Archive for the ‘literacy’ Category

Tool Time Rewind: A Month in Review on Literacy Toolbox

March 31, 2011

March was a busy, busy month at Literacy Toolbox.  It was packed full of various literacy celebrations and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

A Preview of Share a Story: The Gift of Reading

I had the honor of hosting a day for the annual Share a Story, Shape a Future blog tour this year.  I took a day to preview the awesome bloggers that shared in “the gift of reading” with me!

Read All About It: Literacy Lava 8 is Out!

On the same day, Literacy Lava 8 came out!  If you aren’t familiar with Literacy Lava, you must become familiar with it!  Literacy Lava is a free pdf magazine lovingly edited by Susan Stephenson, known to most of us as The Book Chook.  Four times a year, she puts out this awesome magazine that is filled with tons of literacy tips and tools for parents!  In this eighth edition, you’ll find suggestions for developing plot in Writing Tips for Kids, storytelling as a way to bring literacy front and centre in kids’ lives, how to get kids reading, how different aged siblings share read-aloud time, great tips for a toddler book club, ideas for encouraging creative thinking in children, and how to help kids collect words.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

March 2nd was Dr. Seuss’ birthday (Theodor Geisel), and so every year on his birthday, the US celebrates “Read Across America” Day!  I didn’t write an official post, but shared a picture of my daughter to show how we celebrated “Read Across America” Day.

Story Tellers: Telling Stories Around the House

Have you ever wondered how you could take every day items from around your home and encourage and increase literacy among your children?  A piece I originally wrote for the current issue of Literacy Lava, check out a few of my ideas to help you get started!

Share a Story, Shape a Future Literacy Blog Tour: The Gift of Reading

During the second week in March, Terry Doherty of the Reading Tub provides readers across the blogosphere with a feast for the literary eyes!  Pulling together bloggers passionate in literacy, she creates a blog tour that seems to get bigger and better every year!  This year’s theme was “Unwrapping the Gift of Literacy.” Check out this post to find links to all of the awesome bloggers who shared their “gifts of reading.”

What Would You Miss Most if You Could Not Read or Write?  Celebrating World Read Aloud Day!

World Read Aloud Day took place on March 9th, 2011.  This global literacy event was started by Lit World, a non-profit literacy organization.  Guided by the all important question, “What would you miss most if you could not read or write?” millions of people took part in this event around the world!

Story Tellers: Creative Writing Through Innovative Activities

I had the pleasure of presenting a parent workshop in Woburn, MA in early March.  During this workshop, I shared ways that families could integrate writing into their everyday activities.  Parents Learn to Help Their Children with Writing was also written about the evening.

Preschool Family Reading Night: Pajama Jam with Dr. Seuss

For the past three years, I have had the pleasure of designing and hosting Family Reading Nights at my daughter’s preschool.  She is moving on to kindergarten next year, and so a bit bittersweetly, I say this was my last one.  We went out in style of course, celebrating Dr. Seuss’ birthday a bit late with all sorts of Dr. Seuss arts and crafts, snacks, and of course READING!

“We-View” Wednesday: Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown

One Wednesday a month, I write up a “we-view.” My son and I review a book together and both write our own reviews of the book.  This month we “we-viewed” Flat Stanley because we were reading it together for our Flat Stanley Adventure Exchange we were participating in!

Chris Singer of Book Dads: Every Story is a Teacher

I had the pleasure of hosting my friend, Chris Singer, as a guest.  He wrote a very personal, true story of how books saved him from abuse in his childhood.  This is a fantastic post and a must read!

Our Flat Stanley Adventure Exchange

As previously stated, my son and I participated in a Flat Stanley Adventure Exchange, hosted by Trina of Book Loving Boys.  We hosted a Flat Stanley for several weeks and quickly integrated him into our lives.  He read books with us, played video games with us, and even played football.  This is a brief journal of our adventures.

Teach Your Child Individuality with Big Bouffant by Kate Hosford

I completed two book reviews at the end of March.  This was one of them!  Big Bouffant is a great story that teaches children to be themselves.  I loved reading this, especially with my (almost) five year old daughter!  It provides a great message!

Shoes for Me! by Sue Fliess

Our final review of the month was of Shoes for Me! by Sue Fliess.  This is a cute, rhyming story that led to encouraging my daughter to pick out the correct rhyming word to finish a sentence (a great activity to promote phonemic awareness!).

Whew!  And that is Tool Time Rewind for the month of March.  March was a long month filled with literacy fun.  I can’t wait to see what April brings us!

Don’t forget: ”We-View” Wednesday is back! The third Wednesday of every month is reserved for reviews of books you read with your children.  Share yours and your child’s thoughts on the book!  To participate, please email me [dlittle [at] linkstoliteracy [dot] com] your review by the Sunday prior.  I hope you will join us!

©2011 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Shoes for Me! by Sue Fliess

March 29, 2011

Last week, we read about bouffants, and this week, shoes!  Shoes for Me! is another cute first picture book, this time by Sue Fliess (check out her website to see a trailer of the book!).  A rhyme filled story about a hippo and her search for the perfect shoes.  Her feet have grown and it’s time for new shoes, but too many choices can leave a hippo tired and overwhelmed!  Finally, she spots a pair, but are they the perfect pair?

My daughter and I had a great time reading aloud this story.  The rhyme made it easy for her to predict words and as I read it, I would stop and let her guess what word she thought made sense.  The pictures are bright and colorful and she enjoyed going through the book and picking out her favorite pair of shoes.

I would recommend this book for ages 3-5.

Disclosure:  We received a copy of this book from the publisher.

©2011 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Teach Your Child Individuality with Big Bouffant by Kate Hosford

March 24, 2011

Big Bouffant is a cute, first, picture book by Kate Hosford (check out her website for a great trailer of the book and a video showing how to make a bouffant using a water bottle).  A little girl decides that the normal ponytails and braids just won’t do for her hair.  “I don’t want to look like all the other girls!” she says.  Inspired by her grandmother’s picture, she decides that she will have a bouffant instead.  At first the other kids laugh, but then they decide they want bouffants, too.  After she helps them make their own bouffants, she decides they are boring and she wants something new.  What does she come up with?

I really like the message of this book, especially for my daughter.  After reading it, we discussed how the little girl “marched to the beat of her own drum.”  I really enjoyed how the little girl made decisions based on her own desires and did not allow the crowd to sway her in a different direction.  This is an important message for kids to learn, but is more important, I think for girls.  Girls tend to worry about their looks and this book allows little girls to recognize that individuality is more important than what the crowd thinks.

My daughter is almost 5 and really enjoyed this story.  The rhyme of the text and the plucky character kept her engaged.  I would recommend this book for your children ages 4-8.

Disclosure:  We received a copy of this book from the publisher.

If you are looking for a book with a similar message (i.e. individuality in young girls), consider My Name Is Not Isabella: Just How Big Can a Little Girl Dream? by Jennifer Fosberry .

©2011 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Our Flat Stanley Adventure Exchange

March 22, 2011

Our Flat Stanley Adventure Exchange has come to an end.  For the past several weeks, we were host to a visiting Flat Stanley.  My son and I enjoyed reading the original Flat Stanley book, and have many more in the Adventure series to read.  We exchanged Flat Stanleys with a boy in Georgia.  His Flat Stanley went to school and karate with my son.  He also played football with us and the Wii.  Oh, and he read along with us as we read about the original Flat Stanley’s adventures.  We had a blast with this activity and want to thank Trina from Book Loving Boys for putting this together to begin with!

Check out our adventures below:

Flat Stanley goes to school

Flat Stanley goes to karate

Flat Stanley plays football

Flat Stanley plays the wii

Flat Stanley reads Flat Stanley

©2011 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Chris Singer of Book Dads: Every Story is a Teacher

March 17, 2011

I have written many posts from the viewpoint of a mother, but a father, or male role model, is just as important in the literacy lives of our children.  Today, I welcome my friend Chris Singer of Book Dads as a guest.  He has built Book Dads into an  incredible blog, most importantly, showcasing fathers as they promote literacy in the lives of their children. Today, he shares his experience as a child and how books were his savior.

I’m not sure there’s anything more powerful in the human experience than the power of story. Stories teach so much to us. A story can teach us to have empathy for others, can show us perspectives in the world we may never encounter personally and can teach us ways to get through tough times. These reasons are partly why I’m such an advocate for reading to and sharing the power of story with children.

I know what books and stories did for me personally as a child. To be completely honest, reading books probably saved my life. As a child growing up in an abusive household, I was basically trapped. I had no autonomy, no control over the situation I was in. Books were my savior though. They helped me escape from the pain of the everyday world around me. When things got really bad, I hibernated in my bedroom reading book after book. It was the only time I was left alone and truly safe. No one bothered me when I was reading so books became my refuge. Reading books also gave me the hope that some day things will get better.
As an adult, stories still impact my life in huge ways. I have found the power of story to be a blessing personally, and a reminder of the strength of the human spirit. I have met people with their own stories of abuse and neglect. I have read and heard stories about the resiliency of those who have overcome so many challenges I can not even imagine. Hearing these stories was sometimes the exact kind of wake-up call I needed to be the kind of change I wanted to see in the world. In this way, I have learned to look forward instead of backward. Story continues to be a source of strength for me and for this, I am beyond thankful.

Chris Singer is the editor of Book Dads, a site originally formed to highlight and review books showing fatherhood in a positive light. Since taking over last April, Chris has expanded the mission of Book Dads to also help promote children’s literacy by reviewing books dads can share with their children. You can followChris on Twitter at @book_dads and Facebook

“We-View” Wednesday: Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown

March 16, 2011

Welcome to “We-View” Wednesday!  After months off, I’ve decided to bring back this feature.  My son is in second grade and is a fluent reader now.  We still read together daily and I thought it would benefit him to summarize (sometimes orally, sometimes written) books that we read.   At the same time you all will become familiar with books kids his age may like to read.   I hope you will join us!  Click here to read about the original intent of “We-View” Wednesday.

A few changes:

  • This will become a monthly feature instead of a weekly feature.  I will post “we-views” on the third Wednesday of every month.
  • I’m still learning different aspects to blogging and trying to become familiar with linky features.  I may eventually make this a linky, but for now, if you would like to join this feature, please email me at  dlittle {at} linkstoliteracy {dot} com by the Sunday before the third Wednesday of the month with your “we-view”.  I would love to be able to post multiple book “we-views” of different aged children.  Please make sure to include your blog address so that others can check you out, too!

Here is our latest “we-view”

Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown is a chapter book for fluent readers.  This is one in a series of books.  There is also a Flat Stanley Adventures series.   In this particular book, Stanley Lambchop is flattened by a large bulletin board.  Adventures ensue as he originally enjoys his new “flat” body.  Soon, people begin to make fun of him and Stanley isn’t so sure being flat is a good thing.  Will Stanley remain flat forever?  I would recommend this book for kids ages 4-8.  My son read this book to me and then orally gave me this summary:

Flat Stanley was flattened by a big bulletin board when he was sleeping one night.  At first, he liked it but then people started calling him names.  The adventures he had were flying as a kite and finding robbers in a museum.  Will Stanley have more great adventures?

Join us next week as we discuss our Flat Stanley Adventure Exchange challenge we took on.  (Picture is of my son’s Flat Stanley that we exchanged with another child).

©2011 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Preschool Family Reading Night: Pajama Jam with Dr. Seuss

March 15, 2011

I had the honor of hosting my final Family Reading Night at my daughter’s preschool last night.  In a late celebration of Dr. Seuss’ birthday (March 2nd – Read Across America Day), the theme was “Pajama Jam with Dr. Seuss.”  Students and parents wore their pajamas and participated in several Dr. Seuss related crafts and read alouds:

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

Students were provided with several fish to color red and blue.  After coloring and cutting out the fish, children put the fish in a pattern, punched holes in them and strung them on a piece of yarn.  They were encouraged to hang their fish banner at home.

Dr. Seuss Door Hanger

Students were provided with a foam door hanger and foam Dr. Seuss themed stickers.

Dr. Seuss Bingo

Thanks to my friend and fellow educator, Meredith, who created an awesome Dr. Seuss bingo board, parents were encouraged to read at least three Dr. Seuss books to their child.  If they read three, they received a Dr. Seuss bookmark as a prize.

In addition to these fun activities, students also heard a special read aloud of One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish by the director of the preschool.  They also enjoyed a snack of rainbow goldfish to match the “red fish, blue fish” mini-theme.

©2011 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Story Tellers: Creative Writing through Innovative Activities

March 10, 2011

I was so happy to present a parent workshop, “StoryTellers: Creative Writing through Innovative Activities,” in a suburb of Boston last night.  The parents were excited to learn how they could incorporate both authentic and creative writing into their everyday lives.  I shared some of the writing activities over at Imagination Soup in a guest post last week.  Here are a few more ways that you can incorporate writing around your home:

Authentic Writing:

Weekly Family Menu – Ask your child to write the family menu for the week.  Feel free to download a Family Menu Template.  Allowing your child the opportunity to have part in the weekly meal planning makes him feel a greater responsibility towards the family and it takes one thing off of your plate.  Of course, feel free to guide your child based on what you want to make for the week, but have him write the menu.

Creative Writing:

Pattern Books – Use a favorite pattern book (Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?We’re Going on a Bear HuntGood Night, Gorilla) and have your child repeat the pattern in his/her own book.  My daughter repeated the pattern of Brown Bear, Brown Bear in her own book below.

(Pink fish, pink fish, what do you see? I see a purple shark looking at me!)

(Purple shark, purple shark what do you see?  I see an orange guppy looking at me!)

©2011 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

What Would You Miss Most if You Could Not Read or Write? Celebrating World Read Aloud Day

March 9, 2011

Today, literacy takes a global stance, as we celebrate the 2nd annual World Read Aloud Day.  This global literacy event was created by Pam Allyn, renowned literacy consultant and Lit World, the non-profit organization she developed to create transformative literacy experiences worldwide.  Did you know that nearly 1 billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their name? What would you miss most if you could not read or write? Imagine your world without words and then head over to the Lit World website to see how you can participate.

What would I miss most if I could not read or write?

My life would never be the same!  I would miss reading my email (and writing them!).  I would miss reading the ingredients in the foods I cook or reading a recipe to make a favorite meal.  I would miss writing my to do list for the day.  I would miss reading the road signs on the way to my daughter’s school every morning.  I would miss writing lunch box notes for my kids.  I would miss ordering lunch from my favorite restaurant.  I would miss writing down the funny things my kids say.  I would miss reading my son’s assignments, both the ones he completed and the ones he needs my help with.  I would miss reading the little notes my son leaves for me occasionally.  I would miss staying in touch via text.  I would miss reading a new chapter in my book every night.  But most of all, I would miss reading to my kids every day.  Bonding over a story at the end of a long day is truly the sweetest gift one could receive.

The right to read and write belongs to all people and World Read Aloud Day was created to show the world that.  If you have been tallying the number of minutes you read aloud over the last couple of weeks, don’t forget to head to the Lit World website and add your amount.  I hope you helped Lit World reach their goal of 774 million minutes in honor of the 774 million people worldwide who cannot read or write!

If you choose just one thing to do today, please choose to read aloud to a child in your life.  It only takes a few minutes, but the results last a lifetime!  Share the gift of reading with everyone around you!

Fight for Global Literacy by celebrating World Read Aloud Day today!

Share a Story, Shape a Future Literacy Blog Tour: The Gift of Reading

March 8, 2011

Logo Created by Elizabeth Dulemba

Today is day 2 of the Share a Story, Shape a Future Literacy Blog Tour and we are celebrating “the gift of reading!”  The gift of reading means different things to different people.  Tomorrow is World Read Aloud Day and Lit World asks, “What would you miss most if you could not read or write?”  Wow! What a loaded question!  The ability to read is a gift in itself for many.  For others, it’s using literature to find the gift of healthy eating or to find tiny “gifts” in the artwork or the language of the literature.  Still others find public libraries a gift – and with current budget cuts, public libraries are at risk – and access to hundreds of books for free! Helping a child find that “just right” book is a gift to some, watching your child read is a gift to many parents, and then there is the literal gift of reading.  One of the best ways to motivate and encourage readers young and old, is through the gift of a book.

The Gift of Reading: Pairing Books with Toys/Games/Activities

Do you find that your children are invited to an inordinate amount of birthday parties throughout the year?  Do you find yourself racking your brain for gift ideas for one birthday party after another?  After racking my brain each year, trying to come up with a “special” gift for each child whose party my son went to, I decided that the best gifts we could give were books.  So, I began to pair books with educational toys/games/activities for gifts.  They were a hit!  Here are a few “gifts of reading” you may want to consider the next time you must purchase a gift for a child:

Bubble Gum Activity Kit paired with Pop!: The Invention of Bubble Gum by Meghan McCarthy

Rock & Crystal Excavation Kit paired with Jump into Science: Rocks and Minerals by Steve Tomecek

LEGO Harry Potter Freeing Dobby paired with LEGO Harry Potter Building the Magical World by DK Publishing (releasing May 30, 2011) or with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: 10th Anniversary Edition by J.K. Rowling

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus Game! with Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems

Playful Chef Baking Set with Kids’ Fun and Healthy Cookbook

To learn more about the gift of reading, check out these fabulous posts:

The Gift of Reading: Finding the ‘Gifts’ in Any Book by Amy Mascott of  TeachMama

Large or small, every book offers its own ‘gifts’ for readers.   All it takes is a closer look to recognize and better appreciate the gifts presented in characters, language, illustrations, plot, or theme.

My Picture Book Recipe for Raising Healthy Eaters by Dawn Morris of Moms Inspire Learning

Picture books are essential ingredients in all kinds of recipes for reading and learning. Can they inspire a whole new plate of healthy eating in children and their families?

A Gift, a Promise, a Commitment by Trina O’Gorman of  Book Loving Boys

Trina writes a personal story of the promise she made to her son to help him find the “right books” for him.

Giving the Gift of Literacy to New Parents by Jen Robinson of Jen Robinson’s Book Page

Jen Robinson talks about how you can give new parents the meaningful and long-lasting gift of supporting their children’s literacy. She shares tips for selecting books, a few recommended titles, and even a tip for how new parents can help with the process.

Dads Share Their Story: The Gift of Reading in Three Parts by Chris Singer of  Book Dads

Over at Book Dads today, there are a whole lot of dads sharing some thoughts about the “gift” they received as a dad upon witnessing their child being engaged with books or in reading. I’ve been blessed already with so many gifts as a dad, but the only thing I’ve ever really wanted (besides a happy, healthy girl) is a little girl who likes books. The picture below was the first time I ever saw my daughter do this and I can’t think of a greater gift for her to give to her dad than this. Probably one of my favorite pictures ever as well.

A Library Card of My Own by Melissa Taylor of Imagination Soup

If you want your child to be a reader, get him or her a library card. It’s the best gift you can give. Make the library work for your family with these suggestions . . .

Check out the Share a Story, Shape a Future blog to unwrap the gift of literacy and to see the complete blog roll for the week!

©2011 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.