Friday, January 30, 2009

Check your Child’s Comprehension

We all know that it helps a child focus when we ask him questions about what he has read. However, there is another very simple way to check a child's comprehension without him even knowing that you are doing it. Listen to the child read. Does he apply the punctuation correctly? Is he using good expression? If the answer is yes, there is a great possibility that he understands what he is reading. Children who are so caught up in just getting the words right will not be able to add the proper expression. Children who have mastered reading to the point that they can focus on expression instead of individual words are most likely understanding what they read. If you did not understand, you would not be able to use the expression correctly.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Book Review ~ Captain Underpants Series

Title: Captain Underpants series

Author: Dav Pilkey

Accelerated Reader (AR) Level: Most are a level 4 and worth 1 point

Ages that Will Enjoy the Book: 7-12

Movie Version Available: No

Review: Don't expect your kids to expand their intelligence with these books. They are very simplistic books with a high disregard for maturity in any form. However, they are also incredibly popular with kids in grade school. I have found that they are a good transition for kids who are intimidated with novels. Some kids just can't seem to put down the picture books. These are a good transition because they are thick like a novel, but still have a lot of pictures. In fact, most of the story is written in a comic strip style. Kids also like the fun elements that are added into the books like the flip-o-ramas. These are like mini 2 page flip books, and they are dispersed throughout the story. Don't set your expectations on literary genius, but you can probably get a bunch of laughs from your elementary age child.

*Also by Dav Pilkey

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Memorization Tip ~ Make a Phrase

Helping your child memorize lists for a test? A great way to help your child remember is by making a sentence with the first letters of the items in the list. For example, we teach kids to remember the order of operations (Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction) with the sentence: Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally. Similarly, you can use "my very excited mother just served us nine pizzas" to remember the order of the planets (if you count Pluto as a planet.) Usually, things that are memorized this way will stick in your brain much longer. Hopefully, it should at least get your child through his test.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Website Review ~

Appropriate for ages: 6-adult
Helps with: Math (Kindergarten through advanced mathematics)

Review: This website has dropdown menus full of all different kinds of math problems. You select the kind of problem that you want to solve; then, you enter your math problem. The website will give you the answer to the problem. This is probably not a site I would show my kids, because they could find the answers to their homework problems without doing any work. It is a wonderful site, however, for parents who are trying to check their child's homework. Maybe you forgot how to do the type of problem that you are looking at or maybe you just want to check the homework faster, can help you. I see this website being especially helpful as your kids get into high school, and their homework increases in difficulty.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Books with Movies

As a teacher I have noticed that just about any book becomes popular overnight once a movie version is announced. Old books, new books, books with boring covers, it does not matter. If there is a movie coming out, kids will read the book. Take advantage of this. Have your kids read the book first. Then watch the movie with them and have a compare/contrast conversation. If the book is at a reading level that is to advanced for your child, switch the order. Watch the movie first. That way when he reads the book he will already have an idea of what is going on and will be able to apply that to the written work. You may even be able to help your child see that reading can be even more fun than the movie.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Book Review ~ The City of Ember

Title: The City of Ember

Author: Jeanne DuPrau

Accelerated Reader (AR) Level: 5 (9 points)

Ages that Will Enjoy the Book: 9 - 14

Movie Version Available: Yes

Review: In the City of Ember, students receive a job on graduating from school. They are not allowed to pick; they are just assigned. However, Lina trades hers to get a job she has always wanted. This book follows a couple of friends as they set out to begin their new jobs. Along the way they start to discover more about their city than they ever could have imagined.

The story is somewhat futuristic. Children will enjoy being able to unfold the plot along with Lina as she runs messages around Ember. The plot is pretty creative, but there is enough foreshadowing that most kids will be able to piece the puzzle together and stay one step ahead of Lina.

*Also in this mini-series: The People of Sparks and The Prophet of Yonwood.

Also by Jeanne DuPrau

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Kids on the Internet

Kids love to be on the computer, but how safe is the internet? Kidrocket is a free download for computers using windows. This program can help you keep your child safe while he is on the computer. Some features are a timer to monitor usage, printer and e-mail blocking options, and a kid friendly browser. The browser comes with lists of kid safe sites, links disabled so kids won't navigate to other pages, internet filtering, parental options, and a pop-up blocker. The nice thing about Kidrocket is that it is also educational. It comes with math flash cards and lists of games and puzzles that kids can try on-line.

Download Kidrocket here.

(via Lifehacker)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Web Site Review ~

Appropriate for ages: 5-11
Helps with: Reading, Math, Language is one of the more well known sites among kids. However, if you have not discovered it yet, your child will probably enjoy it. I actually enjoy some of the games myself. Younger children can work on counting skills, connect - the - dots, and guess the numbers. Older children can explore fractions, place value, operations, nouns, plurals, vocabulary, spelling, and so much more. Most skills are worked on in the form of a game so that kids will enjoy it. You can choose the level of difficulty in almost every game. This is great because it allows the skill level to grow with your child. There are also several "just - for - fun" games to play with as well. If you choose to play arcade style, make sure you write down the password they give you so that you can start from that point next time you use the site!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Improve Comprehension

Many times children have homework that requires them to read out loud. However, this often stops after first or second grade. Reading out loud is probably the easiest way to help a child retain and comprehend what he has read. Even if there is no one who is available to listen, a child can sit on his bed and read out loud to himself. It forces the child to not pass by difficult words or rush to finish faster. It's such a simple thing, but it really helps. This skill will help all the way through adulthood.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Book Review ~ Holes

Title: Holes

Author: Louis Sachar

Accelerated Reader (AR) Level: 4.6 (7 points)

Ages that Will Enjoy the Book: If a child has seen the movie, then he could probably comprehend the book by third grade. Otherwise, it is probably for the fourth – seventh grade range.

Movie Version Available: Yes

Review: This is probably my favorite children's book. The plot is very intricate with quite a few twists, yet it is written so that a young person can easily follow the action. This is one of the very rare times when the book and the movie are almost identical. That is because the screenplay was written by Louis Sachar (the author of the book.) It's hard to advertise this book without giving away too much of the plot. That's probably why the movie was so inadequately marketed. The book follows the Yelnats family and their streak of bad luck. This lack of luck lands Stanley unjustly in a work camp at the start of our story. The story bounces back and forth through several generations of Yelnats weaving it all into one multi-faceted story. The story is very carefully thought out and well written. I think it could easily become a modern classic.

* Sequel: Small Steps

Also by Louis Sacher

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Working with Place Value

Working with place value can be a frustrating skill for children. This is especially true when it is first introduced. A good way to help your child grasp this new concept is by using money. The great thing about this is that it helps kids work on their money skills at the same time. Pull out some Monopoly money and have them practice changing amounts like 32 ones into tens and ones. After they start to understand, have them work backwards by changing amounts like 2 tens and 5 ones into only ones. Keep in mind that if you are working on place value, you should only use the one, ten, and hundred dollar bills. The others will only add confusion as they are not part of the place value process. This is a good way to help your child visualize place value.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Let Class Begin

Being both a parent and a teacher has helped me to learn quite a bit about education. However, if there's one thing I've learned, it's this: you can always learn something new. The most successful parents and teachers collaborate, learn from each other, and help each other in the spirit of teamwork. Very quickly you find out that you need to balance fresh new ideas with wisdom that has been tried, tested, and proven. The goal of this blog is to give you ideas and tips dealing with education.