Integrating Sylvan Dell Books into Home Education

Sylvan Dell reviewer and mother of two, Shannon, has done our award-winning books justice by integrating them into her home education. On her blog, Growing and Learning by Leaps and Bounds, she has created activities to complement our books and assist us in our cross-curricular mission of “science and math through literature.” She agreed to do a guest post for us, and I gratefully agreed. We do love hearing from our fans, especially when they “get it”—when they use our books for educational purposes and apply our valuable For Creative Minds sections and our amazing free online resources. So read on, from Shannon, care of Growing and Learning by Leaps and Bounds!

Integrating Sylvan Dell Books into Home Education

We love doing activities with Sylvan Dell books. Kids get to learn about math and science in a fun way, and In My Backyard is no exception (by Valarie Giogas, illustrated by Katherine Zecca). It’s a great read, and we had some great fun in our own backyard!

Sylvan Dell's For Creative Minds Section

Sylvan Dell's For Creative Minds Section

Sylvan Dell does an amazing job of making teaching materials easily available, and I love the For Creative Minds activities they make based on the book. I printed them off, and we made them into a Backyard Counting Book. We have all that wildlife in our own backyard and seem to see over half of the animals listed in this book on a daily basis! We’ve even named our family of deer that live in our neighborhood that we see every morning while taking my oldest to school.

The Teaching Materials Sylvan Dell provides are beyond great. They represent an entire curriculum that is fun for the kids and easy for the parent/teacher. We had a lot of fun with Activity Cards, and we started a Backyard Science Journal that will continue to be a work in progress to record all the animals we see In My Backyard.

After reading the book and doing the activities provided for us, we put on our winter coats, hats, and gloves and headed outside to search for wildlife. Here are some ideas to continue the cross-curricular learning:

Rock Lifting: Lifting the heavy paving stones in our backyard and observing, counting, and recording what we found. (Math/Science/Language)

Microscope Fun: Lay in the grass with your microscope and really look at all the tiny insects that live in the grass! (Science)

Picture Fun: Take your camera outside and take pictures of all the wildlife in your backyard and neighborhood and have them printed. Place them in a homemade book or photo album and make labels of each animal. (Language)

Animal Tracks: A personal favorite in our house! After a rain or when the ground is damp, go outside and look for tracks. Take a bucket of plaster of Paris and a bottle of water. When you find the tracks, mix up your plaster. (Use a stick, but then take the stick home please! You don’t want the animals to eat it.) Pour the plaster into the animal tracks and let dry. Lift your animal track. Once you’re home, you can label, date, and write down the location where you found your tracks! We’ve had fox, deer, geese, raccoon, and opossum tracks just in our YARD!  (Math/Science/Language)

Sylvan Dell's Teaching Activities Section

Sylvan Dell's Teaching Activities Section

Those are just a few fun activities we do to extend Sylvan Dell books! All books can be extended into a great learning tool, though, besides just the reading part! So once you find a book your child likes, get on the net, Google the theme/topic of the book, pick out some fun activities, and run with it!

Some reading suggestions from me: Read the book first from beginning to end with your child. Then we like to reread it, stopping at each page and asking a question about that page. For example, play a game of “I Spy:” Can you find the red flower? Or count an item on that page: Can you find four raccoons? Engaging your child in reading will let them see that reading is an important and fun activity!

Some important tips for getting your child to love books: Have books around your home. Go to the library and bookstores! Give them a book for the holidays. (My girls know they always get a book for all holidays and birthdays.) Let them see you reading! Set up a cozy book corner with fluffy pillows, blankets, and some books! Have family reading time—anything from books to comic books, a magazine, or a newspaper. The important thing is you are reading as a family!

I hope you liked the activities as much as we have! In Your Backyard is a great book to get you seeing your backyard as more than just a yard; it is home to many living creatures, and they need and count on your backyard for their home and survival, too!


For more activities from Shannon at Growing and Learning by Leaps and Bounds, check out the following links:

Thanks for the guest post, Shannon! And thank you for your continued support of Sylvan Dell Publishing!


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