Literacy Talking to Your Eight-Year-Old

One of the most powerful ways to develop your child's literacy skills is also the easiest: talk to your kids! At age eight, children begin to use language to explain both their outer world (what they see) and their inner world (what they think, feel and imagine). When they talk to caring adults, they can expand their vocabulary and learn more about the give-and-take of conversations — including taking turns and building on someone else's ideas.

Help your child develop speaking and listening skills:

Ask Questions

Questions are great conversation starters and can help kids explore their thinking. When you have time in the car, at the dinner table or before bed, ask an open question and give everyone a turn to answer, including you. At this age, kids enjoy the "would you rather" game, which can be both silly and serious. For example, "Would you rather play in the snow or on a hot, sandy beach?" or "Which superpower would you rather have: super speed or the power to fly?" Follow up with "Why?" to encourage them to clarify their thoughts.


Your child can take a journey through Sparkletopia where she must answer riddles by picking the correct picture or word to defeat Count Cloudy.

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Play Guessing Games

Games such as "I Spy" and "20 Questions" teach language and reasoning skills. Give your child clues and see if she can guess what you are thinking — and then let her have a turn while you guess.


Pantomiming favorite activities or emotions in a charades-like game can be a fun way to "talk" without speaking.

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Describe Family Photos

Kids love to look at photos of people they know and events they've enjoyed. As you flip through photos together on your phone or in an album, share stories and memories!

Funny Photos

Your child can learn new vocabulary while fixing the wacky mistakes in these mixed up pictures. Why is there a whale in the pool? Fix it.

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"Let's Find Out!”

In the age of the smartphone, the answers to many of your child's "Why?" questions are in your pocket. When kids stump you, use it as an opportunity to say, "I don't know. Let's look it up!" But before going online or to the bookshelf, first ask your child, "What do you think?"

Recipe for Making a "Hullabaloo

WordGirl and Tobey argue about the meaning of the word "hullabaloo." Your child can use his or her imagination to make a recipe for hullabaloo, practicing new vocabulary words!

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Flip "How Was School Today?"

Are you tired of asking that question and hearing, "Fine" or "Good"? Try these questions and prompts instead:

  • Tell me something good/frustrating that happened today. 
  • Tell me something that made you laugh today.
  • Where did you play at recess?
  • If you could switch seats with anyone in the class, who would you trade with? Why?

Click here and here for dozens more ideas!


Buster is serving school lunch. Can your child help him put together a balance of healthy foods?

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Introduce New Words in the Kitchen

Cooking is a great time to talk and teach language and math skills. Show your child what a recipe looks like, pull out and name ingredients together and describe the process of measuring, cutting and mixing.

Skits Cooks

Martha's friend Skits is dreaming of pizza. Your child can learn new baking vocabulary as he sifts, shakes, pours, and mixes ingredients to make a custom pizza for Skits and his friends.

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Raise a Reader with Martha Speaks

Martha is an honest, smart, confident dog who loves to eat -- and talk! Through stories and games, Martha and her friends help your child learn new words and begin to understand what those words mean.

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Activity Finder: Learn With Your Eight-Year-Old

Explore our Age-by-Age Guide: