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Reading: We Give Books (Free)

Posted by on Mar 25, 2015

We Give Books began in 2010.  As of today over 3, 782, 703 books have been read on this site. We Give Books contains a large variety of children and young adult books that can be read online.    You can filter this collection by age, genre and author.  You can also sort this collection by date and popularity.  Featured books, editor’s picks and classic book lists are also available.  In October 2014, We Give Books joined First Book.   We Give Books   free Registration required (free) This collection includes board books, picture books, easy readers and chapter books in both fiction and non-fiction. Book by popular authors like Rosemary Wells (Max and Ruby), Anna Dewdney (Llama Llama) and DK publishing are included in this collection. Books can be read online (there is no read-a-loud feature) Author information is included with each book (activities and worksheets are listed when available) The recommended ages for these books is 0 – 10 (board books are included in this collection) Activities, plans and other teaching resources Great resource for when you can’t get to the...

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Curriculum: Starfall.com Overview

Posted by on Mar 23, 2015

Starfall is designed for pre-kindergartens to second graders.  We purchased a membership several years ago when my daughter was in preschool.  This is one of the many tools we used in teaching her how to read.  To us, it’s a bargain at $35 a year.  Both of my children, Alice (second grade), and Cheshire (kindergarten) love the books, songs, games and activities that can be found at Starfall.com. Even without a membership, you can still access all of the same learning materials that helped launch my daughter into reading. Membership Details All memberships are valid for 365 days. Home Membership ($35) – This membership provides you with one account that can be used by different members of your immediate family.  After you become a member, you can “authorize” several computers at once so that multiple children can be logged into your Starfall.com account at the same time. Teacher’s Membership ($75) – One teacher and 6 students can use the account simultaneously; see website for details. Classroom Membership ($150) – This membership can be used for one classroom in a school; see website for details. School Membership ($270) – This membership covers one school campus; see website for details. Free Resources Some of the free resources available at Starfall.com include: ABCs: Short animated videos that teach the alphabet, vowels and how to sign the alphabet. Learn to Read: 15 basic and interactive books; these were created to teach the fundamentals of reading.  Each book is a part of a greater lesson that includes additional activities, movies, and games.  Reading is taught through both phonetic and whole language lessons. It’s Fun to Read and I’m Reading: Interactive books help children take their new found reading skills to the next level. Calendar and holiday activities and lessons The Homeschooling section contains free worksheets and books for kids to enjoy, like blank certificates, seasonal handouts, reading and writing journals, puppet templates, etc.. At the Teacher’s Lounge, you can download free ABC worksheets on how to write each letter (A-Z), number worksheets, lined paper, picture cards, sample lesson plans and more. Member Resources Some of the membership resources include: Learn pre-kindergarten to second-grade math skills (counting, time, addition, subtraction, days of the week, basic multiplication and division, geometry, and measurement). You children can learn and sing children’s classics in their sing-a-long section (Farmer in the Dell, Pat-a-Cake). There is also a section for nursery rhymes and historical folk songs. Read more books in the Talking Library (these books are also interactive and there is an option to have the books read aloud). Additional phonics lesson A variety of worksheets (reading, writing, phonics, numbers, math), picture cards, calendars, lesson plans, word find puzzles, color by number worksheets,  teaching guides, unit studies, animal kingdom printouts, writing rubric,  downloadable books, biographical information on famous Americans (Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Rosa Parks, etc.)  and more is located in the Teacher’s Lounge. Starfall Store Starfall also sells games, puzzles, stuffed animals, books, CD-ROMS, and more at their online store. Apps A free Starfall app is available at the Apple Store, Google Play and Kindle Fire (internet connection is required for an app to run). In order to access all of the app’s content, you need to be a Starfall member (there is very little free content provided in the app). At this time, they also have 10 additional apps that range in price...

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Audiobooks: Build an Audio Library using Audible© Sales & Promotions

Posted by on Feb 22, 2015

  When I can’t find it for free through Overdrive, ClickIt or Hoopla Digital (three online digital subscription services I use with my library card), or I want to own a copy for myself, I turn to Audible. Last year we went searching for an audiobook at our local library and when they didn’t own it, I turned to Amazon and discovered Audible.  Previously we used our local library as our only resource for all of our audiobook needs.  Audiobooks are expensive, and we were interesting in purchasing them for reasonable prices.  Since we are frequent Amazon customers and Audible is an Amazon company, when I noticed the three month free Audible trial, I immediately signed up.  Here is what we discovered: What is Audible? Audible is a subscription service for audiobooks, audio magazines, newspapers, radio and TV programs.  They have over 150K titles as part of their collection.   How Audible Works:   Audible offers several different types of plans: Audible Listener Gold: 1 credit per month.  Cost:  $14.95 per month. Audible Listener Platinum: 2 credits per month.  Cost:  $22.95 a month. Audible Silver Plan:  This plan is bi-monthly. Cost: $14.95 every other month and receive one credit bi-monthly. Audible Listener Gold Annual:  12 credits all at once for $149.50.  No monthly charges, though you are still a member, until one year from when you began this membership. How Credits and Membership Discounts Work: Nearly every book on Audible is worth “one credit” with a few exceptions.  A rare number of Audible’s books are 2, 3, 4 or 5 credits.  These mostly consist of book compilations or courses. An example of this is a German Language course:  “German Phase 2, Units 1-30:  Learn to Speak and Understand German with Pimsleur Language Programs.”  In comparison, the shorter courses consisting of 1-2 units are one credit. Audible Does Not Determine Credits Based On the Length of the Book.  One Credit Books Include:  “War and Peace”by Leo Tolstoy (61 hours and 8 minutes). “Complete Sherlock Holmes” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (70 hours) “The Fellowship of the Ring” by J.R.R. Tolkein (19 hours) “Watership Down” by Richard Adams (15 hours and 51 minutes) “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway  (2 hours and  30 minutes).   Acquiring Audible Credits: Upon enrolling in a plan you receive at least one credit (more depending on your plan) and are eligible to purchase books at the membership discount price.  You may also take advantage of their promotional sales. Depending on the plan you select, you receive at least one credit every other month (silver), one every month (gold), two a month (platinum) or 12 credits all at once (Gold Annual)(For Gold Annual you are given your credits and billed at the same time for the entire year — you are not billed again nor do you receive credits again until the following year).  Since one credit is worth the same as a book that costs $0.48 or one that is $48.95, it makes the most sense to always use your credits for the most expensive books. Choose A Device to listen to Audible: You can listen to your audiobooks via Audible’s free app on your smarthpone, Kindle, Nook, tablet, computer, mp3, or other device.  Once you’ve made your purchase, tell Audible where to send it and begin listening to your audiobook on your...

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Free Curriculum @ Your Library with Premium Databases

Posted by on Feb 20, 2015

Free Homeschool Curriculum Resources with Your Local Library Part One We are always looking for ways to cut costs while still providing our children with access to the best academic resources.  Investing in your child’s education can get expensive quickly and finding quality free resources is key to reducing homeschooling costs without compromising your child’s academic experience.  Most public libraries offer free access to otherwise expensive commercial services that can help advance your child’s education without the accompanying high price tag. Using Your Library for Free Curriculum: Every library is different and not all offer the same access to databases and other subscription services, however, the following exceptional databases are frequently offered in most public libraries. Here are some of my favorite programs to explore and take advantage of with your library card: Hoopla Digital: Hoopla is an online digital media service available through a large number of libraries.  Patrons establish an account with their library card and can access e-books, audiobooks, films, documentaries, educational and instructional videos, and music albums.  All content is available without waiting, there are no holds.   Each user is allowed to check out 10 items per month (ten downloads).  Lending periods: TV and movies for 3 days, audiobooks for 21 days, and music albums for 7 days. The Hoopla app is available through iTunes or the Google Play Store.  You can download and access your content through Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer 8 and 9, and Safari. Hoopla is available on any iOS device that run iOS 6 or newer, iPad 2 and newer, iPad Air and Mini, and Iphone 3-6.  It is also available with several Android OS devices that run 4.0 or newer, Samsung Galaxy phones and tablets, Google Nexus, Nook, Motorola Droiz Razr M phone, and more. Some of My Favorite Free Hoopla Curriculum for Students: Examples of Hoopla Digital’s Audiobooks for Elementary Students:  The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything by Maira Kalman Spanish In Minutes:  How to Study Spanish the Fun Way by Liv Montgomery Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll  Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame Chicken Soup with Rice by Maurice Sendak The Clown of God by Tomie dePaola The Star Spangled Banner by Peter Spier And Then What Happened, Paul Revere? by Jean Fritz Brave Irene by William Steig Looking at Lincoln by Maira Kalman Tale of Two Bad Mice by Beatrix Potter Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say A Kiss for Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik The Fox Went Out On A Chilly Night by Peter Spier The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde Examples of Audiobooks for Middle & High School: Non-Fiction The Decline of the Fall of the Roman Empire Spanish In Minutes:  How to Study Spanish the Fun Way by Liv Montgomery Classic Fiction: The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde Little Women by Louisa May Alcott The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare F. Scott Fitzgerald Short Stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson Vanity Fire by W.M. Thackeray The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan Moby Dick by Herman Melville The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre...

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Enhance Your Child’s Reading with Audiobooks

Posted by on Feb 4, 2015

  Using Audiobooks to Raise Your Child’s Reading Level  As a homeschooling mother of four, I spend a lot of time trawling through curriculum resources searching for ways to enhance my children’s learning.  One of my favorite ways to supplement reading, bring it to life and make it enjoyable for my kids is to add audiobooks to their reading.  Although I read to my children almost every day and we always have a few audiobook projects in the works — it never hurts to add in additional time with the audio version of the book while they follow along with the print version (e-book or traditional).   Audiobooks Model Correct Prosody Audiobooks have a wide array of subjects including fiction, non-fiction, plays, autobiographies and biographies, science, history and much more — we are never lacking in audio choices.  Some of you may be thinking:  I understand audiobooks are fun, but do they really count towards reading?  Yes, they do.  Audiobooks are a great resource that can be used to enhance your child’s reading comprehension, fluency and raise their reading levels.  Some people consider listening to the audio version of a book an ersatz substitution that shouldn’t be classified as “reading.”  While I do agree that audiobooks should not be used as a substitute for reading in and of itself, this incredible resource definitely has it’s merits and place in the literary world.  Audiobooks model correct pronunciation, intonation, reading prosody and offer endless listening opportunities.   Shortly after joining my college cycling team I learned to draft.  For those of you that are not familiar with drafting, it’s a technique used in cycling (and car racing) that allows the cyclist to exert less energy while gently pulled forward by the cyclist or cyclists in front of you (And the more cyclists in front of you, the better the draft).  Depending on which way the wind is blowing, you may line up your front wheel to the right, left, or directly behind the wheel in front of you to latch on.  The Texas sun can be brutal, add to that a New Yorker with little exposure to weather outside the northeast, and a thirty or forty mile practice ride in 102 degree weather could be rather draining.  I think of audiobooks in a similar way to drafting.  Does a thirty mile bike ride count when you are drafting from the guy (or guys) in front of you?  You bet.  Would you be in better shape if you were out in front leading the pack without any benefit of a fantastic draft?  Yes.  Does it still count as exercise?  Most definitely.  The same holds true for reading via audiobooks.  It’s phenomenal if your child reads epic novels day and night, already has flawless pronunciation and perfect reading prosody — but if not, don’t feel bad that he or she is human.  Instead, formulate a plan to add audiobooks to your child’s reading schedule and help them achieve a nice effortless pull forward — some easy help akin to the perfect draft. Signs Your Child Could Benefit From Audio Books Is your child often frustrated when he or she reads aloud?  Do they read too slowly, make too many mistakes and struggle with pronunciation?  If your child is complaining that books are boring, exhausting and a waste of time, consider adding audiobooks to your...

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