Book review – The Rabbit and The Turtle

[4 years +]  The Rabbit and The Turtle – Aesop’s fables retold and illustrated by Eric Carle

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Children enjoy this book for the simple, short stories (one per opening, with an accompanying picture) without realising they are about to learn some life lessons at the same time.  It is a great way to introduce ‘moral of the story’.  Eric Carle’s illustrations are also very engaging!

Some of the fables introduce ‘don’t pretend to be someone that you’re not’, ‘treat others as you wish to be treated’, ‘friends come in all sizes and shapes’ and ‘be proud of who you are’.

The older children will have a wonderful talking point for how these fables relate to their lives.  It is also a great idea to introducing summarising – ‘what was that story about?’.

I encourage you to borrow or buy this book for your children!

I Raise My Kids is also at Facebook and Google +.  Thanks for visiting 🙂 Heidi

ABC Reading Eggs – website/app review

[3 years +]  Are you keen for your child to look forward to literacy learning experiences?  Are they ready to learn before they start school?  Could they do with some help now that they have started school?  Do they have learning difficulties or autism?  Are you looking for fun and educational apps and games for your child?

ABC Reading Eggs is definitely a great place to discover!

image courtesy of daily telegraph

image courtesy of daily telegraph

What is it?

ABC Reading Eggs is a website and iPad app that is dedicated to teaching children literacy through fun, interactive games and based on research in developing literacy skills.  It was developed by experienced teachers, writers, animators and web developers, and you can tell!  It teaches phonemic awareness and phonics, sight words, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension and will have your child hooked to learning about sounds and words before you know it.  Just give it a go by checking out a sample lesson or taking a free trial.

The best thing I have found is the simple things that get your child hooked.  The fun games like spinning a wheel or popping bubbles, the funny and enticing characters that have your child working so hard just to hear them sing and the idea of getting to new eggs and seeing what will happen.  Each lesson ends in a story involving the sounds, words and characters they have just interacted with.  After your child has earned so many eggs, they then get access to play games with these.  We haven’t even gone to the game section as the lessons are enticing enough for Master 3.

Reading Eggs also sells Reading Eggs readers that we have found at our local library.  These match exactly what your child has learnt in the lessons which make it hard for your child not to be able to read successfully once they have done the lesson once (or more – they can be repeated as many times as needed).

Reading Eggs is available on the web and also on iPads.  You can get a mini-version on iphone app which is related games but certainly not whole program.

Who is it for? 

Reading Eggs is designed for children from three years of age with no literacy experience and will take them through until a grade 2 reading level.  Children with or without difficulties learning to read will benefit.  As long as your child knows how to work the mouse and arrow keys, they can be guided through it independently, but the games and characters really get you hooked in as well!  A simple test can tell you where your child should start, if you are unsure.

How much does it cost? 

It doesn’t sound cheap, but after you have taken a free trial, you will see how amazing this website is.  A year’s subscription costs $79.95.  There are other options including packs with books and access to only so many levels.  We were lucky enough to hear about a free 5 week trial and then got offered a discount to join after that.

So, if you can fathom at least checking out the sample lessons or taking a free trial, you can judge if it would be worth it for your child.  Of course, there are the simple ways to learn literacy, by first focussing on phonological awareness and exposure to books.  (link to post).

Duo Puzzle – toy review

[3-6 years]   A wooden toy that is educational and has different levels to grow with your child’s ability?  This is the Duo Puzzle by Smart Games.

two levels...done!

two levels…done!

It includes a wooden frame with 13 wooden shapes and 48 different pictures to recreate.  At first your child just needs to be able to copy the two-step pictures on the card and manipulate the shapes into the wooden frame.  This requires determination, concentration and early visuo-spatial skills.  As the cards go on, the designs becoming increasingly more difficult until eventually your child has to create a two-level puzzle from one picture and use their perception, problem-solving and visuo-spatial skills.

turn the card over...check if you're right!

turn the card over…check if you’re right!

On the easier levels, your child can check the answer on the back OR once they are ready, they can start the puzzle on this side (see above).  No step-by-step clues now…!

An example of the different levels..

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One puzzle in action…

level one finished

level one finished

The ONLY down side to this game is that it doesn’t come in a good box.  

Smart Games is a great brand with more cognitive-style toys.  It is available on toy websites, eBay, and specialty toy shops.  

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Are We There Yet? A journey around Australia – book review

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[3 years +] ‘Are we there yet? A journey around Australia’ by Alison Lester.

You can be confident this is a great book when you see the author is Alison Lester (other books include, Noni the Pony, Magic Beach and Imagine) and it also won the Children’s Book Council of Australia ‘Picture book of the year’ award.

If you are thinking of doing a camping trip anywhere around Australia, this book is a great way to show your children what it might be like and get them excited.  We had no plans and are quite inspired by this book to do a ‘journey around Australia’ one day!

For little ones, you might show them what a ‘bookmark’ is and read it over a few nights.  It is easy to stop after each set of pages before the family moves onto a new place in Australia.  For the older kids, you can really look at all the amazing things there are to see around Australia and what it is like going on an extended camping trip.

Here are a few sample pages to show you the style of the book:

there's a map of Australia!

there’s a map of Australia!

fireworks in Sydney

fireworks in Sydney

look at the colours of Uluru...

look at the colours of Uluru…

The Jolly Postman – book review

[3 years +] The Jolly Postman – by Janet and Allan Ahlberg

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Like Each Peach Pear Plum, Janet and Allan Ahlberg again have fun with well-known fairy tale characters.  They use rhymes to introduce the characters the Jolly Postman comes across and real envelopes with letters, cards and postcards to open on each page.  It is very fun for the kids!

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There is a lot for the older children as well to get from this book.  They can read the front of the envelopes and work out who they are to (eg. Mr V Bigg = the giant) or work out the puns in the witches’ catalogue.  You really have to know your fairy tales to ‘get’ the whole book 🙂

Each Peach Pear Plum – book review

Each Peach Pear Plum By Janet and Allan Ahlberg

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Clever, fun and catering to many ages, this book is a MUST-HAVE!

It features a repetitive rhyme that brings in all of your favourite nursery rhyme characters.  AND you get to play ‘eye spy’ on each page, looking for one of them.

So get it out for:

– the under ones for some good exposure to rhyming words (great for later preliteracy skills) and interesting pictures to look at

– the 1 year olds, again for some good rhyme exposure and vocabulary building – you can just point out all the common items on each page

– the 2 and 3 year olds for some ‘eye spying’, or even finishing the rhyme for you (‘I spy the…’).  You can talk about which nursery rhymes the characters come from or ask many questions such as ‘I wonder if Jack and Jill liked the Wicked Witch?’ or you can predict what you will be looking for on the next page by the mini picture above the writing (eg. the 3 bears’ porridge bowls…find the three bears)

Here are a few sample pages!

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can you see the three bears..?

can you see the three bears..?

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can you find the wicked witch?

can you find the wicked witch?

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Parsley Rabbit’s Book about Books – book review

[3 years +] Parsley Rabbit’s Book about Books by Frances Watts and David Legge

**winner of the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year award 2008**

Yes, this was a great find at the library!  Particularly in time for Book Week.

As the title suggests, this book is all about books!  It teaches your child about every aspect of a book.. Just take a look.

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Parsley Rabbit introduces all the book terms you can think of, from ‘author’ to ‘end pages’ and all in an exciting book, complete with flaps, a dinosaur head which had Master 3 intrigued (you’ll have to see it to see what I mean!) and clever ways to engage a child about something as dry as specifics about books!

Seek this out at your library today!

Play School Nursery Rhyme Favourites – book review

so loved!

so loved!

Play School Nursery Rhyme Favourites and Play School More Nursery Rhyme Favourites

Well these two books are the most used books in our house BY FAR.  Held together with sticky tape and a rubber band, we’ve had these since the birth of Master 3 and they are still going strong for the two boys now!  Three-and-a-half years of nursery rhyming!

And they aren’t just any nursery rhyme books.. Here are some of the features:

  • The Play School characters show up in each nursery rhyme which adds more interest if your child already knows the Play School characters OR subtly introduces them to the characters so that by the time they are ready for Play School (as was the case for my two boys), they held them at ROCK STAR level that they might be seen ON TV!!!!
  • The lovely clear pictures all made out of recycled ‘stuff’.
  • The many parts to each nursery rhyme are illustrated so you can point it all out and keep your child’s attention for longer.  For example, in Baa Baa Black Sheep, the 3 bags of wool are there; the Master, Dame and little boy are there; and even the lane.  Whereas in other nursery rhymes books, I find you might just see only a couple of these as the nursery rhyme gets boring when you’ve got nothing to point to (do you point to the pictures as you read books?).
  • Between the two books, pretty much all the classics are covered.. no boring ones!
  • The books are made of VERY thick pages so they are durable – that’s how much we’ve used ours.
  • They are inexpensive.  I’ve seen them at the Play School concert (most expensive), ALDI and eBay.
  • Great for travel as they are light but have hours of entertainment.
  • You can sing the songs, practice your signing with little ones and the everyday objects/actions you see in the books, get the musical instruments out with them, leave them for the little ones to discover, let your older child ‘read’ the book themself, act out the nursery rhymes with props, the list goes on!

If you are up for some nursery rhymes (and I’ll get onto the benefits of those in another post) or want to have a revamp of your old nursery rhymes books (they get straight to the classics), then please give these a go!  Or buy them as a present for someone 🙂 Heidi

🙂 It is Book Week in Australia this week – come and see us at our facebook page – I raise my kids, to see what is happening this week.  🙂

We planted a tree – book review

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[2 years +] We Planted a Tree – by Diane Muldrow and illustrated by Bob Staake.

This book will warm your heart and is full of talking points and great information about the benefits of trees, that is easy enough for young children to understand.  I could read it over and over!

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Different cultures are featured throughout the book as well as how they are all similar, sharing family time and growing up together, as the trees and gardens do too.

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The illustrations are beautiful and have plenty to look at.  There are also features indicating a certain country on each page, that can be discussed with your little one.

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You will need to read this book several times just to be able to track the different families featured and to take in all that is has to offer.

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Why not get online and reserve this at your library in light of National Tree Day, or buy a beautiful present for someone?  Enjoy!

Little Tikes – Farm 3D Memory Match-up

[Toy review]

Working with children, I come across many different toys and we put them out in front of many different children and of different ages.  I would have to say that this is one of the most versatile toys I (sorry, they) have enjoyed!

Hello friends!

Hello friends!

Whilst the toy is for ages 3+, as soon as your little one is trustworthy with the pieces (we had them out under supervision with our 12 month old), they will provide hours of entertainment.  And thus, there are many different ways you can play with the game!  (Oh and the appeal of them coming out of an egg carton makes them even more enticing!).

Traditional 'memory'

Traditional ‘memory’

Memory – Just like the traditional ‘memory’ game, you hide each animal half under a haystack.  Kids take turns to uncover two haystacks to see if they have a match and then push the two halves together.  For the young ones, you can start with just two animals (four halves) and build into using all ten of the animals.  Good for turn-taking, matching, learning same/different.  Of course, this might just turn into their own ‘rules’ which is fine too 🙂

the mismatches!

the mismatches!

The mismatches – It won’t be long before the kids are making crazy animals.  How easily can they come up with their names – the moo-meow, the neigh-oink.. You can practice how these neo-animals might walk, eat or talk!

Line up please!

Line up please!

Lining up – it’s like these animals are just begging to be lined up!  This is a good one to ‘act out’ lining up time at daycare or school.  Here, rabbit is the ‘teacher’ calling out ‘line up everyone!’ and the cow is ‘pushing in’.  It is a good non-invasive way to talk to your child about how a line ‘works’, where to go and even what you can do in a line (eg. talk to the person in front or behind, listen to the teacher).

chicken!

chicken!

nothing!!!!!

nothing!!!!!

Nothing!! – this game evolved with Master 3 and 1 turning over haystacks and naming what was under each.  They were turning them over so quickly, I started turning haystacks over with nothing underneath them, just to keep up.  So then the game was trying to find ones with ‘nothing’ underneath.  Master 1 now knows the word ‘nothing!’ (well in this context at least), just from this game!

And of course, there is the ‘keep your eye on it’ trick.  Show your child which haystack (of three), you are putting an animal under. Move the haystacks around slowly and see if your child can point to which one the animal will be under!

Pros for ‘Farm 3D memory match-up’

  •  improves fine motor skills – having to use their fingers to push the halves together and having races to pick up haystacks/hide animals underneath
  • good for language – talking about the different animals’ characteristics or use the animals as props for songs – for example, ‘Old MacDonald’, have your child explain the rules to someone else, get your little little one to do actions with them – for example, cow sleep, pig run, cat eat
  • work on social skills – turn taking and dealing with winning/losing, using the animals for role play – for example, lining up at daycare, asking to join in play or add them to another toy like a toy bus or farm house

Cons for ‘Farm 3D memory match-up’

  • the name is a mouthful!  It’s easier to pick something like ‘animal memory’ or ‘the haystacks’
  •  it’s more expensive than other toys (but yet one of those ones that pays itself back over and over).  $23.28 currently on eBay is the cheapest I can find
  • rare as hen’s teeth!
  • it used to come in a plastic egg carton but now is in a more life-like carton (nice but certainly wears much quicker)
  • the animal halves sometimes became loose after a lot of wear (this happened to the one at my work and it had PLENTY of use)

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