Friday, March 27, 2015

Weekend Bloggy Reading :: Link Up!

TGIF, my friends! Ready for some creative inspiration? Welcome to my Weekend Bloggy Reading link party. Fridays are fun because this is the day of the week where other bloggers stop by to link up their best post of the week here at Serenity Now, and readers get to browse tons of fun project ideas. If you're new here, don't forget to "Follow" or subscribe so you don't miss future parties and projects!

*Please be sure to read my guidelines before you add a link--I've had to bypass so many great projects lately because they didn't include a link back to my blog in the post!

This party is a great place to showcase your very best post of the week (home decor, crafts, party ideas, recipes, DIY, tips and tricks, etc.) and to see what else is out there.

Did you miss any of my posts this week? I'd love for you to click over:


Tips to Encourage Your Child to Read
My Spring Reading List for 2015
Inspiring Project Ideas

Time to link up your best post of the week!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Inspiring Project Ideas {link party features}

Hello there. The weekend's just around the corner, hurray! I love it when features day rolls around because I always hope to show off a project or two you haven't seen around the blogosphere yet. I'm pleased to share some good creative features from this past weekend link party and the weekend before (got sidetracked with a hectic schedule) with you today.

The party opens up again tomorrow morning, so be ready to join the fun. If you're new to the blog, I take a couple of days each week to let other bloggers showcase their project ideas here, and I take a day to feature a few of my faves. We have crafts, home decor, DIY, recipes, party ideas, organizing, sewing, tips and tricks, seasonal projects, and more!

Here are some projects that caught my eye this week:

~Easy Bunny Banner via Living and Learning with Luisa

~Coconut Pound Cake via The Kitchen is My Playground

~Chevron Burlap Spring Wreath via Livin' the Dream


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Encouraging Your Child to Read {Kindle FreeTime Unlimited}


Did you know that March is National Reading Month? The folks at Amazon are working with the National PTA, Amazon's Kindle, and the new FreeTime Unlimited program to foster a love of reading and learning in kids everywhere. I'm also going to share a few tips on how to encourage your child to read today.
Tips for Encouraging Your Child to Read, from Serenity Now blog


I've shared a little bit about my own struggles with my oldest, now nine years old. Story time was special for us, but like her mother (ahem, that would be me), she was initially very frustrated when it was time to learn to read on her own. If it didn't happen perfectly, the first time, she didn't want anything to do with it! There was an interest in the stories, but she didn't want to put the work in to read them herself. Fast forward two years, and she's now reading several grade levels ahead. They actually stopped testing her reading level because she's doing so well this year.

I don't say that to brag, but to encourage any moms or dads out there who may be worried about their child's progress. If my highly stubborn, cranky-about-reading-daughter can be transformed into a total bookworm, there is hope for you!
Tips for Encouraging Your Child to Read, from Serenity Now blog


Amazon knows all about reluctant readers, and they're making it easier on parents with their Kindle e-reader...just $79...and their new Kindle FreeTime Unlimited program, subscriptions starting at $2.99 a month!

My girls were beyond thrilled when a Kindle showed up at our door a couple of weeks ago. Here's what we love....


KINDLE:
  • Easily look up definitions to words, building their vocabulary
  • Love the Vocabulary Builder – which stores words that kids look up and allows them to quiz themselves with flash cards – and Word Wise, which provides short and simple definitions above difficult words as they’re reading along
  • Small and compact. No big unwieldy screen to tangle with. 
  • Carry their favorite books with them in one spot--with Spring Break approaching, this makes road trips easier to pack for! No lugging a bag of books with us
  • You can download books from your local library
  • Amazon also has a wonderful free books section for Kindle. I found Tom Sawyer, The Secret Garden, and Treasure Island...downloaded them for free!
  • No distractions- there are no extra apps, movies, or games on the Kindle. Just reading!
FREETIME UNLIMITED:

  • Unlimited access to hundreds of hand-picked chapter books and early-readers
  • Curated for age appropriateness
  • Easy to log in and browse titles (early readers, can search by character or theme with photos)
  • Just click on the book title/cover and it's downloaded into your child's FreeTime Unlimited profile!
  • Subscriptions start at just $2.99 a month. 

Note: FreeTime Unlimited also includes access to apps and videos, but I was unable to review this portion of the service because it is only compatible with Fire tablets and Fire TV.
Tips for Encouraging Your Child to Read, from Serenity Now blog

My conclusion? If you don't need or care for the apps and videos, the regular Kindle is an excellent way to encourage your kids to grow their reading skills. And incredibly affordable! With the FreeTime Unlimited, my girls have the freedom to choose which (age appropriate) books they want to browse and read. OR, I can go in and choose books for them.

Now...for my tips on encouraging reading!
Tips for Encouraging Your Child to Read, from Serenity Now blog

I may go into more detail in another post (and some of this I've touched on before), but here are a few tips and strategies that have worked for us:
  • Start early
The earlier the better! Experts recommend reading aloud to your little one every day for 20 minutes...from birth. As a mom of three, I don't think this is always possible. But I do try to set aside time with my youngest (15 months old) to read a few well-loved baby books. I credit reading to my older two from a very young age with sparking their interest in reading.
  • Be a teacher
When your little one hits the preschool/Pre-K years, take a few minutes every day during quiet time to practice letters and sounds. You can find flashcards online, in book stores, big box retailers, etc. This is key to what comes next...recognizing those letters and sounds and putting them together. Later on, use those few minutes to do sight words on flash cards.
  • Find a tutor
This was a toughie for my oldest, since she was starting to get embarrassed about her reading skills. (not surprising, since getting her to work on sight words and simple reading was like pulling teeth) My husband and I finally put our feet down and sent her to a tutor that my mom recommended. The tutor had years of experience with reluctant readers, and had all sorts of fun games and exercises to grow Natalie's reading skills.
  • The Twenty Minute Rule
You can read more about the twenty minute rule, and why I think it's important here (it's twenty five for us). In short, setting a consistent "no TV/movies/gaming/electronics" until you've read for twenty minutes keeps your child's skills sharp. This was a great way to back up all the skills Natalie was learning in her tutoring sessions.
  • Audio Books
Audio books are a fantastic way to whet your kids' appetite for a good story! I found that my middle daughter could listen to books like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; Henry Huggins, A Little Princess, etc. and comprehend most of the story if I just stopped and asked questions and explained every now and then. You can find more on audio book suggestions and ideas here or here.
  • Make it Fun
Find some "out of the box" ideas that you can pair with reading time. Start a neighborhood "book club" with a few friends and host with snacks, an activity, and maybe a small craft. Ask lots of questions, act out parts of the book, or share favorite scenes. Encourage your little artist to start a book journal...they can illustrate their favorite chapter, write a summary, write a letter to the author, and pen their own novel!
  • Talk to the Teacher
If your son or daughter is struggling with reading, but enjoys electronics, ask about any school sponsored online programs that they can log onto at home to practice their skills. I personally love that the Kindle offers badges for readers who complete their reading goals!

Most importantly, set a good example for your kids! If they see you reading, if you spend time together reading or listening to classic stories, they'll see a glimpse into the amazing, creative world that is waiting for them.

Getting over the initial hump of resistance can be difficult, but once your son or daughter discovers a love of knowledge, imagination, and experiences, it will be hard to quell. There are nights that I have to be stern with Natalie about shutting her book and going to bed!
Tips for Encouraging Your Child to Read, from Serenity Now blog
Tips to Encourage the Reluctant Reader in Your Home, from Serenity Now


Do you have any tips for encouraging reading in your home?


If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, I hope you'll click your "Pin It" button to add this post to Pinterest, or a +1 for Google+. And I always appreciate kind comments, Facebook shares, and Tweets!

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I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spring Reading List {2015}

In Virginia, Spring Break is timed around Easter, so it's quickly approaching. I thought it would be fun to share my Spring Reading List for 2015 with you today. I've already read a few of these books, but am including them since they did not make it on the Winter Reading List.
A great list of must-read books, perfect for Spring Break! {from Serenity Now}


I'm excited about these titles...I've spent most of my free time reading lately...instead of blogging. With stomach bugs, colds, flu, and viruses making the rounds in our house, I've felt like escaping into a good story at night instead of writing and editing. Here are some of the books I'll be reading this season. 

Unbroken- Laura Hillenbrand

Confession: I finished this yesterday. Had to read it quickly because it's due back at the library, and is a highly sought after book. You may have seen previews for the Angela Jolie-directed film based on the book. It's the true story of Louie Zamperini, an Olympian, American solider, and survivor of Japanese POW camps during World War Two. 

It is one of the most inspiring personal stories I've ever read. Ever. A true testament to the human will, written with an almost cinematic quality to it!

Love the Home You Have- Melissa Michaels

Planning on starting this one tomorrow, and will share a review next week! Just browsing the table contents told me that this book was going to be a must-read for me...and anyone else who struggles with loving their home, just as it is...no comparisons, no wishing for more. 

The Girl on the Train- Paula Hawkins

Book club read for April...finished this one too, and it was a really good read! I love a good "whodunnit". Follows a girl who takes a daily commuter train and sees something suspicious...but is her witness reliable?

The Secret Life of Violet Grant- Beatriz Williams

I loved A Hundred Summers, so I have high hopes for this one. It's billed as a beach tale full of history and family intrigue. 

From Amazon: "Passion, redemption, and a battered suitcase full of secrets: the New York Times-bestselling author of A Hundred Summers returns with another engrossing tale."

Bitter Greens- Kate Forsyth

In short, a retelling of the Rapunzel story. I mean, how could it not be good???

The Emperor's Children- Claire Messud

A chronic judge-a-book-by-the-cover-reader, I picked this one because it looked nice. Amazon lists it as a novel that follows the lives of three friends in good old New York City.

Tyringham Park- Rosemary McLoughlin

The cover looks like Downton Abbey.

Amazon says, "Tyringham Park is the Blackshaws’ magnificent country house in the south of Ireland. It is a haven of wealth and privilege until its peace is shattered by a devastating event which reveals the chaos of jealousy and deceit beneath its surface."


Lisette's List- Susan Vreeland

I spotted this one at the library and snatched it up. Amazon calls it "a richly imagined story of a woman’s awakening in the south of Vichy France—to the power of art, to the beauty of provincial life, and to love in the midst of war."

These should keep me busy for a couple of weeks. I'm sure I'll have a whole new list for you soon!

What's on your Spring Reading List? Please share titles in the comments section!

If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, I hope you'll click your "Pin It" button to add this post to Pinterest, or a +1 for Google+. And I always appreciate kind comments, Facebook shares, and Tweets!

Follow on Bloglovin

Friday, March 20, 2015

Weekend Bloggy Reading :: Link Up!

Hello, hello! Ready for some creative inspiration? Welcome to my Weekend Bloggy Reading link party. Fridays are fun because this is the day of the week where other bloggers stop by to link up their best post of the week here at Serenity Now, and readers get to browse tons of fun project ideas. If you're new here, don't forget to "Follow" or subscribe so you don't miss future parties and projects!

*Please be sure to read my guidelines before you add a link--I've had to bypass so many great projects lately because they didn't include a link back to my blog in the post!


This party is a great place to showcase your very best post of the week (home decor, crafts, party ideas, recipes, DIY, tips and tricks, etc.) and to see what else is out there.

Don't forget to visit Centsational Girl today for the BOTB column! See what Kate and I rounded up for you...the very Best of the Blogosphere. Post will be up some time this weekend. 

Time to link up your best post of the week!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Weekend Bloggy Reading :: Link Up!

Happy Friday! Ready for some creative inspiration? Welcome to my Weekend Bloggy Reading link party. Fridays are fun because this is the day of the week where other bloggers stop by to link up their best post of the week here at Serenity Now, and readers get to browse tons of fun project ideas. If you're new here, don't forget to "Follow" or subscribe so you don't miss future parties and projects!

*Please be sure to read my guidelines before you add a link--I've had to bypass so many great projects lately because they didn't include a link back to my blog in the post!

This party is a great place to showcase your very best post of the week (home decor, crafts, party ideas, recipes, DIY, tips and tricks, etc.) and to see what else is out there.

Did you miss any of my posts this week? I'd love for you to click over:

Vintage Stainless Steel High Chair Makeover
It's as Simple as Support
Inspiring Project Ideas

Time to link up your best post of the week!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Inspiring Project Ideas {link party features}

Hello, and Happy Thursday! The weekend's just around the corner, hurray! I love it when features day rolls around because I always hope to show off a project or two you haven't seen around the blogosphere yet. I'm pleased to share some good creative features from this past weekend link party and the weekend before (got sidetracked with a hectic schedule) with you today.

The party opens up again tomorrow morning, so be ready to join the fun. If you're new to the blog, I take a couple of days each week to let other bloggers showcase their project ideas here, and I take a day to feature a few of my faves. We have crafts, home decor, DIY, recipes, party ideas, organizing, sewing, tips and tricks, seasonal projects, and more!

Here are some projects that caught my eye this week:

~Apple Cream Cheese Bundt Cake via The Honeycomb Home


~Navy Powder Room Makeover via 24 Cottonwood Lane

~DIY Tassel Pillow Cover via Architecture of a Mom


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