Have you tried the Epic! app yet?

epic!

I am not sure how I stumbled upon this phenomenal app called Epic!, but I am glad that I did.  Epic! is an app (available for iOS or Android) that gives you instant access to over 15,00 books. Good books.  Not the ones that your child doesn’t want to read. It is designed to be used in a classroom setting or at home with your own children.

Epic! is free for verified educators and $4.99/mo. for parents. Parents can even try it out free for 60 days by using the promo code: “EPICREADS” at  www.getepic.com/promo

Aside from INSTANT access to ebooks, audiobooks, articles, short educational videos and ‘read it to me’ books, my kids and I really like the the variety of content available.  Epic! also keeps track of what my kids are reading, how long they have read for, and the number of ‘pages flipped.’  I can even view and print their reading log by week, month or year.  My kids stay motivated, partly because they know I am checking their profiles, but also because they can earn badges.

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Screenshot of Epic! on my iPhone

Kai is ten and going into the fifth grade.  She likes that you can put in your age and multiple interests and it will help you find things that you are interested in. She says, “if nothing stands out you can just go to the ‘popular’ category and browse through what other people like.”

For educators, Epic! is completely free.  After setting up a teacher profile, you can add up to 36 student accounts to keep track of student progress. The website also offers .pdf flyers to send home to families to explain the app.  Students are able to read at school and then pick right up where they left off on a device at home.  It’s seamless! Like in a parent account, Epic! enables teachers to view and print reading logs.

As an educator, my favorite thing about Epic! is that it gives students that struggle with reading a positive way to interact with books – by listening to them.  Listening to books not only helps students build vocabulary and fluency but it also offers students opportunities to engage in reading material that may be above their reading level but is not above their interest level.

Watch this short informational video to find out about Epic! for yourself!

Get it here:
Epic! in iTunes Store
Epic! in Google Play Store.

 

My Summer Reading List

IMG_5756I hope you have all taken a look at my previous post about summer reading incentive programs. You can earn free goodies just by reading!

My goal this summer is to earn my 100 hours of reading shirt from Kitsap Regional Library. I don’t think I’ll have any trouble achieving that goal if I start making my way through my summer reading list.

Here it is (in no particular order):

  • Plastic Ahoy: Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by Patricia Newman
  • Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller (graphic novel) by Joseph Lambert
  • Welcome to Mars: Making a Home on the Red Planet by Buzz Aldrin
  • My Country ‘Tis of Thee: How One Song Reveals the History of Civil Rights by Claire Rudolf Murphy
  • Underworld: Exploring the Secret World Beneath Your Feet by Jane Price
  • Baba Yaga’s Assistant (graphic novel) by Marika McCoola
  • What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe
  • Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts by Susan Cain
  • Some of My Best Friends Are Books by Judith Wynn Halstead
  • Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo & Me (graphic memoir) by Ellen Forney
  • In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume
  • Kid President’s Guide to Being Awesome by Brad Montague & Robby Novak
  • Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller
  • The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller
  • Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something That Matters by Laurie Ann Thompson
  • The Highly Sensitive Child by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D.
  • tiny beautiful things: Advice on love and life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
  • Lauren Ipsum: A Story About Computer Science and Other Improbable Things by Carlos Bueno
  • Once There Was a War by John Steinbeck
  • The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
  • The Maze Runner by James Dashner
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Schamander
  • The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
  • Geektastic: Stories from the Nerdherd edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci
  • Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenon
  • When to Rob a Bank…And 131 More Warped Suggestions and Well-Intended Rants by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
  • Zombies vs. Unicorns by Holly Black & Justine Larbalestier
  • Bad Unicorn by Platte F. Clark
  • The Land of Stories: Queen Red Riding Hood’s Guide to Royalty by Chris Colfer
  • The Land of Stories: The Mother Goose Diaries by Chris Colfer
  • An Author’s Odyssey (Land of Stories Book 5) by Chris Colfer
  • Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls are Used in War by Jessica Dee Humphreys & Michel Chikwaine
  • Phoebe and Her Unicorn (graphic novel) by Dana Simpson
  • Unicorn vs. Goblins (graphic novel) by Dana Simpson
  • Unicorn on a Roll (graphic novel) by Dana Simpson
  • Who is AC? (graphic novel) by Hope Larson

 

 

Summer Reading Incentive Programs

Free Summer Reading Programs

Kitsap Regional Library

Register at any Kitsap Regional Library location starting June 1st and receive a tracker that will help you keep track of your reading and learning. Complete 10 hours of reading to receive a free paperback book as well as a ticket to the Kitsap County Fair and Stampede (while supplies last). Read 100 hours to earn a free t-shirt.

Barnes and Noble

Participate in Barnes & Noble’s Summer Reading Triathalon to earn a FREE BOOK from their selection on the Reading Journal list at the store.

Chuck E. Cheese

Your child can keep track of their reading through one of their downloadable rewards calendars.
http://www.chuckecheese.com/deals-offers/rewards-calendars
Once your child has completed two weeks of reading he or she can submit the completed Chuck E Cheese calendar for 10 free tokens

Half Price Books

Kids should read (or be read to) for at least 15 minutes a day during June and July.  Once they read 300 minutes, they can turn in their log and earn $5 in Half Price Books Bookworm bucks.  The closest Half Price Books is near the Tacoma Mall. http://b.hpb.com/fyb/started/

Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge

According to Scholastic’s website, “the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge is a free online program designed to motivate and excite your kids around reading books this summer. Kids can log the minutes they spend reading, play games, earn virtual rewards, and enter sweepstakes.”
http://www.scholastic.com/ups/campaigns/src-2016/parent

Does your kid want to learn how to code?

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EPO Header2649 Hoover Ave SE, Port Orchard, WA


EPO Parents,

We live in a world surrounded by technology.  We know that whatever field our students choose to go into as adults, their ability to succeed will increasingly hinge on understanding how technology works. Yet, only a tiny fraction of us are learning computer science, and less people are studying it than a decade ago.

That’s why, back in December, our entire school joined in on the largest education event in history: The Hour of Code. During Computer Science Education Week (Dec. 8-14), every one of our students was amongst over 2 million students worldwide spending one hour learning coding basics.

The Hour of Code is a statement that EPO is ready to teach these foundational 21st century skills. As the school librarian, I am committed to continue bringing computer programming activities to your students.  Here is a link for information about why I think coding is so important: http://tinyurl.com/EPOwhycoding

Recently, I attended training sponsored by Code.org so that I could learn how to expand your child’s skills beyond just one hour a year.  For the past two weeks, I have been introducing coding concepts to your students (K-6) in the library. See http://hourofcode.org for details on Hour of Code or simply go to www.code.org and explore their website.

I have attached your student’s code.org login information to this letter so that your child can continue working on code.org from home.  Simply go to the link on your child’s login sheet or go through the EPO links page (tinyurl.com/epolinks) and have your child click on thier teacher’s name, click their “secret picture” (password) and then the sign in box below the secret pictures. From there, your child can explore over 100 hours worth of coding puzzles.

On a different but related note, I have added a link to the EPO webpage (http://tinyurl.com/EastPortOrchard) for Parenting, Media, and Everything In Between, a blog created by Common Sense Media to help you navigate the world of technology and media with and for your child.  Common Sense Media also has a very helpful app called “Kids Media” that can help you determine the appropriateness of books/apps/movies/video games.  It gives an overview for each item, gives an appropriate age range and lists “parent should know” details about specific things to look out for.

Additionally, I also frequently post on library/technology related topics on the EPO Library Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/EPOLibrary or on Twitter: @hgleasonwilson or @wilsongirlsread and Instagram @wilsongirlsread.   I also have a blog where I post mostly about children’s books: www.followthereaders.com.

If you have any questions, suggestions or would like to help with starting a Coding Club in the fall, please  email me at school.

Sincerely,

Heather Wilson
Librarian
East Port Orchard Elementary
wilsonh@skitsap.wednet.edu

 

EPO Summer Letter 2016

EPO Header2649 Hoover Ave SE, Port Orchard, WA  


EPO Families,

It is bittersweet that as I send your kiddos off for summer I also announce that I will not be returning to EPO next fall.

The librarian at Olalla Elementary is retiring and I will replace him beginning next school year.  Please rest assured that your little readers will be in good hands with my replacement, Adessa Shields.

Ms. Shields is coming to EPO after 15 years as a teacher at Marcus Whitman Junior High.  I will allow her to introduce herself in her own way.

I wanted to take one last opportunity to give you some ideas of online activities that your children can use to keep their brain active over the summer break.

The EPO “Destiny Links” page is filled with all kinds of educational links, many of which we use at school on a regular basis.

Find it here: www.tinyurl.com/epolinks

Here you will also find links to South Kitsap School District specific sites that require your student’s username and password such as: (Your child’s login card is enclosed.)

  • TypingMaster
  • Pearson Realize (Math)
  • Digital Passport (Digital Citizenship for grades 2-6)
  • Journeys Think Central (Language Arts)

As a reminder, late last month I sent home the summer guide Inspire for the Kitsap Regional Library.  KRL has many exciting FREE programs all over the county.  Some of them even include FREE LUNCH.  Your child can also earn a book for tracking 10 hours of summer reading and a tee-shirt when they reach 100 hours!  If you have misplaced the summer guide, go to: http://www.krl.org/summer for more details.

If your child is intrigued by the Scratch coding that we have been doing in the library, Costco has a set of workbooks to guide them through creating some fantastic projects.  One book is for Python programming and the other two are Scratch.  You get all three for only $10.99.  They can also be purchased individually on Amazon.com

Lastly, please know that I am and will still be accessible with any questions that you may have regarding books, reading and the technology that I have already introduced to your child(ren).  I have a personal blog at www.followthereaders.com and a Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/followthereadersbookclub/

Have a fantastic summer!

Heather Wilson
Librarian
wilsonh@skitsap.wednet.edu

Have you tried audio-books?

I am always looking for ways to maximize my time by doing several things at once.  If you’re like me you may find that in our technology-rich world it is hard to find time to sit down and read a good book as often as we’d like.  What’s the solution?

Audio-books!

I discovered audio-books about 13 years ago when I was commuting from the north side of Los Angeles to my school librarian job way down south in Long Beach USD.  Things have changed over the years, but not as dramatically as you might think.  If you can work your car stereo and your cell phone then you’re halfway there!

Personally, I use a few methods to listen to audio-books.

1. Books on CD from the public library. (best for long car rides)

When searching in the Kitsap Regional Library Catalog (www.krl.org), do a typical search for whatever it is that you are interested in listening to, but limit the search by choosing “audio-book” in the drop down menu next to “limit by:”

One of the fantastic things about the public library (there are so many), is that all you need to do is find what you want in the online catalog, click the “place hold” button, and KRL will pull the materials for you.  They’ll even email to tell you that your things are ready.  Fabulous, right?

2. Digital audio-books from the public library.

Search as in #1, but choose “audio e-book” OR go to the search on the KRL Overdrive website: http://krl.lib.overdrive.com/  You don’t even need to leave your couch to check out e-books with this method!

To listen to audio-books through Overdrive, you will need to download the Overdrive app to your phone or tablet device. Go to the Overdrive website to get started: Overdrive  Overdrive requires an additional login that ties in with your library card.

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The Wilson girls are currently listening to the 4th Land of Stories book.

You can also search the library collection through the app. Overdrive also gives you access to KRL’s collection of E-books (if you want to check out books to read on your phone, Kindle, iPad or other e-reader). After you check out a book through Overdrive, you will be prompted to download the book onto your device.

I like to use Overdrive to listen to audio-books through the Bluetooth connection in my car. When I turn the car off, Overdrive knows to pause the book.

Books borrowed through Overdrive can be borrowed for 21 days. After the 21 day period, they are deleted from your device.

overdrive 1If you have a library card from KRL, you may also obtain a card for the Seattle Public Library and/or King County Library System. All you need to do is take your KRL card to any Seattle or King County library branch with your ID and ask for a library card. I have one of each simply because it gives me access to a much greater selection of audio-books.

You can also search and put audio-books on hold. It’s true.

3. Audible.com

Audible is an app that allows you to buy audio-book titles and download them to your device. I typically buy 12 credits per year (it is cheaper this way) and cash them in slowly over time to buy books that I’d like to hear that the public library doesn’t own. This is good for newer titles especially. They have several sales per year, including many Buy One, Get One Free sales and they also have inexpensive (less than $2) kids titles. For example, I just bought a dozen or so “Who was” biographies for my older daughter. Audible is an Amazon company, so if you have a Kindle, the titles that you buy show up in your titles list on your device and then you download them from there.

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Some of the titles I’ve purchased from Audible.com

Audible also offers many things in addition to books including: newspapers, magazines, radio shows and podcasts for free. I have listened to State of the Union speeches using Audible.

I started using Audible in 2002 and I still have access to all of the books that I have purchased over the years.  My husband and I share the account, so he can listen to the titles that I have purchased on his mobile devices.

 

I would be pleased to help any of you navigate through this stuff if you’d like help getting yourself set up with some audio-books. Pop in and let me know or drop me an email at followthereaders@icloud.com

Happy listening!

The Christmas Truce of 1914

xmas truceLooking for a heartwarming Christmas story? Try this historical fiction picture book about Allied and German soldiers in the trenches of France during World War I taking time out from their fighting to join together in song – “Silent Night.”  A delightful book written from the point of view of a miserable British soldier’s letters home.  A lovely story to share to put our modern lives into perspective.  Text and gorgeous illustrations by John Hendrix.  Find it at the EPO library.

I loved this book so much  that I decided to share it with my intermediate classes before winter break.  I found some great videos to go with it if you want some more visuals to accompany the story.

For a background of World War I, “The Great War,” start with this clip from History.com: Bet You Didn’t Know: World War I

For a dramatic reenactment, I found that this Sainsbury’s (a UK grocery store chain) commercial tells a nice story and leaves out the gory bits: Sainsbury’s Official Christmas Advert 2014.  Sainsbury’s also has a “the story behind” video that helps to explain some of the finer points.