5 Things on Our Fall Wish List this Year

What started as a craving for pumpkin spice has now evolved into a full-on love affair with Fall. The weather, the smells, the flavors – it’s the seasonal equivalent of a giant hug. We didn’t want to miss a single moment of this autumnal love fest, so we compiled a list of our must-do Fall activities for this year.

What started as a craving for pumpkin spice has now evolved into a full-on love affair with Fall. The weather, the smells, the flavors – it’s the seasonal equivalent of a giant hug. We didn’t want to miss a single moment of this autumnal love fest, so we compiled a list of our must-do Fall activities for this year.

  1. Plant a Fall Garden

Why do Spring and Summer get to have all the gardening fun? The Fall weather practically requires you be outdoors, and a Fall garden of colorful gourds is a great way to get kids experimenting with new foods. Tomie de Paola’s “Strega Nona’s Harvest” has some helpful gardening tips and is fun to read together after a day in the dirt.

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  1. Apple Picking

Load up the kiddos, hop in the car, and yee-haw to the closest apple orchard. A family road trip always ends up with one or two new stories to add to the family legacy (keep the TVs and video games off for best results). When you finally arrive, everyone can run around through the rows of trees, play with other families also glad to be out of their car, and enjoy some cider (we’ll let you decide how hard that cider needs to be).

  1. Celebrate Science

November 8th (NOV8 – innovate – get it??) is National STEAM Day, set aside each year to inspire kids to explore interests in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. The internet is full of STEAM activities you can do as a family, but we suggest these and these. We also highly recommend reading “Little Leonardo’s Fascinating World of Technology” with Novel Effect – it combines science, tech, and art!

  1. Root, Root, Root for the Home Team

America’s pastime culminates every Fall as the best-of-the-best battle it out during the World Series. Even if your team didn’t make it to the big showdown, pick a team as a family (or take different sides if competition is more your thing) and watch the games together. Learn the cheers, get into the spirit, and have some fun! If you want a story to go with the big game, we recommend “Casey at the Bat” or the newly added “Baseball Saved Us,” which tells the story of how baseball shaped a young boy’s experience in an internment camp during WWII.

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  1. Pumpkin Carving

Of course, pumpkin carving, right? Not very imaginative… or is it?!? Dun, dun, dun! You don’t have to go far down the Pinterest rabbit hole to find some impressive ideas! Find some inspiration and challenge yourselves to try something new for Jack this year.

 

This is our wish list this Fall, but we want to know: what’s on yours? Head over to our Facebook page and let us know what your family plans to try this Fall.

National Techies Day

At Novel Effect, we’re celebrating National Techies Day by talking to some of our Techies – these awesome people we get to work with daily to create magic – and asked them why they opted for a career in technology.

Today, October 3rd, is National Techies Day!! Celebrated annually since its origin in 1998, National Techies Day is set aside to encourage students to consider a career in technology, a career sector predicted to grow 22% by 2020.

At Novel Effect, we’re celebrating by talking to some of our Techies – these awesome people we get to work with daily to create magic – and asking them why they opted for a career in technology.

Here’s what they had to say:

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Zhi Li, CTO

“I came to the U.S. with the dream of becoming a physicist but landed at the center of Silicon Valley. I was shocked by the heydays of the dotcom boom! In just two months, I decided to drop out and pursue a whole new world of computers.”

 

 

 

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Eric Goetz, VP Content

“I’ve been combining music and technology ever since I was writing music in BASIC on my TI-99a at age 10. I love working in the tech industry, because I enjoy hanging out with smart and creative people.”

 

 

 

 

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Grace Jang, Developer

“My favorite classes growing up were math, physics, wood shop and history. Each involves solving problems with a bit of creativity, and making stuff. Later, an older friend of mine suggested I take a computer science course, and behold! It was the best and most fun course I had taken throughout my time in college because I got to problem solve creatively all the time and make stuff digitally! So I changed my major to purse a tech related field. At that time, mobile apps and phones started becoming a huge hype. I became fascinated by how they can dramatically change the way we do things in life and give new opportunities to people. Now, I am in utter bliss making mobile apps and I only enjoy it more and more the more I problem solve and make new things!”

 

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Ryan Lane, Developer

“I started writing games in BASIC when I was a kid on my Apple IIe. I was lucky to get into developing for the web back in the early 90s using the Spry version of the NCSA Mosaic browser. I was hooked ever since.”

 

 

 

 

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Ju Namkung, Developer

“I studied linguistics in college and graduate school, which is great training for how to observe what’s happening in the world and how to reason about it analytically. In the 1990s, I fell in love with the World Wide Web when it was first starting out. That was an exciting time to get involved with a brand-new medium for sharing information, connecting with others, and getting things done. That excitement
continues to this day.”

 

We hope you enjoy celebrating #NationalTechiesDay!

Blast Off to Storytime!

Your little space explorers are in for a wonderful treat. Novel Effect is pleased to announce the release of our first title from our new partner, Gibbs Smith. 3-2-1 Blast-off!: A Journey to our Solar System introduces space travel to children in an engaging way with fun facts, wonderful illustrations, AND interactive flaps to lift!

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Reading this new release from Gibbs Smith with Novel Effect adds an extra level of engagement. You and your little ones will get to hear real astronaut sounds, interstellar music, and all the best robot noises you can imagine!

After reading the book with Novel Effect, you can keep the conversation going to really reinforce all the educational benefits! Here are some discussion questions to help you get started:

  1. One of the elements of space travel is cooperation. What are some ways people work together to get a big job accomplished?
  2. How does the astronaut communicate with people on the ground? What are their main jobs?
  3. How does the astronaut describe the moon? How do you describe the moon?
  4. Do you remember some of the other planets mentioned? What were they like?
  5. What are some places you’d like to travel to learn more about?

 

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This week we celebrate Banned Books Week, an annual celebration for the freedom to read. See our “Banned Books Week” shelf in the app with titles from our collection that frequently appear on banned or challenged lists.

 

Reading, Reading, Reading: Five Ways to Foster the Home/School Connection

Now that school is under way and your children settle into their routines, how can you ensure connections with your kids stay at the forefront? Linking experiences from home to school (for example, reading a story aloud) can establish the connections that children need for success in later literacy learning. Here are some ways you can build literacy bridges to school and home:

Greetings Novel Effectors!

Now that school is under way and your children settle into their routines, how can you ensure connections with your kids stay at the forefront? Linking experiences from home to school (for example, reading a story aloud) can establish the connections that children need for success in later literacy learning. Here are some ways you can build literacy bridges to school and home:

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  1. Know what they’re reading

Many teachers provide a booklist. Do you have it yet? Chances are you’ve seen the books they’re reading in your own library or at home. Build up your library with these titles (or make a weekly habit of checking out titles from the local library!)

  1. Create a literacy rich environment

I know how busy you are, but this checklist has some great and simple guidelines for ensuring you’re giving your child a very important gift. There is one for the classroom as well, so you can see if your child’s teacher has these elements in place to ensure connections between home and school.

  1. Talk about the books

Even if you don’t have a book, you can still talk about it. Search for a youtube video of it – Youtube has thousands (maybe millions) of videos of books being read aloud. Once you’ve watched it yourself or online with your child, connect it to something in the child’s home life.

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  1. Encourage your child to share at school

We all help our children with homework and learning. Use this as an opportunity to connect what you’re reading to them at home with what they are reading or doing at school. And, if you want to share Novel Effect with their classroom as a literacy activity, we thank you and support that 100%!

  1. Start Early

Research shows we should be reading to children as early as six months (and earlier than that won’t hurt). For your littler folks who are not yet in school or daycare here are some ways to build pre-literacy experiences from community outings. This site is aimed at parents of children with disability, but it provides wonderful ideas for children of all abilities.

 

Have fun and keep on reading,

Melody Furze,

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Chief of Education, Novel Effect

First Day Jitters

Whether you’re already a few weeks into the school year or have the first day rapidly approaching, we’ve compiled a list of books that you can read with your children or students to help them process all the emotions running through their little bodies this time of year.

While adorable pictures may be flooding your social media, the back to school time of year evokes different emotions for different people. Teachers may dread it. Parents may celebrate it. And kids…. well, kids probably have lots of big emotions that they aren’t sure how to express just yet, ranging from anxiety to excitement.

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Photo by Rachel on Unsplash

 

Whether you’re already a few weeks into the school year or have the first day rapidly approaching, we’ve compiled a list of books that you can read with your children or students to help them process all the emotions running through their little bodies this time of year.

 

The Invisible String by Patricia Karst

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This story deals directly with the issue of separation anxiety. Remind your little ones with the relaxing music that even if you aren’t there, we are all connected by an invisible thread that unites us all.

 

The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Martin

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Through beautiful illustrations and soothing rhythms, this book paints the picture of a parent’s acceptance of their child in all the child’s wonderment, creativity, and aspirations. Reinforce that you support your child at story time to give them an extra boost of confidence on their first day!

 

Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman

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Love, love, love. If a child can count on nothing else in a crazy world of bullies and skinned knees, the one constant is your love for them. The soundscape is dreamy and perfect for bedtime or nap time, helping your kids rest easy.

 

Little Blue Truck by Alice Shertle

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Sure, it’s a classic you’ve probably read 8,000 times already, but it’s a great reminder of the value of friendship. The happy sound effects keep story time lively and lends itself to lots of discussion questions about the kids in their class (and which animal friends remind them of their human friends).

Back to Something….

It’s a time for renewal, for starting over and getting to know a new class of wonderful students, making new friends and celebrating a new chapter of teacherdom. At Novel Effect, we’ve been there. We know that you want something new to spice up the ol’ lesson plans.

Teachers cringe, librarians prepare, and parents rejoice!

Teachers, here’s something you might not want to hear, seriously, cover your ears, shut off the lights, pull down the shades (dun, dun, dun)…

It’s BACK TO SCHOOL (cue terrifying music and lightning flashes!)

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It’s not all terrifying though. It’s a time for renewal, for starting over and getting to know a new class of wonderful students, making new friends and celebrating a new chapter of teacherdom.

At Novel Effect, we’ve been there. We know that you want something new to spice up the ol’ lesson plans. Dust off those favorite books. Pair our awesome soundscape for “Giraffes Can’t Dance” with a music and movement activity. You’re all getting to know each other so it’d be fun to start with a book about the importance of being yourself. With our soundscape you can teach children different genres of music and then break into a movement activity.

Better yet read Oliver Jeffer’s fantastic “The Way Back Home” which coincides with the back-to-school theme of leaving home and making friends. Here are some great ideas for activities. Then, spend the time you were going to come up with accompanying activities enjoying one last summer evening cocktail instead.

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It’s a myth that librarians spend their entire summer reading hundreds of books. They actually read thousands! I jest, but librarians love a good story and the beginning of the year means setting up your space to encourage reading and interaction. Here is an adorable Mo Williams display for the library or classroom. Read “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” with our soundscape to address some of those bus ride anxieties and then have a pigeon noise contest!

While teachers and librarians might be scrambling to get ready, parents are breathing a sigh of relief. Put those babies on the bus, brew a cup of tea, throw on some Netflix and just enjoy all that peace and quiet….until school calls because Joey’s got a fever. Read him “Alexander and the Horrible No Good Very Bad Day,” with Novel Effect (one of my favorites) and then drink this tomorrow instead of tea.

No matter what your role, reading stories is probably a big part of what you do. We want to thank you for helping our littlest learners become book lovers now and the whole year through!

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3 Fun Activities for Community Story Times

Between the heat and vacation, we know the challenges of coming up with new ideas to add interactivity into routine story times. This blog, we’re focusing a bit on resources for community storytellers.

Greetings Story Tellers!

At Novel Effect we’ve been having fun at our local libraries and bookstores reading stories with our app and doing activities with little readers from Seattle to Charleston. Between the heat and vacation, we know the challenges of coming up with new ideas to add interactivity into routine story times.

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This blog, we’re focusing a bit on resources for community storytellers. These special story times can take place in community centers, at libraries and parks, in the children’s section of your favorite local bookstore, or wherever you find a group of children who are willing to listen and ready to have fun.

With Novel Effect, all you need is a device and a blue-tooth speaker (if you have a bigger group) and you instantly have an immersive story time that will keep kids focused and attentive. But, what are some other ways to get the children involved and interacting with the story? Here are 3 suggestions we’ve come up with at our events (all the books, of course, have soundscapes in the Novel Effect app). Try them at your next story time and see your story time crowds grow and grow.

 

1. Everybody dance now!

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Sandra Boynton’s Barnyard Dance is an adorable excuse to dance some sillies out and learn animal sounds. Let everyone pick a plastic animal (or picture) from a bucket. Gather the group in a circle and read the story once with Novel Effect. On the 2nd reading everyone stands up and dances to their parts in time with the music. It’s sure to be a baa, moo and a cock-a-doodle-doo, hoedown!

 

2. Bon appetit!

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Mouse and Minka share quite a few summer treats in Mouse’s First Summer by Laurent Thompson. Why not increase the flavor (sorry, wince) with some treats from the story? Serve sweet lemonade, watermelon and have children make their own PB&Js just like those adorable mice siblings.

 

3. Near, far, wherever you are!

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In “Duck and Goose Go to the Beach,” Duck and Goose are not quite on the same page about a summer excursion. After reading this story use this element as a springboard to discuss distant versus near places children might visit (or already have this summer). Then you can have the children draw two pictures: one of a nearby place to visit and one of a faraway place to visit.

 

What have you done at your story time events to keep families returning? Share your ideas be tweeting us @Novel_Effect!

And, as always Happy Reading!