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 .
This series has been on my mind for a while now. As a former first grade teacher, teaching children to read is one of my greatest passions! But because most children don’t start actually “reading” until around 6 years old (which is upwards of the targeted age range for my blog), I didn’t want parents to feel pressured that their 3-year old needs to start reading (which, by the way, they don’t!). However, the information shared in this series is general information that is beneficial for children of all ages, whether your child is ready to read or not. Don’t implement all of these strategies at once, nor should you expect your child to be able to do everything right away. It is a process and this information is simply for you to implement when you feel your child is ready.
Read to your child
Teaching your child to read is truly a process that begins at infancy. (No, I am most certainly NOT advocating programs that claim to teach your baby to read using flashcards!) What I AM encouraging you to do is to begin reading with your newborn within days of welcoming her home! Not only is this a special bonding time for the two of you, it instills in her a love for books. Enjoyment while reading is one of the single greatest predictors of reading success in school-age children. If children don’t learn from an early age to enjoy reading, it will most likely hinder their ability sometime down the road.
Here are a few suggestions for the types of books to read to your child. But by all means, read whatever your child responds to and enjoys!
- Birth-1 Year: Lullabies, Board Books (with real pictures), Cloth Books (with various textures), Song Books
- 1 Year-3 Years: Rhyming Books, Song Books, Short-Story Board Books
- 3 Years-5 Years: Alphabet Books, Song Books, Picture Books, Rhyming Books
Asking questions while reading to your child is not only great for encouraging your child to interact with the book, but it is also extremely effective in developing his ability to comprehend what he is reading. You see, if our main objective in “reading” is getting our child to “sound out” words, we have missed the boat entirely. Even children who can decode words and “read” with great fluency still might not be able to comprehend what they are reading. If a child can’t comprehend what he is reading, there really is no point to reading at all!
While your child is a baby, ask him questions such as, “Do you see the cat?” while pointing at the picture of the cat. This will not only develop his vocabulary, it will also encourage him to interact with the book that he is reading. As he gets older, ask him to point to things in the book himself and make the noises of the animals he sees.
Once your child is about 2 or 3-years of age, begin asking questions before, during, and after reading the book. Show your child the cover of the book and ask him what he thinks it is going to be about (predicting). While reading, ask him what he thinks is going to happen or why he thinks a character made a particular choice (inferring). If a character is depicting a strong emotion, identify that emotion and ask your child if he has ever felt that way (connecting). At the end of the book, ask if his prediction(s) came true. Afterwards, ask him to tell you what he remembered happening in the book (summarizing).
Modifying each of these techniques during read-alouds to meet the developmental stage of your child is a great way to promote and increase reading comprehension!
Be a good (reading) example
Even if your child is fascinated with books from an early age, her fascination will quickly dwindle if she does not see reading modeled in her home. If you are not an avid reader yourself, make a conscious effort to let your children see you reading for at least a few minutes each day! Read a magazine, a cookbook, a novel, your Bible…it’s up to you! But show your child that reading is something that even adults need to do. If you have a son, share this article with your husband. Sons need to see their fathers read, especially since it is not something that they are naturally prone to doing.
As parents, we can sometimes get wrapped up with what exactly our children should be doing to be successful. But we often forget that children often learn by example. Grab a book and take a load off…for your child’s sake, of course!
Read to your kids. I have talked about my commitment to reading to kids over and over. I write my book reviews so my readers can walk into a library with some idea of where to start. I am giddy to work with Target to share their commitment to reading with you today along with a chance to win an iPad and a selection of books to make it easier for one of you to read books online and off.
Target has launched a program called Target Read With Me to help promote reading , specifically reading proficiency in children by 3rd grade. What’s so special about 3rd grade ? Research * shows that 3rd grade is the turning point when children begin learning by reading not simply learning to read. The same study has shown that close to 3 out of 4 children with below grade level reading abilities in 4th grade never catch up.
Never catch up. We can’t let that happen.
That is why Target along with many partners have made a commitment to reading and education. By the end of 2015, Target plans to donate more than $500 million to support education, doubling its support to date, for a total of more than $1 billion. They also have collected wonderful easy to navigate resources on their Target Read With Me site to make reading with your kids easier. My favorite is this Build A Home Library from American Library Association. It doesn’t just list books, there are short synopsis as well. I stayed up way too late last night reading it, as giddy as a kid in a candy shop.
I am also giddy that they are offering one lucky No Time For Flash Cards reader a prize package to make reading to your kids online and off a cinch:
Target Read With Me Prize Package consisting of a 16 GB iPad with Wi-Fi for reading books online, along with a selection of age-appropriate books for your children.
All you have to do is leave a comment telling me :
What’s your favorite time and place to read with your children ?
Fine print from Target:This sweepstakes is only open to U.S. residents 18 years or older. A winning commenter will be drawn at random, using Random.org, after the sweepstakes closes on Thursday, Jan. 20 at 12:00am EST. The winner will receive a 16GB Wi-Fi enabled iPad and a selection of children’s books, a prize package valued up to $599. After the winner is notified, he or she has 48 hours to respond with their mailing address, phone number and ages of their children, so that Target can ship the prize and select books appropriate for their children. If the winner does not reply in that time frame, he or she forfeits the prize and another winner will be drawn at random. Please note that we cannot ship product to a P.O. Box. Disclosure I am working with Target, receiving compensation from Target for running this sweepstakes and Target is providing a prize consisting of 16 GB iPad with Wi-Fi and a selection of books for one reader.
*EARLY WARNING! WHY READING BY THE END OF THE THIRD GRADE MATTERS Voices for Virginia’s Children and the Annie E. Casey Foundation