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My dream is to spark a national conversation about how massive parental involvement is the key to high quality education.

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Emergent Writing

“My kid writes upside down and backward!” Should you freak out? Answer: Is your child mid third grade or older? Then yes, be concerned and look into it. Younger than third grade? Don’t sweat it. My daughter is a classic emergent writer. All of the pictures in this blog post come from the past two weeks. I didn’t help … Continue reading

What we do Afterschool

In our state, half-day Kindergarten is only 2 hours and 4 minutes long. That’s why Afterschooling is so important for my daughter. Here’s a brief look at what we’ve been up to these past couple of weeks.                         We’ve been so busy, I haven’t … Continue reading

“Call Me Grim” by Elizabeth Holloway

Call Me Grim by Elizabeth Holloway is the perfect book for a misty October night. Libi should be dead right now, except for creepy-stalker-guy Aaron saved her moments before a truck would have ended her teenage life. The catch is that Aaron is a local Grim Reaper and he wants Libi to take over his job. As … Continue reading

Q and A with Darlene Beck Jacobson, author of “Wheels of Change”

Do you love a great historical fiction book for kids as much as I do? Then check out my previous review of Wheels of Change by Darlene Beck Jacobson. Today I’m excited to share a bit more about this fabulous new book. Darlene graciously accepted my offer to interview her! Wheels of Change Jenny: Was your protagonist … Continue reading

Dare U 2 Open This Book


Dare U 2 Open This Book: Draw It, Write It, Dare 2 Live It is a 90 day religious devotional for boys by Carol McAdams Moore. It’s extremely visual-spatial and only a little bit verbal. By this I mean Moore asks kids to draw pictures, doodle and mess around with crayons and pencils in order to journal their thoughts, instead of write a bunch of paragraphs. I think this format works great. We should give boys the opportunity to do visual-spatial activities as much as possible.

Dare U 2 Open This Book: Draw It, Write It, Dare 2 Live It is a devotional, so it’s heavy on religion. Each section starts with a Bible verse and then asks boys to think about it. But unlike so many other religious books for kids, Moore doesn’t tell boys how to think. She doesn’t cram a particular dogma down kids’ throats. I appreciate that tremendously.

Now for the harshest critic of all. I gave this book to my nine-year-old son and he thought it was pretty cool. I asked him if it was something that he thought he would use and he said “Not right now, but if it’s laying around the house I’ll eventually read it.”

Good enough for me.

P.S. I received a free copy of this book from Book Look in exchange for my honest opinions and review.

I review for BookSneeze®

 

“Survival Colony 9″ Makes Boys Want to Read

In a post-apocalyptic world turned to dust, Querry Genn’s amnesia is either his greatest strength–or his downfall–depending on whom you ask. That’s the premise between Joshua David Bellin’s brilliant debut novel, Survival Colony 9. I was so excited to read this book that I preordered it from Amazon. Survival Colony 9 was everything I hoped it would be. … Continue reading

Falling in love with picture books, all over again

The most gorgeous book arrived in the mail today called Noah: A Wordless Picture Book. Beautiful doesn’t even begin to describe it. The artist,  Mark Ludy, raised a $36,000 Kickstarter campaign to get this book published. That shows you: 1) how darn expensive it is to publish a book these days, and 2) how much … Continue reading

Afterschooling at the beach

Half-day Kindergarten is only 2 hours and 40 minutes in Washington State. So every day after Kindergarten my daughter and I do “Mom School”. (Check out my full plan here.) On Tuesday we took Mom School to the beach.       One of the great things about sand is that it works on fine motor skills as … Continue reading

The Berenstain Bears Blessed are the Peacemakers

The Berenstain Bears Blessed are the Peacemakers by Mike Berenstain is a mash-up of Brother and Sister Bear, Romeo and Juliet and the Beatitudes. The story hangs together okay, but not in a very engaging way.

I was pretty disappointed by how the whole peacemaking thing was handled. This was such a rich opportunity to offer children real problem solving skills they could use on the playground. Instead, they were offered an example of Cousin Fred jumping into the middle of a fight and quoting a Bible verse. That’s not how things usually go down at recess.

Also, I’m not entirely sure I agree that the meaning of “reap a harvest of righteousness” is “get a rich reward”. I think I would probably explain it as growing and gathering good things in our community.

In fairness to the book, there were some thought provoking questions at the end in “Activities and Questions from Brother and Sister Bear”. Hopefully parents and kids discuss these questions at length.

P.S. I received a free copy of this book from BookLook in exchange for my honest opinions and review.

I review for BookSneeze®

“Wheels of Change” by Darlene Beck Jacobson

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I am so excited to introduce you to Darlene Beck Jacobson’s new middle grade book Wheels of Change. Some of you might recognize Darlene as the author of the popular blog Gold From the Dust: Bringing Stories to Life.

Wheels of Change tells the story of sixth grade Emily Soper who lives in Washington D.C. at the turn of the century. For a twelve-year-old, Emily faces some pretty heavy stuff. Her favorite teacher is a suffragist, her frenemy’s mom is racist and Emily herself is embroiled in a daily battle with her mother over “acting like a proper young lady”.

I especially loved how relatable Emily is. She’s passionate about fighting for justice, but not in a stuffy way. You better be careful around this girl and a teapot!

The historical tidbits peppered into the story were fun too. In one instance, Emily’s mother is delighted to discover Corn Flakes because it means she doesn’t have to fire up the stove for breakfast.

Boys and girls alike will relate to this coming of age story set against the last days of Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency. They might actually learn something along the way–without even knowing it. That’s the best type of historical fiction as far as I’m concerned.

Interested in finding out more? Check out the trailer:

 

Putting the sense in Number Sense

The best teaching happens when you make a lesson visual, spatial and auditory. That’s why I love teaching kids number sense with a math balance. Utilizing a math balance in a whole-class setting of twenty-seven kids would be tricky, but at home with one child it’s easy. The  balance we own came from Right Start and costs $25. 5 does not … Continue reading

Better Handwriting Paper

I love-love-LOVE this new handwriting paper I’m trying out with my five-year-old daughter Jenna. It’s called Smart Start K-1 Story Paper and I bought it from Amazon. What makes this paper genius is the colored lines. The blue line at the top is the sky, the green line on the bottom is the ground, and the … Continue reading

Destined for Doon

Destined for Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon is the second book I’ve read in the Doon series. (See my previous review here.) Both books are YA meets Brigadoon the musical. Two modern girls from Indiana, Veronica and Mackenna, are magically transported to the world of Doon where dancing, fashion, evil curses and two Scottish princes await. In this second installment Mackenna is brought back to Doon to assist Veronica in defeating a zombie fugus that is invading the land.

A real positive of the series is that both Veronica and Mackenna are intelligent, take-charge young women attempting to make good decisions for their lives. Veronica is more studious, but Mackenna is career driven. The story alternates chapters from each protagonists’ viewpoint.

I especially loved the line from page 220 “In the meantime, do what you can, and when you canna do any more, pause to honor the people in your life that make it worth living.” What a beautiful sentiment to share with young readers.

Not being a teen girl myself, a question I have is whether or not a fifteen-year-old would pick up all of the Broadway references that are packed into the Mackenna chapters. Almost every other thought she has is a clever allusion to “Tell Me on a Sunday”, “The Chorus Line” or “Les Miserables”. One of the funniest sections was a mash-up of the beginning of “Into the Woods”. If you’ve seen “Into the Woods” this is hilarious, but otherwise you might be confused.

Still, Destined for Doon  was smart, fun and engaging.  This book is definitely a keeper for when my daughter grows up. Thank you BookLook for providing me with a free copy in exchange for my honest opinion and review.

I review for BookSneeze®

Rocky Reach Dam

On our way back from a camping trip in Lake Chelan my husband suggested stopping at Rocky Reach Dam along the Columbia River. “No way,” I said. “That sounds boring.” “Twenty minutes, my husband promised. “Tops.” It turns out we stayed for two hours because the dam was so much fun. First we checked out the fish … Continue reading

Instant Homemade Books

Homemade books are one of the best examples of how parents can help kids learn to read. In a classroom setting, personalized books are difficult to manage. But at home, Mom and child can whip out a book in fifteen minutes. The whole point is to create leveled readers with meaningful content that is sure to engage your … Continue reading

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