Posts Tagged “Reading”

Scavenger Hunt Reading Game

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Partnering with companies like uKloo afford us the opportunity to bring honest reviews of learning games to our readers. This is a #sponsored post whereby we were provided a complimentary copy of uKloo. The opinions expressed herein are strictly my own. This article contains affiliate links.

ukloo

We know teaching our children to read is essential but it doesn’t have to be painful. UKloo is a scavenger hunt game that encourages children to read, as they go from clue to clue. The game features 3 reading levels and a word chart to assist them in recognizing words on the clues. Kids are so busy moving from clue to clue that they don’t realize that they are reading in the process. In the end, children find a surprise, which could be anything parents desire: chocolate chip cookies, tickets to the movies, a new coloring book. UKloo is designed to take your children on a house-wide scavenger hunt and is suggested to use 5-7 clue cards.

We liked that blank cards were included for personalizing the game. Just write a clue in dry erase marker and later wipe clean to use over and over again. Great game to get your kids up and moving while still strengthening their reading and comprehension skills. Check out our brief video review below.

 

 

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Walls & Warriors Connect Strategic Thinking with Literacy

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Connecting Critical Thinking skills and Literacy

We love when a game ties critical thinking skills to a love of reading or a topic a child is passionate about.

Thank you SmartGamesUS for providing us a review copy of Walls & Warriors. The opinions expressed herein are strictly my own. This post contains affiliate links.

Connecting Critical Thinking with Literacy

Back to school is in full force and in the spirit of things – we’ve found the perfect pair for connecting strategic thinking skills with literacy. Another SmartGamesUS puzzle game, Walls & Warriors, (coming soon) with knights and a castle is perfect for our adventure stories of knights and midevil times. Victoria was fascinated to learn that castles truly exist and aren’t just “part of the story”. We love the book  I Wonder Why Castles Had Moats by Philip Steele that showcases the inside of a castle… including the ever-famous bathroom. What really went on behind those stone walls? It is a great resource for bringing fantasy and history together. And as long as we’re talking castles and all… be sure to check out SmartGamesUS’ Castle Logix game as well.

walls-warriors-2

Couple the Walls & Warriors puzzle game with fictional stories about knights, such as The Barefoot Book of Knights by John Matthews. Children won’t realize that they are exercising their critical thinking skills while playing the game, especially if listening to the narrated version of the stories or chatting about them should you have had your reading time prior to game play. Either way… take the theme to a whole new level and completely amp up the educational value of these resources when paired together.

knights

Below you can see that the puzzle is appropriate for varying ages with 60 challenge cards, multiple knights (blue and red) and a single castle to defend. There are four wall pieces used to enclose any number of the blue knights (based on the challenge card layout) and the castle. The first few are pretty simple, even for Victoria (age 6) but they do get more challenging. I think everyone in the family has picked up this game on their own to play… something about the pieces and design that is enticing. LOL SmartGamesUS nailed it on this one.

walls-warriors

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Toys For Learning Fun

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I had the great pleasure of attending the The Big Toy Book Baby Palooza this month and meeting some amazing brands that support our children’s development and learning needs. It was a play date without the little ones and yes, this event was mostly geared toward parents of babies and tots but no worries, I got some good take-a-ways for you with school-age children. The brands presented were VTech, Delta Children, Mega Bloks, Cloud B, The First Years, and Madame Alexander.

Here’s a brief video of the event and then… there’s so much more to consider.

Firstly, I have to admit that I had no idea that Delta Children was so much more than cribs and changing tables. Yup – I walked in to the most colorful display of children’s furniture, completely unaware that this was the same company that made my daughter’s crib (now converted toddler bed). Awesome. From comfy chairs (and a mini sofa w/ storage) to toddler beds and mini tables and chairs… all decked out in characters ranging from Mickey to Cars to Sesame Street and the beloved Disney Princesses. The child size desks and organizers were my favorite. It’s important to have a space easily accessible for kids so they aren’t straining to reach the top of the table to write and so that they can easily sit upright for homework and activities. Soon I’ll have a entire piece (or two… or three) devoted to organization, tips and key elements to organizing your routine functions and spaces.  Every household struggles with this to some extent and I’ll be consulting with a friend and expert on the matter to offer some excellent suggestions.  But for now… know that Delta has a great assortment of solutions. Bins are terrific for little toys and supplies like crayons, scrap paper and craft items (of course if you don’t run the risk of very young hands getting a hold of them). Click here for a examples of their storage solutions, particularly the Toy and Book Organizer, made available by Amazon and other suppliers.  We already own and love the Spiderman folding table and chair set. Be sure to check out the variety of desks available including this awesome easel/desk combo that comes with a storage ottoman. We’ve loved Delta since before Victoria was born and now love it all the more.

I didn’t get much time with the team from The First Years… let’s face it – Homeroom At Home isn’t really focused on the first couple of years – but I will say this… they have an amazing technological and digital carseat/app system that sends text alerts if baby is accidentally forgotten in the car, among other features. Amazing! Talk about innovative and safety conscientious. (Expecting or planning on more kiddos or know someone – definitely worth checking out: www.thefirstyears.com)

So here’s an interesting and unexpected product I came across – the Cloud B Twilight Constellation Sea Turtle night light. Not only does it introduce your youngster to the constellations and offer soothing sounds to drift off to, but also features 5 endangered animals. It comes with a storybook to teach children about endangered species and also offers a star guide. Not cool enough??? – A portion of the proceeds from Twilight Sea Turtle will be donated to a conservation organization.

VTech demonstrated a couple of cool toys. The one that I particularly appreciated with the InnoTab 2 Baby"". This version of the Inno Tab is specifically designed for infants 12 months and up… and by “up” I mean age 9. You heard… read it right – this device is designed to grow with the child, as it comes preloaded with apps, games and programs for the youngest family memeber but with cartridges and online downloads you can easily update this tool to grow with your child and his/her learning development. We will be demonstrating this product in more detail in a later post…

Madame Alexander is a very well-known and respected doll company but little did I know that they offered such a variety of dolls and plush toys. Boys and girls both enjoy roll playing and Madame Alexander has several lines to facilitate the basics in emotional intelligence and with products such as Fancy Nancy and Eloise children are encouraged to read and play together. Growing up – one of my favorite means of play was “school” whereby I taught my teddy bears and dolls the lessons from my actual homework. Doll play builds communication skills, nurturing abilities and social intelligence. There newest line: Newborn Nursery is my favorite with life like features including a realistic weight, hospital wrist band and adoption certificate – who couldn’t fall in love with these thumb-sucking beauties?

Lastly there was Mega Bloks. Is it fair to say that I love these products so much that I’ve been actively participating in a fellow bloggers giveaway with the hopes of winning a Barbie Mega Bloks set? (Fingers-crossed, but you can enter here at Classy Mommy.) The items on display at the #BTBBabyPalooza were again geared for a much younger crowd but Mega Bloks has a huge variety of building toys perfect for rainy days or themed weeks of play. For instance, let’s take Shark Week… the perfect activity to couple with craft ideas, video or on-screen activities would be Mega Bloks Power Rangers Megaforce – Shark Mechazord or Pyrates -Shark Escape. This is just one of dozens of Mega Bloks ideas.

Our hosts for this event were amazing in bringing some very valuable information to us. A special thank you to Laurie Schacht from The Toy Insider, Reyne Rice of Toy Trend and Charlene DeLaoch of Charlene Chronicles. My good friend Joey Fortman of Real Mom Media extended this opportunity to me and I’m ever so grateful. Look for more product reviews and suggestions from us for these brands, as this is just skimming the surface in terms of folding learning development into play time and quality family time.

Disclosure: The Big ToyBook Baby Palooza organized and invited us to participate in a media event introducing us to six brands. We were provided products to review and the opportunity to demo products onsite. The views, opinions and thoughts expressed here are completely mine. We already own and love products from all of these brands well before being invited to this media event.

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Puppets: Entertaining Story Tellers Capturing Young Hearts

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Ventriloquist and puppeteers have been captivating audiences for centuries. As parents we can take note of this effective story-telling technique and incorporate into our lessons, sharing time or story times.

photo courtosy of playsational.com

Making and Using Puppets At Home:

I found that especially for those with more than one child and therefore a million creative ideas and reminiscent stories spilling out all at once, puppets can help your little ones take turns spinning their tales. It is a creative way to encourage sharing and communication and creativity. During a summer visit with family, I suggested puppet play.  A couple of cousins and neighboring friends were playing and like most kids, after awhile, found themselves talking over one another.  I pulled the loveseat away from the wall just a enough for 2 little persons to fit and handed them each a puppet.  The others children and I sat on the floor to watch. The two “behind the curtain” had our attention to tell their stories. Taking turns, they each got to shared their imaginative characters and play make-believe.  It was so much fun to watch the creativity flow.  Lucky that I had a couple puppets in the trunk of my car.

This is also an excellent way to blend story time with younger and older children by having the older child “act” out the story with the puppet while you read it aloud. If you are feeling creativity, have your children make their own puppets with brown paper bags or old socks. This is a perfect stormy day activity and if the lights go out just have your flashlights handy for additional effects.

Cuddleuppets are a clever twist to traditional puppets, whereby offering a built in blanket with your puppet friend.  We have the crocodile one and often play “Teasing Mr. Crocodile, Can’t Catch Me” while reading the story.  Here are a few of the Spalding puppet family:

Spalding Puppet Friends

Puppets entertaining large audiences:

I grew up watching puppets on shows like Fraggle Rock.  Kermit was our family favorite puppet of all. Elmo became our character of choice once I had my son, and still is with my daughter. Sesame Street, Lamb Chop, Mister Roger’s Neighborhood and Disney’s Muppets are all puppetry masterpieces in finding compelling ways to relate to children, discuss sensitive issues as well as encourage kindness and community. Where would we be without these adorable loved characters?

War Horse Photo by Brinkhoff/Mögenburg

Puppetry is more than entertainment, it is an art form. War Horse on Broadway is a perfect example of puppetry at its finest with life size horses on stage to tell a compelling and emotional story.

War Horse Photo by Brinkhoff/Mögenburg

War Horse on Broadway at the Kimmel Center

War Horse is now showing at The Kimmel Center in Philadelphia November 27th through December 2nd.  Take a behind-the-scene peek with the video clip below and be blown away with the realistic horse puppetry.

In fact, there is an entire Teacher Resource guide that you can download to include more on the making of the puppets but also the story, World War I and so much more.

And of course puppets for the adult crowd:

I still love Kermit and Lamb Chop but here are a couple of my “not for kids” favorites… just for kicks because hey, adults should have fun too!

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Second Hand is a Helping Hand… Consignment Blessings

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Sale, Discount, Bargain… Consignment

Easily these signs get me excited because like most, I love a good bargain. Finding toys, books and clothing at a fraction of a price, just makes my day. Naturally, I jumped at the invitation to a presale event with Just Between Friends Consignment earlier this week. Check out my video below for a peek at my sale finds.

Consignments sales are perfect for building your personal library of resources. Creating a lesson plan around animals or pirates, multiplication practice or chemistry… definitely check out the treasures to be unburied at these sales. I like to look for educational puzzles and games, items for teaching geography, tools for learning states & capitals, and period costumes. I picked up some items to round out our Adventure Series: Horsing Around lesson, including an American Girl riding outfit – cap, boots and all. I also grabbed a toddler Renaissance outfit and a microscope, among some other toys and shoes for everyday events. Beyond the learning toys I found, I also came across larger sizes of Renaissance dress-up wear (girls and boys), pirate costumes, 20’s Flapper Dress, arts & craft supplies, science experiments, and building kits. There was such a variety!

Microscope found for $5

Tables and tables of games and toys

Just Between Friends makes shopping (and consigning) easy with two fall events:

JBF Western Main Line (Oaks)

Thurs, Sept 13 – Sat, Sept 15

Greater Philadelphia Expo Center – Hall C

AND

JBF Reading Fall Event

Thurs, Sept 27 – Sat, Sept 29

Greater Reading Expo Center

Saturdays at both sales are Half Off Days!!

You must check out these articles on this event with excellent tips for shopping on consignment and the advantages of becoming a consignor.  Super Exhausted with Sherry and Delco Deal with Kelly and A Life In Balance with Barb.

Disclosure:  I was invited to a presale blogger event at JBF Consignment and given a shopping credit in exchange for this post.  All the opinions and tips expressed here are strictly mine.

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How to Beat Kid's Summer Boredom

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Sure there are so many things to do for the summer, and every child anxiously awaits the last day of school.  But nonetheless, they experience days of total summer boredom and with that comes nothing good, including the messiest play, mischief, migraines for parents and constant whining.  So here are a few simple suggestions to shake those days up and avoid the pitfalls of overly boring, super hot-n-sticky days of summer.

1.  Catch the sunset.

Sunset on the Delaware River

 

Catchin The Suns Rays

We are fortunate to live close to a park situated on the Delaware River… making an amazing backdrop for the day’s end.   The playground provided plenty of entertainment while we waited for each stage of the sun setting.  For my toddler is was a great lesson in colors as well, as we watched the sky transform from blues and greens to oranges and purples.  Just an amazing summertime thing to do.  We didn’t stay long after, but you could certainly take advantage of the light evening darkness for catching fireflies.  For more educational ideas, look for shapes in the distance and clouds.  For us, the bridge provided angles and triangles.  Talk about the different types of clouds, fresh water vs salt bodies of water, and perception of objects (like will that barge fit under the bridge when it looks too large?)  Test your little one to find the best angle to go down the slide or why sneakers might make you go slower.  And be sure to just sit back and enjoy nature’s beautiful daily artistry. 

Pillow Tower Fun

2. Build a tower of pillows.

Pillow Tower Tumbling

Almost like building blocks but bigger and softer.  Bed pillows, sofa pillows, even the decorative throw pillows add a different dimension to your child’s creative structure.  How high can they stack?  How about tunnels or geometric shapes?  Of course they are fun to climb and topple on top of.  The bravest moms might allow sofa cushions in the mix and/or pillow tosses and fights.  (Confession – I wasn’t that brave mom!)

3.  Themed play… in our case it was Star Wars.

These light sabers totally distract kids (and big kids) from unpleasant storms, heat waves or any boredom.  Part of the charm is that these toys rarely get played with, especially for the young one… so I encourage parents to dig deep for something that the kids rarely get to lay their hands on.

Everything Barbie

Another suggestion: clear a play area and pull out ALL of something for a huge focused playtime activity.  By example, we’ve done this with Barbie… lots and lots of Barbies, furniture, clothes, pets, etc and had one big community of Barbie.  Same idea with Little People making a large platform with all the different pieces arranged to create an interactive community (city, farm, circus).

Catching Some Quiet Time

4. Take a trip to your local library.

We enjoyed a variety of picture

Quiet Time At the Library

books and then had some quiet reading time to ourselves.  Unfortunately we missed the children’s story hour by 30 minutes but now we know better.  Be sure to check out the schedule of events at your library since most have programs for families, especially during the summer.

5. Break away from routine.

Find an opportunity to break your schedule.  Enjoy your breakfast outdoors or perhaps an informal dinner on the deck.  Put on a bubbles parade with music and dance.  Consider summer rain showers as natures sprinklers… and dance in the rain.

Picnic With My Brother

Picnic With My Cousins

6.  Create a Fort.

Sharing Our Fort

Pillows, blankets, cushions and large stuffies enable some cool creations.  Once complete, grab your flashlight for some shadow fun.  Pick out some favorite books and read by flashlight in your new cool hiding place.  Challenge your kids to build a tunnel, multiple entrances and hideaways within the structure.  For added educational fun, consider discussions around the pyramids and ancient castles that were cleverly designed with tunnels, secret spaces and defense in mind.

For more ideas visit Kelly Whalen’s article “25 Frugal Ways To Keep The Kids Busy This Summer” at blog.ableBanking.com.  She includes handy tips like finding free camps, discount museum admission, garden tours and so much more.  Share with us:  What’s your coolest boredom buster?

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Reading Rainbow – A Family Favorite is Back as an App

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The fondest memories of my childhood include dancing in the summer rain with my Dad, holding summer “camp” with my siblings and cousins in the backyard, taking day trips with my family and always story time – many times cuddled up with my Mom on our couch, or sometimes shared sitting on the floor of our local library, and often watching Reading Rainbow on PBS. Yes, my brother, sister and I were quite fortunate to have engaged parents, passionate about giving us nontraditional learning experiences and exploring with us through literature, discussion, art and hands-on activity.

Season after season, Reading Rainbow remained a “staple” program in our family’s television viewing. And this was true for millions of viewers as the television series was broadcast from June of 1983 to November of 2006. The program focused on literacy for children and introduced a wide variety of books to engage the young readers’ imagination and love of reading.

All smiles with his Reading Rainbow App

Well that beloved program is back – in a digital format to best relate with our youngest generation of readers.  On the 20th of June, RRKids relaunched Reading Rainbow as an iPad App. The Reading Rainbow App holds all of its original program’s charm and characteristics simply in a new format – a preferred method for our highly digital world. Below please check out an introduction to the App by Co-Founder and Host LeVar Burton.

Reading Rainbow Intro Video

Posing with LeVar Burton, Co-Founder

“Reading will never go out of style, but the tools used for learning are changing.  I am excited to bring Reading Rainbow back so that parents who watched the show can now share that same feel-good experience with their own children but on a platform that resonates with today’s digital kids.”  LeVar Burton, Co-Founder


This iPad App showcases several clever islands with themes such as Genius Academy, Animal Kingdom and My Family. Each of these islands hold a large variety of digital books based on the theme, age and interest of your child. Books are brought to life with some animation, activities and audio celebrity storytelling include LeVar Burton. In addition to the library of books of over 150, the App maintains the real-life exploration from the t.v. program with 16 exciting video field trip adventures built into the themed islands. This reinvented Reading Rainbow App truly captures the essence of the original television series I grew up with and loved as a child.

Posing with Mark Wolfe, Co-Founder

“Throughout its more than two decades on television, Reading Rainbow enjoyed an exceptional reputations for children’s quality programming. That same focus – bringing together the best, most enriching, content for children, all in one place – is what the RRKisz is all about; now with the Reading Rainbow App and in the future with a wide array of new projects.”  Mark Wolfe, Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer


But Parents – there’s more… with the subscription option an online parental resource and dashboard is included to keep track of the books your child read and give you updates on how many hours your child is reading, suggestions for books and summaries to aid with family discussions on the lessons in the books. As parents, we don’t necessarily read every book our child does but with questions and hints made available to us, we can engage in a more interactive experience prompting creative thinking, dialog and literature concepts.

Asra Rasheed, RRKidz CEO

“We’ve created an easy-to-use subscription service for parents, allowing then to unlock the extensive Reading Rainbow library books and videos without the worry of approving and purchasing each item separately.”  Asra Rasheed, RRKidz CEO


The Reading Rainbow iPad App is free to download with access to the library of books, field trip videos and the islands, however, books are limited to one download at a time. The subscription for the iPad App includes multiple book downloads and the parental dashboard/complimentary website. For a limited-time the subscription is offered at an introductory rate of $9.99 monthly or $29.99 for a six month package.
Screen shots of the iPad App:

With the privilege of attending a preview of the App, I was also fortunate to meet the team responsible for this reinvention of Reading Rainbow, including the beautiful and talented Ms. Tina Fabrique, the original voice behind the Reading Rainbow theme song. And who can forget the creative and tasty cake by Carlo’s Bakery, as seen on TLC’s Cake Boss.

Posing with the ever-smiling Tina Fabrique

Cake by Carlos Bakery, as seen on TLCs Cake Boss.


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Frog and Toad Come to Local Theater

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Favorite Children’s Classic comes to theater…

Appel Farm Arts and Music Center of Salem County is offering a theater performance: A Year With Frog and Toad on February 11th at 2 PM.  For ticket information, directions and details please visit their website at : www.appelfarm.org.

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