Thursday, August 27, 2009
Here’s an exercise that Bernadette Tynen (the brain researcher) does with her students. She says that if you do it with your child once a week, it will help to make his thinking more flexible and creative.
She gives the child an object. It could be a stuffed animal, like a snake or a gorilla, or it could be a hat or a scarf – any kind of object. Then she asks the child to tell her what could be done with the object.
At first, the child may say, “you can sit on it,” or “you can put it on your head,” and his thinking may stall there.
You can prompt him by saying, “what else could it be used for?” and he may start to come up with less conventional uses: “You could wear it as a bracelet,” or “you could use it as a frying pan,” or “it could be a garden decoration.”
In Tynen's documentaries (“Make Your Child Brilliant”), it’s astounding to see how quickly children change their thinking from the usual, normal ways of looking at an object, to finding truly creative and out-of-the-box ideas for things.
We know that brain-training exercises like this help the young brain become more agile, which helps with future learning. Plus, it's fun!
I tried this with my son - I gave him my glasses case. Within a few seconds it became a hat, something you could balance or float, a toy... I was laughing my head off at the crazy and wonderful things he came up with. Playing with your kid like that is better than TV, I tell ya.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
Additional info: I received a very thoughtful response from a contest judge and from one of the Mrs. P. website creators explaining why the contest is limited to Americans only.
It's a legal thing apparently. With gift certificates involved, it would be too difficult to administer internationally (according to their lawyers. Yeah, that's what I said too. A-heh.).
Anyway, they said that if they get a lot of response from non-Americans, they'll consider holding another contest that's not US-exclusive. So there's your homework, everyone!
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
The other day, my son and I went to the library to report four books and get stickers for his poster. (The stickers are the rewards in the library's summer reading program.)
Unfortunately, the librarian would only give my son one sticker. He said we'd have to come in each day for the rest, one at a time.
I understand why he said that, but I think it can be a deterrent to reading. If a kid knows that he's going to have to work that hard for a sticker, he's going to stop reading after one book. Why read more than one a day?
Today, though, a different librarian gave me a whole sheet of stickers, and my son can report the books to me at home. I'm thrilled, because he was really balking at going in to report to the librarian - and yet he wanted his reward.
I really love this summer reading program, especially now that there was a bit of flexibility to it. Every kid is different, and I'm all for tailoring reading plans to suit the child.
While I was at the library, I picked up the Walt Disney soundtrack to Alice in Wonderland (which we just finished reading) and I'm going to rent the Disney video as well.
Now we're reading The Phantom Tollbooth. I started out reading it to him, but he's taken over the job and is reading it to himself every night. I will try to track down the video to that, as well.
The library's program also lets kids write out their book report, or just draw a picture about it. If you haven't yet signed up for a summer reading program in your area, go online and see what there is. It's not too late - and anyway, you could just turn it into a summer-slash-fall reading program.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Lots of boys like to read about wars, especially WWII.
Paschendaele: Canada's Triumph and Tragedy on the Fields of Flanders, by Norman Leach - This book flew off the shelves during our school book fair. (There's also a movie starring Paul Gross.)
Also, see "Superheroes" below. (Superheros spend their days fighting. Punching. Being punched. It's a living.)
Boys love joke books. Joke books are best purchased rather than borrowed from the library, because kids will refer to them again and again. Ask the staff at your local bookstore for a popular one, and then for pete's sake read a few of the jokes before you buy it to make sure that they're age-appropriate but even more importantly, that they're funny - because you'll be hearing them. Again. And again. And again.
Boys also like funny or silly stories. For instance, Chester by Melanie Watt, is a picture book in which the author's cat, Chester, scratches out and rewrites the story to his advantage.
Books that my son confirms are "hilarious," are The Weird School series by Dan Gutman (Miss Daisy is Crazy is the first one) and the extremely popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney.
We've talked before about the Encyclopedia of Immaturity, a Klutz book. It's very funny, and kids will read it over and over.Non-Fiction
Think Superman, Batman and Spiderman - comics and books. But for older boys also consider classics like Beowulf, and Homer’s The Odyssey.
There is a whole list of great superhero books that aren't comics here and here.
Here's a "cool-parent" tip. Get the name of one of the video games your son's playing a lot right now. Then Google it, with "cheats" or "walkthrough" like this: "Mario Super Smash Bros. cheats" or "Zelda walkthrough".
You'll get a big long page of tips that will make your son's gameplaying experiencing more fun and more enriched. (Don't worry - they're not "cheating" - they're called cheats, but it really means hidden extras. On the other hand, the walkthroughs are actually cheating, but games are so complicated these days, everyone uses them.)
Your son will love you and think you're uber-cool, because you're showing him something new about his game. And you'll be happy because boy, there is a ton of reading to those cheats and walkthroughs!
All of the above
Reader’s Digest - It has many of the elements boys love: pictures, short articles, games, jokes, non-fiction, competition and it’s compact so it's portable.
The Sports section of your newspaper.
The Guinness Book of World Records and the Guinness Book of World Records, Gamer's Edition.
Please share with us your favourite gross, factual, humorous, visual or non-fiction books boys love.
Please also check out the "Great books" category on this blog for more suggestions, and for more information about many of the books listed here.
For more gross books for boys, check out the blog, Getting Boys to Read.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Having recently reminded myself what boys like (in terms of their reading material), I’ve been on the lookout for something to encourage my son to read during these busy summer days.
This afternoon, I found it. The Toronto Star newspaper ran a great story on what Toronto was like in the pioneer days.
The article had everything boys like:
1) Short info-bites
2) Pictures corresponding to each info-bite.
3) It was about history.
4) It was factual.
5) Gross stuff – “Diapering: Women used moss, which could be discarded, tucked inside a swaddling cloth.”
6) Violence (sort of) – and this was my son’s favourite part – “Cooking: Women tested the temperature of the oven by rolling up a sleeve, inserting an arm all the way in and counting. If they had to withdraw their arm by the count of 10, the oven was the right temperature…”
7) Physicality. I put the paper on the floor, and he read it there. Plus, he got to wrestle the cat, who was trying to lie on the paper.
After he read the article, we talked a bit about it. And then I tossed the comics page down to him to encourage him to keep reading (which he did). And then he even did the Word Search.
You can do this, too. Keep your child's preferences in mind, and when an opportunity presents itself, toss him some reading material. For boys, think: car manual; a videogame user’s guide; a map; the sports section… it’s all reading.
I'm going to be doing girls' preferences, in upcoming posts. I've done some in the past, but I'm going to do more. If you have any comments about boys' or girls' reading preferences, please post a comment. Thanks!