Using the Game Upwards with Young Children

Durability There are various levels of quality in this game. Mine is an older version but it has lasted quite well.

.Play quality This is a fun game for adults as well as children. It is a great way to teach children spelling and reading.

Safety The tiles should be kept away from children under three as they are a choking hazard

.Age interest The game is designated for eight years and older but the ideas below can show you ways to use it with much younger children.

Storage and portability Everything fits neatly into a small box.

Price Price varries from this featured $14.00 version to $80.

Recommendation highly recommended.

https://amzn.to/33ndzDV

This post is suggesting a cooperative way to play with young children. Opponents can’t have large differences with spelling abilities so it isn’t suitable for a four year old and a ten year old. But there’s a way even young children can enjoy it. Play my cooperative version.

How do you win?

If you can use all the tiles in the box to form words, you are Word Champions! If you don’t get them all (pretty difficult) on the board, set a goal to have fewer orphaned letters the next time you play.

Only use one rack. Let the child pull out ten letters from the bag and say their names and sounds. Together, create a word to place on the boards. Pick enough letters out of the bag to get back to ten on your rack. Keep working together.

Variations

  1. Just make words.
  2. Make a list of simple rhyming words. You make one and the two of you make the rhyme Some interesting variations in spelling sounds will come up.
  3. Create short vowel words. What ones can be changed to long vowel words by adding an E?
  4. Show them how to join words.
  5. Show them how to lengthen the word with suffixes like “ed”, “s” and “ing” and prefixes like “re.
  6. Show them how to change a word by building up. This is the only way you can ever use all the tiles.
  7. Now they are ready to play real “Up”.

Welcome Back, Maple Mehta-Cohen by Kate McGovern. Book Review.

The premise of this story is that a girl, Maple, is kept back in grade four while all her friends move to grade five, middle school, and shun her. She fails because she can’t read. This has just been discovered by her “excellent” teacher and she is diagnosed with dyslexia.

Before I address the story writing, I must address this issue of failing a child for the teacher’s inadequate assessments. This book is published in Canada so I don’t know what province this would still be happening in. For decades in Ontario, teachers must assess students independent reading at least three times a year using unfamiliar text with no pictures or oral clues. The students are assigned a reading level and this is followed from grade SK to six. Teachers plot the child’s progress from one term to the next and if a child is falling behind, further testing and support is put in place. Everyone involved would be alerted if a child couldn’t read long before they reached the end of grade five. Parents would be livid if a child was suddenly kept back with no indication for years that they were struggling. There would be long discussion of why this child slipped through their fingers and someone would be held accountable.

Setting that aside, the story is an accurate representation of the trauma a child in this situation would suffer. Quite often the friends in their former class forget about including them, especially if they seldom see each other at school. Parents are often unaware that a child is being socially excluded. Maple is hurt but resourceful and brave. She suffers a horrible humiliation and has the compassion to forgive. Unfortunately, today I think the public humiliation of her poor oral reading would not be put on the intercom but would be spread across social media where it would not be forgotten so easily.

The book also touches on how difficult it is for minority children, especially those of mixed race, to find representation in media and history representation.

This is a touching story but it feels a little out of date. This seems as though the social and academic situations pertain more to the time of the author’s childhood than present day.

Buy Link https://amzn.to/3Ffsgqb

3 stars

Zoologic Game Review

This game has a plastic stand, a book of challenges, a hint and instruction book, and seventeen pieces of tile. It is a game for one person but two people helping each other can be a lot of fun. The tiles have friendly dogs, unfriendly dogs, mice, cheese, fish, bones, and cats. The book of challenges contains a pattern of tiles that must be followed. Some of them have additional animals or items on it as well. The challenge is to organize a prescribed set of tiles in such a way that no food gets eaten or no animals fight. For example these tiles should not be beside each other: cat and dog, dog and bone, mouse and cheese, cat and mouse, and cat and fish. The tile arrangements begin with easy and increase in difficulty. There are 60 puzzles to complete.
Durability The plastic stand is very thin and can be easily broken. The plastic tiles are sturdy but the paper pictures glued onto them are beginning to peel.
Play quality This is a fun game for adults as well as children. It is a great way to teach children logic and the process of elimination .
Safety There are no sharp edges. The tiles should be kept away from children under three as they are a choking hazard.
Age interest The game is designated for five years and older but that seems a little young. I would say six or seven.
Storage and portability Everything fits neatly into a small box.
Price $25.00 well worth the price.
Recommendation highly recommended. Addictive and brain stimulating activity that even adults will enjoy.

Pirate Smells – Interactive Fun for the Whole Family

Purchase link 

Hours of things to do with this book:

  1. Read the story. Enjoy Pirate’s adventures and the child’s imaginings,
  2. Before reading the answer, try to guess the source of the smell from the close-up pictures that represent Pirate’s viewpoint.
  3. Write and draw your answer to the question about Pirate’s last adventure.
  4. At the back of the book, you will find a list of well-known books, classic and recent. Look for images or words on the cloud-framed pages of this story that remind you of the books listed. Write down the page number of any you find.
  5. Find 68 gingerbread men.
  6. Read the books listed. They’re great.

Here’s a video with illustrations. https://youtu.be/i5TED_gpJYg

Soccer School – Where Soccer Saves the World Season 2 by Alex Bellos and Ben Lyttleton. Book Review.

Buy link

This unusual book explains the science, and more, behind soccer. It covers such topics as why the soccer ball is round, how to have healthy grass for the soccer field, languages around the world, and filming the event. There is a class schedule at the beginning that lists such subjects pertaining to soccer as biology, math, art, religious studies, psychology, business studies, and engineering. How the authors connect all of these topics to soccer is impressive and interesting.

Just in case your child resists reading an educational book disguised as entertainment, the authors have extensively discussed vomit and urine as it relates to soccer. You will learn more than you expect.  Although there is a fair bit of humor interjected into the content, it is extensively well researched and written. Each chapter ends with a quiz of five or six multiple choice questions. The level of knowledge is quite high. The answers are in the back of the book.

Some tidbits that caught my attention were:

  • The lawn mower was a spinoff of an invention to cut off the tufty bits  of cloth from soldiers uniforms.
  • Some languages have original words that exist nowhere else. For example in the Philippines they have a word for taking a bath with your clothes on.  In India and Bangladesh they have a word for the sound, sight, or motion of a big person’s buttocks rubbing together as they walk.
  • Since cameras broadcasting a soccer game are scattered in and around the field, they receive different lighting and so must be color adjusted to match each other.

The book also contains helpful information on meeting personal goals and motivation. It’s quite amazing how much has been packed into this 198 page book. Although the vocabulary is quite rich and some of the concepts  are a bit challenging, I think kids aged eight and up who enjoy trivia, science, and soccer will love this book. More than a few adults we’ll find something interesting  here as well.

 

Soccer ball buy link https://amzn.to/3q9DLJ7

Petscapade (Mystery Book Club 1) by Nadishka Aloysius. Book Review.

Buy link https://amzn.to/39o3qrG

Petscapade is the story of four girls and a boy, 9 years old, who form a mystery book club. When a purebred kitten goes missing they decide to use their knowledge to solve the mystery of whether the cat has wandered off or been stolen. The novel starts out quite slowly and the reader needs to show patience as this is a gently paced book. The cover fails to inform or interest the reader.

About a quarter of the way through the novel I discovered it was taking place in Sri Lanka. I’m not sure if I missed that indicator earlier on. It’s important to realize this as the way that children speak is unusually articulate and adult for 9 year olds.

“Yes, it is rather,” agreed Lal, with a grin.

There are several cultural behaviors that may strike North Americans as unusual if they are not aware of the context. For example, the children are not allowed to bring fiction books to school to read and their social interactions are strictly controlled. Once the reader realizes the environment, it becomes quite intriguing to learn new customs and terms.

The story is told in a straightforward manner with little emotion. However, There are moments of humor.

Cara laughed. “If every grumpy person is a criminal, we would all be in jail!”

The author doesn’t shy away from controversial viewpoints.I think this book should launch some interesting discussions about our abysmal treatment of animals such as supporting pet stores, eating meat, and abandoning pets.

I’m not sure political remarks belong in a book for 9 year olds though.

“And she is Tamil…” Amal broke off.

There is one beautiful paragraph that will give food for thought.

“I have taught my son that sometimes, you need to intervene to help others. I don’t believe in sitting on the sidelines watching the world fall apart. Children must be taught to take whatever action they can to make the world a better place.”

The case of the missing cat, which turns out to be cats actually, is resolved positively even though the children are discouraged and sometimes condemned for their actions in trying to locate the missing kitten. The lesson of perseverance is worthwhile.

Best Books I’ve Reviewed in 2018

These were my favorite books I reviewed in 2018. Click on the titles to go to the complete review.

Adult Books

When by Daniel H. Pink. 

It will give you insights into time that you never considered and strategies that will make your days more successful.

The Sherrif’s Catch by James Valla-Bardon. The Sassana Stone Pentalogy. 

This is a robust and gruesome tale of a Spanish soldier, Abel de Santiago, a gifted sharpshooter, seeking revenge for the murder of his wife. Anything and everything horrible that can happen to this man, does.

Young Adult/Junior Grade Books

Laura Monster Crusher by Wesley King. 

This will be a favorite with readers who love fantasy and unusual female heroes.

Picture Books

Bloom – A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli by Kyo Maclear and Julie Morstad.

This is a 8X10 picture book that tells the story of a fascinating and unique individual, Elsa Schiaparelli. It begins in early childhood where we learned that Elsa was a disappointment to her parents because they wanted a boy and she wasn’t as pretty as her sister. This compelled Elsa her to examine the concept of beauty.

Davy’s Pirate Ship Adventure by Danual Berkley. Illustrated by Amariah Rauscher. 

I knew I’d like this author the moment I read the dedication. Simple words with a powerful, important message.

Backyard Fairies by Phoebe Wahl. 

This is a delightful picture book for the imaginative child. There are only a few words on each page; the detailed and intriguing gardens filled with secretive hidden fairies dominate.

Duck, Duck, Moose by Joy Heyer.

This is a delightful picture book about missing a friend.My granddaughter found this book very engaging and loved the humorous bits as well as the emotional moments. Highly recommended.

Kameko and the Monkey-king by Melissa Addey and Claire Loescher. Book Review.

Buy link https://amzn.to/2KSS9FP

Kameko is told by the Buddha statue that in order to cure her seriously ill mother she must obtain the jewel from the Monkey-king’s crown. On her way to The Monkey-king’s Kingdom she meets and befriends several characters. They warn her not to drink, eat, or sleep in The Monkey-king’s Palace or she will wake up a monkey herself.

She pretends to go to sleep but creeps in and steals The Monkey-king’s jewel. He pursues. In spite of being helped by her new friends, the monkey regains the jewel. Kameko returns home heartbroken but the magic from the jewel has saturated her hands and her touch cures her mother. She grows up to be a renowned doctor and healer.

The story has a lyrical quality as though it is being told by an oral Storyteller of old. The print illustrations suit the story line perfectly. The illustrations seem simple at first glance but are actually quite complex for lino cuts. They are black and white with touches of red giving it an historic Japanese flavor.

Kameko’s interactions with the people she meets are positive especially when she takes time from her trip to help an elderly woman gather wood. However, as a Buddhist myself, I find the fact that her only strategy was to steal disappointing. I’m not sure if this is based on a traditional story or original, but to be cross-culturally relevant I think it needs to be updated.

The Monkey-king has a right to be enraged. We have no proof that he is actually going to bring harm to Kameko and, even so, Kameko goes there by choice. I had hoped she would use her wits to gamble and win the stone or win a challenge from the Monkey-king. Simply stealing it in the night does not comply with true Buddhist ethics. Neither  would I want a child to go away with the idea and stealing is the first and best response.