Gifted Child Advocacy and Twice Exceptionality

June 6, 2011

Is your child advanced beyond other classmates, in need of more stimulating and rigorous classwork, bored and acting out or gifted with Asperger’s, ADD, ADHD or a learning disability? If so, don’t miss the P.A.L. (Parents of Accelerated Learners) final Spring session in New York City on Tuesday, June 7, 2011- The Accelerated Learner, Part 3- Becoming Your Child’s Advocate.

Parents will better understand the issues, barriers and solutions for getting their advanced learner or twice exceptional child into an appropriate program that they deserve. Experts and parents who are advocates for gifted and 2E learners will discuss the issues they’ve experienced and the solutions they’ve found. 

Panelists include:

Alex Hindes has been actively involved in education policy issues and advocacy for the last 10 years. Ms. Hindes, who practices law in New York and New Jersey, has devoted her career to working on behalf of students with disabilities.  Ms. Hindes attended Brandeis University where she received a Bachelor of Arts in sociology. She went on to receive her Juris Doctorate from Brooklyn Law School.
http://nealhrosenberg.com/index.html

Melissa Sornik, LMSW, a SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) facilitator and co-founder and president of LI-TECA, (Long Island Twice Exceptional Children’s Advocacy) is a consultant for twice exceptional children, adolescents and their families. She conducts workshops for parents on twice exceptionality, myths of giftedness, visual spatial learners and the importance of talent development in divergent learners.

Jill Tatara, a photo editor for TIME for Kids Magazine, is the mother of a neurotypical 3-year-old and a highly-gifted 8-year-old with Asperger’s and ADHD.

Event: the P.A.L. [Parents of Accelerated Learners] Workshop Series

Date: June 7, 2011 6:30-8:00 pm

Location: 
The Downtown Community Center
120 Warren Street, 1 block south of Chambers
Between Greenwich Street and West Street
New York, NY 10013

For more information click herethe P.A.L. [Parents of Accelerated Learners] Parent Workshop Series  or go to http://palworkshops.eventbrite.com

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Is Your Child an Advanced Learner?

May 16, 2011

If you are in NYC, join us for the P.A.L. Workshop MAY 17, 2011-

MAY 17- The Accelerated Learner Part 2-
What’s the Right Fit for my Child? Options in the Gifted Arena

We’ll explore the various considerations, approaches and next steps to gifted education in NYC with a focus on elementary programs, including self-contained schools and programs, pull-out programs, differentiating and homeschooling. Plus a look at private versus public options. Parents and insiders will discuss options and take questions from the audience.

 Panelists include:

Victoria Goldman is a journalist specializing in education and the author of The Manhattan Family Guide to Private Schools and Selective Public Schools, 6th Ed., and The Manhattan Directory of Private Nursery Schools, 6th Ed.  She is also a private educational consultant with Education First. Goldman contributes to the Education Life supplement of the New York Times and continues to support many non-profits including the Albert G. Oliver Scholarship Program Board, The We Are Family Foundation, and the Educational Alliance, as well as others.
http://www.nycedu1st.com/

Dr. Robin Aronow has her Ph.D. in Clinical Social Work and was a clinician in private practice and a school social worker. Robin has visited all the private schools and most of the public schools to which families in Manhattan apply. She has developed positive working relationships with private school admissions directors and administrators at Hunter College Campus Schools, the Anderson Program, and administrators in the Department of Education. She is an advisor to Manhattan Media’s (West Side Spirit and Our Town, among others) Blackboard Awards which honor excellence in education.

Dr. Aronow consults with numerous private nursery and elementary schools, and individual families looking for ongoing schools pre-K through high school. She has written several articles about the process of applying to schools and conducts workshops entitled “Life After Nursery School” including workshops on applying to private and public schools. Robin also maintains an email updating service.  She finds it extremely satisfying providing information and support to families to help make the process less daunting. She also loves returning to school settings, and having a chance to tour so many schools and observe best practices.
http://www.schoolsearchnyc.com/workshops.html

Sharon Roth lends the parent perspective of a mom who has experienced a top tier private, but found a better fit for her child at a self-contained gifted school. Roth, a graduate of Loughborough University in England, is an editorial consultant for the American National Standards Institute, a former parent board-member-at-large for the Brownstone preschool and is secretary of the Parents’ Association at Speyer Legacy School. Her son, Drake, was recently featured in the New York Times article regarding early readers:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/15/nyregion/15reading.html

Jennifer Selendy is a litigation partner at the firm of Kirland & Ellis LLP, where she tries commercial cases for clients such as IBM, Samsung, Verizon and Discover.  She has a long history of educational philanthropy and pro bono work with New Leaders for New Schools, College Summit, Hunter College Elementary School and, most recently, The Speyer Legacy School.  She also chairs the board of the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, a national legal services organization focused on the civil and economic rights of those living in poverty, and co-chairs the board of The Speyer Legacy School.

Event: the P.A.L. [Parents of Accelerated Learners] Workshop Series

Date: May 17, 2011 6:30-8:00 pm

Location: 
The Downtown Community Center
120 Warren Street, 1 block south of Chambers
Between Greenwich Street and West Street
New York, NY 10013

For more information click herethe P.A.L. [Parents of Accelerated Learners] Parent Workshop Series  or go to http://palworkshops.eventbrite.com

What Kind of Kid Do YOU Have?

May 9, 2011

Jade works with Jennifer Trausch at the Polaroid 20x24 Studio

My kid is predominately a kitty cat kid…and an artist kid…and a musician kid. Her best friend is a puppy dog kid. In her kindergarten class, I can point out the architecture kid, the princess kid, the dinosaur kid, the magician kid, and so on…

As parents, it’s a hard lesson when we realize our kids might not be cut out to follow the same path we pursued, or the one we might want them to pursue. Instead, it’s about encouraging and enabling them to follow their own path, given their unique package of strengths and talents.

I wonder, if my parents had “made me” pursue opera singing lessons as a kid, would I be a great opera singer today? Did parents of Tiger’s Woods encourage his 10,000 hours of golfing because he loved putt-putt? Did Renoir’s mom realize he had a knack for painting when he was helping paint tea cups or  do some other art activity?

When and how do we discover our child’s strengths? Perhaps we’ll discover it when we sit back, watch and listen to what they give us…the obvious and the subtle hints: their home reenactments of a play they just saw; their copy of a painting from a museum visit, or a song self-taught on the piano or toy saxophone.

Instead of enrolling your child in ballet or piano lessons, for example, first expose them to it through performances or concerts. Show them alternatives, like jazz, tap, hip hop, before signing up for the class. If offered in your community, consider having your child take a career or talent sampler workshop, or create your own, where you expose them to different talent areas so they can see what piques their interest most.

Organize a sampling of interest activities: a visit to a local photographer’s studio; the neighborhood vet’s office to see how science plays a part of a vet’s life; or visit a local art museum and ask about tours or sample classes to expose your child to an art experience. You can do the same with food. Maybe your child is the next Bobby Flay or Julia Childs. Expose them to great foods, local restaurants and experiences at farmer’s markets and area farms to discover new options.

Jade captures her Vegetable Still Life

Use this summer to learn about your child’s unique talents and interests with these great tools and resources:

1- The Renzulli Profiler identifies your child’s strengths, interests and learning styles.

2- The Primary Interest-A-Lyzer– developed for kids k-3 to discover their non-academic interests.

3- The Secondary Interest-A-Lyzer-developed for middle schoolers

4- An Interest Inventory for High Schoolers

5- Interest-A-Lyzer for Adults– Developed by Joe Renzulli at the University of Connecticut

6- Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

7- Child’s Play: Enriching Your Child’s Interests, from Rocket Science to Rock Climbing, Stamp Collecting to Sculpture by Monica Cardoza

8-Your’s Child’s Strengths by Jennifer Fox

9- Career Tech, Career and Academic Connection-a great resource for parents to find career information based on the interests of their kids

Helping understand, develop and nurture children’s interests and talents is paramount at Jade’s ToyBox. Consider one of Jade’s ToyBox Concept Boxes that match the interest of your child, or call us to create a custom box, like a dinosaur box, a kitty cat box or a magician box to match the strength and interests of your child.

"Vegetable Still Life" by Jade

The April P.A.L. Workshop Series

April 15, 2011

Thanks to all those who came out on a rainy night to join us for our P.A.L. Workshop Series this week. As promised, links to all our our speakers are below.


A Dialogue about Education for Parents of Accelerated Learners

WORKSHOP #3- TUESDAY, April 12, 2011, 6:30-8:00 pm

The Accelerated Learner Part 1-
Parenting the Accelerated Learner

From initial signs of giftedness and strength areas to a deeper look at their shared characteristics and common issues, experts and parents will share tips for parenting the gifted child.


Additional topics will include:
 early advanced ability;
• the developmental spectrum from early childhood through adolescence,
• family support and talent development;
• being a minority within a minority;
• the young gifted boy in a culture of red shirting;
• encouraging our girls to explore STEM fields;
• a glimpse at studies on gifted education- gifted under No Child Left Behind (NCLB); the groundbreaking “A Nation Deceived”; STEM report highlights

Panelists:

  • Dr. Razel Solow is Director of the Center for Gifted Studies and Education at Hunter College, the coordinator of the graduate program, and a partner with the Hunter College Campus Schools. Most recently, Dr. Solow has been collaborating with a research group from the Yale Child Study Center on alternative assessments of intelligence. She also provides professional development about gifted education and organizes meetings for the Coalition of Gifted Schools.  Her book on exceptionally gifted girls, tentatively titled Lives of Purpose, will be published in November 2011 by Great Potential Press.
    http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/gt-center

    Connie Coulianos, head of the Speyer Legacy School for gifted children in Manhattan, has devoted the past two decades to the education of precocious preschool children, their teachers and parents. Through her work with this population at the Hollingworth Preschool, Teachers College Columbia University, she developed the child-responsive curriculum that serves as the core for Speyer Legacy School. She has presented various aspects of her work locally, nationally and internationally.  http://www.speyerlegacyschool.org/

    Dr. Ranu Boppana is an Adult, Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist in private practice in New York City and a Clinical Instructor at the NYU Child Study Center and the NYU Department of Psychiatry. She is a graduate of MIT and the NYU School of Medicine. Dr. Boppana is the mother of an accelerated learner, and is married to a mathematician who is an innovator in math education.  She has been active in the parent associations of private and public schools in Manhattan.  She has experience parenting a gifted child and advocating for her child’s needs through high school.  She has also heard the concerns of many other parents of children who are accelerated learners.
    http://www.boppanamd.com/

    Alina Adams writes the NY Gifted Education column for Examiner.com. She has been navigating the NYC school system and enrichment options on behalf of her three children and their diverse talents for over a decade.
    http://www.examiner.com/gifted-education-in-new-york/alina-adams

    The Workshop Series

    The P.A.L. monthly workshop series helps parents of accelerated learners understand important topics relevant to their young child’s cognitive, social & emotional development. Experts and practitioners in the field of gifted and talented education and parent advocates will join our panel for a dialogue with you about educating and nurturing these unique learners.

    Presented by

    Jade’s ToyBox
    NYC Private Schools Blog
    NYC G&T Blog
    TestingMom.com

    in Partnership with Manhattan Youth Downtown Community Center

    For more information click herethe P.A.L. [Parents of Accelerated Learners] Parent Workshop Series  or go to http://palworkshops.eventbrite.com

The P.A.L. (Parents of Accelerated Learners) – PARENT WORKSHOP SERIES

March 14, 2011

Presented by

Jade’s ToyBox
NYC Private Schools Blog
NYC G&T Blog
TestingMom.com

in Partnership with Manhattan Youth Downtown Community Center

INVITE YOU TO PARTICIPATE IN A Dialogue about Education for Parents of Accelerated Learners

Register today at: Eventbrite

The Workshop Series
The P.A.L. monthly workshop series helps parents of accelerated learners understand important topics relevant to their young child’s cognitive, social & emotional development. Experts and practitioners in the field of gifted and talented education and parent advocates will join our panel for a dialogue with you about educating and nurturing these unique learners.

WORKSHOP #2 (for description of additional workshops, click here):

#2 – TUESDAY, MARCH 15, 2011, 6:30-8:00 pm
Gifted & Talented Admissions & Testing: The Straight Talk – A look at G&T testing in NYC, admissions (both private and public schools), and the process children and their parents will undergo. We’ll discuss issues of identifying traits of gifted & talented children and the multiple criteria perspective for those often underrepresented.

Panelists include:

  • Janet Jackson, Ph.D.Dr. Janet Jackson is a clinical psychologist who has been in private practice in New York City since 1986. She has worked with children and families providing neuropsychological testing, consultation and therapy. After twenty years evaluating children for admissions to Hunter College Campus Elementary School and sixteen years working with the Hollingworth Preschool (at Teachers College Hollingworth Center), she has gained insights into a range of remarkable children and had the privilege of watching their lives unfold across the school years. Dr. Jackson is a graduate of Columbia University’s Teachers College.
  • Robin Arnow, Ph.D.
    Robin Aronow has her Ph.D. in Clinical Social Work and was a clinician in private practice and a school social worker. Dr. Arnow has visited all the private schools and most of the public schools to which families in Manhattan apply. She has developed positive working relationships with private school admissions directors and administrators at Hunter College Campus Schoolsthe Anderson Program, and administrators in theDepartment of Education. She is an advisor to Manhattan Media’s (West Side Spirit andOur Town, among others) Blackboard Awards which honor excellence in education.Dr. Arnow consults with numerous private nursery and elementary schools, and individual families looking for ongoing schools pre-K through high school. She has written several articles about the process of applying to schools and conducts workshops entitled “Life After Nursery School” including workshops on applying to private and public schools. Dr. Arnow also maintains an email updating service. She finds it extremely satisfying providing information and support to families to help make the process less daunting. She also loves returning to school settings, and having a chance to tour so many schools and observe best practices.

Additional Keynote Speaker on Reading/Literacy for Accelerated Learners:

  • Marion Blank, Ph.D.Dr. Marion Blank is the director of the A Light on Literacy program at Columbia University in NY. She has spent over forty years studying how children learn to read and is recognized by her peers as one of the world’s top experts in literacy.Dr. Blank obtained her Ph.D. in Medical Psychology from the University of Cambridge in England. Among her many achievements, she has lectured extensively around the globe, serving as a consultant to governments in many different countries, receiving awards and commendations, created the Phonics Plus Five Reading Program and wrote “The Reading Remedy,” a book that Kirkus Reviews describes as “an invaluable resource.”Dr. Blank recently started writing for The Huffington Post where she provides expert insights on the topic of literacy and education for children. Dr. Blank has devoted her life to helping children learn to read, and she has used her innovative methods to help literally thousands of kids. Now, with her groundbreaking new reading program, www.ReadingKingdom.com, she is making her system available to every parent who wants to teach their child to read.
     

    Location:
    The Downtown Community Center,
    120 Warren Street between Greenwich Street and Westside Highway in Tribeca (Across from the Whole Foods side entrance in Tribeca)

    Price:
    $10 per workshop*

    Free to DCC members.

    *We believe that all children deserve an education appropriate for their learning style and ability level to reach their fullest potential. So if you are unable to pay for the P.A.L. series, please don’t let it stop you from attending. Contact us and request a P.A.L Scholarship application to attend for free.

    Registration: Eventbrite

    To register by phone, or for more information about the series,
    please contact Angelique LeDoux, 212.343.8881 or email angelique@jadestoybox.com

    Supporting Organizations, among others:

    National Association of Gifted Children (NAGC)
    Advocacy for Gifted and Talented Education (AGATE)
    * Twice-Exceptional Children’s Advocacy (TECA)
    Center for Gifted Studies and Education, Hunter College
    Rutgers University, Gifted Education Certificate Program

    For media inquiries, please contact Kirk Green: Gonzo Communications 949.292.1331, kirk@gonzocom.com

10 Books or 10 Baby Items, Get 10% off!

December 7, 2010

As if donating 10% of our holiday proceeds to charity wasn’t enough, Jade’s ToyBox just wants to keep giving back, so every Tuesday & Thursday through the end of the month, we’re offering 10% off our toys (excluding dollhouses) for every customer who brings us 10 hardbound children’s books (no licensed characters, please), or 10 gently used items for newborns through 5 years of age.

We’ll be giving it away to children’s charities right in time for the holiday season! So make room for the new holiday presents, clean out those closets in the process, and help children in need this holiday!

Come visit us at : 475 Greenwich Street between Canal Street and Watts in Tribeca, NYC, entrance on Watts Street near Canal
Mon-Sat 10-7 pm; Sun 11-5 pm.

Be sure to check out our events at:
http://www.jadestoybox.com/Events.aspx

Holiday Hugs

December 7, 2010

Maybe it’s just the spirit of the season, or maybe when you realize you’ve found someone who can relate to your personal plight, you just have to show the excitement. A southerner by birth, I’m a hugger, but it’s not everyday that I have a customer want to hug me. So today was a first…I hugged my customer!

And why? Because there seems to be a growing population of parents who know what it’s like to raise an accelerated learner; who understand the distinct characteristics they share, the social and emotional issues they may have; the impact it has relationships, childhood peers and others. It’s time to unite and not longer accept the uneducated company line that “all children are ‘gifted’.” Now all children are special, no doubt, and although we might not like the term “gifted,” accelerated learners are a distinct population with specific needs that must be addressed for them to reach their potential.

So parents of “accelerated learners,” “advanced ability kids,” “gifted children,” AKA “smart kiddos”…UNITE! And come get an extra 10% off toys (excluding dollhouses) Monday through Friday at our JTB Holiday Pop-Up Store in New York City from now until December 28, 2010. Oh, the proof required to get your discount? An example of your trials and tribulations with your lil brainiac. Speaking of, Our Brainiac Box is also 10% off for you!

See the store details:

http://www.jadestoybox.com/Events.aspx

 

Doing Disney

December 3, 2010

"Mommy, it made my belly feel funny...I want to ride it again when I get bigger."

Disney…The dreaded trip for us; the perfect trip for our daughter’s fifth birthday.

The last thing a New Yorker wants in a vacation are lines, uncontrollable kids and bad food. So the idea of going to Disney for four days during Columbus Day holiday weekend wasn’t up there with Turks & Caicos, or even staying in NYC for that matter.

But what a pleasant surprise. We stayed at a Disney property for two days, the Grand Floridian and an offsite hotel for two days, the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel, near EPCOT, that shared many perks of a Disney resort like convenient transportation and Magic Hour benefits.

We went back and forth on the idea of having a Disney tour guide. I know, I know…And although the thought of a $250 per hour guide (minimum 4 hours) to take us around to skip lines and show us the Disney ropes was tempting, but I thought it sent the wrong message to my kid. And then she’d always expect such luxury and extravagance. Truth be told, I was probably considering this for the benefit of my husband and me– selfish reasons, so I turned it down. Well, until 2 days before the trip when I thought “you only turn 5 once, and Disney is supposed to be magical for little girls, right? ” so a friend shared her insider unofficial guide who charges $85 an hour with no minimum. And we went for it… Again, sort of… Until he called the day we arrived in Orlando with unfortunate news of a death in the family so he was not available. But he did an amazing thing… He gave me the keys to the castle. Or close enough.

And here’s how we did Disney’s Magic Kingdom in a day…

First, bring your own umbrella stroller with everything you and your kid need when you travel. You know what that is, and clearly wet wipes are high priority, although Disney has nice clean bathrooms everywhere, so you’ll be fine. Next, have a plan of action or you’ll be wandering aimlessly for hours. Lastly, allow for spontaneity and enjoy every minute of it.

Most Important Tips:

If you have a young kid who may not ride the faster or scarier rides, Disney has a switch-off program that couldn’t be cooler. There was no way my husband and I were leaving the park without riding Space Mountain. It was his first trip to Disney too. So my daughter and I waited while he rode it, and when he got off, he and my daughter waited while I ran back up the employee exit- I guess- to have my turn. It’s a great program.

The other super important fact is the FastPass. These passes allow you to get a reservation for a ride that is available at a certain window of time so you have to plan a bit. Secret is, even though the FastPass gives you a window of time in which to ride, you really have until the ride closes to take your ride. So we grabbed a FastPass every chance we could. And keep in mind that once you get one, you can’t get another for a little while, so bank them and use them when the lines start getting longer.

Take advantage of the park the moment it opens, have one spouse or teammate go get the first FastPasses, while the others get in line for another ride with no line; but a ride that may fill up quickly as people arrive at the park.

Breakfast with champions, or Disney characters anyway– Apparently people sign up months and months in advance to have breakfast with the Disney characters. We were told that if you arrive the second they open at the Grand Floridian you actually have a great chance of being seated. And we did. At both hotels we did this and it was a complete surprise that our daughter- who often snubs her own grandfather- couldn’t wait to get the autograph and a photo with every last one of them- Mary Poppins, the Mad Hatter, Goofy, Pluto, you name it…

Tigger and friends at the Grand Floridian character breakfast

Ok, the rides:

The riders, we’ll say, are Sally (mom), Dick, (dad) and Jane (the 5-year old daughter).

Sally, Dick and Jane wake up at 7am, get to the Grand Floridian character breakfast when it opens at 8 am, and spend the next 45 minutes eating a decent buffet while getting photos and autographs of a number of Disney characters, including Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Alice in Wonderland and more.

Sally, Dick and Jane take Jane’s umbrella stroller and head by monorail to the Magic Kingdom the moment it opens. Dick bee-lines it straight to a FastPass ride, Splash Mountain in Frontierland, while Sally and Jane head to Fantasyland to ride the starter fun rides like Peter Pan’s flight that doesn’t yet have a wait. Next up, Dumbo the flying elephant or It’s a Small World, though the classic was closed when we were there. By that time, you can probably get your next FastPass, so have a member of your entourage grab the Buzz Lightyear FastPass while you mosey over to Mickey’s Toontown Fair to enjoy a snack and walk though the Mickey and Minnie’s country houses, and then ride the Barnstormer rollercoaster, a great ride for little kiddos.

Use the Splash Mountain FastPass before heading back to the hotel for lunch and a rest or swim in the hotel pool for an hour or two. This is the saving grace of this whole thing… The park is packed and now is the perfect time to refuel. The kids love it, you’ll love it, and everyone wins. And don’t leave the park without grabbing one last FastPass for later. Sally and Jane grab an ice cream cone on Main Street while Dick grabs a FastPass for Space Mountain.

The afternoon parade on Main Street

After your relax, head back to the park, and catch a bit of the parade down Main Street. If your kids want more Disney character visits, take the time to go to Toontown Hall of Fame while the parade is still going to avoid long lines. Have Dick grab one more FastPass as you head to Toontown, consider the Big Thunder Mountain train coaster, or another ride your child liked a lot. Meanwhile use your Space Mountain FastPass and do the switch-off so both parents can ride it if the kids aren’t up for it, or tall enough.  Jane wasn’t ready to ride it, although she rode Splash Mountain twice, but we did notice some other 5-year-old kids on it.

Next catch the Carousel of Progress or Tomorrowland Transit Authority-still a favorite chill-out that snakes through Space Mountain and Tomorrowland. The Astro Orbiter let’s you fly outside in a spaceship, and despite being a bit loud, was a fun way to end the day. If your kids are a bit older or more adventurous- translation, they’re ok with faster roller coasters or potentially scary rides, you can also consider ending the day with Big Thunder Mountain railroad.

Even on busy holidays, it’s pretty manageable, or at least it was for Sally, Dick and Jane.

Other rides and shows to see if there is time or you need a chill-out:
• Jungle cruise
• Mickey’s Philharmonic
• Monster’s Inc Laugh floor
• Walt Disney World Railroad

Don’t waste your time with:

Tomorrowland Speedway. The steering was hard and the ride super duper slow. Boring!

Resources and Tools:

• The Unofficial Guide Walt Disney World 2011

• Touringplans.com

•  the IPhone App, Walt Disney World Park Hours

The Damage: $2223, family of 3 for 4 days at Disney (exclusive of airfare, meals, souvenirs and snacks)
Grand Floridian- $400/nt x 2 nts = $800
Walt Disney World Swan Hotel- $229/nt x 2 nts= $ 516
AAA membership= $48
Disney tickets with AAA membership= $859.
For 2 adults, 4-day base ticket with park hopper and one child, 4 day base ticket with park hopper

That was one expensive trip for a theme park. I cannot imagine how the average family of 4 can afford this even with a hotel that’s half the price.

The Takeaway: Despite the cost, it was a great time and the October weather was excellent. We couldn’t believe how clean and organized it was. We were expecting the worst and instead had a wonderful 5th birthday celebration. Dare I say we’re considering another trip again soon!

It’s Here…

December 1, 2010

And don’t miss our Holiday workshops and events for kids throughout the month of December, including:

4:00 pm EVERY WEDNESDAY in DECEMBER-
Holiday Craft Events for the kiddos throughout December

2:00 pm SATURDAYS
Storytime for Charity,
Check out a slew of great authors at our Storytime for Charity every Saturday at 2 pm in December. Following the reading will be special Holiday Activities for children ages 2-6, with parent involvement. FREE

2:00 pm SUNDAYS
Santa Letter Writing Workshop,
A story is followed by a letter writing workshop for Santa Claus. We’ll help kids create their letters for Santa and we’ll even help mail it to the North Pole. Stickers, letter fun and writing helpers will be on-hand. Don’t forget to tell Santa Claus what you want for Christmas, like a greener planet, cleaner oceans and healthier toys! FREE

DECEMBER 1 at  4 pm-
JTB kicks off our Holiday Craft Wednesdays with a special gift for all attendees.

DECEMBER 3- Santa arrives! Free Portraits from 3-6 pm

DECEMBER 4-5- Santa is here! Free Portraits  11:30- 2:30 pm

DECEMBER 4- at 2 pm, Storytime for Charity with Ole Saint Nick, himself.
We will have a special guest reader, Santa Claus himself. And with a $20 suggested donation, you can sponsor the story. Just bring in your child’s favorite book or let us choose the story and use your child’s name as the character of the book, as Santa presents Storytime for Charity on December 4 at 2 pm. Call ahead to sponsor, or come and hear him for free! FREE

DECEMBER 4- at 3 pm- Holiday Dining Classes for Kids with socialsklz:-) tools to thrive in the modern world. FREE

For kids 4 and up, prepare for the holiday season’s frenzy of fancy dinners 
and festivities during a 25 minute session covering how to set 
the table properly, how to eat and use utensils, mealtime 
manners and more.  NYC based socialsklz:-) offers interactive workshops for children and young adults featuring social interaction and communication skills, or what was once known as manners and etiquette! RSVP to angelique@jadestoybox.com

DECEMBER 6- drop-in from 11 am- 2pm. The Photo Project Workshop $45/hr

Have your baby and kiddo photos runneth over? If you are like me, with four years of pictures and memorabilia in boxes, now is the time to get it together. This ain’t no scrapping workshop! A former magazine picture editor will work with you to edit the best images and discuss ways to organize into traditional albums, digital photo books, 3-dimensional shadow boxes, framed art objects or other unique storage ideas. RSVP to angelique@jadestoybox.com

December 8, 4-5 pm- Holiday Cookie Decorating Workshop with Taste Buds & MiniMunchers FREE

Join Taste Buds and MiniMunchers for Gingerbread Cookie Decorating! We’ll have yummy Gingerbread Cookies, Icing and Sprinkles to help you celebrate the Holidays in style. RSVP to angelique@jadestoybox.com

DECEMBER 11- at 3 pm- Holiday Dining Classes for Kids with socialsklz:-) tools to thrive in the modern world. FREE

For kids 4 and up, prepare for the holiday season’s frenzy of fancy dinners 
and festivities during a 25 minute session covering how to set 
the table properly, how to eat and use utensils, mealtime 
manners and more.  NYC based socialsklz:-) offers interactive workshops for children and young adults featuring social interaction and communication skills, or what was once known as manners and etiquette! RSVP to angelique@jadestoybox.com

DECEMBER 12- at 12-3 pm- Care for the Critters Workshop FREE

Parents and kids can drop in anytime between 1 and 3 pm to learn about different breeds of animals, their temperaments and what to look for in the right pet for your child. The Animal Haven Mobile Adoption van will be on-site for pet adoptions, and those less inclined for the real deal, can always adopt an OOMFY, one of our endangered species, of the plush variety! Lots of fun free activities learning fun for kids 2-6 years, including a perfect pet checklist, an adoption certificate and animal activity handouts.

DECEMBER 15- at 4 pm- Alfabeticos Workshop FREE

The Bilingual Arts sampler for kids ages 1-5  incorporates music, art and storytelling aimed to develop social skills, cognitive and fine-gross-motor skills and Spanish vocabulary.

DECEMBER 17-19- by appointment- A Rare Opportunity for your Child to be Photographed with the 20×24 Polaroid Camera – One of only a handful of such cameras in the world, the 20″ x 24″ Polaroid camera produces large format instant photos and will be available for a fee, $1500 for 3 prints. (that’s $1000 off normal pricing!)  RSVP to angelique@jadestoybox.com


DECEMBER 18- at 2:30 pm- A Surprise Musical Concert by our Emmy nominated favorite band FREE

DECEMBER 19- at 2:30 pm- Holiday Craft Workshop with NatureBag.

Create a one-of-a-kind gift inspired by nature with NatureBag and NatureRocks. For kids 3-6+. RSVP to angelique@jadestoybox.com

DECEMBER 22- at 3 pmThe Last Minute “I-Forgotta-Gift-for-Blah-Blah” Holiday Workshop FREE
Forgot to make a gift for gramps or your nanny? No worries. We’ve got a great last minute holiday craft activity guaranteed to put a smile on, well, Blah, Blah. Perfect for kiddos ages 2-6.

DECEMBER 22- at 4 pm- Architecture Workshop for your lil Green Builder with brinca dada.

Your kid love to create, construct and build structures? Be sure to join us for our free architecture introduction for kids ages 5-9 by brinca dada,  and see how the Emerson Dollhouse was created. RSVP to angelique@jadestoybox.com

Other Fun By Appointment:

And All That Jazz!: Sign-up for a unique one-on-one recording experience, with studio time at Hudson Soundlab. Kids and adults can perform original music, or read from their own or favorite story, with back-up from Emmy-nominated musicians, Robby LeDoux and JZ Barrell Call Jade’s ToyBox for more details @ 212.343.8881.

The Kitty Cat Curriculum: Transitioning from Picture to Chapter Books

August 16, 2010

My 4-year-old daughter loves books so much that I can merely threaten to dock a book at bedtime and I’ve done something worse than “1-2-3ing” her. Feeding a child’s hunger for books and reading is easy at first, but once the picture book genre starts to lose its challenge, finding age-appropriate content in chapter book form is not so easy. Bridging the gap from gorgeously illustrated stories to sparsely illustrated black and white pages is a task that not even I am up for now that I’ve become immersed in the picture book format, but it’s transition time.

Frankly I’d like to see a defined genre of books that perfectly combines both formats into one. Actually, there are some out there, but I want more! In the meantime, starting with your child’s favorite topic: cats, dinosaurs, princesses, etc., use the picture book as a springboard for diving into deeper content-related reading materials that provide an opportunity for transformation, while maintaining continuity and a continued love of reading.

The following list is an example of what can be achieved when you branch out a bit, but stay consistent with the topic or theme your child loves. It is meant as a guide for parents, teachers, caregivers or grandparents of 4-6 year-old early readers, and includes a collection of simple picture books, fiction and non-fiction books, biography, chapter-based and reference-style books. The format and relevant themes of the book are noted as well, as is an author website if current.

And if your child loves animals, it’s a great reading list for the transition from picture to chapter book.

The Gift of Nothing by Patrick McDonnell. 2005. Hachette.
author website: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/features/patrickmcdonnell/questions-and-answers.html

In my book, this is one of the best children’s stories of all time. A story of friendship and love between an unlikely couple, a cat named Mooch and his best dog friend Earl. Simple illustrations and text make this story by Patrick McDonnell, author of the Mutts comic strip, a classic. Mooch treks all over to find the perfect gift for his friend, and what he finds is the best present of all. (Picture Book; friendship, giving)

Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes. 2004. Harper Collins Publishers. New York. NY
author website: http://www.kevinhenkes.com

A simply illustrated picture book about a little kitten who mistakes the full moon for milk…  “still there was a little bowl of milk, just waiting.” A story of persistence, Kitten’s First Full Moon epitomizes my daughter’s favorite- and only quote, “Mommy, if you don’t get it the first time, keep trying.” The book is a 2005 Caldecott Medal winner by Kevin Henkes, author of Chrysanthemum and Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse(Picture Book; persistence)

My Cat Copies Me by Yoon-Duck Kwon. 2005. Kane Miller Book Publishers.

A colorfully illustrated picture book about a young girl whose cat copies her every move. A visual depiction of the closeness of a child and her pet, through the eyes of a Korean illustrator who gives us glipses of her culture as the story unfolds. “When I get scared, I hide under my blanket, and my cat hides with me. She snuggles in, and purrs. My friend, my cat, copies me. But from now on, I will copy my cat.” And she becomes adventurous, following the cues of her feline friend. (Picture Book; Korean culture, pet ownership, overcoming shyness & fears)

Papa Piccolo by Carol Talley. 1992. Marsh Media. Shawnee Mission, Kansas.

Piccolo the Venetian stray alley cat is all about adventures, but when he finds two baby kittens who are without their mother, he considers being their parent. Breaking from traditional stereotypes of mothers and women as nurturers, the author challenges the idea that only mommies are capable of being great caregivers. Through Piccolo’s journey of self-discovery, the illustrator takes us on a beautiful tour of Venice, Italy.  (Picture Book; gender roles, same sex couple-related issues, stray cat populations, travel/Italy)

• Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein. 2008. Little, Brown and Company. New York, New York.
author interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ca2Ly4Vpb5Y

A little cat named Wabi Sabi is determined to discover the meaning of her name. Along the way, WOW! Vertically oriented illustrative collages and the writer’s  combination of words are mixed with haiku, Japanese characters with more than one “lesson” at the end. An unexpected treat, and a great way to explore Japanese haiku, a short traditional Japanese poem in which meaning is usually expressed through details of the senses and of nature, with a seasonal reference and a transition of some kind. Its form takes writing the first line of five syllables, a second of seven, and a third of five again, as in: Meigetsu ya ike o megurite yo mo sugara: “the full moon—going around the pond, all night long. (Picture Book,  language arts, poetry, haiku, Chinese and Japanese culture)

Comet’s Nine Lives by Jan Brett. 1996. The Putnam & Grosset Group. New York. New York.
author website: http://www.janbrett.com

A cat with nine lives?  ‘Splain that to little Ricky… but Comet the cat of Nantucket Island goes through eight of his lives pretty quickly, with a ghost-like image that fades with every new feat gone bad in this beautifully illustrated picture book. It’s an odd conversation starter about death, but a great way to explore the issues of stray cat populations, pet ownership and myths—just don’t have your kid explore the myth online without vetting sources first. It’s a mixed bag! (Picture Book, fitting in, death, 9-lives myth, travel, adventure/Nantucket)

Big Cat, Small Cat by Amy Rubinger. 2008. Abbeville Publishing Group. New York. NY.

“This cat is down low, this cat is up high… this cat is wet, this cat is … “ Your child will delight in knowing the rhyming endings of each page. Opposites and simple, cute kitty cat illustrations abound. Just a fun little book in the spirit of Dr. Seuss. (Picture Book, language arts/opposites & rhyming)

Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel. 2005. Roaring Brook Press. New York, NY.
author interview: http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/media.jsp?id=672

For the verbally voracious… an ABC picture book with a twist on fruits and veggies, animals and opposite concepts. “She Ate my homework, Bit grandma, Clawed the curtains, and more.” You’re in for a ride – four times- around the alphabet with each time focused on a different topic kids will enjoy. (Picture Book, language arts/ABC style book with food, verbs and animals)

The Fire Cat by Esther Averill. 1960. Barnes & Noble Publishing with Harper Collins. New York, NY.

Pickles the cat is a troublemaker with some behavioral issues, until he discovers his passion in life: being a fire cat. “Pickles is a cat who wishes to do big things. And someday he will do them.” With that little encouragement and faith from his friend Mrs. Goodkind, Pickles finds his way in life in this simply illustrated beginner chapter book. (Picture/Chapter Book; careers, strengths, personality)

The Case of the Cat’s Meow by Crosby Bonsall. 1965. Harper Collins. New York, NY.

If the little rascals formed a private detective agency and had a whiny little brother with a pregnant cat, that would be this book. A cute story of sleuthing and mystery, that touches on my childhood dream of being a private “eye.” If you can get past the “Tubby” and “Skinny” stereotypical nicknames and a few examples of name calling, it’s redeeming quality is the message of friendship in the end (Picture/Chapter Book; careers, responsibility, friendships)

Three Stories You Can Read to your Cat by Sara Swan Miller. 1999. Sandpiper.

Three-stories–in-one with a unique perspective: a read aloud from child to cat. “Would you like to sit on my lap? One day YOU woke up early, you were ready for fun.” An enjoyable set of stories to encourage young kids to read aloud to their pet (or a stuffed animal), and it’s filled with illustrations that keep kids engaged. I’m already envisioning learning extensions–a first person diaristic account of your cat’s day based closely on the book- with journal entries or drawings or a performance about things your cat thinks about. (Picture/Chapter Book; pet perspectives)

The Cat on the Mat is Flat by Andy Griffiths. 2006. Holtzbrinck Publishers.
author website: http://andygriffiths.com.au/about

The crook who wrote this book stole it off my nook. Not really, but I should have written this book. Literally the night before I found it, my daughter and I were playing a bedtime game of turning three rhyming phrases into a sentence, and viola! I kid you not, this book appeared. A great easy read for your avid young reader. (Picture/Chapter Book; language arts, rhyming words)

• Raining Cats and Dogs: A Collection of Irresistible Idioms and Illustrations to Tickle the Funny Bone by Will Moses. 2008. Philomel.

While I would have preferred larger full-page illustrations of each idiom, the idea of this book is great. The illustrated idioms for children are a good example for extending the activity into a classroom setting, but the book needed more background and detail about idioms as a part of speech and in connection to their origin. Nonetheless, a cute visual reference for introducing a young child to idioms. (Picture book; language arts, English-language idioms)

The Kitten’s Tale by Darrel & Sally Odgers. 2010. Kane Miller, EDC Publishing. Tulsa, OK.

A fictional chapter book, with few illustrations, about a homeless kitten who hangs out at a vet clinic, and her dog friend’s determination to help her get over her fears and find a home. (Chapter Book, friendships, fears, careers/vet)

• Bad Kitty Gets a Bath by Nick Bruel. 2008. Square Fish, McMillan Books. New  York, NY.

Somewhere between a graphic novel, picture book and chapter book, this heavily illustrated chapter book is a great foray into the world of chapter books. The glossary at the back is also a great way to introduce kids to vocabulary without the trek to the dictionary. For a cat lover, it offers truthful and sound advice for bathing your kitty cat. So much in fact, that I was encouraged to follow the books methodology and bathe our cat after reading it. Bad Kitty Gets a Bath also includes a Q&A with the author at the end. I wish more books had the elements of this great little gem for animal lovers. (Picture/Chapter Book; pet ownership; humor)

• Happy Birthday Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel. 2009. Square Fish, McMillan Books. New  York, NY.

A combination of graphic novel, picture book and chapter book, this heavily illustrated chapter book is the follow-up to Bad Kitty Takes a Bath (see above), with a similar format. The glossary is substituted with an equally useful appendix that details the brief history of the different cat breeds mentioned in the book. (Picture/Chapter Book; pet ownership; cat breeds, humor)

Mr. Putter and Tabby Walk the Dog by Cynthia Rylant. 1994. Harcourt Children’s Books.
author interview: http://www.harcourtbooks.com/authorinterviews/bookinterview_rylant.asp

We stumbled upon the Mr. Putter and Tabby series while at the library recently, and what a find. These heavily illustrated chapter books are separated into simple chapters: The Lollypup, The Nightmare and The Dream Dog, for example. An easy read for an early reader, with humor, friendships, examples of figurative language  and engaging stories for anytime. (Picture/Chapter Book; series, humor, language arts- figurative language, relationships )

• All About My Cat by Philipp Keel. 2003. Broadway. New York, NY.

Let your child be the biographer with kitty cat checklists and fill-in-the-blanks for describing your friendly or ferocious feline. Memorable to say the least… as in this example…“Why do you have a cat? (Ok, Kleenex time) “because I really wanted a cat because my other cats died,” Spoken like a true 4-year-old.   While not all of the keepsake book is at level for a 4-6 year-old, it is something you can come back to as your child- and cat, get bigger. (A Biography of sorts)

• What if My Cat…? by Claire Arrowsmith and Francesca Riccomini. 2008. Interpet Publishing.

A great quick reference guide to understanding your cat, his development, his habits and annoying problems, like #50: What if my cat is determined to lick plastic objects? Apparently our kookie cat’s mannerisms are “rawther” common. Presented in an easy to read format that has short passages and accompanying photographs or illustrations of cats, it’s easy enough to follow for a young child, but not all in one sitting. Of course it doesn’t hurt that my daughter’s breed of cat is pictured multiple times throughout the book. (Reference)

• The Complete Cat Book by Paddy Cutts. 1992. Smithmark.

Everything you needed to know about felines but were a ‘’fraidy cat” to ask.  This compendium of the cat includes detailed information about care, breeds and topics related to health of cats and kittens. It’s a must have for anyone considering a cat or like mine- any child obsessed with cats. (Reference with great photographs)

Other cat-related books to consider:

• Cat Heaven by Cynthia Rylant. 1997. Blue Sky Press. (Picture book; pet death)

• Hemingway’s Cats: An Illustrated Biography by Carlene Brennen. (biography)

The Dog Who Rescues Cats by Philip Gonzalez. (non-fiction)

• Skippyjon Jones and the Big Bones by Judy Schachner (picture book)

Dancing with Cats by Burton Silver. (dance)

• Impressionist, Cats & Dogs: Pets in the Painting of Modern Life by James Rubin. (art)

A Curious Collection of Cats by Betsy Franco. (poetry)

• Warriors: Cats of the Clans by Erin Hunter. (fantasy/fiction chapter books)

The Abandoned by Paul Gallico. (novel/ fantasy)