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Terry

Reading Aloud: Picking Books to Read with a Mixed-Age Audience

Posted by Terry on August 30, 2010 at 10:30 AM in Nonfiction BooksPoetryRecommendationsSeriescreative literacy
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As you may have seen, Gina announced last week that we're winding down here at Booklights. Susan has brought some cake, and I'll bring something to the bon voyage soon, but today I'm going to finish up talking about reading as a family.

541417081_7960714e0a.jpgAs I mentioned last week, reading with your kids - even when there are many years between them - can be enjoyable for everyone to share together. Sometimes it may be about the book, but every time it is an opportunity to connect with your kids and connect them with each other!

In The Read Aloud Handbook, Jim Trelease emphasizes that as readers, we have a listening level and a reading level. In Hey! Listen to This! (an article on his website), he re-emphasizes this point.

ReadAloudHandbook.jpg"A consistent mistake made by parents and teachers is the assumption that a child's listening level is the same as his or her reading level. Until about eighth grade, that is far from true; early primary grade students listen many grades above their reading level. This means that early primary grade students are capable of hearing and understanding stories that are far more complicated than those they can read themselves."

What does that mean? Well, you don't have to read just simple picture books. Young audiences can be enticed to enjoy text-heavy picture books and chapter books alike. There are a number of genres that naturally lend themselves to reading to mixed-age audiences, including ...

UMaryland.jpgNonfiction. More specifically, nonfiction picture books. One of the best ways to hook kids of any age on reading is to give them some nonfiction books. The great thing about nonfiction picture books is that they have something for everyone. These are books that invite exploring, so whether you read all of the text or just talk about the illustrations, you're in for an enjoyable, shared read.

poetrybooks.jpgPoetry. Jack Prelutsky and Shel Silverstein write poetry that is meant to be read aloud. Their poems are very "graphic," allowing readers to "see" what they describe, and they often have a nonsensical quality that strike kids' funny bones.

Humor. Despite the dictionary description, defining "funny" is a matter of personal taste. Still, a good laugh is something we all enjoy. As a parent, you understand the types of humor your kids enjoy ... and you can decide what types of things you want to share together.

roscoe-riley.jpgBooks with lots of dialogue. "Dialog books" aren't a specific genre, but a lot of short chapter books use conversation among the characters to tell the story. There are usually only a few characters (often school-aged kids and an adult or two) so it is an opportunity for everyone to take a role and read together.

These are by no means the only genres. On her website, storyteller Mary Hamilton offers a handy checklist that describes reading interests for various ages, from preschool through high school.

Before we go, we'd love to hear what books you like sharing with your kids. What books would you bring to our party?

image credits

Mom reading with kids: Family Story Minute by Sean Dreilinger on Flicker. Copyright. Some rights reserved.

Collage of nonfiction picture books: University of Maryland News photostream on Flickr. Copyright. Some rights reserved University of Maryland Press Releases.

Bookshelf with poetry books. Thingamababy Awesome Wall photostream on Flickr. Copyright. All rights reserved.

Roscoe Riley by Katherine Applegate. Book cover image by Mr. Biggs photostream on Flickr. Copyright. All rights reserved.

Terry

Don't let Summer Fun Slip-Slide Away (Part 2)

Posted by Terry on August 9, 2010 at 11:30 AM in Early LiteracyFun and GamesRecommendationscreative literacy
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Summer_2010_ClipArt9_SunWearingGlasses.pngIf your house is like ours, you're quickly approaching "the wall." That place that says summer has gone by too quickly, but man, am I ready for the kids to go back to school. It is also the time when we look around and say we've had a blast, but I should have been preparing the kids for learning. Don't worry, games are here to save the day!

In selecting literacy games for preschoolers and Kindergartners, there are three things to look for - the level of fun, the amount of time it takes to play (think: attention span), and how well it disguises learning. For some kids, Scrabble Junior is a blast; for others (like my daughter) it took too long and looked too much like her spelling list.

It is also good to find entertainment that not only introduces concepts (rather than memorization), but also isn't about winning or losing or "racing" to the finish. Picture puzzles are great for that, because they help kids create a complete image from just pieces of it, they don't require any letter or spelling knowledge, and they can be done independently or with help. Here are a few other ideas.

hiss-cards.jpgGamewright Hisss Card Game With this card game, kids learn sequencing, logic, and colors. There is no spelling or letter recognition required, but it does make kids think: Does a blue head go with a red tail? Do snakes really have two heads? Where is my snake's tummy? Like Wig Out! (below) this game lasts about 15 minutes.

see-and-spell.jpgMelissa & Doug See & Spell It is hard to beat Melissa and Doug products for durability and educational value. What I love about these puzzles is that kids can create words by placing the letter on the word board, but they can also use the letters independently to create new words, too. For example, slide "bug" off the board, swap out the "b" for an "r" and they have rug ... or any other silly words they'd like to create.

wig-out.jpgWig Out! Here's a matching game that will have everyone rolling with laughter, making it perfect for mixed age players. You get a series of bald heads and your job is to play all your hairstyle cards faster than anyone else. Of all the games in the list, this is probably the most marginal for this audience. Not because of content, but because of its speed. Each game takes 10 to 15 minutes, which is good for kid with short attention spans, but it also is played quickly.

zingo-preschool.jpgThinkFun Zingo We had a blast with this game when my daughter was in Kindergarten. It is a combination of picture and word Bingo, and you can make it as easy or as complex as you want. We would also use the little plastic cards to play matching games (think Jeopardy).

Not to sound trite, but the name of the game for kids this age is developing their thinking skills. Whether it is learning to put things in order (i.e., sequencing), separating and/or categorizing things by similarities or differences, or beginning to see things spatially from just little pieces, it all contributes to their future success as readers.

So have fun ... Remember. Don't worry, be happy!

Image credit
Summer Sunglasses by PianoBrad on OpenClipArt.com

Links and photographs of products link to amazon.com, with which the Reading Tub has an affiliate relationship. The Reading Tub (a 501c3) may earn income through purchase made via these links.

Terry

Don't let Summer Fun Slip-Slide Away

Posted by Terry on August 2, 2010 at 4:32 PM in Fun and GamesRecommendationscreative literacy
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With the sale pages shouting about 1c pencils and snappy new backpacks, it is hard to keep that summer frame of mind going. I'm not ready to give up the fun and games just yet, so today we're just going to play!

On Friday nights, our community pool stays open until 9pm. We parents love it because it is a nice time to let the kids run off and play while we chat and enjoy the beverage of our choice. We have also discovered it is the perfect time and place for games.

I am usually behind the times, so I know Bananagrams has been around the world and back a couple times already. I had seen it, but never played it. Now I'm addicted. Playing Bananagrams is great fun and, as it turns out, is a great modeling tool, too. I can't tell you how many times our dripping-wet kids came over to watch us play and "help" us with words.

Between rounds, we talk about other stuff, like the games we play with our kids. Not surprisingly, our favorites are the ones that have some type of educational value and can have lots of players. We talked about our own childhood favorites like Scrabble, Boggle, Pictionary, and Yahtzee, as well as the fun of these new games for our kids.

Scrabble SLAM, a card game, is a natural for kids of mixed ages. Essentially, you rebuild a four-letter word like sand by playing a cards in your hand ... changing it to hand or sane or band, etc. Speed is part of the game, so it may take young players a bit to get comfortable.

Such & Such is for up to four people or can be played in teams. The game's tag line is "the answers to the game come in twos," so players build pairs of things that go together: peanut butter and jelly, guilt and innocence, moon and stars, etc. It's about "clever pairings and witty competition."

Ticket to Ride is a good, old-fashioned board game. Each player is trying to build a cross-country railway route by making city-to-city connections from one coast to the other. There are lots of facets to the game, including geography and strategy. There are individualized versions for several continents.

These games combine fun and literacy concepts on many levels, not just letters. They require creativity, memory, problem solving, and even strategy. With the exception of Ticket to Ride, they are all also very economical investments.

Most of these games are good for kids who are in second through fourth grade. Next week I'll offer some game suggestions for preschoolers and kindergartners. Summer's not over yet ... let the games go on!

It's your move. What are your favorite games to play as a family?

The hyperlinks and images take you to Amazon.com. The Reading Tub may earn income from purchases made through those links.

Terry

The Bookworm Goes on Vacation

Posted by Terry on July 19, 2010 at 10:36 AM in RecommendationsSeriesYoung Adult Bookscreative literacy
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It is hard to believe that we are getting ready to slide head-first into August. For many of us, August is synonymous with a week (maybe two) away from home. It might be the beach, the mountains, Grandma's ... a place where the daily routine is different and your days are more relaxed.

Another symbol of vacation is "beach reading," those books you enjoy while you soak up the sun, lay in the hammock, rock on the porch ... you get the picture. If you're looking for alternatives to lugging books - and don't want the eReader to plop in the pond - then you might like these ideas.

Audiobooks ~ Listening to books is great for those of us who are easily bored in the backseat and/or get sick when we read in a moving vehicle.

Most libraries have robust audiobook collections, and some have tools in place for you to download them. You might start with Pam's recommendations from Thursday Thirteen Summer Chapter Books. More than half of them (see slideshow) are available on CD or as downloads.

Sync is an online community that is offering two FREE young adult books each week. They pair a classic from a summer reading list with a modern YA title. Next week, it's Suzanne Collins' wildly popular Hunger Games and Shirley Jackson's classic, The Lottery. Here is the complete Sync: YA Listening schedule.

Music ~ I tend to look at music as poetry set to a rhythm. With music, kids can learn about history, culture, instruments, social skills, vocabulary, just about anything. Albums with music for kids range from CDs with songs written just for them to traditional songs that introduce them to specific genres, and don't forget the music you like!

Periodicals ~ Magazines and comic books are plentiful, quickly read, and easily disposed of when you're finished. Whether you pick some up before you leave home, or you stop in the local drugstore along the way, it is easy to put together some fun reading. These may not be some of your usual choices, but they can feed your kids' passions and keep them reading on vacation.

Technology makes it possible to pack a lot of literacy in tiny little packages, like CDs and digital devices. Whether you are traveling by car, bus, train, plane, or even boat, we hope you find room in the suitcase to take some reading on vacation, too.

Got a recommended vacation read or music? We'd love to add them to the collection.

Note: The bookcovers in the slideshow link to Amazon.com. A Reading Tub affiliate code is embedded in the link. We may earn money for the Children's and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Awards (Cybils) from purchases made through those links.

Terry

Bookworm Basics: Casting a Magic Spell for Reading

Posted by Terry on July 13, 2010 at 11:30 AM in Early LiteracyLibrariesRecommendationscreative literacy
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magic_hat_1.pngIn the coming weeks we'll get back to our lists of book ideas for your home library, but summer is the perfect time to be a reading magician. I believe there is a book for every child, and today we're going to reveal the secret to finding the book that sparks a love of reading for your kids Ready? Think like a children's librarian!

When you ask a librarian to help you find a book, he or she will ask you a couple of questions to narrow down their recommendations to books that might work. These are questions you may know the answer to, but if not, they will give you something to think about the next time you and your child share a book.

bookwormWhat does your child like? The best place to start is with a topic or subject that interests them. It can be trucks and trains, sports or sports heroes, or things they like to do: be a ballerina, climb trees, etc.

What will your child do with the book? In selecting your books, think about how you plan to use the book: will you read with her; is this a book that you'll both read or will your son read it independently; or do you want her to explore the book, regardless of whether there is any reading.

abstract_reading.pngDoes your child like books of a certain size? Some kids like thin books; some don't mind longer books, but the chapters have to be short; and some want the fattest book they can find. Even if a book looks "too easy," don't discount it. If something grabs him in this book, he will reach for another one to learn more.

And finally, pictures. What kind (if any) illustrations do they like? Art in a book is a matter of taste, just as it is in a museum. Children's books are filled with abstract imagery, collages, photography, bright colors, dark hues, and more. What kinds of imagery seems to keep your daughter's attention? What makes your son ask you to close the book?

You've probably noticed that I didn't ask "fiction or nonfiction?" Knowing your child's interests, your reading goal, and what they like to see in a book will help guide that decision. It is the logical next question, and I know there are others.

So, what would your next question be? Librarians, we'd love to hear your suggestions on ways that parents can prepare for finding the "it" book before they get to the library.

BenBois_Magic_ball.pngThe answer for finding that "perfect" book comes from the non-book things your child loves. By tapping into that passion, the odds are pretty good you can find that wow-I-want-to-read-some-more book. And they will think you are the world's greatest magician because you read their minds!

If you find that there is a glitch trying to post the comments, send me an email and I will update this post. [terry {at] thereadingtub [dot} com].

Image Credits
Magic Hat 1 by slanteigne on OpenClipArt.org
Bookworm by ajeynes on OpenClipArt.org
Reading2 by Machovka on OpenClipArt.org
MagicBall by BenBois on OpenClipArt.org

Terry

Summer Reading Ideas: Double Your Fun with a Reading Partner

Posted by Terry on July 12, 2010 at 10:30 AM in Chapter BooksEasy ReadersLibrariescreative literacy
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reading in the hammockMea culpa! The heat swallowed this one last week. It "published" but no one could see it, so it's a double bonus this week ...

Picking up on Pam's themes of enjoying the summer by trying new things, I thought I would share some of those magical, unplanned moments we've had this year.

Like many of you, we get our book fix at the library, and LOVE the summer reading program. This has always been "our" time, but this year, we've been taking my daughter's BFF with us. Her friend (a rising second grader) is an avid reader, but had not visited our local library. [She has 5 older siblings ... need I say more?]

The two girls have had a wonderful time, and all three of us really look forward to our weekly "date." During our three visits to date, the girls have (without fail)

    ... picked up picture books left lying around and read them aloud to each other.
    ... recommended books to each other;
    ... searched the online catalog for books with their names; and
    ... looked for books with two copies so they can read it at the same time.
.

gardenvale.JPGIt is the last point I find most fascinating. Like many short chapter books for the early elementary audience, the stories rely heavily on dialogue. The girls are instantly drawn to these books and use them as scripts. They decide who is going to be which character, and then read their "parts" aloud.

This isn't a new idea, but it may be a new way to keep the kids connected with books this summer. Partner reading - with you, a friend, or siblings - is a great way to keep them engaged with books. The key is to keep the reading fun, so don't fret about the "right" reading levels or vocabulary. Keep them excited about reading and the rest of it will fall into place naturally.

Sharing our library time beyond "just us," has has added some wonderful magic to our summer. My daughter and her BFF are exploring everything the library has to offer and stretching each other's interests. They will have great memories of things they did together, and so will I. Summer can't get much more magical than that!

Image Credits
Clara reading in the hammock again by NMACAVOY on Picasa.com
Gardenvale Two Girls Reading (Close Up) by Jen on Picasa.com

Pam

Thursday Three: Summer Fun!

Posted by Pam on July 1, 2010 at 12:00 PM in creative literacy
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It's summer! This will be obvious to those of you who had normal school dismissals early in June, but for those of us who just finished the educational year, it does feel like a sudden release. And a welcome one. But even with an intense year behind her, my teen pondered, "What am I going to do all summer?"

Her statement wasn't one of peevishness, but with something more like bewilderment at the unlimited choices of Free Time. It's an issue that parents can take with a bit of annoyance. After all, didn't we run out of our houses at the first opportunity not to return until dinner? Why are our kids so quick to cry boredom?

Here's my theory. Today's kids and teens are impaired in making choices for what to do with their free time because they have so little practice doing so. My suburban kids have a pretty scheduled life with school, homework, and activities - plus family visits and friend outings. And I don't consider us particularly an overscheduled clan. But in the school year, they have so little free time that they never need move beyond movies, video games, and Internet. They don't really learn to make the choices that we had growing up - whose house to go to, what fields to explore, which direction to bike. So when facing an open period of choices, it can be somewhat daunting.

Some parents approach this problem with more scheduling - camps, classes, swim team, trips to fill every day. I prefer a more moderate approach. A week or two of camp for each girl in their area of interest. Plenty of trips to the beach, which double as our family visits. But mostly I want to embrace the openness, the choices, the boredom - because that's where the magic happens. That said, there are steps that can take some of the overwhelming feel out of the freedom.

1. Reading
I'm a big fan of public library summer reading programs because they give many kids the structure and goals they need, applied to something they love to do. Knowing that they have a form to fill with five, ten, fifteen books is sometimes just enough to get the kids to pick up a book, and a little prize doesn't hurt either. We're trying something new this summer too. We're each picking a selection of five to ten new-to-us books that we want to read over the summer. They'll be on a special shelf so that when we have reading time, none of us have to go to our comfort books out of laziness. Read something new this summer.

2. Writing
Terry covered this so well with her description of a summer writing journal that is FUN. We'll be doing this in our home. I'll add that my teen mentioned that she wanted to write a book over the break, and then she asked me if I hadn't been writing a book myself. I admitted that I had put it on hold when things had gotten stressful over the spring. "Well, then we can write our books together this summer!" she stated. Gulp. Busted. So I guess I'll be working on my novel over the summer, but you don't have to be as ambitious. Try poetry, short stories, memories, songs, thoughts. Look through the old writing prompts at Reading Rockets or search for more online. Make time to write this summer.

3. Resting
Much of what I write, I do so in my head lazing back on the couch, waiting for tween's dance class to end, driving back from some event. In these quieter moments, the ideas flow for me. When was the last time you daydreamed? Let yourself and your kids get bored. Lay in the hammock, nap on the sofa, float in the pool, sit under a tree and see where your mind takes you. Maybe you'll become inspired to make a painting of the shades of green you notice looking up into the leaves. Maybe your child will decide to create a fairy house beside the tree trunk. Let rest be part of your summer and enjoy the results.

Terry

Bookworm Basics: The Craft of Writing

Posted by Terry on June 30, 2010 at 10:30 AM in creative literacy
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Here in the mid-Atlantic, summer has definitely made its presence known, and many of us are spending much of our day around the pool. While the kids are splashing, we moms are sweltering and exchanging ideas on other ways to fill their time.

One of the most common things I hear is "I wish I were a crafty mom," meaning I don't do arts and crafts. Well Mom, with a few easy steps, you can be crafty ... in all senses of the word!

spiral-notebooks.jpgBuy a bound book. Spiral-bound books work great, because the pages "fold back" out of the way. The key is that it looks nothing like a school notebook. Get one for you, one for each child. Look for books with pre-printed lines or blank pages. Pick your books based on your child's preferences, as well as your own. Some kids like drawing, some like writing, some can draw on pages with lines, others can't see past them.

DSCN4000.JPGPull out the boxes of crayons, markers, pencils, pens, watercolors ... whatever drawing or writing tools you've got lying around. We just "refreshed" our stash with all of the stuff that came back from school.

Put everything into a basket or plastic tub. Grab one big enough to hold the notebooks and the tools so that it is always accessible. Keeping the stash where kids pass it regularly and see it may be just enough to get them to pick it up regularly.

parent-child-drawingSit down together and go to it. There are no rules for the books, except that the contents can't in any way resemble schoolwork (e.g., no practicing letters or math). Kids can jot down their stories and poems, doodle, scribble, and/or create incredible art. You can do the same ... or just generate the grocery list.

That's where the true craftiness comes in ... kids are using their imagination and you are showing them the way just by writing or drawing. Modeling literacy is an easy way to encourage reading and writing. And the bonus? You earn your crafty mom badge and you have a personalized book to remember this summer, all without glue, scissors, or sticky fingers!

So, how would you fill your book?

Image Credits

Shelf of Notebooks from P.W.'s "stationary" photostream on Flickr.com
Drawer of crayons by Taylor Schlades on Morguefile.com
Father and child drawing together by Lori L. Dunbar, Copyright Marzipan, Inc. Used with Permission.

Terry

Bookworm Basics: The Rainy Day Bookshelf

Posted by Terry on June 23, 2010 at 11:00 AM in RecommendationsSeriescreative literacy
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Books are great to share every day, but it is also nice to keep a few books in reserve for those times when you need to jump-start some interest in literacy activities and can't get to the library or bookstore. This is a stash of books - and it doesn't need to be many - that are the perfect response to "Mom, I'm bored!"

Joke books and riddles keep the kids talking to each other and laughing for hours. These books are essentially anthologies. They have lots of content, there is no required order of reading, they are (usually) good for mixed-age audiences, and everyone will find at least one thing that tickles their funny bone and/or stumps them.

Activity books are titles that engage the reader to use the book. Although workbooks fall into this category, I'd recommend keeping the fun in the books on your rainy day shelf. Coloring books and learn-to-draw books are always fun, as are books of word games (crossword puzzles, word hunts, and word scrambles). These types of books can often be found in a dollar store.

A kid-friendly craft or project book can offer hours of activity, too. A quick check at Amazon.com returned nearly 800 craft/project books for kids - 756 of them for kids ages 4 to 12! So if you want to find fun in a subject that interests them ... there is probably a book for that! Some need more unique supplies, so you may want to read carefully through the book to make sure you will have what you need on that rainy day.

Last but not least, books with blank pages (bound or spiral) are also good to have on hand. You may even think about adding a special set of crayons or pens to keep with it. Kids can turn the "empty book" into art or story portfolios, reporter's notebooks, lists of their favorite (or least favorite) things, journals ... anything their imagination dreams up.

Do you have any favorite books you like to save for rainy days?
_____
Note: Book cover images link to the Childrens and Young Adult Bloggers Literary Awards (CYBILS) affiliate account with Amazon.com. Purchases made through these links can earn income for the Cybils, but there is no obligation to use those links or to purchase the product.

Terry

Bookworm Basics: Reading with a Moving Audience

Posted by Terry on May 5, 2010 at 8:08 AM in creative literacy
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stop-drop-read.JPGThe idea of your children sitting quietly on your lap (or next to you) is one of the things we love about reading with our kids. The chance to cuddle makes it fun for us, and it is easier to do, too. But what about those of us with always-busy kids? How are we supposed to read with them when they won't sit still?

When your child is a toddler, you expect lots of wandering about. But what happens when they get to school? All of a sudden, that energy can become an issue. In the classroom, high levels of activity don't always work, but that doesn't mean your child's need for activity goes away.

Just like last week, I'll use three literacy categories to offer suggestions and tips. That post has definitions for the three levels, so I won't repeat them here.

Emergent Literacy - Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers

The phrase "babies are like sponges" is apropos for this group. At this age, children are eager to learn and absorb every little thing, using all their senses in the process. From the minute they wake up to the moment they conk out, they are going. They are figuring out their world; putting names to objects and sounds; and finding their favorite things. Not all their learning comes from books. Regular conversations and singing along with the radio both offer ways to engage kids by expanding their vocabulary and introducing new concepts. Asking them questions about what they are doing/see/hear also helps their communication skills by encouraging them to talk about observation and process. When it comes to books, lots of board and picture books play to their love of exploring, and some will inspire your child to be part of the story by acting like the characters.

  • Take advantage of their love of pretend play to let them "be" something they love, whether it's a ballerina or a baseball player.
  • Toddlers, in particular, love to imitate. Books that let them imitate sounds and movement are always fund. When there's a lion in the story, ask what a lion "says."
  • Turn a story into a "guide book," by asking your child to find things that match what he sees or hears. If the book has recognizable shapes, encourage him to find something with that shape in his room. If there are birds, go outside and listen for birds.

They don't mind if you read while they play, so if you keep reading, they'll keep listening and doing their thing. This YouTube video of a toddler/preschool story time at the Chillicothe and Ross County Public Library (Ohio) may offer you some ideas on ways to engage young children with literacy concepts and books while still allowing them to be themselves.

Early and Transitional Literacy - Kindergarten to Second Grade

As kids reach Kindergarten and first grade, they still love exploring and hands-on learning. They have mastered basic object identification and colors, and many have mastered letter recognition and sounds. Now they are ready to begin more formal processes for learning to read. This is a layered approach that usually includes reading simple books and word study to build a set of vocabulary words they recognize by sight (sometimes called a "word bank"). There are many ways to help kids grow as readers, including active kids who don't do well sitting with flashcards. Here are a few ideas.

  • Grab the chalk and make a hopscotch board with sight words instead of numbers. upside-down-reader.jpg
  • Turn Twister(r) into a word game by taping word cards over the board and then drawing individual words from a matching set (instead of using the spinner). The stack can grow over time and allow for practicing words that kids have trouble with.
  • Make a "life size" concentration (or Memory) gameboard by writing the words on regular-sized paper and spreading them out so that kids have to walk to the words.

Susan Stephenson (the Book Chook) paired a baking sheet and magnetic letters so that her son could practice spelling and words. This is a reading activity that lets readers-to-be practice independently in the car, on the playground, anywhere.

Fluent Readers - Third Grade and Beyond

This may sound odd, but if you can let your child exercise hard for 30 to 40 minutes before she has to start any task that includes reading, it will get done faster. [http://www.edutopia.org/exercise-fitness-brain-benefits-learning] By the time kids reach third grade, the activity centers they used to know are gone, and they are sitting most of their school day. For kids who are active, it takes all their energy to "conform" during school, so a surge of physical exertion can help get them re-focused.

  • Finish off a healthy snack with a stick of gum. The action of repetitive chewing will help get your child centered and yet still satisfy the need to be "doing something" while reading.
  • Get out the kitchen timer. Your child may do better if she has regular intervals where she can get up and move a little bit. It might be one activity or a short circuit. Ideally it will include some aerobic activity (like jumping jacks, jumping rope, or jogging in place) with strength exercises (squats, pushups, or lunges).

My sister-in-law tells the story of my nephew (now a freshman in high school) who bounces his soccer ball while he does his homework. He walks a "track" athrough the kitchen, dining room, and living room because he needs to be in constant motion when they are reviewing material for quizzes and tests. It drives her crazy, but if she forces him sit still, he gets so pent up that he forgets what he had been studying.

Reading with an active child can be distracting and frustrating, but it can also be lots of fun. With younger kids, textured, lift-the-flap, and pop-up books can engage an active child with stories. These books give them a bit of independence, keep them busy, and help them focus, too.

With older kids, if you can find something quieter than a bouncing soccer ball and/or get past the motion, you may be able to sneak in some recreational reading that your kids might not otherwise have. This might allow you the bond that came with reading aloud alive with an otherwise resistant pre-teen. This Scholastic Parent video demonstrating how to read out loud with your pre-teen may have some ideas for you, too.

While it may not seem to you that you are "making progress" with your child's literacy development, you are. As long as they're within hearing range, just keep moving!

Image Credits
Mom reading with boys - Barbara's Mommy, Teach Me album on Picasa.
Upside Down Reader cover - Amazon.com (no link offered)
YouTube Videos: CRCPL Kids Channel and Scholastic Parent Channel

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