Monthly Archives: October 2011

What You Can Do with Rusty and Rosy’s 5 Strands of Reading

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You know that Rusty and Rosy Readingä is a computer software program that teaches your child reading skills. Bud do you know what those skills are and what you can do to help promote offline what your child learns online?

In technical terms, Rusty and Rosy Reading is arranged into five instructional strands. As your child works through the program, he or she will receive instruction and practice in all three. The type of instruction your child receives (learning nouns and verbs vs. homophones) will depend on your child’s level in the program.

Just so you’re aware, the five strands are

Phonological Awareness: Teaches how to hear, distinguish, and manipulate sounds in spoken words.

Phonics: Teaches alphabet recognition, letter-sound correspondences, word recognition, and decoding skills.

Comprehension and Vocabulary: Teaches word meanings explicitly and implicitly and strategies for deriving meaning from text.

Language Concepts: Teaches print concepts, grammar, mechanics of written and spoken language, reading readiness skills, and writing.

Fluency: Teaches how to read text accurately and quickly with appropriate expression.

Now, here are just a few ways you can have your child practice the skills they learn from Rusty and Rosy:

Phonological Awareness

Play rhyming games with your child. Say a word and have your child think of words that rhyme.


Read while you shop. When you are at the store and pick up a block of cheese, show your child the word cheese on the package and sound out each letter while pointing to the letters. For readers, you can have your child spell the words as you fill each item on your grocery list.

Comprehension and Vocabulary

Just as Sesame Street has the letter of the day, you can have a word of the day.

Also read books together and ask questions about the story when you are finished.

Language Concepts

When telling a story to your child, help your child identify the different punctuation marks: period, question mark, and exclamation mark.


This is a skill for your second-grader or more advanced reader. For this one, you can have your child read aloud and practice inflection and pacing.

Do you and your child do reading activities like these? We’d love to hear what you do.


10 Ways to Celebrate Your Children

Family running
October 8th was National Children’s Day.  The day may have past, but you can still celebrate your children. Choose a day, any day, and make it all about your child(ren). It doesn’t have to be a day at the amusement park or the movies. You can make this day educational and fun at the same time.

Here are just 10 suggestions:

Enjoy a Day with the Animals

Learn about your child’s favorite animal together. Many zoos also have monthly events you can participate in. And with Halloween just around the corner and Thanksgiving coming up, you may find some holiday events to participate in. See the Website of your nearest zoo for event details.

Have an Underwater Adventure

Learn about sharks, stingrays, squid, and everyone’s favorite clown fish. Some aquariums even let you touch the stingrays.

Go Star Gaze

If your child is interested in stars, planets, or even aliens, you’re sure to peak his interest at a planetarium where you can learn more about the night sky.

Get Creative Inspiration

For a child who loves art, an art museum is the place to visit. You might view modern art, classical art, art created by people within your hometown, or even cartoon art.

Become Part of History

If you’re looking for a little extra history and science exploration, a natural history museum will quench your desire. Learn about rock formations, fossils, and extinct species.

Get Hands-on Experience

See science in action. At a hands-on museum you and your child can learn about gravity, buoyancy, and more through interactive displays.

Join Story Time

If your library has story time, take your child. Story time is a great way for your child to gain interest in new books.

Make New Discoveries

You can use the park as a place for observation. Watch the birds in the trees, the clouds in the sky, the ants beneath your feet. . . .

Enrich Yourselves with Music

Who knows . . . you may have a piano or violin virtuoso. Or do you have a future drummer? Help grow your child’s interest in music through a concert. Your community may even hold free concerts.

Learn More about Your Home Town

Ever wonder how your city or town was founded or how it came to be the #1 place for cherries? You might find out at your town history museum.

Do you have other ideas for learning while having fun? We’d love to hear.

Photo source: Photostock /

13 Spooky Books

Halloween Witch
Oooo! It’s time for Halloween—the month when ghosts, goblins, and witches come out. You can celebrate Halloween all month long with these 13 fun-filled children’s books.

By the Light of the Halloween Moon, written by Caroline Stutson and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes: It’s a Halloween treat filled with bouncy, rhythmic narration your child is sure to love.

Shake Dem Halloween Bones, written by W. Nikola-Lisa and illustrated by Mike Reed: It’s a spooky story filled with artistic illustrations and your child’s favorite Halloween characters.

Room on the Broom, written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler: Rhyming has never been so much fun with this witch who picks up some animals who want a ride on her broom.

Big Pumpkin, written by Erica Silverman and illustrated by S.D. Schindler: A beautifully written narration about a witch and her enormous pumpkin.

Bone Soup, written by Cambria Evans: A tale of a boy who is nothing but skin and bones but has a gigantic eating mouth.

Skeleton Hiccups, written by Margery Cuyler and illustrated by S.D. Schindler: How do you help a skeleton get rid of its hiccups? This book might have the answer.

Mouse’s First Halloween, written by Lauren Thompson and illustrated by Buket Erdogan: Just like every child, this mouse experiences it’s first Halloween along with all its spooky sounds and colorful costumes.

The ABCs of Halloween, written by Patti Reeder Eubank: Can you find something for every letter that has to do with Halloween? This ABC book can find one thing and more.

Froggy’s Halloween, written by Jonathan London and illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz: A book that is full of excitement as Froggy prepares for Halloween.

The 13 Nights of Halloween, written by Guy Vasilovich: It’s the 12 days of Christmas in Halloween style, with a gifts from mummy.

Who’s There on Halloween? written by Susan Hagen Nipp and Pamela Conn Beall and illustrated by Charles Reasoner: It’s spooky riddles just for Halloween. Can you and your child guess the answer to each riddle?

Scary, Scary Halloween, written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Jan Brett: Told in poetry form, it’s a story all about the spooks of Halloween.

The Best Halloween Hunt Ever, written by John Speirs: It’s a treasure hunt narration filled with hidden surprises.

Are there any Halloween books you read every year with your child? Do you have some great scary stories that get your child in the Halloween spirit? Please share.

Source: Idea go /

Letter of the Day Box

Letter Box

Are you feeling a little crafty but want to do something educational for your child?

The Letter of the Day Box is a great project for your crafty hands and fun activity for your beginning reader. Each day, choose a letter of the day and have your child put objects in the box that begin with that letter. For example, if the letter is S, your child might put in objects such as snake (toy), sand, sewing needle, or star. You can even write words (swing, sorry, sit) on paper and stick them in the box for those bigger or more ambiguous objects. Or you can put in objects that represent the word your child thinks of (sing – picture of music note, seat – doll’s chair, sip – cup). You can have all sorts of fun with this activity.

Let’s get started.

What you’ll need

Wood box (buy from craft store)
Scrapbook paper
ABC Stencils
Mod Podge
Sponge brush

What to Do

  1. Box: Measure your box. Be sure to measure lid separate from base. My box had a low-hanging lid and a lip to measure.
  2. Measure and cut out paper that matches the size of your measurements. When I did my box, I had a total of 10 papers I cut out—four for each side of the base, four for each side of my low-hanging lid, one for the lid, and one for the lip.
    Note: Since the lip rose upward from the top of the box, I traced the box on a paper and cut it out. Then I measured the lip, cut that much around the square I had just cut out, and cut the paper so I had a square snake that wrapped around my now-smaller square.
  3. Begin gluing your pieces to your box.
    Tip for using Mod Podge: With your sponge brush, put a layer of glue on the area you are decorating; be sure to cover ever corner. Place the paper; then put a layer of glue over the paper you just place on your box. The glue will dry and leave a glossy or matte finish, depending on the type of glue you bought.
    Note: You may need to let a side or two dry before continuing with the rest of your box. Also, your paper may bubble, but it should flatten out as it dries.
  4. Letters: Cut out 26 pieces of paper to fit the size you want to display on the top of your box. Mine turned out to be squares about 3”x3”.
  5. On each cutout, trace a letter of the alphabet using your stencils and markers.
  6. Decorate your alphabet.
  7. Place the softer side of Velcro in the middle of your box lid.
  8. Place the harder side of Velcro in the middle and on the back of each of your ABC cards.

You are done! Now you can start the activity.

If you feel one day isn’t enough for one letter, make the activity a Letter of the Week.

Do you have any fun education and crafty ideas? We’d love to hear about them.

Clocks and Telling Time

Sunny Clock
Interestingly enough October is National Clock Month. And what better way to celebrate than to help your child learn how to tell time.

Telling time on a digital clock is easy enough to learn, as long as your child understands how the numbers relate to minutes and hours. And if your child knows how to count to 60, teaching him or her to tell time will be a sinch.

So, how to get started? Start with the hour first; it’s the easiest to understand. Make sure your child understands which number is the hour on a digital clock, since most clocks we see today are digital. And on a traditional face clock, teach him or her about the hands and make sure your child understands that the small hand points to the hour. Throughout the day you can ask your child what hour it is to give practice.

Later, once your child has the hours down, you can start on the minutes. First, make sure your child knows how to count by fives. If your child has never counted by fives before, start by learning how to count by tens and show your child that fives are in the middle of the tens.

Next, show your child that each big number on a traditional clock represents a five until you end with 55 at the 11. Count with your child as you point to each big number: 5, 10, 15…

Once your child understands what the minute hands mean, you can show him or her that the bigger hand on the clock points to these numbers and in between (show the little ticks that represent the numbers between the fives and tens).

You can better illustrate and give your child some good practice with these worksheets:

Time for Time: Shows the minutes and the hours so your child can better understand how the hands point to the different numbers.

Time Worksheets: You can decide how you want your worksheets printed out—one or more clocks to a page or clocks with or without numbers. You can laminate these worksheets and have your child use a dry-erase marker to make them usable over and over again.

Do you have any suggestions for helping teach time to children? Please share.

Photo source: Idea go /

Building Your Child’s Vocabulary


Do you remember when you were in school and your teacher would give you a list of vocabulary words to learn? How well did you learn the words?

Of course, depending on your teacher’s methods you might have learned all vocabulary words with relative simplicity, or it might have been more difficult to remember certain vocabulary words after the tests were finished. Usually, when I would forget the vocabulary words after taking a test it was because I wasn’t exposed to the use of the words. They were words I rarely or never heard or did not use myself.

So how can you teach your child vocabulary?  Here are a few suggestions:

Have Effective Conversations

The other day I listened as my sister-in-law had a natural conversation with my four-year-old niece. What did they talk about? Shoes, jobs teenagers have, nicknames, butterflies. . . . The conversation went in so many interesting directions and my niece had such amazing responses and questions, I had to catch what I could on video. I was amazed at what my niece knew at her age and the answers she came up with to her mother’s questions. And some of the words my niece used: wow! It’s all because her mom has effective conversations with her children, talking with them and listening to them.

I’ve heard it on the news. I’ve read it in books. Talking is the best way to help build your child’s speech. The more words your child hears, the more words your child will learn.

Read with Your Child

I know. It’s one of those suggestions you hear over and over again. But it does work. Think of all the words children learn from Curious George and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Reading helps children hear words used in new ways, through imagination and creativity that, many times, also teach important concepts.

Welcome Questions

Your child is full of curiosity about the world. You can help your child gain a better understanding by encouraging questions. Some of those questions may be, “What does that word mean?” Take the time to answer your child and help him or her understand. Knowing that his or her questions can and will be answered will foster excitement for learning in your child.

Have you had any good or bad experiences helping your child learn new vocabulary? Have any other suggestions to help teach vocabulary to children? Please share.

Photo source: photostock /

October: A Month for Learning

Statue of Liberty

Your child may be young, but you can still teach him or her about history. Even a little learning now, such as a story about a historical event or doing a puzzle featuring the Mayflower, will go a long way in your child’s education. My eight-year-old nephew has a big interest in World War II and I’m sure it’s because of the time he has spent with my brother watching the History Channel.  And just like my nephew, when your child is learning about the events in school, he or she will already have a foundation to build upon because of the one or two things you have already taught.

October is great month full of historical events. You’ll be surprised by some of the facts. There are plenty of things you can do with your child to learn together.

Go ahead and enjoy these five facts and activities with your child:

  1. A telegraph line opened from Los Angeles to San Francisco October 8, 1860. The telegraph was a big deal in its time as it provided faster communication across long distances. The telegraph used a special code called Morse to communicate the letters of the alphabet, which formed words and sentences. A telegraph on one end would send the message, and a telegraph on the other end would receive it, as shown in this video you can watch with your child.
  2. Columbus arrived with expedition in the present-day Bahamas October 12, 1492. The same day in 1792, the first celebration of Columbus Day in America was held in New York City. Celebrate Columbus Day this year with these online interactive coloring sheets.
  3. Thomas Edison invented the working electric light bulb October 21, 1879. Your child can learn more about electricity and how light bulbs are lit through interactive activities such as ones found on Gamequarium.
  4. The Statue of Liberty was dedicated in New York Harbor by President Grover Cleveland October 28, 1886. If you can’t take a trip to see the Statue of Liberty up close, the next best thing is an online tour. You can read the information to your child and let him or her visit Liberty Island.
  5. Magician Harry Houdini died in Detroit, Michigan, October 21, 1926. His performances continue to live on today in many present-day magicians’ acts. You and your child can watch the real Harry Houdini perform one of his biggest stunts in this video.

Thanks to John T. Marck, author of “Historical People and Events for October” with About Famous People.

Do you teach historical stories to your child? Which ones do you focus on? Do you use special methods to tell stories and teach? Share with us.

Photo source: Bill Longshaw /

6 Book Apps Tips

iphone boy

I noticed that during our #MomStorm Twitter party someone mentioned getting free interactive books on their iPad touch to promote reading for their child. I decided to see what apps I could find just for my phone.

I found a lot of free ones, some of which were a little more interactive with sound and animation. However, there were a few things I noticed that might be helpful for parents. You know, some helpful tips on downloading children’s book apps.

  1. You can find plenty of apps geared toward your young or budding reader. In your phone’s app store, just type in “children’s books” or “kids’ stories” or other. A long list pops up to include traditional fairytales, stories you may remember from your childhood, and original works.
  2. Many apps will provide you with multiple stories you can begin reading to your child.
  3. Some apps are just libraries. The library is free but you have to purchase books from the app’s publisher to add to your library. In some cases you can get so many books for free, or only specific sample books for free, and then you have to purchase additional books. The range of prices can be anywhere from $.99 and up. In one app I looked at, the range pretty much stayed between $1.99 and $2.99, but there was one book priced for $9.99.
  4. I did find more interactive apps with sound playing in the background, narration, and other effects to go along with the narration. However, in a couple cases I decided the app was not worth even a peanut. Sometimes the sound didn’t work or the narration only played part way through the story before quitting. A few other apps I tried included books with ugly or uninteresting illustrations. Good thing the app was free so I didn’t feel too bad for throwing it in the trash right after downloading it.
  5. Many of the apps have easy-to-turn pages. You can just turn the phone over to your sticky-free-hand child and let them flip through the pages on their own.
  6. Some apps have the option for the child to read the story on his or her own or listen to a narration. And, if you want your child to read a story from an app that has automatic narration, just turn down the volume.

I let my nephew borrow my phone to read a story to his sister. He loved it because he got to play with my phone and get his 15 minutes of reading in at the same time. My niece also enjoyed it because of the different pictures. I enjoyed the time because I could concentrate on the road while they were preoccupied with Cinderella in the back seat.

Have you found any interesting buys in your app store that other parents might be interested in? How about some terrible buys? Share with us.

Photo source: Tina Phillips /

National Story Telling Day

Child reading books

October 5th is National Story Telling Day. Story telling is a tradition found in many cultures throughout history. In fact, story telling was one of the ways histories were handed down from generation to generation. The form of story telling has changed throughout the years—today we have many forms, such as movies, books (print and digital), TV shows, and plays. But the art has remained.

How can you celebrate National Story Telling Day? Here are just a few ideas, from simple to more creative:

Tell a real-life story

I have yet to meet a child who doesn’t like to hear stories about the crazy things their parents did when they were younger. Children also love to hear stories about themselves—when they were born, when they said their first word, how they used to climb over the kitchen chairs while mommy was cooking. . . . You have many stories your child would love to hear.

Read a good book

Find your child’s favorite book and your favorite book, cuddle up on the couch, and just enjoy a good story. You can make the event extra special with dessert of hot chocolate.

Tell a story you have memorized

How about the story of The Princess and the Frog, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, Chicken Little, or Paul Bunyan? Your child will enjoy the classics just as much as you did when you were a child.

Help your child tell a story

If your child knows how to write, they can write the story on their own, with occasional help from you. Or, for a child who does not yet know how to write, have them dictate the story to you as you write. Be sure to have your child illustrate their story with crayons, paints, paper, or even photos cut from magazines.

How are you celebrating National Story Telling Day? Have you done one of these activities with you child? How did it turn out? We’d love to hear from you.

Photo source: Phaitoon /