Saturday, August 31, 2013

Back to School Week: Day Six: CHILDREN'S NON-FICTION BOOK REVIEW: A History of Just About Everything: 180 Events, People and Inventions That Changed the World, by Elizabeth MacLeod and Frieda Wishinsky (illustrated by Qin Leng)


What, my birthday's not in it?


A History of Just About Everything:

180 Events, People and Inventions That Changed the World
Authors: Elizabeth MacLeod, Frieda Wishinsky
Illustrator: Qin Leng
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Publication Date: August 1, 2013
Source: Edelweiss and NetGalley
View on Amazon


This book is like a cheat sheet of world history. It's a chronological listing of important dates and events that changed human history. And yes it's Eurocentric and Americentric, and yes it is very brief and therefore not at all comprehensive, and yes it omits all kinds of important things. But overall it's quite good. I like the timeline format that allows for quick comparisons between disparate events that took place around the same times. It's not a bad starting point for kids of all ages who are interested in history.


Some of the interesting facts that I learned in this book:

  • George Washington Carver did NOT invent peanut butter, contrary to popular belief (I'm not sure how I DIDN'T know this, considering I read an entire biography of Carver...though I then went back and re-read the part about his invention and it never mentions peanut butter one way or the other...weird)
  • The first "smartphone" was released in 1993 (this one seemed suspect, but apparently it's true, though the term smartphone wouldn't actually be coined until several years later)


And as I mentioned there are certainly some facts missing. I read a "list post" on a blog recently that was prefaced with, "Your favorites have been omitted deliberately just to annoy you, as always." Genius! Here are some important facts that did not get their own page:

  • Martin Luther's 95 Theses in 1517 (actually the entire Protestant Reformation and much of religious history is conspicuously absent from the book)
  • The American Civil War and the abolition of slavery (though it is referenced briefly earlier in the book)


My favourite part: The timeline format

Magda's favourite part: The parts about space. Actually, she would have been happy if the entire book was just a history of space exploration.



Friday, August 30, 2013

Back to School Week: Day Five: CHILDREN'S NON-FICTION BOOK REVIEW: 303 Preschooler-Approved Exercises and Active Games, by Kimberly Wechsler (illustrated by Michael Sleva; foreword by Tamilee Webb)

Way better than an app...


303 Preschooler-Approved Exercises and Active Games:
A Smart Fun Book for ages 2 through 5
Series: A Smart Fun Activity Books
Author: Kimberly Wechsler
View on Amazon

Source: NetGalley



Illustrator: Michael Sleva
Foreword by Tamilee Webb
Publisher: Hunter House
Publication Date: September 1, 2013

This book is filled with tonnes (well, 303) of great ideas for active games and exercises for kids. It really does deliver on that promise. A lot of the activities were ones that I had used as a preschool teacher or ones that I had seen my daughter do in her toddler-preschooler tumbling classes. And they are definitely age appropriate. I'd definitely recommend it as a resource for any daycare or preschool classroom, especially on those days when you feel like you've done all the gross motor activities you can think of and you need inspiration. It's also great for parents who want help thinking of active games to play with their kids.

The only thing I will caution against is the introduction. There's a foreword by Tamilee Webb (of "Buns of Steel" fame) and it, along with the author's introduction, is filled with lots of panicky fat-phobia warning parents about the devastating ills of letting your child be overweight. The problem with that is that, despite what the book says, body weight is not an accurate indication of health or fitness. Children change size and shape frequently depending on their growth spurts, plus their body types are heavily influenced by their genetics. So one child may exercise regularly and be very fit but still be stockier than another child who may or may not be fit, despite being thin. So I think it's a terrible idea to pass on this obsession with body size to children. The goal of fitness shouldn't be thinness; it should be fitness itself. Fitness is a great goal. Thinness isn't.

But if you don't read the introduction to your kids and just skip ahead to the activities, then everybody wins.

Oh and if you're interested, you can check out Tamilee Webb talking about the role of genetics in body shape on an episode of Penn and Teller's Bullsh*t! (Season 2, Episode 12: Exercise vs Genetics). Scroll ahead 5: 25 for Tamilee.




Thursday, August 29, 2013

Back to School Week: Day Four: CHILDREN'S BOOK REVIEW: Boy Meets Dog: A Word Game Adventure, by Valerie Wyatt (illustrated by Dave Whamond)

I love this room. I mean rook. I mean book!

Boy Meets Dog:
A Word Game Adventure
Author: Valerie Wyatt
Illustrator: Dave Whamond
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Publication Date: August 1, 2013
Source: NetGalley and Edelweiss
View on Amazon


This fun book is a visual representation of Word Ladders, those word puzzles in which you change one word into another word by changing one letter at a time, with each change resulting in a new word. They were apparently invented by Lewis Carroll, who called them "Doublets." The book shows the word ladders one step at a time and illustrates the first word "becoming" the last word, like the boy becoming the toy or the dog becoming the cat (see below).



When my daughter Magda read this she said, "Now that we've read Boy Meets Dog can we read Girl Meets Cat? Is that a book?" I told her we could probably make a word ladder of "gal" into "cat." Here it is:

gal
gap
cap
cat

Then we spent the rest of the afternoon making more word ladders, like "Mom" into "Dad"--mom, mod, mad, dad--and "Mary" into "Mike" (her mom and dad's names)--mary, mare, make, mike.

Magda's favourite part: Making silly word puzzles.

My favourite part: Getting Magda to pay attention to the relationship between the letters in words and the things they describe. Yay!


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Back to School Week: Day Three -- Finding the perfect pair of glasses

Maybe "new glasses" isn't the thing most people think of when they think of "back-to-school" but I'm currently on the hunt for new glasses so it's been on my mind. I've had the same frames for 4 1/2 years now and the same lenses for 7, so it's definitely time for a change. And it's almost September so it's sort of a "back-to-school" purchase. Besides, it does bring to mind school memories for me because when I was a kid the only time I ever wore my glasses was when I couldn't see the board AND when my mom or my teachers made me. I had ugly glasses as a kid.

Which got me to thinking. Why aren't there "look books" in eye glass places the way there are in hair salons? You know, glossy photos of models--or better yet celebrities--wearing a variety of glasses that you can point to and say, "Those. Do you have ones that make me look like her?" I know there are some posters on the wall but it's really not the same thing. As I was staring at the walls and walls of frames on display all I could think was, "Who do I talk to about getting a pair of glasses that will make me look like Laura Prepon from Orange is the New Black? Where are the Laura Prepon glasses?"

Which is why I think all eye glass places should offer "celebrity eyeglass matching" services. Buddy Holly has had the monopoly on eye wear endorsement for too long!

Here are a few suggestions:

Laura Prepon

Jeneane Garafolo

Tina Fey

Kelly Osbourne 

Rachel Maddow

Johnny Depp

John Oliver

Justin Timberlake

Tim Gunn

What do you think? What bespectacled celebrity would you most like to look like? Stay tuned for more news on my glasses-buying adventure (perhaps some new pictures in the upcoming weeks, and then you can all lie and tell me how much I look EXACTLY like Laura Prepon).

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

BACK TO SCHOOL WEEK! Day Two: Stuff a backpack for a child in need

Day One: Local charities that help you stuff a backpack full of school supplies for children in need

Above: The Skip Hop Zoo Pack Little Kid Backpack Owl and Skip Hop Zoo Lunchie Insulated Lunch Bag Owl
I've never done theme weeks here at Cozy Little Book Journal but I thought "Back to School" was a good place to start.

Even if you don't have little ones (or not-so-little ones) going back to school this year, you can still help disadvantaged kids get ready for the upcoming year. There are a number of charities that help match families in need of help with school supplies with donations from the public. Here in Canada, both Staples and Bell Aliant are supporting school supply drives:

STAPLES:
Staples Canada will accept monetary donations that they then use to distribute to local schools and charities that help children and families. From their website:

Staples Canada is for Students
The Staples for Students Annual School Supply Drive is back! Over the years, the supply drive has generated over $6.3-million dollars for schools, non-profit organizations and community groups. The campaign is designed to help local students in need go back to school with the essential school supplies. Every year, the School Supply Drive helps thousands of Canadian students.
A survey of Canadian teachers we recently conducted with Vision Critical found that one third of students will start their school year without the basic supplies and poverty is the number one reason they don't have what they need. Together, we can help!
How the program works:
Visit any Staples Canada location between July 27 and September 9, 2013 and help give back. Each store collects monetary donations for the local charity of their choice and donations are then distributed within the immediate community surrounding that store. 

For more information, visit staples.ca

BELL ALIANT:
Bell Aliant has been filling backpacks with school supplies as an employee initiative for over a decade, but this year they're expanding to include public donations in an effort to fill 10,000 backpacks. From their website:

How do I get involved?
Customers and the general public can make an online donation through Bell Aliant’s social media 
campaign on Facebook or Twitter beginning July 15 until Labour Day. Cash donations can also be made at
most Bell Aliant stores in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador from August 6 to 
September 7. Donations will be used to purchase school supplies to fill as many backpacks as possible.

How much does it cost to fill a backpack?
Bell Aliant provides the backpacks and a contribution of $25 will fill the backpack with the supplies 
required for an elementary student.

How is my donation/contribution used?
One hundred per cent of your contribution goes toward the purchase of school supplies to fill more 
backpacks. Total approximate value of supplies and a backpack is $50.

For more information, visit BellAliantBackpacksForKids.ca

If your child is starting back to school in September and you're struggling to afford school supplies, contact your local school to see if they participate in charity drives and can provide you with assistance. Also you can contact your local Salvation Army or Boys and Girls Club.

Monday, August 26, 2013

BACK TO SCHOOL WEEK! Day One: Teaching ideas on Pinterest...could this be a book?

I know Pinterest can be a time-sucking vortex of seemingly impossible ideas--that we must simply must try--presented with irresistibly colourful photographs and lots of owls. On the other hand, one group that seems to have Pinterest all figured out is teachers--particularly elementary school teachers--who post some of the most intriguing classroom ideas. There should be a book called "Teaching with Pinterest." Hey, can I publish that book? I should look into that...

Anyway, here are some of the latest Education boards from Pinterest:

Just in time for back to school, meet Teachers on Pinterest—a place for any of you heroes of learning to connect and share creative classroom ideas. We hope it makes finding good stuff easier, like inspired lesson plans and come-to-life classroom decor.

Education boards to follow

alphabet

Maria Manore (Kinder-Craze)Maria Manore (Kinder-Craze)
alphabet
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Follow Board

Classroom Organization

Melissa Alonzo-DillardMelissa Alonzo-Dillard
Classroom Organization
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Follow Board

Reading Ideas

Created by MrHughesCreated by MrHughes
Reading Ideas
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Follow Board

Library Spaces for Kids

Andrea KnightAndrea Knight
Library Spaces for Kids
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Follow Board

Art Hints, How-to's

Donna StatenDonna Staten
Art Hints, How-to's
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Follow Board

Science

Jennifer FindleyJennifer Findley
Science
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Follow Board

teaching ideas

Marsha McGuireMarsha McGuire
teaching ideas
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Follow Board

Literacy

Nicole RiosNicole Rios
Literacy
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Follow Board

Nora Montessori

Jessica BalsleyJessica Balsley
Back To School Checklist
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Follow Board

Bulletin Boards and Charts

Miss KindergartenMiss Kindergarten
Bulletin Boards and Charts
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Follow Board

Education Inspiration

Jodi SouthardJodi Southard
Education Inspiration
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Follow Board

School

Stacey HemphillStacey Hemphill
School
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Follow Board


And don't forget to follow Cozy Little Book Journal on Pinterest!