Category: kids’ books

Great Magazine Find! “Tessy & Tab Reading Club”

By , March 9, 2010 1:36 pm

I get tons of offers to review all sorts of odd things: snack foods (no thanks), prenatal vitamins (not pregnant), infant video games (did you read the title of my blog?), celebrity this and celebrity that (my interest in celebs = ZERO).  Do any of these marketers actually READ my blog first? I rarely accept a review offer.

Well, a while ago I got a very nice email about a publication that sounded pretty good and well-matched to Unplug Your KidsBlue Lake Children’s Publishing wanted to know if I would be interested in reviewing their bi-monthly “magazine” (really more like a little book) for 2-6 year-old pre and early readers.  The magazine is called Tessy & Tab, and after checking out their website, I decided that my 4 year-old and I might like to give it a try.

The verdict?  We love it!

As I mentioned before, Tessy & Tab is more like a small stiff paperback book than an actual magazine. This is helpful if you have destructive little-ones!   But as Heather of Blue Lake explained, “kids like the word ‘magazine.”  Your preschooler will love getting their own “magazine” twice a month in the mail.

The main characters of Tessy & Tab are a duck named Tessy and a kangaroo…obviously named Tab.  Each 14 page issue features Tessy and Tab doing fun things that children will enjoy learning about, or are perhaps familiar with.  My packet included issues about flying kites, ice skating lessons, learning to write, making pizzas, a yoga lesson, and crafting jewel mugs.

The subject matter was very interesting to my 4 year-old and the bright and simple illustrations were fun for her too.  The text is basic and the font is large, dark, and easy to read.  My daughter was pleased that she could sound out some of the words herself, and LOVED the part where she got to do an “I Spy” finding different pictures and words that appeared throughout the story.  I think she sat quietly on the sofa for at least half an hour working on her packet of Tessy & Tabs.

From a parent point of view, I like the following:

  • I can do more than just read the content aloud.  There are also a few activities, some of which my 4 year-old can do on her own.
  • The featured letter and number are useful bi-monthly teaching tools that might especially be helpful for homeschoolers.
  • There are three “Story Questions” at the end of each issue.  The questions check to see if your child remembered and comprehended the story (there are visual hints too).  A good introduction to the idea of “reading for comprehension” which they will face for many, many years to come in school.
  • Twice a month is ideal in my mind for publications geared to children so young.  Although it flies by for us grown-ups, a full month’s wait is a Very-Long-Time when you are 4ish.
  • The website has printables, learning games, and activities that go along with each issue.

And last, but DEFINITELY not least!!!

  • Tessy & Tab has no advertising.  I don’t have to endure tortured requests for Disney princess fruit snacks or Sponge Bob sneakers after we read an issue.

I have subscribed.

If you decide to subscribe and like this magazine, please tell your friends about it.  If you have a blog, please write about it.

Blue Lake Publishing is a low budget operation and it does not accept advertising.  I really respect this attitude and I wish them well.  I also thank them for bringing Tessy & Tab to my attention!

LINKS:  How does the Tessy & Tab Reading Club Work?

Read Banned Books This Week

By , October 1, 2009 9:45 pm

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Thank you to on-the-ball Erica of What Do We do All Day for reminding me that this is Banned Books Week sponsored by the American Library Association.  Between last week’s Turnoff Week, our weekend trip to Phoenix, and my littlest home with the flu, I just plain forgot.

Since Banned Books Week doesn’t end until Sunday, October 3rd, there is still time to read a banned (or almost banned) book to your children.  Remind them that they have a right to read!

Did you know that there are some fantastic children’s and young adult books that have either been banned, or attempted to be banned?

(TIP: I love these books, but obviously please make make sure that the subject matter meets with your child’s maturity level before offering as a reading choice.  My children are still too young for some of these, but I have most of them saved from my childhood – or later – because I enjoyed them so.)

Here’s a list of some of my favorites:

  • 1984 by George Orwell

The oddest ban that I found?

or maybe

And in my opinion, the most hypocritically banned young adult book of all time:

There are many more:

MORE BANNED BOOKS LINKS:

Challenged Children’s Books

Banned Books: From Harriet the Spy to Catcher in the Rye

Banned Children’s Books: This site has a test you can take to find out how many banned children’s books you have read.

Children’s Literature: Banned Books: Very complete list categorized by age range from picture books to young adult.

Great Book Blog!

By , September 30, 2008 10:20 pm

I have 50 (yes 50!) drafts underway, but all I have ready for tonight is a wonderful link for those of you who are interested in children’s books.  Please head on over to this great blog – Children’s Books: What, When & How to Read Them.  Tanya is a book-loving mother PLUS she works in a book store.  What more could one want?

Thankfully she somehow discovered Unplug Your Kids and left a comment on my first Chapter Books Suitable for Extra-Young Readers post.  That’s how I found her blog.

Here is Tanya’s blog tagline:

As a lover of children’s literature, mother and bookseller of 13 years, I want to put good books into kid’s hands. I share my philosophy on what makes a book good as well as book reviews and lists of great books for every reading taste and ability with a focus on new readers. I also highlight to some wonderful books that are not always on the shelf at bookstores, but might be at your library and can definitely be ordered. All books mentioned are available in paperback unless noted.

Book reviews are searchable alphabetically, or by type (for ex. Books for Boys, Book Lists-Advanced Readers, Beginning Readers, Book Lists-2nd and 3rd Grades, etc.).

I look forward to exploring Tanya’s Children’s Books blog further!

PS.  I really hope to have another chapter book post of my own up tomorrow night.

Molecules in Motion (“730 Easy Science Experiments” – Book Review)

By , September 22, 2008 10:45 pm

I must admit, my heart sank when my sister gave my kids the book 730 Easy Science Experiments: With Everyday Materials by E. Richard Churchill, Louis V. Loesching, and Muriel Mandell.

This confession will certainly earn me yet another “Mom of the Year Award,” but here it is:

Was my first thought:  “730?? Oh hooray! Think of all the wonderful projects and what we will learn together!!”  Noooo…. My first thought was:  “730?? Who is going to have to do those 730 science experiments with them?? Oh no!”

My childless sister seemed to pick up on my silent consternation and left with a sadistic smile (or so I thought) and the parting words of: “Have fun!”

Well actually, we are having fun.  The book sat on a shelf for a while until my 8 year-old daughter recently rediscovered it.

On Sunday, when I was planning a “Fun With Mom Day,” she showed me some experiments that she wanted to do.  Since we were going to have Fun With Mom no matter what, I was willing to assist in any and all experiments.  We did several.  The one I will share with you today involved the motion of molecules.

This sounds fancy, but actually, like most of the experiments in this very thorough (did I tell you already that there are 730 experiments?) volume, this experiment involved only items we had on hand here in the house.

You need food coloring, two clear glasses, and hot and cold water.  Put hot water in one glass (I used very hot tap water) and cold water in the other (I used super-cooled water from our refrigerator water dispenser).

Put just one drop of food coloring in each glass and watch what happens.  The molecules are moving faster in hot water so the food coloring blends with the water very, very quickly.  In the slower-moving cold water glass, the food coloring barely moves at all.  In fact it makes some beautiful slow-motion droplet shapes that reminded me of a lava lamp.

This glass was the hot water:

And this one was cold (see the “lava lamp?”):

This was just one of 730 experiments.  That means I have another 729 to inflict on you all!!

Seriously, I do like this book.  As I mentioned earlier, the ingredients are mostly household items, or are easily obtainable: no enriched uranium needed here.

The experiments vary in complexity from ridiculously simple yet not boring for young ones (Straw Wheels – moving a heavy book more easily using drinking straws as rollers – p.23) to more complicated yet still easily doable (Seeing Sound Waves p.110 or Balloon Barometer p.249).

The chapters are interesting and fun:  Clutching at Straws; Paper Capers; More Than Lemonade; Dairy Dozen; Adventures With a String; Soap Suds; Slow Start-Fast Finish; Keeping Your Balance; How to Have All the Moves; The Sound of Science; Feeling Stressed? Try Some Surface Tension; Science Can Give You a Warm Feeling; Blown Away; Being Earth Conscious; World Travellers; Leafy Lessons; Dirty Words: Soil, Sand, Humus, and Mud; Gravity and Magnetism: Attractive Forces; Don’t Fiddle With Old Fossils; Weather; Whirling Winds and Gentle Breezes; Water, Water, Everywhere; Building a Weather Station; Air, H2O, and Other Things; Here’s Superman, But Where’s Clark?; Salty Solutions and Sweet Success

Each experiment has a “What to do,” a “What Happens,” and most importantly, a “Why” section.

You’ll be seeing more experiments from us I am sure.  Remember, we still have 729 of them to show you!

Hot – Edible Sugar Science (Weekly Unplugged Project)

comments Comments Off on Hot – Edible Sugar Science (Weekly Unplugged Project)
By , August 11, 2008 7:19 pm

caramel

Finally, here is my hot post that disappeared into the ether last night. Thanks so much to Julie K in Taiwan, Angi and Nature Mama for having the brilliant idea of emailing me the post from their Google Readers. That saved me at least an hour of rewriting! I was so down on computers this morning, but this evening I am uplifted by the fact that three people I have never met in “real life” can help me out! Thank you!!! Now, on to the post:

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The theme for this week’s Unplugged Project was hot. Finally, we managed to get back on schedule and do it, although we broke away from our usual craft project and went in a more scientific direction.

While away this summer, I found a number of good books in my Dad’s favorite thrift store (he’s a packrat too). One is called Science Experiments You Can Eat by Vicki Cobb (more about the book at the end of this post). While we were trying to come up with hot ideas, my 7 year-old daughter picked up this book and wanted to choose a food-related project. We decided on Caramel Syrup: Sugar Decomposes from the Kitchen Chemistry chapter.

Older children will find this scientifically interesting and fun to do. Younger kids will enjoy the end result!

The goal of the experiment is to teach about chemical compounds and how they can sometimes be broken down into completely different substances. Although I always liked science in school, I am not a chemist so forgive me if I am not 100% perfect in my description.

Since I am a terminal nerd, I didn’t trust the book’s very simple explanation, and actually researched sugar and how it decomposes. I learned that sugar and its breakdown process is rather complicated. (If the mysteries of caramelization keep you awake at night, then read this.)

I tried to keep it 7 year-old simple and explained to my daughter that sugar is actually carbon and water fused together. When you heat sugar, it breaks down into its original carbon and water elements. I showed her the scientific formula for table sugar (sucrose): C12H22O11 . She already new that H2O was water and could see that in the formula. After I explained that C meant carbon, she saw the carbon and water in the formula.

Heating the sugar would cause it to become watery (the release of the water) and dark (the carbon). It would no longer really be sugar.

What we needed – sugar, water, a heavy frying pan:

First my daughter poured half a cup of sugar into the frying pan:

We heated the sugar over medium-high heat and my daughter stirred it:

After about 5 to 10 minutes, the sugar started to melt:

As my daughter continued stirring, the sugar melted further and began to darken and become very watery:

Finally it turned “straw-colored” and we had transformed our sugar into a new substance – caramel. We turned off the heat and slowly added half a cup of water in order to create a runny, edible solution. I did the pouring as the caramel was so hot that it steamed and spattered:

The shock-cooled caramel formed a brittle sort of candy-lump that we just had to taste:

My daughter continued stirring the mixture on low heat for about another ten minutes – until the big caramel chunk dissolved into a solution:

This is what we ended up with: a delicious carbon-water mixture that we ate over ice cream!

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If you haven’t heard of Science Experiments You Can Eat and you have scientifically-inclined children (or you homeschool), you might want to check it out of the library. Ours is an old version (1972), but the new one is supposedly revised and updated. I haven’t seen the new one, but our book has the following chapters about the science of food: A Kitchen Laboratory; Solutions; Suspensions, Colloids, and Emulsions; Carbohydrates and Fats; Proteins; Kitchen Chemistry; Plants We Eat; Microbes; and Enzymes.


If you did this week’s hot Unplugged Project, please put your link in Mr. Linky below so we can all find you. If you didn’t, please read how to join in, and consider doing next week’s project.

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Next week’s Unplugged Project theme will be:

Trees

Have fun!

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