Post Tagged with: "on the Internet"
A few years ago, I brought those two aspects of my life together to co-create: TeachingKidsNews.com (TKN).
(Here’s the story of how TKN got started: an interested parent + an enthusiastic teacher.)
TKN provides daily, kid-friendly news. For each article we add teaching questions taken from the school curriculum.
So, kids can find out what’s happening in the “real” news–and teachers/homeschool parents can cover off the curriculum.
Recently, TVOParents talked to the founders of TKN about media literacy and why it’s so important for kids to develop critical media literacy skills.
Here is TVO’s wonderful piece on TKN and media literacy.
Sometimes, of course, that’s not often enough. After all, there are only so many books a writer can produce in a year. Kids can read ’em faster than writers can write ’em.
That’s one reason why multi-author series are so popular.
39 Clues, of course, is one of the best and most popular multi-author series, with some big-name children’s authors including Gordan Korman and Rick Riordan.
Scholastic recently launched a new multi-author series called Spirit Animals. Book I is Wild Born, by best-selling author Brandon Mull.
The series is almost certain to be a hit with kids. It deliberately hits all the right buttons—an interesting fantasy world in which kids are the heroes, likeable, imperfect protagonists that kids can identify with, and… animals. Kids love books about animals, there is no doubt of that.
But these are not just any animals. In Wild Born, certain children can conjure up a “spirit animal,” with whom they then bond for life. That spirit animal gives the child powers—but only after the child has already proven himself capable.
Erdas is similar enough to Earth that kids don’t have to mentally venture too far from home. Relatability is important for middle-grade readers, some of whom may get turned off something that is just too “out there.”
Erdas’s continents are given relatively recognizable names: Arctica, Eura, Amaya (“America”) and Zhong (“Asia”) – in real life, the Chinese word for China is Zhong Guo.
Brandon Mull scoped out the plot for the whole series, which the other writers will follow and embellish. The uber-popular children’s author Maggie Stiefvater (The Raven Boys) picks up the torch for book two in the series, Hunted, which comes out in January. There will be seven books in the series; the last one comes out in April 2015.
Another plus for a middle-grade book is a plot that clips right along and Wild Born has that in spades. The reader is introduced to each child in turn and his or her spirit animal; the children are quickly united in a massive, action-packed save-the-world adventure.
While there is a lot going on—with four main characters and four spirit animals, it’s a lot for the reader to keep track of—kids love that kind of mental juggling.
The animals, incidentally, are an eagle, a cheetah, a wolf and a panda (whose bonded child never quite appreciates it in Book I: “What skills would it bestow on a fighter? The ability to eat bamboo,” Meilin asks herself.).
The Spirit Animals series is known as a “multi-platform fantasy adventure series” because it includes an online game kids can access using a code in their book. Kids create an adventurer and conjure their own spirit animal. In fairly short order, enemies start attacking–I was bitten by a magic rattlesnake quite a few times before I could find a way to right-click him into oblivion–and the Greencloaks waste no time in ushering your character into Erdas.
It’s not necessary to go online to enjoy the books. It’s just an added bonus to help get—and keep—kids reading.
Monkey GO Happy, Guess? is an odd game, yes it is.
But it’s fun. Kids’ll like it.
And you can’t deny, it’s all about words.
The online game is one of a series of simple, quirky word games by PencilKids.
In Monkey GO Happy, Guess? (the spelling and punctuation of its name belie its oddness) you have to figure out what word is needed, based on a picture clue.
For instance, a picture of a STAR plus a picture of a FISH would equal STARFISH.
The clues get progressively stranger, albeit not necessarily much more difficult, as you proceed.
Every time you get one right you earn coins.
Underlying all of the oddness is oddly catchy music, bonus games in which you have to figure out roman numerals based on clues, the occasional brainteaser plus the chance to use your accumulated coins to buy mini-prizes (a trampoline, a car) for the little monkeys at the bottom of the page.
It’s all very odd, but fun. And word-oriented.
The link for this game is via Bart Bonte‘s excellent online casual games page.
You can search his site for the other Monkey GO Happy games.
(Hint – there’re in the sidebar, over there on the right-hand side!)
The fine people at 49th Shelf, a Canadian literature site, have allowed me to talk a bit about them. Just in time for Family Literacy Day, Jan. 27.
(If you’re not familiar with 49th Shelf, get yerself on over there and check it out. It’s a terrific website that promotes Canadian literature.)
It’s this Sunday at 1:00 at the International Travel Authority cafe, 1165 Bloor St. W., Toronto. There’ll be cake!
Here’s the article on 49th Shelf.
In Must Pop Words, letters – inside bouncy balls – fall down and accumulate at the bottom of the page.
You have to type words using the letters. Every word you type erases those letters. If the letters pile up to the top of the page (which they will inevitably do) you lose.
Little tasks like, “create a word ending with e” or “create a six-letter word” let you earn extra points.
The balls bouncing around and the cute penguin who sticks his head in every once in awhile make this a signature Bart Bonte game – one of a series of elegant, fun games you can find on his website. (In my opinion, Bonte is the best casual game designer on the Internet.) Enjoy!
Play Must Pop Words here.
“Mr. Morton is the subject of the sentence and what the predicate says – he does!”
Thanks to Tina, via her FB page, for this.
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!
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.