Sunday, May 1, 2016

May READER Time - Get Ready for Summer Reading!

Summer is just around the corner!!!

I am so excited to declare that!  It has been a challenging year for us - and my children have shown just how hard working they can be.  {Proud Mama!}

This year they started off by finishing up the previous year's school work that fell behind due to a few life issues that needed our time and attention last year.  But even with this carry-over work from the year before, my kiddos are on track to finish this current year's schoolwork by the end of May!  Wow!  That was a lot of work!

Let me just say, we are all ready for a nice, relaxing summer!  We look forward to play-dates and park-dates, trips to zoos, nature centers, and historical parks, camping, and simply having time to just play outside all-day-long!  Doesn't it sound great?!  Looser schedules, no schoolwork (at least not visible schoolwork), and plenty of time to READ!

I love Summer Reading!  It's our chance to catch up on all the great reading that is set aside during the school year, when time is more limited.  And with our ever-growing list of books we want to read, what's more fun then tracking our reading just to see how much we can do!!!

We love to take part in the summer reading games at our local libraries and bookstores.  But we often set up our own reading games at home - because it's just so much fun!!  I am very excited to share some of those summer reading game ideas and resources with you today!  And with summer approaching - now's the time to get ready!

1. Summer Reading Kit



I put this cute reading kit together a few years back.  I love the gummy worms - what a great way to kick off summer reading with a sweet treat while you read!  You can check out the Summer Reading Kit post here.  Or you can just pick up an updated version of the pdf's here to create your own





2. Summer Reading Bookmark

The next year I went with a simpler method for tracking our summer reading by using a bookmark - just color a book for every 20 minutes of reading.  IF you color the whole bookmark and you have completed 10 hours of reading!!!  Check out the post here. Or pick up the pdf here.

3. Reading Punch Cards



Another simple and fun way to track reading progress is with these cute punch cards!  These are probably my favorite!  I made them in 3 different formats to meet different needs - one tracks time read, one tracks books read, and one lets you set your own reading goal.  Each of our children are at very different levels of reading, therefore we set different reading goals based on each child.  Which is another reason I like these punch cards.  You can view my post for the Reading Punch Cards here.  Or you can pick up a set of punch cards here




Now you can't have a summer reading game without prizes!  While reading is definitely rewarding in itself, a little incentive to meet a challenging reading goal can be very encouraging!  We have local libraries and bookstores that offer a range of prizes from books and book bags to dollar story type toys.  We prefer to avoid the latter, which is why we offer our own prizes.  We love the idea of earning a book for meeting a reading goal.  Another favorite idea is to earn some Book Cash.  It works like this - we establish smaller reading goals that can be meet several times throughout the summer.  Each goal met = $1 Book Cash.  We keep a running total and at the end of the summer they can cash out their Book Cash by going to the local bookstore or picking out a book on Amazon.  The punch cards and bookmark work great for this - each completed card could be $1 Book Cash.  The bookmark could be $2.  Or you can set your own amounts.  And because they help pick out their book prize, they are likely to continue reading!  Win-Win!

I hope you find these resources and ideas helpful to you this summer.  Or maybe this post helps spark some other summer reading ideas for you!  Do you already have Summer Reading plans?  I'd love to hear about them, or to hear how you are using my resources!  Happy Reading!!!

Friday, April 1, 2016

April READER Time - The Beauty of Audio Books

The Beauty of Audio Books
Audio Books are amazing!!!  They are something my entire family has grown to love!  This month, I will share with you why we love using audio books, as well as the many benefits that come with them. 

Audio books give the pleasure of enjoying a story without the struggle.  Children are almost always ready for stories beyond their reading capabilities.  It seems a shame to hold them back to "See Jane run!", when they are ready for a storyline with more substance, like Black Beauty.  It has allowed my older children to enjoy books that would have otherwise been difficult to read.  My son listened to Johnny Tremain when he was in 5th grade.  He might have been able to read it on his own, but he gained so much from listening and not struggling with names or language that he's not familiar with. 

The use of Audio Books in homeschooling is indispensable!  What a freedom it has given me. . . . . and my voice!  Of course, I still read plenty to my children.  I have just found that using Audio Books has sped us up a little.  If I have to tend to my toddler while reading from Story of the World, I would most likely have to pause my reading as my eyes are diverted from the page.  But we can all comfortably sit and listen to Jim Weiss read our history lesson to us.  Even if I need to quietly move across the room and scoop up my toddler for some snuggles, all the while the reading doesn't need to stop!  If only all our lessons could be interruption-free!!!

Sometimes a book is just better presented as an audio - it gives it an element that may otherwise go missing.  What could be a great story gets placed in the donate pile or put back in the library bag, sometimes even before it's finished!  We have found this to be true for several books.  We recently had Madeleine Takes Command on our living history reading list.  I was feeling behind, so I thought I would grab it as an audio book - I am so glad I did!  I could never have done that story the justice that the narrator gave it.  The French accent was a delight to listen to, not too mention, I would have probably butchered several of those French words and stumbled over the language of the text.  Yet each day, the kids were content to listen to more than just one chapter, often asking for more!  And sure enough, we blazed through that story and got back on track with our read alouds.  And my husband was delighted to hear the account each evening of what was happening in the story.  The Door in the Wall is another book that can be a difficult read - even difficult to listen to.  I've heard of more than one family that did not like it at all.  However, we enjoyed the book as an audio - thereby forgoing the distracting element of trying to read some of that old English language that may have come across as choppy and uninteresting, and instead listening to it being read smoothly giving the story the character that it was due. 

Characters come to life listening to these stories over and again.  Audio books get used so often by my kids in their free time or at bedtime, that I never have buyers remorse.  I am so thrilled that my children are making trusted friends in the characters of good books.  Winnie the Pooh and his pals, Heather and Picket (Green Ember), Encyclopedia Brown, Hank the Cowdog, and Black Beauty are just a few of the voices that I hear coming from their rooms on a regular basis.  They dive into these stories over and over.  And so far, it hasn't gotten "old" for them yet.  I certainly haven't tired of hearing the kids play yet another audio while playing in their room or just before bed.  What a great way to end the day - off on an adventure with some good old friends!

With all these audio books being played each day, those listening skills are certainly getting exercised!  Which, I think, could never get too much exercise - Amen?  And I have recently learned that kids who struggle with Dyslexia, often will do better with auditory learning.  Now that I think about it, it seems logical to me that if you struggle to process things correctly from a visual aspect that you would prefer to learn audibly - lightbulb moment!  Learning this reinforced my desire for using audio books.  I especially like when the child is able to follow along with the book.  To slide that finger under the words on the page as the audio speaks the words into our ears allows us to use multiple senses at the same time.  This creates a connection in our brain that facilitates learning.  So while many think that listening to an audio takes away the opportunity to practice reading, the truth is it is actually giving us practice - practice with success!  Allowing those connections to be made correctly in the brain.

And now for the "what" and "how" of Audio Books: One of our favorite ways to enjoy audio books is on a Kindle Fire.  My children have all saved up their own money to buy one, and it's been a great asset to us.  We have filled them with books and audio books, along with a few games and videos for fun.  But the great thing is we can set up parental controls to limit the amount of time, and the appropriate time, for each child on games and videos. Sidenote: if you use Kindle FreeTime, it doesn't include audio books, but an Amazon representative recently told us that they were working to add audio books in that feature in a future update - Yeah! One thing I love is that our children all share an Amazon account, so what one buys can be shared by all!  That makes shopping nice and simple for me - I can add amazon gift cards to stockings, Easter baskets, birthday cards, etc. 

I wanted to share a quick list of our favorite audio books, so I enlisted the help of my kiddos in building that list.  Well, it didn't really turn out to be a quick list.  We just had too many favorites that had to be included!  Some were downloads from Amazon's Audible, some were CD's that came with books, others were audio books from the library.  We hope this list will add to your audio book enjoyment!
 
Chapter Books:
 
Picture Books:
 
Audio Dramas:

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

March READER Time - Changes

March 2016
 
Changes are happening here at READER Time!!!  Before I go into those details, let me back up and explain why. . . . .
 
This is our 3rd month since establishing READER Time and making an intentional effort toward growing a family of READERs.  We are continuing to make progress - but we've also had some set backs along the way.  After sliding through winter with only a few sniffles, March met us with some nasty bugs.  And, of course, my kiddos were so good about sharing. . . . .and taking turns!  What's up with that?!?! 
 
While I hoped I would write that we are all on the mend, sadly another victim is on the couch with a bucket beside them.  Needless to say, all our routines have fallen to the wayside.  Even my plan to post this month's reading list was set aside to tend to what's really important right now. 
 
However, the delay of getting the READER Time post up for this month gave me a little more time to ponder what I've started here.  I questioned the purpose of listing what my family is reading for the month.  It's such a specific list of books that probably only fits my family - not a themed list by any means.  How could this be helpful to anyone else?  I love to Pin book lists, but I usually go for themed lists, or at least age categorized lists.  I really was struggling with how our list was going to benefit anyone else. 
 
Then I realized that I didn't want READER Time to be a book list!  There are plenty of those already out there.  I want READER Time to be encouragement!   
 
So back to the beginning!  Changes are happening here at READER Time!!!  And I am so excited about it!!!  READER Time will now be a monthly post that offers tips, encouragement, helpful info, even some great resources, and occasionally a themed reading list.   I am so excited for what is planned for the months ahead.  The ideas just started lining themselves up faster than I could jot them down.  I love those moments!
 
I am so excited for what is in store for READER Time!  And I hope you'll join me on this journey, so that we can all grow into READER families!!!