Tag Archives: reading

5 Tips for Reading to Children + Giveaway

We recently added another new book to our children’s home library. Surprising, right? Haha! We love reading to our kids, but to say that they love to sit and attentively listen to the different stories, would be a stretch. Getting small children to sit still and focus on the story can be difficult to say the least, but I’ve found a few tried and true tips for reading to children that will work for any family!

5 Tips for Reading to Children | #reading #ilovetoread #smartkids

~I received an advance copy of a new children’s book to help facilitate this post. This post also contains affiliate links, in which I will receive a small commission for your purchase. As always, opinions are still 100% my own.~

1. Wordless Picture Books

Many parents may find picture books boring, but it’s actually quite the opposite. When you offer your child a simple picture book, it gives them the freedom to make up the story, or to tell you what’s happening in the pictures. This is a great way to help grow their imagination.

You can even ask your child questions like:

  • What’s happening in this picture?
  • Why do you think that?
  • What do you think will happen next?

2. Let Your Child Pick the Book

Kids are always going to judge a book by it’s cover. That’s their first impression of what the book is about, so having books displayed in a way that they can see the covers, will easily allow them to choose which one they may be interested in. By letting your child choose which book they want you to read, they’re more likely to stay tuned for the story.

5 Tips for Reading to Children | #reading #ilovetoread #smartkids

3. Pick a Book Your Child Can Relate To

If you come across story time and your child doesn’t really seem interested in sitting down and picking out a book themselves, you can try picking out a story they can relate to. My kids don’t always want to sit down and read, but if I have one they can relate to, I can usually rope them into paying attention. That’s been exactly the case with their new book, Benji and the 24 Pound Banana Squash.

5 Tips for Reading to Children | #reading #ilovetoread #smartkidsBenji and the 24 Pound Banana Squash is the story of a young boy, Benji, who has saved some banana squash seeds for months so that he can grow his own. When the ground is finally soft enough to plant the seeds, he gets right to it. Then he spends weeks and months watering, watching and waiting for something to happen.

Once the vegetable has finished it’s growing cycle, Benji has himself a whopping 24 pound banana squash. He proudly poses for a photo with his huge vegetable and then his parents cook up the banana squash for dinner.

This is the kind of story that resonates with my kids, as this was the first year we tried our hand at growing some vegetables in our own backyard. We started small, with just two tomato plants, but being able to nourish the plants for months, having them grow larger and produce tomatoes, and then being able to eat our little harvest, has been a fun experience for my kids.

5 Tips for Reading to Children | #reading #ilovetoread #smartkids

5 Tips for Reading to Children | #reading #ilovetoread #smartkids

5 Tips for Reading to Children | #reading #ilovetoread #smartkids

They certainly didn’t have any 24 pound tomatoes, but it has still been fun for them to grow their own food. Benji and the 24 Pound Banana Squash is all about patience, love and perseverance, all of which are important lessons for kids. And gardening, whether one vegetable or many, is a great way to learn those lessons.

Even when not really in the mood to sit and listen to a book, my kids are still happy to hear the story of Benji and the 24 Pound Banana Squash. Think your child would enjoy it too? Scroll down and enter to win your own copy!

4. Try Short Stories

When you sit down to read to your child, it doesn’t have to be a super long story. Starting with short, simple stories will give your child a better chance of actually finishing the book. I’ve sat to read to my kids many times and only made it a few pages in because they get distracted and we never get to the end of the book. Shorter stories have helped solve this problem and we’re gradually working our way up to longer ones.

5. Use Fun Voices

Have you ever sat and listened to someone read aloud in a monotone voice? It can make even the best story, as boring as ever. When reading aloud, use fun voices to help your kids distinguish between the characters and to keep the story alive. Even as an adult, it’s important for me to imagine different characters speaking in different voices, accents and tones. The same applies to kids.

Do you do any of these when reading to your kids? What tips would you add?

Preorder Benji and the 24 Pound Banana Squash (available October 16, 2017)!


Enter to win an advance copy of "Benji and the 24 Pound Banana Squash!" | #giveaway #reading #smartkids #gardening

One lucky Making Time reader will win an advance copy of Benji and the 24 Pound Banana Squash! GOOD LUCK!

This giveaway is open to residents of the US, ages 18+ and ends on September 19, 2017 at 11:59 pm est.  Random winner will be notified via email and must respond within 24 hours or prize will be forfeited. Sponsor is responsible for prize fulfillment.

 

 

*I received an advanced copy of a children’s book to help facilitate this post. This post also contains affiliate links, in which I will receive a small commission for your purchase. My opinions are still 100% my own and in no way influenced by the brand. Any claims or statistics should be confirmed with the brand.  Please see this blog’s full policies and disclosure here.

Exploring Outer Space with The Cat in the Hat {Giveaway}

Ready to explore outer space with The Cat in the Hat? Take a look at our outer space week activities and enter to win a Cat in the Hat outer space bundle (DVD and book)! #DrSeuss #TheCatintheHat #NCircleEntertainment #outerspace

~Thank you to NCircle Entertainment for providing me with a Cat in the Hat DVD and book for review. This post contains affiliate links, in which I may receive compensation for your purchase.~

As you probably already know, last week was Dr. Seuss week and the Read Across America event took place on March 2nd, in light of Dr. Seuss’ birthday. Not only did we have fun with Dr. Seuss activities last week and participate in Read Across America, but we also spent the week exploring outer space.

Each day my son did a different activity, all of which were space related. And everything he did led up to a special Friday movie. It’s just like when I was in school and the big box TV was rolled into the classroom. I knew right then my school day was taking a turn for the better. It was the same thing here. With a little help from NCircle Entertainment, he took an adventure through outer space with The Cat in the Hat! The Cat in the Hat knows a lot about all kinds of things, even outer space.

Monday

You can’t really learn about outer space without visiting, and you can’t really visit without becoming an astronaut, so that’s how my son started the week. On Monday he created his very own astronaut and started learning about the different things he might see way out of this world.

Ready to explore outer space with The Cat in the Hat? Take a look at our outer space week activities and enter to win a Cat in the Hat outer space bundle (DVD and book)! #DrSeuss #TheCatintheHat #NCircleEntertainment #outerspace

I found a large array of outer space printables just from searching on Pinterest, so that’s where all of the outer space activities and ideas for the week came from. His astronaut printable was a color by letter activity and the other coloring printable was a color by sight word. Both of these were perfect for his age!

Tuesday

Now that my son was an official astronaut, he had to figure out how to actually get to outer space. His solution was to build his own rocket ship. On Tuesday, we took to his painting easel so he could create one!

Ready to explore outer space with The Cat in the Hat? Take a look at our outer space week activities and enter to win a Cat in the Hat outer space bundle (DVD and book)! #DrSeuss #TheCatintheHat #NCircleEntertainment #outerspace

We actually started by painting his foot blue and orange, and then he stepped on his easel paper. The blue part would be the body of his rocket and the orange part, the fire coming out the engines. It was a nice starting point to get his creative juices flowing. After that, I let him do his own thing.

I did tell him his rocket needed some triangular wings (thinking of those at the base of the rocket) and he took it literally, giving his rocket green wings. They look like bird wings to me, but that’s the beauty of a child’s creativity. Besides, it’s his rocket ship and he can do whatever he wants to it.

Wednesday

Wednesday he did a little more research as to what he should expect to see when he gets to outer space. You know, just so he’s prepared once he gets there. With a couple of connect the dots activities, he realized there was a lot to see and explore – stars, planets, passing rocket ships and more!

Thursday

Now we’re getting somewhere. My son is an official astronaut, has is own rocket ship and is ready for exploration. Outer space here he comes! 5-4-3-2-1, BLAST OFF!

Thursday he started with four maze activities – exploring through his rocket ship, the moon, a star and finally, Saturn.

Ready to explore outer space with The Cat in the Hat? Take a look at our outer space week activities and enter to win a Cat in the Hat outer space bundle (DVD and book)! #DrSeuss #TheCatintheHat #NCircleEntertainment #outerspace

Ready to explore outer space with The Cat in the Hat? Take a look at our outer space week activities and enter to win a Cat in the Hat outer space bundle (DVD and book)! #DrSeuss #TheCatintheHat #NCircleEntertainment #outerspace

After he finished those, we participated in the Read Across America event by reading his new Cat in the Hat book, There’s No Place Like Space! It couldn’t be more perfect for celebrating Dr. Seuss’ birthday and keeping with our outer space theme for the week.

Friday

Friday arrived and it was finally time to debut his new DVD, The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Space. Following a robotic dog that came to earth, the Cat in the Hat took him on an out of this world adventure in the Space-ama-racer.

They meet Astronaut Audrey at her space station, at which time she introduces them to Space Rover (the robotic dog) who is helping her explore outer space. Before they know it, Space Rover gets tangled in some space junk while exploring and it’s up to Cat, Nick and Sally to save him. This is just the start of the adventure, as they follow Space Rover from planet to planet, through asteroids and so much more!

Ready to explore outer space with The Cat in the Hat? Take a look at our outer space week activities and enter to win a Cat in the Hat outer space bundle (DVD and book)! #DrSeuss #TheCatintheHat #NCircleEntertainment #outerspace

After watching the movie, I helped him cut out all of the activities he’d been working on during the week and using push-pin magnets, we placed them all on our dishwasher.

Ready to explore outer space with The Cat in the Hat? Take a look at our outer space week activities and enter to win a Cat in the Hat outer space bundle (DVD and book)! #DrSeuss #TheCatintheHat #NCircleEntertainment #outerspace

This allowed him to move the pieces around how he wanted and maneuver his astronaut through outer space. Along with the movie, it was a simple, but fun way to end his week exploring and learning about outer space. 

Want to have your own outer space week with the Cat in the Hat? Enter using the giveaway form below and you could win copies of the DVD and book to get you started!

Are you ready to venture to outer space with The Cat in the Hat?

Connect with In this new DVD, Autumn Journey: Guess How Much I Love You, your children will follow Little Nutbrown Hare and his friends on 6 autumn adventures. Enter now for a chance to win your very own copy! #giveawayWebsite / Facebook / Twitter

Ready to explore outer space with The Cat in the Hat? Take a look at our outer space week activities and enter to win a Cat in the Hat outer space bundle (DVD and book)! #DrSeuss #TheCatintheHat #NCircleEntertainment #outerspace

One lucky Making Time reader will win a Cat in the Hat outer space bundle that includes the DVD and book shown here! GOOD LUCK!

This giveaway is open to US Residents, ages 18+ and ends on March 20, 2017 at 11:59 pm est.  Random winner will be notified via email and must respond within 24 hours or prize will be forfeited. Sponsor is responsible for prize fulfillment.
*This post contains affiliate links, in which I may receive compensation for your purchase. I received samples free of charge from NCircle Entertainment as part of their Brand Ambassadorship. My opinions are 100% my own and in no way influenced by the brand. Any claims or statistics should be confirmed with the brand.  Please see this blog’s full policies and disclosure here.

New Reading Surprises with The Story Box

If you can’t tell yet, I’ve recently become a huge fan of monthly subscription boxes. And guess what, my kids have too! They love getting new surprises in the mail each month, especially if it’s a cool package to open, and I love the joy and excitement on their faces when they open a new box.

Their latest subscription box addition is from The Story Box and every month they each get a new book that’s fit for their age. We make time almost on a daily basis to sit down and explore the characters and adventures that what await inside their books. Let’s just say their reading collection has grown at such a rapid pace that the book shelf I made them a few months ago just isn’t big enough anymore.

The Story Box provides your children with 2 new story books to explore each month. Subscribe today and save $6 off your first order! #subscriptionbox

The Story Box has 3 different box options to choose from, but they all include a parent guide and 2 books that are curated by a speech-language pathologist.

  • Board Books Package – for children ages 0 to 2.5 years.
  • Picture Books Package – for children ages 2.5 to 6 years.
  • Family Package – for families with children in both age ranges.

Since I have a 1 year old (as of tomorrow!) and a 4 year old, I chose the Family Package. The selections in our August box included a  board book entitled Sheep Go To Sleep, and a picture book entitled Shark’s Big Surprise.

The Story Box provides your children with 2 new story books to explore each month. Subscribe today and save $6 off your first order! #subscriptionbox

My kids were super excited to see they got some new stories to read and couldn’t wait to get into them. Yesterday was pretty gloomy and rainy, which actually cooled down the weather a little bit. So after the rain stopped, we headed to our bench outside to enjoy the nice, cool evening and spend some time experiencing their new books.

The Story Box provides your children with 2 new story books to explore each month. Subscribe today and save $6 off your first order! #subscriptionbox

And these aren’t just your ordinary run of the mill books. There’s so much to enjoy about them. For starters, the board books are perfect for my toddler because she can’t tear them up. She has an interest in ripping things apart – tissue, magazines, and even her brothers books. She’s already destroyed a handful of his books. So it’s a big plus we can enjoy a book with her that she can’t demolish.

The Story Box provides your children with 2 new story books to explore each month. Subscribe today and save $6 off your first order! #subscriptionbox

As for the picture books for my son, I love that they come with suggested challenges that I, as the parent, can challenge and help my son with. For example, one of the suggestions included on the parent guide for Shark’s Big Surprise was to talk with my son about the sound each animal makes in the story and then do a small recall activity to see if he could match the sound with its animal. So not only is my son getting to experience a new world and story with the book, but I can also help develop his mind and language with the help of the parent guide.

Subscribe to The Story Box + Savings Code!

Ready to subscribe for your little one(s)? Simply visit The Story Box and choose which box best fits your child’s age. Use promo code TAKESIX and save $6 off your first order! Then you just have to wait in anticipation for your box to arrive! This month’s shipment is scheduled for September 21st.

And before I forget, a portion of each subscription fee is used to purchase books and other educational materials to benefit children with disabilities and children from low-income families. What a great way to not only help your child expand their mind, but help other children as well!

Which box option fits your child’s age?

Connect with The Story Box:

Shop / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest / Instagram

*This post contains an affiliate link and I may receive compensation in exchange for this post.  I also received a sample free of charge.  My opinions are 100% my own and in no way influenced by the brand.  Any claims or statistics should be confirmed with the brand.  Please see this blog’s full policies and disclosure here.

DIY Book Shelf: From Shoe Rack to Book Shelf

DIY Book Shelf: From shoe rack to book shelf! I'll show you how I turned an old shoe rack into a useful book shelf for my son.

With my son’s collection of books getting larger and larger, his reading materials have outgrown their storage basket.  I have been browsing online to see what cute and effective storage ideas I could find and came across some pocket shelving.  The problem is that I wasn’t willing to pay its cost if it wasn’t going to hold all of his books.  So I held off.

 Book Shelf Idea

Shortly thereafter, while visiting my parents, my mom asked if I wanted a shoe rack she was going to toss out.  At first I said no because I had no need for it and certainly didn’t need any additional clutter in my home.

Then all of a sudden it hit me!  I was thinking about the shoe rack and it dawned on me that I could turn it into something similar to the pocket shelving I had previously been eyeing.

Once I got home with the shoe rack, I took to Pinterest to see if I could find if someone else had done something similar.  I mean, why do trial and error if someone else already has it figured out?  But I couldn’t find anything.  So I decided to just do it my way and I absolutely love how it turned out!

DIY Book Shelf: From shoe rack to book shelf! I'll show you how I turned an old shoe rack into a useful book shelf for my son.

I’m certainly no seamstress, but I do know the basics of sewing.  And not only that, but I don’t even have an average sewing machine that has all of the basic functions.  I have a miniature sewing machine that only does a straight stitch and was still able to pull this off.

Step 1 – Find the perfect material to make the shelves/pockets.

I decided to go with a canvas-like material so that it would be sturdy.  And I liked this particular design because the words were fitting with books and reading.  I purchased 1.5 yards and used it all.

Step 2 – Take measurements.

As far as width I lucked out with not having to do any measuring because when folded in half, the sheet of material was exactly the width I needed.

Width Measurement

Measuring the length was a little more tricky and required some little helping hands.  Before measuring, I made sure I had the poles I’d be using in their appropriate slots and removed any excess poles I didn’t need.  Each pocket requires two poles, one in the top back and one in the bottom front.  Just repeat the pattern all the way down the shoe rack being used.  My shoe rack was tall enough for four shelves.

Next, I literally strung my flexible measuring tape around the poles and draped it how I wanted the pockets to fall.  I preferred to have deep pockets so that I could fit as many of my son’s books in them as possible, without having any topple out the front.  I ended up with three deep pockets and then the bottom pocket I had to make some adjustments on because it would fall closer to the floor.

Length measurements can be tricky.

To take the length measurement we started at the top back pole and wrapped the measuring tape around it because I was going to be sewing a slot to insert the pole.  Then we draped the measuring tape down to the pocket depth we wanted.  Next, we continued the measuring tape around the bottom front pole and made sure to add enough extra length so I could sew a seam on the bottom side of the actual drape.

Add additional length so there's no oopsie like this.

I know – sounds pretty confusing, but take a look at this and you’ll kind of see what I mean.  This is my first attempt at a pocket and a big oopsie on my part, haha.  The back of my one-sided designed material was showing!  So much for trying to plan and think ahead.

Now you can see why it’s important to add some extra length to create that seam on the underside of the drape.  Luckily, I was able to fix it by sewing on some additional material and you can’t see the seams where I added it on.

Step 3 – Mark your measurements and make your cuts.

As I just mentioned, I needed three pieces with the same measurements for the deep pockets.  And for the bottom pocket I needed to cut the material a little shorter in length since it was closer to the floor and wouldn’t drape as deeply.

Step 4 – Pin and sew.

Now we’re getting to the meat and potatoes!  When ready to start pinning and sewing, the first thing I did was sew a finished look to the sides of the pockets.  I simply folded the edges back slightly and sewed a straight seam all the way down.  This will give a simple finished look and no frayed threads along the sides of the pockets.

Fold sides slightly and sew to provide finished edges.

Nice finished edges.

Next, take a pole and wrap the top of the material around it and pin it in place.  Remove the pole and sew along the pins.  If you have a one-sided and one-directional design as I did, make sure you’re actually doing this at the top of the design.  I would have hated to end up with the materials wording design upside down.Pin along the pole and sew.

The last part of sewing was the bottom part.  With the back side of the material face up, I folded back the bottom about 6″ (according to my measurements), pinned it in place and sewed along that edge.  This seam lies on the underside of the pocket’s drape so it can’t be seen when in place.

Fold the bottom back.

The seam will be on the underside of the drape.

Not only does this create a finish to the bottom, but now you have a slot to place the bottom front pole.  And that’s all the sewing you need!

Slot to insert the bottom front pole.

Repeat the same pinning and sewing for all pockets.

Step 5 – Put it together.

It’s finally time to put everything in place and admire the finished product!

DIY Book Shelf: From shoe rack to book shelf! I'll show you how I turned an old shoe rack into a useful book shelf for my son.

If you’re using a super flimsy shoe rack, you may have to do something to the sides to stabilize it.  Once we put the books in ours, it was fairly stable I think because of the weight of the books, but it’s final resting home also provides some stability in case it were to rock side to side.

DIY Book Shelf: From shoe rack to book shelf! I'll show you how I turned an old shoe rack into a useful book shelf for my son.

Making Time for Reading

March is National Reading Month

We’re halfway through National Reading Month and I want to share how we promote reading with our kids.  I want to start by saying that we have not always been on a strict reading plan, so to speak, with our son.

But I’ve noticed that he doesn’t seem to be quite at the same level as his peers.  My son is just 4 years old, but when we visit the park or somewhere there may be other children his age, I notice that they seem to be more articulate with their speech and vocabulary.

I’ve wondered if it’s because he’s never been in a daycare or preschool setting, and around other kids his age for at least a few hours every day.  I’m a working at home mom, so he’s always stayed home with me.  And sure, that could be part of the problem, but it’s certainly not all of it.

What I realized is that it’s partly my own fault that my son isn’t exactly on point with his speech and vocabulary.  Of course, this saddens me, but I can’t put the blame anywhere else.  I realized that I, myself, needed to help my son and reading to him was the solution.

Just in the last 2 months we have implemented a new rule.  Our son is not allowed to play any video games until he does 20-30 minutes of reading each day (we need to cut back his electronic time anyways).  I cannot express how  much of a change I have seen in his speech and vocabulary in just the last 2 months.

It’s amazing at how quickly children learn and not just that, but truly how effective reading to our children can be.  He has already become more age appropriate as far as being able to repeat stories to me.

Making Time for Reading

Of course it’s usually after I’ve read them to him a handful of times, and I know he’s definitely using the pictures to help him along the way, but that’s age appropriate for a 4 year old.  I mean, I’m not expecting him to be able to sit and tell me what each word on the page is, but we do work on that too.

Not only do we read every day, but as we’re doing that I’m trying to teach him word recognition along with letter/sound recognition so that he can put different letter sounds together to determine a word.  These are the types of things taught in school, but if I can give him a head start, well then why not?

And at this point with as much reading as we do, I’m sure my 6  month old is going to be jabbering away very shortly.  She’s already made it known that she’ll be a blabber mouth with the noise she makes as it is, but I know that getting her involved now will only increase her speech and vocabulary at an early age.

I even think back to when I was a kid and over the summer while my mother was working during the day, we always stayed at our grandmother’s house.  And boy, grandma MADE us read, haha.  She’d take us to the public library once or twice a month and we’d get to pick out what books we wanted to read.  Then we’d head back to her house and get to it.  Looking back, I thank her for that.  And now as an adult with my own children, I realize how important reading really is.

So, in celebration of National Reading Month, I challenge you to sit down and spend some time reading to your child tonight.  Even if it’s just 10-15 minutes, that’s better than nothing.

Do you implement reading rules for your kids?