Post Tagged with: "Canada"

beezi: the s-p-e-l-l-i-n-g game for ages 8 and up

beezi: the s-p-e-l-l-I-n-g game

beezi: the s-p-e-l-l-I-n-g game

If your kids could use a little brush-up on their spelling, beezi might be the game that does it.

My son and I took the game for a test drive. He figures he’s a better speller than his mother (who is a writer by trade, a-hem).

We really enjoyed beezi. For off, it was easy to figure out how to play it–a huge plus. I hate having to read through two pages of directions to figure out a game before you can even play it.

And it was fast-playing. Another plus.

Essentially, beezi takes you around a board; you select cards and spell words. The harder the word, the further you go on the board. Special spaces on the board let you roll again, skip a turn or advance.

The game includes spelling challenges at different levels. That’s good because it means that your eight-year-old can play with your 10-year-old at the same time. And it makes it extra flexible for playdates.

There’s also a Teens and Parents edition, which we will definitely have to get (we were given this one by beezi, for review). We did find that the younger game was a bit too easy for my 12-year-old. Although, he did not—I stress, did not—win against his mother.

Because kids write down their answer, rather than just spell it out loud, the game can definitely help kids improve their spelling. The game provides a real incentive to sound words out and try to get them right. It also gives adults a chance to explain why certain words are spelled the way they are.

Some kids are shy or embarrassed about not being able to spell very well. Even my son, who’s a pretty good speller, didn’t like to admit it when he couldn’t spell certain words, and I can see that. So you may want to keep that in mind when you’re playing. Usually, I was able to explain that “everyone gets that one wrong,” or “that spelling rule is tricky” and then roll the dice and keep the game moving.

The game is themed around bees, a riff on “spelling bees.” The bee theme continues with the die, which features six types of bees (from honey bee – the easiest words to spell, to killer bee – the most challenging). My son likes “Shaggy Fuzzyfoot” the best; Shaggy’s a wildcard. And the object of the game is to reach the “beehive” in the middle of the board.

The illustrations are quirky and modern, and the dice is one of those big, chunky ones that are such fun to roll.

Bonus: The next time I go to a restaurant or a long car ride with my son, I’m going to bring along the card deck. It will be a terrific quiz-me activity, even without the game board. beezi would also be a good game to take to the cottage, because everyone can play it, using different level card packs.

beezi: the s-p-e-l-l-i-n-g game sells for $29.99 and is available at toy stores and Chapters/Indigo. You can also purchase it from the beezi website ($10 to $15 shipping within Canada).

(If you’re in Toronto, buy it from my friend Sam at her Playful Minds toy store. Tell her I sent ya.)

On the beezi website, click on Take the Beezi challenge for a fun online spelling challenge.

+Continue Reading

The best Canadian picture books

Julie Booker is an author, a teacher, a librarian and last but not least, the mom of twin toddlers.

All this to say, she knows her picture books!

Her Canadian summer picture book reading list was recently published here on 49th Shelf, an awesome Canadian book website.

Below is her list of the best of the best. For her comments about each one, visit 49th Click on their book links for more information about each book.

Drumheller Dinosaur Dance by Robert Heidbreder

Jelly Belly by Dennis Lee

M is for Moose by Charles Pachter

The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier

City Alphabet by Joanne Schwartz and Matt Beam

Eenie Meenie Manitoba by Robert Heidbreder

The Cremation of Sam McGee by Robert W. Service

Butterscotch Dreams by Sonja Dunn

My pick from here - If you're not Canadian and you've never read The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier, get your hands on a copy because you will fall in love with its folk-charm illustrations and true-life story about a boy who loves his Montreal Canadiens hockey team. (If you are Canadian? You've already read it.) Oh, and another way you know Julie Booker knows her books? Her last name, sha-zam!


+Continue Reading

Every Canadian in grade one gets a free book in October

Barbara Reid, Alan Convery (TD), Jo Ellen Bogart, Charlotte Teeple (Exec, Dir. CCBC); image: Joyce Grant
Barbara Reid, Alan Convery (TD), Jo Ellen Bogart, Charlotte Teeple (Exec, Dir. CCBC); image: Joyce Grant

This month, every grade-one child in Canada will receive a free book.

That’s every grade-one child, including those home-schooled, or in any school in the country, private or public.

What’s the catch? There is no catch. This has been going on every year for the past 11 years. A pile of books arrives for the grade ones (and twos, if it’s a split class). That’s more than half a million books—the biggest print run in Canada.

It’s a joint project with TD Bank Group and the Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC). TD picks up the $1-million-plus tab for most of the program.

And it’s always such a great book. This year, it’s Gifts (Cadeaux, translated into French), by Jo Ellen Bogart and plasticine artist Barbara Reid.

Gifts is a book that kids will read over and over again—with an adult or by themselves. It’s great for shared reading because it’s full of lyrical phrases. It’s also great for kids to discover and re-discover because the words and the images have lots of things hidden in them to be found.

Gifts tells the story of a grandmother who travels to different countries over the course of a number of years. She asks her granddaughter, “What would you have me bring?” with the granddaughter asking for impossible souvenirs like, “a rainbow to wear as a ring” from Hawaii and “an iceberg on a string” from the Arctic.Gifts (cover)

Grandma is incredibly inventive as she comes up with solutions for each request.

The book follows the pair as they both grow older, eventually ending with the girl now a fully-grown adult with a daughter of her own.

There are lots of reasons to get teary-eyed, here. (Not that I am. My contacts are just a bit scratchy.) First, there’s the wonderful, multi-layered story. Then there are the colourful, detailed plasticine images. Then there’s the 500,000 free books. And then there’s this story:

The CCBC and TD get tons of fan letters after they distribute the books each year. One in particular stands out in the memory of TD rep’s Alan Convery.

They’d just distributed the bGifts, excerptooks, a little before the Christmas season a couple of years ago. Convery got a letter from a principal in the Northwest Territories, thanking him. She said that for most of the children, this would be the first book that they would own. And then she added that this would also be the only Christmas gift many of the children would receive that year, since the families in that particular community were having trouble making ends meet.

(The CCBC later shipped the community another supply of different children’s books.)

It’s so important for kids to own their own books. It empowers them. It lets them feel entitled to use books. And statistics show very clearly that there is a link between kids who have their own books and those who go on to higher education.


+Continue Reading