Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Top Ten K-5 STEM-C™ free or inexpensive websites for teachers

At Entelechy Education, LLC, we embrace the K-5 STEM-C philosophy, which combines STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education with character education in the K-5 literacy curriculum.  Here are some of our favorite websites that support our current and planned titles.

  1. At Entelechy Education, LLC, teachers will find a host of teaching aids related to the STEM/character education titles.  After reading Where’s Green?, download the FREE accompanying learning guide at EnteleKey™ Learning Guides.  (Grades K-1)

  1. Find interactive simulations at http://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulations/category/by-level/elementary-school, which show children how many things work. After reading What’s the Matter? (pub date Summer 2013), show this video on the basics of the states of matter: http://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/states-of-matter-basics  (Grades 2-3)

  1. The Character Education Partnership offers many resources for teaching about character education.  After reading Oxygen Finds Friends (pub date Fall, 2013), and discussing tolerance and differences, try this lesson plan on celebrating differences: http://www.character.org/lessons/lesson-plans/elementary/allen-creek-elementary-school/  (Grades 4-5)

  1. NASA has many FREE teaching aids at http://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/ After reading The Patient Planets (pub date Winter 2013), supplement your unit on the solar system and space exploration with this lesson plan: http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/educ/docs/Lesson%202%20Grades%201-3_FINAL.pdf  (Grades K-1)

  1. The Coral Reef Adventure film website at http://coralfilm.com/ has many teaching aids and games for children to help them learn about the ecology of reefs.  After reading The Rhythm of the Reef (pub date 2014), show them the associated video available at http://coralfilm.com/dvd.html.  (Grades 2-3)

  1. The U.S. Department of the Treasury has links to lesson plans on money and financial planning at http://www.treasury.gov/about/education/pages/Lesson-Plans-for-Teachers.aspx After reading A Money Garden (pub date 2014), download “Money Math: Lessons for Life” at http://www.treasurydirect.gov/indiv/tools/tools_moneymath.htm and learn how to become a millionaire! (Grades 4-5)

  1. The Texas Tech University T-STEM center offers many lesson plans for teachers, including a unit on robotics at http://www.depts.ttu.edu/tstem/curriculum/robotics/robotics_content.php .  After reading A Robot Did My Homework (pub date 2014), download an ethics lesson plan at http://www.depts.ttu.edu/tstem/curriculum/robotics/ethics_robotics.php  (Grades K-1)

  1. Renewable energy will fuel the future.  Find lesson plans on solar, wind, hydroelectric, and other renewable sources of energy at http://www.depts.ttu.edu/tstem/curriculum/robotics/robotics_content.php. After reading Ellie’s Electric Engine (pub date 2014), study the advantages of renewable energy at http://www.infinitepower.org/pdf/No2_96-806B.pdf. (Grades 2-3)

  1. Crayola has developed many lesson plans for teachers using their materials at http://www.crayola.com/for-educators.aspx.   After reading The Balanced Bridges (pub date 2015), create your own prototype bridge for the EnteleTrons using this lesson plan: http://www.crayola.com/lesson-plans/bridge-builders-lesson-plan/  (Grades K-1)

  1. For a myriad of free and inexpensive teaching aids for all subjects and levels, go to www.teacherspayteachers.com. Look for STEM-C resources to help you teach character education to children of all ages like “12 Guides to Speech and Action with Children” at http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/12-Guides-to-Speech-and-Action-with-Children.  Also find other aids for older students such as “Creative Options for Writing Assignments in Middle School Science” at http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Creative-Options-for-Writing-Assignments-in-Middle-School-Science. Or explore literacy topics like “Comma Sense” at http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Comma-Sense.

To get information when each Entelechy Education, LLC titles is released, sign up here:  http://www.entelechyed.com/contact_us.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Weave STEM education into your Literacy Curriculum with The EnteleTrons™

STEM education focuses on an active student-centered learning environment. But how do you introduce STEM topics to children who have had little exposure to the S, T, and E? Because of extensive testing of math and language arts, children seem to feel that these subjects are the only important subjects in their educational development. Teachers struggle every week to find time for science lessons in their overloaded curriculum plan. Entelechy Education, LLC has a plan to help teachers connect their literacy lessons with STEM concepts and character education in one fun, easy-to-read series featuring appealing characters called The EnteleTrons™.

How does this work? Using one of our books, find where it fits into your curriculum. For example, Where’s Green? could be used in the literacy lesson on alliteration. (shimmering shadows, little leaves) It can also be used in the Science Discovery Center for a unit on rainbows. Still not sure where this book will fit in? Then consider the valuable lesson of cooperation within a group that the characters present to young readers. (When "Green" leaves the rainbow, many problems arise for the rest of the colors.) So there you have it: Alliteration, rainbows, and cooperation all in one 32-page book for readers in grades K-2.

But remember the first sentence of this blog? STEM education focuses on active learning. Help your children to understand the order of colors in a rainbow in this fun, active lesson: Attach streamers in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple to a yard stick. Swirl them around to feel like "Ellie the Electron" in the middle of the tornado.

Still not convinced? Look below at this chart outlining the lessons you can present with just one of our books.  Each book aligns with Core Content Standards. Find more ideas for active STEM lessons at our EnteleKey Learning Guides.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Early Literacy = Early Nurturing

According to Dr. Barry Zuckerman, founder of Reach Out and Read, "Research has shown that the first five years of life are critical to a child's language development. Reading to a young child, even before a baby can hold a book, will help the child develop a love of books because she will associate them with being on her mother's lap and hearing her mother's voice."

Wow - that sounds like classical conditioning to me. How can a kid lose if he or she associates reading with early nurturing? What a simple, yet important concept for new parents to understand!

Reach Out and Read brings books to children in doctor's offices who give them age-appropriate reading material. It will expand to 100 U.S. bases by 2013, in support of Joining Forces, a White House initiative to honor and support America's service members and their families. What better place to begin helping children than with those who must accept a parent's deployment. Those parents can easily record a story for a child and then have the home parent play the recording while the child looks at the book.

Watch this video to see the 2011 information and read EnteleTrons books to your children - they develop critical thinking and personal interaction skills.

Friday, April 12, 2013

START NOW to Encourage Children to Read Summer Book Lists

Summer time will soon be here! Sun, fun, swimming, barbecues, camping, fishing, and .... da da da daaaa....summer reading lists. What? Your kids don't want to do the required reading before fourth grade? They have better things to do than read a book when the sun is shining and the fish are biting? The latest research shows that students who read at least four books over the summer will maintain or increase their vocabulary and reading skills. Here are some ideas to help your children appreciate the value of reading during the summer, even if their incoming teacher did not send them home with a list of books.
  1. Model. If I could offer only one way to encourage kids to read, it would be to read yourself. I have fond memories of sitting in my back yard with my mother as she read her novel and I read my library book.
  2. Create a summer reading club. Invite others in the same grade and reading level to come over once a week to discuss the book they're reading. It doesn't have to be the exact same book! In fact, having all the kids read different books will encourage the others to pick up that book, as well.
  3. Keep a chart. Have your children make a chart of the books they have read. When they have finished a book, they can add a sticker to their chart. They will love seeing the progress they made. I'm not an advocate of competition, so consider keeping track of their personal best per week for books or pages read, rather than competing against siblings.
  4. Read aloud. Your childen will get just as much out of a book if you read aloud, even if they are perfectly capable of reading on their own. This will motivate them to continue the story long after you have finished reading them the first chapter.
  5. Make it fun. Each time your child finishes a book, put another star on a dark blue poster board. Have fun making constellations, which will encourage the completion of a number of books. For extra fun, see if you can categorize the books into the constellations - books about bears for ursa major, for example. What fun!!
  6. Join the library reading incentive program. Most local libraries have incentives for summer reading. Find out what your library does for the children in your area.
  7. New words wall. Make a treasure hunt of new words. When you child comes across a new word, help him or her to define the word, then post it to your word wall (refrigerator door?). Encourage use of the new words throughout the summer.
  8. Encourage variety. Try to get your children to read different genres: Fiction, nonfiction, biography, science, history, mystery, etc. Categorize the books they read so you can see where their interest lies.
  9. Make your own list. Kids love to have control over their own lives. (Don't we all!) So, instead of simply using the school's suggested reading list, intersperse that list with your child's own list of books. Go to the library and get some ideas. Look online for book reviews for children. Or shop at yard sales for great summer reading bargains. They will be more likely to read the required books if they can choose different titles between them.
  10. Reward. This is way far down the list because I don't think children should receive monetary or food rewards for a job well done. However, if this is the only way to jumpstart your children's summer reading, then offer a small monthly reward - ice cream treat, $1 on a debit card for each book read, or a set of three books for younger readers (to be used at the end of summer), etc. As an alternative, if there is a movie based on the book, tell your kids you'll rent the movie when they finish the book! Compare notes after the movie.
Books will open your child's world to a new dimension. Remember to "catch 'em being good." If you find your child reading a book, wait until he puts it down, then give him a pat on the back for reading for the past half hour. Positive reinforcement goes a long way to encouraging a continuation of that positive behavior.

And I would be remiss if I didn't recommend my own books (and one by a friend) for children and teens:
  • PreK-2nd grade: Ducklings in a Row - Will Duck 10 ever get to lead the line?
  • K-2: Where's Green? Why did Green leave the rainbow?
  • Grades 3-8: Woody's World - The story of one boy's efforts to help his family during The Great Depression. Based on a true story.
  • Grades 2-6: Somebody Cares! - A young girl plans a very special birthday party.
  • High school: Crash into Me by Al Borris - Four misfit teens on a suicide mission discover the meaning of life.
Happy reading!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Help your child establish his or her own Reading Cave

Dad has his “man cave” if he’s lucky.  Mom has… well… the rest of the house.  Kids need their own special space for reading exploration.  We call it the EnteleCave™.  Here’s how it works:

1.      Start with an enclosure.  Consider these options in order of $$ spent to implement:

·        An unused closet (but who has those in their homes?)

·        A table covered with a sheet

·        An old leaky tent (after all, you’ll just be using it inside)

·        A crafty transformation of an old playhouse (see http://craftydiy.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/booknook.jpg)

Believe it or not, my father made me a reading “boat” from found materials and a sheet sail.  I wish I still had a picture of it outside of my own memory.  But you can see what an impact that simple act had on my future as a reader and an author!

2.      Ask your child to help personalize his or her EnteleCave™. 

·        Pillows for relaxing

·        A light so he or she can see the books. CFLs contain mercury; LEDs contain carcinogens. Ordinary electric lights contain zaps. Batteries can get expensive. What's a parent to do? You can make your own decisions, but we think that the Dorcy 41-1035 Rechargeable Industrial Lantern would serve nicely! 

·        Stuffed animals to share stories with

3.      Add books

·        Naturally, you’ll begin with Where’s Green? our premier book in The EnteleTrons™ Series!

·        Add other books on a variety of topics.  Try to expand your child’s knowledge by adding fiction and nonfiction; science and biography; adventure and history.  Note: I recommend that you read each book before you put it into the EnteleCave™, judging it for violence, racism, and appropriate reading level. 

·        Rotate books regularly by trading with friends or using the local library’s discarded book section.  Certainly, you can use real library books in your child’s EnteleCave™, but they might get lost in there when it comes time to return them.  Discovery Kids Cardboard Color and Play Play House

After you implement this fun and easy encouragement to read, see how excited your child becomes when you say, “TV off, EnteleCave™ on!”  We would love to see your child’s reaction posted here on this blog!