Homework Hassle

Now that my oldest is in first grade, he has homework every night. UGH! He usually has a math page, spelling words, sight words, and reading. We also have wrestling practice, after school club, and I have to run back and forth between two cities picking up kids so the time he has to do homework is minimal. He gets home and doesn’t want to do it then and I don’t blame him! So we set up a routine that works for everyone.

I put several things in the van for him so he can do his homework as we drive back and forth. We are productive!

Here is what I put in the van:
-a lap board so he has a flat surface to write
-a pencil case which includes pencils, crayons, and glue
-a bin of books that I change out every few weeks to keep it fresh

Now G quickly does his homework while we drive and then when we get home he’s done! It’s a great solution for our family and it beats fighting with him when we get home and he just wants to play.

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March 8 Books

We have been busy lately so I haven’t updated our library selections much. We’ve read a lot of books though and I’ve been keeping a running log of our favorites. I’ve branched out to another city library to widen our selection and it’s been fun. Here are a few we’ve loved!

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Jan 11 Books

I’ve mentioned that I’m not a huge fan of wordless picture books but this one and the similar one I posted about previously are so sweet! They gave me chills when we “read” them!

by Mark Pett

My youngest son got one of the Pout Pout Fish books for Christmas and now we are big fans. We checked out several at the library but these two are ourfavorite thus far:

by Deborah Diesen
by Deborah Diesen

The boys laughed and laughed at this book and thought it was neat because it contained the name of our youngest son.

by Mac Barnett

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Car “Games” Part Two

Here are a few more car games that we do while driving or while having a meal.

* The opposite game: I give them a word and they have to tell me the opposite.

* The synonym game: (My oldest calls this the cinnamon game!) I say a word like “big” and have them determine other words that mean the same thing. This is great for building vocabulary and will help them once they begin writing because they’ll be able to infuse their writing with colorful vocabulary. We also talk about the continuum along which the words are situated. Such as the fact that huge is bigger than big and humongous might be the biggest along the continuum.

* The category game: I give them a category like fruit, vegetables, vehicles, sports, or treats and they have to name things in that category.

* The inference game: This is their favorite! I give them clues about something and they have to guess what I’m talking about. We start by saying whether it’s a person, place or thing and then give clues. My oldest always figured out the answer right away so we devised a strategy where he tugs on his ear if he thinks he knows and then he mouths it to me so I know he knows. That way my younger guys can continue to think before making their guess. Once they get good at it, they can choose something and give you the clues. This is a fabulous game because it helps them develop inferencing skills which they’ll use while reading to help them comprehend. Sometimes during the game we’ll stop and I’ll say, “Based on the information that you have, what could the answer be?” Then we talk about what information they would need next in order to determine the answer.

* The sight word game: I tell my son a sight word and ask him to spell it aloud for me. I taught him a strategy to visualize the word and say the letters which works well for him.

I’d love to hear about the literacy (or math) “games” that your family plays in the car!

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Jan 4 Books

This week we had to keep several of our library books because the boys loved them so much that they wouldn’t let me return them! I love it when that happens!

by Bill Cotter
by Hyeyon Yum
by Richard Byrne
by Mark Pett
by Patrick McDonnell
by Laura Rankin

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Car “Games” Part One

We are all busy and often part of our day includes shuttling kids around in the car. I use that time to get in some fun, learning activities with the boys which they all love! (I also do this during breakfast or lunch occasionally.)

I let the boys choose which game we play and they take turns. These games help build phonological awareness and vocabulary skills which are the foundations for early literacy. The following games are more for your pre-school guys but can be played by the older kids too. The choices are:

* The rhyming game: I take turns giving the boys rhyming words and have them tell me more. When I first started I’d begin by saying something like, “Cat, hat, rat…..” and see if they could fill in the blank. Once they got the hang of it I’d say something like, “Tell me a word that rhymes with cat?”

* The letter/sound game: I give them a sound like /b/ and ask him what letter it is or I give him a letter and ask him what sound it makes. I started this with consonants only and use letters/sounds that I know he knows from the names of our family members. Once he got good at those, I added more and then finally, I started doing short vowel sounds too. Sometimes I tell them a letter and its sound /F/ and ask them to tell me all the words they can think of that start with that sound.

My boys love these games and beg to play them. This blog is called “Reading Momma” but I must admit that we also do math games. Almost every day on the way to school we count to 100. This is great because my middle guy can count along with us to 20 and my older guy can go all the way to 100. We also count to 100 by tens which both of them can do. And now my littlest guy can count to 10 so he joins in too!

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Dec 28 Books

When we had our eldest, we started a new tradition where we give the kids books to open on Christmas Eve. Then that night we read the books before bed. We also give them new pajamas. It’s grown now that we have three boys and they each get 3-5 books. Here are the books each of our boys got this year:

The 5 year old
by Judy Schachner
by Anna Dewdney
by Chris Van Dusen

The 3 year old
by Cynthia Lord
by Cynthia Lord
by Cynthia Lord
by Cynthia Lord

The 1 year old
by Anna Dewdney
by Alice Schertle
by Steve Light

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Dec 21 Books

I love books that really make you think. Some of these books, my oldest son has been talking about and referencing a lot lately. I think that’s great because that’s what good books should do….they should stick with you! I hope some of these stick to you too! These are more geared toward older kids though so you might want to read them first to be sure they are ok for your child. My five year old (and three year old) loved all of these but only you know what’s ok for your children to handle. The first book deals with a boy who likes to wear dresses and paint his nails (like my boys do). The second is a book about whether or not zoos are good for animals, although the message is very subtle. The third is about a boy and his father stuck on opposite sides of the Berlin Wall. It’s very powerful!

by Christine Baldacchino

by Marina Ruiz Johnson

by Tom Clohosy Cole

All of my boys like these books (there are many in the series) although I think they are just crazy!

by Judy Schachner

Here are a couple for the wee ones in your home. My two littlest guys make me read these again and again and again!

by Eric Carle

by Jon Scieszka

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Poetry to the Rescue!

I have three boys and my husband works a lot so I’m almost always on my own for dinner time and bath time and it can sometimes get nuts! I’ve mentioned before how sitting down to read calms my brood. But during dinner and bath time, it’s not that easy to curl up and read a good book. So one of the things we’ve started doing lately is poetry. It’s a great way to get your kids to learn those classic nursery rhymes as well as work on rhyming words and comprehension. I also teach my kids seasonal poems that they may not have heard before.

So while we’re eating dinner, if things start getting a little wild, I’ll start reciting a poem. I’ll pause at the end of some of the lines and my boys chime in. Sometimes we take turns and sometimes we all say the poems together. They love it! Once we get going, one of them will say, “Ok, my turn! I have one now!” and they’ll start a poem and the rest of us chime in.

We extend this by singing some songs (Itsy Bitsy Spider, Row Row Your Boat, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star) that have rhyming to them too. We talk about how poems are similar to songs because they have a rhythm. We also talk about the poems and whether or not they could actually happen. We talk about how authors put silly words sometimes just to make the poem rhyme. We also talk about the rhyming words and try to come up with our own. I also change the poems sometimes to include my boys’ names or things we’re doing. For example, “One, two, Max is eating stew. Three, four, I bet he wants more!” They love this too and then try to make up their own…which don’t always work out perfectly but we have fun doing it.

It’s a lot of fun and it keeps us all engaged in a positive way. I’d love to sit down with my five, three, and one year old and have stimulating conversations at dinner each night (and sometimes we do) but when things start falling apart, I try to find ways to keep us all happy and eating while having a good time too.

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Dec 14 Books

In honor of the upcoming winter holidays, I’ve decided to share a few of our favorite holiday books this week. These are books we read again and again. Some of them are probably familiar to you but hopefully a few are new. We read many, many versions of The Night Before Christmas each year, discuss the different art and which is our favorite as well as reading variations of the book.

by Chris Van Allsburg

by Clement C. Moore

by Michael Garland

by Greg Spiridellis

by Jane O’Connor

by Richard Egielski

by Jane Yolen

by Ree Drummond

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