Thursday, March 28, 2013

Birthday Parties at the Golden Apple

We've started doing Science birthday parties at the Golden Apple.  It's something we've been planning for a long time, but we wanted to get our party room perfect before we started hosting events.  Doing Birthday parties is a natural extension for us, as we have tons of resources and years of experience entertaining kids.
Our parties have a core of science - usually several hands-on activities and a dazzle-dazzle demonstration.  The science is solid, but the emphasis is fun.    We're also including a story time with every party - because we're really good at presenting stories and the kids love it.  If you've got a birthday coming up, check us out - ages 3-10, and we love doing theme parties - so bring us your Angry Birds, your Jedi Knights and your Brave warriors and we'll build a science party around them!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My Favorite Books

I was asked to write a post on my favorite books for the Woohoo Factor Website.  Here it is for my blog readers...

My Favorite Books
John MacDougall, The Golden Apple Learning Store
The Golden Apple began selling books for kids 34 years ago.  When we started, we sold mostly to teachers, and teachers bought books as tools.  Children’s books bring lessons to life for teachers, and create a great way to create “teachable moments”.   Each book on my list of favorites is a book with a lesson.  (Many of them have rodents in them too, but that’s incidental!)  I learned so much from books growing up, and I’m glad I have them around me still.  

The Golden Apple Learning Store opened in 1979 as a Teacher Supply store.  Over the years they’ve loosened up and expanded to toys, books, music and almost anything else that expands the brain.  The store is located in Pleasanton Ca, just outside of San Francisco.

Wind in the Willows  - Kenneth Grahame
My favorite books starts with a classic.  This is a read aloud, as kids old enough to read it on their own will dismiss it as too babyish.  The wisdom in this book will stay with you throughout your life.   Each character, Mole, Rat, Badger, Otter., even Toad, presents a blueprint for how to make sense of the world, told in the most gentle way possible.

How Georgie Radbourn Saved Baseball - David Shannon

Kids leave picture books behind way too early - they miss out on the power and drama of illustration.  When doing book talks at schools, I always bring this book along to share with 5th and 6th graders.  It never fails to hook them.  Georgie is a rebel, and by saving baseball, he saves the world.

The  Important book - Margaret Wise Brown
This is a book for budding poets, but it is not a poetry book.  You will learn about grass and clouds, not the science of things, but the poetry.   It’s easy to read, and has simple illustrations, but the important thing is it’s a book for poets.

Mouse Soup - Arnold Lobel
Trickster tales are a fundamental part of every culture. Honesty is one of the values we hope kids embrace, but a person with a good story will go far, and that story doesn’t always have to be true, especially when your life is at stake!  There is a whole batch of these leveled readers from the 60’s Little Bear, Frog and Toad, Frances that have a humor and sensibility adults will appreciate as they read along.

Chester’s Way - Kevin Henkes
Each individual has their own way of doing things.  Chester and Wilson learn that fast when they meet Lilly.  It’s not easy to stay in a rut when life is full of so many possibilities!  All of Kevin Henkes titles succeed by presenting kids with very real situations, at school and home.  

The Mystery of Harris Burdick - Chris Van Allsburg
Sometimes imagination just needs a nudge.  This writer’s portfolio of title, first line, and image gives your imagination a hard shove!  Many books end with the reader wanting more, but each page in this book forces you to want more, and create it yourself.  We use this book in our writing workshops for kids

Magic Tree House Books - Mary Pope Osborne
This series has been going strong for years.  The writing is excellent and the adventures take the reader everywhere a good book should - back in time, far away, out in space.  Ms. Osborne must wonder what she was thinking when she started this series 48 books ago, but she continues to entertain with great learning experiences for Annie and Jack, and young readers along for the ride!

Stuart Little - E. B. White
E.B. White wrote at least two of the best books I’ve read in my life.  Stuart Little has always been my favorite.  While matter-of-factly exploring the world of a mouse born in to a human family,  he makes your heart ache to explore and experience life.  Like Wind in the Willows, this is a book for reading aloud.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A Jump on Summer

We're on a roll here - and it's only March - Summer Reading Lists and Summer Workshop Schedules are both available.  We've also scheduled some book talks to introduce our reading list books to parents.  All these items will be available on our Summer Resources page in the next few days.  If you would like to schedule a Book Talk for your school or PTA contact John at the Golden Apple or call us at 925-460-5163

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Junior Detective Squad Launched!

Our first Detective class was a hit - and the next class, where we investigate a crime scene is going to be even better!