“Mr. Morton is the subject of the sentence and what the predicate says – he does!”
Thanks to Tina, via her FB page, for this.
“Mr. Morton is the subject of the sentence and what the predicate says – he does!”
Thanks to Tina, via her FB page, for this.
Sometimes, it’s the subject matter that puts them off.
Take me and The Hunger Games, for instance.
I have tried to read it several times. But every time I picked up the book… yep, still about children killing each other.
It’s not for me.
I don’t get the whole dystopian thing. I find it creepy, depressing and scary.
But I also get that The Hunger Games, and the whole dystopian genre, is hugely popular with kids. They love it.
The Hunger Games is well-written and compelling. The characters are well-rounded, the world itself intricate and thoroughly thought-out.
But… it’s about children killing each other.
I saw the movie on the weekend.
When the lights went down, it felt like I was on a rollercoaster to a scary destination, from which I couldn’t disembark. And essentially that’s what happened.
From the first moment, when we see how the people in District 12 are living – and all throughout the movie – it’s my version of hell. Watching children living in horrible distress, being set up by adults, and ultimately watching some of them die.
It’s the reason I walked out of Slumdog Millionaire. (Which was billed as “uplifting” – a marketing lie I still haven’t forgiven.)
I didn’t want to see the The Hunger Games, but as a children’s literacy blogger and writer I could no longer avoid this literary juggernaut. I had to get into that rollercoaster and buckle up. (With my 10-year-old, who thoroughly enjoyed every second, wasn’t very disturbed by it, and helped me through the scary bits. “Remember, it’s just a movie, mom!”)
All of this has given me insight into kids who are forced to read material they haven’t chosen for themselves.
No matter how well-written or popular it is, sometimes you’re just not into certain books.
If I were a kid and The Hunger Games was on the curriculum, I can imagine the teacher saying, “it’s a great book! Millions of kids love it!” But it wouldn’t be my choice and all those other kids loving it still wouldn’t make me want to read it.
I’m glad I saw the movie. I’m not sure if I will ever be able to get through the books – although now that I’ve met Katniss Everdeen I do kind of want to know her better.
In the meantime, where did I put my copy of Scott Pilgrim? I need a chaser.
• Fostering imagination
• Putting events in sequence
• Inspiration for writing a story
• Staving off boredom while you’re waiting at a restaurant
• General all-round silliness.
There are nine dice. Each one has six simple pictures. For instance, a happy face, a magic wand, a tree.
You use the nine images to build a story.
I was happy when I found a magical tree.
The magician used a tree to make his wand. It was a happiness wand.
I “wand-ered” over to a tree, where I stopped and smiled at my own pun.
The great thing is that there are no wrong answers. And all kinds of possibilities.
You can use as many or as few dice as you want. You can ignore some. You can make the images mean just what you want—even if that wouldn’t be someone else’s interpretation of the picture.
And you can get as silly as you want.
Rory’s Story Cubes are portable and stored in an elegant little magnetic-closure case. We bring them to restaurants and roll them while we’re waiting for the food to come.
If you’ve got a few kids in your group—even if they’re very diverse in terms of age or interests—it’s a great way to keep them occupied. And laughing.
There’s a great back-story to this game. Rory originally invented his cube game for companies to foster creativity and teamwork. He has since come up with a number of different versions, including a version with just “action” pictures (verbs), one that’s about voyages, and a smart phone app.
Rory’s story cubes sell for about $15 and they’re available at most toy stores or online at the Rory’s Story Cubes website.
In fact, we consider it one of the top three most important things you can do to help your kid develop a love of reading.
Every day – but especially on Wed., March 7 – take the time to read to your child.
Or even someone else’s. Or a bunch of kids. There’s no downside – and a huge upside.
More information on WRAD here.
Dragon’s Tail gives you the beginning of a story, and your kid writes the rest.
There are 13 book bites in all, each one an intriguing start, whimsically illustrated, to a story that your child will finish.
Here’s my favourite:
Dracula and Son
“Wake up, son! It’s time to terrify the neighbourhood!”
Papa Drac stretched and yawned, flexing his long, white hands and testing his bright, white fangs with a handy fork.
Ping! They were solid and scary–ready for all the terrifying stuff he had planned for the surrounding countryside, the lonely farmhouses, and the craggy castles.
“You’ve already slept in for nine months! It’s Hallowe’en–time to sharpen those pearly whites and to practise blood-curdling screeches, climbing down walls, and flapping about in a creepy way!”
It goes on, but you get the idea.
Dragon’s Tail would be great for homeschooling, for teachers and for parents with kids who are keen to write but need a bit of inspiration.
And best of all, kids can go to the book publisher’s website and upload the endings they’ve written for any of the stories. Fun!
I was talking to a mom today about a child who is having some trouble with reading comprehension. In other words, he reads a paragraph and has trouble understanding and summarizing what he’s just read.
He also isn’t reading a lot—possibly he doesn’t enjoy reading because of his difficulties with comprehension.
There are lots of fun activities to help with that and here are a few that I suggested.
1) Take a newspaper and turn to an interesting story. Reading just the headline and looking at the pictures, ask him what he thinks the news story will be about. If he’s having trouble, get him to identify and circle the verbs in the headline and/or the nouns. Use those key words as “hints” as to what the article will be about.
Make sure you pick a headline that’s not too convoluted, and that’s about something interesting for him. If he likes sports, turn to a sports story. (Our sister website, TeachingKidsNews has hundreds of kid-friendly news articles and headlines.)
2) Ask your child to tell you about a video game he likes to play or movie he just saw. Ask him a specific question about it, that encourages him to explain it—for instance, “what scene in the movie made you laugh out loud?” or, “what powers does the main character in the video game have?”
This is part of a process known as “retelling.” Gradually, you can build the activity to the point where he’s retelling the whole movie or video game.
Incidentally, if you’ve got a super active kid, walk around outside with him while having this conversation. Sometimes a kid thinks better when his body is moving. (You’re not his teacher—you don’t have to confine your interactions to a classroom or a desk!)
3) Do a simple recipe together. Bake some chocolate chip cookies (after you’ve simplified the recipe and made it easy to read). While the cookies are in the oven, get him to describe what you did to make the cookies. “First, we melted the butter…” Don’t worry if he misses steps or goes into too much, or too little, detail.
Just have him hit the highlights: We mixed the ingredients together, put it in the oven and baked the cookies. That gives you something to work with; you can fine-tune his retelling skills with questions like, “wasn’t there something before we put them in the oven? Didn’t we have to scoop something?”
Of course, watch for his cues to make sure he isn’t getting frustrated. If he’s done with the whole exercise, then just go and have a cookie together. He’ll get better at it over time.
4) Try a story-building game like GROSS-ABULARY (we just did a review on this terrific game) or Rory’s Story Cubes (we’re about to review it in the next week or so, but if you’re interested now, here’s a link to their website).
5) Write a three-sentence story on a long piece of paper. Make sure it has a beginning, a middle and an end. For instance:
We went to the zoo. We saw some monkeys. The monkey tried to steal my ice cream cone.
This activity can work for older kids as well:
Obi-Wan was driving past a Stormtrooper with C3PO and R2D2. He used a Jedi mind-trick to convince the Stormtrooper, “these are not the droids you’re looking for.” The Stormtrooper let them pass.
Cut the sentences apart and mix them up; have him put the sentences back in the right order. If that’s too easy, take two stories and mix all six sentences up. Have him sort them into individual stories and then put them in the right order.
6) Reading comprehension can bring instant rewards. Play a game in which reading and understanding what you’ve read brings a quick and fun reward. For instance, give him a paragraph that says something like, “If you look in your shoe by the front door, you will find a clue.” Then, in his shoe hide a second instruction, “Look under the sink for your next instructions.” And of course under the sink there’s another clue. Do as many or as few as you think he’ll enjoy… the last one is accompanied by a treat like a small present or a Hershey’s Kiss.
If you’d rather not create your own scavenger hunt, UKloo is a wonderful scavenger hunt that’s all ready to go. Here’s my review of this excellent game.
Two more things you need to know: First, I’m baking cookies as I write this post, so my whole house smells like literacy. Yum. And second, you know that I don’t get paid by any companies to endorse products, right? I’m just always on the lookout for excellent literacy games and toys. And I find ‘em, oh yes, I find ‘em!
It’s a literacy game that’s gross.
And we all know that kids—okay, especially boys—love gross.
If your kid is “one of those,” then GROSS-ABULARY will be right up his alley.
It’s a game about building gross sentences, using starter concepts like belch, armpit and flu for inspiration.
You take a card with a caption like bacteria and your job is to build a sentence around the word before the three-minute timer runs out.
You’re given a pile of words and word endings (suffixes) to choose from. And your sentence can be as silly, serious, gross or normal as you’d like. The longer the sentence, the better, since you get a point for every word you use.
The winner of each round gets to answer a multiple-choice trivia question on the back of his card:
How many more bacteria are on an office desk than in a toilet, 20 times, 200 times or 400 times? A: 400 times—I think it’s time to clean your desk.
If the player answers the question correctly, he wins that card; the player with the most cards wins the game.
To add to the literacy angle, my son and I read each other’s sentences out after every round. That also added to the surprise factor, since I could shock my kid a bit with some very ridiculous sentences that unfolded for him as he read them out.
So if you’ve got a kid who loves gross more than reading, GROSS-ABULARY is definitely your game. He’ll be so caught up in the gross, he won’t even realize that he’s building his literacy skills.
GROSS-ABULARY (ages 6+, 2-10 players) sells for $24.99 and is available at Chapters/Indigo and Mastermind stores.
You draw a stick figure, and the website brings it to life.
There is a literacy component, because the site takes the stickman through a plotline. You’re given instructions like, “draw a key in my hand” before he can open a locked box.
Kids have to read and understand the instructions, and then figure out how to fulfill them.
(So like life.)
There’s plenty of action to keep kids interested in the story. I won’t spoil it for you, but think dragon, fire, flood… cartoony, though, not scary.
And throughout it all is a very quirky sense of silliness. For instance, at some point the site itself catches on fire and detritus drops on the dragon’s head. Stuff that kids love.
After you’ve finished the scenario – a couple of times, likely – take a look at the gallery. People have done some pretty incredible “stickmen,” like Steve Jobs, Gandolf, anime and other really inventive characters.
You can be sure that the books they select are the best-of-the-best. In other words, great choices to add to your child’s collection.
This year, the Newbery Medal went to Dead End In Norvelt, by Jack Gantos. Read more about it, and the runners-up, here.
And the Caldecott Medal was awarded to Chris Raschka, for A Ball For Daisy. More, here. (They don’t have 2012 information posted yet – this announcement was only made this morning - but probably by this afternoon they will.)
Congratulations to all of the ALA winners.
For more information about the ALA awards, and for a look at the 2012 winners in all categories, click here.
Here is a lovely, empowering book you should read with your kid for a couple of reasons.
First, it’s a terrific book, a good story with wonderful illustrations. Second, it’s empowering for girls. It teaches a young generation—that sometimes can’t believe that women were ever discriminated against in North America—about women’s struggle for equality. Third, it’s a biography–a great way to introduce the genre.
In The Bag! tells the real-life story of American Margaret Knight who, in the mid-1800s, became an inventor.
Kids will enjoy reading about how she invented something we all take for granted: a flat-bottomed paper bag. (Before that, we learn, “bags” were simply scrunched-up cones of paper.) While Knight starts out simply trying to solve a problem, kids will be amazed when she comes up against the “how can a woman be an inventor?!” mindset of the day.
It’s a book that can open up a really interesting dialogue with your kid. Or, at the very least, get him thinking about paper bags a little differently.