Read & Find Game

If an I-Spy book and a sensory bin had a baby this is what they would wake up at 2am to feed. My son’s interests are geared mostly to games and pretend play these days and while most of our time is spent doing funny accents I like doing these  fun games that work on a bunch of skills in a short amount of time. This works on handwriting , reading and observation skills.

  1. Gather your materials. You can use almost anything , easy right? You need toys, and other small objects that your child can read but that aren’t too easy or it’s not going to be a 5 minute sparkler , it will be done in 30 seconds. So go around your house and trust me you’ll find things pretty fast. If your child is not a reader use colors or just the first letter. You will also need a bin, marker, sheet of card stock , and a crayon.
  2. Write out the words of all the objects on the card stock with marker.
  3. Pop the toys in the bin, hand your child the list. Stick around so if words are tricky you can help them try different strategies like using the objects for clues, sounding out the word or passing on to the next to return to it after.

Rhyming Jars

rhyming activity

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.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some baby food jars or other containers, popsicle sticks, masking tape and markers.
  2. 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.
  3. 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…
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Keep sounding them out and matching them up.
    Rhyming Jars - early literacy lesson
  8. 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 .

3D Word Search

When children are learning to read playing games with their developing skills is a great way to practice while playing. This giant 3D word search can be used so many ways. For my almost 5 year old I put in simple words he could recognize or easily sound out.  I also helped him by making all the words a consistent color and horizontal only. With younger children it can still be a fun game simply looking for specific colors or letters. With older ones you can make words multi colored, going every which way. The learning isn’t just in the searching either, using the dry erase marker to carefully circle the letters or words is fantastic writing practice and the foam letters are a sensory experience too.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need a sturdy backing like a inexpensive canvas or even some cardboard, contact paper ( which will make it wipe off) foam letter stickers ( two packs) and scissors. Also a dry erase marker to play with.
  2. Start by covering your canvas or card board with clear contact paper. This makes the surface friendly for dry erase . I found that a baby wipe worded the best to get the marker off after we played.
  3. Start making a column of letters.
  4. Decide on some words to pop in. Like I said in the preamble you can customize this to your child’s specific stage of learning.
  5. Add the words mixed with some random letters.
  6. Invite your child to play. I meant to make a list of the words I included but forgot and it turned out we didn’t need them. You may want one though.
  7. Oops he circled the o but it was no biggie because it’s dry erase!

I was fascinated by which words he knew by sight and which he sounded out. He loved this and I can see myself making a few more over the next few months for sure.

{Last Week} Summer Reading Challenge

In Washington we've needed long sleeves this summer.

Well this is it. Our last week, let’s go out with a bang! As of Saturday morning y’all have read 25 thousand books with your kids this summer. Seriously?! It amazes me.

On Friday I will be drawing the winner of the $50 Amazon.com gift card and will announce it here as well as our facebook page.

If you haven’t joined our Summer Reading Challenge yet you are not too late. All the details are here but the gist of it is that you read with your kids, tally up how many books you have read, submit a tally sheet once per submission period ( see below) and then you are automatically entered to win a $50 Amazon.com gift card at the end of the summer. Pretty cool!

Submission Periods :

June 3-9th , 10th -16th , 17th- 23rd , 24th-30th

July 1st-7th , 8th-14th, 15th- 21st , 22nd-28th

July 29th – August 4th

August 5th-11th , 12th-18th , 19th -25th.

The winner will be drawn on the 26th of August.

Submit Your Tally Here

Raising Boys Who Want To Read

 by Allison McDonald

I was reading this article from the Huffington Post while nursing my daughter over the weekend. After she drifted off to sleep I laid there next to her thinking about how we as educators, parents and adults in general handle our boys and what they choose to read. This is a fresh topic at our house because my son has started reading independently; while he is far from fluent, he can read simple “I Can Read” books alone if they interest him.

How do we get our boys interested in books?

Read to them starting from birth.

That is the most basic answer, but it’s not a complete one. Some kids won’t sit for books, while some need to be moving when taking in the information. Some simply don’t want to read. It looks hard; it looks confusing; and it makes them feel dumb when they can’t figure it out.

You have to make them want to figure it out – to conquer that desire to give up with a stronger desire to find out how to read so they can read something really cool.

So how do we make books worth the effort?

Teaching boys to love books doesn’t start when they are learning to read in kindergarten. It starts at birth by making books a daily part of their play time, not just bed time. Here are some strategies we’ve used :

We did many book festivals when my son was a toddler. We’d pile up a ton of books, jump on the bed or couch, and read. I always gave him the power to choose the books we read, which gave him a sense of control and allowed him to develop favorites and his own opinions. I wrote a post about how we discovered this strategy and how it came from my son’s inability to sit stuck snuggled on my lap to read as a toddler.

Make going to the library a regular activity. My son hates story time at the library, not because of the librarian (whom he is actually quite fond of ) but because he doesn’t want to sit and listen to the books she chooses. He wants to listen to the books he chooses. So if your child dislikes storytime don’t give up on the library. Try other times; let them choose their own books, and don’t just show them the kids section, show them all the adults reading too.

Which brings us to the next strategy: role models. Boys need to see the men in their life reading. As a stay at home mom whose husband works long hours with a long commute, I end up doing most of the reading, but it’s still easy to create wonderful role models even if time together isn’t abundant. I got my son and husband a subscription to Sports Illustrated to share. They read the articles together and have some “man time” reading it together. It gives them special time together while also promoting reading.

Let them choose their books, but steer them to widen their horizons too. My son is all about Batman so we scour the library for these books, some of which I am not fond of. But he is so excited about reading I think it’s more important to keep building that foundation of books being cool and developing his view of himself as a reader that I enthusiastically pop them in our basket. Don’t be quick to say no to a type of book . What your child might hear is you saying no to reading.

Another strategy is to let kids “break the rules” with books. I am not advocating stealing books or any other real rule breaking; what I am talking about is letting kids stretch out bedtime with some reading time of their choice.  We just started this with my son and it’s so thrilling to see him enjoying reading alone.

My last strategy is what I feel is my mission here at No Time For Flash Cards, which is to use books as the foundation for play. We go both ways, sometimes reading a book first and sometimes starting with play then finding the books to go along with it.  When my son read this Babar book with me last week  he immediately wanted to dress up like the soldiers, so we fashioned a costume , not just for the pretend play that followed but because it attached a positive association to reading,  it reiterated to him that reading is part of play.The statistics are frightful but we aren’t powerless. There are things we can do to help make reading and books accessible to young kids (especially reluctant readers) and yet again it comes back around to play. Hopefully with a strong foundation of trust in the enjoyment books provide the less enjoyable side of reading will be worth the effort.