Books, Books, Books!

Books, Books, Books!

 

Well, it’s finally happened.  We have five voracious readers in the house!  Books line our shelves, the library basket is overflowing, and the children are requesting to go check out more.  I asked my children which books have been their favorites over the years.  Here is a list of some of their
best loved chapter books .

From second grade through middle school, they’ve complied a tremendous list of book choices for you.  And, it’s just in time for summer reading!

IMG_3338Let’s Dig In!

 

 

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2nd Grade Favorites
   

Our fifth child took off with reading during his second grade year.  Yay! He went from loving the Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel to Marjorie Weinman Sharmat’s Nate the Great series.  He then surprised me and began reading the Imagination Station series!  He has almost completed all of the books in the Imagination Station series.  He enjoyed them so immensely that he requested that they be incorporated into his 8th birthday theme!    I’m hopeful we can find another series that he enjoys just as well.  He has (somewhat reluctantly) moved onto Geronimo Stilton books, but I’m planning on introducing him to the A to Z Mysteries, Encyclopedia Brown, and the Boxcar Children soon!

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Frog and Toad
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Nate the Great
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Imagination Station
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Geronimo Stilton
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His sister, when she was 7-8 years old, loved the Amelia Bedelia chapter books by Herman Parish, the Critter Club series by Callie Barkley, The Magic Tree House series written by Mary Pope Osborne, the Thea Stilton series, as well as the seemingly endless Rainbow Magic Fairies book series by Daisy Meadows.

Amelia Bedilia
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Critter Club

Magic Tree House
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 Thea Stilton

Rainbow Magic Fairies

 

 

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3rd & 4th Grade Favorites
   

This past year, as a 9-10 year old, she has thoroughly enjoyed some classics like Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Mary Norton’s The Borrowers series, and E.B. White’s books Trumpet of the Swan and Charlotte’s Web. She also enjoys the Winne the Horse Gentler series written by Dandi Daley Mackall, the Tuesdays at the Castle series by Jessica Day George, and the Magical Animal Adoption Agency series by Kallie George.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
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The Borrowers
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Trumpet of the Swan and Charlotte’s Web
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Winnie the Horse Gentler
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Tuesdays at the Castles
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Magical Animal Agency

When our oldest son was her age (9-10), he took pleasure in reading the How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell, The Moffatt series by  Eleanor Estes, and pretty much anything written by Andrew Clements. He also says that he enjoyed the Flashback Four series around that time as well.

How to Train Your Dragon
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The Moffats
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Andrew Clements’ School Stories
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Flashback Four series by Dan Gutman

 

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5th & 6th Grade Favorites
   

During his 5th and 6th grade year (aged 11-12), our son came across several books and series that he was pleased to devour!  He recommends…

C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia series
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The Explorers series by Adrienne Kress
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The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart
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The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart

The Copernicus Legacy series by Tony Abbott

The Hero’s Guide to Saving the Kingdom series by Christopher Healy

The Puzzling World of Winston Breen series by Eric Berlin

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
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The Wizards of Once series by Cressida Cowell

The Hobbit / Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien
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The Mysteries of the Cove series by J. Scott Savage

Masterminds series by Gordon Korman

My second oldest daughter recommends  Wonder, Esperanza Rising, and the Starlight Animal rescue series as well for late elementary and early middle school readers.

Wonder by R. J. Palacio
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Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
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Starlight Animal Rescue series by Dandi Daley Mackall

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Upper Middle School Favorites
   

My oldest daughters (ages 14 and 16) love to read as well.  Although my oldest daughter has slowed down due to her course work load and her passion for writing her own book, I just can’t keep up with all of the books my 14 year old reads!  For middle schoolers (aged 12-14), she recommends the following books and series…

Viking Quest series by Lois Walfred Johnson

The Clockwork Three by Matthew J. Kirby

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan
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The City of Ember series by Jeanne DuPrau
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A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen

The Giver Series by Lois Lowry

Keeper of the Lost Cities  series by Shannon MessengerIMG_5386

Freedom Seekers series by Lois Walfrid Johnson
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The Mozart Season by Virginia Euwer Wolff

The Missing series by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Dauntless by Dina L. Sleiman
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Share this list with a child you love and see if they can find a new book or series
that they might enjoy reading this summer
 – either relaxing by the pool during those pesky safety breaks 
– inside sitting under a fan on those dog days of summer
– or staying cool swinging in a hammock enjoying the warm breeze! 

Best Loved Chapter Books

It’s the perfect time to delve into a great book!

 

Please note that the above links are NOT affiliate links.  They are there as quick links to help visitors learn more about each book or series.

A Summer Reading Adventure

Summer Reading Adventure

I recently pulled a gem of a book out of our book baskets as I was cleaning out our school room.  My Father’s Dragon is a story I remember our oldest two daughters thoroughly enjoying, but, I had somehow failed to ever share it with our younger kids. After they looked at the cover and quickly glanced through the book, their eyes lit up!  I knew we would have to embark on a summer reading adventure (AKA a boredom buster during the dog days of summer).  Won’t you tag along on our adventure?

My Father’s Dragon: Chapter 1

Print out a map of both islands from the inside cover and an image of Elmer.  Move Elmer as you read and follow him on his adventures!

Map

My Father’s Dragon: Chapter 2

After reading the chapter, grab a paper sack and send the kids on a hunt around the house for items similar to those that Elmer packed for his journey. (We added a stick of gum, lollipop, rubber band, compass, toothbrush and toothpaste, magnifying glass, pocketknife, comb, brush, hair ribbon, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and an apple.)  In each chapter, as Elmer encounters a problem, see if kids can predict which item from his knapsack he will use to form a solution!

KnapsackItems

My Father’s Dragon: Chapters 3 – 4

Let everyone peel and eat a tangerine (or clementine) as you read these chapters!  Then, let your children try jumping on the ‘rocks’ (paper plates, paper, napkins. etc) to cross from one side of the yard to the other.  Also, have fun figuring out what the mouse is trying to say using this sheet from Glimmersnaps… My Father’s Dragon Mixed Up Talk Sheet .

Rock Hopping

My Father’s Dragon: Chapters 5

After reading the chapter, learn more about gum or read a fun story involving gum such as Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum by McCarthy or Lester Fizz: Bubble Gum Artist by Ruth Spiro.  Then, encourage your children to make large tiger faces however they desire.  Once their tigers are complete, cut a small round hole where the tiger’s mouth is.  Let the children insert a balloon.  And, there you have it, a tiger chewing bubble gum and blowing bubbles!

MakingTigers3TigersBlowingBubblegumTigersBlowingBubblegum2

My Father’s Dragon: Chapter 6

The fun activity accompanying this chapter comes from Frugal Fun with Boys.  Ahead of time, hard boil an egg for each child and then set it in a bowl filled with dark colored soda for an hour or more.  This will discolor the shells.  After reading, let the children use an old toothbrush and the toothpaste to scrub the egg (reenacting the cleaning of the rhino’s horn).Eggs1Eggs2

My Father’s Dragon: Chapter 7

Want to recreate the lion’s messy mane and then pretty it up?  Have your kids paint a small paper plate to resemble a lion’s face.  Then, they can hole punch all along the outer edge and attach strings of brown and yellow yarn.  Finally, they can braid the strands and attach colorful ribbons.

      LionsMane1  LionsMane2

My Father’s Dragon: Chapter 8

Using a magnifying glass, have your children go outside to explore!  Encourage them to look under rocks, on a tree, in the grass, etc.  What did they discover when they looked more closely at nature?  Have them draw one or two things they found.

LookClosely

My Father’s Dragon: Chapter 9

You just can’t read this chapter without letting your kids enjoy a pink lollipop!  After reading, encourage your kids to pretend to be Elmer and design/create a bridge any way they wish.

PinkLollipopsBridgeConstruction2Building the Island

My Father’s Dragon: Chapter 10

Elmer finally meets and rescues the baby dragon!  Celebrate by making and eating blue and yellow stripped cupcakes.  Then, refer to the description of the dragon back in chapter 2 to draw or craft the dragon!

CupcakeMakingBlue&Yellow Cupcakes    Dragon2Tracing   Dragon2Pieces
(printable pieces to trace and cut out onto your own stripped paper)Dragon2DragonPuppet

Our younger kids looked forward to reading My Father’s Dragon and doing the above activities each day.  You could easily make this adventure even more educational by creating a lapbook and/or adding Vocabulary and Discussion Questions for each chapter as well.

And, now we are off to continue our summer reading adventure, learning about Elmer and the dragon, as we read through the next two books in this series…Elmer and the Dragon and The Dragons of Blueland!

The Importance of Rhymes

Importance of Rhymes

Why is the use of rhymes so important during the early years?

Activities that involve children in rhyming help to develop their…

  • listening skills

    (paying attention to details, words, and sounds)

  • auditory discrimination

    (the ability to tell the difference between different sounds)

  • oral language expression

    (learning to use oral language to communicate wants, thoughts, and ideas, meaningfully within sentences and with correct grammar)

  • ability to manipulate language

    (making strings of rhymes, inventing their own nonsense words that rhyme)

  • vocabulary

    (expanding their use and meanings of new words)

Rhyming experiences
lay a firm foundation
for learning to read!

 

At a young age, children need to have opportunities to engage in rhyming experiences.  They need to be able to have chances to hear, recognize, reproduce, and manipulate the sounds of language in a playful manner.  Rhyming, and specifically nursery rhymes, assists in accomplishing this goal.  Nursery rhymes are short, funny (and sometimes nonsensical), usually have a repetitive beat, can often be sung, memorized, and easily acted out. Since they are oral, you can invite your child to participate in rhymes with you wherever you may be!

Below are two FREE Resources involving rhyming…

Letter and Rhyme Cover

While teaching Kindergarten, I implemented the use of Letter and Rhyme a Day at the beginning of our school year.  It was a quick, fun review for some children and an interactive way to introduce nursery rhymes and rhyming to others who had not been exposed to this foundational skill.  I’ve recently updated the printable Letter and Rhyme sheets.  They now have updated graphics and are easy to download in one document!  

Nursery Rhyme Charts Cover

I also created new Nursery Rhyme Charts!  There are over 40 colorful charts that you can print and enjoy.  Feel free to use them in your classroom or at home.  Maybe print them for ‘read the room’ or place them in individual nursery rhyme folders for kids to take home and share with their families.  

Please note that this Nursery Rhyme Charts booklet contains all of the rhymes used in Letter and Rhyme a Day as well as the ones utilized in our Joyful Heart Bible and Rhyme preschool curriculum.

For additional free rhyme ideas at Hubbard’s Cupboard, please check out the following…
Nursery Rhyme Olympics – fun for a classroom or at home on a spring or summer day
Kindergarten Rhyme Time – a Nursery Rhyme themed Family Night
Nursery Rhyme Artwork
and, for children who are ready, Word Family Printables

 

Homeschool Yearbooks

Homeschool Yearbooks

IMG_8025In high school, I had the opportunity to work as part of our yearbook staff.  It was before everything went digital.  So, I gained experience taking and developing photos, using gridded paper to design layouts measured in picas and using the rule of thirds, as well as writing copy and captions.  I absolutely loved it!

Quite a few years later, with the birth of our first child, I was able to step back into that realm somewhat with the creating of a first year album and family scrapbooks.  Again, though, it was pre-digital and everything was done on scrapbook pages, utilizing real photos that needed cropped with tools, choosing paper backgrounds, borders, and other embellishments such as buttons and stickers to dress up each page, as well as adding sticker letter headlines and handwritten captions.

Jump forward to starting preschool at home and adding more sweet blessings … My time for having free nights and weekend scrapbooking parties with other mom friends became less and less and the albums came to a screeching halt as my responsibilities increased.  There was just no time available to keep creating albums for our family.

Well, now, all of my photos are digital and are taking up space on my phone and computer.  Rarely do the pictures get printed in order to be displayed in our home and they never get printed to form a memorable scrapbook.  It..just..takes..too..much..time!

But, the photos have not stopped.   I am still constantly taking pictures of our kids. 

And, having a scrapbook or photo album for our family to refer to is still very beneficial!

So….

We now create digital homeschool yearbooks!

Yearbook 4

One of the last things I do as our family wraps up an end of a school year is to make a homeschool yearbook.

Why?

  • shared memories

    As a homeschool family, we spend a LOT of time together – singing, reading, playing, and  learning. So much growing and changing is going on each year!   It is important to have a way to help remember these days.  Our kids look at the different homeschool yearbooks made over the years and rehash what they did, where they were, and what they learned.  The shared memories always bring smiles and laughter!

  • a record of the past

    I admit it.  I’m forgetful.  I need a place to remind me of the important events and activities in our busy family’s life.  We record holidays, birthdays, the first day of school, our 100th day celebration, any field trips, co-op experiences, photos of artwork, etc.  We also make sure to capture the everyday learning that is taking place.

  • a sense of accomplishment

    We all know that homeschooling is hard.  We never feel like we are doing enough, being enough, providing enough for our children.  And, we tend to question ourselves (at least I do sometimes) as to whether it is really all worth the time and effort as our days blur together throughout the course of the year. Somehow, seeing the pictures of our children at the end of a long, challenging school year, can be just the thing I need to re-spark the joy of schooling at home as I can visually see the web of learning that was taking place.  It provides a much needed sense of accomplishment – for myself and our kids!

An online photo book editor makes the process of creating a homeschool yearbook so much easier than previous years of doing a book all by hand!  We have been using Shutterfly, but there are other online options available.

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You first choose the size of album you desire and select an overall style or theme.  Next, you upload photos.  They can either be preplaced randomly or, if you are like me, you can organize them by page.  Then, the fun begins!  You can choose background patterns and colors, customize your layout, resize and crop images, and insert graphics and text for each spread!  Tinker and polish to your heart’s delight (and perhaps shed a happy tear or two as you see how much your kids are growing). Once you think you are done, you’ll want to carefully edit your text and picture placement.  Then, hit ‘add to cart’ and check out.  (Tip: Always make sure to look for coupon codes and specials before ordering.  They run deals frequently.  So there is no need to pay full price – unless you are in a hurry.) 

We have found the most difficult part is waiting a few days for our package to arrive in the mail! 

Yearbook 1

But, oh, when it does arrive, watch your kids’ faces light up with excitement!IMG_8020
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I love observing them pour over the new book each year and watching them bring out all of the others… saying, “I remember when we did that!”, asking questions, and talking about events.

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It’s a wonderful way to celebrate a year of homeschool learning!

Story Book Lessons

Preschoolers and Kindergarten aged kids LOVE a good story.  How do you know if it’s a ‘good’ story for 3-6 year olds?

1) They will request it to be read again…and again…and again.

Although you may be tiring of reading the same story over and over, try to keep your enthusiasm!  Multiple readings increase your child’s vocabulary, improves listening skills, and builds a sense of story.  It opens up opportunities to briefly discuss story elements (sequence of events, characters, setting, beginning, middle, end, etc.).  Most importantly, rereading books generates enjoyment and positive memories/experiences of interacting with you and books – creating a foundation to build the love of learning for years to come!

2) They aren’t completely quiet as you read.

Do you hear your child trying to chime in on some of the words or phrases as you are reading? That’s a wonderful sign that you’ve found a perfect book with engaging text! The text in the book is probably repetitive, predictable, contains rhyme, or silly/nonsense words.  It may even be able to be sung. 

3) They ask questions and/or make observations.

Are your kids making connections between the illustrations and what is being read aloud in the text? Are they making predictions about what they think might happen next?  This shows they are interested and making connections!  They may be able to relate to the characters (people and animals) and look forward to turning the page and seeing what happens to them!

4) They continue to refer to the story long after it is over.

Do you overhear your child spontaneously retelling the story to someone else? Do they make statements in their play and everyday living referencing some connection back to the book? Do they desire to act out parts of the story?  These are positive indications that you’ve found a great book for them!

Whether teaching in a Kindergarten classroom or reading to my young children at home, these were the signs that a ‘good’ book had been discovered!

Over at Hubbard’s Cupboard, I have listed more than 25 ‘good’ books to use with preschoolers and kindergarten children.  Each book link gives ideas for rereading the book over a period of five days and lessons to accompany each story. May you be able to adapt these story lesson ideas and use them within your own home or classroom to encourage a love for reading!

Ten Red Apples  It Started As An Egg  Caps For Sale

Story Lessons

What are some books that your 3-6 year olds ask to have read again and again?

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