These are simple learning games for kindergarten one focusing on breaking down syllables the other is math but they use the same materials from the dollar store. Learning After School at our house is all about doing quick and simple games that reinforce what my son is learning in Kindergarten. These lessons or games need to be fun, active and not too long. This isn’t homework ( he gets some very simple but useful homework) it’s in addition to it. What I love best about these activities is you really get to see how much your child has learned and while we play he will naturally open up and tall me about school.
- For both activities you will need a pen, some foam craft sticks ( wood would be fine too ) in rainbow of colors and green foam shamrocks.
- Start with the syllable break down by writing one, two and three syllable words on the craft sticks. You will want one word per rainbow color stick per shamrock. I had five one syllable, five two syllable and 5 three syllable words each. Our list was as follows 1: mop, mom, pan, run, son 2: color, garden, panda, super, open 3: umbrella, telephone, dinosaur, butterfly, elephant
- Write the numbers ( 1, 2, 3) on the different shamrocks.
- Play! Set out the words and shamrocks. Ask your child to clap out or breakdown the words into syllables and place it on the shamrock with that number. He was way faster at this than I could have imaged. Each shamrock has one craft stick in each color. My son didn’t need the prompt but had I been doing this at his age I would have welcomed the hint that the colors give without having to ask for help. If your child is struggling you can say ” Does the number 3 shamrock have a red stick yet?” * Also there is no shame in googling ” 2 syllable words” or ” How to break a word into syllables” as a parent it’s probably been years since you have clapped out a word .
- Adding in a little lesson about rainbow colors I had him place the words in proper rainbow order after he’d sorted them.
- This is when he said ” Ok now can we make it math?”
- So I flipped the sticks and wrote out simple equations. Again making sure to have one of each color matching the answer on the shamrocks.
- He loved this . He decided he wanted to write the answer on each which slowed it down but I was so happy since writing is still not his favorite activity but is something he is doing in class right now. He didn’t finish all the equations. That’s OK! 15 equations is a huge amount in one go . This game can be played over and over again .
Learning after school is something we try to do most days but we keep it fun. Making learning a game is my magic trick for my son who is possibly the world’s most competitive 6 year old. I set this up quickly and had it all ready for him before he got home. I wish I could take all the credit for this idea but it’s spin off from our contributing writer Kim’s amazing letter dominoes post from last year. After you read this one make sure you check it out.
- Gather your materials. You will need some sentence strips, a marker, scissors and a list of about 20 dolch sight words . We used a mix of levels 1, 2 and 3. Dolch sight words are high frequency words that are often thought to be best to teach children to read by memorization not through decoding ( sounding out/using other clues like context ) .
- I chose some words that I knew would be easy for my son, some that I wasn’t sure and a few that would take a few seconds to figure out. I always try to boost confidence with some easy, hit right on target for most and challenge him with some as well.
- Cut the sentence strips.
- Draw a line down the middle and write a word on each side .
- We played dominoes by placing one card down on the table and flipping the rest over from a pile over until we found a match . We played on the table because of the terrible light ( winter weather is not blog friendly!) but later on we moved to the floor where we had much more room to make a bigger better domino structure.
- The next game we played with the cards was even more fun. Start with one card each on the same spot on the floor or a table with a clear finish line.
- Place all the other cards in a pile.
- Flip the card and when a match is found add it to your line.
- The person to reach the finish line first wins. He was counting to see who was ahead but we were neck and neck! Repeat! This game got him reading so quickly wanting to hurry up and flip to the next.
This was originally supposed to be part of our Alphabet For Starters series with alphabet letters on the windows and a rag for my daughter to erase them. But someone got visibly upset when it was suggested she could erase the letters and didn’t want anything to do with that part of the activity. So after we settled her my son and I adapted this for him. I wrote out summer themed words and unlike his sister he loved it.
- Gather your materials. We used window markers, baby wipes and a bucket for yucky wipes. Now feel free to use anything to wipe the windows I am using baby wipes because my son has sensitive skin and anything but sensitive fragrance free wipes pose an issue for him. After the activity I took window cleaner and cleaned it properly.
- Write out words on the windows. Like I mentioned we did summer / beach house words since we are gearing up for a mini beach vacation and getting really excited. Use any words your child can handle and will be fun for them. If words are too much try letters or shapes.
- Next get your bucket and wipes ready …. and watch your child wipe everything in 3 seconds flat. I umm forgot to explain the game to him I was so excited. So after I wrote the words out again and explained the game I called out the words and he wiped them once he found them. If you have more than one reader you could even write out the words twice and have a race.
- I popped out to the porch for a different view. I should have taken the screen off but really I never plan these activities that far in advance and this was very much a spur of the moment one . Make sure to have some challenging words in the mix, most of these were easy for my son to find but a few were a good challenge too.
Books About The Beach
Great round up of the beach themed picture books pictured above.
Reading isn’t the only way you can work on reading skills ( although please do read as much and as often as you can ! ) you can also play games to build skills and confidence. This game is designed to work on word family knowledge. Word families are groups of words that share common combination of letters and similar sound. When new readers play with word families they become more confident as they see the common ending and can quickly read the new word. This game was great as my son read words without surrounding context successfully because of the other words in the family acting as a scaffold.
- Gather your materials. You will need some magazines or family photos you can cut up, construction paper, double stick tape , painter’s tape, scissors and a marker.
- Start by making your frames. Simply fold the construction paper in half and cut the middle out.
- Next cut moms, dads, babies and kids out. Tape them to construction paper making sure you leave room on the bottom to write the words under the people.
- Cut out and write the words. The best list of word families I have ever found was here . I tried to do some words I knew he’d find “easy” and others that would be more of a challenge, his reading ability is changing so quickly I was honestly unsure of exactly what would be sweet spot for his learning. Do not be afraid to try something , you can change it as you go if need be.
- I taped the frames to the table using painter’s tape. Then I wrote out the family name but when we do this again I will be leaving these off and instead placing one word /family member in the frame to start. These titles really confused my son . After he matched up a person into the family he was golden. I’d suggest skipping the names and just taping the frames.
- He was unsure at first .
- But he did it ! The confidence grew quickly.
- Soon he was being his old goofy self saying ” Here is your Mama baby !”
- The ail family was the tricky one for him and when he completed the family he exclaimed ” I did it!” which is music to any parent or teacher’s ears.
To make this simpler try having 2-3 family members already in the frames and only fill in the blank with a missing family member instead of having to create the whole family.
To make it more challenging provide the frames and family members with no family names ( an, ack, ail…) at the start. Let your child sort and group with no starting point.
Books About Families
Sometimes It’s Grandmas and Grandpas: Not Mommies and Daddies by Gayle Byrne is a wonderful book about grandparents who are raising their grand daughter. There is no long drawn out explanation about where her parents are, or what led to her grandparents having custody and I don’t think there needs to be. They are her parents, love her, snuggle her, read with her and love her just like any parents. She does wonder about her parents and shows signs of feeling different but the security and love her grandparents provide overcome those insecurities. The author’s note at the back of the book explains that she herself is raising her grandchild and offers more resources for grandparents who are primary caregivers as well.
Daddy and I… by Eloise Greenfield is a great little board book about the every day things that a toddler son may help his dad with. From painting, to shopping to stopping for some hugs this book is great for toddlers to see all the things that make up being a dad and caring for your family. It also has a great lesson about children pitching in to help keep a family going too.
Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers and Marla Frazee . The concept is simple but the results are wonderful. The book celebrates all sorts of babies and all the every day things babies do. My daughter ( who is 14 months) points out all the babies on each page as I read the rhyming text . So maybe you are thinking ” What’s so great about babies and text that rhymes?” nothing, that isn’t what makes this book so awesome. I love this book because of it’s diversity, inclusion, and acceptance of all babies and families. The illustrations are full of depictions of all sorts of families showering their smallest most precious member with love . What I adore about the diversity of the illustrations is that readers are left to put whatever assumption we wish on the families in the book. What I assumed were two mommies my husband thought was a husband and wife, I thought a lady was a grandma and my son said it was just a older mom. This is why I love this book, my 14 month old doesn’t see why this message is outstanding, what she does see is all sorts of happy babies in all sorts of families being the norm and this is the world we want her to know.
Rhyming is an important component to learning to read, specifically phonological awareness ( or the knowledge of sounds letters in words make) and it’s also really fun! This game is designed to work with word families , working on reading ( decoding unfamiliar words) and rhyming. For children not yet at this level of learning to read this game can be adapted using pictures. That way they can still group and sort by rhyme without the frustration of trying to decode words they are not able to yet.
- Gather your materials. You will need some baby food jars or other containers, popsicle sticks, masking tape and markers.
- I started by writing the words to match to on the tape. I find it easiest to put the tape on the table , write then rip it off. You may want to use painters tape like I did if you do it this way. If all you have is regular old masking tape , write it on the roll, then rip off. Add it to your jar.
- Now write the words on the sticks. I started by doing it right onto the stick, and it ran weird. Learning to read is hard enough let’s not make it harder with weird writing… so instead…
- I wrote it on more tape and wrapped it on the end of a stick. I wrote some words starting with uppercase and some with lowercase. I did this deliberately because my son was asking if they make different sounds. I put them both in to show him that the word still sounds the same.
- Time to play. Games and activities like this should be marketed to your kids as that , play. If these tasks aren’t fun try to find some way to make it fun or find other tasks they like and adapt. When learning is attached to play , the lessons stick and learning is fun not a daunting task.
- Encourage them to say the words out loud to match up the sounds. Here he is saying the words out loud to see if they rhyme… these did not.
- Keep sounding them out and matching them up.
- Soon he could hear and see the patterns , which was super cool.
Even if your child iosn’t ready for this activity, take time to be silly and talk in rhyme with them and read books with rhyming texts. It’s such a fun part of language !
Books That Rhyme
How Big Is a Pig? by Claire Beaton has fast become a favorite in our house around bedtime. I love the felt illustrations, the detail amazes me and helps distract me from noticing that I have read it 20 times in as many minutes. The story itself is great too, it focuses on opposites in the farm yard with a zippy rhyming text.
Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs! by Sandra Boynton is a cute little book about opposites with dinosaurs as it’s characters. This is a good book for little people who love dinosaurs but aren’t really ready to dive into facts about dinosaurs yet. The melodic rhyming text and adorable pictures appeals to younger toddlers, and on the page where the dinosaurs are called bad for painting on their friends made both me and my son laugh.
My Truck is Stuck! by Kevin Lewis is a fun book full of great rhymes and funny illustrations from Daniel Kirk. The story is simple a truck is stuck and even though other vehicles come to help, nothing budges until a tow truck arrives. The best part is the cargo of bones in the truck are slowly stolen by hungry gophers while the others work to free the truck. It’s got a great message about helping people and the illustrations make me giggle, especially the guy in the moving van who is blowing bubbles. I have never understood that but it makes me laugh.
Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin by Lloyd Moss is a big hit at our house and if you have a child into music or musical instruments this is a great book. You count the instruments as they come on stage for a performance and not only is this a great counting book, but it introduced musical instruments in it’s rhyming text and super fun pictures. I am biased though my little man is really really into instruments and loves this book. The day we bought it I had to sit in the back with him on the way home from the bookstore because he couldn’t wait to read it .