Tag Archives: reading skills

Sight Word Mosaics

Turn Coloring into Reading Skills

Sight Word MosaicsThe hours my artistic daughter used to spend turning squiggles into pictures– I wish I’d thought to do this with her as well! Sight Word Mosaics – Playdough To Plato.

Somebody draw the squiggle, then you write in sight words, numbers, or letters (depending what needs practice) and a color key code for each on the bottom. Let the coloring-learning fun begin!

Reading Together

Reading Together

Reading TogetherHow did it come to pass that for so many families the wonderful time spent reading together never goes beyond those early years bedtime stories? And it’s such a shame that it stops. Sure, all the media today’s families consume bears some of the blame- but not all. More likely- it’s just our jam packed family schedules and trying to do everything, not always with the best priorities determining what gets done and what doesn’t. It’s we parents who set the agenda, and for too many families this skill building and relationship strengthening activity falls off that agenda.

There are so many wonderful stories we can share with our kids– from the age-old Arabian Nights to a children’s version of the Odyssey to Judy Blume to reading J.R.R. Tolkein’s or the Harry Potter books together.  It really is worth carving a set time out of all our busy schedules to fit this in. It will build great memories and add even more glue to your relationship with your children.

My thanks to Christie Burnett at childhood101.com for the reminder about how rewarding and important reading together can be.


Why to go the Free EBook route for Kids Reading

BookI just learned that a number of Amazon’s free ebooks are free as a limited time promotion for new paid ebooks. Who knew? That means that these offerings aren’t just free junk, and are definitely worth your time for finding new reading material for your kids.

Learn more about what’s really there in the free ebook category, why it’s worth your time and energy, and some excellent sources for kids reading material from notwiddletwaddle.com. She puts some real effort into sifting through these freebies for parents.

Homemade Books

Ready to Write- Anytime, Anywhere

Homemade BooksIf the tools are always available for the kids to do something, there’s a much higher probability that it will happen. We all want our kids to learn to write, to want to write, to learn to express themselves and to be creative. So this is a no-brainer to have available for them. Thanks to creativewithkids for a great idea.

What better way to encourage writing than to have a basket or box full of attractive and inviting empty page booklets just waiting for the kids to add their stories or their cartoons or whatever it is they want to write about.

And these are VERY easy for parents to make for their kids. About 2 minutes per book. All it takes is computer paper and a same sized sheet of colorful paper for the cover, plus a big (but sharp) tapestry needle and thread. It takes all of 2 stitches to bind the booklet together. See the video tutorial when you follow the link above.

Take this a step further and use your printer to put boxes on the pages for some of the books to encourage story sequencing, or cartoons. Have not just pencils along with the blank booklets, but also drawing materials like colored pencils, markers and/or crayons for artistic as well as written expression.

Keep any books they make in the box or basket as well– as incentive to make more and a reminder that they’ve done it and it’s fun.

This is an incredibly simple way to encourage literacy in your kids.

Time Traveler Charlie Travers

Charlie Travers, Time Traveller

Time Traveler Charlie TraversIt’s not often you can give a book as a gift to a boy, but this is one you can! Written specifically for 9 to 12 year olds, Charlie Travers appears to be the first in a new series that one UK reviewer on Amazon suggested might just be the next Harry Potter? High praise, indeed! To quote:
“And, like Rowling, she’s managed this by placing a very believable, down-to-earth hero in a fantastical setting.”

Charlie is your typical, lovable 12 far old boy with parents that have the unusual hobby of  time travel, and Charlie gets to go along on their adventures. In this adventure, it’s to the early 1900’s in France, and the book is filled with real history and places a well as an engaging adventure. Charlie is drawn into a mystery while he’s there, so it’s not just boring facts and lecture-y history. It’s fun.

Anytime there’s a book that kids this age are likely to actually read and enjoy, it’s worth bringing to your attention and worth giving as a gift. And being a paperback, it’s most affordable as a party gift.



Remarkable Book Teaching PreSchoolers About Bullying

OneThis week’s parenting tip is a marvelous book for preschoolers that helps teach numbers, colors and, at the same time (believe it or not), about bullying. It has solid 5 star reviews on Amazon from parents and teachers alike. [NOTE: Any purchases made through the link on this page and Amazon pays me a commission, and that seems fair to me!]

This week January 23 – 27 has been designated “No Name Calling Week” in schools across the country, so this is the perfect time to bring up this nasty subject. A subject that’s gotten a lot of attention of late with recent young suicide victims so sadly spurring the conversation.

While it’s great that the nations schools are stepping up to the discussion, the first line of defense lies with us parents. And as Signe Whitson, author, child and adolescent therapist points out in the 1/20/12 Huffington Post, there are books about bullying out there to help us get the message through to our kids. Ms. Whitson has several recommendations for books targeting middle schoolers and tweens, which is of course the age when bullying often becomes a serious problem. But like most serious issues, I believe it’s often best to start the conversations with our kids about important subjects when they’re as young as possible, and that’s what attracts me to this specific book.

Using watercolor color splashes as personas, this deceptively simple book teaches those colors and counting yet turns it all into a lesson about bullying that young minds can grasp. The message about bullying is so well delivered in this book that many reviewers recommend it for older children as well as pre-readers.

Get One by Kathryn Otoshi on your bookshelf and consider giving it as a gift to other young children, and you’ll be giving them way more than just a bed time story. We all benefit when our children learn at an early age to stand up to bullies and to treat others with respect. So pass this tip along to others with this book as a toddler’s birthday present.

Land Of Me

Land of Me Pre-Reader Video Game

Land Of MeCreativity building games and toys make good and thoughtful party gifts as well as terrific activities for your own children. And this interactive video game from the UK certainly fits the bill. A bit pricey as a gift from just one party guest at 19.95 british pounds (just over US$30 as of this date), but certainly reasonable when shared by two party guests.

I’m a big fan of Geek Dad’s reviews and comments over at wired.com, and this game certainly passes muster with him. What really grabs my attention is his recommendation that this is a learning game to be enjoyed with the child, not one to hand to them so they stay out of your hair for a while. Anything that encourages parent-child interaction and is fun while still educational is a big bonus.

The Land of Me game was designed, according to it’s creator James Huggins, to be “interactive children’s media that was beautiful, enchanting and as much fun for me as it was for the kids”. It’s not a traditional video game but rather more like a toy with many creative possibilities. And get this- it actually encourages one of the most important developmental skills for young children- TALKING!

The game has 6 chapters all that unfold according to the choices made, and each chapter has many printable off-screen activities to continue the fun and learning. Again- unlike the traditional video game- only limited screen time is needed to get the imagination and creativity flowing and continuing beyond the game.

I encourage you to give the Land of Me game a free try yourself here, and once you’re hooked on it’s educational value, find another parent to share the cost and make a child and family very happy with this unique gift. Do, of course,  consider getting one for your own family to enjoy too.


Kindle for Readers

KindleGot a reader with a birthday coming up? I didn’t think of it until yesterday when I recommended a Kindle e-book for kids, but a Kindle would make a terrific birthday party gift for that reader.

Kindle’s are now available for well under $100, which can easily be split between 3 or 4 parents to give as a kids birthday party gift. A six year old would not be likely to appreciate it, but a preteen or teen that loves to read most assuredly would.

Provided the parents are OK with a gift that will require their child to purchase books, at a cost well below hard copy or even paperback prices, this is a gift that most certainly promotes literaty and should be well received in any household that produced a child that loves to read.

No annual data contract is required so there’s no incremental expense to parents when you give the Kindle as a gift. The less expensive Kindles come loaded with WiFi but not the internet access that requires the data package and extra cost. Books can be purchased and downloaded using any available WiFi, like at home or the library or any WiFi hotspot. Once downloaded to the Kindle, the book is always available to read, anywhere.

Load it up with a favorite book, or books of a favorite author– parents can help out with these choices, and that Kindle makes a terrific gift for any child that you know loves to read. Not to mention a marvelous Christmas or Hanukkah present for your own child.

Funtastic Tales

Kindle Kids Books

Funtastic TalesFrom my twitter followers, an author Dad who writes books for kids in the very affordable Kindle format. I love books, can’t bear to part with them if they were good, and am totally out of shelf space. So, I’ve switched to reading electronic books- they’re less expensive to purchase and storage is a non-issue.

While I would never recommend that a child’s books ALL be in the electronic format, it does open up a whole new arena of kids literature that might not otherwise be available. Think how many children’s classics started out as bedtime stories- the Wizard of Oz, Lord of the Rings, and I’m sure many others I can’t think of right now. Besides, not every pleasurable reading experience has to be a literature classic- there’s certainly a place for reading for fun, and that’s what this author is all about, by his own admission.

Don’t own a Kindle- no problem. There’s a free kindle app for both PC and MAC that you can put on your laptop or desktop, and of course there’s a kindle app for the iPad as well.

Funtastic Tales is a compilation of three Kindle books written by Fun London. In the author’s own words: “I like to write stories that are fun, that have action, that entertain, that make us laugh and remind us that life can be an adventure.” All three books have received solid 5 star parent reviews on Amazon, so you know these stories are truly enjoyable. [NOTE: If you make a purchase through the link on this page, I make a commission from Amazon, and that seems fair to me.]

If reading on a laptop or Kindle gets kids to read more, I’m all for it, and I’d suggest it might be worth a try if you’ve got a reluctant reader. The app is free, the books relatively inexpensive and it all might just help to get that child reading.

Ed Tulane

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

Ed TulaneThere’s nothing I like better than finding a good book to recommend as a kids birthday gift for young readers, and this one sure looks to fit the bill. 78% of the 344 reviews on Amazon as of this date are 5 stars, so you know this book will please. It’s one of their top sellers in kids literature.

Recommended for ages 9 to 12,The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is a bit of a hefty tome at over 200 pages, so you know there’s meat here. The author, Kate DeCamillo is a Newberry medal winner.

To quote from the Booklist review: “DiCamillo tucks important messages into this story and once more plumbs the mystery of the heart–or, in this case, the heartless”. Tracing the trials of one coddled china rabbit that loses his privileged position, the readers learn with him that love comes in many shapes and sizes and can get you through.

Encourage literacy by giving age appropriate good literature as birthday gifts every chance you get. Most kids don’t advertise that they read or like to read, so don’t just therefore assume that they won’t appreciate a good book. And you never know which book will turn which kid into a life long lover of books, so it’s always worth the shot.