Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Phineas and Ferb and A Platypus' World

Some of us have a small obsession with Phineas and Ferb. At the most recent Scholastic book fair, each boy got a Phineas and Ferb book, as well as a Phineas and Ferb poster to share. Tintin also recently asked for a book on platypuses because he correctly assumed Perry the Platypus was not your average platypus and he wanted to see what they were really like. A couple of reviews:

The Phineas and Ferb Comic Reader #1: Nothing But Trouble
The Phineas and Ferb Comic Reader #2: The Chronicles of Meap
Author: John Green
Publisher: Disney Press (June 2010)
Category: Graphic Novel

The book we actually got from the book fair is two books in one, Nothing But Trouble on one side and The Chronicles of Meap on the other. (We also got Phineas and Ferb's Guide to Life but haven't delved into it enough to review it.) In Nothing But Trouble, Phineas and Ferb experiment with gelatin, but of course something goes wrong and out of a pool of gelatin emerges an enormous gelatin monster. The evil Dr. Doofenschmirtz gets involved and Perry steps in to save the day. In the second part of Nothing But Trouble, Phineas and Ferb and their family explore London. Candace uses Sherlock Holmes's method of deduction to bust her brothers (once and for all). There's a little bit of Big Ben and of course appearances from Dr. Doofenschmirtz and Perry the Platypus.

The Chronicles of Meap is about a cute little alien who has crash-landed in Phineas and Ferb's yard and needs help defeating his evil enemy. Phineas and Ferb (and Perry) come to the rescue and, with the help of the universal mustache translator, Meap can finally show his appreciation.

The boys liked this book so much that I had to hide it to stop them from fighting over it.

And a review by Tintin, age 9:

Author/illustrator: Caroline Arnold
Publisher: Picture Window Books (January 2008)
Categories: Picture Book/Nonfiction

In this story it tells about platypuses and their life. It tells about their habitats, prey, enemies, food, and how babies are made. I thought this book was great. I liked how there were little pink platypus babies. My favorite part is how they make the burrows. I would recommend this book to animal lovers.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A-Z Reading Marathon Challenge

Last weekend we had nothing to do, so Tintin suggested we have a reading marathon. I decided to make it into a challenge. Each boy had to complete 26 tasks, one for each letter of the alphabet. We picked random letters from our Bananagrams game, but one boy wanted to do some tasks (especially P) more than once, so he peeked a little.

Here's what they had to do:

A. Read 1 chapter to Mom.
B. Read 1 chapter to Dad.
C. Read 1 chapter or smaller book to your brother.
D. Read 1 chapter or smaller book to yourself.
E. Read 1 poem.
F. Read 1 magazine article.
G. Read 1 picture book.
H. Write or dictate 1 book review.
I. Write or dictate 1 story and read it to the family.
J. Have Mom read 1 chapter to you.
K. Have Dad read 1 chapter to you.
L. Have Mom read 1 picture book to you.
M. Have Dad read 1 picture book to you.
N. Do 1 exercise from reading comprehension workbook or 1 word search.
O. Draw a picture of something you just read.
P. Take a break and have a 5-minute dance party.
Q. Read 1 story on Total Reader or Starfall.
R. Read 1 chapter or short book on the iPad.
S. Read 1 story at We Give Books.
T. Use word balloons to make your own comic.
U. Solve 1 code.
V. Go on a reading treasure hunt.
W. Read a recipe and make something with Mom or Dad.
X. Open the dictionary to a random page and read it to someone else.
Y. Play Rory's Story Cubes with at least 1 other person.
Z. Play Blurt with at least 1 other person.

Here are the websites and products we used during our challenge:

Total Reader: Reading comprehension website for grades 3-12 and adult.

Starfall: Reading website for pre-k to grade 2.

We Give Books: Picture books for children through age 10; donate a book to children in need simply by reading online.

Learn-to-Read Treasure Hunts (Amazon): Both boys have been reading for a while, but they still like using this book.

Rory's Story Cubes (Amazon): Or make your own story cubes.

Blurt: We don't actually have this game (yet), so we picked our own words from the dictionary and tried to stump each other.

Here's the clue Tintin had to decipher, and here are Johnny Boo's clues.

Both boys had a lot of fun and want to do it again, next time with numbers instead of letters, and Tintin wants me to think of a math marathon challenge.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Sight Words in Kindergarten

This year I've been helping some of Johnny Boo's kindergarten classmates with letters and sight words. I've also become addicted to Pinterest, much to my husband's chagrin (Chagrinterest?). Following are a couple of sight word games copied from or inspired by pins I've made:

Sight Word Parking Lot (based on a bigger parking lot game at Juggling With Kids)

Print Parking Lot game here.

I decided to laminate it and write the words on with dry-erase markers afterward, depending on which words the kids needed to work on most. It's a good thing I left it blank, because my 9-year-old actually likes working on his multiplication tables this way. Just write whichever words, letters, numbers, equations, etc., you want; call out whatever you want the child to find; and have him drive his car to the correct parking space. This was a big hit with everyone last week, especially the boys.

Here's Tintin:

Word Roll (the original, with a free download and directions, can be found at Wishes Dream Love)

Print Word Roll here.

I used the 31 words (plus a few more) that our kindergarteners need to know by the end of the year. So far I've only used this with one boy. He got the hang of finding the correct word after I told him to "crash" his fingers when they met up, and then he wanted to keep rolling the dice (one with numbers and one with the letters added on) so he could keep crashing his fingers. The original directions have the child crossing each word off once it's read, but the boy I was working with needed repetition, so I wanted him to roll the same combinations over and over again.

Here are some more sight word activities I've pinned:

Road Race
Roll & Write
Sight Words Bingo
Spelling Practice With Nautical Flags

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Sea of Lost Books, and Our Reading Response Journal

The Sea of Lost Books (Return to the Library of Doom)
Author/illustrator: Michael Dahl/Bradford Kendall
Publisher: Stone Arch Books (August 2010)
Category: Chapter Book

Tintin has a journal in which he writes down the names of the books he's just finished. In the same journal there's a section for him to write book reviews in the form of a letter to me. When he's done I write a letter back to him. Here is our first exchange:

Dear Mommy,

The Sea of Lost Books was about a giant named Atlas, and there was a man named the Librarian. Atlas and the Librarian don't like each other. They fight in battles. I liked when the Specialist saved the Librarian. My favorite part is when the Librarian gets stuck in the book pages. I would recommend this book to children that like monsters.


Dear (Tintin),

I'm glad you liked The Sea of Lost Books. I thought it was interesting how Atlas used his letter tattoos as weapons. Even though he had letters tattooed all over his body, I don't think he liked letters very much. If he did, he'd probably use them for good, not evil. I liked how some of the words in the book look like what  they are, like when the word "shadow" has its own shadow and when the word "steps" has steps coming off the "p." It reminded me of the Geronimo Stilton books.

I can't wait to read your next letter!


Check out the rest of the Return to the Library of Doom series (both boys, 9 and 6, love it)!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

It's Valentine's Day (Jack Prelutsky)

It's Valentine's Day
Author/illustrator: Jack Prelutsky/Yossi Abolafia
Publisher: Mulberry (1996)
Category: Poetry

It's Valentine's Day is a collection of 14 Valentine's poems from the nation's first children's poet laureate (and the boys' favorite poet not named Shel Silverstein). Check out Prelutsky's website for a few of his other poems and for poetry-writing activities for children.

We chose "I Love You More Than Applesauce" as a basis for poems the boys are giving to their teachers today (and because I won't be able to get them to write any more poems for a while, they're for you, too, grandmas). We got the idea from Elise in Ukraine. Here's the original Prelutsky poem:

I love you more than applesauce,
Than peaches and a plum,
Than chocolate hearts and cherry tarts
And berry bubblegum.

I love you more than lemonade
And seven-layer cakes,
Than lollipops and candy drops
And thick vanilla shakes.

I love you more than marzipan,
Than marmalade on toast,
Oh I love pies of any size,
But I love YOU the most.

Here's Tintin's:

I love you more than dim sum;
I love you more than bubblegum.
I really love lasagna,
But I love YOU the most.

And Johnny Boo's (with a reference to the Mercy Watson series):

I love you more than blood orange flan;
I love you more than naan.
I really love red velvet cheesecake and hot buttered toast,
But I love YOU the most.

Here are some of the 42 hearts we made to hand out to teachers and classmates (the teachers' poems are on the backs of their hearts). Directions for the hearts can be found at Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Play, Louis, Play! and Our New Book Club

Play, Louis, Play! The True Story of a Boy and His Horn
Author/illustrator: Muriel Harris Weinstein/Frank Morrison
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's (December 2011)
Categories: Biography; Chapter Book

This is the story of Louis Armstrong's childhood, as told by his first horn, which little Louis purchased from a New Orleans hock shop for $5. Not only did the boys enjoy the book, but they now want to learn how to play the trumpet and go to the Louis Armstrong House Museum in New York. And one of them spent two days looking up Louis Armstrong music on MOG.

The boys and I started a new book club, modeled after an idea at The First Grade Parade, and Play, Louis, Play! was our first book. We called our book club the Pop Bag Book Club because one boy wanted it to be called the Popcorn Book Club and the other wanted it to be called the Brown Bag Book Club. So we compromised.

Here are our popcorn bags, with the boys' thinking maps attached. On the thinking maps, we have characters, setting, main idea, and favorite part. I had Johnny Boo dictate to me. We talked about what they'd written down, and anything else about the book, New Orleans, jazz, and racial discrimination that came up.

Here's Tintin eating his popcorn and figuring out where New Orleans is and how far away it is from the Louis Armstrong House Museum in New York: