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By Asa
posted September 17, 2014

By Sheila Welch


too small for schoolSeptember is here and school is back in session. What better time to check out some school stories?      


I AM TOO ABSOLUTELY SMALL FOR SCHOOL by Lauren Child is a story for any child who’s feeling a bit too little to go off to that big place called school. The tone is light and the illustrations are quirky and very imaginative. The book is large enough to share with a group of children in a classroom, home, or library setting. Hearing this one will be fun for both preschoolers and school-age children who will enjoy remembering their own misgivings and excuses for not wanting to go to school.


By Asa
posted September 01, 2014

School studentsWith the new school year beginning, it is a good time for some 'new year' resolutions.  Here are the top 5 new school year resolutions we suggest you and your kids follow for the new school year 2014/2015.

Remember your manners: No one is going to pass you up on a job because you didn’t know all the prime numbers that divide evenly into 72, but being impolite during an interview is the fastest way out the door.  Get into the habit now: maintain eye contact, remember the “please” and “thank you”, and the response to “How are you?” is not “Fine”, it’s “I’m fine.  How are you?”  Thank your teacher for the handout, introduce yourself to the supply teacher, and hold doors open for people.  Someone might hold the door open for you next.


By Asa
posted August 27, 2014

Back to schoolFor those of you who, like me, went to elementary school in the 70s and now have children starting or going back to school this week or next, this Huffington Post article will make you chuckle.

What are we modern-day parents doing to ourselves? Stressing over the right school bags, lunch boxes and BPA-free water bottles, the 3.5 page long school supply list, and the allergy lists, let alone the daily schedule of driving… and then more driving. Perhaps we should take a leaf out of our parents’ book? OK, perhaps not the Barry Manilow…

Welcome back to the school routine!

By Asa
posted August 12, 2014

self-disciplineAn essential skill our kids need for future success is self-discipline. Having the internal fortitude to tell themselves that if they focus for another 30 minutes on their homework, it will be done, rather than being distracted by other activities when their parents aren’t looking.

What can we do to help teach our kids about self-control, and instill this in them? Here are 9 steps that will get you on your way.

  1. Start as you mean to go on. Start teaching your kids from an early age about good habits and bad habits. At a young age, they can learn to put their toys away, and as they get older, giving them chores and the responsibility to handle them without too much prompting.
  2. There should be rewards and consequences. When our kids do well, praise and reward them. Make sure it’s not false praise, though, it has to be earned. Similarly, there also need to be consequences for not meeting expectations and bad behaviour. You can’t let one incident slide, you have to be consistent.
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: