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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Scarey Like Me... #ThrowbackThursday


Going through piles of old school papers and other bits of ephemera my mom dropped off by the box load when she moved to her new place and I re-discovered this gem (yes, she moved a year ago, I'm timely like that).



In Grade 10 we read the book Black Like Me which is based on the real life experiences of a white journalist who disguised himself as a black man (amazing book, if you haven't read it you should check it out). Our teacher gave us this assignment, to mirror the experiences the author had in the book we were to go undercover and pretend to be someone else. Our teacher suggested everything from using prosthetics and make-up to pretend you're elderly to pretending to be a punk-rocker, with the goal of gaining empathy for how society treats that type of person. So I dressed up as a goth or "scarey" and spent the night at the local mall, on the receiving end of strange looks and some seriously poor customer service.  (Ironically I ended up spending much of my twenties hanging out with goths and going dancing at the weekly goth night at the local bar, and no, this was not how I dressed.)

I'm amused that this is still kicking around 25 years later. At some point the accompanying essay was tossed out, but my mom held on to the cover sheet. Photographic proof of my pitiful 15 year old attempt at dressing as a goth, consisting mostly of black nail polish and white face paint. Ohhhh, scarey.

What bizarre mementos do you have hanging out in the bins in your closet?
Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Great Canadian Giveaway Link-Up ~ Week of July 29


Welcome to the The Great Canadian Giveaway Link-Up 
This is a weekly link-up, with a new linky published every Thursday (often up by Wednesday night).

The Joker Fish {Wordless Wednesday with Linky}



Creepy, right?  Sometimes my daughter's art terrifies me.

Link up and share your Wordless Wednesday posts...

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Twitter Party Alert ~ Join in the Intel #TechSmart Chat on Wed. July 29th at 3pm EST


Intel #TechSmart Twitter Chat

Hashtag: #TechSmart

When: Wednesday July 29 at 3 pm EST / 12 pm PST

Hosted by: @IntelCanada & @marc_saltzman.

Theme: Tips on the best devices for students going back to school.

Prize: Intel will be giving away two prize packs each consisting of an HP Envy 15.6’’ laptop and a set of Plantronics BackBeat FIT Behind-the-Neck Bluetooth Headphones (one prize will go to a Canadian participant and one to an American).

For full details and rules and regs check out the Intel.ca website.


Super awesome prize and the chance to get some help navigating the often bewildering world of 'how to pick which computer to purchase'. Win/win, right? See you at 3pm on Wednesday!


Disclosure: I am an Intel Canada Insider and I'm required to disclose a relationship between my site and Intel Canada.

Love Instagram? Join in on Travelling Maple Tuesday! #TravellingMaple


Welcome to Travelling Maple Tuesdays! Each Tuesday we invite you to post a picture on Instagram and include the hastag ‪#‎TravellingMaple‬. (This happens EVERY Tuesday, I just post about it every few weeks on here as a reminder.)

Travelling Maple is a website meant to showcase Canadian travel content. Canadian writers are invited to submit their travel themed posts. It can be about worldwide travel, or travel that takes place here in Canada; around the world or down the block, we want to hear about it (Remember, what's local for you can be a tourist destination for someone else).

Each Tuesday we move the party over to Instagram, sharing our Canadian perspective on travel with the world. We invite our fellow Canadians to join in (you don't need to be a blogger to take part). Just post any sort of travel photo, tell us where it's from and be sure to tag it #TravellingMaple.



If you decide to take part we ask that you share the love. For each picture you post please comment on or like at least two pictures with the #TravellingMaple hashtag.

And please be sure to follow your hosts:
@mapleleafmommy
@shairbearg

We can’t wait to connect with you and see your awesome travel photos!
Monday, July 27, 2015

Look in a Book this Summer, On Netflix -- Literary Based Children's Flicks to Enjoy with Your Kids



When I was a kid I loved to hunt down the books that went with the various animated specials I saw on television. I would carefully watch the credits, eagerly scanning for that all important line "based on the novel by" and then hunt for the book the next time I was at the library. Books gave you more. When you saw that amazing cartoon and you wanted desperately to be one of those kids who managed to fall through a wardrobe and end up in Narnia, or you became obsessed with talking mice, or wished you could fly with dragons, books added depth to memories of the show (which given the of realities network television in the 80s I was highly unlikely to ever see a second time).

When I was scrambling for ways to engage my reluctant reader, I started pulling up book related shows on Netflix. I thought maybe if she liked one of the shows enough then wanting to read the book version would encourage her to try and learn to read. For us, at first, this didn't work because, as it turns out, she was hung up on whether or not I was going to read her bedtime stories aloud, However, now that we've managed to figure out what the problem was and she has moved along to learning to read, she has started to ask me about some of the books that go with the various shows we've watched.


"Mrs. Frisby, the head of a family of field mice, lived in an underground house in the vegetable garden of a farmer named Mr. Fitzgibbon."


As a kid I quickly picked up on the fact that the titles of films were often not the same as the title of the book. For example, one of my favourite books when I was a kid, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien, was turned into the somewhat spooky Don Bluth animation The Secret of NIMH. It's on Netflix right now and I highly recommend it if you haven't seen it yet. Great animation, if a teeny bit frightening for the youngest viewers.


"The landscape was green and gently rolling, grazed closely by the hot sun."

 

Arthur and the Minimoys was Luc Besson's first children's book. You might better know him as the fellow who wrote, directed, and produced The Fifth Element and La Femme Nikita. And you might better know the story of Arthur and the tiny people he discovers living in his backyard by it's film title of Arthur and the Invisibles. With voice actors like Robert De Niro, Jimmy Fallon, Madonna and David Bowie you really can't go wrong, but the true reason I adore this film is it's animation style -- gorgeous.


“In a palm tree, on an island, in the middle of the wide blue sea, is a girl.”


The sequel to Nim's Island, Return to Nim's Island, is also on Netflix right now. It stars Bindi Irwin, daughter of the late Steve Irwin a.k.a. The Crocodile Hunter, as nature loving Nim. It's based on the second book in the series, Nim at Sea. And author Wendy Orr has promised that a third book is in the works.


"If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book."


Lemony Snickets A Series of Unfortunate Events is a bit twisted, gothic and silly. It's dark, some kids might not see the humour in it, but even as an adult I was drawn to these books for their beautiful covers and quirky art style. The film manages to retain much of the book's quirky style, and Jim Carrey and Meryl Streep are not to be missed.


"His mother was ugly and his father was ugly, but Shrek was uglier than the two of them put together."


Shrek, Shrek 2, Shrek the Third, Shrek Forever After, Shrek the Musical, Shrek's Swamp Stories, etc, etc.  Yeah, I'm pretty sure you all know who Shrek is. But did you know that, long before this amiable green ogre launched a fleet of merchandise, he was the star of a children's book by William Stieg? Rewatch the series, and then dig up a copy of the picture book. The ugly ogre in these pages looks nothing like the fellow we've come to love on screen, but the story has much of the same heart and is well worth a read or three.


"Long ago, on the wild and windy isle of Berk, a smallish Viking with a longish name stood up to his ankles in snow."


Dreamworks's Dragons series is a big hit in this house. Hubby showed the first film, How to Train Your Dragon, to the girls one day when I was Off Doing Other Things, and they've been big fans ever since. They were ecstatic to discover the all-new Netflix original series Dragons: Race to the Edge. I was intrigued to discover that the films are based off of a series of twelve books by British author Cressida Cowell. Of all the book related titles the eight year old and I have shared over the past while, the Dragon series was the first one to actually intrigue her with the promise of More Stories in Book Form. Time to hit the library!



What films do you enjoy in book form? Or vice versa? Which classics would you recommend for some summer time reading and/or watching?



Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam, and as such I will be providing thoughts and suggestions about what's currently showing on Netflix. As always my words and opinions are my own.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

On Raising a Reluctant Reader...


We live in a house of books. There are books everywhere you turn. If you manage to draw your gaze past the clutter of toys, the place could easily be mistaken for a lending library. Reading with my girls is one of my favourite parts of being a mom. I sit and read with them pretty much whenever they ask throughout the day, and every night we snuggle down and read a full chapter from our current bedtime story. My children love books. Adore them. Particularly my eldest daughter. Since she was just a wee thing, she has loved to sit and read to herself. She will spend hours sitting on her bed with a tall stack of books at her side, carefully flipping through them page by page, quietly enjoying the pictures.

For years I've been thinking, "Yay, I'm doing this one thing right. I'm raising kids that love books. Go me!" But then something changed, the big kid started to learn to read at school. Or rather I should say they started teaching reading in her class, because she most certainly wasn't learning it. All through Grade 1 and well into Grade 2, there she was not learning to read. I tried to tell myself it was no big deal. Kids learn at their own pace. Plenty of kids in first grade can't read. No need to over react. But the truth is I was intensely disappointed. How could my book-loving girl not be learning to read?

I remember how eager I was to learn to read. I couldn't wait. Before starting school and when I was in Kindergarten I begged my mother to teach me to read. She refused because she had been told it would be better if I learned with my peers. I remember how excited I was when in Grade 1 we finally got our first readers. Hello Mr Mugs. I was off and racing, and quickly moved on to chapter books.

Now here was my darling book loving daughter, and she was most certainly NOT eager to learn to read. In fact she had zero interest in reading, less than zero. She refused to even try. I was utterly baffled. I didn't know how to encourage her. Her first report card came home from Grade 2 and confirmed what I'd already suspected, she was behind in reading. We were well into the second month of second grade and she still hadn't hit the bench mark for the end of Grade 1. That panic I'd been holding back quickly set in. I began making a concentrated effort at home to get my girl to read.

We live in a house of books. How could my daughter be a reluctant reader? I soon discovered that while our house is full to bursting with books, we didn't have any books in our house appropriate for early readers. Her teacher told me she needed baby books. Books with one word or one simple sentence per page. The kind I hated to read aloud and had quickly gotten rid of once her little sister moved past trying to eat the pages.

So we bought new books. Books clearly labelled "Learn to Read" and Reader Level 1, or Level 0 or Easy. We let the girl pick out which books to get. And I sat with her and tried to encourage her to read these new books. She wanted me to read them to her, but I refused. If she wanted to know the story she was going to have to sound that darn thing out.

We got no where. It was frustrating for her, frustrating for me. She would read a few words, try and sound out a few that were new to her, and quickly give up. She said things like "It's too hard.", "I'll try tomorrow maybe." and "I don't need to learn to read."

That last one hit my brain with the sound of screeching brakes. I assured her that she most definitely DID need to learn to read; that reading would allow her to do so many cool things, read so many cool things. She was stubborn, whiny, uncooperative. I was at a loss. I mean this kid loves books, adores them, spends hours staring at them... but she didn't want to learn to read. I couldn't wrap my brain around it.

Eventually, and this took weeks of prodding, she voiced her real concern -- that if she learned to read I would stop reading to her. I solemnly promised her that I would be there making funny voices and reading Oz books to her until the day she decided she didn't want me to any more, and that if she wanted I would read her a bedtime story every night until the day she moves out of this house. As this promise came out of my mouth I watched her visibly relax, as if a huge weight had been removed from her shoulders. And then, as easy as that, she was reading.


It wasn't instantaneous, but once she put her mind to it she went from non-reader to ahead of her class in reading in a shockingly short space of time. If I had only known that all it would take was a promise from me that I will always keep the bedtime stories flowing, we could have skipped a few months of worrying, and a few weeks of head-butting frustration.

What about you folks? Have you ever butted heads with a reluctant reader? Or did your kids breeze through learning to read?

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About Me ~ Maple Leaf Mommy



Hi, I'm , a Canadian stay at home mom to two rambunctious little girls.
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