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.

 

Top 13 of 2013 – Early Literacy and More!

notimeforflashcards2013 was a great year for us and I hope it was for you too. Each year I take a few days to look back and celebrate the most popular as well as my favorite posts we’ve shared. These 13 posts were the most popular post I wrote in 2013. The trend is clear that early literacy is popular. This makes me so happy because writing and sharing ways for parents to work on reading and writing with their kids is my passion. Expect even more of this in 2014!

Is your favorite on the list? If not swing by tomorrow to see my favorites of 2013.

50 Ways To Teach Your Child To Read
8 Ways Parents Discourage Their Kids From Reading
75 Everyday Activities For 3 Year Olds
25 Books With Crafts To Match
13 Creative Ways To Learn Letters
15 Fun Writing Activities For Kids
25 Funny Books For Kids
25 Playful Ways To Work On Fine Motor Skills
15 Easter Egg Crafts For Kids
88 Books That Teach Important Lessons
Sight Word Dominoes & Speed Racer Game
Alphabet Activities For Every Season
23 Books For Fall With Crafts That Match

Recycled Alphabet Craft

Scrap paper , magazines and catalogs all crowd my recycle bin. So today I put them all to work for me and made this recycled alphabet craft using only one piece of paper that hadn’t been rescued from the bin. It’s fun, bright and makes a great long term cooperative art project for young kids. Pull it out when it’s rainy and search for a few letters in a magazine, glue them on and add some more another day. I like projects like these because they teach young kids how be committed to something over more than 20 minutes. Also in classrooms these long term cooperative projects always seemed to be the greatest sources of pride for my students.

  1. Gather your materials. You will need one large piece of paper, some construction paper scraps, glue, a pen, some magazines/catalogs and scissors.
  2. Start by cutting your construction paper into squares ( or any other shape)- this just makes a fun frame, you can skip this and simply glue the letters onto the paper too.
  3. Glue them on. This is a fun way to get your child counting to 26, as well as figuring out how to fit all on one page. If your child is really young I would probably do this before bringing them into the activity, just so their energy is on the letters, not the set up.
  4. Write the alphabet on the construction paper squares.
  5. Cut some letters out of the magazines for your child if they need help. I did this for every age group I worked with up until school age.  They are still challenged looking for the individual letters but not frustrated by looking for them in magazines that may or may not have what they need. * Tip … auto magazines are great for these activities, because of the abundance of car makes with Z, Q and X  letters that are usually a pain to find.
  6. Start adding the letters on. Go for as long as your child wants.  This does not need be be done in one sitting!
  7. To make it more challenging for older kids have them find only upper or only lowercase letters.

Alphabet Books

ABC of Canada by Kim Bellefontaine is a cute little book that is a perfect little introduction about Canada for toddlers and preschoolers. The text is short, the colors are bright and the illustrations are both fun and accurate. I was happy to see things like the northern lights, Calgary Stampede and of course Z is for Zamboni ! Even if you have never been to Canada it’s never too early to learn about your neighbor to the north!

The Alphabet Tree is a stunning book. The book is all about letters that come together to make words and then after a caterpillar informs them that they need to say something they join together to make sentences. Up to this point the book is a brilliant teaching tool , but for me the best part is yet to come. When the words get together they decide to say ” Peace on earth goodwill toward all men” and then the caterpillar asks them to jump on his back so he can take the words to the president . Considering it was written in 1968 it’s quite the statement. A fantastic activity to do with your child after reading this would be to ask them what they would write to the president ? For younger children using letters on leaves you could spell out easy 3 letter words like they do early on in the story. All in all a brilliant book.

The Graphic Alphabet by David Pelletier is a fun book to share with a child who has already mastered the alphabet, because this book is challenging. Each letter is shown in it’s own illustration, but you aren’t sure exactly what the picture is of, this is the challenge. As you can see on the cover it has an avalanche, the hardest one for me was N no matter how I looked at the picture I thought it was of magnets! Turns out it was noodles! Very fun book for kids that already know their letters and are up for a challenge.

Want more Alphabet Crafts? Check out my Alphabet Crafts eBook and you will have a craft for every letter!

Read Read Read ( and win)

Our Summer Reading Challenge is well underway but that doesn’t mean that if you haven’t participated yet you still can’t get in on the action! It’s so simple and all about spending time reading with your kids.  Read 10 books or more with your children each week, fill out this form ( one per child), and you are automatically entered to win not just the weekly Alphabet Crafts eBook but also the Amazon.com gift card giveaway at the end of the summer.  How simple is that? Oh and if your child is like mine and likes reading the same book over and over that’s not a problem, just list it more than once in the form. The goal is time reading not how many different books you read ( although that is great too!).

Children’s Beach Books !

by Carrie Anne

Hello summer! With the warmer weather upon us in I find water seems be be a bigger part of our daily lives now. We drink more of it. We play in more of it. We visit and enjoy more of it. Although my family lives in a big city, we’re walking distance to a great lake and we visit it often. The water, whether it’s the lake or ocean or beach, is a great place to explore and cool down and have fun. I’ve compiled a few great water themed books to get your family ready for your next beach or water adventure.
At the Beach
Written and illustrated by Anne and Harlow Rockwell
Published by MacMillan Publishing
(age 3-5)
A little girl visits the beach with her mom. She plays in the sand, hunts for shells, takes a swim before she settles in to a nice beach lunch. A visit to the beach can be a full day and this story gives the reader a great description of what to expect. This is great for young kids who haven’t been to the beach. It explains using a young girl’s point of view what you bring to beach and what you can expect to do once you’re there. The illustrations are muted and warm and fill the page and included our young red-haired beach girl enjoying herself in each one.

Written and illustrated by Holly Keller
Published by Harper Collins
(age 3-5)
Miranda and her mom spend a warm, sunny day at the Beach enjoying the water, the animals and the sand. Miranda experiences the beach with all her senses: feeling the hot sand under her toes and the water swirl around her, hearing the roar of the waves as they wash on the shore and the seagulls squawk in the air above, tasting the salty sand that sticks to her face, seeing the small Hermit crab skuttle across the sand. My kids loved reading this book; it had the ability of transporting them to the beach right from the living room. The illustrations are warm, muted water-colourings that add to the whole beach feel.

Beach
Written and illustrated by Elisha Cooper
Published by Orchard Books
(3-9)
Go to the beach and sit back and just watch the day unfold, that’s what this book is like. It starts off early in the morning, with just the unmarked sand and rolling waves but quickly it fills with people: a woman spreads a towel on the sand, a girl covers her friend in sand, seagulls hover overhead watching. The book is like mini stories all collected in small images. There’s a page that talks about the clouds that roll by and the different shapes they form. Eventually people leave and the beach is quiet again. I love this book. I love the water-colours and how the story builds from a quiet morning to a full beach day back to quiet again. The other thing that is nice about how this story is written, you don’t have to read every single piece. Each little image is a little story unto itself.
Stella, Star of the Sea
Written and illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
Published by Groundwood Books
(2-4)
Stella and Sam are spending the day at the beach. Stella is older and she’s been to the beach once before and knows all its secrets. Stella enthusiastically takes charge of the surroundings, exploring and enjoying everything the beach has to offer without hesitation: diving in the water, collecting shells, digging a tunnel to China. Sam on the other hand has never been to the beach and approaches things a little cautiously, asking if the water’s cold or if sea monsters live beneath the waves. Questions aside, after he’s been schooled by Stella and sees how much fun she’s having, he too relaxes and joins her in the water. Not only is this a great book about visiting the beach for the first time, Sam asks questions that first time beach goers might ask, but the relationship of big sister, little brother between Stella and Sam is wonderful and feels very natural.
Octopus Oyster Hermit Crab Snail: A Poem of the Sea
Written and illustrated by Sara Anderson
Published by Handprint Books
(6-9)
This wonderful poem takes underneath the cerulean seas to visit angelfish, barnacles, blowfish and more wonderful creatures. The text is large and the rhyme will have kids guessing what comes next. The pages are filled with colourful creatures, created in a style that almost resembles a collage. The creatures references in this book won’t be ones they’ll see at the beach but the whole unknown world beneath the water is fascinating. And they might just discover some creatures they’ve never heard of before. Although the book is rated by the publisher as being for grade school, the short poem, colourful imagery and great fish vocabulary will entrance younger readers too.

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Carrie Anne is a contributing writer on No Time For Flash Cards , she is a mom of 3 , Managing editor of EverythingMom.com and an avid reader. You can catch up with her on her blog  Another Day. Another Thought…Or Two