Posts Tagged ‘reading and writing activities’

Fireflies A Writer’s Notebook by Coleen Murtagh Paratore

Posted on September 5th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Fireflies A Writer's Notebook by Coleen Murtagh ParatoreFireflies A Writer’s Notebook by Coleen Murtagh Paratore
Journal for writers published by Little Pickle Press

Ideas can surprise you like fireflies on a dark summer night, but sometimes it seems like all of the fireflies are hiding…

From beginning to end, Coleen Murtagh Paratore’s Fireflies A Writer’s Notebook shares a lovely message with writers: I respect you and I believe in you and your ability to write something special.

Inspiring quotes, helpful writing tips, intriguing prompts and though-provoking questions are sure to captivate young writers and encourage them to think and write with confidence. Lined and blank pages, in pastel colors offer plenty of space to brainstorm, outline, list, write, explain, recall or doodle. We especially enjoyed the quotes from (children’s book authors) Jane Yolen, Karen Cushman, Jacqueline Woodson, Kate DiCamillo and Stephen King.

For a preteen or older child who loves to write, Fireflies A Writer’s Notebook would be a lovely gift. It will become a treasured place to express thoughts, ideas, memories, reflections and stories.

It is interesting to note Little Pickle Press prints and distributes their materials in an environmentally-friendly manner, using recycled paper, soy inks, and green packaging.

Read our review of Coleen Murtagh Paratore’s The Funeral Director’s Son

Fireflies A Writer’s Notebook at

Fireflies A Writer’s Notebook at

Reading Doesn’t Have to Involve a Book – Jody has ideas!

Posted on July 25th, 2014 by Jody


Storytime Standouts' Guest Contributor Explains Reading Doesn't Have to Involve a Book

On an average day, you might feel like there are too many things that need to be done to stop, sit down, and read. There is no doubt that reading books and enjoying reading are immeasurable necessities in life. However, sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in a day. That doesn’t mean you can’t fit reading in, around, or between.

1. Cook with your children

It’s more than just reading a recipe. Encourage them to do this, yes, but it also allows for you and your child to converse about tastes, amounts, ingredients, and so much more. While making pasta sauce with my daughters the other night, we didn’t follow a recipe, but we talked. Oral language is incredibly important. Listening to and following instructions, asking questions, and completing tasks are all part of cooking even the simplest of meals. Take time to do this with your children.

2. Instructions

My daughters, who both love to read, often come to me and ask how to do something (like play a new game) or what something is. My response is generally, “you can read”. Reading, interpreting, and applying directions is a skill. A necessary skill. If your child looks at the directions and then passes them off to you (as I often do to my husband), get them to read them. Ask them what they are being asked. They will need this skill in the classroom for directions as simple as “write your name at the top” to how to complete an exam.

3. Comics

My youngest daughter has fallen in love with Archie. This brings me great joy because it is one of my favourite memories of being a child. I’ve had parents, in the past, who worry about their child picking up comics versus chapter books. If they’re reading, they’re building fluency and fostering their enjoyment for the task. Don’t stop this– encourage it. It is very fun to listen to your child laugh when they actually get a joke that is in print.

4. Signs and other environmental print

On long car rides, we pull out the iPods (and to be clear– a long car ride to me is from Chilliwack to Langley- I’m a bit of a wimp), but around town or anything under a half an hour, the kids go without. Generally, they’ll bring books with them but we also encourage them to read the signs and pay attention to their surroundings. Okay, maybe my husband encourages our children more strongly than others might, since I get lost quite easily. My children often ask me if I know where I’m going. Most of the time, I do. But, it’s pretty cool to have them recognize landmarks, signs, familiar areas and say, “that signs says…”. Things we, as adults, take for granted might be foreign to kids. Ask them if they know what all of the symbols mean when they’re posted. Ask them if they know what it means when a sign says 42K.

5. TV

Yes. I’m advocating television. I truly believe that your children can watch a huge amount of television and STILL love to read. I see proof of it every single day. Reading the TV guide, an episode summary, or the words that pop up onto the screen further encourage your child’s reading abilities. It all counts. Should they just read the TV guide? Probably not. The key with television, I find, is to talk to them about what they see and what they read. Another great way to improve fluency is Karaoke. Regardless of their singing ability, reading the words as they scroll along the top of the screen, while trying to sing them in unison, is hard to do. Try it with a song you don’t know and see how hard it is to match the beat, the words, and the your voice.

Regardless of how you get them reading, it is about more than books. You absolutely cannot underestimate the power of conversation with any of these activities, including reading a book. Oral language deepens and enhances our understanding of the world around us and, for children, expressing their thoughts and questions is a huge part of building their confidence and establishing connections. So, if you don’t have time for a book, there are words everywhere, all around us– improvise.

Summertime Reading – Will July be reading-friendly for your children?

Posted on June 8th, 2011 by Carolyn Hart

Ways to make summer vacation reading friendly for kidsThe lazy days of summer are perfect for reinforcing your child’s emerging reading skills. When you are out and exploring, take a child-friendly reference book with you and keep it nearby as you do some star gazing, bird watching, beach or nature walks. If you make summertime reading a priority, you and your child will be rewarded in September.

Storytelling and Listening…
While sitting around a campfire, encourage story-telling or pull out a book of spooky stories and a flashlight. Snuggling up around a fire is the perfect place for memory-making, spine-chilling tales.

Reading maps…
When on a roadtrip, be sure to take a map or two and encourage your child to trace your route and alert you to upcoming points of interest.

Drawing and writing…
At home, check your supplies of crayons, pencils, lined and un-lined paper (and, we’re sure you’ll want our summertime interlined paper). Keeping a summertime scrapbook or diary will encourage your child to do some writing and illustrating. summertime interlined paper

When visiting the library, look for books on tape or cd or download audio books onto an IPOD. Long drives are so much more pleasant when listening to an engaging story. I can still remember where we were driving when we heard the amazing recording of Hiccup: How to Train Your Dragon. The miles simply flew by as our family created a fabulous memory.

Summertime Reading…
Finally, don’t forget the all-important trips to the library. For young children, look for a mix of rhyming books, alphabet books and not-to-be-missed picture books. For older children why not find some books of science experiments, recipes or art projects to go along with chapter books?

Free Easter Printables for Children – Great for Home and Classroom

Posted on April 2nd, 2007 by Carolyn Hart

I’ve been hunting for free Easter printables today. I am currently working with several early primary students and Easter is not far away so I hopped from website to website, in search of goodies for my basket.

I began at author/illustrator Jan Brett’s amazing website She offers thousands of printables including free Easter printables. Also, she has recently added How to Draw videos for Spring: How to Draw a Chick and How to Draw a Bunny. The biggest challenge with Jan Brett’s website is to choose just a few items to print.

DLTK always has some great ideas for seasonal learning and crafts for young children – they have free printable colouring pages and Easter Dauber Coloring Pages (Children use bingo daubers to add brilliant colour).

Teacher’s Corner features several Easter printables for journalling or story writing.

Finally, don’t forget that Storytime Standouts offers more than two hundred free early childhood literacy printables including free Easter printables for young readers and writers and their caregivers. We have Easter poems and interlined paper as well as free Spring printables.

Easter Picture Books at

Easter Picture Books at

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