Monday, September 15, 2014

One Week Off

I'm going to be taking this week off from blogging. I'll be back next week with layouts to share, a kids' craft or two, and a special post in honor of International Rabbit Day. In the meantime, here's a video of Trouble enjoying one of his favorite treats, an apple branch.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Young Readers Book Club

Trevor joined the Young Readers Book Club at the library during the summer after kindergarten. He loved it from the start, and so did I. The books were often challenging for him back then, but they were interesting and he was highly motivated to read them. Each month when they met, Miss Julie led the kids in a lively discussion followed by a craft, science experiment or other activity to complement the theme of the book. Over the course of the two years that Trevor spent as a member of the Young Readers Book Club, I saw him develop from a quiet boy who let everyone else speak during the discussion to a valuable member of the club who had interesting insights and excellent recall of detail.

This June, the Young Readers Book Club met for the last time.

When we first heard the announcement that the book club was being cut, we didn't believe it. How could a library cut a book club? I was even more shocked to learn that the reason was because a certain administrator didn't feel that a children's book club was within the mission of the library. I was furious, confused, devastated... and started brainstorming ways to essentially demand that they keep this wonderful group intact. Long story short, I talked with the decision maker and came away even more irritated and confused than I'd already been. There was no convincing her to keep the existing book clubs, nor was she open to any compromises, cost-saving measures, expansion to include more people, or anything else. 

I'm so thankful for the two years that Trevor spent in the Young Readers Book Club. I'm disappointed that he won't be able to continue with it, and that other children won't get to experience it. Our libraries do so many wonderful things and offer so much, but I will never understand or support this decision. What a loss for us all as a community.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Mrs. Rosenthal

After absolutely wonderful kindergarten and 1st grade years, Trevor's 2nd grade year started out a bit rocky. At the last minute, the teacher he was supposed to have took an open position at another grade level and Trevor's class started the year with a sub. She was great, but we knew she'd only be there until a permanent hire was found. That took about a month. Unfortunately, the new teacher was not a good fit for Trevor. His self-esteem and willingness to take risks suffered, so we made the difficult decision to request a classroom change three months into the school year. My request was granted and Trevor was moved immediately to Mrs. Rosenthal's class.

We loved Mrs. Rosenthal from the start. She was welcoming and so supportive of Trevor. He shined in her room and had a fantastic 2nd grade year. My only regret is that we didn't move him sooner so that he could have had even more time with her.

Thank you to Mrs. Rosenthal for making 2nd grade so special!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Little Passports 50 States Album

Trevor and I have been working on a big project, inspired by Little Passports

Little Passports is a monthly kit about geography geared toward children 5-12. There is a USA Edition and a World Edition. Last Christmas, Trevor's Aunt Teri gave him a year's subscription to the USA Edition. Trevor was over the moon when he opened the first package. It came with all sorts of great introductory materials, including a map, field guide, disposable camera, and scratch art book. He dove right in and did all the activities. 

He was so excited when the next month's kit arrived. And now, nine months later, he loves it as much as he did that first month. Each month, the kit focuses on two different states. Trevor gets an awesome activity-packed travel journal, stickers, postcards, and 3-D models to make. 

I wrestled a freshly-opened kit away from him for 2 minutes to take a few pictures. Here you can see the travel journal (with the New Jersey side showing; Montana is on the other side), along with the stickers, postcards, and models for him to punch out and make. 

The travel journal is packed with information, puzzles, and activities about the state. This random page from the New Jersey journal has a science experience about Edison's phonograph (invented in West Orange, NJ) and a maze, inspired by the world's largest antique spoon collection (in Paterson, NJ).

Here are two pages from the Montana portion of the travel journal. The left page is a puzzle based on the fact that Montana is home to more mammal species than any other state. The right page is based on Montana's nickname, The Treasure State. 

I have been impressed every single month with the quality of Little Passports. There is a lot of variety in the activities and it is really engaging and interesting. I would have LOVED this as a kid (heck, I LOVE it as an adult!) I'm hoping Aunt Teri renews Trevor's subscription this Christmas, but if she doesn't, we certainly will. It's really educational, a lot of fun, and a great way to make a gift last an entire year.

Now, on to the project I mentioned at the beginning of the post! Trevor has been collecting the postcards from the Little Passports kits and wanted a way to display them. We tossed a few ideas back and forth, did some window shopping at, and then came up with a fun concept. We would find a 3-up album with 25 pages (50 sides). We'd put the postcards in alphabetically as they arrive in the mail, then we'd find a photo of Trevor from the first time he visited that state and put it in the bottom slot. We'd fill in the middle with journaling about the photo. Trevor was so excited. 

We bought the album and arranged the postcards he's received alphabetically. Then we went through my journal about Trevor to count up which states Trevor has visited. As it turns out, there are 7. He was born in California and has visited Alaska, Washington, Hawaii, Florida, Nevada, and Oregon, in that order. (Interestingly, he has been to more foreign countries than he has states!) I showed Trevor photos from each of those trips and he selected a favorite to print. I suggested to Trevor that I do the journaling from each of those states (as he was too young to remember much, if anything, now) and that he could do the journaling himself for any future states he visits. He thought that was a great idea.

Of the seven states he's visited, only Washington and Hawaii have been featured so far in his Little Passports packets, so those are the only totally complete pages. Here is Washington, which Trevor first visited at 18 months (his first time seeing snow): 

Here's the Hawaii page. Trevor was 2 years 8 months the first time he visited Hawaii.

We are both thrilled with Trevor's 50 States Album and can't wait to fill in more pages as he continues his travels around the country (including 3 new states in the near future!). Thanks again to Aunt Teri for a totally awesome gift!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Million Word Club

One year ago, I shared the layout I'd made of Trevor being honored as a member of the Hundred Grand Club at school. At the end of that post, I said:
"Trevor fell just short of 1,000,000 words during first grade, so that's his goal for second grade. Hopefully this time next year, I can share a layout with pictures from the Million Word Club assembly!"
And happily, I can! Trevor didn't just meet his goal of reading 1,000,000 words during second grade; he finished the year with over 2,000,000 words! That's a big accomplishment for a second grader and I'm very proud of his hard work.

Trevor has set his aim high for third grade. His primary goal is to have his name printed in the 2 million section on the back of the t-shirt. This past year, he was around 1,980,000 when they announced the cut-off for names going on the t-shirt, so his name was listed in the 1 million section (even though he did make 2 million by the end of the year, as indicated on his certificate). He's hoping to finish the year with 3 million. I have no doubt he'll make the Million Word Club (he made the Hundred Grand Club in the first three weeks of school), but 3 million is a lot. While I support him in that goal, my hope is that he continues to love reading as much as he does now and goes on to be a lifelong reader. He's definitely on the right track.