Thursday, December 8, 2011

Best Children’s Books of 2011

Melissa Taylor from the blog Imagination Soup has posted her Top 20 Children’s Books of 2011. There are recommended books from infant to readers 10 and older.  A few of the ones appropriate for younger elementary readers are


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You can find the rest of her list at

Melissa Taylor's best children's books of 2011

“A Book on Every Bed”

Last year Amy Dickinson, of Ask Amy fame, started a literacy campaign in her column called “A Book on Every Bed”. Along with the Family Reading Partnership she wanted to put one million books at the foot of one million beds for one million children on Christmas (or Chanukah) morning. Seven of those beds belonged to our seven grandchildren. They were delighted with our choices and we plan to provide the books again this year and every year in the future. If you missed the Ask Amy column in today’s Press Democrat, you can read it here.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Looking for Something to Do?

lhsbuzzflyerv2 The Children’s Museum of Sonoma County is hosting two events on Thursday, Dec 8. The first one is the Lawrence Hall of Science: “Wizards Lab”, a free event from 4 to 5:30 PM. Children can participate in hands-on science projects. Reservations are required. Call 707-546-4069 or e-mail . The second event is intended for ages 10 and older. Science Buzz Cafe host “What Your Mother Never Told Me About the Universe” from 7-8:30 PM. There is a suggested donation of $4. Prof. Lynn Cominsky from Sonoma State University will explore “far out questions” on Astronomy and Astrophysics. Both events will be at the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County, 1835 West Steele Lane in Santa Rosa.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Looking for Gifts?

While I was looking through toy stores this afternoon on my annual quest to find a boat load of gifts, I came across a couple of interesting games and a digital bookmark. All three of these items are less than nine dollars.
Let’s look at the bookmark first.

 Mark my timemmt=close up

The Mark-My-Time Bookmark can be used like a regular timer or it can keep track of accumulated reading time up to 99 hours and 59 minutes. The really cool thing about it is that it can do both. Most teachers ask that your child read at home for 20 minutes each day. The timer can be set for 20 minutes and a buzzer will go off after the time is up. But it can also add that 20 minutes to the reading times from the previous days. This website has videos that show how to program the bookmark and to change the battery: bookmark.

The first game is one our family has played called Scrabble Slam.

Scrabble Slam

The game cards have a letter on the front and on the back. Either side can be used. The game starts with a four letter word such as GAME. The remaining cards are distributed to the players. For older children and adults, the game can be played like the card game of War. For younger children, we follow these rules: in turn,  each player takes a card from his hand to change the word into another four letter word. If a player does not have a letter that will make a word (according to Scrabble rules), that player passes to the next one. The first player to use all his or her cards wins.

My daughter found the second game, Rory’s  Story Cubes.

Story Cubes

There are nine cubes and each of its six sides has a different picture. There are many ways to play. One of the suggested ways is to roll all nine cubes, look at all the face up images and begin your story with “Once upon a time…” . The trick is to weave all nine images into your story. Last week a first grader of my acquaintance, had to write a story about a gingerbread man with a beginning, middle and end. He was having trouble coming up with ideas. These Story Cubes might have helped.