12 Winter Books For Kids

12 Winter Books For Kids in 12 Weeks

Nothing captures the joy of winter for me quite like a good book, a warm drink, my cozy couch, and snow falling. There’s something about this time that just begs for us to read more. Life slows down in the rhythm of winter. We give our bodies as much needed, and well-deserved break. This can be such a joy for families. Spending cold days snuggled up together under a blanket with a good read. There’s nothing quite as nice in the world.


Winter Books For Kids- 12 Books in 12 Weeks


This year, we’re happy to bring you a new reading tradition. “12 Winter Books for Kids in 12 Weeks”. It is our hope at ShillerLearning this season that you’ll grow to love reading together as a family on a new level. The benefits of reading aloud with children have been proven time and time again. Not only does reading aloud as a family build literacy, but it also offers much more.  


We’ve made a list of must-read books for families. Check them out, and let us know what your favorite reads are too! Pick out 12 to read this Winter!

Our Top Winter Reads for Families


How to start reading together more as a family


I don’t know how many times I’ve heard mothers say something along the lines of, “I feel so guilty we don’t get more family reading time.” Life is busy. Kids are going a million different directions. It’s hard to keep up with. Pushing reading time to the back burner can be easy to do. Yet kids consistently say one of their favorite things is reading aloud books together as a family. We know how important and special this time can be for families. It also has incredible effects on building children’s literacy skills.


Take this year as an invitation to slow down. These are books you could incorporate into your homeschool. Or, enjoy them as fun free reads together as a family. Here are a few tips to make the most of your “12 Books in 12 Weeks” experience.  

  • Schedule it- Ok, this might sound silly. Scheduling in reading time. It’s also the very best way to make sure something happens. If everyone is going in different directions most of the week, you’ve got to have a schedule. Plus, scheduling gives the whole family something to look forward to. Pick a consistent time each week and put it on the books.


  • Theme it- If you have time, create a theme around your book of the week. Children could create decorations as an art project. A special meal based on the book could be served, Everyone could get a gift of mittens when you read The Mitten. Creating a theme around the book helps to bring it alive even more. Plus it helps keep you committed to reading, and family, time.


  • Plan it- This goes along with the top two. If you’re scrambling to pick a book up from the library on your scheduled day, it may not happen. Pick all 12 books out now and decide on the order you want to read them. Get them placed on hold at the library, place your online order or head to the local used bookstore. A little pre-planning will make things flow much more smoothly.


  • Include it- Include friends, homeschool co-op members, neighbors, or extended family. You don’t have to have company every week. Try a couple weeks with company. Or head to a local senior care facility to read to the residents. They absolutely love having children around reading to them.  


  • Create it- Take learning and creativity to a new level. After finishing the book, do something creative with it! Make a mini-book retelling the story. Re-write it with a different ending or scene you would enjoy. Create a stop-motion video. Perform a mini-play. Record it as an audiobook with voices and side effects.  


Whatever you do enjoy it! These winter books for kids are sure to be loved by kids of all ages. You may just find you want to create a year-round tradition of literacy with a weekly family book night.

See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade

Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher who is now homeschooling her only child, a seven-year-old boy. Her family resides in an Airstream that is parked in Washington. She loves Washington's outdoor opportunities. When she’s not schooling, she also blogs at TreehouseDaily.com, works as a Virtual Assistant and loves reading and creating hand-lettering pieces.

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How Music Aids Kids Learning

20+ Ways Music Aids Kids Learning

The power of music is indisputable. Our favorite song can fill us with joy. Music triggers memories long forgotten, attaches itself to our favorite moments, and stirs emotion like nothing else. Science has shown again and again how music affects the brain. It’s a universal language that brings us all together. Young and old from all around the world have a relationship with music. Children are no exception. They sing and dance their little hearts out. Not only is music fun to dance to, music but music can also help children learn.


Music is an excellent tool for learning. We all know the feeling of singing along to a song we didn’t even realize we knew. That in and of itself is a great example of music as a teaching tool- the song gets stuck in our head without us even trying. Children of all ages, learning styles, and abilities can benefit from the power of music. Research has shown the ability for music to physically change the brain and develop it in ways nothing else can.

20+ of Ways Music Aids Kids Learning


  1. Helps to boost alertness,
  2. Stimulates different areas of the brain than anything else,
  3. Increases language skills,
  4. Decreases stress response,
  5. Increases attention,
  6. Grows vocabulary, grammar skills, and knowledge of the written word,
  7. Teaches poetry and prose,
  8. Helps build long-term memory,
  9. Decreases errors,
  10. Raises phonological awareness,
  11. Improves auditory discrimination,
  12. Helps develop right/left brain integration,
  13. Increased neural activity and responsiveness,
  14. Boosts memory ability overall and triggers the brain to remember,
  15. Evokes emotion, and allows for emotion to be more relatable,
  16. Stimulates imagination and leads to more creative thinking,
  17. Introduces new concepts, words, and ideas,
  18. Demonstrates a unique method of storytelling,
  19. Teaches the brain mathematical pattern and rhythm,
  20. Encourages movement and full-body learning,
  21. In Learning Disabled and Special Needs students music has been shown to boost social skills, fine motor and gross motor skills, auditory awareness, verbal skills, and more,
  22. Improves focus- even long term,
  23. Provides repetition which aids in memory

We’ve most likely all heard that Classical music is excellent for the brain. This has been shown time and time again. Listening to Classical music, especially specific composers, has proven dramatic effects. Retention rates increase, test scores go up, children’s stress levels go down, and satisfaction with lessons goes up.


Students don’t only have to focus on Classical music for music to aid kids learning. All types of music have their place. A spunky song can help boost energy and provide a needed reset to a sluggish student. A fun dance tune is a great way to get the wiggles out. Time with a Country song line dancing helps with coordination, right/left brain integration, teaching music tone and beat, and more. Try to rewrite a pop song when teaching a new concept or let your kids take the reign and write their own.


Including music from other cultures is an excellent way to travel the world without ever learning home. Listening to songs in another language has been shown to boost the ability to learn that new language. Exposing children to other cultures and experiences has never been easier. Children with a background of music have been shown to learn a foreign language even easier. In fact, children who learn to play an instrument have even been shown to hear sounds other children aren’t able to hear. Not only do we open our children up to other cultures with music, but we also open them up to other sounds.


Kids don’t have to play an instrument to get the benefits. All they need is to be exposed to plenty of music, a good variety (especially classical), and let the music do the rest. Make sure to keep the volume at a lower level and follow the lead of your child. As home educators and teachers, including music comes with huge benefits.

At ShillerLearning we teach to all five of children’s senses. Including music in our lessons is an important part of what we do. We have carefully developed songs designed to help kids learn math facts, language arts, geography, and more. It is our hope you’ll all be able to enjoy these songs together. Especially now that you have a greater understanding of how music aids learning. Check out our songs and make sure to order yours!

See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade

Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher who is now homeschooling her only child, a seven-year-old boy. Her family resides in an Airstream that is parked in Washington. She loves Washington's outdoor opportunities. When she’s not schooling, she also blogs at TreehouseDaily.com, works as a Virtual Assistant and loves reading and creating hand-lettering pieces.

The Treehouse Daily >


TED Talks for Homeschool Reading Inspiration

TED Talks for Homeschool Reading Inspiration

TED talks have become the gold-standard for inspiration, presenting new ideas, education ,and empowerment These are excellent learning videos, ways to encourage moms at home and introduce our children to new activities. It seems not a day goes by that a TED talk doesn’t appear in our Facebook news feeds. We connect to emotional stories and learn new skills through TED talks. There are even TED talks available for children now.  

Homeschoolers can find a wealth of information in TED talks as well. Many middle and high school students use TED talks for research. You’ll even find homeschoolers as featured speakers in TED talks!  

Today we bring you a list of TED talks focused on reading. We hope they’ll inspire parent and student alike.  Teens will enjoy many of these videos and parents can gain new information from them about reading skill and ways to present reading to their children.

“Why We Should Be Reading Aloud to Children by Rebecca Bellingham explores reading aloud. In today’s busy and digital era, many families don’t take the time to read aloud anymore. Study after study has shown how reading aloud to children improves their reading skills, reading comprehension and even social skills. Bellingham also touches our hearts and reminds us of some of our favorite childhood memories by recounting several classic children’s books.


“How Your "Working Memory" Makes Sense of the World” by Educational psychologist Peter Doolittle. This is a humorous and highly educational video which will benefit all areas of homeschooling, not just reading. Our working memory relates to our ability to process our current experiences, recall information, store memories and directions, and more. Doolittle gives techniques for building working memory which has been proven to give lifelong benefits for children.


For These Women Reading is a Daring Act by Laura Boushnak will especially appealling to teen girls. Boushnak shares her experiences with women in cultures where education is not readily available to, or not a priority for women. She shares how women’s lives have been changed by the fundamental ability to read and write.


What We Learned from 5 Million Books by Jean-Baptiste Michel and Erez Lieberman Aiden. Using books digitized by Google, over 500 billion words from 5 million books are analyzed. The researchers share interesting insights into human culture, history and perception by analyzing these books. Older children and teens will find this video especailly interesting.


Why a Good Book is a Secret Door” by Mac Barnet. This humorous talk by Barnet, a children’s author, recounts his life experiences and reminds us how a good book can transport our children, and ourselves, to another time and place. An inspiring talk that will make you want to snuggle up and read one of your favorites to your child.


How Books Can Open Your Mind by Lisa Bu. Bu describes how losing out on her childhood dreams led her to books. She says “Books have given me a magic portal to connect with people of the past and the present. I know I shall never feel lonely or powerless again. “ This is an inspiring video reminding educators, and students alike, about the power and benefits of books.  


Do you have favorite TED talks you use to inspire your homeschooling or that your children love? Share them with us in the comments below.

See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade

Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher who is now homeschooling her only child, a seven-year-old boy. Her family resides in an Airstream that is parked in Washington. She loves Washington's outdoor opportunities. When she’s not schooling, she also blogs at TreehouseDaily.com, works as a Virtual Assistant and loves reading and creating hand-lettering pieces.

The Treehouse Daily >


How to use the Montessori Shape Insets to Enhance Handwriting.

How to use the Montessori Shape Insets to Enhance Handwriting

Confusion. If I could sum up the Montessori shape set from our Language Arts Kit A with one word it would be confusion. “Why is there a math manipulative in my Language Arts set?” People often wonder. We promise it’s not a mistake. This key component of a Montessori education fits in quite well with Language Arts once one has a good understanding of what exactly their intended purpose is (hint, it’s not to help kids learn their shapes although that is an added bonus.)


The Montessori Shape Insets are blue shapes that fit into a pink frame. In a classroom they will be made from metal to hold up to the wear & tear of lots of children. We make ours out of plastic to reduce weight and cost. Our kit comes with 10 shapes and each shape has a knob on the back to allow for easy removal. Shapes are generally kept out on a shelf, placed right next to one another so each individual shape can be seen. Many people keep white pieces of paper cut to the same size as the pink borders and colored pencils next to these shapes as well.


So what’s the point of these shapes, if not for geometry? They actually serve to help with handwriting skills. Students practice tracing the shapes, both around the outside of the blue shape and the inside of the pink outline. While students get the added benefit of learning their shapes and how to form them, they’re also practicing pencil grip. Students are instructed to begin tracing from the top to bottom and left to write, which helps with letter formation and sentence structure. Hand-eye coordination is increased while tracing these shapes, as well as practice making straight and curved lines.


These shape insets are also a fantastic creative outlet. Students enjoy tracing with different colors, outlining in one color and filling in with a different color, practice color mixing and tracing with different pencil pressure. Using the shape insets helps children develop an artistic eye as well. While this might seem like a boring task for adults, young children absolutely love this work and will find many creative ways to complete it.


Incorporating shading, textures, and patterns is an additional way these materials can be used. This helps students learn about pencil angle, improves focus, teaches children about drawing lines, gives good practice with measurement and much more.

ShillerLearning includes these shapes in our Language Arts Kit A. We begin by introducing the child to the shapes using the 3-period lesson. Next, each shape is inspected, traced, and interacted with. In our curriculum, we also have students practice different strokes with each shape, and finally we have them work on making each shape independently. While we incorporate these shapes in our Language Arts Kit A, school aged children continue to enjoy these for art creations.  


Need help incorporating the 3-period lesson into your homeschooling? Check out Shawna’s tips and inspiration for How the 3 Period Lesson changed her family’s approach to homeschooling.

See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade

Amanda Osenga

Amanda is a former Montessori teacher who is now homeschooling her only child, a seven-year-old boy. Her family resides in an Airstream that is parked in Washington. She loves Washington's outdoor opportunities. When she’s not schooling, she also blogs at TreehouseDaily.com, works as a Virtual Assistant and loves reading and creating hand-lettering pieces.

The Treehouse Daily >


Teaching Kids To Read With The Montessori Method

Teaching Kids To Read With The Montessori Method


Teaching Kids to Read with the Montessori Method

Language development is a paramount component of a Montessori education. The ability to read is an essential skill, one that children absolutely love to learn. The Montessori-based approach to develop reading skills gives children a solid reading foundation and confidence to read and learn on their own.



Read Out Loud.

Children who are read to often are proven to be more successful readers themselves. Read out loud from infancy. Let your child follow along with you word-by-word if they are interested. If the child is not interested in printed text, don’t force it. Having a relaxing, fun time reading snuggled up with a loved one is an excellent way to build reading skills. Many children enjoy read-alouds well into their teens.  

Make the Most of the “Sensitive Period”.

Children age 2 ½- 4 ½ are in what Maria Montessori called a “sensitive period” for learning letters and sounds. Introducing children to these concepts builds a solid foundation on which reading will follow. Following this “sensitive period” some children seem to intuitively grasp reading and take off, while others need more reading instruction and guidance. Both are ok and developmentally appropriate.


Use the Three-Period Lesson. This approach is a hallmark of what makes the Montessori method so effective.  

1- This is.  

2- Show me.

3- What is?


For example:


1- This Is. “This is the letter "S" The child sees the painted wood letter "S".


2- Show Me. Place several letters in front of the child and say “You may show me the letter ‘s’ “ and allow the child to choose the letter. If they select another letter, do not correct: Simply go back to Period 1: This Is.


3- What Is? Point to the letter ‘s’ and ask “What is this called?” If the child answers incorrectly, do not correct: Simply go back to Period 1: This Is.


Young children in particular love this approach and may ask to repeat it over and over with the same letter, picture or concept. Repeat the lesson as many times as needed until the child has competence and closure.

Take it Incrementally


Reading skills build on each other. Children begin by using letter sounds to make two-letter words, then consonant-vowel-consonant words. Next they match word cards with pictures, and eventually move on to phrases and sentences. Before you know it, the child is on to reading books and is an independent reader!


It’s OK to Step Back.


Children all have their own development and timeline with reading. Just because another child in your homeschool coop was reading independently at age six doesn’t mean your child will. If a child is not developmentally ready for a lesson, you can skip it and come back to it. Frustrated, crying children can’t learn: Step back and return to it later. Most children are reading by second grade with the Montessori method.  


Make Reading Part of Every Subject.


Once a child begins reading you can easily incorporate their newfound skills into other subjects: Geography, history, science, and natural history are especially easy topics to incorporate reading skills into. Reading is a skill, a discipline and a gift. Teaching a child to read is well worth the time and effort involved to see their confidence and ability to explore the world grow.  

See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade

Larry Shiller

Larry Shiller is President of ShillerLearning, whose mission is to help kids learn - and enjoy - math. Shiller has degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Harvard Business School and is the author of Software Excellence (Prentice-Hall).

A father of three, Shiller is active in non-profits and his hobbies include working with local startups, music (Shiller is an accomplished violinist who - when not helping children learn math and language arts - performs in the NYC tri-state area), tennis (Shiller's team made it to the USTA national finals in his skill bracket), Quoridor (Shiller is a former USA Champion), backgammon (Shiller is the Voice of Backgammon, doing commentary on backgammon tournaments worldwide), table tennis, and flying (Shiller holds a private pilot's license).

10 Winter Books for The Family

10 Winter Books For The Family


What could be better than curling up under a warm blanket with one or both of my boys and reading together? Add some hot chocolate, and you have the perfect way to spend time together throughout the holidays and coldest days of winter.


In planning for our winter season, I have selected ten books (to cover most of the winter season) to read together with my kids.


10 Children’s Books for Cozy Winter Reading


1. The Mitten, by Jann Brett – Perfect for my animal loving little guy, this sweet and funny story has beautiful illustrations.

2. Winter of the Ice Wizard (Magic Tree House), by Mary Pope Osborne -  Jack and Annie journey together to a kingdom of ice and snow. An absorbing story that includes solving puzzles and other educationally focused elements.

3. Animals In Winter, by Henrietta Bancroft – This has been a favorite in our home for years (again, animals). This non-fiction addition to our list is informative and engaging with questions to really get kids thinking about how animals survive the harshest of winters.


4. Over and Under the Snow, by Kate Messner – Another delightful nonfiction picture book about tunnels and caves, where many kinds of animals live through the winter, safe and warm, awake and busy, but hidden beneath the snow.

5. The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats – Caldecott Medal winner and a classic, this is part of our winter tradition each year.

6. Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen – This is my personal favorite on the list. A beautiful story about a girl and her father, out in the snowy woods looking for owls. This one requires a warm fire and lots of snuggles.

7. There Was A Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow! by Lucille Colandro – This book is just silly and lots of fun.

8. 365 Penguins, by Jean-Luc Fromental – What would happen if you found a penguin on your doorstep every day for a year? Find out in this darling tale. Every time we read it, my son is sure there will be a penguin waiting for him when he opens the front door.

9. Brave Irene,  by William Steig – Irene agrees to brave the winter elements to deliver a dress for her seamstress mother. A story of bravery and courage.


10. The Long Winter, by Laura Ingalls Wilder A favorite of mine as a child, I have added this Laura Ingalls Wilder classic to our list this year. This chapter book is sure to keep us happy and warm on even the dreariest days!


It’s going to be a warm and cozy winter here. Wishing you the same as well!


..Happy Holidays from ShillerLearning! We hope you enjoy the first of our monthly printable packs. Every month you'll find a brand new FREE Montessori based pack.

We're excited to bring these to you! And don't forget to take photos of your kids having fun with them too! We love seeing your family enjoy Montessori-based fun on our Facebook page.

See Inside Our Montessori-Based Kits

Math Kit I - PreK to 3rd Grade

Language Arts A - PreK to 1st Grade

Shawna Wingert

Shawna Wingert is the creator of Not The Former Things, a blog dedicated to homeschooling children with learning differences and special needs. She loves finding out-of-the-box ways for out-of-the-box learners to thrive. She is the author of two books, Special Education at Home and Everyday Autism. You can follow Shawna and Not The Former Things on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram.