Summertime and the Listening is Easy!

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SYNC is once again offering free downloadable books for teens!

SYNC is a free summer audiobook program for teens 13+

The 2016 season is May 5th – August 17th 2016.
SYNC 2016 will give away 30 titles – two paired audiobook downloads a week!

Week 1 * Summer 2016

This summer’s theme is: “It’s the Circle of Life!”
The mystery of human evolution is looked at from very different points of view.
Download the free pair from SYNC »here.
This Week’s Audiobooks are:
Vivian Apple at the End of the World By Katie Coyle
Read by Julia Whelan
Published by Dreamscape Media
Great Tennessee Monkey Trial By Peter Goodchild
An L.A. Theatre Works full cast performance
Published by L.A. Theatre Works
Remember these titles will be replaced by a new pairing on 5/12/2016. Download the MP3 files, and then you can listen any time you want!
Thank you to Dreamscape Media and L.A. Theatre Works for generously providing this week’s titles.
Downloading Tips:
Get the OverDrive App to access free SYNC audiobooks. The app is available for every major desktop and mobile platform, including Windows, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android phones and tablets, Kindle, NOOK, Windows 8 PC and tablet, Blackberry, and Windows Phone.
© 2016 * AudioFile Publications, Inc. * All Rights Reserved
 
 

Books for Kindergarten Students

As many of us are winding down the school year, it is encouraged to continue reading stories and picture books to our children throughout the summer season. This is especially important for the preschool and kindergarten aged students, so the Oak Meadow teachers teamed up and shared some of their favorite books for this age level:
Michelle Menegaz: Our family loved the very repetitive but very soothing Milly Molly Mandy stories by Joyce Lankester Brisley. There really is something magical about this story of a little girl and her family doing very normal things in an old English village from somewhat long ago.
Another one with plenty of adventure that starts off seeming to be in the most nothing-ever-happens-here kind of place is Twig, written by Elizabeth Orton Jones.
If you want a rollicking very high adventure, very high language read aloud, and the child can sustain through long complex storylines, then The Borrowers, written by Mary Norton, is a treat and a half, but no easy ride for sure.
Another long-time favorite of ours forever and ever is Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm… very understated humor and delightful drawings accompanying tales of real animals living with a real family in a real and imperfect old farmhouse. This is just one of many that Alice and Martin Provensen wrote.
Regarding the letter activities, the book LMNOP and All the Letters A to Z looks at the poetic nature of letters with beautiful block/beeswax crayon drawings.
Your children may delight in a deeper approach to the alphabet. Maybe they can come up with their own ways to blend the letters into a picture, or make them from pretzel dough, or act them out with their body.
And have you ever read On Beyond Zebra?  It is about the letters AFTER Z, written by classic, hilarious Dr. Seuss.
Claudine Kaplan: For animal stories with valuable morals, Thornton Burgess’s Old Mother West Wind books are great stories that were first published in 1910.
Sarah Antel: Tasha Tudor wrote some sweet animal stories.
What about Robert McClosky’s Blueberries for Sal and One Morning in Maine?
I have memories of my parents reading me The Wind in the Willows no matter how old I was; it was my favorite story growing up.
Shannon Miller: My boys and the kindergarten group I just worked with loved the whole series by Julia Donaldson (The Gruffalo, A Gold Star for Zog, etc.) They feature great rhyme schemes so younger kids who aren’t quite reading can “read” along. The author does an excellent job featuring female characters in different roles. (For example, one character refuses to be a princess because she really wants to be a dragon doctor.) They are fun and usually cheap to obtain!
Leslie Daniels: One of my favorites for a kindergarten student is Adrienne Keith’s book, Fairies From A to Z. The drawings are colorful and delightful, and the book is formatted in poetry style. This book also includes special “fairy words” for each letter that are found along the borders of the pages. In addition, there is a fairy box (home) to construct at the back of the book. My own children at this age level loved this book – and they also loved making their own fairy boxes.
Also, we can’t forget the wonderful books written by Margaret Wise Brown, Elsa Beskow, and Barbara Berger. They are perfect for kindergarten students!
Meg Minehan: In addition to some already mentioned, here are a few of my kids’ kindergarten favorites: My Father’s Dragon series, Jenny Linsky series, Pierre The Truffle Pig, and for a newer book – the Tumtum and Nutmeg series, which are contemporary but with that charm and adventure of The Wind in the Willows, etc. They are fabulous to read aloud.
Andy Kilroy: My kindergarten-aged granddaughter is already reading pretty easily, so I have been spending my time with her on Explode the Code books. I have also been doing poetry with her, as she loves to make up rhymes. We are both rhyming straight up and she is writing songs, which she loves to do. When we do read, we do books in the “easy reader” genre, so they vary. I have not hit upon any that she likes as much as she likes the rhyming books. I have been trying to do some longer stories with her; she likes Mo Willems books that are written in the non-rhyming format, and she loved Angela and Her Alligator, which is a “chapter book”. She also liked the Berenstain Bears series, which includes great morals and values. My granddaughter also loves Gruffalo and Where the Wild Things Are.
Michelle Menegaz: Choosing which books to share with your kindergartener is where the home teacher can use intuition and knowledge of the child to branch out and get creative!

An Important Day in History

Paul Revere’s Ride

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 18071882

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
 
April 18 is a very important day in American history, for on this day in 1775, Paul Revere rode from Charlestown to Lexington to warn Massachusetts colonists of the arrival of British troops. It is noted as the beginning of the American Revolution.

Photo Credit: Leslie Daniels

In 1973, Jean Fritz began writing a series of American Revolution books that have provided children with an adventurous look into the lives of George Washington (George Washington’s Breakfast and George Washington’s Mother), King George (Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George?), Paul Revere (And Then What Happened, Paul Revere?), Ben Franklin (What’s the Big Idea, Ben Franklin?), Sam Adams (Why Don’t You Get a Horse, Sam Adams?), John Hancock (Will You Sign Here, John Hancock?), and Patrick Henry (Where Was Patrick Henry on the 29th of May?).
You might wish to explore America’s historical past with lessons and activities that complement this award-winning series of books. The educational website, TeacherVision, referred to the Jean Fritz books as important tools for learning about American history. This site offers themes, an art study, games and other activities to accompany the books.

Astronomy for Kids

In Oak Meadow’s fourth grade science coursework, the final block of lessons offers an extensive study on astronomy. The twelve lessons offer educational information, additional book and story selections, sky watching activities, hands-on projects, and artistic exercises.
I highly recommend the Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) website to families as a way to further enhance the ongoing lessons. APOD is a collaboration of NASA and Michigan Technological University (MTU). Each day, an image or photograph of our universe is featured with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer. This website is extremely interesting, as well as quite educational for any budding scientist, astronomer or avid sky watcher.
As part of Oak Meadow’s fourth grade astronomy block, there is a five-week main lesson project, in which the students choose a planet to research and complete a written report. I suggest perusing the website, Kids Astronomyfor additional information. It offers educational websites and interactive games, worksheets, music, and movies.
Meet_the_Planets_CoverOne of Oak Meadow’s enrolled families shared an exciting website they discovered called Meet the Planets. This site (and book) offers awesome portrayals of “Who’s Who & What’s What” in each of the illustrations created by Laurie Allen Klein.
If your family is interested in stargazing, there are many amazing events occurring throughout the year of 2016. The Astronomy Calendar of Celestial Events for Calendar Year 2016 is a good site for finding these specific dates. Plato, the Greek philosopher and mathematician, once wrote, “Astronomy compels the soul to look upwards and leads us from this world to another.” May you find similar inspiration in your sky gazing activities!

Enchanted

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It seems as though every library shelf or bookstore shelf I see in the youth section these days is a retelling of a fairy tale. I LOVE THEM!
Maybe you’ve read Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, Peter and the Star Catchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, or The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor.
I’ve just gotten A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce and I’m looking forward to reading it. In 2009 it won ALA’s William C. Morris YA Debut Award. If you want to try some of these retellings, I’ve come up with a list for you. If you have some to add, please let us know!

Try these: Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix, East by Edith Patou, Breath by Donna Jo Napoli, The Door in the Hedge by Robin McKinley, Straw Into Gold by Gary Schmidt, and the Sisters Grimm series. Fans of Neil Gaiman may enjoy The Sleeper and the Spindle.

Jump Into Spring!

Jump Jim Joe

Jump, jump, jump Jim Joe!

Shake your head and nod your head and tap your toe.

Round and round and round you go,

‘Til you find another partner and you jump Jim Joe!

(American Tradition)

It’s official! Spring has arrived! It’s time to jump for joy! 

As we all know, spring is the season of the year when everything comes alive in nature. Spring begins on the day the center of the sun is directly over the equator. This year, the spring equinox (also known as the vernal equinox) arrived on March 20th, as the sun crossed the equator and started moving northward. As the sun travels north, its rays strike the northern countries more directly each day. Spring will last until June 21st; hence, summer arrives! (In the southern hemisphere, spring begins in September and ends in December.)

Springtime brings a new sense of renewal and rejuvenation, and everything bursts forth with a revitalized energy. It always seems like children grow springs on their feet in springtime, for their physical activities heighten at this time of year. One of my favorite activities to share with children during the season of spring is jump roping. It is an old traditional favorite that is often forgotten. Not only is it extremely enjoyable, it also builds physical endurance and is healthy for the heart.
I recently attended a basketball game at a local university. A troupe of jump ropers called the Firecrackers performed at halftime. They are an awe-inspiring performance jump rope team of physically skilled 4th-8th graders from the Kings Local School District in Ohio. They perform at venues around the country, and have even performed at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, a Presidential Inauguration, and on The David Letterman Show. Your children will delight in watching one of their video performances.

Anna Banana bookThe Firecrackers’ amazing feats with their ropes inspired me to get out my own jump rope. I have especially enjoyed sharing with my local home school students a number of jump rope rhymes I remembered from my childhood. If you are inspired to jump rope with your children, here is an excellent website that offers a plethora of rhymes. You might also look for a book of jump rope rhymes the next time you are visiting your local library. One of my favorite books is  Anna Banana – 101 Jump-Rope Rhymes, written by the author of The Magic School Bus series, Joanna Cole.

So, now that spring has arrived, we delight in witnessing flowers bursting into bloom, birds beginning their nesting rituals, and bunnies happily hopping about. Spring is the time to shake off winter and explore the great outdoors. Watch your kites soar, splash through puddles, poke some fat pea seeds into the earth, hop like a bunny, or just jump for joy. There are so many wonderful ways to celebrate the arrival of spring!

Getting Involved by Volunteering

“Those who can, do.

Those who can do more, volunteer.”

~Author Unknown

This week our blog post is written by Abigail Wilson-Kageni. She’s been doing some very special volunteer work in her hometown of York, Pennsylvania and her Oak Meadow teacher suggested that she spread the word and tell other students about her project. I invited her to contribute to our blog post and I’m delighted that she did!  images-1My name is Abigail Wilson-Kageni and I am a student with Oak Meadow. I live in York, Pennsylvania. I have many interests and the opportunity to express myself creatively through the arts is especially dear to me.
The creative arts are an art form that allows people to express themselves through varying art mediums. Many things can fall under the category of creative arts. Dance, music, poetry, and painting are just a few. It’s been proven that children often do well when schools incorporate the creative arts in their curricula. However, in inner-city schools, budgets are a factor that usually decides if creative arts programs will be included in the annual budget. In most cases, schools in under served areas often fall victim to funding cuts which means the arts is excluded from the curriculum. This leaves students from financially challenged homes at a disadvantage. A variety of creative arts is needed to help students develop a love of learning. It is the inspiring base students need to succeed in school.
When I discovered this, I felt that I wanted all students to be supported and inspired by the opportunity for creative expression. After months of brain storming sessions with my mother, Tiered Innovations Initiative was born. This program has been evolving through different experiences that I have been privileged to part take of. For the past three years I have been a member of TeenSHARP, a college discovery program that meets every Saturday through the school year. I also just completed my tenure as a member of Scholastic Kids Press Corp. I was given the wonderful opportunity of covering Mrs. Michelle Obama and her Let’s Move Campaign at the White House, on two different occasions. I was also a member of El Sistema, a music program in which I spent three hours each day of the week perfecting my skills for playing the violin. It is these opportunities that have helped me to expand my curiosity and love for learning through the years.
This year, on February 24th, I officially launched the program. My local library, Martin Library, which is where I volunteer once a week, hosted the event and the event had a two-fold purpose. A local art store, Prime Art Supply Co, was running an art supply drive to donate city elementary school art materials. I decided to help the owner with this cause by inviting my guests to donate toward the drive. I titled the event ‘Encourage Creative Arts in Our Children’ and asked that our guests bring one item of any art supply to be donated the art drive. Monetary donations were also accepted toward purchasing a projector for one of the schools. It was a great success!
The city’s Mayor, Kim Bracey, was gracious enough to deliver a keynote speech while a noted artist and lecturer, Ophelia Chambliss, spoke about the importance of encouraging the youth to tell a story through their art. We were also celebrating Black History Month and as such, three area poets were on hand to commemorate the African American heritage through poetry recitals.
Tiered Innovations Initiative is a youth program that nurtures teens toward global citizenry through the creative arts. I will be offering workshops, facilitating summer camps, and inviting guests to continue to inspire the youth. I was humbled that people came out to support my efforts. I am delighted and excited for the good things that are ahead of me.
 

Tulips in History!

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“But I have always thought that these tulips must have had names. They were red, and orange and red, and red and orange and yellow, like the ember in a nursery fire of a winter’s evening. I remember them.” Neil Gaiman from Caroline
In the middle of a snowstorm today in New England, I found myself thinking about spring! With so much snow cover in the garden right now, I looked out the window and wondered when I will see those first green shoots of bulbs. I love to look for the daffodils and tulips peaking up from the soil in my garden. It’s like searching for hidden treasure. Tulips have become very common in our nation, but at one time they were treasured like gold! I read that though now we plant our tulips from bulbs, it can take up to seven years for a tulip seed to mature into a plant. That is certainly something to treasure!
images-1History buffs might be interested to know that in the 17th century tulips were such a hot item that bulbs couldn’t be grown fast enough to keep up with the demand. Because the demand was so great and people in Europe, especially Holland, so loved the rich colors of the delicate flowers, tulips became a treasured item that was worth a lot of money. This resulted in “Tulipmania” and the worth of a tulip bulb became astronomical. There are historical records that say that a single tulip bulb could bring in the equivalent of 64,000 U.S. dollars today!
So today, in the middle of a snowstorm, I’m thinking about my tulips and I’m thinking I will order some bulbs to plant this fall!
 

Winter Reading

Books have a life of their own

and are born in the mind

and given birth to by a writer

into its full-grown life as a book.

Louise Moeri

Photo credit: The Cassell Family (Oak Meadow archives)
Photo credit: The Cassell Family (Oak Meadow archives)

For those of us who live in the northern hemisphere, the season of winter is fast approaching. It is the perfect time to nestle in and share additional reading time with your children. Your choice of books could even be centered around the theme of holidays and wintertime.
When my children were in their elementary age level of learning, one of my favorite books to read aloud during this time of year was Star Mother’s Youngest Childwritten by Louise Moeri and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. Another favorite was Vivian French’s abridged version of the Charles Dickens story, A Christmas Carolbeautifully illustrated by Patrick Benson. However, there is a wide assortment of both unabridged and abridged books of this classic for children. At this time of year, your local library will most likely feature several selections from which you can choose.
If your weather is too inclement for traveling or your library is closed for the holidays, the StarWalk KidsMedia site offers a lovely selection of holiday and winter-themed ebooks. Reading books together on a cold winter’s night might just be the perfect way to bid adieu to the old year and ring in the new year!
 

November 19, 1863

The Gettysburg Address was given on this day on November 19, 1863 by the President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.images
“In November 1863, President Abraham Lincoln was invited to deliver remarks, which later became known as the Gettysburg Address, at the official dedication ceremony for the National Cemetery of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania, on the site of one of the bloodiest and most decisive battles of the Civil War. Though he was not the featured orator that day, Lincoln’s 273-word address would be remembered as one of the most important speeches in American history. In it, he invoked the principles of human equality contained in the Declaration of Independence and connected the sacrifices of the Civil War with the desire for “a new birth of freedom,” as well as the all-important preservation of the Union created in 1776 and its ideal of self-government.”  http://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/gettysburg-address
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that “all men are created equal.”
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We come to dedicate a portion of it, as a final resting place for those who died here, that the nation might live. This we may, in all propriety do.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate – we can not consecrate – we can not hallow, this ground – The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have hallowed it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here; while it can never forget what they did here.
It is rather for us, the living, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that, from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
(The Library of Congress owns this copy of the manuscript. There are many different copies.)
 
 
 

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