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By Asa
posted July 31, 2014

From time to time we have customers ask us of we know of any good sites that offer beginner computer programming lessons for kids. So we thought we’d give you a rundown of the ones we have come across, tried and would recommend for any kids interested in learning the basics.


MIT’s Scratch

Scratch is a free programming language targeting young learners. The beauty of this program is the interactive way in which kids code in building blocks and see how their code affects their animation immediately.


By Asa
posted July 25, 2014

playing with blocksThe way we navigate the world and manipulate the space around us, is crucial to problem-solving.  While online programs help kids with learning basics like reading and math, offline playtime can create new learning environments that virtual worlds can’t.

Developing their spatial thinking from an early age helps our kids with critical math and science skills.  Teaching our kids about dimensions, how shapes fit together and spatial awareness reinforces spatial skills and later math success.

By Asa
posted July 08, 2014

math at homeThe frequency of number talk in children’s homes has a big impact on how well kids understand basic mathematical concept.  Seems like common sense, but do we parents speak math enough at home?  This MindShift article points to some recent studies of parents speaking math with their toddlers and how well that prepares them for math in school. 

The gist of the article is parents should consider the habit of talking about numbers as much as they talk about letters and words.

So what are some things we parents can do to help our kids be more comfortable with math?

By Asa
posted July 02, 2014

The Magic of Summer Reading

no such thing as witchK5's resident book reviewer, Sheila Welch, has found her magic touch and conjures up four magic books we recommend for Summer reading.  These four books will entice even the most device-dependent children into their magical worlds.

Bill Peet’s  THE WHINGDINGDILLY is perfect for reading aloud.  Children from three to ten will enjoy the expressive artwork on each page that helps tell the story of Scamp, a farm dog, who wishes he were as important as the neighbors’ handsome horse. When his young owner laughs at him, Scamp runs away and stumbles upon a “helpful” witch who uses her magic to turn him into a huge, unique creature.  Of course, there is a happy ending with Scamp returning home as a happy dog.

Children who’re just starting to read independently will be thrilled to discover Ruth Chew’s Matter-of-Fact Magic series.  NO SUCH THING AS A WITCH takes its title from a statement that Nora and Ted’s mother repeats several times. The two children know better. They are certain their new neighbor is a witch, but is she a good one or a bad one? With just the right mixture of reality and magic, Chew’s books make a wonderful introduction to the world of fantasy literature.

By Asa
posted June 13, 2014

Summer reading 2014Are you looking for a summer reading list for your child or teen? We thought we’d give you a helping hand.  Keep your child reading all summer with this selection of 2014 summer reading lists. We’ve scoured the Internet for the best lists for Summer 2014 and organized them below by grade level.


Let’s start with the American Library Association

ALA Recommended Reading for K – Grade 2.

ALA Recommended Reading for Grades 3 – 5.

ALA Recommended Reading for Grade 6 – 8.


New York Public Library compiled the entire kindergarten – grade 5 Summer reading into one list:


And here’s a neat list of diverse Summer reading from npr for kids of varying ages.


Horn Book has some great lists too:

Early Readers and younger fiction for kindergarten - grade 3.

Middle school fiction and non-fiction for grades 6 – 8.

High school fiction and non-fiction for grades 9 and up.


And to finish off our lists, here’s EducationWorld’s top picks for 2014 Summer reading.

EductionWorld kindergarten 2014 Summer reading list.

EductionWorld grade 1 2014 Summer reading list.

EductionWorld grade 2 2014 Summer reading list.

EductionWorld grade 3 2014 Summer reading list.

EductionWorld grade 4 2014 Summer reading list.

EductionWorld grade 5 2014 Summer reading list.

EductionWorld grade 6 2014 Summer reading list.

EductionWorld grade 7 2014 Summer reading list.

EductionWorld grade 8 2014 Summer reading list.

By Asa
posted June 04, 2014

kids outdoorThe human brain is like a muscle – it needs regular exercise to stay in shape.  So when those lazy summer days come around, we need to make sure our kids don’t forget what they have learned over the last 10 months of school.
Studies Show
All students experience learning loss when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer.

On average, students lose approximately 2-3 months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills during the summer months.

At the beginning of each school year, teachers typically spend between 4-6 weeks re-teaching material that students have forgotten over the summer.
What Parents Can Do
It doesn’t take much.  Kids learn best in bite-size chunks. “Little and often” is the best approach. Here are some ideas to keep their brains ticking over:

By Asa
posted May 22, 2014

phonics ch wordsAs you know, we are working on expanding our worksheets section.  Today, we've added some more flashcards to our reading section.  We've created and added 37 sets of vowel and consonant blend words flashcards for parents to use with their budding readers. 

By Asa
posted May 13, 2014

Dolch sight wordsNo matter which side of the sight words debate you're on, we have added both categories as free and printable flashcards to our worksheet center. 

Dolch Sight Words

The Dolch Word List of  220 words includes the most frequently used words in the English language. Sight words make up 50 to 70% of any general text. Therefore, teaching The Dolch Word List is a crucial goal of education in kindergarten to grade 3. Learn the Dolch list of words with our preschool to grade 3 sight words flashcards.

Fry Sight Words  The Fry 1,000 Instant Words are a list of the most common words used for teaching reading, writing, and spelling. It is difficult to write a sentence without using several of the first 300 words in the Fry 1,000 Words List. Consequently, students need to be able to read the first 300 Fry sight words without a moment's hesitation.  Learn the Fry list of sight words with our 1,000 sight words flashcards.

By Asa
posted April 24, 2014

By Sheila Welch
Eloise bookNo Shrinking Violets: Strong Girl Characters
Sometimes you’ll hear talk of “boy” books or “girl” books. Whether you believe that such a divide exists or not, here are four books about girls who are as strong as any boy.

OUTSIDE OVER THERE is written and illustrated by the fabulous Maurice Sendak, who also brought to life a famous, fearless boy character, Max. In this book, which is reminiscent of a fairy tale, a little girl named Ida, is left in charge of her baby brother. While she’s distracted, goblins come and trade an ice baby for the real child. It’s up to Ida to figure a way to fool the goblins and rescue her baby brother. Each illustration in this beautifully designed book is like a carefully rendered stage setting and can be appreciated by all ages.

ELOISE by Kay Thompson is illustrated with delightfully expressive pen and ink drawings by Hilary Knight. Eloise is a little girl who lives in the Plaza Hotel (her mother knows the owner) in New York City. She is totally rich, spoiled, brilliant, and very funny. Although presented in picture book format, this timeless story of a controlling child in an adult world, is appropriate for middle grade readers up through adults.

By Asa
posted April 14, 2014

kids brains technologyThe effects of technology on children are complicated. Whether technology helps or hurts in the development of your children’s thinking depends on what specific technology is used and how and with what frequency it is used.

Research shows the areas in which technology has the greatest impact on how children think are: attention, information overload, decision-making, and memory/learning. Importantly, all of these areas are ones in which you can have a counteracting influence on how technology affects your children. Negative indications are that attention spans are shorter, personal communication skills are reduced and there's a marked reduction in the ability to think abstractly. But is technology all bad? Not according to everyone.