If you have 30 extra minutes to work on literacy what would you spend it doing? Simple ways parents can help their kids read.

help your child read

If you had 30 extra minutes to work on reading what would you spend it doing? I get asked this question a lot. 

After reading with them, to them, and listening to them read or tell you stories? Well that depends on the child but I will try to answer this question in a very general way to give all of you some ideas of what you can do to make a big impact with only a little time. These are my go to skills that are easy for parents to help children with and that make a big difference when kids get a little extra practice with them. Here are just a few ways parents can help their kids read.

 

Toddlers & Early Preschoolsensory alphabet activities

 

Play with letters. Incorporate them into your play with magnetic letters, letter stickers, and alphabet blocks. Make special note of letters that are meaningful like the first letter of their first name. As you play , abel the letters but leave drilling or quizzing to the teachers in their future, there is no room for drills or quizzes in play.

 

Here are some letter play ideas :

Stamp & Match
Salt Tray Letters
Alphabet Cookies
Shell Letters
Alphabet Sensory Tub
Alphabet Playdough
Touch & Feel Alphabet

 

Preschool & PreK

letter sounds

 Letter Sounds

This is the next step to playing with letters. Now your child knows almost all the letter names and hopefully many of the sounds as well. These games work on both these skills.

Here are some games and activities for letter sounds and recognition :

Flip Top Phonics
Letter Sound Pound
Unlock The Letter Sound
Princess Phonics
Letter Sound Match

 

PreK & Early School Agethe one thing you should do to help your kids learn to read

Starting to Read { simple words )

Play with rhyming. Rhyming is such an important phonics skill but what I love about it is that it’s packed with play. No parent or child wants to spend the small bit of time they have together fighting about learning. Rhyming games can fill that need for fun and for learning.

 

Here are some great rhyming games:

Rhyming Dominoes ( adjust the words to your child’s level)
Rhyming Tag
Rhyming Jars
Rhyming Peg Board
Find & Rhyme

 

Kindergarten

sight word activities

Learning to Read { reads a little but not fluently yet }

Sight Words

Make sight words fun. When I say sight words I am not just talking about true sight words that can’t be decoded by sounding out but also the high frequency words that your child will encounter over and over while reading. When they can read them quickly without decoding them it makes reading easier. They can spend the time sounding out the bigger harder words instead.

Here are some great sight word activities that are FUN and worthwhile. Instead of the words used in these activities substitute with the list of  sight words from your child’s teacher. If you don’t have one ask for the one they are using :

3D Word Search
Sight Word Dominoes
Outdoor Sight Word Game
Sight Word Jump & Grab ( Hands On As We Grow)
Sight Word Target Practice ( Toddler Approved)

School Age

vocabulary

Reading Independently { and fluently}

 Vocabulary. When children are learning to read much of the focus is on the mechanics of reading, the sounds the letters make and how they work together. Once they start to read we shift a lot of the focus to the meaning of the words and text they are reading. We focus on comprehension and one way that parents can really help with that is to work on boosting vocabulary ( another is simply asking your children “ What did you just read?” while reading together).  When we expose our children to a big buffet of words it makes reading easier because they recognize the words and can decode it more quickly as well as understand it’s meaning ( and thus the text) with more ease.

 

Here are some fun ways to work on vocabulary with your kids :

Tips for working on vocabulary with your kids
Word Window
Muffin Tim Word Game ( Growing Book by Book)
Word A Day Cards ( Teachmama.com )

 

These are just appetizers for literacy intended for those 30 extra minutes you may have. As parents I see our role as scaffolds to support our children at whatever level they are at. For more about literacy check out Raise A Reader on Scholastic Parents. Amy Mascott and I share tons of ideas to work on literacy with your children.

 

Word Families Printable – Write & Wipe !

word family sheetsI was shopping for new office furniture for me yesterday when I saw these document stands. I knew I had to do something with them. I’d seen them used in preschool over on teachpreschool.org and my daughter used them like that today. Then I decided to adapt them for my big guy. We’ve been reading a lot all summer long but haven’t been doing too many targeted learning activities. I thought this would be a fun way to add a little bit of novelty to a classic word family activity . Using these document stands means that you only need a a few printables for many kids. You can write the word families they are working on , fill out a few words yourself if they need prompts or nothing at all. It’s completely customizable! He did 4 today and I will be whipping it out again later this week for a little more practice!

If word families are new for you this is a great explanation of what word families are and a wonderful list of the most common ones used.

This post contains affiliate links.

Gather your materials. You will need the blank word family printable , a document stand ( affiliate link), some dry erase or window markers ( the finer the tip the better), and you might want a list of word families too. Trust me you know this but when it comes time to think of some a list is a great thing to fall back on.

word family blank

Print out this image. Click on it and print.

word family printable

Choose two word families for your child to fill the houses up with. I used “harder” ones because this is review for my guy who is going into 2nd grade. For beginners I would start with ONE family at a time. Word families are not just groups of rhyming words, children can usually identify rhymes much earlier than when they are ready for these activities. Word families are for noticing patterns in the written words and using those patterns for strengthening skills in reading and spelling.

Write the word family on the roof and examples if you want on the line.word family houses for kindergarten

Add your kiddo word family house word workand let them go for it! My son actually said to me ” Oh wow I have to think like a student again!” word families

Wipewrite and wipe word family activity for kindergarten

Write different families out.word family houses spelling and reading

Fill again!

Books About Families

All our book lists include affiliate links.

dad and pop

 

Dad and Pop: An Ode to Fathers and Stepfathers by Kelly Bennett is a simple but powerful book about a little girl with two dads. One is her biological father and the other is her step father. She compares and contrasts them but in the end the fact remains they both love her. This book doesn’t go into custody agreements, how old the little girls was when she met her now stepfather, or why her parents divorced because that’s not what this book is about. This book is about bonds between a child and the men who love her. If your child isn’t familiar with families that include step parents this is a good book to explain them.

The Family Book

The Family Book by Todd Parr is a book that doesn’t give readers a narrow definition of family , it doesn’t say that your family has to look a certain way, or be the same as your neighbors. As a teacher I really appreciated the matter of fact way it embraced diversity. It makes mention of some families having  two moms or two dads in the same vein as all the other similarities and differences. Kids see that families are not all like theirs and it’s important to validate the truth while recognizing that while families may not all look alike, all families are made with love. Great book , cute illustrations ,and children love it.

all the way

All the Way to America by Dan Yaccarino is a wonderful story about immigration and family tradition. My kids both liked the story of the Yaccariono family and how they came to settle in America from Italy. Throughout the story there is one little shovel that gets used for all different things generation after generation. It’s a great symbol for how family roots can stay strong even if how we express them changes. I liked being able to compare it to my own immigration to the United States and how different it was for me in 2003 vs the author’s great grandfather over a hundred years earlier. Good book to talk about how people came to the United States and why people move from country to country.

 

 

Letter Sounds Activity with Locks

letter sounds activityLetter recognition is important but more important is knowing what sounds letters make. This is a fun and easy to throw together letter sound activity that uses novelty to make learning fun. My daughter has known her letters for a while but at three there is zero rush for her to start reading. I am not following any program or book, I am following her lead. She has been testing out sounds, pretending to read books to me and her brother, and asking to spell words. When I see signs like these I try some playful ways to challenge her but if there is resistance , frustration or confusion I back off. As parents we want to challenge and support not push or drill. After the first time we played this letter sounds activity I was pretty sure we had a winner, after the 4th time I was certain.

Gather your materials. You will need some stickers of easily identifiable things, masking tape, locks with keys, and a marker.

learn to read activity

Start by adding the sticker to the locks. letter sounds

Next add masking tape to the keys and write the letter on.

Lock the locks and pop the keys in a container. letter sounds

Time to play. She explored all the locks at first and then dove in. letter sounds with locks and keys

The letter sounds weren’t too big a challenge but the fine motor control required was. letter sounds gameMatching up keys with locks and opening them uses other skills too like hand eye coordination and hand strength too.  It took her a few tries to get the first key in but after a while she was a pro. unlock letter sounds

She loved that she could do the activity with no help from me. My daughter is about as independent as they come. key letter sound  matchI let her go for it and then after she was done have her show me her work. She walked me through each pair telling me the letter and the sound on each lock and key. lock and key literacy activity for preschool and kindergarten

Then she closed them all up and played again and again.

Read & Make Christmas – 25 Christmas Books With Crafts To Match

Christmas crafts for preschool Are you ready for another Read & Make post? I have so much fun doing these because they bring together so many of my older ideas with newer books or vice versa. I love creating great resources and this post is so easy to take to the library and grab whatever book they still have left on the shelf and know that you will have a great craft to activity to go with it. We have about 60 Christmas crafts on the site so if you don’t see something rad here check out our archives too.

Each pair includes a link to the full post for the craft or activity tutorial and a link to amazon.com for the book. I have read and reviewed most of these books and have paired crafts that would work not only with the book but with the book’s target age group as well. All book titles are affiliate links.

christmas crafts and books for kids

The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup is the perfect book to go with our Paper Bag Gingerbread Men craft.

llama llama holidya drama craft idea

Our Mess Free Ornaments are don’t need a lot of patience which is great if your child is like the little Llama in Llama Llama Holiday Drama .

xmasreadandplay24

Santasaurus by Niamh Sharkey and our Roll and Count Santa Math Game will keep your kids busy and learning!

snow playdough

In McDuff’s New Friend by Rosemary Wellsthe puppy makes tracks in the snow. Your child can make their own with our Tracks In The Snow Playdough activity even if you never get the real stuff in your area.

bear stays up

Bear Stays Up for Christmasby Karma Wilson includes all the traditional pre-Christmas activities like hanging stockings. These Scrap Paper Stockings can be hung up year after year.

nativity game and book

Play our Find & Fill  Nativity Game and then read What Is Christmas? by Michelle Medlock Adams to further the lesson.

toddler christmas craft

This Handprint Christmas Tree was my daughter’s first craft and Counting Christmas by Karen Katz was one of her first Christmas books too.

Our Snow Globe Snowman craft is a great match for Snowmen at Christmas by Carolyn Buehner .

gingerbread playdough

Create gingerbread men that don’t need to be baked with our Playdough Gingerbread Men and read Mini Merry Book: Gingerbread Joy by Julia Woolf.

xmasreadandplay18

Merry Christmas, Ollie (Gossie & Friends)by Olivier Dunrea will be loved by your little one just as much as they will love the Sticky Wall Christmas Tree .

wise men craft

This Three Wise Men craft is even more meaningful when you read it with The Christmas Story: The Brick Bible for Kids by Brendan Powell Smith.

madeline's christmas

Madeline’s Christmas is set in Paris and while I don’t expect you to jump on a jet and take your kids there you can imagine with your won Eiffel Tower and other Landmark Blocks.

christmas ornaments

Count your way through Merry Christmas, Mouse! (If You Give…) by Laura Numeroff then make ( and count) these Letter Ornaments were a cinch to make and after many years they still look great.

Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo is a touching book and it goes perfectly with this Angel Craft. 

santa craft

This Paper Plate Santa is just right, much like Santa Claus and the Three Bears by Maria Modugno .

littlest elf

Elves don’t live in the toy shop they need houses to live in and these Elf houses are easy to create after reading The Little Christmas Elf (Little Golden Book) by Nikki Shannon Smith.

Rudolf craft

Read The Night Before Christmas  by Clement C Moore and then create your own Handprint Reindeer , you don’t have to make Rudolf!

christmas lights craft

Mooseltoe by Marge Pallatini is a hilarious read that you can follow up with these Sponge Painted Christmas Lights.

xmasreadandplay5Pete the Cat Saves Christmas by Eric Litwin is a cute book about giving and these cute kid made gift boxes are a great craft to complete after reading.

ornament craft Even David couldn’t break this unbreakable ornament craft which is why after you read It’s Christmas, David! by David Shannon they are a perfect craft to make.

xmas read and play 23

SantaKid by James Patterson is a great read to dive into the North Pole and a great addition to any North Pole play using this DIY  playmat.

xmasreadadnplay10

Christmas Eve with Mrs. Claus by M.P. Hueston is a sweet book about sweets and the perfect companion for this easy candy cane craft .

tree craft

The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story by Gloria Houston is a great book for older children and this Button and Nail Tree is craft that they can really get into as well.

french christmas sign

Read Babar and Father Christmas  by Jean De Brunhoff then create this NOEL banner for a French celebration!

xmasreadandplay1Last but not least read all about How Santa Got His Job in this book by Stephen Krensky and then let your kids test out the jobs for themselves with this  Workshop play idea.

 

What is your favorite Holiday read?

Read & Draw Picnic – Comprehension Activity

read and draw picnic for kidsI love lazy summer days and trying to have a few before we all head back to school. This is such a simple reading comprehension activity and can be done with kids of any age. There is something awesome about reading outside, I love grabbing a blanket and some books and reading with my kids under a huge blue sky. This art activity takes that simple idea one step further by adding on an artistic retelling activity. I have been working hard to get my son to draw and write more this summer and drawing with his younger sister helps boost his confidence , lets him show her how to do things, and it’s made such a difference. Also his strength in retelling helps balance his lack of confidence in the drawing.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a book , some clip boards, a blanket and your art materials. We used paper ,watercolor colored pencils, water , paint brushes, and some water.read and draw outside book activity for kids
  2. Start by finding the right spot. We found some shade in our yard and spread out the blanket.read and draw outside art and literacy activity for kids
  3. Pass out the clip boards and art material.read and draw outside for kids
  4. Start reading. As you read encourage your kids to draw what is happening in the story or something that sticks out for them from the book. Their favorite part, the saddest or happiest part … they can or you can choose.read and draw comprehension
  5. Make sure to have extra paper on hand my son made 3.read and draw outdoor reading picnic
  6. After they are done with their art work as them about it. Instead of saying ‘ What is that?’ which could make them question their artistic ability as well as gibe a much shorter answer say “Tell me about your picture.” I have found that when we do activities like this both my kids end up retelling the whole story naturally which is an important part of early literacy development. It builds comprehension and because it happens very organically no one feels like they are being quizzed on a lazy summer day. If they don’t retell the story on their own try asking :
  • Where  did the story take place?
  • Who was the story about?
  • What happened to them in the story? What happened next?
  • How did it end?read and draw outdoors

Try having your child retell stories from time to time and if they struggle do it more often. If they are really not understanding what is going on try simpler books and  try asking these questions throughout the reading not only after finishing the book.

f

 

picture books for retelling

 

All of these books have story lines that are clear and younger children can successfully retell the major events while older children could use them and retell in greater detail. These links are affiliate links.

This post contains affiliate links.