is a nice, quick book that’s easy to understand. I think there is also a sticker book that goes with this, so that could be good, too. Especially if you have a long car ride built into your move.

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Title: The Moving Book: A Kids’ Survival Guide
Author: Gabriel Davis
Illustrator: Sue Dennen

The Moving Book: A Kids’ Survival Guide was great, and would have been even better had I taken more time to help my son fill out the answers. Part scrapbook, part tutorial on how to move, and part planner for your new town, this book will help calm kids’ anxieties by making them part of the process. I love the way it asks them to find things they are looking forward to doing in their new town. And it has ideas for saying goodbye to friends and keeping in touch.

If you are moving this Spring or Summer, good luck! Give your kids some concrete ideas. The Wizard of Why asked a thousand times how his bed was possibly going to fit into a truck, so we googled it and found pictures of a bed going into a moving truck. I cannot tell you how much that helped! Plus, when are truck pictures a bad idea? Find a map of the city you are moving to and make some definite plans: is there a children’s museum you can go to? Find pictures on the web and show your kids. Or an art museum or a movie theatre…anything that gives them something to look forward to and convinces them that you are moving them to an actual place on the planet Earth with fellow human beings–and not to whatever dimension of outer space their toddler mind is imagining.