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Posts Tagged ‘reading material’

TOS Crew Review — Kid Scoop

February 18th, 2011

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We have read to our children since before they were born. We have books in pretty much every room of the house, with the exception of the laundry room (although with as much time as I spend in there, maybe I should change that). I love to read for fun and learning. So, it would follow naturally that my kids would all be voracious readers and share my love for books. Right?

Well, not so.

One of my kids just recently latched on to the Narnia series and has not stopped reading since. Aside from that, my first grader and kindergartner put the older kids to shame. The young ones do love to read. They are what I thought was supposed to happen in terms of reading success. When a product came along pledging to transform my reluctant readers I figured it was definitely worth a look.
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Product:Kid Scoop

Details: A downloadable product with 365 pages. Each page contains activities and ideas for encouraging reluctant readers.

Price: $97 for the downnloadable product and 12 month access to their online newspaper that comes with even more ideas and activities each month.

What we loved . . .

  • Diversity of materials, activities, and topics. There is no true one size fits all product when it comes to reading, so they packed an incredibly diverse group of topics into this product. Everything from animals and the environment to baseball and optical illusions, bugs and budgeting to mini golf and just about every holiday on the calendar.
  • Shows us that reading is everywhere. Building off of the daily newspaper, Kid Scoop has created loads of activities to get kids reading, skimming, searching, researching, and in general digging in to reading material. I think the hook for us was that this wasn’t just reading to enjoy a story (which for some reason my oldest does not enjoy), it was reading for fun, for a game, for some friendly competition.
  • Free daily emails for a month. Anyone can sign up for their activity of the day email on their website and receive an activity email. We had lots of fun with these daily tasks. They will also give you a sample of some of the simpler ideas you will find in the Reluctant Reader Solution.
  • Free online sample. On the page with their activity packs you will find a free sample that you can download. You will probably have some fun with this, so be prepared to set aside some time to get distracted with learning.
  • Use it again, and again, and again. Since this is a download, after you get it, it’s yours. Print and reprint as much as you want. Print a copy for each of your kids. Print more copies of pages they want to do again. Print a page for you and your child and race to see who finishes first. When you aren’t just restricted to one copy of each page, the possibilities expand.
  • Time tested. Kid Scoop has been around for a number of years. Sections of it appear in newspapers world wide. Kids love it, parents love it, educators love it. It has been well received in a variety of homes and cultures.
  • Gets kids into the newspaper. Because many of the activities build off of the real newspaper, kids get into reading it. Some of my kids already have an interest in the paper, but this was a fun way to get them searching through it even more. I want them to be comfortable with this print medium that has been around for a long time and doesn’t look to be going away soon. One of the goals of Kid Scoop is that kids will get to know their daily paper, the terms used and the parts of it. They definitely work to intentionally reach that goal.

Some considerations . . .

  • I actually felt like it was light on the reading. While their focus is the reluctant reader so it makes sense that they keep reading unintimidating, I felt like kids could get through many of the activities without really reading much. Some of my kids are experts in figuring out how to complete a task without actually doing any reading. I had to keep on top of that.
  • Helpful if you subscribe to a print newspaper, but not essential. Many of the activities can best work with a printed newspaper in hand. They also include a wide variety of activities to use the newspaper before recycling it, so it will be put to good use. For many of these activities you could merely read a paper online, but a print one would be easier in some cases.
  • Some will flop. While the diversity of materials is quite a plus, some of it will not appeal to some kids. They will more than likely all find something they enjoy, but they will also more than likely find something you have to drag them through, which kind of defeats the purpose.
  • Secular. Just be aware that their holiday sections focus on the holidays, not any spiritual meaning behind them. So, Easter is all about bunnies and eggs. This is another reason that I would be more likely to pick and choose and buy activity packs rather than purchasing the whole set.
  • A bit pricey. Yeah, I could buy a lot of workbooks for $100. And, since there were topics in here that I know we would not likely use, I might be more inclined to buy their separate little ebooks or activity packs that they offer on their site for just a few bucks each.

This product did definitely fill a lull in our days and prompt reading where none existed before. When I needed a little something fun that would not require an hour of planning on my part, we could pull out a little unit and find multiple activities with something that appealed to almost everyone. In the process we learned. Not just playing around and having fun together, although that was part of it, but really learning something new. Learning how our eyes work, new vocabulary words, craft ideas, trivia and history, and other facts and data to keep stimulating my kids minds. And, whether they noticed or not, a lot of reading got snuck in in the process.

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This product was provided to me free of charge through Kid Scoop as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.

Living books

August 26th, 2010

In reading on Charlotte Mason’s style I came across a term I have heard many times now — Living Books. She says this about choosing reading material:

For the children? They must grow up upon the best . . . There is never a time
when they are unequal to worthy thoughts, well put; inspiring tales, well
told. Let Blake’s ‘Songs of Innocence’ represent their standard in poetry
DeFoe and Stevenson, in prose; and we shall train a race of readers who will
demand literature–that is, the fit and beautiful expression of inspiring ideas
and pictures of life.

She warns against twaddle, a word I just love.  So, I have started a vigilant hunt for books that breathe.

We read living books because we love them, they bring us together. They prompt incredible conversations. Even my little ones surprise me with the observations that they make about a book and its connections with real life. They bring something to our home school that no unit study, hands-on project, or even a field trip can. They spark the imagination and make creativity soar.

Some look alive, but hold nothing of value beyond the front cover. Others look old and dry and yet have carried us on amazing adventures. How do I know? Where do I find a good book?

Just wanted to share some great resources for finding a good read:

Ambleside Online — This website builds directly off of the Charlotte Mason philsophy. It assigns a time period for each year and can and is used by many as the core of their homeschool. We used them loosely for a couple years. Now, I still refer to that site because the book lists are excellent. We have loved probably 90% of the books we found through that site.

Curriculum reading lists — I started looking through other curriculums (like Sonlight — which we also used for a year) to see what books they recommend at various grade levels. Lots of great recommendations made it into our reading list this way as well.

Five in a Row — For books and accompanying activities, these books can give you plenty to choose from. Books that have stood the test of time, and you will love reading and rereading with your kids.

The Book Guardians — This is a brand new site for which I will be a contributor. Be sure to check it out over time as more books get added to its ranks. It will list books and share in 10 key areas if they have content that might need consideration. I talked more about it on my blog post about book reviews.

Common Sense Media — This site offers a number of reviews, but does not seem to have a strong moral slant. I did not find the reviews as helpful because I tend to have a stricter standard on what I deem appropriate reading for my kids. Still, definitely some value in the sheer quantity of books they have reviewed.

Christian Children’s book reviews –A good site, but seems to review only Christian books.

Focus on the Family has a book review section — Some good reviews, but they seemed to be lacking a depth in their recommendations and information provided. Does come from a conservative preference morally.

Facts on Fiction — Lots of reviews and clearly targeting key areas of concern. Alphabetized and easy to find what you are looking for.

1000 Good books — compiled by 25 homeschool moms, you can find 1000 of their recommendations. That should keep you busy for a while!

Many books also offer lists and reviews:

Honey for a Child’s Heart

– What Shall We Then Read

– Hand that Rocks the Cradle (from the Bluedorns)

Books Children Love

Invitation to the Classics

The Read-Aloud Handbook

Finding the time:

With six kids, five of them now school age, the trick is finding time in a day to read books. We have employed a variety of means to do so. We read a bit each day. Sometimes at bedtime, sometimes in the afternoon. We have a silent reading time each day as well. Books on CD also help. We listen to these in our rooms, at bedtime, and definitely in the car. We “read” an extra book or two each month by listening in the car. And, it keeps the kiddos quiet while we travel!

Looking for some recommendation? Here are some of our favorite books:

The Little House on the Prairie series

The Princess and the Goblin

Gone Away Lake

The Calico Captive

The Endless Steppe

God’s Smuggler

Bruchko

Robin Hood

Galileo and the Magic Number

And, every year we discover a few more favorites. Stay tuned to hear what we unearth this year.

Please add some more resources or book favorites of your own in the comments. We are always looking for well loved books.

This post linked to Works for Me Wednesday.