Categories
11-14 yrs (middle school) 14-18 yrs (high school) 5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) 9-11 yrs (elementary) Birth-36 months (infant/toddler) Family Resources PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Get Caught Reading

When you think about reading, what comes to your mind? For some, reading may bring back memories from their caregiver or teacher reading aloud to them. Others may think about curling up with a good book during a rainy day. Maybe thinking about reading triggers memories or trips to the library or talking about a good book with a friend over coffee.

Since 1999, the Association of American Publishers has established May as Get Caught Reading Month. Whether it’s reading for pleasure or staying up-to-date with the latest news, reading has immeasurable benefits. Reading aloud to children helps them learn how to use language to make sense of the world. Technology has also changed how materials are consumed with a transition to a digital focus. No matter what medium you choose to read, the Connection Spot team wants to encourage our readers to Get Caught Reading!

Share the resources and information below with your friends to listen to books or learn about new books for your child. We also encourage you to share pictures of you reading or your favorite books and stories!

Get Caught Reading – Activities for all ages!

Storyline Online – A fantastic resource that features celebrities reading aloud stories. Each book also has a supplemental curriculum to engage your child beyond the read aloud.

KidLit TV – KidLit TV is the place to discover great children’s books and connect with the people who create them. Explore crafts, book trailers, and more!

Librarian to Librarian – Podcasts about books for kids and teens. 

Milkin’s Book Talks – Listen to book talks to find new books for your child to read or to read with them. 

The Indianapolis Library – 100+ free video read alouds!

Age(s): 

PreK 3-5 Years (Preschool)

5 to 6 Years (Kindergarten)

6 to 8 (Primary)

9 to 11 Years (Elementary)

11 to 14 Years (Middle School)

14-18 years (High School)

Tags: 

Reading

Read-Aloud

English Language Arts

Developer:

Kevin Bower

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 05/12/2021

Categories
5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) 9-11 yrs (elementary) PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Cinco de mayo

¿Qué es Cinco de Mayo? (What is Cinco de Mayo?) 

Cinco de Mayo is the celebration of the Mexican victory over the French at the Battle of the Puebla on May 5th, 1862. 

Cinco de Mayo is not celebrated in Mexico as much as it is in the United States. However, as the granddaughter of a Mexican American, I am humbled by this holiday. In the United States, we use it to highlight and celebrate the Mexican culture. Parades, dancing, festivals, and my favorite — food — are some of the ways to celebrate this date. A favorite tradition during this holiday is to break open a piñata. There is even a song (in English and Spanish) to go with it! This song is one that will stick with you and is fun for everyone. So take a look into the beautiful and colorful Mexican culture by clicking on the blue link: Cinco de Mayo and its history

A fiesta worthy activity para los niños!

Grade Levels: PreK through Grade 3

Age Levels: 

  • PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)
  • 5-6 yrs (kindergarten)
  • 6-8 yrs (primary)
  • 9-11 yrs (Elementary)

Description: Read/listen to the book The Piñata Story by Lisa and Michel Zajur and Illustrated by Samira Mobayed Murray. Discuss their observations of Mexican culture from the book. Create your own piñata and have fun! 

What Should I Do? 

  1. Listen to the Read Aloud book by one of the authors, Lisa Zajur: The Piñata Story. The author introduces some Spanish words and encourages the children to learn them, too. Practice along with your child.  
  2. Discuss the observations of Mexican culture from the book.
    1. What do the houses look like?
    2. What are the people wearing?
    3. What colors do you notice? 
    4. What are similarities and differences from Mexican culture with your own? 
  3. Make your own piñata! 

Tools and Materials 

Paper Bag Piñata Supplies 

  • Tissue paper or construction paper (12 x 4 inch pieces) 
  • Stapler
  • Candy (optional)
  • Paper lunch bag (5x3x10) or any size will do! 
  • Newspaper pages to shred
  • Scissors
  • Glue or tape
  • Twine or ribbon
  • Hole punch

**SEE PHOTOS FOR ASSISTANCE 

  1. Shred the newspaper and grab the candy. 
  2. Fill the paper lunch bag with shredded newspaper and candy. Make sure you fill the bag with enough paper and try not to put too much candy in it to make it too heavy. 
  3. To secure the bag closed, fold over the top and tape or staple shut. 
  1. Measure your paper bag and cut the paper into strips that are long enough to wrap around the paper bag. 
  2. Now, cut fringe along the edges of the paper strips every inch or so. Only cut half way. The strips don’t need to be perfect and can be different sizes. 
  3. With the left-over paper, cut approximately 5 more 1-inch strips of each color paper, about 4- 6 inches long. Set these aside.
  1. Starting at the bottom of the bag, use tape to secure each piece of fringed paper around the bag. The first layer should hang over the edge of the bag.
  2. Repeat while overlapping the previous color.
  3. Punch two holes at the top on opposite sides.
  4. Cut a piece of ribbon or twine a few feet long and place it through one hole on your piñata, and knot it. Repeat this for the other side. 
  1.  Using your leftover strips that you set aside from step 6, tape these strips to the bottom of the bag. 
  2.  YOU’RE FINISHED!

Tags: 

History

Art

Reading

Listening

Parent-Led Activity 

Music

Developer:

Lauren McNeely

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA
Credit:
ConnectionSpot.org on 5/5/2021

Categories
5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) Family Resources PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Spring Equinox

Grade Levels: PreK through Grade 3

Age Levels: 

  • PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)
  • 5-6 yrs (kindergarten)
  • 6-8 yrs (primary)

Description: Learn about the Spring Equinox from the online version of the Farmer’s Almanac.  Listen to the author of the book,  And Then It’s Spring by Julia Fogliano. Discuss how this book relates to what actually happens during the Spring Equinox. Then, make a craft! 

Spring has sprung! 

After a grueling year filled with fear and uncertainty due to COVID 19, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. While the first day of Spring was marked March 20, 2021, it has taken a little while for the flowers to bloom after a colder winter; at least in the northern hemisphere. However, depending on where you live, will depend on your Spring weather! So, what makes this change happen you may ask and how do we explain this to our children? If you were to ask my grandfather, he would swear up and down on the Old Farmer’s Almanac. Don’t panic though, you don’t need to go buy a book. There is an online version to help us explain,; The Spring Equinox . In this edition of The Old Farmers Almanac, you will learn what the word “Equinox” actually translates to, the folklore behind it, and ancient traditions that we still carry out to this day.

What tools and materials do I need?

  • Computer & internet connection to listen to read-aloud story
  • Rocks, Paint, Paint brushes or Painting utensils (get creative! e.g., Q-tips, Cotton Balls, items lying around your house that can act as a paint brush)  

What should I do? 

  1. Click on The Spring Equinox to find out more from The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
  2. Listen to the book and then it’s spring by Julie Folgliano and illustrated by Erin Stead.
  3. Discuss the season using questions. 
    1. What happens in Spring?
    2. Why do we call it Spring?
    3. What can we do in the Spring? 
  4. Make a craft! I associate Spring with having fun outdoors; gardening, and watching things come back to life.  For this craft: grab some rocks, paint, paint brushes or painting utensils (get creative! e.g., Q-tips, Cotton Balls, items lying around your house that can act as a paint brush).

Craft: Flower Painted Rocks

Picture courtesy of Crafts by Amanda

Grab any old rock lying around and paint it however you would like! Once dry, leave them around your house as a paperweight or around your community to help bring it to life- just like the flowers in Spring! 

It takes a reminder that flowers only bloom because of the rain and the sun. Let’s hope the rain of COVID 19 is over and we can get back to blossoming. Happy Spring!

Tags: 

Science

Art

Reading

Parent-Led Activity 

Creative Thinking

Developer:

Lauren McNeely

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA
Credit:
ConnectionSpot.org on 04/9/2021

Categories
5-6 yrs (kindergarten) Activities PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

IMAGINE iT. MAKE iT!

Listen to the story. Get inspired to be a maker!

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

Grade Levels: PreK through Grade 3

Age Levels: 

  • PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)
  • 5-6 yrs (kindergarten)
  • 6-8 yrs (primary)

Description: Listen to the author of the book, Be A Maker, read and discuss her story. Children use this as inspiration to be a maker at home. 

What tools and materials do I need?

  • Computer & internet connection to listen to read-aloud story
  • Assorted art and craft supplies (e.g., paper, crayons or markers, scissors, glue, tape)
  • Miscellaneous recyclable materials (e.g., cardboard boxes, toilet paper tubes, bottle caps, old magazines, newspaper)

What should I do? 

  1. Listen to the read-aloud of the storybook, Be a Maker, written by Katey Howes and illustrated by Elizabet Vuković. Children will learn that the world is full of possibilities and there are all kinds of things you can make and do to have fun, be creative, and help others. The author does more than just read the story. She engages the listeners with questions and comments about the illustrations. She calls attention to important points that children should notice. For example, there are hints in the story about something happening in the neighborhood that’s creating some noise, but it’s not revealed until near the end. At one point, the author calls the children’s attention to the picture of the girl with her head tipped to the side and explains that she is hearing something and she wants to figure out what it is. At another point in the story, the girl makes a map to explore and figure out where that noise is coming from. The author asks, “Do you see something on the map that marks where she’s headed?” Later, she asks, “Do you have a good guess about what’s making all the noise in the neighborhood?” These questions and comments do an excellent job of engaging children in the story and helping them to use their imagination and observation skills to think more deeply about the story.  
  2. Talk about the story. Discuss the story and the many things that the child made throughout the book such as a spaceship, telescope, tower, gift, music, lemonade stand — even a new friend. Sometimes making projects can help others, too. You can help your community and make a difference. In the end, you can feel good about the things you made and be proud of your accomplishments.
  3. Present the children with the following problem which is derived from the book itself:

“In a world of possibilities, today, what will you make?”

Look at the materials you have available.

Imagine what you can do with these things to make
something special for yourself or someone else.

  1. Show the children the materials that they can use for this making project. Help them ponder the making projects mentioned in the book and imagine the new possibilities. Pose some questions or comments if the children are struggling with ideas. 
    • How can these materials be changed (e.g., cut, torn, bent, folded, rolled)?
    • What kinds of things do you enjoy? 
    • Think about something that you might need to solve a problem. 
    • What inspired you about the projects in the book? 
  2. Share. The author of the book emphasizes that children should feel proud of what they make and do. Encourage the children to share their work with others and talk about their ideas. Display their projects for others to enjoy, too!

Tags: 

Art

Creative Thinking

Fine Motor Skills

Inventive Thinking

Listening

Parent-Led Activity

Reading

Social-Emotional Learning

Developer:

Sharon Brusic

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA
Credit:
ConnectionSpot.org on 04/07/2021

Categories
6-8 yrs (primary) 9-11 yrs (elementary) Birth-36 months (infant/toddler) PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

St. Patrick’s Day Fun

St. Patrick’s Day is such a fun day to celebrate with children of all ages.  Some of my fondest memories are from when my daughters were preschoolers, as it is such a magical age.  Below are ideas for bringing some extra magic to your home on St. Patrick’s Day.

Book:

How to Catch a Leprechaun by Adam Wallace describes a leprechaun’s journey through various houses as he encounters leprechaun traps.  Reading this book is a great introduction to the activity below.

Activity:

After reading How to Catch a Leprechaun, have your child make a leprechaun trap. The Big Bins Little Hands blog offers STEM focused ideas for easy-to-make leprechaun traps using materials from around the house (such as LEGOs(R), cotton balls, toilet paper rolls, and pipe cleaners).

Snack:  

Rainbow Fruit Tray

 Photo credit:  CafeMom Studios

This is one of my favorite St. Patrick’s Day snacks to make. It’s easy, it’s healthy, and has been a big hit in my daughters’ classrooms each year.  To make it healthier, you can replace the marshmallows and Rolos (or chocolate gold coins) with little bowls of yogurt dip.  You can also replace the fruits pictured with your children’s favorite fruits (additional colorful fruits include green grapes, raspberries, bananas, cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew melon) or introduce your child to less common fruits (e.g. mango, papaya, guava, kiwi)…the options are endless!  See CafeMom Studios’ video for a quick demonstration.   

Grade Levels: PreK through Elementary. 

Age Levels: 

  • PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)
  • 5-6 yrs (kindergarten)
  • 6-8 yrs (primary)
  • 9-11 yrs (elementary)

Tags: 

Art

STEM

Reading

Creative Thinking

Food

Developer:

Karena Rush

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 03/17/21

Categories
11-14 yrs (middle school) 14-18 yrs (high school) 5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) 9-11 yrs (elementary) Activities Birth-36 months (infant/toddler) Family Resources PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

World Read-Aloud Day

Happy World Read Aloud Day! Today, Wednesday, February 3, 2021, is the twelfth annual World Read Aloud Day. Started in 2010 by LitWorld, World Read aloud day celebrates the power of reading aloud to stimulate your child’s imagination and foster a love for learning. The Connection Spot Team encourages families to read aloud every day with their children, but today is a day to celebrate the incredible power of reading aloud. 

Reading aloud is a significant activity a family can do with their children. It builds essential foundational skills, introduces vocabulary, models expressive reading, and helps children develop a love of reading for pleasure. Even after your child learns how to read, reading aloud to your child and with your child is a fun family activity to take you to another world. Listed below are read aloud resources to help your child develop a lifelong relationship with reading. 

Storyline Online: Storyline Online® streams videos featuring celebrated actors reading children’s books alongside creatively produced illustrations. Each book includes a supplemental curriculum developed by a credentialed elementary educator to strengthen comprehension and verbal and written skills for English-language learners.

TogetheREAD: A free resource from The Source for Learning provides monthly themes to give you ideas for having fun together as you build stronger readers. TogetheREAD includes suggested questions for you to talk about before, during, and after reading. Also, you’ll find ideas for free or low-cost family activities for everyone.

LitWorld.org: The official site of World Read Aloud Day includes activities and resources for reading aloud. 

Scholastic: View Scholastic’s collection of 100 best read-aloud books. Sort the books by age and visit the Read2MeTonight section for more resources. 

Celebrate World Read Aloud Day with your child by reading a book, or encourage your child to read to you. Share in the comments below your favorite book to read aloud or a book that was read to you. 

Age Levels: 

  • Birth-36 months (infant/toddler)
  • Pre-K 3-5 yrs (preschool)
  • 5-6 yrs (kindergarten)
  • 6-8 yrs (primary)
  • 9-11 yrs (elementary)
  • 11-14 yrs (middle school)
  • 14-18 yrs (high school)

Tags: 

  • Read-Aloud
  • Reading
  • Listening

Developer:

Kevin Bower

Credit: 

Creative Commons License

Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 02/03/2021

Categories
5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) Activities PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Be Kind Reconnect

It’s busy times for families. There are parent conferences underway at schools. It’s the hectic election time and we are bombarded with lots of negative messaging through all media channels. We are in the midst of a beautiful autumn season, but not able to fully enjoy harvest get-togethers due to social distancing guidelines. We thought now would be a good time to reconnect you to one of our activity posts called, Be Kind. This simple activity might be an enjoyable way to spend time together with your children and do something nice for a neighbor, friend, teacher, or relative. With the abundance of fresh apples on these crisp days, it’s also a great way share the harvest with those you care about. Be kind, be safe, and be healthy!

Listen to a Story – Solve a Problem

Grade Level: Pre-K to Grade 1

Description: After listening to a story about kindness, children will talk about the story and then solve a hands-on design problem related to it. Children will use simple at-home materials to create their solution to the problem.

What tools and materials do I need?

  • Computer & internet connection to listen to read-aloud story
  • Assorted art and craft supplies (e.g., paper, crayons or markers, glue, tape)
  • Miscellaneous recyclable materials (e.g., colorful shopping bags, cardboard, empty plastic containers, toilet paper tubes)
  • Simple office supplies (e.g., rubber bands, paper clips, stapler)
  • One piece of whole fruit (i.e., apple, orange, banana, kiwi, peach) or vegetable (i.e., tomato, cucumber, zucchini) or flower “gift” per child [see design challenge in step 3]

What should I do?

  1. Listen to the read-aloud of the storybook, Be Kind, written by Pat Zietlow Miller and illustrated by Jen Hill. Children will learn how to show kindness to others by seeing the many ways that it is demonstrated in the story.
  2. Talk about the story. Share examples of how kindness can be shown in your family or community. Help the children recognize how they have shown kindness. Can they think of times when someone didn’t show kindness? How did it make them feel?
  3. Present the children with the following problem. Modify it as desired to better connect to your family, friends, or neighbors. Change the gift item to whatever you have available (i.e., apple, orange, banana, kiwi, peach) or some flowers or a vegetable from your garden. If the child is capable of making a decision, offer several options and let him/her pick. For example, “What do you think Mrs. Diaz might like better — an apple or a banana or a flower?”
Making gifts for others is a way to show kindness. I know a friend who really likes apples. She is sick. How can we hang an apple on her doorknob to let her know we care about her?
  1. Provide the children with assorted materials to design their solutions. They should creatively design a new product, not simply use an existing object as is (e.g., put the apple in a shopping bag or a flower in a vase). Encourage them to modify the materials they have to make a special gift. Having to think about how to hang it on a doorknob offers a unique engineering challenge that requires some additional problem-solving.
  2. Pose questions as the children solve the problem. Help them to think through the problem and come up with their best working solution. For example:
    • How can you attach it to the doorknob?
    • What would make the part stronger?
    • Is it the right size for the fruit, vegetable, or flower being used as a gift? Is it too big or too small? How can you fix that?
    • How will she know who put it there?

Deliver the gift to the friend when finished. Try to hang it on his/her doorknob. If it doesn’t work as intended, ask the child to modify the design or consider an alternative place to put it. Discuss how it felt to show kindness to another person.

Categories
11-14 yrs (middle school) 14-18 yrs (high school) 5-6 yrs (kindergarten) 6-8 yrs (primary) 9-11 yrs (elementary) Birth-36 months (infant/toddler) Family Resources PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

PBS Learning Media

Visit PBS Learning Media to gain access to abundant resources to support your children from preschool through high school. The site is easily searchable by grade level or subject. You will find amazing videos, interactive lessons, and printable activities on every topic imaginable from social-emotional development, school subjects (i.e., English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies), World Languages, and more. Help your children expand their knowledge and motivate them to learn more through these curated resources available through the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). (NOTE: This review  pertains to the web site as a whole, not individual content posted there.)

Grade Level: Pre-K through Grade 12

Age Level: Ages 3-18

Developer:

Sharon Brusic

Credit: 

Creative Commons LicenseAttribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA

Credit: ConnectionSpot.org on 07/02/2020

Categories
5-6 yrs (kindergarten) Activities PreK 3-5 yrs (preschool)

Be Kind

Listen to a Story – Solve a Problem

Grade Level: Pre-K to Grade 1

Description: After listening to a story about kindness, children will talk about the story and then solve a hands-on design problem related to it. Children will use simple at-home materials to create their solution to the problem.

What tools and materials do I need?

  • Computer & internet connection to listen to read-aloud story
  • Assorted art and craft supplies (e.g., paper, crayons or markers, glue, tape)
  • Miscellaneous recyclable materials (e.g., colorful shopping bags, cardboard, empty plastic containers, toilet paper tubes)
  • Simple office supplies (e.g., rubber bands, paper clips, stapler)
  • One piece of whole fruit (i.e., apple, orange, banana, kiwi, peach) or vegetable (i.e., tomato, cucumber, zucchini) or flower “gift” per child [see design challenge in step 3]

What should I do?

  1. Listen to the read-aloud of the storybook, Be Kind, written by Pat Zietlow Miller and illustrated by Jen Hill. Children will learn how to show kindness to others by seeing the many ways that it is demonstrated in the story.
  2. Talk about the story. Share examples of how kindness can be shown in your family or community. Help the children recognize how they have shown kindness. Can they think of times when someone didn’t show kindness? How did it make them feel?
  3. Present the children with the following problem. Modify it as desired to better connect to your family, friends, or neighbors. Change the gift item to whatever you have available (i.e., apple, orange, banana, kiwi, peach) or some flowers or a vegetable from your garden. If the child is capable of making a decision, offer several options and let him/her pick. For example, “What do you think Mrs. Diaz might like better — an apple or a banana or a flower?”

Making gifts for others is a way to show kindness. I know a friend who really likes apples. She is sick. How can we hang an apple on her doorknob to let her know we care about her?
  1. Provide the children with assorted materials to design their solutions. They should creatively design a new product, not simply use an existing object as is (e.g., put the apple in a shopping bag or a flower in a vase). Encourage them to modify the materials they have to make a special gift. Having to think about how to hang it on a doorknob offers a unique engineering challenge that requires some additional problem-solving.
  2. Pose questions as the children solve the problem. Help them to think through the problem and come up with their best working solution. For example:
    • How can you attach it to the doorknob?
    • What would make the part stronger?
    • Is it the right size for the fruit, vegetable, or flower being used as a gift? Is it too big or too small? How can you fix that?
    • How will she know who put it there?

Deliver the gift to the friend when finished. Try to hang it on his/her doorknob. If it doesn’t work as intended, ask the child to modify the design or consider an alternative place to put it. Discuss how it felt to show kindness to another person.