Beat the Summer Time Blues

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“Mom, I’m bored!” These three words are my most dreaded words to hear. Trying to keep you children engaged during the summer months can be a challenging task. Try these activities that won’t break the bank. Remember to use background resources found on Big Universe.


Teach your children the basics of cooking. This is a fun and inexpensive activity, in addition, you are also teaching them a valuable life long skill!

Kids can get creative in the kitchen with inspiration from the tasty recipes in Super ‘Wiches. Young chefs can choose from classic favorites with a twist such as grilled cheese and PB&J, or innovative fare like Thanksgiving Treats and Tuna Avocado Roll-Ups. Each recipe includes suggestions for customizing the sandwiches to match the tastes of the cook or to make artistic creations. After all, cooking is an artand art is all about experimenting! Each recipe includes a nutrition tip and a fact box as well as a list of tools and ingredients and easy, step-by-step instructions. Kids will learn about nutrition and healthy eating, sequencing and following directions, math and measuring skills, and kitchen safety. Bon apptit!
From the publisher, “If you’re feeling thirsty, this book is for you! Learn to make delicious fruit drinks and smoothies that not only taste good, but can be good for you, too! Each recipe includes a healthy tip as well as an ingredients and tools list and easy, step-by-step instructions for making fun and nutritious beverages. Kids will love dazzling their family and friends with delicious and tasty drinks such as the bubbly Red Lava Volcano, the green Kiwi Concoction, and the shake-like Banana Bonanza. Soon, they will be begging you for the recipes!”


Start a Collection

Engage your children in a new hobby like rock collecting.  Use Big Universe books to teach them the basics of starting a collection.

From the publisher, “Rock collecting is a hobby that is easy to start. This engaging book describes how to dig, where you can and can’t dig (restricted in national parks), the necessary equipment, how to identify rocks and gems, and the proper recording and storage of your collection.”


Get Active

Visit a local park and play!  Getting exercise is a great way to make some memories, as well as keeping kids fit.

From the publisher, “The mayor wants a community park and safe playground for the children. She enlists a group of kids to join her in asking one of the citizens to donate some of his land. When he agrees, he joins all the families and friends who set out to build swings, benches, gardens, and a fountain. There is excitement and a sense of purpose to build the park for all to enjoy. The whole town comes together to create a beautiful park and celebrate with a grand picnic and beautiful fireworks when the job is done. The narrative text builds line by line and page by page, using repetition and imagery to create a charming story for young readers. Vocabulary recognition and matching pictures to the text help readers gain confidence in both comprehension skills and predicting a sequence of events. The artwork in this book is superb. Definitely worth noting is the bird in the birdbath doing the backstroke! Also, there are birds in every spread that add to the experience. The first page has one and then every spread thereafter adds a bird! Try to find them all on each spread! Also, try and find the worm in every image. Lastly, the end sheets can be used for visual searches. Find the items in the book! A great, fun book!”


What are some other engaging activities you have tried?

School Librarian Creates a Culture of Reading With an Expanded Library and Involved Families

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Librarian Carol Nanney instructs students using Big Universe

As a high-achieving school, McKenzie Elementary School has a problem most districts dream about: how to show improvement when test scores are already better than state averages. “We have always had 5s in achievement, but struggled to improve our growth score,” says Carol Nanney, the librarian at McKenzie. “This year, our growth score in literature increased from a 1 to a 3. Big Universe has sparked excitement in our students.” Continue reading

Learning About The United States: Geography In Action


Brain-based instruction helps students to retain the information they learned in school. Making connections is a powerful tool that educators and parents can utilize to facilitate student’s academic achievement. Connecting maps and geography skills to student’s instructional lessons helps kids and teens to acquire new knowledge. Studies have found that connected learning experiences help people to better retain the information learned. Educators, schools, families and libraries can incorporate the following activities into their instructional lessons to enhance student’s geography knowledge. Continue reading

Celebrating Fourth of July: Books, Speeches, Food, Parties and Pizzaz


Celebrating Freedom: Making It Count

Independence Day affords an opportunity to educate kids and teens about the importance of the American people’s freedom. Check out these easy ways to get the entire family involved.

Write Patriotic Speeches, Chants and Songs

One of the most exciting times in my life, as a mom, was when my six-year-old son won the city’s patriotic speech contest! Needless to say, Continue reading

Value of Tall Tales


Tall tales are stories that are loosely based on real people that did larger than life deeds. These stories can be humorous when the main character solves a problem by impossible means. You can have your children create their own versions of these classic tall tales. Tall tales encourage creativity and planning. These can be either written down or told as fun classroom or family activity. Continue reading

Your Country’s History

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This time of year many people reflect on their country and how the efforts of others play a role in their own life. This summer, take time to discover your own personal history.  You may find heroes like military men and women or examples of perseverance in your very own family! By discovering their stories, your out look on life will be altered.  History can become a personal experience by trying these tips.  Encourage your students to discover their “his” or “her” story as well! Continue reading

“Old” School

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I recently read this article which appeared on the Good Morning America talk show. A Seattle nursing home also has a preschool on site. The concept of intergenerational education is not a new one, but this nursing home went further and added a preschool. They involve both generations in story time, dancing, crafts, and other engaging activities. This idea is changing how young people view the older generation. Young and old learn from each other, and enjoy their time together.  What a heart warming story that is living proof that learning can be fun regardless of age!

The Lazy Days of Summer

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Through exploration, students can learn at their own pace and discover new ideas and concepts. Summer no longer needs to be lazy.  It can be filled with adventure as you travel through the pages of a book. Spend time this summer enjoying and exploring various literary genres.

Examples from Big Universe:

Fiction (Fantasy, historical, sci-fi, realistic, mystery)

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 12.22.21 PMMartha C. Reith (author), Steve Ruttner (illustrator) ISBN: 15963903527 Remedia Publications

From the publisher, “Join Sam Sherlock and his dog Watson in their exciting adventures as they solve the mysteries! Each story offers an opportunity for even the most reluctant readers to sharpen their reading comprehension and critical thinking skills as they investigate each case and follow the clues to their logical conclusion.”

Non-fiction (Informational texts)

From the publisher, “Because of strong herding instincts, Collies often try to round up animals and people. The movie “Lassie Come Home” featured one of these dependable dogs and made Collies popular pets. Young children will discover why Collies are known for their close companionship.”


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From the publisher, “Using the graphics, students can activate prior knowledge–bridge what they already know with what they have yet to learn. Graphically illustrated biographies also teach inference skills, character development, dialogue, transitions, and drawing conclusions. Graphic biographies in the classroom provide an intervention with proven success for the struggling reader.”


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Let summer be inspiring


Be inspired! Use the summer to explore new ideas, review past lessons and engage in activities to feed the mind, body, and soul. Learn just for the pure joy of learning. Take important things learned and use them in dally life. Take chances. Try new things. Try again on something that has been a challenge. These are the underlying messages in Italian educator, Cesare Cata’s list of 15 “homework” assignments for his students this summer that has gone viral in his native Italy and is beginning to get attention here in North America. Continue reading