Six Simple Ways to Use Storytelling as Teaching Tools

storytelling book

By Jim Weiss

Stories are spectacularly successful learning tools. Many studies show that children whose parents tell and/or read stories to them from an early age turn out to be better readers and students later on.

Furthermore, you are twenty times more likely to remember information if you learn it in a story than if you learn it simply as data to memorize. In part, the more stories we encounter, the more effectively our brains learn to work within the structure that most stories follow.  We not only absorb the stories’ contents, but at the same time, our brains get used to organizing what we learn into a usable form. We learn how to learn through stories.

Continue reading “Six Simple Ways to Use Storytelling as Teaching Tools”

Summer Reading Parenting Tips

Disclosure: The links in this blog post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on these links, online I will receive a small commission from Groovy Lab in a Box.

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Each month, they send out a themed box filled with investigations that are fun and hands on. The investigations culminate into an Engineering Design Challenge, where your STEMists must apply what they’ve learned from the investigations (and use their critical thinking skills) to complete the challenge. The boxes contain everything you need to complete all of the activities, including a groovy retro-themed lab notebook. The box activities are supplemented with their Beyond…in a Box web portal where your children will find videos and additional, interactive activities. Head over to Groovy Lab in a Box’s website to learn more about this great service!

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Tips for parents to get kids into regular summer reading routine

More than 50 million children in the U.S. have started their summer vacations and their annual break from homework, hospital
tests and assignments. Unfortunately, many of them will stop reading while having fun in the sun and experts say parents need to make sharing books a part of summer vacation and establish regular reading routines for their children.

Raising A Reader, a national nonprofit organization that provides resources and guidance for families to implement home-based literacy routines, has several tips for parents to make reading a part of the summer break.

“Summer reading should be all about the parent-child experience,” said Gabrielle Miller, Ed.D., president and CEO of Raising A Reader. “Rather than having it be a chore, or a list of must-read books, summer is a terrific opportunity to build family reading experiences. Whether it’s as simple as reading with children so they can see how much adults love reading, or visiting places and doing activities tied to a book, there are a host of ways reading can help children enjoy the summer and be ready to start school in the fall.”

Here are some of the Raising A Reader tips for parents:

  • Reading often gets lost in the shuffle of summer activities such as camp, sports and vacation travel. Schedule a regular time to share books with your child and establish a regular routine to ensure reading doesn’t become a low priority and has the same importance as other activities.
  • It’s OK to let your child read e-books if he or she is comfortable using a tablet, but remember, whether it’s an e-book or a print book — especially for young children — the most important thing is to spend time together sharing the book. It’s about the experience, not the technology.
  • Make it fun. Have your child come up with a different ending to a story, play ‘what if’ with the characters or the setting, or read the book from end to beginning. Come up with fun ways to engage your child beyond the actual reading of the book.
  • Let your child choose. Books are great, but so are comic books, magazines and even educational websites such as National Geographic Kids or The Discovery Channel. Let them chase their interests and they’ll be reading more than they realize.
  • Create an outdoor reading area so the whole family can enjoy the summer weather and not feel stuck inside. Children generally read indoors, so being outdoors will create a new environment for enjoying a book and boost a child’s enthusiasm for reading.
  • Connect with other families to share books and arrange reading playdates. You can even set up a Facebook group to stay in touch and share ideas, swap books and make plans.
  • Write a book with your child about them, your family, their favorite foods or toy, their friends or whatever interests them most. Your child can draw pictures or use actual photos. If you’re worried that your child spends too much time watching TV or playing video games, have him or her tell you or write a story about their favorite TV show or video game. You can also use one of many templates available to create and print the book on your computer.
  • Invite the family pet to join the book sharing experience. Even if your child can’t read yet, have her ‘read’ the story to you and the pet. Children who can read will be able to practice their skills and children who have not yet learned to read will begin to think of themselves as ‘readers’ which is very important to lifelong learning.
  • Find books that are centered on summer activities he or she enjoys. If your child likes to go horseback riding, for example, find books about horses or stories with horses as an integral part of the plot. This will give a child a welcome change from the types of books read during the school year and better complement their summer.
  • If you are taking a trip, read books about your destination with your child before you leave. Do some research with them on the location and find things in the area they want to do while visiting. And don’t forget to play “I Spy” with road signs or license plates along the way.
  • If you are taking your kids somewhere for the day, such as a pool, the beach, a picnic or the zoo, pack a book to share and have a reading break or two during day. After an hour or so in the water, your child may enjoy 30 minutes of reading on a comfortable chair or even floating on a raft.
  • Create a summer reading challenge with family members or connect to your public library’s summer reading challenge activities. When your child meets the challenge make sure there is time to talk about the book, share the story with others and read the next book.

Raising A Reader is a 501c3 charitable organization dedicated to helping families develop, practice and maintain literacy habits for children ages 0-8 that are critical for a child’s success in school and in life. The program is evidence-based, with more than 32 independent evaluations showing that Raising A Reader significantly improves language and literacy skills, cognitive development, communication and comprehension skills, school readiness and social competence. Raising A Reader is implemented through a network of community partners that comprise more than 2,500 locations across the country including public school systems, libraries, afterschool programs, community agencies and other organizations both public and private. Headquartered in Redwood City, California, Raising A Reader was founded in 1999 and has served more than 1.25 million families nationwide. More information is available at RaisingAReader.org, @RARnational (Twitter) and RaisingAReaderNational (Facebook).

5 STEM and Maker Apps and Games

School’s out! And that means it’s time to plan for what summer activities should be on schedule. What should you do to keep your kids from the summer slide and regressing academically on their summer break? STEM and maker apps and games.

Traditionally, epidemic as the designated family vacation time, sildenafil summer travel was a great way to teach kids about geography, culture and history. But what about getting your kids to invest a little bit in learning STEM, the hard sciences and math skills that are so important to quality academics and careers?

Not to worry, summer can be a great time to get you kids – especially young ones – to learn science, math and computer skills – especially while road tripping. And with new, highly successful gamification learning and apps, most kids don’t even know they are learning computer coding or physics.

STEM-based, maker movement compatible games and activities

Finding and using a few of these STEM-based, maker movement compatible games and activities can absolutely stall the summer learning slide and may even give your kids a leg up next year or even further down the road.

While you may want to spend a few minutes searching computer and STEM learning activities for the summer, here are a few ideas and options to get you started. Many of these are free – or less than $6.

1. Lego Education – get kits for hands-on building mechanized buildme-slider-9b6ec45b65253f312e6368bf3fd677b3robots and other tech and engineering marvels using Legos. And much, much more.

https://education.lego.com/en-us/?domainredir=www.legoeducation.us

2. Simple Physics – an app that allows kids to build things such as skyscrapers and bridges using real physics and engineering and calculating cost considerations.

http://jundroo.com/app/simplephysics/

3. Blokus – an easy, kid-focused app based strategy game that rewards strategic decision making and spatial awareness.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/blokus/id762630884?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

4. Tynker – introduce kids to the basics of computer coding with the leading app and learning platform for coding for kids.

https://www.tynker.com/

compass unit5. Orienteering – an outside, map-based logic sport and game that’s more than a century old – teaching map skills and navigation.

http://evavarga.net/product/introduction-to-orienteering/

The Importance of Reading to Kids

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island. Walt Disney

Reading to Kids
my kindergartner, pills Maya

I’ve written before about the importance of reading to kids on my blog here and here. Reading opens up a whole new world to children, there and it is definitely best to start them young. My kindergartner is learning to read on her own now, find and it is so exciting!

Mabel’s Labels knows that reading to kids is important for their growth and development, and also one of the most rewarding and heartwarming activities we can do with our little ones. That’s why they created this adorable video of Mabel’s Labels staff reading with their kids. After you watch it, be sure to check out the great personalized books for kids they have available to make reading with your kids even more special this holiday season.

Discover all the great new products Mabel’s Labels has for the holidays. There are all sorts of ways to be merry with Mabel’s this year!

Sweet Little Stocking Stuffers, Festive Labels, and New Personalized Books!

Win a One-Year Subscription from Groovy Lab in a Box!

Groovy Lab in a Box

**The links in this blog post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on these links, stuff I will receive a small commission from Groovy Lab in a Box.

I love a GROOVY giveaway – how about you?

My friends at Groovy Lab in a Box are hosting a sweepstakes where you can win a one-year subscription (valued at more than $250!) All you have to do is type in your email address, and you are entered.

Click here to enter to win a one-year subscription from Groovy Lab in a Box!

In case you have not heard of Groovy Lab in a Box, it’s a monthly subscription service that teaches STEMists (your children!) all about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Each month, they send out a themed box filled with investigations that are fun and hands on. The investigations culminate into an Engineering Design Challenge, where your STEMists must apply what they’ve learned from the investigations (and use their critical thinking skills) to complete the challenge. The boxes contain everything you need to complete all of the activities, including a groovy retro-themed lab notebook. The box activities are supplemented with their Beyond…in a Box web portal where your children will find videos, interactives and additional activities. Head over to Groovy Lab in a Box’s website to learn more about this great service!

Good luck! I hope you win! (Enter by 11/30/2015.)One-year subscription giveaway Groovy Lab in a Box

Are you saving for your kid’s college?

http://www.staceyvalley.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/cropped-cropped-kenya33.jpg
**As part of a recent Arkansas Women Bloggers event, stomach
I participated in a free educational financial planning workshop, look
but all opinions and recommendations in this post are my own.**

2014-11-15 17.14.45-1My five year old has gone from wanting to be a ninja when she grows up to a “cooker” (aka chef). Who knows what it’ll be by the time she turns 18. But one thing I know is that I better be ready financially. My husband and I are still paying off student loans for master degrees, and we don’t want our children to go into debt getting their college education. But where do you start? I really had no clue. (Saving is not my forte.)

So last Friday, I attended an Educational Financial Planning Workshop hosted by the Arkansas GIFT College Investing Plan (AR529) at P. Allen Smith‘s gorgeous Moss Mountain Garden Home.

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The Arkansas GIFT College Investing Plan offers all the familiar features and benefits of a 529 plan, plus a state income tax deduction for Arkansas taxpayers, a wide range of investment options, and the opportunity for additional savings through Ugift and the Upromise rewards service.

2014-11-14 13.00.48-2“For every dollar you save for college, you earn money.
For every dollar you borrow for college, it costs you money.”

Comfort comes in knowing you have set money aside for your kids’ college. And now I’ve started. It was really easy (online application here). I set up monthly autodrafts from my bank account, so I won’t really have to worry about it. I can make changes at any time. And I can share our Ugift code with family and friends, and they can make gift contributions at any time at Ugift529.com. So in 12 years when we’re deciding what ninja-culinary school she’ll go to, we’ll be prepared.

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Are you prepared? If not, it’s not too late to start. Check it out now.
Arkansas GIFT College Investing Plan