Monday, March 29, 2010

Eggs-ellent Easter Ideas


Easter is next weekend and I have been salivating over all the candy aisles every time I walk into a store. Religion aside, God bless the Easter basket and all its delicious treats!

Here are some ways to help make your Easter a little more literary.

1. Along with candy, stick a book in the Easter basket this year. Check out Max’s Easter Surprise by Rosemary Wells. She’s one of Hooked on Phonics’ most celebrated authors. She even wrote two books for our Learn to Read program.

2. When you do the Easter egg hunt, put candy letters inside. For each egg your child finds, have her tell you something that starts with the same sound as the letter inside her egg. For older children, ask them to spell a word that starts with that letter. For an even bigger challenge, write out two or three words on a slip of paper and put them inside the egg. Ask your child to tell a story using those words.

3. When you decorate your eggs, use letters! You can get small letter stickers, use paint, or crayons. Let your child choose the letter (ask her why she chose it) and make some Educational Easter Eggs this year.

4. Use your jelly beans to make letters and words. For extra challenge, make words where you can eat one letter and still have a word left. For example, start with GRATE and eat a G. Now you’ve got RATE. Eat the E and make RAT. Eat the T and you have RA! Eat the R and you’ve got A. See how many words you can do like this.

Hope you have a great spring break and a wonderful Easter with your family. Keep reading!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Block Party

I have a personal theory. As you grow older, your IQ begins to decline. Then, when you have children between the ages of 1 and 5, your problem-solving and spatial-relationships skills temporarily spike upwards. Why is that? Because you spend hours each day, repacking stacking-blocks containers and shape sorters, putting puzzle pieces back into their trays and matching board game parts with their correct boxes.

With that in mind, here's a roundup of some of the more intertersting alphabet block sets you could be tripping over, picking up and sorting in the years to come.


Skull N' Bones Blocks for future pirates and zombies.


Mad Scientist ABC Blocks because kids should learn that R is for ROBOT and Q is for QUANTUM PHYSICS.

Eames House blocks based on the design of Charles Eames' Case Study #8 House. (A perfect thing to play with while your parents whip up a batch of helvetica letter cookies.)


Elegant Baby Blocks do appear to be "elegant." But what's really fascinating is that the kit includes a "triple supply of vowels." Your kids will be able to stack and spell Y-A-K, R-A-D-I-O, W-E-E-V-I-L and F-A-C-E-T-I-O-U-S all at the same time!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Irish You'd Read These Books

It's not possible St. Patrick could have imagined how, 1600 years in the future, millions of schoolchildren would chase each other around, pinching anyone not wearing an article of green clothing. Yet here we are....and in keeping with that and many other great St. Patrick's Day celebrations, here's a quick roundup of green, Irish, and Leprechaun-laden books. Enjoy!


The Night Before St. Patrick's Day by Natasha Wing


Jack and the Leprechaun by Ivan Robertson


A Fine St. Patrick's Day by Susan Wojciechowski


The Luckiest St. Patrick's Day Ever by Teddy Slater. We're proud to note that this book was illustrated by our very own Ethan Long. He helped create Chick-Chick the Ping-Pong Champ, one of the sillier books from the new Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read program.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Better late than never!


So I’m sure by now you all remembered to change your clocks forward an hour. We might not have if it weren’t for the Washington Post which had on the front page, “Did you remember set your clocks forward an hour?” This was 5pm on Sunday evening. We had not.

Give your kids some fun practice telling time with these great worksheets from our Super Workbooks.

Telling Time Worksheet 1
Telling Time Worksheet 2
Telling Time Worksheet 3

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cinderelephant

In keeping with our last post about timeless books and stories, here is our own take on the infinitely retold story of Cinderella. In our special "Most Amazing Story" version, the focus is on animals and their fabulous feet.



This is one of the many bonus videos you'll find inside our Learn to Read Pre-K DVDs. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Alice in Wonderland...you ageless wonder, you.


When I was in 3rd grade, I found a pale blue dress with a white sash in the hall closet. I knew immediately I would be Alice that year for Halloween. I bet I don’t even have to tell you who Alice is for you to guess I mean the one in Wonderland. My older sister went as the White Rabbit and carried my dad’s pocket watch. We loved proclaiming, “I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date!”

Here we are 145 years after the book was published, and the world is still fascinated with Alice in Wonderland. It’s rather remarkable what an enormous influence a children’s book, a book written for a child in 1865, has had on modern culture and people of all ages.

In 5th grade, I remember being mesmerized by the video for “Don’t Come around Here No More” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers featuring Alice and the famous tea party. In high school, my senior class play was the musical of Alice in Wonderland, and I played the Queen of Hearts. I recall a restaurant in a neighboring town called The Cheshire Cat. I also read a book as a teenager called Go Ask Alice, which is the anonymous cautionary diary of a girl in the 1960s and her struggles and downward spiral with drug abuse. This particular book takes its cue from the Jefferson Airplane song “White Rabbit” based on the various “eat me” and “drink me” references in the Lewis Carroll story. There’s even a bar in my hometown called The Jabberwock, which comes from a poem in the sequel, Through the Looking Glass. And these are just a few personal references I came up within a matter of minutes.

As a child, I vividly remember being fascinated with the story of Alice in Wonderland. I loved the idea of falling, falling, falling without hurting myself, and of living in a world where animals could talk and operate just like people but with a magical twist. I was obsessed with the possibility of changing sizes and, of course, what girl didn’t want to be the Queen of Hearts? Well maybe not every girl, but it turned out to be my destiny. Off with her head!

Classic books like this are easily overlooked because of the endless pop culture references we find in modern-day life. It seems we learn the story through all these different expressions, rather than from the actual book! That’s exactly why you need to start with the original and provide your child with the foundation for all those everyday references. Movies like The Wizard of Oz, Stuart Little, and Peter Pan were all books first and have much more to offer than the just the movie alone.

Plus, these are exactly the kinds of stories that are great to read out loud with your child. Even when your child can read on her own, classics like Alice in Wonderland are perfect to share together because there are so many opportunities for discussion. There’s a reason the story is still so relevant 145 years later.

I found what I thought to be a very thought-provoking article on about some of the insightful lines from Alice and Wonderland on About.com. http://quotations.about.com/od/moretypes/a/alice1.htm
It’s a good little sample of what’s to come. Enjoy the read!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Great Week For Reading

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Thanks for making this a great week for reading! We wrap up our posts on Read Across America Day with these thoughts:

Celebrate reading every day.
Reading should be done with a sense of play.
Read to your family and your neighbors, too.
Read the fine print on the bottom of your shoe.
Read to your cat or your big stuffed moose...


Happy birthday, Dr. Suess!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Do You Like Green Eggs and Ham?

In honor of Read Across America Day, Dr. Seuss’ Birthday, and the 50th Anniversary of the publication of Green Eggs and Ham, we have posted a recipe for making ham and eggs. Click on this link to download the document: Ham and Eggs. You can print it in color or black and white. If you have time, grab some food coloring and make it green eggs and ham then read the Dr. Seuss book together as a family. Take turns reading each page out loud. See who can read it the fastest. See who can memorize it. Write your own rhymes. Whatever you do, be sure to celebrate.

Watch Hanna and her Mom talk about Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read, reading, and ham and eggs...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Let's Read Across America!

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Every year in the United States, children celebrate Read Across America Day on March 2, the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel. (You may know him better as Dr. Seuss.) The National Education Association (NEA) has been celebrating this day since 1998 and uses it as an opportunity to emphasize the value, importance, and fun of reading to children and young adults.

Students and teachers all across the country take this day to demonstrate what reading means to them. First Lady Michele Obama is meeting with a group of children on Tuesday to celebrate reading and Dr. Seuss at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.

The NEA encourages students and families everywhere to take part in the celebration in as many creative ways as they can imagine. They even provide a fill-in-the-blanks invitation http://www.nea.org/grants/13373.htm. It may be short notice to throw a party, but be sure to celebrate this important day by carving out a specific time to read with your child tomorrow. Make it even more special than the reading time you already share. Tomorrow we’ll post a recipe for ham and eggs. If you have time, grab some food coloring and make it green eggs and ham then read the Dr. Seuss book together as a family. (It’s the 50th anniversary of its publication.) Take turns reading each page out loud. See who can read it the fastest. See who can memorize it. Write your own rhymes. Whatever you do, be sure to celebrate.

As part of our commitment to Read Across America, we have been donating books to various organizations in the Baltimore area including The Ronald McDonald House of Baltimore, Baltimore Public Schools, and to the US Military for dispersal to families. We recognize the power that books in the home have on a child’s success.

In Jeff McQuillan’s book The Literacy Crisis: False Claims, Real Solutions 1998) he explains that, “The only behavior measure that correlates significantly with reading scores is the number of books in the home. An analysis of a national data set of nearly 100,000 United States school children found that access to printed materials--and not poverty--is the "critical variable affecting reading acquisition."

So stop what you’re doing, take a few minutes, and plan to read to a child as a toast and happy birthday to everyone’s friend, Dr. Seuss. Let the reading begin!