Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Reading – Monday Moments

Friday, April 1st, 2011

When Brie mentioned starting a series of “Monday Moments” with a post about reading, I knew the moment I wanted to share and even the picture that captured the moment.

Since Grade 1 started, Reid has been spending more and more time reading. I can even write that without the quotes I would have added a year ago. She can now manage books with plots rather than heavily repetitive sentences. But the day in January, when she lay in the laundry pile with the book she wanted Ken or I to read to her and read it to herself instead was the moment I thought, “Hey, Reid can read!” Of course I grabbed my camera and captured it.

Reid reading in the laundry

Parents could not have been prouder of their child than Ken and I were as Reid read Ella Sarah Gets Dressed that night.

Full disclosure: I never hit “publish” on this post until Friday.

Volcano trivia

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Reid and I are reading a Magic School Bus story about volcanoes that starts with a quiz. On the way home one night, Reid decided we should share what we know about volcanoes, in a quiz format. She announced some fact that she’d learned in science class, where they are also learning about volcanoes, and then she asked me for something I knew. When I produced some tidbit, Reid made a “blanh” noise and announced that the score was 1 to 1. I suggested it might be more competitive if we asked each other questions but that idea was firmly rejected. We traded facts a few times – I remembered some Pompei facts from the exhibit at the Museum of Civilization a few years ago, just to prove that my memory isn’t entirely non-functioning –  but then Reid seemed stumped. As she looked around for inspiration, Reid saw a McDonald’s restaurant. Her next fact was, “There has never been a  McDonald’s inside of a volcano.” I had a Mount St. Helen’s fact and then Reid provided another example of something that had never been built inside of a volcano. My final offering was that sometimes lava comes out of the side of a volcano instead of just through the top. Reid said, “I don’t think that’s true, Mama.” I snorted. Hadn’t I accepted buildings that had never been constructed inside a volcano? I told Reid that I was sure of my fact but that we could check. Reid grudgingly agreed and then reminded me that the first one with 10 points won. She offered one last thing that had never been built inside a volcano, updated the score: 10 to 9 for her, and declared herself the winner. I don’t mind losing but I was tempted to check if, in fact, a McDonalds had ever been built inside a volcano. They seem to be everywhere else.

Did I hear you right?

Friday, February 19th, 2010

Reid and I were looking at Scholastic book order forms last night and she asked me to read the title for a “Dear Dumb Diary” book. She asked me what “diary” meant and I explained that it was a record of what was happening in a person’s life and what she or he was thinking at a point in time. I was tempted to say that diaries are the old-school equivalent of blogs but it seemed like we might go off on a tangent if I did. Reid suggested, tentatively, that it also was about when you’re sick. The light bulb clicked on and I clarified that “diary” was close to but distinct from “diarrhea”. Maybe I need to ennunciate more clearly.

No one ever said English was an easy language

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

On the way home last night, Reid was telling us about something that had happened in class but she first used “him” for a girl and then auto-corrected to “she”. It seems to me that this is a new error in her speech but maybe it’s been there all along and I’m noticing it now because the other non-standard expressions are disappearing. In any case, we had a discussion that went something like this:

Me: He is opposite of she. Him is opposite of her. You want to say “her”.
Reid: I’m doing another kind of opposite.
Me: What other kind of opposite? (I know of only the one kind.)
Reid: The kind that means the same but sounds different.
Me: You mean synonym. Him and she are definitely not synonyms.
Ken: Antonym is the opposite of the word you couldn’t think of.

I greatly admired Ken’s quick and funny, or punny, response. I love grammar jokes. Reid ignored us both and continued with her story.

A few minutes later, Reid called out “atqp” and asked what that spelled. I told her that she a “q” needs a “u” beside it. She revised her “word” to “atqup” and I sounded it out but said that it wasn’t actually a word. Reid protested that it had an “a” – I’ve told her before that words need a vowel – and I agreed that she had included both vowels and consonants, which was good, but that letter collections need to also have meaning to be considered words. Reid’s next attempt was “cpa” and I told her that the consonants needed a vowel between them. And got out of the car to check the mail. When I got back in, Reid was delighted to report that “cap” spelled cap. It was a bit of a Eureka moment for her.

It continues to be interesting to me that Reid is very interested in spelling words. Occasionally she’ll agree to sound out words in a story that we’re reading – though she did scam Ken into reading a Fancy Nancy early reader book that I told her she needed to read to me – and she does a good job at decoding the words. She points out more and more words and asks about what the rest of a piece of text has to do with the word that she recognizes. Reid doesn’t, however, exhibit any inclination to learn to read. I feel a bit like a scientist observing an intriguing animal in the wild. It’s all very cool for a language nut like me.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 2010 in our house

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Last night, Reid and I played a version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I was Snow White, Reid was the Seven Dwarfs and the scene was set in that period where Snow White is taking care of all those guys who don’t really appreciate what she does for them. In our variation, the dwarfs have different names and all represent facets of one kid throughout a single night.

At bedtime,  Reid, in the guise of a dwarf, was Tricky, pretending that she fell asleep in the car so that someone would carry her up to bed. Next, she was Pouty because she really doesn’t like to lay there in the dark all alone. Then, she was Smarty and remembered that we should turn on the humidifier. At this point, Prince Charming, aka Ken, made an unusual early appearance to fill the reservoir.

Throughout the supposed-to-be-sleeping part of the night, Reid, I mean the dwarfs, were by turns: Sniffly, Sneezy and Wakey. Poor Snow White had a lot of trouble sleeping while tending to these demanding fellows.

No one was surprised that the dwarf who emerged from Reid’s room this morning answered to Sleepy and had exceedingly dark circles under her eyes.

Snow White, being a good caregiver, thought of keeping the dwarfs home from school today but this is Field Trip Day! and who wants to miss school when the rest of the kids will be going to the Canadian Children’s Museum?

Now Snow White (that’s still me) is waiting for the poisoned apple that will bring uninterrupted sleep. I know I can depend on Prince Charming to wake me at the right time. If only my brain and body would quieten itself to sleep without the apple. Until then, I tasting apples left, right and centre.

Wish my poor little dwarfs good health, won’t you. She has had enough colds already this winter.

And, by the way, why is the plural of dwarf not dwarfs? Seems wrong to me.

Malcolm Gladwell – hero worship

Friday, June 12th, 2009

One of the things that Malcolm Gladwell said last night was that people can’t take advantage of opportunities unless the opportunity is presented, or a kid can’t learn to play hockey on a backyard rink like Wayne Gretzky did, if there is no backyard rink due to climate change. I had an opportunity last night to ask for Gladwell’s signature in my copy of Outliers and get a picture. Ken wanted to save our seats and so I had to ask a complete stranger to take my picture. I’m not usually so bold but…

Malcolm Gladwell and me

Don’t pull the Kappa’s finger

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

We went to the Museum of Civilization right after breakfast at Eddie’s on Sunday. I was determined to get there right at 9:00 to avoid any crowds. We made it at 9:15, only to discover that the museum doesn’t open until 9:30. I always try to get there at 9:00 but obviously I’ve never made it. There was a nervous-looking security guard that seemed to think that Uncle Roger and I were going to load Reid onto Grandma Joyce’s wheel chair and make a break for the Canada Hall before the museum opened. We went outside to admire the view of the back of Parliament Hill and the Library of Parliament while we waited. Once the museum was opened, we went straight to the Mythic Beasts exhibit. Reid was a bit like a bee in a flower garden – spending lots of time here and there but moving along quite quickly. We watched 3 videos, each of which focused on beasts of the air, sea or water. Reid liked the video with a mer-bunny in it but said the others were boring. Reid liked the representations of mermaids and also the unicorn and Pegasus. She found the dragon and sea monster near the entrance to be intimidating. I was struck by the description of the Japanese myth of the Kappa. One of the panels explained that the Kappa sometimes takes the form of child and encourages children to pull its finger as a game and then pulls the child underwater and eats them. The old “pull my finger” joke takes on a whole new meaning.

We spent some time decorating dragon scales but Reid wasn’t willing to leave her artwork behind on the community dragon. Uncle Roger and Reid each designed a dragon or three on the computer and watched them fly across the overhead screens. Reid surprised me a bit in that she started by trying to find the “right” body part in each instance. Rather than trying for a silly or colourful dragon, she wanted it to be a coherent whole. It made me think of a quote from Pablo Picasso that we saw in the children’s room at the Art Gallery of Ontario back in March:

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.

Seeking the “right” piece seems more adult than artistic.

Reid led us next to the Canadian Children’s Museum. She was eager to perform on the stage in the theatre with Uncle Roger. I’m not sure if he was as eager for that to happen but he went backstage and put on a costume when asked. I managed to steer Reid past the main studio because how many tissue paper-on-bamboo crafts does one family need? We visited the Building Brainstorm special exhibit and Reid spent quite awhile on the computer designing her dream bedroom. Perhaps she’ll be an interior designer when she grows up. Uncle Roger, Grandma Joyce and I all looked at Look-Alikes: The more you look, the more you see!  by Joan Steiner and I’m going to try to find it at the library to read to Reid. We didn’t spend time at the dollhouse, blocks or layout planning and spent only little time building a tent. A repeat visit will be required.

Reid and I planted seeds in our garden on Sunday afternoon. I’d forgotten how tiny carrot seeds are and how many come in a package. Reid wanted to plant them all but we didn’t have enough room. Am I the only one who is surprised that carrots grow from seeds? We also planted wax beans and zucchini, which grow from nice big seeds. We planted all of the seeds in the packages. We might have way too much of both, especially once the beans need staking. I was worried that my seed drill, aka Reid, wasn’t planting the seeds deeply enough. Plus, we’re not the world’s greatest weeders. We also have lots of critters who dine in our garden and grass and we don’t discourage them since they make for good viewing from our dining room table.

I know Reid had fun with Grandma Joyce and Uncle Roger while Ken and were out for supper and a movie but the details are vague. I know they ate supper on the front porch. Reid is obsessed with picnics, which she defines as meals eaten away from the dining room table, especially those that take place outdoors. Uncle Roger and Reid went to the park near our house and she rode her bike. As long as Reid tired at the end of the day, it’s a good day.

Why my house looks like it does

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

Last Sunday afternoon, Ken suggested that Reid and I should clean up her bookshelves. He’d gone through the toys that used to live on them and but them on a different bookcase. I thought it was a great idea since it’s something that I think of doing each night when I see the books piled every which way.

We went up and I started pulling the books off of the shelves. I asked Reid to start gathering the Franklin books in one pile and the Clifford the Big Red Dog in another. I put the Christmas books together and also the other holiday books and then grouped hardcovers, softcovers, Dr Seuss and so on. Ken came in after a while and was surprised that book situation was worse instead of better. I explained my organization principles and he said, “I thought you’d take the ones that were in piles and stand them up.”

I like to be able to find the Easter books at Easter and books about mamas just before Mother’s Day and I couldn’t do that this year. Now, it’d be easy to lay my hands on just the right book, even the one where the groundhog lobbies for a whole month instead of just a day.

I’m trying to read each book once before repeating them. So far, Reid hasn’t asked to hear one twice. She tried to misfile a book that I’d chosen and she rejected, though, much to Ken’s amusement. I could put signs on the shelves but since Reid doesn’t read and wasn’t concerned when I explained the problem, I’m not sure it would help. In fact, Ken might mix them up just to drive me nutty. He’s like that, you know.

C’mon over and read a book whenever you’re free. We’ve got lots from which to choose.

If my name were “Bookmark”

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

Reid and I watched cartoons yesterday morning. Ever since we put the television in the basement watching tv has been a rare event. One of the shows that we watched was Super Why. For those of you who didn’t know who Daniel Cook was, I’ll explain that the show involves four little kids who each have super powers, like spelling, sounding out and reading. It’s the little guy, the star of the show, who stands on letters that spell “READ”. This guy, for obvious reasons, is Reid’s favourite. Not surprisingly, since Reid doesn’t read, she is not troubled by the incorrect spelling of her name.

At one point, when the characters were encouraging the kids to associate sounds with a letter. I joined in saying the sound and was reprimanded promptly. “If your name was ‘Bookmark’, you could do this show but your name is Barbara. My name is “Read’.” Put in my place, I stayed quiet since my name definitely isn’t “Bookmark”.(I’ll have to speak with her about the use of “was” versus “were” in the conditional tense.)

Didn’t miss me at all

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Ken and Reid had a busy weekend while I was in Toronto. They started out with a visit to the library after school to choose some books and a video. Reid sees this as a perfect start to her weekend, or any evening, for that matter. They were at Canadian Children’s Museum when it opened at 9:00 on Saturday morning and stayed for 2.5 hours. I’m not sure where they spent their time exactly but I bet Ken had to suggest that they leave in the end. Reid’s frequent visits don’t diminish her desire to spend lots of time at the cargo ship, bus, theatre and so on. They ate their lunch in the Café du Musée before heading to the Canada Aviation Museum. The “airplane museum” is Ken’s favourite museum in Ottawa, I think. I tend not to go unless the Canada Science and Technology Museum Corporation member’s winter party is held there. Reid used to like to go but the last couple of visits haven’t gone so well. Where once Reid like to find family groupings – the helicopter family, for example, with its big (Daddy), middle-sized (Mama) and small (Reid) ‘copters. I don’t think that Ken will be taking Reid with him any time soon.

Reid started a new swimming class on Sunday morning and the highlights seems to have been jumping into water that was over her head. It hasn’t been that long since Reid wouldn’t jump into shoulder-deep water unless the teacher was holding her hands. Reid also told me about finding a diving ring. On the first try! She explained that sometimes she doesn’t get them at all. I suggested that she would have increased success if she opened her eyes when she was under water. Reid gave me a skeptical look and said, “I don’t do that.” The “silly mama!” part of the sentence was only implied.

I signed Reid and me up for a parent-child pottery class at the Gloucester Pottery School a few weeks ago and the first class was Sunday afternoon. Since I was away, Ken eagerly filled in. Or, at least, he agreed to go in my place. I’d left telling him about this obligation to the last minute since I was pretty sure he wouldn’t want to dwell on it much in advance. In the end, I think it wasn’t as bad as anticipated. Reid’s eyes sparkled when she told me “what we made”. When I asked Ken what he had made, I learned that Reid had been speaking with the royal “we” in her description of what had been made. Ken said that Reid kept taking over his creations. I’m not how well I’ll like it if/when she does that to me. I’m not as magnanimous as Ken – it’s birth order, eh, I’m the “baby” in my heart.

I’d picked up the fixings for some kid-friendly meals – spaghetti and meat sauce, fish and chips, stirfry chicken and veggies – and they seemed to enjoy them. If it’d been me, I might have been tempted to hit the mall’s food court but Ken isn’t as keen on dining out of the house as me. Ken told me that Reid is much better behaved when I’m not around and also that she went to sleep without any trouble. I don’t think either of them me missed me overly much but they both were glad to see me. I’m glad to have had the weekend but was happy for the welcome back hugs as well.