Thursday, September 20, 2012

Raising a Book Lover

Melissa Taylor, at Imagination Soup, has a post by author,  Helen Perelman (Candy Fairies series) about raising a book lover. Check it out.

Andrew Lost: On The Dog

From pirates and picture books, we head to beginning chapter books, thanks to the Adventures in Reading With Kids blog, the Andrew Lost series. The series by J. C. Greenburg (illustrated by Debbie Palen) is about ten year old inventor, Andrew, his thirteen year old cousin Judy and his robot, Thudd.

AL On the Dog Andrew’s new invention, the Atom-Sucker goes haywire and shrinks Andrew, Judy and Thudd down to microscopic size and they wind up in the nostrils of the neighbor’s basset hound, Harley. After a little inventive thinking, they get out of Harley’s nose and start to climb to the top of the dog’s head to get a better view. They encounter dust mites that are eating dead skin cells, eyelash mites and since we are “on a dog”, fleas. At the same time as they reach the dog’s head, Harley decides to get into the garbage. His owner, Mrs. Scuttle, discovers him in the garbage and takes him and our miniature friends in the house for a bath.  How will Andrew, Judy and Thudd get back to normal size? You will have to read In The Bathroom, In The Kitchen and In the Garden to find out.

AL In the Bathroom AL In the Kitchen AL In the GardenThudd is very smart and gives Andrew and Judy plenty of information so they can figure out how to get back to the Atom Sucker and get back to normal size. But Thudd knows much more and we can read about what he knows in a chapters called “True Stuff” and  “Even More True Stuff” at the end of every book. In this book we learn about dog’s amazing sense of smell, what colors dogs can see,  the life cycle of fleas and some facts about other insects. Did you know that there are mites who live on fleas?

There are 18 books so far in this series. You can read more about them here.

My grandson, Noah, has read all four books and loves them. They are fun, sometimes gross (a feature, not a bug) and offer lots of good information about the unseen world. My only complaint is the babyish-robot talk of Thudd.

The Sonoma County Library has several copies of each: On the DogIn the Bathroom, In the Kitchen and In the Garden.  The AR level is 2.5.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Pirate’s Guide to First Grade

Today is the 10th annual “Talk Like a Pirate Day”. It is the perfect day to introduce  a book written in pirate lingo: A Pirate’s Guide to First Grade by James Preller and illustrated by Greg Ruth.A Pirate's Guide to the First Grade

It is the first day of first grade for a young pirate and his crew. The boy’s day is in color and his crew is in sepia tones. He narrates his day: waking up, getting ready for school, boarding his ship (the school bus), and meeting Cap’n Silver (his teacher). He tells the Cap’n that he seeks “swag and treasure”. As the day goes on the pirate and his “crew” have story time and work very hard at counting and spelling. At the end of the day, he is tired and wonders, “Where’s me treasure?” Cap’n Silver hands him a map with X marking the spot. He follows the map until he finds his “treasure”:


The book is fun to read and the content is great for five and six year olds who like pirates, although it is a rare child of that age who can read at the level this book is written. It makes a perfect bedtime story. It  may even lead to questions about  Robert Lewis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, a book I read to my kids when they were this age.

The Sonoma County Library has several copies of this book.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Schools of Hope tutors are using a research based reading program called Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies or PALS. It was developed by Vanderbilt University about ten years ago and is being used in classrooms in Nashville, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Ohio, Arizona and now at Yulupa. As developed, students are paired and one is the “coach” and one is the “player”. For Schools of Hope tutoring sessions, the tutor is the coach.

First Grade PALS emphasizes decoding skills and fluent reading by using Game Sheets that reinforce letter sounds, practice sounding out words, first by s-t-r-e-c-h-i-n-g the letter sounds in a word and then by sounding it out and saying it. Sight words are introduced and reinforced in each lesson and the last exercise is a short reading (the photos below are from a later version of the program than the one we are using).

PALS lesson 16 PALS lesson 16b

The right hand column is the coach’s “script”. You can find out more about this program at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development.

Second graders at Yulupa are using advanced PALS:

PALS lesson 66 Pals Lesson 66b

The format is similar to the earlier PALS but the stretching exercise is replaced with more sight words and longer stories.

When I began to use the PALS program, I was a bit skeptical of the stretching exercise. But as the weeks progressed, I found that it helped the students blend the sounds of the letters into the word. Most of your students will know the letter sounds but have problems blending those sounds into words.

This was first posted in February, 2012. It has been edited to update the lessons as they are now being used in the 2012-2013 school year.

Schools of Hope Needs Tutors

Schools of Hope needs 500 new volunteers for this school year to expand to 20 schools and add third grade tutors. The Press Democrat has an article about Schools of Hope in today’s paper. There will be five schools in Sonoma added and a school in Forestville as well as more schools in Santa Rosa and Petaluma. If you have friends in those communities, please tell them about this program. The job satisfaction is great!

Tutor Training Video From Spring Creek

Reposted from last winter: the United Way website also has a seventeen minute Schools of Hope tutor training video from Spring Creek Elementary in Santa Rosa. They use different materials than we do but it is helpful, especially for new tutors and for learning some new cues for experienced tutors. You can watch this video here.

Letter Sounds

Reposted from last winter: the Schools of Hope page on the United Way of the Wine Country website has a phonics song on an audio player to review basic letter sounds here.