Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Summer Reading Project

He did it!

Eli made it through the entire summer reading project through our public library. The library's only requirement was that kids had to read 16 books.  Since Eli likes to 'work the system', I had to put in a few additional requirements.

The additional requirements I gave him were:
1) The books had to come from the library
2) The books had to be 'on his level'...though I did let this slide a few times
3) Each book had to be new to him (in other words, he'd never read it or had it read to him)
4) For the first 8 books, he had to keep his own reading log on the computer

Also, since I had additional requirements, I decided to supplement the library's reward system. They rewarded kids with a small prize for 8 books and a larger prize for finishing 16 books. For finishing 8 books, we gave him a $5 gift card to one of his favorite stores and for 16 books, we gave him a $10 gift card. Having these requirements, though, really helped him benefit from the program, and we all really enjoyed doing it.  Since I made him pick books from the library, he discovered several new characters and authors that he really liked. He learned how to use his library card, practiced interacting with a desk clerk, and became much more familiar with the children's section in our town's library. He also learned a little bit about how to search online for books at the library. As it was, we did pretty well selecting books that were within his abilities - though two of them ended up being WAY too easy, and one was definitely very difficult for him (Make Way For Ducklings). The majority of the books were read in one sitting, though we did have 3 books that took longer (#5, 7, and 14).

Here is the list of books he completed this summer, with an included Lexile rating:

1. Some Dogs Do by Jez Alborough
The Lexile of this book is listed as NP (non-conforming) for some reason; I would estimate it to be in the high 200s or low 300s. Eli LOVED this book. The dog's friends think he's lying, even though he's been truthful. The story had a huge impact and resonated thoroughly with him because of a parallel incident at school, where Eli's teacher accused him of something he really didn't do.  While not particularly challenging to read, it was one of Eli's favorites.

2. Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes
Lexile:410. We adored this beautifully illustrated story; it's another new favorite. Although it was a pretty easy read for Eli, it was worth it for the story and gorgeous artwork. It was definitely one of my favorites!

3. If You Give a Dog a Donut by Laura Numeroff
Lexile:430. This is patterned after the kid's classic If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Eli had already read the mouse version, so I let him read this one.  It was a quick, easy read for him, though he enjoyed it more than I did.

4. One by Kathryn Otoshi
Lexile information wasn't available for this book. However, it is a sweet story that has a theme of understanding emotions and standing up for yourself.  I think I liked this book more than Eli, but it is a great book.

5. Mouse Soup by Arnold Lobel
Lexile: 240. I actually think this book is much more challenging than If You Give a Dog a Donut, even though the Lexile measure is much lower. This is almost a chapter book, and Eli loved it. He really seems to love this author's work in general (Lobel also wrote the "Frog and Toad" books), so it was a definite winner.

6. Happy Birthday Spongebob by J-P Chanda
Lexile: 220. I almost regret letting Eli use this book toward summer reading, as it is a very easy read. However, he really seemed to enjoy sitting down and finishing a new book in just 2 or 3 minutes, so I let it slide.

7. Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
Lexile: AD 630. This was, by far, the most challenging book that Eli read this summer...and it took us three sessions to finish it. There were a lot of new words that Eli had to sound out, and although he liked this classic story quite a lot, it was almost not worth the effort to have him read it. I almost wish I'd picked it to read TO him, and let him select another book...but still, he did manage to finish it with some support - and since he was able to finish, it did give him a confidence boost.

8. Pup and Hound Stay Up Late by Susan Hood
Lexile: 320. This was an easy, quick read for Eli, but he really liked it and thought the story was fun. I thought it was pretty cute for a simple children's story. He was interested in finding more of this series when we finished this book.

9. Sheep the Sheep: Time to Sleep by Mo Willems
Lexile: Probably BR. This book was way, way too easy for Eli. This is one book, that while it is cute for a very young child, shouldn't have counted this year. BUT Eli loves Mo Willems, and that's the reason he picked it out: it was a book by a favorite author that he hadn't read. So, since he was looking specifically by author...I let it slide. It took him less than a minute to read.

10. The Foot Book by Dr. Suess.
Lexile: NP. This was another book that I let slide, even though it was definitely too easy (he read it in less than 2 minutes). Once again, it's because he selected it by author.

11. Biscuit's Picnic by Alyssa Capacilli
Lexile: 190. This was the first 'Biscuit' book Eli's ever read...which is surprising because they are EVERYWHERE. I actually picked this one out without realizing how easy it was. Still, Eli felt successful because he was able to read it quickly and independently. He even took it to his grandparents' house to read it to them : ). It was cute, but I don't think this series is going to be one he seeks out.

12. Pup and Hound Hatch an Egg by Susan Hood
Lexile: 320. Eli liked this 'Pup and Hound' book even better than the first one we read, and so did I. I think he really wants to read the rest of the books in this series, and he has continued to look for them in the library. They are easy enough for him to read independently, but they have an actual plot to keep him engaged (unlike 10 and 11).

13.  Kali's Story: Orphaned Polar Bear Rescue by Jennifer Keats Curtis
Lexile: AD 870. I have NO idea why the Lexile level for this book is so high. It strikes me as a book that would be in the low 500s; it was certainly MUCH easier than Make Way for Ducklings.  Eli was able to read this with very little support, and we both loved this cute and well-photographed story.

14.  Mr. Putter and Tabby Walk the Dog by Cynthia Rylant
Lexile: 560. A very cute story; this would be considered a very simple chapter book (like Arnold Lobel's books). Eli thought it was a fun read, but it was not one of his favorites.

15. The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat
Lexile: AD480.  We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this book. It's about an imaginary friend who takes charge of his own destiny. Eli read this easily and needed help with only a few words (like 'unimaginable').  This was one of my favorites.

16. Sparky! by Jenny Offhill and Chris Appelhans
Lexile: AD 520. Another book that we LOVED. This was a favorite for Eli. He loved how the girl figured out how to get a pet and he LOVED Sparky the Sloth. This is a very clever, sweet book that was perfectly on Eli's reading and interest levels.

I did learn a little more about Lexile levels through this endeavor. The level of books that Eli can read completely on his own tend to be anywhere from 350 to 550, which is 2nd grade-ish. He's very much into reading young graphic novels on his own (mostly TMNT), and we've set a 1-2 book goal for each week this fall.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunday Snapshot

We *tried* to teach the kiddos how to use a water slide this evening.  Somehow, neither W nor Eli could figure out how to run and slide on their BELLIES...! This particular crash landing, as well as all of the ones that followed were all met with laughter, though. We eventually even tried towing them with a rope, which only worked as long as they could hold onto it...  As long as they had fun, right?

Most of the fun ended up being just splashing around in the water : ).


Monday, July 6, 2015

Summer Update

Happy (belated!) Fourth of July!!

While we didn't go anywhere this year to celebrate, the (bigger) kids still had fun with sparklers, a workshop at the hardware store, and our traditional watermelon. W had an extra day off of preschool, so he had a nice chance to stay home on Friday, too : ).

I have begun bribing/rewarding W for working on his ABCs.  Eli goes through W's flashcards with him once every night, and I'm giving him an M&M every time he gets one right. So far, he gets 1 or 2 M&Ms each time...because he guesses "s" or "w" for each.  I'm starting to wonder if he can hear differences in consonants, and will be taking him to have his hearing thoroughly evaluated soon. Still, preschool has been hugely beneficial for him, and it definitely shows.  We've continued with preschool through the summer because he hears a ton of conversation from adults AND his peers...and he's learning so many new words and ways of communicating.  At home, he's beginning to learn to play with toys that are not cars, and I even heard him start to use his imagination over the weekend. I was also pleased to see him independently - and for the first time, correctly - get all of his shapes into the shape sorter. He's been struggling with it from Day 1, and it was a pleasure to watch him confidently match all of the shapes himself.

And Eli started a second set of swim lessons. I can't believe what a fish he is in the water. He loves it...and I am SO GLAD that we quit karate for him to swim at the Y.  Today, he swam down the short side AND the long side of the pool. He did stop a few times - 25 meters is a long way for a 4 year old - but he was SO FREAKING PROUD of himself for making it.  I'm hoping his current teacher will continue with him over the winter at an indoor pool...because ever since she mentioned swim team as a possibility next year, he's obsessing about it.
Jumping in for his lesson!
Eli's also been setting and meeting some new goals. We've finished "Life of Fred: Butterflies" and he completed the 8 book summer reading challenge from the library. Now, he's set his sights on the 16 book summer reading challenge...but he only has a couple weeks left to finish! Honestly, we've barely touched the rest of our 'summer bucket list' because the baby's kept us so busy, but we're at least trying to do some of it!

Hawaiian Shirt Day

So the new guy, on Jack's shoulder in the Hawaiian Shirt Day picture, now has a nickname... "Itty Bitty."  And as many nicknames are, it's a bit of a misnomer, since he is gaining almost a pound a week, and has already moved up to size 3 mo clothing. Of course, I cannot show his (or W's) face on the web, so this is as close as I can get.  I was just tickled that I got these guys to rock their Hawaiian shirts for the picture!

As you can probably imagine, it's been a little nuts-y over here with three kids. Itty Bitty is now down to 1 late night (2 or 3 AM) bottle, so we're at least getting two 4-hour stretches of sleep most nights.  We even got a 5 hour stretch last night, though now that I've put that it writing, it will probably never happen again : ).  Unfortunately, he's still so young that taking him anywhere - for any amount of time - seems to throw off his entire rhythm and it takes a day or two to get him back on track sleep-wise.  I cringe at the thought of having to take him shopping with me tomorrow, because I know we'll be in for a rough evening when we get back. I can't imagine what starting daycare is going to be like in a couple weeks - not to mention that today, the social worker mentioned that he would start visitation soon with a family relative.  BUT, I'm hoping it will be easier then, since he'll be two weeks older. The Fourth of July was a little rough because - even though we stayed home this year - we could hear fireworks until about 1:30 AM. Did I mentioned that Itty Bitty cried at every firework sound? Even though I turned on the white noise machine to try to distract him?? Poor baby.

Oh - and the social worker's visit today?  A complete surprise. Eli and I were still sitting around in pajamas, hair standing on end, breakfast dishes on the table and Saturday's building project all over my coffee table.  Patrick had just taken W to preschool and wasn't back yet. When she first rang the doorbell, I thought she was a random stranger, and didn't go to the door until Eli said that he thought she looked like Itty Bitty's caseworker. Yeesh!  It's not fun to have company when you're definitely looking sloppy...and I kinda did feel bad about making her wait so long on our porch.  But then - Itty Bitty made me very proud. When I took her back to his room to see him, he was soundly sleeping on his tummy (ACK!) in his crib. Since everybody in the entire USA is on the 'Back to Sleep' wagon to prevent SIDS, this initially looked like a parenting fail. BUT, I reminded his case worker that he's been rolling over since he was a week old. Sure enough, as we stood by his crib watching him sleep and chatting about his case, Itty Bitty opened his eyes and casually rolled over onto his back to see what was going on. Seeing us both just standing there, he stretched, rolled back over on his tummy and went back to sleep, giving us both the giggles...and showing the social worker that his tummy sleeping isn't my fault : ). It is definitely odd to have a rolling five week old. He's also creeping around his crib. I can put him on his back in the middle of the crib for a nap...but he immediately rolls over onto his tummy and starts traveling. For some reason, he really doesn't do the same thing on the floor yet...maybe it's too big, or his wake-time really isn't long enough yet. The pediatrician told us to lower his crib mattress a level, just in case.

Sadly, we only have a couple weeks of summer left. We've begun to see school supplies and sales already...