Friday, August 30, 2013

Dr. John's Candies - A Review

I've been trying to reduce the presence of sugar in my life. Which is great for health, but otherwise rather sad. I intensely dislike the taste and aftertaste of artificial sweeteners which eliminates the option of replacing sodas and candies with diet products or products aimed at diabetics. One of the things I mourned most was the loss of my tea because I just can't drink it unsweetened and I dislike it with the usual suspects of artificial sweeteners.

Then I discovered the sugar alcohols xylitol and erythritol. These are natural, low or zero calorie sugar alternatives that are low-glycemic and do not contribute to cavities. Xylitol actually fights cavities. And they taste pretty great with no aftertaste. Now I find I like the flavor of xylitol and erythritol mixed together at about a 1:1 ratio. Some people experience... gastric distress if they consume too much xylitol and so some people I've converted to xylitol and erythritol choose to consume erythritol straight over xylitol. Xylitol's is slightly better for the teeth. They also have slightly different tastes. Experiment and choose for yourself. I have been unable to find them locally and so I've been buying them on Amazon for over a year now. I use them just for sweetening tea and I haven't tried using them as substitutions for baking, so I have no comments on how they work in that capacity, but I don't use sugar at all in tea any more.

I recently discovered Dr. John's Candies. These are xylitol candies. Xylitol has 75% fewer calories than sugar. It also inhibits the growth of cavity causing bacteria in the mouth. It does not raise blood glucose levels. And they taste great. The children are just as delighted to have a Dr. John's lollipop as they are to have a regular one. I adore their hard candies. They taste great. Seriously. I've tried the butterscotch, strawberry cheesecake, mango, natural cafe caramel, and natural double dutch fudge hard candies and I really like them all. Ok. I've also tried a yet to be released cream soda flavor which is my absolute favorite because they happened to include it in the sampler I ordered. When I couldn't find one that looked like it on the website I called their customer service to ask about it and discovered it isn't available yet on their website. I'll be making another order as soon as it appears. My son enjoyed a chocolate caramel from the sampler and claimed to like it even more than the lollipops. I wasn't as impressed with the caramel that I tried, but I'm not a huge fan of caramels in general.

I just wanted to let you guys know that there is a candy out there that you can feel good about giving to your kids that tastes really great, doesn't contain sugar or artificial sweeteners, and is actually good for the teeth. You can also enjoy them guilt free yourself. I find that a couple of Dr. John's hard candies will help curb a sugar craving.

The company also has some chocolates that I would love to try given how good their hard candies are, but the price is just a little too high. You can't get them in a sample size, and at nearly $20 per box, I just can't justify trying something I might not like. If anyone out there has tried their chocolates and wants to let me know what they thought, please leave a comment!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Happiness is...

We put the children to bed, turn off the lights, sing a couple of songs, and sneak out of their rooms. Ava is younger, and is almost always asleep by the time we finish the process and stays that way. Michael, on the other hand, often will pop back up after we leave and play a while. I don't have a huge problem with that. He plays completely independently and puts himself back down when he's done. His room is a disaster in the morning, with legos and playmobil everywhere, but I feel that's a small price to pay for the independence. We look to see if his light is still on when we go to sleep. If it is, we just go in and shut it off.

At about 9:30 one night recently we heard the tell tale thumping of his feet through the living room ceiling (his room is above the living room). So we knew he was up and moving about. It was a little late and he had been up and playing for a hour and a half so my husband went up to settle him. This time, instead of finding him absorbed in legos or playmobile, he found Michael in his bed surrounded by books. He was reading a Mr. Putter and Tabby book to himself. He looked up at my husband and said, "I've been reading THOUSANDS of books!"

He's been reading remarkably well for a five year old just starting kindergarten for quite some time, but he didn't have the "bug" yet. He wasn't quite fluent or confident enough to just pick up a book and read it to himself for pleasure. A couple of weeks ago, when re-organizing his bookshelf I sorted them into two sections. On the left are books for adults to read to children. On the right are books for children to read to adults. All the books on the right are "Michael's books" - books he can read independently.

Seeing that half of the books are ones he can read on his own was powerful for him. Now, each night, he chooses a couple of books for me to read to him and he chooses one from his side of the shelf to read to me. I was pretty pleased at that progress. It was apparently the last little encouragement he needed. Now he's spending his free time reading - for fun. I am so very happy.

Monday, August 26, 2013

All About Reading - Level 2: Curriculum Review

All About Reading: Level 2 - A Homeschooling Parent's Review


I am a certified Elementary and Early Childhood teacher and a certified Speech-Language Pathologist. I am homeschooling my kindergartener and preschooler. My son was always precocious where reading is concerned. He's reading independently at this point and I credit our experiences with All About Reading for much of that.

Even as a toddler, he was always interested in his letters. When we read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to him as a toddler he was very interested in identifying all the letters at the beginning and end of the book. We fed that interest. He just loved to tune into letters and their sounds. So, a little over a year ago, when I began to think about homeschooling I decided to dip my toe into the water, so to speak, with a reading program. Michael loved letters. I loved reading. It seemed like a great place to start.

After researching many programs and trying the free sample materials for All About Reading Level 1, I decided that I wanted to go with the All About Reading curriculum. I wanted a phonics based program. Research supports a solid understanding of phonics as being essential to reading. I also knew I wanted a program that specifically addressed fluency. The fluency sheets in this program are well designed to practice single words, phrases, and sentences. The readers are exquisite and address phonics skills at the story level and reading comprehension at the same time. The flash cards teach sight words to mastery. The teacher's manual ties together all of these elements in an easy to teach way. I liked the design of the program. I liked it a lot. Also, they have a 100% satisfaction guarantee for a whole year. You have a full year to try the materials. If you are unhappy for any reason, just return the materials for a full refund.

When I received them, the materials were amazing. The program is comprehensive and full-featured. The active online forums were helpful more than once. The customer service was prompt and went above and beyond to be helpful (they sent me out a free replacement CD-ROM that I had lost). After completing Level 1 with Michael I purchased Level 2 for Michael and the Pre-Reading Level for Ava. That is how happy I am with the reading programs by the All About Learning Press.

Program Overview - All About Reading: Level 2

The program is multi-faceted. You get two lovely hardback readers. The black & white line drawing illustrations are beautiful and Michael found the stories to be genuinely entertaining. The words used in each story are matched to highlight the new phonics concepts recently taught and review phonics already mastered. You have a box of index cards that lets you review sight words and phonograms (the sounds that are associated with each letter or letter combination). There are magnetic letter tiles that help you build words and practice blending and breaking words apart. The teacher's manual is well written and easy to follow along with. You are walked through exactly what to do and when. Lessons move along at a pace that introduce new concepts while still reviewing the old ones so that concepts are consistently practiced until mastered. The lessons are accompanied by fluency pages for essential practice and fun games and activities that my children absolutely adore. They even include a progress chart to keep track of lesson progress with stickers and a certificate of achievement for the end of the level.

For the most part, the lessons follow an A B pattern. In the first lesson you teach a new phonics concept, play a game or activity to reinforce using that concept to decode words, and read fluency sheets that feature words that use the new phonics concept. Then you practice flash cards with words that use the concept. Those cards are then intermixed with the other flash cards that are not yet mastered for review at the beginning of the next lesson. In the second lesson of each pair, you begin with a pre-reading worksheet that previews key words and phrases that will be in the story. The lesson plan walks you through some brief pre-reading conversation designed to activate prior knowledge and then the child reads the story from the reader to you. There is some kind of post-reading discussion or activity to be done after the reading of the story. I often begin the second lesson in each pair by having Michael choose one story from the reader that he has already read to re-read before we move on to the new material.

Organizing the Materials and Using the Program

Michael and I are 10 lessons away from finishing All About Reading: Level 2. We have loved going through the program and are anxiously awaiting the release of Level 3. When I received the program materials there was a lot of preparation. I spent at least a couple of hours - maybe more - getting all the materials organized. All of the flashcards are printed on full sheets and have to be torn apart along the perforated lines and then placed behind the appropriate index card dividers in the index box. I took all of the activities and fluency pages out of the student book (again along perforated lines) and 3-hole punched them and put them in a binder. I did the same with the lesson plans. That way I have everything I need in one binder. I keep all of the materials together in a single bin on a nearby bookshelf. When it is time for Michael's reading we simply have to grab the bin and go. (Here's a peek in our bin.)

Once the initial preparation is done, very little planning time is needed after that. At the end of each lesson I let Michael have a few minutes of free time (no more than 5 minutes usually) while I preview the next lesson. I highlight the sections of the lesson plan I need to focus on. I cut out the parts of the activity for the next day. I make a few notes about how the day's lesson went and what I want to remember for next time. That way, everything is absolutely ready to go for the next day.

Time Commitment

Once the initial setup is done, planning does not require more than 5-10 minutes (at most) per lesson. If you're happy to cut a few things out during a lesson rather than before, preparation time is even less. The program is designed to be done with a teacher. It is not the type of curriculum where you can set a child up and then let them work independently while you do something else. You need 30-60 minutes at least 3-5 days a week to devote to this.

Download Free Samples

You can download generously sized free samples of key program components like the teacher's manual, student activity book, and the first and second hardback readers. It isn't quite try before you buy, because the included lessons are not consecutive, but it is enough to get a good feel for how the program works. The teacher's manual includes the table of contents, introduction, and lessons 1, 4, 5, 27, 38. The student activity book samples include some sample games and activities and some sample fluency pages. The sample from the first reader includes 3 entire stories out of the 12 stories in the reader. The sample from the second reader also includes three full stories of the eleven in the reader, including Pumpkin and the Kitten. We just read this one last week. Michael was fascinated by the story and Ava abandoned her independent play to come over and follow along while he read it. When Pumpkin is jealous of the new kitten and verbalizes a plan to get rid of the kitten Michael's voice got very quiet and his sister and I had to strain to hear him. He obviously found the story to be quite powerful. Both children were delighted when Pumpkin learned to give the kitten a chance at the end of the story. The storybook samples are definitely worth checking out!

Which of the products I actually bought.

Absolutely necessary: You definitely need the teacher's manual and one student packet for each student you will be teaching with the program. You'll definitely need the two readers as well.

Very nice to have: I very much enjoy having the reading review box and the index divider cards. You could just as easily buy an inexpensive index card box and make your own divider cards though.

Depends on the child: The letter tiles and magnets for the letter tiles are considered to be a main part of the program. If you have a child who is tactile and learns best with manipulatives you'll want these. I bought them, but rarely use them. Instead I use a small dry erase board and dry erase markers for the sections of the program that are designed for the magnet tiles. I find it quicker and more space efficient and Michael simply doesn't need to move tiles around to get the phonics concepts. In fact, when I do get them out he's distracted and I spend more time keeping him on task.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you click on one of those links and make a purchase a portion of your purchase will go towards offsetting the costs of running this blog. I purchased all of the products I reviewed in this post on my own, long before I started using affiliate links and the opinions expressed are completely my own.

Friday, August 23, 2013

4 Fun Halloween Picture Books

What is it about monsters, ghosts, witches, ghouls, and goblins? My children love stories about them (as long as they're nice, and not scary). We discover them when they're out and about during the Halloween time of year, but we tend to keep them on the shelf and enjoy them year-round. Here are four of our favorites that we've been enjoying for several years now.

These are listed in no particular order of preference. Three are meant to be sung and one is just a great story.

1. The Spooky Wheels on the Bus by J. Elizabeth Mills. This is a Halloween version of The Wheels on the Bus crossed with a counting book (up to 10). It begins, "One spooky bus goes RATTLE and SHAKE, RATTLE and SHAKE, RATTLE and SHAKE. One spooky bus goes RATTLE and SHAKE, All through the town. It continues with 2 white wipers (skeleton arms), 3 black cats, 4 glowing wheels (jack o'lanterns), 5 big spiders, 6 singing mummies, 7 silly monsters, 8 wacky witches, 9 magic brooms, and 10 goofy ghosts before returning to the original lyric. The children enjoy the lyrics and love the pictures. They are not scary at all. They are full of detail. We had read / sung the book at least a dozen times before we notices that each picture gives a hint of what is to come on the next page. You can actually guess who is about to get on the bus next. All in all, it is a fun adaptation that we enjoy every time.

2. Ten Timid Ghosts by Jennifer O'Connell. I sing this book. For the life of me, I cannot think of what the tune I use is so that I can tell you. Hopefully it will just come to you as you read the book. You could also simply read the book. It is enjoyable either way. It is a countdown book. It begins with 10 and counts down to one. It begins, "Ten timid ghosts in a haunted house - A witch moved in and wanted them out." She proceeds to do a series of practical jokes on the ghosts each one scaring off another ghost. The children love searching the illustrations to figure out how the witch is pulling off her trick and if you look you can always find her. At the end, the last little ghost figures out that it was the witch all along and tells his friends and the witch gets her comeuppance in the end. It is fun to sing, the story is cute, and the illustrations are well done and add something fun to the experience of reading the story.

3. The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin by Joe Troiano. This is a great story that celebrates differences. Spookley is the only square pumpkin in the pumpkin patch but that quality about him saves the day during a storm. When the farmer realized how special Spookley was he saved his seeds for the next season. The next season all the pumpkins in the patch were unique and people came from miles around to choose a special pumpkin. My retelling doesn't really do the story justice. The pictures complement the story beautifully and the story is told in a rhyme that it fun to read. Excellent book.

4. Little Goblins Ten by Pamela Jane. This is an adaptation of the song/nursery rhyme Over in the Meadow (click here to hear a lovely version sung). I've always loved the melody of this song and I've always loved singing the traditional nursery rhyme version. It is just as much fun, if not more to use the same melody while singing this book. This halloween version begins, "Over in the forest, Where the trees hide the sun, Lived a big mommy monster, And her little monster one." The song hits 9 other types of halloween monsters. The illustrations are gorgeous and not at all scary. The children love seeing the various Halloween creatures and their parents. The final page has all of the creatures together setting off to Trick or Treat.

If you liked these children's book suggestions, I have several others ranging from board books through early chapter books. Check them out.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Language Explosion = Speech Intelligibility Issues

As I mentioned, almost in passing, Ava was discharged from speech therapy at the end of the school year. I was fine with that. She had achieved all of her goals working on specific age-appropriate sound targets. We finally got the /k/ and /g/ sounds even at the conversational level and the only sounds she makes errors with at the word level aren't eligible for therapy until she's much older. Besides, we were beginning homeschooling, and as a SLP myself, I'd rather do therapy here at home from here on out.

I've taken a more laid back approach with Ava at home. Once she started making progress and her intelligibility was no longer an issue, I decided to let structured therapy happen with her therapists and let her time at home with Mama just be Mama time. And it has been fine. She's doing so well. Most people can understand her most of the time. You would no longer pick her out from a crowd of her peers and notice her speech. All of these things are wonderful and amazing and facts I wish I could have known about two or three years ago. It would have saved me so much worry.

However... She's 4. She has so much to say. Her language skills are perfectly normal and so her sentence length and grammatical complexity are shooting up. She want to tell stories and participate in active conversations and is competing with an extremely verbal older brother. And we're starting to have trouble understanding her again. It certainly isn't all the time, but several times a week she'll say something and we won't have any idea what a couple of key words are. We'll ask her to repeat herself, and that doesn't help. I'm finding myself asking questions like, "Can you tell me something else about it?", or "What does it do?" in order to try to figure out what she's trying to tell me.

Some of that is specific sound errors. She has a consistent /v/ for voiced /th/ and /f/ for voiceless /th/ substitution. /w/ and /r/ are weak. But some of it is the mild apraxia rearing it's head as utterance length and complexity increases. Soon it will be time to incorporate some structured speech therapy into our homeschooling routine. If it weren't affecting her intelligibility, I would wait. But it is. So, soon...

Monday, August 19, 2013

Interactive Word Wall - Creating and Daily Use of a Classroom Word Wall

In our schoolroom we have two 4' by 3' magnetic dry erase boards I got for a bargain at a local office supply store. I use one as our circle time center. The other I decided to turn into a word wall. Our homeschool focus this year (pre-K and kindergarten) is on math and literacy and a word wall fits in beautifully with that focus. I'm going to discuss the creation of the word wall, how I plan to introduce new words each week, and short activities I plan to do with the word wall on a daily basis.

Creation of the Word Wall

I took the same letters I used when making my phonics/handwriting alphabet border and used them to create the alphabet headings for the word wall. It puts a handwriting reference in yet another place in the classroom and brings that reference physically down to their level. Then I laminated them, cut them out, and slapped some magnets on the backs. I've found the most economical way to magnetize things for use on a magnetic dry erase board is to buy inexpensive magnetic vent covers (like these, except you can get them for around $5 at a local hardware store) and just cut squares to size out of the vent covers and attach them to your words (or calendars, or decorations) with double sided tape. I also wanted to separate out the digraphs so I made separate headers for those. Our reading program (All About Reading) treats them as separate phonograms, and we do a lot of speech therapy in this house, so it makes sense for us to separate those out.

I also made a starter set of words. I printed colored rectangles in 6 different colors because I've read that it is helpful for visual discrimination and sight word recognition to have each word under a heading placed on a different color background. (Hmm, in retrospect I could have saved a lot of color ink by just cutting the rectangle backgrounds out of six different colors of cardstock.) I printed the words on white paper. I then cut the words out taking the time to cut around the shapes of the words. I stuck them on the background with a tiny bit of double sided tape just to hold them in place as I ran them through the laminator. I made sure that all words that would end up under the same header (all the G words, for example) were attached to differently colored backgrounds.) Once they were laminated, I cut them out and attached magnets. I did not attach all of them to the word wall yet though.

Introduction of Word Wall Words

I am going to introduce no more than 4-6 new word wall words each week. We will learn and interact with the new words of the week during circle time. Each of the words for the week has a differently colored background. I also try to choose words that we can make into a sentence. During circle time we will look at each word and Clap and Snap the word. To clap and snap a word, say the word followed by a clap, spell the letters each followed by a snap, and then say the word again followed by a snap. So "and" would be: "and" (clap) a (snap) n (snap) d (snap) "and" (clap). Then we will build a sentence using a lap-size magnetic dry erase board. The entire process should take no more than 5 minutes each morning during circle time. At the end of the week the words will be moved over to the word wall and we'll begin a new set the following week.

Daily Word Wall Games and Activities

During each day we will play a short word wall game as a fun transition from one activity to another (probably in between writing journals and math). We will choose from the following list (these were chosen because they will work well in a small-group, homeschool environment but most would work in a classroom as well):

  1. Find and Erase - Write 5-10 word wall words on lap-size dry erase boards with dry erase markers (you can use plastic plates or a piece of blank laminated paper for this purpose too). Say a word at random and have the children find that word on their board and erase it. Continue until all the words are gone. If your children are writing, they can write the words themselves. Otherwise, write the words for them.
  2. Tall Towers - When you make your word wall cards, write a number between 1 and 3 in a corner on the back of each card. When you begin this activity choose 6-12 word wall cards at random from the board and use them as a mini card deck. Also grab blocks, snap cubes, legos, duplos, or anything other manipulative children can build towers with. Shuffle the cards. Have the children take turns pulling a card and reading the word on the front. If successful they turn the card over and add that many bricks (blocks, cubes, etc.) to their tower. If not, they return the card to the deck. Continue in this manner until all the cards are gone. Sit back and admire the "tall towers". Then have the children return the words to their proper places on the word wall.
  3. Word Wall, Beach Ball - Stand or sit in a circle. Teacher holds a beach ball (or any ball, or bean bag...). The teacher tosses the ball to a child and asks the child to tell the color of the word "_____" (name a word off the wall at random). The child must find the word on the wall and name the color. Then the child throws the ball to another child and asks that child to tell the color of a new word. And so on...
  4. Word Wall Hot Potato - Play hot potato with a bean bag or small ball. When the music stops, ask the child to tell you a _____ word (choose a color from the word wall). The child reads a word with that color background and then play continues.
  5. Word Wall Bingo - Give each child a blank Bingo card with 6 spaces (laminated so they can reuse it) and a dry erase marker and have them write a word wall word in each space. When they are done, have them gather those words from the word wall. Shuffle the cards. As you read each word the child looks to see if they have that word on their card and if they do they can mark it out with their marker. The first child to mark out all their words wins. Then the children can return the cards to their proper spaces on the word wall.
  6. Word Wall Tic Tac Toe - Make and laminate blank tic-tac-toe grids large enough for your kids to write word wall words in the spaces. At the beginning of the game have them write word wall words of their choice in each space. When they are done, have them gather those words from the word wall. Shuffle the cards. As you read each word tell them if it is an 0 or an X word. If they have the word they put an O or X over the word with their dry erase marker. The first person to get a tic-tac-toe wins. Then the children can return the cards to their proper spaces on the word wall.
  7. Word Wall Order Up - Each child chooses 4-7 words from the word wall and returns to their desk. They put the words in alphabetical order. Once checked by the teacher, they return the words to their proper places on the wall.
  8. Word Wall Mystery Word - Each child chooses 1-4 words from the word wall (depending on the total number of children you have and how many words you want in the guessing pool). Have them bring those words to you. These words will make up the guessing pool. Choose a word from the pool and give the students hints (The mystery word is one syllable, the mystery word has four letters, the mystery word rhymes with pan, the mystery words ends with an "e", the mystery word has two letters that are the same...). Take your time and let the children physically remove letters that do not meet the clue's criteria from the pool if necessary until only one remains. Then they've found the mystery word. At the end of the activity have the children return the cards to the wall.
  9. Word Wall Rhymes - You say a word that rhymes with one or more words on the wall and the children find the words that rhyme.
  10. Word Wall Fill in the Blank - Have the children choose 1-3 words from the word wall to form a guessing pool. Bring the words back to the table. You make up a sentence with one of the words from the guessing pool and say it out loud omitting the target word. The children must figure out which of the word wall words makes sense in your sentence. At the end of the activity have the children return the cards to the wall.
  11. Word Wall Build a Sentence - Pre-choose several word wall words that can be combined in several ways to make grammatical sentences anywhere from 2-6 words in length. You say a sentence and the children work to build your sentence using the word wall cards. At the end of the activity have the children return the cards to the wall.
  12. Word Wall Sorts - Have each child choose 5-10 words from the wall. You give them a criteria and have them sort their words by that criteria (words that rhyme, words that begin with the same letter, words that end with the same letter, words that have the same number of syllables, words that share a vowel, etc.). When finished, they return their words to the wall.
  13. Guess which word is hiding? - Build a sentence out of word wall cards and then hide a key word with a sticky note. Invite the children to guess the missing word and write their guesses down. Then remove the sticky note and see if anyone guessed correctly. Repeat with a new sentence.
  14. Build, Mix, Fix - For this activity you will need a set of letter tiles (or just letters printed on cardstock and cut out) for each child. The child sits at their desk with the letter tiles and you call out a word wall word. They build the letters with the tiles and you check for accuracy. Then they mix up the letters. Next they fix the mixed up letters. Repeat for a new word.
  15. Word Wall Word Search - Create and print a simple blank word search form with a grid at the top and a blank box at the bottom. Have the children write 5 word wall words of their choice in the box at the bottom and then transfer them into the grid at the top. Next they fill in the remaining spaces with random letters. Then trade papers and do the word search.

I printed out this list to hang on the wall near my word wall so that it would be easy to remember a wide variety of activities and to choose a new one each day. This is three weeks worth of daily word wall activities without repeats. You're welcome to use the list as well. Simply click on the image to open to full size and then right click to save. Open the saved image on your computer and print.

Read More About Word Walls

I got most of my ideas from these two sources. They have even more word wall games and activities than the ones I chose to highlight above.

  1. Kindergarten Lifestyle - Great explanation of interactive word walls, adorable free word wall printable, a few great game ideas.
  2. Word Wall Activities - huge list of word wall games and activities. Dozens at least.

Friday, August 16, 2013

4 Outstanding Picture Book Variations on the Classic Gingerbread Man Tale

I always found the classic fairy tale of the gingerbread man to be a little boring growing up. It felt like just another story with a moral. Then I discovered a captivating version of the classic tale with adorable illustrations and the story written in verse. The tale became a fun one to tell and I even turned the "catch me if you can" verse repeated throughout the story into a little song. The children and I loved it and we read it weekly for several months and continue to read it at least once every couple of months two years later. I began looking for other well done variations on the tale. Not all of them were great, but I highly recommend these four. We have been reading and re-reading these four in our household for several years. The children liked them as toddlers and still love them as preschoolers.

These are listed in no particular order of preference. They are all short, simple, and sweet.

1. The Gingerbread Man by Jim Aylesworth. It's all in the telling. This is the classic story of the gingerbread man, but the rhyme and rhythm make it a pleasure to read and so much more engaging for the little ones. You'll want a great telling of the classic story for several reasons. First, you need something to compare the others to if you're doing a unit on how fairy tales are often retold in different variations. Also, the Gingerbread Girl stories I'll be talking about shortly set themselves up as direct sequels to the Gingerbread Man story often referring to what happened to the original Gingerbread Boy.

2. The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School by Laura Murray. This variation of the gingerbread man takes place in a school. He is baked by a class of children who leave for recess while they wait for him to cool. He thinks he's been abandoned and searches the school to find his class only to discover at the end that they've been searching for him as well. The illustrations are done in a comic panel format which usually irritates me, but it isn't overdone in this book. In fact there is a lot of detail and humor to be found in the illustrations and it really does add layers to the story to take the time to fully examine the illustrations. Some of the common core standards involve using illustrations to add information so this is an added bonus in the book. Like all the other gingerbread man tales I'm featuring, this one is written in rhyme and is a pleasure to read. My kids love this one too.

3. The Gingerbread Girl by Lisa Campbell Ernst. This book is so much fun. One year later, the little old man and little old woman decide to try again but this time they bake a gingerbread girl. As she bakes she overhears the old man and woman discussing what happened to her brother and she decided that she will not meet the same fate. Later in the story she ends up face to face with that fox and I still clearly remember the anticipation the children felt when they didn't know if the fox would get her. It is fun to read and sing (if you like, just make up a tune) and is a delightful twist on the gingerbread man tale. (One small caveot. The fox uses the words "airhead" and "dumber" in reference to the gingerbread girl. You could either read as is and take the opportunity to discuss why using those words is unkind, or you can simply substitute something less offensive like "silly" while reading.)

4. The Gingerbread Girl Goes Animal Crackers is a sequel to The Gingerbread Girl by Lisa Campbell Ernst. This sequel is at least as awesome as the original, possibly better although you wouldn't enjoy it as much if you hadn't read the first one. This time the gingerbread girl has been with the little old man and little old woman for a year and they give her a present - a box of animal crackers. She loves it because she's always wanted friends like her, but then the noisy mob of animal crackers runs away. The overall story structure is familiar, but the individual pages are so well done. Each page features a different animal cracker rhyme. "My legs move so fast, I'm practically flyin'. You can't catch me, I'm the wild cracker lion!" You can pause before the last word and treat it like a riddle and ask the children if they know which animal cracker the verse is about. There's an excellent balance of tension in the scene with the fox and a great resolution at the end. Outstanding book.

If you liked these children's book suggestions, I have several others ranging from board books through early chapter books. Check them out. As soon as I get a chance, I'll share 4 fun books for halloween.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Homeschool and Teacher Resource: Classroom Alphabet Resource Kit

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Alphabet Kit $6.95
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Looking for coordinated alphabet decorations for your classroom?

  • Want an alphabet border that also functions as a handwriting and phonics reference?
  • Need the convenience of printing resources from your own computer?
  • Looking for coordinated products such as desk strips, flashcards, and word wall headers?

Testy Homeschool & Teacher Resources:
Classroom Alphabet Resource Kit

This Classroom Alphabet Resource kit has been designed to provide coordinated classroom decorations and materials to be used in the teaching of the alphabet, phonics, and handwriting. The alphabet border uses Steck-Vaughn style printing which is similar to the Zaner-Bloser ball and stick, but slanted like D'Nealian (although less ornamental). The letters of the alphabet are printed in both uppercase and lowercase on each card on a 3-line rule. Each of the three lines are slightly different to aid in visual discrimination. The bottom half of the 3-line rule is highlighted also to aid in visual discrimination of the letter parts.

There are 1-4 pictures associated with each letter to aid in the teaching of phonics. Some of the letters in the English language are used to produce more than one sound. For example, the letter "C" can be read with an /k/ sound in "cat" or an /s/ sound in "circus". The pictures on the alphabet chart and the flashcards are chosen to reinforce these phonics details. There is an optional additional page for the alphabet border which features 6 common digraphs (ch, sh, th, ph, kn, wh). All together, the alphabet border is almost 13 feet long and consists of 14 color pages to be printed on any color printer. You can laminate the individual pages for durability before hanging them if you wish.

There are mini versions of all of the alphabet border cards to be used as either alphabet or phonics flashcards for drill or use in small groups, centers, or individual games. In this set each diagraph has its own card.

The resource kit also includes the 3-rule uppercase and lowercase letters on individual cards that can be used as headers for a word wall. I've included the digraphs here as well if you choose to separate out words that begin with digraphs into their own section (put "chick" under "ch" instead of under "c").

There is a handwriting mini-poster that illustrates how some lowercase letters are small (use only the bottom half of the 3-line rule), some are tall (use the entire 3-line rule) and some fall (fall below the 3-line rule). This can be a great visual aid when teaching formation of the lowercase letters.

Finally the set includes desk strips that can be attached to each child's desk or table or placed in a folder for their reference. There is a 3-line rule spot to write the child's name to be used as a spelling and handwriting reference. The entire uppercase and lowercase alphabet on the desk strip along with the six common digraphs, the numerals 1 through 9, and a tiny version of the mini-handwriting poster.

Printable Alphabet Resources Included:

  • 13 foot, full color Alphabet border
  • 32 letter and digraph flashcards
  • Handwriting Mini-Poster
  • 32 Word Wall Headers
  • Desk Strips

This resource is intended to be purchased and used by a single educator in his or her classroom/s. Please do not share these materials with other educators. Refer them to my website instead. Thanks!
Add to Cart
Alphabet Kit $6.95
  • Instant PDF Download!
  • Unlimited Printing. Print and use again and again.
View Cart

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Scholastic Book Clubs for Homeschool Too

I remember getting Scholastic Book club flyers as a child and poring over them for hours choosing exactly what to spend my allowance on. I remember turning in the paper form and the money to my teacher and I remember the joy of getting my little pile of books each month when they came in. It made me sad to think that my children wouldn't have that fun because our family is choosing to homeschool.

As it turns out, you can participate in Scholastic Book Clubs (now called Scholastic Reading Club) as a homeschool. You simply go to the Club Sign In Page and click on the "Don't have an account? Register now" button. Choose to register as an educator and then on the next popup page after entering your basic contact information you choose "Homeschool". You'll pick the grades you're teaching (you can choose more than one) and they'll send you paper flyers, but you can also do everything online.

Right now, if you make a $25 order, they'll send you a 10 pack of books with a teacher's guide for free (the book pack will correspond to the highest grade level you picked in your profile - if you want to receive a pack for a lower grade, simply temporarily remove the higher grades from your profile and add them back in later).

They have another amazing deal going on right now too. Teachers (including homeschool teachers) can purchase packs of 24 birthday coupons for $25. The coupons can be redeemed for books from any of the flyers for books up to a $5 value. So your $25 now can be redeemed for up to $120 in books during the rest of the school year.

I just made an order where I'll be getting 104 books for about 77 cents each (yes, I went a little crazy, but the deals are often best in the first flyer of the school year. The bonus points you are earning with the current order can actually be spent on the current order if you go into checkout and then back out again to make more changes. I used the points I earned on this order to "buy" additional books which is how I got the books down to 77 cents each. Well, that and I got a lot of multi-packs that were a good bargain.

I highly recommend the book clubs. It is difficult to find books elsewhere that match Scholastic's prices and they often have exclusive softcover versions of books that are only available in hardcover everywhere else. If you avoid the few ridiculously high prices items thrown into each flyer you can easily get 7-15 books a month for about $1-$1.50 each. You can also skip a month whenever you like.

If you happen to be in a homeschool organization one person can sign up as an educator and then distribute flyers to everyone else. The other parents can sign up for parent (rather than educator) accounts and use a code given to them by the coordinator to place their orders and pay for them online.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Free Simple Articulation Screening Tool

For those of you who are new, I'm a Speech-Language Pathologist. I also have a daughter with Childhood Apraxia of Speech who wasn't talking at the age of two. Look back in the archives for the full journey, but to simplify things a lot, she made a great deal of progress once we began intensive therapy. Several months later she had enough speech to attempt an articulation test. Hahahaha. I'm sure some of you have tried a GFTA with an apraxic two year old so you know where I'm coming from here. It took us three sessions. And it was a mess. Think about the stimuli on a GFTA. There are so many of them. They are multisyllablic. The problems with the instrument in the context of severe apraxia with a young child are purely practical.

I just needed a quick, simple, way to gather data about the phonemic inventory of a young child with a severe speech delay while maximizing their chances of success. That meant I needed simple stimuli (CVC words) and a short test (appropriate for short attention spans). So I made my own. And I used it and found it useful. Then it sat in a folder on my computer for two years.

Recently I decided I wanted to re-screen Ava's speech. Now, of course, she could participate in a standardized articulation assessment without a problem, but I don't own one, so I dug out the screening I made two years ago to use again. All of the reasons it worked then make it an extremely easy instrument to readminister now. I thought I would share the instrument with all of you.

If you like this free articulation screener, you might want to check out the premium speech therapy kits now available in the Testy Shop. Kits include expanded speech sound card sets, illustrated minimal pairs, homework sheets and more in a single download.

Simple Articulation Screening


This is a tool designed to screen the phonetic inventory and articulation errors of young children with severe speech delays. The screening is comprised of picture stimuli of 22 CVC words. Prompts are provided on the back of each stimulus card. Results can be analyzed for individual articulation errors and for patterns of phonological processing errors.


I give permission to copy, print, or distribute this articulation screening provided that:
  1. Each copy makes clear that I am the document's author.
  2. No copies are altered without my express consent.
  3. No one makes a profit from these copies.
  4. Electronic copies contain a live link back to my original and print copies not for merely personal use contain the URL of my original.
To download click on each image to open it full size. Then right click on the image, choose "save as" and save the page to your computer.

I recommend you print on cardstock or laminate for durability.

Looking for Feedback

I would love to hear back from anyone who uses this card set. Let me know if you find errors or there is anything you would change. Comment on this page, or send me an email at testyyettrying(at)gmail(dot)com.

Where can I find more?

Speech therapy picture card sets are on my Download/Print Free Speech Articulation Materials page. Other card sets include /p, b, t, d, m, n, h, f, v, k, g, w, j, s, z, l, r, th, ch, sh, ʤ, s-blends, and l-blends/. More sets are being added regularly.

Friday, August 9, 2013

4 Simple and Sweet Picture Books about Kittens to Read To Your Toddler

Do you have a child who loves cats or kittens in your house? These books are perfect for babies and toddlers because they are simple and sweet. However, as I was cleaning the bookshelves of my 4 and five year old children I found I wasn't quite ready to put them away yet. Sometimes you just want to read a short and sweet familiar favorite even if they've moved beyond the reading level of that particular book. These books have been favorites of my son and daughter for years.

These are listed in no particular order of preference. They are all short, simple, and sweet.

1. Hello Calico! by Karma Wilson (of Bear Wants More fame). This book is in rhyme. I always enjoy picture books written in rhyme and this one is no exception. It introduces a curious kitten and the mama who loves her and follows the kitten as she explores during the day. The illustrations are vibrant and beautiful and always catch the attention of my little ones.

2. Uh-oh, Calico! by Karma Wilson. This is a sequel to Hello Calico! This time, the kitten suffers several mishaps (spilling cream, trampling flowers, etc) and finds that her mama loves her even when she makes mistakes. The children love chiming in with "Uh-oh, Calico! and predicting how her behavior will lead to the subsequent mishap on the next page.

3. Kitty Cat, Kitty Cat, Are You Waking Up? by Bill Martin Jr (known best for Brown Bear, Brown Bear and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom). This is a gentle, sweet story of a kitten who needs to get out of bed and ready for school and yet needs gentle reminders from his mama to stay on task. Each page follows a predictable format with the mama asking a question and receiving a reply from the kitten. There's a mouse hiding in each picture and my children always adore finding the mouse and discussing what he's up to in each new situation until finally the mouse and kitten meet.

4. Kitty Cat, Kitty Cat, Are You Going to Sleep? is a sequel to Kitty Cat, Kitty Cat Are You Waking Up? by Bill Martin. This sequel is at least as sweet as the original. This time the kitten is getting ready for bed and it is his teddy bear who is tagging along through bath time, getting dressed for bed, brushing teeth, and story time. The two Kitty Cat, Kitty Cat books are some of my daughter's favorites.

If you liked these children's book suggestions, I have several others ranging from board books through early chapter books. Check them out. As soon as I get a chance, I'll share 4 truly good variations on the gingerbread boy story and 4 fun books for halloween.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Planning to Open a New Shop - Homeschool & Teacher Resources (and a Testy Shop Coupon)

I've been creating materials like crazy around here. I made an alphabet border that features handwriting and phonics references as well as digraphs. I created a writing/handwriting journal that could easily be used with preschoolers through first or second graders. I created a homeschool plan book to use when planning lessons and to keep track of logged hours.

It occurred to me that if I put some time into taking out things like my kids' names and cleaning and organizing the resources that I could make them available to all of you as well. I've got a Classroom Alphabet Resource Kit (alphabet border, alphabet/phonics flashcards, handwriting mini-poster, word wall headers, and desk strips) almost ready to go. Look for it next week.

I'm thinking of doing either the writing journal or the homeschool plan book next. If you have a strong opinion on which you'd rather see first, let me know in the comments. Otherwise, I'll just choose one at random and get to work on it.

The shop will be opening with a single product: the Classroom Alphabet Resource Kit, and so the volume discounts I have built into my shops won't help anyone out until I get a second and third product up in running. I'll have a coupon available for August and September that offers 30% off any purchase (including purchases of a single product). It'll work in either shop. Let's call it a Back to School coupon code. BacktoSchool2013 It is valid starting now if you want to use it in the Testy Speech Resources Shop.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


We found some old home videos tucked away in a folder we had lost track of. Ava was about 4-5 months old when the videos were taken. What struck me as I watched was how smiley she was. I remember very few smiles, and yet while watching these videos, she responded with a huge toothless grin every time I smiled at her. Her eyes would light up and there was this huge smile. And yet she was wrapped in a huge bubble of silence.

I listen to babies coo and babble all the time. I play with those sounds in waiting rooms, babbling back and forth with any infant who will play the game with me. Ava was silent. It's a little creepy - all the talking around her and this completely silent little baby. She didn't seem unhappy, she was just silent. She was silent in the bouncer, on the playmat, and in the arms of loved ones. We have some videos of me trying to make her laugh - tossing her gently in the air or creeping tickle fingers up her leg towards her neck. The vast majority of the time I was unsuccessful. The once or twice she managed to giggle, it looked and sounded effortful. And yet, somehow, even as a speech pathologist I managed to miss how exactly abnormal it all was. I was a sleep-deprived mother of a 4 and 19 month old. My professional experience was with preschoolers and school-aged children. At the time, I wasn't getting out much and didn't realize how much noise babies should be making.

There was a video where... well, I have no idea exactly what I was trying to capture in the video, but Ava was laying on her back on the floor. She couldn't roll over yet and looked a lot like a turtle stuck on her back. She was obviously frustrated. She was lifting her head and shoulders and waving her arms and staring straight at me. And there were no sounds. None at all. No grunting, no fussing, no crying even. Just silence in the presence of frustration and physical effort. And why exactly did it take me 18 more months to start assessment?

Has anyone had similar experiences with their apraxic children? If you go back and watch videos when they were babies are they silent? I know that "abnormal history of babbling" is a red flag for apraxia, but this complete silence... Anyone?

Monday, August 5, 2013

Curriculum Review: All About Reading - Pre Reading

All About Reading: Pre-Reading - A Review

So you know where I'm coming from, let me give you a little bit of background about myself. I have an undergraduate degree in psychology, a master's degree in Elementary and Early Childhood Education, a second master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology, and was just shy of getting a doctorate in Communication Disorders with a focus on Reading when life took a detour into motherhood a little earlier than I had planned. Priorities shifted, and lots happened in between, but now I'm homeschooling my preschooler and kindergartner. Because I have such a strong background in education I really enjoyed searching for just the right reading curriculum for my little ones and when I found All About Reading I fell in love. I've been using their curriculum materials for over a year now and I have personally purchased and used the Pre-Reading program, Level 1 program and the Level 2 program with my children.

Program Overview - All About Reading: Pre-Reading Program

The program takes your child through the alphabet twice. First you do uppercase letter activities and then lowercase letter activities. You are working on letter recognition, letter sound correspondances, pre-reading skills (such as finding specific letters on a page, parsing print on a page into words, reading from left to right, etc.), and critical phonological awareness skills such as rhyme, syllable awareness, and isolating initial, final, and vowel sounds in words. All of these skills are critical pre-reading skills. I really wish the All About Learning Press would publish a stand alone phonological awareness program for children who are fine with the visual aspects of pre-reading, but seem to really struggle with the phonological awareness part of things. Speech-pathologists that work with young children would LOVE it. But I digress.

Each lesson teaches one letter. You show the letter, read one to three short stories or poems featuring that letter, do a simple craft-based activity page with that letter, and do a phonological awareness activity. The lessons are pretty short. If your child isn't craft oriented or you choose to omit the craft the lesson may only take 5-10 minutes. If your child really lingers over the craft it may take as much as 20 minutes. If you supplement the program (more on that later), you might spend 30 minutes on the lesson.

Organizing the Materials and Using the Program

I'm using the program with my four year old daughter. With my son I skipped the Pre-Reading Level and started with Level 1, but Ava has a history of a speech disorder called apraxia. Children with apraxia often have co-existing problems with phonological awareness and struggle with reading as they progress through school so I particularly wanted Ava to have a good grounding in phonological awareness skills. I specifically chose to start her with the pre-reading level because of the phonological awareness component. Also, Michael was starting homeschooling in earnest and Ava was feeling left out. She wasn't ready for Level One, but she was tired of watching her brother get to do reading every day without being able to do reading herself. And so we invested in the AAR: Pre-Reading Program.

We keep all of our materials for a specific lesson (Ava's reading, Michael's reading, Math, Handwriting, etc.) in a bin on a shelf in our schoolroom. Here's Ava's reading bin.

Inside I have a binder (where I put the teacher's manual pages, activity pages, and keep the progress chart), the two hardback books that come with the program, and the card box with dividers and phonological awareness cards). You'll also find our ziggy puppet in there.

The teacher's manual is well written. It tells you exactly what to do in each lesson and educates you, where necessary, about how to do things or why you need to do things in a certain way. Ava began the program very excited about the simple activity pages, but eventually we abandoned them because she lost interest. They are a simple coloring sheet for each uppercase and lowercase letter of the alphabet combined with a fun craft you can do with things you find around the house. (Crumple tinfoil to make stars and glue on, glue on construction paper to make water, etc.) The phonological awareness activities strongly lean on a character you introduce named Ziggy the Zebra. I underestimated Ziggy. I chose not to purchase the optional $18 hand puppet and then found myself making a sock puppet version of Ziggy because Ava LOVED Ziggy and using the hand puppet adds so much to the phonological awareness activity. He isn't used in every single lesson and Ava often begins the lesson by asking me if it will be a "Ziggy Day".

Almost all of the preparation is when you first receive the materials in the mail. It takes time to review the materials, separate all the perforated cards, and if you wish - transfer the teacher's manual and activity pages to a three-ring binder. After that, the program requires very little day to day preparation. If your child is doing the craft, you need to gather a few simple materials. Otherwise once you're into the program, you can pretty much sit down with your bin and go.

A Typical Lesson

  1. Grab bin.
  2. Introduce letter of the day.
  3. Read selection(s) from hardback book.
  4. Do phonological awareness activity.
  5. Do craft (optional).

Download Free Samples

You can download free samples of the key program components (scroll down a bit). I recommend it. It gives you a good look at the teacher's manual, activity book, and the two hardback books that are integral to the program. (I love the hardback books in the AAR programs. I particularly like the poetry in Lizard Lou.)

Which of the products I actually bought.

I bought the basic package and added on the activity box and animal stickers. Essentially I skipped the reading tote bag and the ziggy puppet. In retrospect, since I ended up making my own ziggy sock puppet I think some kind of zebra is a nice addition to the program. Buy their puppet, make one from a sock, find an inexpensive stuffed zebra, or just print a picture of a zebra, but I do recommend some kind of zebra visual aid for the phonological processing activities. Want to see our Ziggy sock puppet? Promise not to laugh? Squint your eyes and use your imagination and maybe, just maybe, this looks like a zebra...

Great Supplemental Materials for the Pre-Reading Program

I found that Ava wanted to do a little more so I found some materials to supplement the AAR: Pre-Reading Program.

Usborne Farmyard Tales - Alphabet Book: This book is a perfect complement to the program. It has a sentence on each page with the targeted letter in red so it stands out. There are many items included in each picture that begin with the targeted letter. There is a little duck hiding in each picture and Ava loved to search for the duck. We would read the page in this book for the letter that matched the letter in the AAR lesson of the day. Unfortunately the book seems to be out of print, but there are many used copies available here.

ABC Sing-Along Flip Chart & CD: This product is amazing. There is a song for each letter of the alphabet - one per page. Each page has a full color illustration. The songs are sung to familiar tunes. The songs are really, really well done. Ava and Michael can sing every one from memory (up to V - that's as far as we've gotten). We often sing these in the car or while I'm fixing Ava's hair to pass time. We use dry erase marker to circle all the targeted letters in the poem as we sing the song on the first day. (You could also listen to them on the CD - the production value on the songs is really nice.) We actually sing through all the songs we know, looking at the page and reviewing the highlighted letters at the beginning of each lesson. The songs are short, so it only takes 5 minutes or so to do the entire set and Ava loves it!

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you click on one of those links and make a purchase a portion of your purchase will go towards offsetting the costs of running this blog. I purchased all of the products I reviewed in this post on my own, long before I started using affiliate links and the opinions expressed are completely my own.

Friday, August 2, 2013

5 Board Books to Enjoy Singing to Your Baby (or Toddler, or Preschooler)

I needed to clean out the children's bookshelves again. We had gotten to the point where they were so overstuffed that we had taken to stuffing books across the tops of the other books, piling them up on the floor, and so on. Some books I donate. I find I don't like them as much as I thought I would when I bought them. Other books the children are too old for, but I'm attached to them, so I ferret them away in a storage box to read to my grandchildren some day. All the rest, we keep. As I was doing my recent cleaning, reducing, and organizing of the children's bookshelves I found several board books that still play well around here. I love to sing, and the children love to listen so it all works out. Here are five of our favorite board books that are songs. The children loved them as babies and toddlers and they still love them today at the ages of 4 and 5.

These are listed in no particular order of preference. They are all wonderful.

1. Snuggle Puppy! by Sandra Boynton. I'll be honest. I didn't like this book at all when I first bought it. I got it because I love Sandra Boynton as an author of baby board books. I got it home and didn't like reading it at all. And then I realized it was adaptation of a song from her Philadelphia Chickens album. I own both the board book and the album and they are great. As soon as I heard the song I fell in love and the children adore it too. If you just want to learn the tune to go to the song in the book, check out this YouTube video. The story/song is about a mama dog telling her puppy how she loves him.

2. Your Personal Penguin by Sandra Boynton. This is another sweet book adapted from a Sandra Boynton song. It is about a penguin who wants to be friends with a hippo and tells the hippo all the wonderful things they can do together as friends. If you scroll about halfway down this page, you can listen to the song sung by Davy Jones of The Monkees. My children love this one too. Careful, it'll get stuck in your head.

3. The Itsy Bitsy Spider written and illustrated by Iza Trapani. You'll know this tune. It is the Itsy Bitsy Spider. What I like so much about this one is that although it begins with the traditional lyrics, there are five more as well, all beautifully illustrated. It tells the story of persistence. The spider continues to try to find a place to spin her web until finally, at the end of the book, she succeeds. You can have fun finding the spider on each page and cheering her on. I have read this story and sung this song hundreds of times at this point and I still actually enjoy it.

4. Baa Baa Black Sheep written and illustrated by Iza Trapani. (The link leads to the paperback version.) This is another expanded nursery rhyme by Isa Trapani. It begins with the traditional Baa Baa Black Sheep song and is expanded another nine stanzas. The story is about a cast of animal characters asking the sheep for various items she does not have. The animals wonder why she won't share only to find she's been knitting them gifts all along. The moral of the tale is that each person shares what they have to give. The illustrations are particularly rich and add much to the tale. Once you know to look, you can see the sheep working on her gifts all throughout the story.

5. How Much Is That Doggie in the Window? written and illustrated by Iza Trapani. (The link leads to the paperback version.) This may be my favorite of the Iza Trapani expanded nursery rhymes. It is expanded by an additional 12 stanzas. It tells the story of a boy who wants to buy a doggie from the pet store, but doesn't have enough money in his piggy bank. He works all week to earn money, but during the week he also spends money while being generous to his family members. At the end of the week he realizes he doesn't have enough money for the doggie and goes to the store just to say hi to the doggie. He discovers that the doggie has been sold. When he arrives at his house after sadly walking home he finds his parents have bought him the doggie to reward his generous spirit.

I found several other groups of books I want to share (cute, kitty-themed early picture books, halloween books, and gingerbread boy variations), but this is probably enough for a first installment. Have I mentioned that I LOVE children's books?

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