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.

 

After School Activity – Word Ladders Printable { Free }

word ladders literacy activity It’s conference week here and we have been so busy. I wasn’t going to post today until I saw this pin by Fun Games 4 Learning and was reminded of Word Ladders. I haven’t used them in many years ( since I was student teaching elementary school actually) but knew immediately my son who is home today would love them. So I made a quick and easy word ladders printable for him and thought why in the world am I not sharing this easy literacy activity with all of you. This is a perfect addition to our Learning After School series ( <— click to see the whole series). What I love is that you can play it the way that they suggest in the post as a game for two people or teams, or as an individual challenge with this printable.

Word ladder

Gather your materials. You will need a word ladder printable ( click on the image above and print) , a pencil, and a kid to do all the rest of the work!  I keep my printables simple so they don’t use up too much ink but you can make your own at picmonkey.com with as many cute graphics as you want!  To make this re-usable slip it in an acrylic document stand, or a document sleeve, and use a fine tip dry erase marker.word ladder supplies

 

Start by explaining that you are going to climb the ladder by changing just ONE letter in the word. With beginners doing a ladder together is a great idea. Then write the first word of their ladder to get them started. I find that when I let him do it he’d chose more obscure words and get stick a few rungs in. word ladder printable for after school activity

 

Next one is solo.thinking hard word ladder literacy activity for kids If you want more of a challenge set the timer and have your child go up against you in a timed race. Whoever writes down the most words in the time period wins!almost done word ladder activity for kids

 

Need a ladder idea for a much younger child? Check out our Ladder L letter craft!

 

Quick Link Supply List

This list includes affiliate links
Low-Odor Dry Erase Markers, Ultra-Fine Point
Avery Heavy-Duty Plastic Sleeves
Acrylic document stand

 

 

Rhyming Activities For Kids

rhyming lessons for preschool Rhyming is a vital part of literacy development. When children rhyme they play sounds and apply their abilities to new combinations of letter sounds. This is a fun activity for most children but some children really struggle with rhyming. For all kids we should be trying to make this fun. I encourage all parents to rhyme with their kids, it’s an accessible way to work on literacy skills at home and it rarely feels like work!

Here are nine fun rhyming activities for kids to try at home.

rhyming tag cover

 

Rhyming Tag

rhyming rockets done

Rhyming Rockets

find and rhyme game for reading

Rhyming Hide & Seek

rhyming puzzle pieces

Rhyming Puzzle st.patrick's day rhyming treasure hunt

Rhyming Scavenger Hunt

rhyming activity

Rhyming Jars

Rhyming pegboard literacy activity for kids

Rhyming Peg BoardRhyming Tree - Early Literacy Lesson

Rhyming Tree

rhyming activity

Spin & Rhyme

Sight Word Game

sight word gross motor game for kids

It’s been beautiful here and I wanted to get outside for a little learning. This gross motor sight word game is fun and was a cinch to adapt to very different ability levels. My son worked on sight words and my daughter on letter recognition. When we played this the first time my kids were not very into it. It was almost dinner, we’d been busy all week , and it was just bad timing. A few days later we played again and it was a huge hit! Smiles, words being yelled out , letters flying into the pretend recycle bin… so I thought my reminder to myself would be a good reminder for you too. Timing is everything and don’t give up if an activity flops. Give it one more try before giving it the ax.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some ping pong balls, a container, sharpies ,and some painter’s tape if you want to turn your container into a recycle bin like we did. sight word game for kindergarten
  2. Start by writing out sight words and/or letters for your child on the ping pong balls. A quick google search will provide leveled sight word lists for your child.sight word gross motor game
  3. Add the recycle sign on your container.sight words recycle game
  4. We went outside and I pretended to be a litter bug throwing recycling ( the ping pong balls) all over our yard. I really spread them out. The rule was that they had to call out the word/letter before running it back to the bin to clean up the yard.sight word recycling activity
  5. Off they went!  sight word and letter gameThey played well but the next time we played it was all giggles and rushing – you can tell in this picture that my son was tired . He hoarded as many balls as he could then ran up to the bin read them all to me and ran back to get another handful. sight word game readingThe next time he’d find one, run it over and run to the next.  My daughter was overwhelmed with how spread out I made it. The 2nd time we played I kept them in a much smaller space which made a huge difference for her.sight word game for kindergarten and preschool

Books About Recycling For Kids

plasticbottle

The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle: A Story About Recycling by Alison Inches is awesome!  The book takes the reader through the complete process from crude oil, to bottle and then to synthetic fleece. I am not too proud to admit I learned s a few new things and had a few good laughs along the way with the books little bits of humor too. I think most 5 year olds would enjoy this book, and it’s easy to break it down for those unable to sit for this much text.

why do we recycle

Little Pirate: Why Do We Recycle?  by Innovative Kids is a really fun book about recycling with a pirate theme. Yes a pirate theme. Readers learn about recycling, composting and garbage along with two young pirates who need to clean up their ship. The pirates ask questions about different waste and the wise parrot fills them into the facts like the best bag to use while shopping is a cloth one, and what happens to the metal, glass and paper after we put them in the recycle bin.

Gabby and Grandma go green

Gabby and Grandma Go Green by Monica Wellington is another wonderful book from one of our favorite authors. In the book Gabby and her Grandma spend a day together  dedicated to going green. First making a great reusable bag and then using it all around town. I love that they go to the library and that is portrayed as a way to go green as well as a place to learn more about environmental efforts. Also showing ways to make a difference at the grocery store is perfect for young kids who are often tagging a long with parents on these errands. I can’t end the review without also mentioning the baby sibling who is sleeping in a sling at the end of the book , I love seeing baby wearing in books!  This is a great environment themed book that works all year round not just for Earth Day.

This post contains affiliate links. 

Paint & Read { and sound it out }

learn to readTwo skills children need to master in their journey to independent reading are segmenting and blending sounds. Segmenting is breaking a word apart into individual sounds and blending is very simply the ability to combine the sounds together smoothly. When we tell a child to sound it out , this is really what we are asking them to do.  This activity was designed for my son who is a great reader but who will often read so quickly that if he encounters a word he doesn’t know he simply guesses and continues. If I ask him to sound the word out he will  still often guess and get frustrated at me for asking instead of slowing down and doing it even though he is perfectly capable of doing so.  I had to come up with a playful way that would force him to chill a little, slow it all down and focus on the sounds.  This activity can be adapted for any level even single sounds or sight words. We did a similar one for toddlers exploring letters here.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need some white paper, white wax crayon, dark water color ( container is you need one) , a little water and a paint brush. I also used a clipboard to keep the pages secure while painting. reading
  2. Start by writing out the words you want your child to stretch out. I used a book we’ve recently read to help me think of some words. Many of the words I chose were not a challenge to read , the challenge is to get him to slow down and stretch them out. For new readers you will want to do words like cat, dog, ball, map, off, snap etc…  but know that older children and more proficient readers can still work on this skill with more complex words. paint and read early literacy activity for kids
  3. Next I popped the black water color into the jar and added just a little water. To do this well you want a lot of color but not too much water .
  4. I invited my little reader and explained that he needed to paint over the words SLOWLY and read as he went, then to read the whole word normally. I had to emphasize that the goal was not to guess the word after painting over the first few letters, that the right way to do it was to carefully say each sound then put the word back together. paint and read learning to read activity for kids
  5. The activity was an instant hit. paint and read learning to read activity for kindergartenIt really did get him to slow it down and pay attention to all the sounds in the words instead of just guessing. I was happy to find a tool for him to keep working on these skills without making him feel like I was giving him a remedial task.  paint and readQuick activities likes this one can be thrown together easily with some really fantastic benefits to your child’s reading ability. paint and read early literacy lesson for kids