19 September 2014

This week I heard some happy news - that one of my favourite picture books from last summer now has a sequel!  Journey - the first of a trilogy, is a elaborately illustrated wordless book that follows a lonely girl on her journey as she escapes the boredom of her bedroom into a magical world.  You can watch this short video about how the book Journey was made. It's amazing being able to watch Aaron work. 

Quest is the second book of the series by Aaron Becker and will definitely be amongst our pile of new books this Christmas.

It made me think about the other wordless books we love -



Wonderful wordless picture book list.  Visit http://youclevermonkey.com



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Belonging (or if you're in the US - Home) by Jeannie Baker.  Baker has a very distinctive style creating collages for her picture books.  In Belonging we get to follow the changing landscape and re-greening of a city as we watch a little girl grow up.  I really like her book Window too.

Where's Walrus? by Stephen Savage we loved from the moment we saw this clip and the book doesn't disappoint.  Kids love trying to spot the walrus after he escapes from the zoo.  He wears many disguises trying to evade the zookeeper - a fun book for younger children particularly.

Zoom by Istvan Banyai we gifted to a family member earlier in the year.  It's so cleverly done - a page will zoom out detail featured on the previous page and so the layers build.

Leaf by Stephen Michael King is another beautifully illustrated watercolour book that has you watching time pass after a seed lands on the head of a wilful young boy who was evading a haircut.

Sunshine and Moonlight by Jan Ormerod are two books each of my three children have loved because they can see themselves in the story which is of a little girls day from first light to late at night.
Changes, Changes by Pat Hutchins I bought after seeing a post on Teach Preschool a while back.  I'm always on the hunt for good books that invite action or encourage experimentation and Changes, Changes is a great addition to a block area.


A Long Piece of String by William Wondriska is a older book originally published in the 1960's but I love an alphabet book and this one is unique.

Anno's Counting Book by Mitsumasa Anno is, I admit, technically not a wordless book but it's one that I remember loving when I was a kid so for old times sake, I'm including it here!  My youngest has just discovered this book from our shelves and is fascinated by the changing scenes on each page. 

The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney is one that sat on my wishlist for a long time.  I'd read a review that raved about the illustrations but only recently added this book to our collection.  The review was right - the illustrations in this book, a re-telling of an Aesop's tale, are amazing.

Why add a wordless book to your library?  For many reasons that Jackie from My Little Bookcase explains perfectly in her post on Using and Enjoying Wordless Books.  You can read her post by clicking here.  For me, it's because the illustrations become the star. Reading a normal picture book you don't always spend time looking at the artwork, turning the page as the words end.


Wonderful wordless picture book list.  Visit http://youclevermonkey.com

But as Jackie points out, without words, there is no cue to turn the page leaving you more time to absorb the images in front of you.  

I also like wordless books as they allow even the youngest child the opportunity to read a book to someone instead of being read to.  They can decide on the narrative which can change from reading to reading.

Do you have any wordless books in your collection?  What do you love about them?


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13 September 2014

Followers of this page will already know how much I and my kids love using sensory bins for play. Every so often the discussion about using food vs non-food in sensory bins pops up in discussions around the web. We use both but when it comes to food, I will try and use expired or out of date food or like the day a new 2kg bag of flour fell of the top shelf of our pantry and onto the floor, food that would have only made it to the bin otherwise. Of course, cooking with your kids is a fantastic way to experience hands-on play with food in a respectful manner.

Sometimes it's just not practical to use food stuffs as a sensory bin base whether it's because you're in a classroom setting with too many germy hands or it attracts pests like here a few years ago when field mice were in plague proportions.  This doesn't mean your children have to miss out on rich sensory play, it just means looking for non-food alternatives.  Today I thought I'd share some favourite materials for non-food sensory play.


Favourite non-food sensory play ideas shared by http://youclevermonkey.com


Rock salt
Favourite non-food sensory play ideas shared by http://youclevermonkey.com

Rocks
Favourite non-food sensory play ideas shared by http://youclevermonkey.com

Kinetic sand 
Favourite non-food sensory play ideas shared by http://youclevermonkey.com

Shaving cream  
Favourite non-food sensory play ideas shared by http://youclevermonkey.com

Shaving cream and ice
Favourite non-food sensory play ideas shared by http://youclevermonkey.com

Frozen blocks of ice
Favourite non-food sensory play ideas shared by http://youclevermonkey.com

Fake snow
Favourite non-food sensory play ideas shared by http://youclevermonkey.com

Paint
Favourite non-food sensory play ideas shared by http://youclevermonkey.com

Found objects
Favourite non-food sensory play ideas shared by http://youclevermonkey.com

Play dough
Favourite non-food sensory play ideas shared by http://youclevermonkey.com

Paper pulp
Favourite non-food sensory play ideas shared by http://youclevermonkey.com

Shredded paper
video



What has been your favourite non-food base for sensory play?  No photos but water beads should be in this list too - we love playing with those and super foamy bubbles, shells, glass gems, birdseed, fresh glass clippings, pom poms and coloured sand.  What would you add?

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10 September 2014

This term part of my teaching role involves working with different classes as they learn how to use an iPad. Which left me thinking which apps would I recommend?

I read somewhere that there are now well over 1 million different apps in the market with nearly half that native to iPads. So how do you pick a good app?  I have my own market testers here aged 5, 8 and 10 years so if it's an app that they keep returning too, I know it's one worth recommending.

I thought I break the list down in to more manageable bits so today I'm just sharing some fun, kid-approved Maths apps suitable for iPads.


A list of kid approved Math apps for iPads.  Visit http://youclevermonkey.com/ for more details.


Maths apps for younger children

Moose Math: lots of different shops that you can enter and play different games.  Mine particularly like the Moose Juice Store where they have to follow a recipe to make a smoothie to drink.  You can see from this clip that this app effortlessly combines addition and fun. 


A list of kid approved Math apps for iPads.  Visit http://youclevermonkey.com/ for more details.

Bugs and Bubbles: is follow-on to the popular Bugs and Buttons app and it's content is similar with lots of different mini-games designed to build onto a child's early understandings of concepts like colour, size, shape, patterns and number.

Grandpa's Workshop: set in Grandpa's shed, this app combines different mini games with some short video clips showing real tools at work - great for vocabulary building.  The games involve lots of measuring, differentiating (same/different), reasoning, beginning fractions with some high fives along the way. 


A list of kid approved Math apps for iPads.  Visit http://youclevermonkey.com/ for more details.

Count the Animals: this app is one of my favourites and has been on our iPad since we first bought it so over two years ago.  It's beautifully done, full of humour and gorgeous animations which keeps my kids returning to it. It focuses on numbers from 1-20 and you can alter the settings to suit even choosing another language which has been useful for the older two trying to learn German! It's a perfect app to help children connect quantity with number.  Their Learn Your Colors app is beautifully made too.

Montessori Numberland: focuses on number 0-9.  Hiding on every page are the same number of objects for you to find but it also allows children to practice building the number and form it correctly as they learn to write on the screen.


Multi-aged Maths apps


Tangrams: is a lush puzzle game where you can build to match a template or design you own to challenge others.  A beautiful colour palette - who can resist!


A list of kid approved Math apps for iPads.  Visit http://youclevermonkey.com/ for more details.

Hungry Fish: can be used by younger and older children which is great if you share one device among your family like us.  You simply adjust the difficulty level which starts with identifying the correct numeral to feed to the fish to having to add numbers together to make the correct amount.

Maths Bingo: is another app that can be used by different aged children, although from 7-8yrs they'll find it easier, to help establish fluency in number.  It's made by ABCya who also have a whole host of interactive games on their website.  We love the Fuzz Bugs game for desktop computers.

UNO: the classic card game has been turned into an app and not holding so many cards in small hands, makes this version easier for the youngest who want to play.  Consequently my five year old will often play this in the car.


Maths apps for Older Children


Quick MathThere's a couple of apps good for improving children's fluency with number like and Quick Math is one I like.  You can select the mode (addition/subtraction/multiplication/division or a mix of all four) along with the level (there are four to choose from) and then you are trying to answer all the questions in the quickest time possible by handwriting the answer on the screen.  You can save individual profiles too which is great as then you're trying to beat your best time.

Yodel-Oh: is another app similar to Quick Maths but set to Bavarian mountain complete with soundtrack.  This one makes me smile.


A list of kid approved Math apps for iPads.  Visit http://youclevermonkey.com/ for more details.

School A to Z: is a free app produced by the NSW Education Department and must have one for your iPad.  It has both a Math and English glossary of terms along with fact sheets and short videos - useful if you're uncertain about a term being used.  It also has a Maths Monkey game great for working on times tables.

Math Doodles: offers some unique ways to practice your math skills.  With The Splat Go Round a fly sits on a clock face and you have to input how many hours will pass before the hand lands on it. Connect Sums a number is displayed and you have to select the right combination of dice to match. Unknown Square is probably my favourite where you have to work out the number that is missing.

Mystery Math Town: is a fun game where you solve math problems as you move around the town rescuing fireflies.  The graphics are lovely but as an adult I sometimes wish there was more to do in each room.  This doesn't bother the kids at all as the explore the whole town.


A list of kid approved Math apps for iPads.  Visit http://youclevermonkey.com/ for more details.

I'll stop here for today and come back with some literacy-focused apps next.

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