Literacy skills: practicing without practice

The following post is by contributor Robin Zipporah of Not-Ever-Still.

My sweet kindergarten girl is a beginning reader. She can read almost anything, slowly, as long as she doesn’t get frustrated or lose patience. Her handwriting is the same – it’s quite good, really, but sometimes when she’s tired or hurrying she still transposes those Bs and Ds or draws a backwards 9.

She’s like many smart kids, I think – she’s quite capable but she has perfectionist tendencies and because she is bright, she’s not accustomed enough to confronting challenge. Put those two qualities together, and sometimes she gives up entirely too easily. She wants help or declares her disinterest in favor of coloring or another activity.

So I’ve been intentionally building in little bits of reading and writing practice into our regular daily activities…without, you know, really drawing attention to the fact that we’re practicing anything. They aren’t drastic and they don’t take too much time; mostly they’re little ways of changing our routines. And as a bonus, they’re so much more than reading and writing activities – they’re fostering self-sufficiency and confidence in my girl.

Here are a few of my favorites:

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Let's Talk: Gardening with Kids, What Will You Grow this Year?

The following post is by editor Kara Fleck.

This Spring we”ve been talking a lot about gardens and green things growing.  Last week I ran a post about creating garden spaces for your children by contributor Catherine Way.  This week I”d like to ask what are you and your kids are growing in your garden spaces this year? 

A Few Green Resources

Gardeners, like knitters, are eager to share what they know.  Luckily for me, I happen to know a few people who are more successful gardeners than I am so I have smart folks to bounce ideas off of and ask questions.  Between my Dad, my uncles, my brother Nate, and my sister HanaJean I”ve got a lot of living green resources to help me in this gardening adventure.

The good people here at Simple Living Media are a good gardening resource, as well.  Did you see Danny Bourque”s raised bed tutorial on Simple Bites?  And definitely don”t miss Simple Homemade”s (formerly Simple Organic) Gardening 101 series.

We love the books by Sharon Lovejoy for gardening with children as well as the practical gardener”s guide series.  I have the kindle version of Indiana“s on my smart phone.

Our Plans

We have a simple raised bed system in our backyard and a few containers on our patio.  We keep things pretty simple around here, in no small part because, while I have an adventurous gardening spirit, my thumbs online casino canada are pretty black.

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Weekend Link Love (and the Sparkle Stories winners!)

Sparkle Stories

The winners of the Sparkle Stories giveaway are Jamie (JamieGuest) and Violet.  Congratulations!  We’ll get in touch with you soon about the details.

A Terrific Deal!

The lovely folks at Sparkle Stories are offering a wonderful discount to all Simple Kids readers — Try Sparkle Stories for $1! We’re offering a $1-for-the-first-month of subscription. Go to and choose one of our Sparkle Stories Packages. Use the magic code SIMPLYSPARKLE to receive your discount!

Please note that there is an affiliate link in this post.  Thank you for your support!

Weekend Giveaway: Sparkle Stories

Today’s weekend giveaway is for one of our family’s favorites: Sparkle Stories!

If you’re looking for a unique gift for the kids in your life, may I suggest Sparkle Stories, original tales told by an engaging story teller? The tales are entertaining and fun and a real joy to listen to.

This giveaway is now closed.

A subscription make a unique gift that doesn’t take up any room in the toy box, kids can share, and will give joy week after week.

My children ages 3 (almost 4), 5, and 10 are big fans of the Martin and Sylvia stories.  With six subscription series options to choose from, many are sure to delight your child, as well.

From the Sparkle Stories website:

Sparkle is an online resource for high-quality audio stories for children and families. Each week Sparkle Stories delivers delightful audio stories to subscribers around the world. We offer five original Story Series, plus a sixth Series with classic stories, songs and games, all designed to entertain and inspire the whole family.”

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Elements of a Child-Friendly Garden

The following post is by contributor Catherine Way of Adventures With Kids and originally appeared March 2011.

There are many physical and mental health benefits to children in spending time outdoors.  One easy way to increase the amount of time your child spends outdoors is to make your garden an appealing outdoor play space.

What do children want in an outdoor play space?  Children prefer natural playspaces that have plenty of opportunities for exploration, challenge, interaction and learning.

There are many ways that you can add child-friendly  elements to both big and small gardens.   Adding some of these elements to your garden will help make it a space where you child loves to be.
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