Teaching My Baby To Read

Home » 2014

Yearly Archives: 2014

Gluten Free at Walt Disney World: Sunshine Seasons

image

My family visited Walt Disney World in December of 2014. I am gluten intolerant and allergic to soy, but do not have Celiac disease. Near the end of our vacation my son and I stopped for a quick breakfast at Sunshine Seasons in EPCOT. I knew that if I spoke up, somebody from the kitchen would bring out the big allergy book and figure out exactly what I could eat that was safe. However, we were in a rush, and frankly, I was sick of all the hassle.

So I looked in the ready-made section and found this Antipasta salad that looked like it was okay. I paired it with coffee and an Enjoy Life bar, and paid for it with a quick service credit. Otherwise the total price was close to $17 as I recall.

I took a big risk with the prosciutto because often times pork products contain gluten, but luckily I didn’t get sick.  Any boy was that salad yummy!

Gluten Free at Walt Disney World: Tokyo Dining

image

My family visited Walt Disney World in December of 2014. I am gluten intolerant and allergic to soy, but do not have Celiac disease. Everywhere we went at WDW I found safe places to eat. At Tokyo Dining at Epcot, the manager came to our table to help me choose things from the menu.

Salad.

Salad.

Sashimi.

Sashimi.

My meal also included green tea ice cream for dessert. Everything was excellent!

Gluten Free at Walt Disney World: Cinderella’s Royal Table

image

My family visited Walt Disney World in December of 2014. I am gluten intolerant and allergic to soy, but do not have Celiac disease. Everywhere we went at WDW I found safe places to eat. Cinderella’s Royal Table was no exception. The chef came to our table to personally go over the menu with me and offered lots of options.

Fresh g-free bread and my own butter.

Fresh g-free bread and my own butter.

Salad.

Salad.

Salmon.

Salmon.

Cheesecake!

Cheesecake!

I would whole heartedly recommend Cinderella’s Royal Table to the g-free guest. Please note, I made our reservations 180 days in advance in order to secure us a spot!

image

image

 

Gluten Free at Disney World: The Liberty Tavern

image

My family visited Walt Disney World in December of 2014. I am gluten intolerant and allergic to soy, but do not have Celiac disease. The first table service restaurant we visited was Liberty Tavern in The Magic Kingdom. The chef came out to speak to me before I placed my order. This was my first encounter to how amazing WDW is at handling food issues.

I ordered the gluten-free pilgrim’s platter with a cappuccino. It was outstanding! The chef whipped me up a special gluten free brownie alamode sundae for dessert, that I devoured before I thought to take a picture. You’ll just have to trust me on this one, it was pure heaven.

I would definitely recommend The Liberty Tavern and hope to visit there again someday.

“The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong” by L. Tam Holland

image

I’ve been excited to read The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong, by debut author L. Tam Holland, ever since I saw it listed in the Stanford alumni magazine. You might even say I had outrageously high expectations for the book. Luckily, Holland did not disappoint! The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong is hysterically funny, tense in all of the right moments, and poignant, especially at the end.

Vee Crawford-Wong is half Texan, half Chinese, and that’s about as much as he knows about his personal identity. His mom and dad refuse to tell him one tidbit of information about where they come from. On the rare occasions when his dad does say something about China, it’s usually something about American Chinese food. Vee’s mom tells him more about their 2005 Toyota named Fanny, then about her aging parents in Ding Dong Texas.

When Vee’s history teacher makes the class write a five page paper about their ancestry, Vee makes a bunch of stuff up. One lie leads to another and soon the Crawford-Wong family is headed towards China and a truth that nobody wants to reveal.

This book is rich enough for a ninth grade English class–if the parents don’t complain about all the almost-sex scene. The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong also has something missing from a lot of YA bookshelves these days, a non-white main character.

#WeNeedDiverseBooks!

Review: Walt Disney World’s Beach Club Resort

Where we stayed: The Beach Club Resort

Where we stayed: The Beach Club Resort

My family went to Walt Disney World in December of 2014 and stayed at the Beach Club Resort. We booked through AAA which gave us an upgrade to a waterside view.

The absolute best part of The Beach Club was it’s close proximity to EPCOT. It was only a 5-10 minute walk away from The International Gateway entering the World Showcase between France and England.

The second best part of The Beach Club is the pool, Stormalong Bay. In addition to a lazy river, two water slides, multiple hot-tubs and a real sand beach, it also had lifeguards. The pool is designed in such a way that mom and dad can kick back and still watch their kids play at a variety of locations. It’s the only pool I’ve ever seen with a sand bottom, which was super cool.

Since we visited WDW in December, we got to see The Beach Club decorated for Christmas. The had some sort of scent piped in that made the whole lobby smell like gingerbread. There was also a huge gingerbread carousel that was motorized.

One amenity not pictured is The Sandcastle Club, which is the onsite childcare service. On the last night of our trip my husband and I dropped our kids off at the Sandcastle Club and walked over to Epcot for dinner. We used a AAA discount, and the total cost of almost 5 hours of childcare was $105. The kids had a blast, and my husband and I did the wine tasting walk through EPCOT.

The second closest park to The Beach Club is Hollywood Studios, which is about a one mile walk or a fifteen minute boat ride. The Magic Kingdom was about a twenty minute bus ride away, and the Animal Kingdom was slightly shorter.

This is the third Walt Disney World resort I’ve stayed in, and is by far my favorite. When I was a kid I stayed at The Polynesian and The Swan.

Drawbacks to The Beach Club are the price. Also, some of the interior decorating shows wear and tear. There was a small rip in our sofa. One of the beds had clearly been jumped on and the springs were shot.

But all in all, I would definitely stay at The Beach Club again, or perhaps its sister hotel, The Yacht Club.

Wine tasting without needing to drive home. Perfect!

Wine tasting without needing to drive home. Perfect!

The Beach Club lobby's most famous Christmas decoration.

The Beach Club lobby’s most famous Christmas decoration.

Our room

Our room

Our view

Our view

Fake Canada

Fake Canada in EPCOT

The ginormous pool with real sand

The ginormous pool with real sand

The Beach Club at night

The Beach Club at night

“Rebels” by Jill Williamson

IMG_1137

Rebels is book three of The Safe Lands series by Jill Williamson. (You can read my review of Outcasts, here.) The novels take place in a dystopian future where pleasure is promoted at the expense of real relationships and ethics. The heroes of the story are religious people from a patriarchal family where the men are always in charge and the women stay home to do laundry and homeschool children. The few instances where women step out on their own, something bad happens like they get captured. It’s like the antithesis of girl-power.

Instead of a central protagonist, Rebels jumps around between three brothers: Levi, Mason and Omar, as well as two sisters: Jemma and Shaylinn. There are also a bunch of kids, kindred folk, city people, bad guys, criminals, medics and other characters to keep track of. Even though I was already familiar with the series, it was really hard to remember who everyone was. To add to the confusion, a few of the characters have two different names.

On the plus side, Jill Williamson deserves a lot of credit for managing a very complex plot and tying up the threads neatly together at the end. At the two thirds mark of Rebels, I was wondering how the heck she was going to pull it off, and yet she did. The ending answers all questions, and provides a satisfactory conclusion. The only lingering concern I have is the book’s message that husbands are usually right and wives should do almost all of the housework. That type of future truly qualifies as dystopian!

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

I review for BookSneeze®

Is Walt Disney World worth the money?

image

Hello friends! It’s been quiet here on Teaching My Baby to Read because my family took off for Walt Disney World the first week of December. I’m channeling all of my thoughts into a future “I Brake for Moms” column.

Was a trip to Walt Disney World worth the money? YES! Last week goes down in my top three vacations of all time.

Here are some pictures so you can arm-chair travel with us.

P.S. I owe a special thanks to Kristen from Teaching Stars because I texted her a bunch of pictures of Florida birds that she ID’d for us on the spot! Sweet!

 

The Jungle Boat

The Jungle Boat

Elsa freezes Cinderella's castle.

Elsa freezes Cinderella’s castle.

 

The Animal Kingdom

The Animal Kingdom

Expedition Everest--My five-year-old loved it.

Expedition Everest–My five-year-old loved it.

Behind the Seeds tour in the Land pavilion at Epcot.

Behind the Seeds tour in the Land pavilion at Epcot.

Dessert at Cinderella's Royal Table

Dessert at Cinderella’s Royal Table

 

Where we stayed: The Beach Club Resort

Where we stayed: The Beach Club Resort

Fantasmic

Fantasmic

“Bonhoeffer Abridged: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy” by Eric Metaxas


Bonhoeffer Abridged: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas is a deeply thought-provoking look into the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. But it’s also more than that, because it tells the story of how Bonhoeffer’s entire family was effected by the tumultuous years between World War I and World War II. His father, Karl Bonhoeffer, was a famous psychiatrist and outspoken opponent of Freud. Dietrich’s twin sister, Sabine, married a man of Jewish decent and fled Germany to escape persecution. The Bonhoeffers were elite intellectuals, but neither money nor power was able to protect them from Hitler.

The heart of this book is how so many Germans risked and sometimes forfeited their lives to speak up against evil. Before I read Bonhoeffer Abridged, I did not know about the German Confessional Church which broke away from the National Church and objected to the Nazi regime. Bonhoeffer was a leader in this movement. As a spiritual thinker he was very ecumenical in nature. Bonhoeffer believed that Christians could benefit from spiritual practices from many denominations, including the Catholic church. I feel like he could preach at my United Methodist Church tomorrow, and fit right in.

As Hitler consolidated his power, the Bonhoeffer family was privy to information about SS atrocities that was still hidden from the rest of the world because there were so many Bonhoeffer relatives in high places. Dietrich was a committed pacifist, but as time wore on he joined the anti-Hitler resistance movement.

Tragically, Dietrich was killed at Flossenburg concentration camp, which my grandfather helped liberate two weeks later as part of the 741st Tank Battalion. So for me, this book had personal significance because I knew my grandpa was coming to help, but would not get there in time to save Dietrch’s life.

If you are at all interested in World War I or World War II history, you will love Bonhoeffer Abridged: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. I received a free copy from BookLook in exchange for my honest opinion and review.

I review for BookSneeze®

 

IMG_6406

 

 

Exciting News!

IMG_1151

Dear Teaching My Baby to Read followers,

I’ve waited years to write this post. Today, Publishers Marketplace announced my two book deal with Georgia McBride at Month9Books. BLANK SLATE will release in 2016 and is about an 18 year-old girl whose lack of a virtual footprint makes her so valuable that she is auctioned off to the highest bidder. The sequel will come out in 2017.

Here’s the link to my brand new author page at Month9Books: http://month9booksblog.com/authors/jennifer-bardsley/, my new Facebook page: The YA Gal, and my new homepage: http://jenniferbardsley.net.

I’ve got so many people to thank that my acknowledgement page will be a mile long. But none of this would be possible without the incredible dedication of my literary agent, Liza Fleissig, of the Liza Royce Agency.

I've wanted to be an author since I was 11 years old.

I’ve wanted to be an author since I was 11 years old.

On this blog I’ve talked about the importance of empowering our kids to become resilient. This is a lesson I hope to teach my own children by example. Three blogs, five manuscripts, 100+ “I Brake for Moms” columns in The Everett Daily Herald; I’ve put in 10,000 hours of writing and my family knows what this dream has cost.

IMG_3565

But it’s worth it.

In 2016 there will be an author box in our family library with my name on it.

I hope when 2016 comes, you’re still with me. I hope you love my book and write glowing reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I hope you tweet about it to all your friends!

In the meantime, my mission for Teaching My Baby to Read remains unchanged. My dream is to spark a national conversation about how massive parental involvement is the key to high quality education. Resiliency will make it happen.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your readership.

Jennifer Bardsley

 

 

Fifth Grade Math Triangle Challenge

wpid-20141102_091647.jpg

Here’s an especially tricky problem from 5th grade geometry. Everyone knows that the area of a triangle is 1/2 (b * h). But with this particular triangle, what qualifies as “the height” is difficult to see. At least it was for me the first time I looked at it.

I don’t know–maybe you’ll look at this problem and say “Duh, Jenny.” But for me, the scalene triangle was strange looking.

When I first looked at this I saw that it would be easy to solve with the Pythagorean Theorem. But Houghton Mifflin Math Expressions hadn’t covered that yet. So there was another even easier way to solve this problem that wasn’t jumping out to my me or my son.

Can you figure out what it is?

From Houghton Mifflin Math Expressions Grade 5 Chapter Two

From Houghton Mifflin Math Expressions Grade 5 Chapter Two

Figuring out the perimeter of the red triangle is easy. That’s 17 + 9 + 10 = 36 cm. But what about the area?

First, I’ll show the way that ends up being the most complicated: using the Pythagorean Theorem.

Using a squared + b squared = c squared, find out the area of the yellow triangle.

Using a squared + b squared = c squared, find out the area of the yellow triangle.

Now that you know b = 6, this lets you figure out that the length of the rectangle is 15 cm. That lets you figure out the area of the whole rectangle.

Now that you know b = 6, this lets you figure out that the length of the rectangle is 15 cm. That lets you figure out the area of the whole rectangle.

Using the Pythagorean Theorem to find the area of the yellow triangle.

Use the Pythagorean Theorem to find the area of the yellow triangle.

Then you figure out the area of the green triangle, and subtract green and yellow from the area of the rectangle, finally finding your answer.

Then you figure out the area of the green triangle, and subtract green and yellow from the area of the rectangle, finally find your answer.

This is a perfect example of how being algorithm dependent can screw up your number sense. I was so sure the Pythagorean Theorem was the way to go, I initially missed seeing the easier solution.

Another look at the original problem.

Another look at the original problem.

Okay, so everyone knows that the area of a triangle is 1/2 b * h. But with this particular triangle, that's tricky to see.

Triangles can always become parallelograms, which can be easier to deal with.

Now it's super easy to see that 8 cm = the height of the triangle, right?

Here’s the “Duh!” moment. Now it’s super easy to see that 8 cm = the height of the parallelogram which means it also = the height of the triangle.

1/2 the area of the parallelogram is the area of your triangle.

1/2 the area of the parallelogram is the area of your triangle.

Now after all of that, let’s look at the original problem and try a third method to solve this problem, using the formula 1/2 (b*h). This is arguably the easiest method.

image

1/2 (9 * 8) = 36 sq cm.

Okay, so why didn’t I use the formula to begin with? When my son first looked at this, why didn’t I say “Dude, plug in the formula 1/2 (b * h),”?

Because that’s not what good math teachers do. Math is more than memorizing and applying formulas. Math is about experimenting, visualizing, internalizing and sometimes struggling until you reach a higher level of understanding.

This is an example of a problem that is simple yet confusing. Those are the best types! I’ve gone through college level calculus and I still looked at the picture and couldn’t viscerally understand why 8 cm was the height of the triangle. Neither could anyone in my family. (My husband, btw, is a lot smarter in math than me!)

So we played with this problem. We turned it inside out. Now, it makes sense. Along the way, we got to do a lot of cool math.

“Muse” by Erin Mcfadden

image

“Clean” YA can be hard to come by so I was especially excited to read  Muse (Descended From Myth Book 1), by debut author Erin McFadden.

Anna is unaware that she is a Talent, capable of impressing her will upon other people and inspiring them to greatness, until a Guardian named Daniel explains her powers. As their two fates intertwine, Anna and Daniel face danger, darkness, and the irresistible draw to each other, even though Talent/Guardian relationships never work out.

At 181 pages,  Muse is an enjoyable read. I found the story engaging and the characters likeable. The way McFadden alternates between Daniel and Anna POV chapters keeps the pace moving.

The author also peppers her novel with a lot of good lines. A favorite was from page 53: “I’m a very mature nineteen year old. People tell me that all the time! Of course it’s usually when they’re trying to get me to babysit their kids.”

This book is definitely a keeper, and I look forward to reading the second title in the series, TALENT.

P.S. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion and review.

“Just Sayin’: Write ‘Em, Draw ‘Em, Hide ‘Em in Your Heart” Review


Just Sayin’: Write ‘Em, Draw ‘Em, Hide ‘Em in Your Heart by Carol McAdams Moore is a 90 day devotional for modern girls. The format is simple; for each entry there’s a Bible verse and one or two opportunities to respond through doodles, artwork or writing. A plus for me as a United Methodist is there is very little editorializing of the verses. This book doesn’t push one particular religious dogma down kids’ throats.

I was however, a little bid disappointed in some of the verses Moore chose to include. Some of them seemed taken out of context. Do I really need to explain the woman at the well to my young daughter? I don’t know; that’s probably a personal parenting choice. But still, nothing was too “out there” for my five-year-old.

I realize that my daughter is probably younger than the target audience for this book, but she LOVES it. She is very committed to finishing every last page. Part of her enthusiasm comes from watching her brother get Moore’s devotional for boys, Dare U 2 Open This Book: Draw It, Write It, Dare 2 Live It, first.

All in all, I’m impressed with both books. You can find my review for Dare U 2 Open This Book: Draw It, Write It, Dare 2 Live It here.

P.S. I received a free copy of both books from BookLook in exchange for my honest opinion and review.

I review for BookSneeze®

 

 

 

Emergent Writing

Mom is a silly goose.

Mom is a silly goose.

“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 her spell or write anything. The words come from her 5 year-old brain.

Here’s a picture of reverse writing, starting from the bottom and working it’s way up:

I'm sorry for being mean to mom. ???

I’m sorry for being mean to mom. ???

 

In this card to her uncle, she experiments with punctuation:

Uncle Steve. You are nice.

Uncle Steve. You are nice.

 

Here she starts writing in the middle of the page, but runs out of room for [with me] so she adds “wis me” at the top.

God is at Grammy day with me.

God is at Grammy day with me.

 

Here she starts at the top left–yay!– but then decides to go right to left again.

A bee is just right.

A bee is just right.

 

I wasn’t present when she wrote this one so I’m not 100% sure what it says. It looks like another bottom to top piece.

I want to do bedtime with me.

I want to do bedtime with me.

I’m a certificated, experienced K-4 teacher, and I’m telling you, this is what normal looks like for four and five year olds. So if your child is writing like this too, don’t freak out and think your child has a learning disability.

Luckily, there are lots of ways to help kids move past this stage. The #1 tip is provide lots of opportunities to write. It’s also helpful to focus on three types of writing:

  • Free writing (pictured above)
  • Scaffold writing (with dot letters or tracing)
  • Handwriting practice (worksheets that only focus on proper letter formation)
Handwriting

Handwriting Practice

 

And Remember! By winter of third grade, if your child is still doing reversed or backwards letters, that is the time to seek evaluation for a possible learning disability. I’ve consulted dozens of teachers on this, and that is the general consensus. By the end of third grade, backwards letters should be gone.

 

What we do Afterschool

wpid-20140831_221222.jpg

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.

Kid Writing: "A bee is just right."

Kid Writing: “A bee is just right.”

 

Dot-Letter-Writing

Dot-Letter-Writing

 

Piano Lessons

Piano Lessons

 

Handwriting

Handwriting

 

Spatial Thinking Skills

Spatial Thinking Skills

 

Science experiments

Science experiments

 

More Science Experiments

More Science Experiments

 

Art Class

Art Class

 

Cooking--works on math!

Cooking–works on math!

 

Library visits and lots of reading

Library visits and lots of reading

 

Barbie Phonics

Barbie Phonics

 

Reading Eggs

Reading Eggs

 

We’ve been so busy, I haven’t had time to blog! Btw, If you’re interested in any of these resources, here are some Amazon links to get you started.


Mead 48166 Learn to Letter Tablet, 10″ x 8″, 40 Sheets

Phonics Fun with Barbie (Barbie) (Phonics Boxed Sets)

The Magic School Bus – Chemistry Lab

10 Pack FROG STREET PRESS SMART START K-1 STORY PAPER 100