What We are Reading Wednesday – Scholastic Branches Books

Last Wednesday I shared about some books that Ethan loves from Scholastic’s Acorn series and this week I wanted to share about the next level of Scholastic books, the Branches series.  Ethan loves these too!  These are a great next step after the Acorn books and are aimed at readers ages 5-8.

According to Scholastic, the Acorn books are “high concept stories with decodable text for newly independent readers.”  Each book is 80-96 pages with a “50:50 text to illustration ratio.”

Below are some affiliate links for Ethan’s favorite Branches books.

The Notebook of Doom

The Notebook of Doom is by far his favorite!  Each book is a new adventure for a group of kids who track down monsters (that only kids can see) and in turn, save their town from impending doom.  The books are equal parts silly and exciting!

The Binder of Doom

The Binder of Doom is a continuation of the Notebook series.  Ethan is eagerly awaiting the release of the next book in the series!

Time Jumpers

The Time Jumpers is very similar to Magic Treehouse.  While the reading level is higher than Magic Treehouse, the storytelling is not as good in our opinion.

Dragon Masters

The Dragon Masters reminds me of Harry Potter.  8 year olds are chosen from across the globe to train with dragons.  The main characters live together in a castle with a wizard.  Together they travel the globe to protect various kingdoms from harm.

The Last Firehawk

The Last Firehawk is a story of three animal friends who battle an evil enemy who threatens the forest where they live.

Haggis and Tank

Haggis and Tank are dogs who love puns and adventures!  I am honestly surprised by how much Ethan loves these as I think a lot of the humor goes right over his head.  But he really likes them.

Kung Pow Chicken

These books are very comic book-esque with a chicken superhero and an egg for a sidekick.  They are very silly and another favorite of Ethan’s.

What We are Reading Wednesday: Scholastic Acorn Books

I was so happy to find chapter books for early readers, something that could come after simple readers and before books like Magic Treehouse.

Enter, Scholastic’s Acorn Books, specifically designed for readers ages 4-7.  Scholastic lists their special features as,

  • easy to read texts
  • color illustrations
  • color coded speech bubbles

I really love that each book is part of a series so your child can become familiar with the set-up, characters and patterns of the book which helps build confidence in your young, budding reader.

Ethan has really enjoyed these series below (affiliate links) but there are many more in the Scholastic library:

A Crabby Book

Dragon

Hello Hedgehog

Scholastic says, “grow confident readers with Acorn!” and it’s so true!

Has your child enjoyed any Scholastic Acorn books?

What We are Reading Wednesday: Homeschool Workbooks

Earlier in the week I mentioned we have been using more workbooks during quarantine schooling then we usually use.  Below is what we have been using and some affiliate links to the check out some of the workbooks on Amazon.

Gratitude Journals

The kids and I all have a simple notebook where we write down one thing we are grateful for each day.  We have been doing this all year and it was easy and important to continue.  I love this for creating a grateful attitude, positive mindset, handwriting and invented spelling practice!

Kumon
We also were using these before the lockdown began.  But with so much time on our hands my son was able to complete them quickly!  I love Kumon books for extra practice on key skills and will use these in the future with my daughter as well.

Master Books

I used this book as a compliment to our Montessori Math Materials this year.  During the lockdown, this was the only math material we used.  I think it’s a great curriculum.  It moves slowly but not too slowly, has just the right amount of practice and teaches developmentally appropriate skills.

Disclaimer:  these books have religious content.  We are a secular family/ homeschool so I simply omit any parts of the story that I need to.  The math content is great which is why I like using this book.  I plan to use the Level 1 book for my daughter next year.

Handwritng Without Tears

This was also our handwriting curriculum pre-lockdown.  But with lots of extra time, both kids progressed through their levels quickly!  I used this program as an NYCDOE teacher and like using it in our homeschool as well. It is cheaper to purchase this curriculum directly from the company.

https://www.lwtears.com/hwt

Science

Ethan loved completing this sticker timeline of scientific inventions!

All Subjects

Both of my kids love Star Wars and they love these Star Wars workbooks!  This is our 2nd year having these for various kinds of extra practice.

                                      

Fun Type Workbooks!

In March and April when the weather was cold, gray and wet, these books were great to have on hand.

                 

What We are Reading Wednesday: Audible Favorites for 5-7 Year Olds

Sometimes I have to be reminded that Audiobooks count too!  My kids love listening to audiobooks at lunch and whenever we are in the car.  Here are some of our favorites!

The Magic Treehouse

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My kids will listen to the entire collection in one sitting!  They love to climb into their tent together to cuddle up and enjoy the books together.  I think these Magic Treehouse collections on Audible offer a great value because for just one credit, you can get 8 books.  We have all of the collections and the Merlin Missions series too.

 

Mercy Watson

The Bears on Hemlock Mountain

Tumtum and Nutmeg (there is some very light suspense in this one so if you have a very sensitive kid, you might want to listen together)

Brave Irene

Do you have any Audible favorites in this age range?  Please share in the comments.

What We are Reading Wednesday: Classic Chapter Books for Young Children

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My kids have been so eager to listen to chapter books over the last few months.  They are currently 6.5 and 4.75 years old and both equally enjoy this read aloud time.  I read aloud from our current chapter book every day at lunch and I bring it with us if we are out and about and have any waiting time.  Thanks to NYC parking regulations from time to time we have to sit in our parked car and wait for the street sweeper to come by which is another opportunity to read aloud.  They have loved these books so much that they also ask me to read at other points of the day when we are home.

Here are the books we have read between January and May:

Mrs. Piggle Wiggle by Betty MacDonald

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater

The Mouse in the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary

Runaway Ralph by Beverly Cleary

Ralph S. Mouse by Beverly Cleary

James and The Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Now, some of these books were written in the 1930s and ’40s.  Obviously parenting practices have evolved since then.  I was concerned about some topics in these books such as spanking in Mrs. Piggle Wiggle or the physical and verbal abuse endured by young James in James and The Giant Peach.

I even considered skipping over these parts or changing the words.  And, in full disclosure I did skip over a few words here and there (words like stupid, for example). We also talked about the words Indians and Native Americans and how in the past people used words we don’t use today.  

However, the books have opened up some interesting conversations and they have handled these topics beautifully.  They were not scared or traumatized.  

With that said, the kids and I highly recommend the books on this list!  

Here is a sneak peak at the next few classic children’s chapter books we plan to read:

The Littles by John Peterson

The Borrowers by Mary Norton

The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden

All of a Kind Family by Sydney Taylor

Catwings by Ursula K. Le Guin

Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White

What We are Reading Wednesday: Books about Land and Water

*all links are Amazon affiliate links*

I recently purchased this book, Water Land:  Land and Water Forms Around the World by Christy Hale, after seeing it on Instagram.  It’s a beautiful, simple book which very creatively makes comparisons between water and landforms.  It was an instant hit with Ethan who is 5.5.

Ethan is very interested in maps, different landforms and any kind of water so I thought this book would be a jumping off point for a more in-depth study.  I purchased the following books to help our study along:

The Pond by Jim LaMarche

The Raft by Jim LaMarche (I have yet to be able to read this beautiful book without crying.  What a great story!)

The Little Island by Margaret Wise Brown

As we move forward I plan to add kinetic sand and water with blue food coloring to our sensory table for him to explore.

I’ve also downloaded these 3 part cards from The Helpful Garden to help us learn the land and water form vocabulary.  There were many great 3 part cards available for free download on the site.

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If you follow us on Instagram, I plan to share more of our land and water study there.

 

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What We are Reading Wednesday: Books about Nature

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These nature picture books are some of my kids all-time favorites.  We have read them over and over again!

*all links are Amazon Affiliate links*

Finding Wild by Megan Wagner Lloyd – This is a great book about nature in an urban environment.

If You Find A Rock by Peggy Christian – This one is my kids favorite right now

All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon – This is a board book but the text is just so beautiful.

Wonders of Nature by Jane Werner Watson – This is an old book but I love how it notices the very simple aspects of nature and points them out as wonderful.

What a Wonderful World by Bob Thiele- My kids love to listen to the song by Louis Armstrong as I turn the pages of the book.

A Tree is Nice by Janice May Udry – This is such a simple, beautiful book.

The Kids Guide to Exploring Nature by Brooklyn Botanic Garden – We love the BBG and we love this book!

On the Nature Trail by Storey Publishing – This is a beautiful take-along field guide for kids ages 4 and up.

Do you have any recommendations of books about nature?

 

What We are Reading Wednesday: Books about Insects

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Here are some of our favorite books (with affiliate links) about bugs!  My kids just love when we take out the bug books each May.  Insects are one of their favorite topics to read about for sure.

A Ladybug’s Life by John Himmelman

The Big Book of Bugs by Yuval Zommer

Bugs A to Z by Caroline Lawton

National Geographic Little Kids First Book of Bugs by Catherine D. Hughes

From Caterpillar to Butterfly by Deborah Heiligman

I Like Bugs by Margaret Wise Brown – This is a great easy reader for young kids learning to read.

My Busy Green Garden by Terry Pierce

Some Bugs by Angela DiTerlizzi – This one is my favorite.  It’s fun to read out loud and the pictures are great.

This year, Ethan (5.5) has loved The Fly Guy Series by Tedd Arnold.  He finds it so funny!

We have also been enjoying the hands-on experience of having insects in our home to observe.  This is our second year with both the Inset Lore Deluxe Butterfly Garden and the Insect Lore Ladybug Land from Amazon.  The caterpillars and ladybugs are currently in pupa stage so I cannot comment on our success rate this year but we had a 100% success rate last year!

Here’s a few pictures of our Insect studies throughout the last few years.  Even though we use the same insect kits and the same books, I find the kids learn more and more each year.

 

What We are Reading Wednesday: Early Chapter Books

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When my son, Ethan was about 3.5 I thought he might be ready to listen to me read a chapter book to him.  I hesitated because I find immense value in picture books (especially nonfiction picture books for 0-3 year olds) and didn’t want to rush into chapter books.  He has the rest of his life for those!  But then I thought it might be fun to mix it up and try something new. After some online research I decided to go with My Father’s Dragon.  And what it hit it was!  I purchased the trilogy and we read the whole set three times in a row.  It took weeks but he really loved it.  Although we still read mainly picture books; since then we have continued to mix it up from time to time by adding chapter books into our bedtime reading routine.

Here are some chapter books my kids have loved listening to (affiliate links):

Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

The Bears on Hemlock Mountain by Alice Dalgiliesh – My 5 year old and 3.5 year old both love this book.  We first read it about a year ago so it could work well for even a very young child.  My kids prefer the audible version to me reading the chapter book.  I get it and I don’t take any offense.  The audible version is really good.

Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo – There are several books in this series and both of my kids love them!  They are quite silly and have great full color illustrations.  They are on the shorter side and if you had enough time, I’m sure you could read the whole book in one sitting without your kids losing interest.

The Dragon Masters series by Tracey West –  There are currently 10 books in the series, with the latest due out June 2018.  We have read them all.  I’d describe them as Harry Potter lite.  There are lots of dragons, two wizards and just a little bit of suspense; just enough for a very young or sensitive child.  I bought these for my 5 year old but my 3.5 year old also happily listens to these books and follows along well from night to night as we work our way through each day.  There are small pictures on almost every page.

The Last Firehawk by Katrina Charman – We have read the first 3 books and the 4th is due out in July of 2018.  I’m sure my kids will want to keep reading.  They are very similar to the Dragon Masters series with lots of pictures and just enough suspense to keep the story interesting but not scary.  The main characters in this book are a squirrel, an owl and mystical creature called a firehawk.  So, if you don’t like talking animals, this one is not for you.

We did follow the Montessori approach of sticking to nonfiction before age 3.  I felt my kids were ready for these types of books because they have a really good grasp on reality vs. fantasy.  

I feel like it’s important to note that as a parent, I don’t mind reading any of these books out loud.  They are all good stories and interesting enough!

Do you recommend any chapter books for young kids?  I’m sure we will read some classics soon like Charlotte’s Web or James and the Giant Peach but I’ve been waiting for my younger daughter to get a little older so we can all enjoy those together.

 

What We are Reading Wednesday: Books about Rocks and Soil

We recently kicked off a small study of rocks, minerals and soil, per my kids request.  Below are the books we are using to learn about this topic (affiliate links).

My Books of Rocks and Minerals by DK

Mud by Mary Lynn Ray

Rocks and Soil by Rebecca Rissman

The kids have requested I read the book Mud, several times a day.  I don’t mind at all because the pictures are great and the language is really beautiful.

My Books of Rocks and Minerals was great to help us identify the minerals we found when we broke open real geodes.  We used this kit, Break Your Own Geodes, which was a lot of fun!  The geodes were not easy to open and required a lot of patience and perseverance from the kids.  When they finally smashed them, they were so excited!

Fossil Digging Together

Any other junior geologists out there?  Let me know in the comments!