Summarizing with Thinking Maps


Summarizing doesn't come easily for most kids. Most kids are natural retellers. You know, those kids who tell you every last detail of a movie that they just watched? (Oh, the agony!) :) Which is why I want to tell you about using thinking maps (graphic organizers) to write summaries. The goal with summarizing, unlike retelling, is to only pull out the main idea and key … [Read more...]

Determining Importance in Nonfiction Text

Important vs. Interesting

With Common Core's emphasis of reading nonfiction text, the comprehension strategy of determining importance is absolutely essential for readers. Determining importance means that the reader can distinguish the important information from text so they can decipher the main ideas and key details if reading expository (nonfiction) texts and the gist of the story when reading … [Read more...]

Best Chapter Books of 2014

best chapter books 2014

We always give at least one gift that is a book, do you? If you have a child who reads chapter books or YA books, here are my picks for the BEST children's books of 2014. Best Chapter Books 2014 1. The Haunted Library by Dori Hillestad Butler (ages 6 - 9) MYSTERY My daughter and I loved this entertaining new beginning reader chapter book series about a boy ghost, Kaz, … [Read more...]

Best Picture Books of 2014

best picture books 2014

Don't forget to give your children the gift of a good picture book or ten! Today I'm recommending what I think are the best children's picture books of 2014.  The Best Picture Books from 2014 1. It's Okay to Make Mistakes by Todd Parr I love the message of this picture book - that it's okay to make mistakes. In fact not only will this book help remind kids that making … [Read more...]

MySELF Social Emotional Learning Books

social emotional learning

MySELF (Social Emotional Learning Foundations) books help children in PreK - 1st grade build both their early literacy skills and social and emotional intelligence skills. When children aquire and apply the skills necessary to manage emotions, set and achieve goals, resolve conflicts, feel empathy for others, and make responsible decisions, this is called social emotional … [Read more...]

My Best List of Nonfiction Books Ever

nonfiction books

Nonfiction book reading is so important for kids -- and not just because Common Core says it is best. Kids need to be able to read for information as well as for story. Not only that, nonfiction builds essential background knowledge that help fiction comprehension. But most kids spend four minutes or less each day reading nonfiction. I think that's because they haven't found … [Read more...]

50 Free Educational Apps for Kids

Happy cute boy using tablet computer, indoor shoots

Believe it or not, there are TONS of free educational apps for kids. Yup - FREE! And all of these apps for kids are guilt-free because kids will be learning! And, like I mentioned, they're free. (We love that.) Here ya go  . . . Free Educational iPad Apps Sushi Scramble  OUR FAVORITE GAME!!! Develops language skills through a multiplayer word-building game … [Read more...]

NEW, Entertaining Beginning Chapter Books for Kids Ages 6 – 9

new easy chapter books 2014

When your kids transitioning from easy readers to early or beginning chapter books, look for books with an engaging story, relatable characters, and helpful illustrations that support comprehension. I'm so excited to tell you I've found even more recently published early chapter book gems for your beginning readers. The more a child reads, the better he'll get. Practice … [Read more...]

Punctuation Hunt


Punctuation is  a very important part of writing. And for some kids, it can be a bit hard to master. Sure, a period goes at the end of a sentence, but those commas can be tricky. I wanted my beginning writers to start noticing punctuation marks and see examples of correct usage, so I sent them on a punctuation hunt. I grabbed an old magazine that was headed for the … [Read more...]

Best Book Bags

book bag 2

Looking for a good book bag? Well, look no further. After years of trial and error, I can tell you what the best book bags are and where to buy them. Because on a typical weekly visit to the library, we check out 30 books. So I need the best book bag that will hold all of our reading material! I recommend that you buy a bag with 1) a flat bottom and 2) a pocket for your … [Read more...]