Monday, August 29, 2011

Hands On Activities for Read Alouds: A Giveaway

 This giveaway is closed.  The winners are announced here.

Whether you homeschool or not, chances are you read a lot to your kids or nieces and nephews or grandchildren.  Many adults who want to foster a love of reading in the lives of children make it a priority to read to them aloud.  Sometimes, said children, snuggle up close and hang on every word.  Other times, those same kids want to be down on the floor, keeping their hands busy with something while they listen.  I, personally, have no problem with this (as long as the activity doesn't require talking or noisy sound effects) and even think it may help them listen.

Blocks, legos (again, less the sound affects), drawing paper and pencils, paper dolls, and sewing are just some of the wonderful activities our kids can keep busy with while we read to them.  The possibilities are endless.  Recently, I was given the opportunity to review some products (of my choice) from Froebel USA, an educational toy website whose motto is "Educating the Whole Child".  Many of the items on their website scream "read aloud activities!"  And, lucky us (!), the owner of the website wants to give two products away here this week!

The first item our family looked at was the Archimedes Square Stomachion Puzzle.  According to the Froebel website, it's "The world's oldest puzzle, developed over 2200 years ago, by Archimedes. Our Archimedes Square Stomachion puzzle consists of 14 polygons (made from brightly colored wood pieces) of varying sizes and shapes. Much like the traditional Tangram, you can solve the puzzle or create your own designs and patterns."  We had fun doing both.  It was very good that I took a picture of it put together before we turned the pieces out and tried to put it together from scratch.

Sadie (age 5, top row) gave it a go first.  It proved too difficult for her to reassemble the puzzle, but she quickly (and on her own) took out the pieces and started making her own designs.  What you see above is one of the most lovely giraffes every created.  But that's just my opinion:-).

Sam (age 8, bottom row) discovered that the completed puzzle included a vertical line down the center as well as a diagonal line drawn across opposite corners.  This helped him, as did asking me to put half of it together for him (I had to refer to the picture I had taken).  This is a challenging puzzle.  Sam kept at it and has asked me to get it out several times since.  It's a challenge for me as well and strangely addictive.  There are no age recommendations on the website that I could find, but I would suggest 8 years old might be a little bit young.  Maybe age 10 to adult.  But! If you have a youngster who loves puzzles and enjoys a challenge and is under 10, by all means, check it out.

The second item we looked at is the seventh in the series of Froebel Gifts- the Parquetry Tablets"The child will recognize shapes, see patterns and symmetry, and make the transition from constructing objects to representing them in two dimensions."  This reminds me a lot of Colorforms, except instead of sticking the cling shapes onto boards, you can manipulate the shapes how ever you choose.  Sam and Sadie really enjoy this.

It comes with suggested methods of introducing the "tablets" or shapes to your children.  We talked about the shapes one at a time and I asked them where they see the shapes in nature or in their surroundings.  We talked about how many sides and angles the shapes had and how they are similar to and different from each other.  Then, we came to the fun part- creating.  And, create they did.  This item was more age appropriate for them and they spent a long time enjoying it the day I first got it out.  They've asked repeatedly to play with it since and I imagine it will become a favorite during our read alouds this school year.

Now we come to the really fun part- the giveaway!!

To enter:  Please tell me two things.

1) First, follow the links above and decide which of the two items you would like to enter to win.  In the comments, tell me which one you chose.  One winner will be chosen out of each group.

2) The second thing I'd like you to tell me is what your children do when you read to them OR what you remember doing when you were read to as a child.

Please only one entry per household.  If you have trouble leaving a comment, please email me your entry and I will post it for you.  If you comment anonymously (which is fine!) please remember to leave some initials so I can identify you.  Winners will be chosen sometime on Friday- just in time for school!

I was given the two items that I reviewed in this post.
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  1. Bob would love the Parquetry Tablets! He still sits on my lap for short books, but when I read longer books aloud I let him do pretty much anything he wants to. He's not yet two, so I doubt if he really follows along, but I think the language seeps into his brain, at least.

  2. I would love to win the square puzzle. My children usually color when I read aloud. We have the detailed Dover coloring books that they make copies of and color.

  3. We like the parquetry tablets. James likes to turn the pages when we read to him, or play with his stacking cups.

  4. Froebel Gifts- the Parquetry Tablets is the what I would like to win. I have a daughter that has decided to home school her second grade daughter. I think this would add to her curriculum. I am going to tell you what one grandson does when I read to him. He asks LOTS of questions! I love it. It helps develop the story and his young mind!!

  5. I don't want to win either as I am not a homeschool mom...but I DID want to comment on the benefits of letting some children work with their hands while listening. My son Ian is a kinesthetic learner and in order to hear and comprehend what the teacher says his hands need to be busy, for him forming something with clay was always helpful.

  6. I'm a fan of BOTH of them!!! I remember using something similar to the Parquetry Tablets back when I was in Elementary School. I LOVED THEM!!!!! (So, if I HAVE to choose, then I'll be nostalgic and go with those.)

    My girls ask tons & tons of questions and always study the illustrations very closely. Sometimes, my 3 year old will flip through "her" books while I read "chapter books" to my 5 year old. She's a BIG fan of Junie B. Jones and Hannah Montana books we check out from the library.

  7. Michelle!
    You don't have to be a homeschool mom to enter!! If you think your boys would like the puzzle or if you would like to give either as a gift, enter!:-)

  8. What a great idea! WHY didn't I think of giving them something to DO while I read to them??? Mostly my kids squirm and sometimes look at the pictures. We're reading Charlotte's Web right now.

    We would love the Parquetry Tablets so that there are enough for all 3 kids to use at one time.

    Thanks for hosting the give away - I hope I win!!!!

  9. Oooh, the Parquetry tablets! I think the puzzle would be too challenging for my preschoolers.

    I pretty much let my kids do whatever they want during read-alouds, as long as they're in the immediate vicinity and are quiet. However, usually only the toddler gets down and plays. The other 2 want to snuggle right up and listen. We'll see if that changes this year, as we're using Sonlight for our curriculum (starting TODAY!) and will be doing a TON of reading aloud.

    Thanks for another great giveaway!

  10. 1. The parquetry tablets, I think.

    2. Non-readers get to peruse picture books (sometimes), but usually they just sit still and listen.

  11. I think we would like the Parquetry Tablets. I have a 4-year old who is quite focused. He really just sits and listens while I read. He frequently does only one thing at a time. My two year old does everything at once. I have to watch myself because he's ALWAYS paying attention even if it looks like he's focused on his blocks.

  12. The parquetry tables remind me of what I played with as a child. I would love to be able to pass that on to my daughter. When I read to Lola, she pays close attention to the story, then takes the book from me when I am done and reads to me. I know a lot of this is stalling, trying to avoid actually having to go to sleep. But it's so cute, I let her get away with it for a few minutes every night.

    Thank you, Jane!

  13. My kids would both love the Archimedes puzzle. How cool is that.

    Reading out loud was always the one thing that could calm my oldest son down; he prefers to snuggle and listen. My youngest is a must-move-to listen type. He needs to be dangling off the couch, jumping from the couch to the coffee table (which is a dining room table that has been cut down to size so plenty sturdy), or building a fort. It drives me crazy but I've learned to let it go!

  14. We'd choose the Archimedes Square Stomachion puzzle... it looks like something that would really challenge my older learners, and the little ones would have fun just messing around with the pieces.

    When we read aloud, the younger ones either sit and cuddle or look at other picture books. My one son will sometimes draw or color, and sometimes they will build with legos while they listen.

    jksteelefam (at) gmail (dot) com

  15. The Parquetry Tablets would be a wonderful addition to our learning center. We have 8 children, 2 who are grown and 6 still at home. Our children have many different learning styles. Some like to sit quietly and read in a snugly spot others like to go outside and be a part of God's creation while they read. Still a few enjoy hanging upside down from the couch while they are either being read to or reading to themselves. I have a couple who just love to snuggle right up to the one reading and feel as if they are right there in the story experiencing everything that is taking place. Our 4 year old... he's a different story... he loves to roll around on the floor doing flips while he is being read to and if you read something that is really interesting to him he will ask you to re-read it...if it is a favorite story he likes to mimic what you are reading and have you read that story over and over again and again all the while saying, "I love this part".
    Mom of 8

  16. I'm not entering.... but you brought back awesome memories of my mom reading the "Encyclopedia Brown" books to us on long trips!!! Can't wait to do that with my kids one day!

  17. I think the Archimedes Square Stomachion puzzle looks awesome!

    My kids do a variety of activities while being read to, but one that stands out is when my now-seven-year-old daughter was younger, she used of those bouncing balls with a handle on top. She'd sit and bounce gently and get the wiggles out while I was worked for her.

  18. I like the parquetry tablets. My girls like to sit on my lap and turn pages, play with my hair, or sit on the potty as we are potty training :)
    Thanks, Jane!

  19. My kids would like the Archimedes Square Puzzle. My grandma has a similar puzzle but the shapes are more regular. This one looks more challenging for my 13 and 10 year olds. My kids sometimes draw or paint if we read-aloud in the afternoon. When we read-aloud in the evenings they are content to relax on the couch or in bed. We also listen to books on CD during trips to town--30 minutes each way.

  20. Archimedes Square Stomachion Puzzle is a great idea for something hands on while listening to a story. We found having something to do while listening really seems make story time a lot more fun. Sometimes we use clay on a tray and she is allowed to mold and make shapes or make beads. Other times, she will pull out her drawing pad and a box of crayons and work on a drawing while I read to her. I stop many times and ask her questions about what I am reading, just to make sure she is listening. She always seems to have the correct responses as well as, she will stop and ask questions about the story. Hands on while listening is really good for a lot of kids. :) Would love to add the Archimedes Square Stomachion Puzzle to our options. Blessings!

  21. What a great giveaway! I think that I would choose the Parquetry Tablets for us.

    My kiddos draw, color, work on puzzles, or play with Legos while I read to them almost everyday.


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  23. I would absolutely love the puzzle! We have something already that is very similar to the tablets. Ours are made of plastic though. My kids create all kinds of neat things with them. Since I have such an age gap between my kids (9 years between the oldest and the next oldest) it would be neat to have the puzzle for him to work on. He would really enjoy it!
    Heather @MountainHomeQuilts

  24. I'd be thrilled to win the parquetry tablets. My preschooler has been listening to chapter books this summer and is quite proud of it. While we read, she typically sits close to me, interjects with related (and sometimes unrelated) questions, and squirms a bit. I haven't thought to try read-aloud activities, but now I will!

  25. I’d love the Archimedes Square Stomachion Puzzle for my son. Last night he was playing with a Fisher Price cash register while I read to him.
    Blessings, Christy K.

  26. I would love to win the square puzzle. To be honest, most of our read alouds still involve picture books. Our newest thrill is books on tape which I like bc it teaches children to tune into someone elses voice!

  27. Both look great but if forced to choose i would have to go with the Stomachion Puzzle.
    I usually let the kids color while I read, giving them prompts to draw a picture relating to the story being read.
    Andrea D.

  28. My children would love working with the tablets! They are both great products though. I could see all three of them enjoying and interacting with each other through these.

  29. 1) i love them both. i think my kids would get the most playing time out of the parquetry tablets. and after looking at their website i see a lot more that i love too! i'm sure i'll be doing some christmas shopping there!
    2) my kids are usually sitting, laying down, or coloring when i read to them.
    thanks for the great blogging!
    monica c.

  30. I would love to have the Archimedes Square puzzle--my little guy would love it:) My little man (2 1/2) loves listening to books right on my lap and helping me to notice so many little things in the pictures. He also likes to "read" by himself:)


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