Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Giveaway: Limited Edition Spring I Spy Bags

These little bags are such a neat idea that I just had to share this giveaway with someone! There have been plenty of times when Crawfish Pie and I have been stuck in a waiting room far longer than flash cards, coloring books, and even the Leapster2 could keep her occupied. While trying to find ways to keep her quietly occupied (and in one seat), we have found the I Spy game to work wonders! Old magazines, pictures on the wall, and other peoples accessories all work well for the game. Then I cringe when I see some mucus encrusted kid playing with the other magazines and I suddenly find myself wondering about what cooties my daughter has come into contact with. And lets be honest, no human being likes to be stared at in a waiting room or unknowingly used for entertainment. Now that you have the details, you can fully appreciate my excitement for the giveaway I found at Little Wife Power House. It's I Spy in an ever so clever bag!

The I Spy Bags are also available in a green fabric that can be for a boy or gender neutral, obviously I am partial to the pink one. You can buy them here if you aren't lucky enough to win the giveaway. Kids will be occupied, cooties avoided, and no awkward eye contact or staring. Yay! Good luck to you all!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Free Reading Resources

To follow up the free Language Arts material of a previous post, I thought I would share a few sites with free reading resources. Whether you are looking to read books online, listen to books online, or download books to go, there is something here for almost everyone.

We Give Books 
     We Give Books donates a book to the charitable organization of your choice every time you read a book. Simply sign up, pick your charity, and read some books.  Reading the books is similar to checking out the sales papers for your favorite store. You have to turn pages, zoom, and scroll around to see the whole page. It is worth it when you get to the end of the book and click on the "give book" link, it makes your heart smile just a little bit.

Books Should Be Free
     Download free audio books in mp3, iPod, or iTunes format. Choose from several categories, with over 100 children's books, or do a general search to find exactly what you are looking for. I have only listened to one children's book, so I can't speak for the recorded quality of all books.

     Watch animated audio books geared for a younger crowd. This site provides a sorting feature at the top of the page that lets you select fables, fairytales, holiday books, etc. It also has several books that feature the character Arthur, which seems to be a hit with the kiddos.

     This site offers an audio book collection for children and tweens. Their official mascot is Bertie the frog prince who longs for Princess Beatrice to kiss him so he can be a prince again. How cute is that? Storynory offers classics, fairytales, original stories, and an educational section. Listen to their audio books online, or load up your mp3 player from their free podcasts or iTunes feed. Follow them on Facebook for up to date announcements.

Light Up Your Brain
      With about twenty stories currently offered, it will not be your one stop shop when it comes to audio books. This site does offer several of the children's classics available for download as an mp3 file or you can read the text online. My favorite is the non-Disney version of The Little Mermaid.

Open Culture
     Self described as "the best free cultural and educational media on the web", this site features TONS of downloads. With categories in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry you are sure to find something useful on this site. Open Culture also has audio files and podcasts that cover a variety of topics such as music, science, technology, and culture. They even have a section of free courses, and about 340 classic movies and indie films.

The Story Home
     "The Story Home believes that the imagination of a child is a priceless resource and must be given time, encouragement, and education." Don't you love this site already? The Story Home was created by Alan Scofield as a way for him to share his original stories with friends and family. It soon blossomed into an all out audio book extravaganza full of classic stories for children and the original works of Alan and his wife Sharon. With a princess castle theme, this place is like an online fairytale all its own. I know some boys will not be caught alive looking at a website with princess castles and sparkly stars, but there are plenty of animal and sports stories for them to enjoy too. Maybe you could just turn the screen off.

Lit 2 Go
     I think I might have hit the motherload with this one :) Created by the University of South Florida as part of the Educational Technology Clearinghouse, this site has nearly got it all. You can download the mp3 file, download directly into iTunes, download the online text version, or download a printable PDF. The majority of the books come with downloadable "support material" that vary intensely depending on the reading level and nature of the story. You can search by author, title of the work, reading level, or subject matter. This site has you covered no matter grade/reading level your child is on.

Book Adventure
     This site, created by Sylvan Learning, provides the motivation to get kids reading. Geared towards elementary and middle school aged children, Book Adventure allows a student to create their own booklists from about 7,000 titles and encourages them to keep reading through games, quizzes, and prizes. This site does not provide the reading material, but you already know you can find it for free. There is also a Parent Zone to help you monitor quiz scores and approve prize selections.