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Bright Ideas Lesson Ideas

Name That Book!

It’s probably not a stretch to guess that your young child has a few select books they like for you to read over and over (and over) to them. These are the books you’ve read so many times that your child can recite them back to you and can queue you when the page needs to be turned. We tend to cycle through books like this at our house. A book will make it into the rotation for a week or two, then get replaced by another. Some make it back into the rotation quickly, and some seem to be forgotten.

We try to ask questions when we read these books to help them focus on comprehension, but it seems like there are only so many questions you can come up with when you are reading the same book every night. We’ve come up with a whole new way to get Pea thinking about details while we read, and she loves this game.

We call it Name That Book. We sort of stumbled upon this game by playing a similar game with animals instead of books. We start off with three somewhat vague clues about the details and events in one of her books and let her try to guess which book we are thinking of. She can ask for more clues if she needs them, but she really likes trying to figure it out based on the initial hints. The clues get more and more specific as we go so she has an easier time guessing.

We’re also going to try a new variation on this game where she gives us the clues and we try to guess the book. Hopefully this will encourage her to listen carefully and try to come up with clues that are obscure, sort of like the Stump the Teacher game for pre-k kids.

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Bright Ideas Just For Fun Lesson Ideas

How And Why We Find Books At The Library

The last few  times I’ve taken the girls to the library, I’ve noticed that Chick Pea tends to gravitate towards books she’s somewhat familiar with. She has several books at home that are parts of a series (Dora, Mrs. Wishy Washy, Curious George, etc.) and if she sees a book she doesn’t own at the library that’s also part of that series, there’s a good chance she’ll want to check it out.

I really like to watch her semi-serendipitous process of selecting books, but in the last couple of weeks her eyes have been opened to a different way of looking for library books. One of her favorites at bed time right now is Curious George Visits the Library. In the book, George explores the shelves at the library and finds books on all sorts subjects he’s interested in–dinosaurs, trains, trucks, cranes, etc. Of course, he ends up with more books than he can handle, and pre-k hilarity ensues.

A couple of nights ago, Pea asked why George picked so many books instead of the two books she usually gets. We talked about how curious George is, and that he’s interested in many different things. I told her that when we go to the library, we can choose different books about the different things we want to learn more about and gave her an example of all the different things I like. Then I asked her what she likes to learn about. With a little guidance, she realized that animals and flowers are things she’s curious about, and we decided we’d look for books about animals and flowers the next time we’re at the library.

We definitely don’t want to squash the idea of browsing for books just to see what catches her eye, but this is also a great opportunity for her to realize that we can look with a purpose for particular books as well–books that will help us learn about things we like.

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Bright Ideas Lesson Ideas

What Was Your Favorite Part?

One really easy way to gently coax your child towards reading for comprehension is to ask them a simple question when you finish reading a book to them–“What was your favorite part?”

This works especially well with picture books because it gives them a chance to review the book by turning the pages and finding the one they like best. Once they find their favorite page, ask them what is happening on this page and why it’s their favorite. You can even download and print out coloring story books and let your kids enjoy the activity of coloring their favorite page.

We ask “what was your favorite part” about lots of things–books, movies, outings, and at bedtime (“what was your favorite thing we did today?”). The mental exercise of reviewing and sequencing the events is great, and it’s also a great way to start conversations and encourage them to tell you more about themselves.

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Bright Ideas Just For Fun

Creating a Reading Christmas Tradition

Ana and I were discussing how cool the idea of a Book on Every Bed idea is last night, and came up with another idea. Now, we come up with all kinds of crazy ideas–some pan out, and some don’t–but this is one we hope we are able to establish in our family.

We will definitely be doing Book on Every Bed while our kids are small, but we hope we are able to continue a variation of that idea long after our children are grown. We’re going to start this year with one another. Here’s the idea:

Give every member of your family a book at Christmas. This isn’t their Christmas gift(s), just a little added something. It can be a book that you’ve read over the past year and enjoyed, a book you think they’d like, a book you want to read at the same time they read it so you can discuss…whatever reason you want. And it doesn’t have to be a freshly purchased book from the bookstore. Buy a used book. Give them a book you’ve finished. You can even check out books for them at the library. When you’re living in the same house together, you can just pull one right off the bookshelf and wrap it up!

Sure, it’s for the kids, right? Well, yeah. But I also want to learn the things they are learning as they grow up, and I want to continue to glean knowledge off of them when they are adults. So while they will definitely benefit, I really want to start this tradition for completely selfish reasons! 😛

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Bright Ideas

Hosting a Kid’s Christmas Party? Include a Book Swap!

If you are hosting or attending a Christmas party geared towards kids this year, consider having them do a book exchange as gifts. You can set a limit on the cost of the books, or even make it a “used only” swap that let’s the kids exchange books they’ve either read the requisite 1,000,000 times or haven’t been that interested in. You can do this with several variations.

For mixed ages, you can do a name draw beforehand and let them exchange books “Secret Santa” style, making sure each child gets an age appropriate book they’ll be interested in. If all the kids are older (i.e. mature enough to handle it) you can even do a White Elephant gift exchange, allowing gifts to be stolen as the game progresses.

If you’re having a party for pre-schoolers, have each child bring a wrapped book to the party and attach letters to the packages with post-it notes as they arrive. When it’s time for the gifts to be opened, let each child draw a letter from a hat and match it to their gift. Opening all of the books at the same time instead of individually may help you avoid some meltdowns since they’ll more than likely be focused on their own book and not on what someone else has.

For a twist, have each child bring two books to the party–one for their friends and another to be donated to a local library, book drive, or other charitable organization.

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Bright Ideas In The News Just For Fun What Others Are Doing

Newest Carnival of Homeschooling Is Up!

Thanks to Christine at Our Curious Home for hosting this week’s Carnival of Homeschooling and including us!

There are so many good articles in this week’s edition, and these are some of our favorites so far…

Montessori Print shop has some good tips on getting started with Montessori at home. We are a far cry from full-blown Montessori style learning around our house, but it’s nice to have a little area set up for the kids to come and do self-directed activities they enjoy.

Robin at Crack The Egg has a great idea on creating and using a robot book. This idea can be used for whatever subject your child is interested in. For us, that would be a flower book. Two of them.

And finally, some advice on dealing with people who are hostile to the idea of homeschooling from The Common Room. Bottom line–everybody has to do the best for their particular families based on their particular situation. In the end, you may not be able to help them see why it’s the best decision for your family, but it may help  you understand why they react the way they do.

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Articles Bright Ideas Just For Fun Lesson Ideas My Humble Opinion

Starting a Co-op – Finding Others

Thinking of starting your own homeschool co-op? Not sure how to find other people to participate? Not sure how to outline expectations? Here’s where we started…

We were really excited about the idea of homeschool co-ops long before Ana ever started one. But there were a couple of things we weren’t really sure about, like when we should do it and how to find other people who were interested. It had always been in the back of our minds, but was always one of those things we thought we’d get to sooner or later. We really started talking seriously about it when other moms in Pea’s loose-knit play group started asking about where/when she’d be attending pre-school. Our answer was always, “we’re homeschooling”, and since we sort of believe that education starts at birth, she was already “in” school as far as we were concerned.

We were discussing it one night, and Ana mentioned jumping right in and starting up a co-op for preschoolers. Why not? The beauty of a preschool co-op would be that even parents who planned on sending their kids to a traditional school later on but were currently staying home with them may want to participate. We also thought it would be a good time for us personally to shift Pea’s educational experience a little by exposing her to different teachers and other students. Playing the part of mommy and teacher at the same time didn’t always work out as planned for Ana.

Ana jumped online and went to our local MomsLikeMe site and wrote up a quick post, just to gauge interest, and the response was great. Actually, the response was a little overwhelming. There were a lot more people interested than we’d anticipated. We figured the ideal class size would be 6 or 7 kids, but there were way more initial responses.

A meet and greet was set up so that the moms and kids could get to know each other a little. This was one of the most important steps of organizing the co-op. Of course, not every family who responded showed up for the meeting. Not a problem–if you aren’t interested enough to come to the first meeting, you probably aren’t that interested long-term. The meetup also provided a chance to lay out all the things that would be involved in a co-op. Supplies and curricula cost money, so there would obviously be a financial commitment. More importantly, there needed to be a commitment to being heavily involved with teaching classes and providing care for younger siblings while their moms were instructing.

Most of all, there needed to be a real commitment to participate every day to help the kids establish a steady group dynamic in their school. Sure, kids get sick and scheduling conflicts come up, that’s understandable. But the kids needed the stable group and each mom’s unique creativity and perspective.

Miss Annette Teaching Math

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I wouldn’t go so far as to say anyone was scared off, but if anyone expected this to be just another playgroup or a chance for moms to get together and gossip while the kids played with letter blocks, their eyes were opened to a very different idea. The group of moms that decided to continue on with the project was fully committed, and the results have been great. The kids are now getting a variety of classes taught by different moms, and they are having a blast with it.

I’d say the commitment of the families involved, and that especially means the MOMS, is the single most important factor in the co-op’s success so far. If you are thinking of starting a co-op, don’t feel bad about being selective and laying out firm expectations from the very beginning.

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Bright Ideas Lesson Ideas Must Reads

Top Posts People Check Out Here

We were on a pretty long hiatus from posting here due to some big life changes like moving (twice) and having another baby, plus the general posting inertia that seemed to accompany those. But that hasn’t stopped people from visiting the site, thankfully. So here’s a list of the top 5 “old” posts people have been looking at for the last couple of months. I’m limiting this to lesson ideas and general info articles…

Reading’s Fab Five – an introduction to the basic elements of reading (phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension).

Who Let the Letters Out Song – a fun song to sing with your kids to help them associate letters and sounds.

Stump The Teacher – “trick” your young reader into reading a book for depth and detail in order to ask you questions you can’t answer about the book. This game really encourages them to read for comprehension.

Rhyming Down The Alphabet – I’m glad this one is popular, because our 3 year old loves this game. You give them a word, and they create words that rhyme with it as they move down the alphabet. This one seems to be great for a child who really (and I mean REALLY) likes to talk (and talk).

Exit This Way – another one that’s great for more advanced readers.  This activity encourages your child’s comprehension by having them come up with an alternate ending for a book or story.

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Bright Ideas Curricula and Books Just For Fun Lesson Ideas

Activities With “Mouse’s First Snow”

We read “Mouse’s First Snow” yesterday in our co-op as an element of our winter theme, and afterwards we did a couple of activities that tied in with the book.

In the book, Mouse goes outside to play in the snow with his dad and follows his lead as the father does all kinds of outdoor winter activities. We don’t exactly have a winter here in Central Florida, so we had to be a little creative.

First, we let all of the kids have a turn “being” a snow mouse by wrapping them in tissue paper and adding a hat and scarf.

Next the kids built their own snow mice out of marshmallows, raisins, pretzels, and peanut butter. Perfect segue into snack time, where they got to eat their project!

Sometimes you have to use your imagination a little to find ways to tie activities into a book, but the kids don’t mind. They have very active imaginations themselves, and the activities are great for tactile learners and to help them make connections between books and life.

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Bright Ideas Just For Fun

December Giveaway – LeapFrog Fridge Words

If your pre-schooler is like ours, they love to be with you while you’re cooking. And if you’re like us, you spend a lot of time in the kitchen over the holidays. LeapFrog’s Fridge Words Magnetic Word Builder can help! This educational toy makes your time in the kitchen more hassle-free, especially if you put it on the side of the fridge or the dishwasher, which allows you to actually open the door without interrupting play. Even if you are just starting on word groups, you can seed the toy with the word ending for your child (“_at”, “_an”, etc.) and show your child how changing the first letter can make a brand new word.

We’re giving away one of these toys in December. All you have to do to be eligible to win is become our fan on Facebook. Really, that’s it! And if you don’t have a pre-schooler, don’t worry. This makes an awesome gift for Christmas or birthdays!

We’ll be selecting a winner at midnight on December 15, which should give us plenty of time to contact the winner and have the prize delivered before Christmas. It also gives you plenty of time to spread the word!