Tools for Reading and Literacy – End of Summer Edition

Welcome to the June-July-August edition of my roundup of literacy tools and ideas. In this (normally) monthly post you will find links to articles, websites, and online tools that facilitate the processes of reading and learning. Whether the information is recently published or a couple years old, it’s new to her and may be new to you. Enjoy!

Starting off

Given that Labor Day has now come and gone and the kids are back in school, it is too late to pitch Summer Writing Tips for Boys as a way to bridge the school years. Story starters (and this post has a lot of them) are helpful anytime of year and the post is worth bookmarking for just that reason! And its not just for boys! I loved this part of the post:

One of my sons wouldn’t write, but I found something to talk to him about by having him describe an Underground adventure he always talked about as a younger child. It gave us something to talk about and I was able to channel that adventure into a book I wrote for him. He has loved giving me ideas and at 17, he still gives me feedback on the book that we both hope to publish one day.

In the August Wash Rag for Ages 5 to 9, I talked about using an old-fashioned desk calendar to plot homework, deadlines, appointments, etc. In the 28 August 2011 edition of the Washington Post’s Business section, Hayley Tsukayama rates HomeWork by This is a free Android app that lets you do something similar. Hayley’s review was lukewarm, but what she described got me thinking: maybe we can do this on our family’s shared Google Calendar!

This week is filled with remembrances for the tenth anniversary of 9/11. For those looking for a literacy-based opportunity, has created a multimedia resource “center” called Literature Connections to 9/11. In his email to me, Nick Glass noted that the resources on it are free and do not require a subscription. Thank you, Nick!

Resources for Kids

Piccolo Picture Books is a Dutch company that offers children’s book Apps for iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch. These are original stories in English, Dutch, French, German, and Spanish. Some are free, some you pay for. The variety of languages – and ‘free’ – caught my eye. (via @PiccoloApps)

If you want to keep up with apps for Kids, then I’d suggest subscribing or following Touch and Go, the School Libary Journal’s “guide to the best apps and enhanced books for children and teens.” I discovered it via the Kidlit Yahoo Group and Daryl Grabarek’s post about the new Cybils Book App category.

I have been using a networking tool called Referral Key, and in the process, I reconnected with Susan at Tailwag Studio and her blog: Grow Up. Get a Job. Susan does a great job helping kids think about their strengths, interests, and then presenting a palette of career ideas. Check out this post: What Have You Done Today that relates to a job?

Word Magic (iPhone / iPad app) According to the blurb in the Washington Post, the parents created this app to help their 5-year-old with “reading fundamentals.” Here’s how it works: The screen gives you an image and the ending letters of a word. The player selects the two-letter group (aka digraph) that fits to complete the word. Parents can set the word length, pick phonics or letters, and difficulty level. [Note: Link goes to iTunes Store, where we have an affiliate account.]


Resources for Educators (that includes us parents, too)

Thanks to StumbleUpon I discovered Irresistible Ideas for Play-based Learning. This (and that gorgeous photo) say it all: No play, no learning. Know play, know learning. Sherry and Donna, two preschool teachers, curate the blog. “As it is not always easy to find exciting, irresistible and appropriate play based learning ideas for children in the early years, we would like to share with you some of the ideas our students have enjoyed over the years.”

The Entertainment Software Ratings Board has a free mobile app that gives you the content ratings for more than 19,000 software applications and video games. You can search the database by title, rating, or game plaform.

Youth librarian Hayley Elece McEwing has an article in the current Children & Libraries magazine called “Music, Movement, and Early Literacy.” The focus of the article is the Gotta Move! program, “an active storytime for the young and the restless.” In her opening Hayley explains that communication happens in different ways. For some its words, for some its music, for others its movement. I’m not able to find an online version of the article, but I will link you to Hayley’s INCREDIBLE collection of movement resource books, movement-based picture books, and Movement Music lists that “Miss Hayley Mac” created in – offers more than 950 printable Montessori materials for children and teachers. There is for-cost content, but the site also offers FREE Montessori materials regularly (via @MontessoriPrint)
Whenever I need generic images, I go to Tons of great, free “stock” graphics. Well, the other day, I was looking for something and saw that the geniuses at OpenClipArt have created a package called Presidents 2011. You can download presidential images in various styles from pen-and-ink sketch to caricature to near-photographic quality. These are not just the US 48 (though they are the bulk); you’ll also find Jose de San Martin (first president of Peru), Georges Clemenceau (Prime Minister of France, 1906-1909, 1917-1920), and Stephen Harper (Canadian Prime Minister, 2006- )
Tanya Windham created this AWESOME document with a collection of 77(!) Web Resources for Teachers to Explore This Summer … and they are FREE! How cool is that? I love this one just by the title: Yummy Math! (via @tlwindham)


Unwrapping Literacy

Young mother Hubburd went to the cupboard to get her child some glue.
But when she got there, the cupboard was bare and the child had nothing to do.

That is the poem that caught my eye at The Fun Art Professor! Judy doesn’t update her blog a lot, but she offers some great ideas on ways to engage kids with creative play and learning.

Speaking of nursery rhymes … One of the points that Hayley made in her article is that the Gotta Move! got its roots in the Mother Goose on the Loose model. So I’ll close with a link to MissHayleyMac’s YouTube channel and a music video!