Check out the Very First Reading Set or get in touch to find out how you can earn it for free by hosting a Home Show or Facebook party. Become a consultant to receive a Lifetime Discount on this and all Usborne purchases. No minimum sales requirements. Try it for 6-12 weeks. The worst thing that can happen is your kids will get some great new books.
I’ve been waiting for this since I saw it at our National Convention this summer. Not only is it a bright, beautifully-illustrated thesaurus but this one includes games and tips for writing. This is so much fun, you’ve got to see it! Take a look and let me know if you want one (or more) for your family or classroom collection.
Our Shine-a-Light books are a great big hit with kids from ages 4-8. As you read the story they get to shine a flashlight behind every right-side page to reveal the hidden secrets of nature. What fun!
Let your kids guess what they’ll find hiding in each illustration. They won’t easily forget what they learn about habitats, tide pools, and tree trunks. Pair these titles with a small flashlight for a delightful birthday gift or a special treat for overnights at a grandparent’s house. Purchase one or purchase several in the Shine-a-Light series.
As the school year winds down you may be wondering how you’ll keep your kids active and engaged this summer There are many options but camps and childcare can be so expensive. One idea is to have your own Summer Brain Camp with a small group of like-minded families. It isn’t as difficult as you’d think and you’ll probably spend only a fraction of what you’d spend on other activities. Ask around and you may find more parents than you expected who have the same concerns.
I can help you find the resources you need to pull it off. For example, you could get together once a week for simple and fun science experiments like the ones in 365 Science Activities or 101 Science Experiments. The activities usually involve common materials you’d find in your own home or at a nearby dollar store. Each family can take a turn directing the science activity, or one organized person can be your Camp Director and the other families can chip in snacks and drinks. The possibilities are endless.
If you have free spirited kids, we can help inspire the artistically minded. The Art Treasury is unique in the way it “combines dazzling art from around the world with exciting projects to do that will inspire every young artist. It includes famous European paintings, delicate Japanese prints and traditional African masks, and each work of art is followed by a project influenced by the artist’s methods or ideas.” (from the catalog) Pair it with The Usborne Book of Famous Artists to delve deeper into the lives of thirty-five of the world’s most talented artists.
Visit the website for yourself or get in touch for more summer ideas. I’m here to help you find what you’re looking for.
Did you know…
the British founder of Usborne Books Publishing, Peter Usborne, and his two adult children have developed a free online game through their charitable fund, the Usborne Foundation? Created by reading experts and gaming professionals, this game has been available to kids around the world for four years now and your kids can use a PC or laptop and join the fun too. A downloadable App is also available for a small fee.
Get more information at TeachYourMonstertoRead.com . Read the reviews, join the blog, try the demos or start a free account. Available for use both in home or at school, this is another tool you can use to make reading fun for your kids. Get started today!
Parents want to teach kids the skills they’ll need to lead happy, productive lives. But we have too much to do and not enough time to do it. Ellen Galinsky, author of Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs, acknowledges this “time famine” at the outset of her book, which is filled with evidence-based ways to help kids learn the skills they need. Here are a few of her suggestions. Chances are you’re already doing some of them. Now you can rest assured that research supports your methods, and maybe you can try a couple of new things. As Galinsky says, “we teach best when we are learning.”
- Play games backwards. For example, “Simon Says, Do the Opposite.” It’s the classic with a twist. If Simon says, “Be quiet,” the kids should be loud.
This helps kids practice inhibitory control, an important executive function. Executive functions also include focus, cognitive flexibility, and working memory. These skills predict academic success at least as well as IQ scores.
- Talk about feelings. Encourage your kids to talk about how they feel (She’s sad and frustrated that she left her new necklace at Grandma’s and won’t be able to get it back until next week. She’s also envious of her brother, who remembered his necklace.) Speculate about how others might feel, whether it’s in real life situations (Another driver cut you off, and that made you angry, but maybe that driver was having a terrible horrible no good very bad day) or in a book (Alexander was disappointed when the shoe store had exciting striped sneakers for his brothers but only white ones for him.)
This helps kids learn the skill of empathy. Kids who are able to understand what others are feeling and understand their intentions have smoother transitions to school, college and beyond because they can see others’ point of view.
- Tell Stories. Read. Talk about what you’re reading. Read to your kids, or ask them questions about their books. Tell stories. If you go to a friend’s house, encourage the kids to tell the story of the visit later. Family life is filled with what Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley call “business talk.” This kind of talk usually uses simple vocabulary and conveys what an adult wants from a kid. Storytelling and discussion of books uses richer language and is called “extra talk.”
It promotes good communication skills. In a survey Galinsky conducted, employers were most concerned about employees’ verbal and written communication skills. Extra talk correlates positively with academic performance. Of course, it might also be pleasant.
- Choose toys that have no point. Lego bricks, not sets. Or break up sets after the thrill wears off and see what your kid can make. Guide instead of taking over. (“It doesn’t seem to fit here? Where else could it go?”) Don’t wrest the brick from her hand even if you know you could make something cool.
This kind of play promotes object, space, and number sense, skills that help kids make connections. Information is easy to come by in the age of Google, but it’s of limited use if you can’t make creative connections.
- Write Out the Fights.You probably don’t feel like pulling out a notebook when the kids are fighting, but try Galinsky’s approach, supported by research and tested on her own kids. Collaborate with your family to:
- Identify the dilemma.
- Determine the goal
- Generate a list of solutions. Go beyond your typical solutions.
- Think about how these solutions might work, and not just the ones that were your idea.
- Pick one and try it.
- After you’ve tried it, discuss how the solution is working and either tweak or change the plan.
This process models critical thinking, which Galinsky defines as “[T]he ongoing search for valid and reliable knowledge to guide beliefs, decisions, and actions.” Life is packed with decisions to make and problems to solve, but in the short term, good critical thinking skills might help your kid judge when a friend is influencing him to make a mean-spirited or dangerous choice.
- Praise effort — not talent or intelligence. Instead of saying, “You got that problem right. You’re so smart,” say “You worked hard on those problems and you figured them out. That’s great.” Talk through how they deal with challenges and praise persistence.
Kids who receive this kind of praise are more likely to take on challenges. They have a “growth mindset,” which means that they see their abilities as something they can develop. This sets the stage for a lifelong interest in learning.
I bought these travel activity cards at the last minute before our beach trip and, boy, I’m so glad I did! They’re made by Usborne Books & More and called 100 Things for Little Children to do on a Trip. These cards saved us for the hours we were in the car!
The card above says, “Draw a boat on the sea. Add lots of fish and an octopus, too.”
The box is filled with a stack of cards that I handed back to Maia one at a time for her to work on. The activities included mazes, matching activities (match the animal to its food, for example), “spot the difference” pictures, beginning literacy activities, and drawing prompts. Maia loved them all! She worked on them in the car on the way down to the beach and also at the restaurant while we waited for our lunch.
Each card is large, sturdy, and double-sided. The pack comes with a write-on, wipe-off pen for doing the activities which means you can use these for many different trips and multiple kids! I really think these are a must-have for a road trip! Also for restaurants, airplanes, and doctor office waiting rooms, etc.
The only (minor) problem with these is that since they are double-sided, the ink rubbed off a little bit onto Maia’s clothes when she turned them over to work on the reverse. And, unfortunately, it didn’t all come out in the wash. Maybe pack one of those spot remover pens or use a lap tray.
(Note from USBORNE BOOKS & MORE – Many Activity Card Sets are available – Though I’ve never had anyone mention the above problem, I imagine it could happen so I would advise you to use a lap tray or simple towel or blanket over their laps if this is a problem for you when traveling. Any wipe-off marker will work on the cards and I’d grab some extras so multiple kids can divide the cards and trade back and forth, as so often happens with kids anyway. Also, a smart teacher once told me a tip to keep any flashcard sets manageable – punch a hole in one of the upper corners of each card and put them on one or more key rings (approx. 2″ dia.) to keep them from being dropped or lost. Here’s an example of the type of key ring I’ve used though I’m sure I found them at Jo-Ann’s or some such store in a pack of 6(?) for just a few dollars. http://www.keyring.com/heavydutysplitkeyringnickelplated2diameterusa.aspx)
Here’s a new one called Secrets of the Seashore for all your spring and summer beach vacations (and to remind you of past vacations). This one’s just like Secrets of the Apple Tree but you get to see the hidden habitats of the seas and oceans instead. These make great gifts when paired with small flashlights to shine through the pages. Enjoy these with the favorite people in your life and share loving reading experiences that will encourage your child’s natural curiosity and love of learning.