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Writing is a very important skill for children to master. Writing involves creativity, comprehension, fine motor skills, sometimes the ability to follow directions, reading, and so much more. Writing is one of the five early literacy practices helping prepare children for school.
Here is a simple activity you can do with your child to incorporate writing into your day.
- Crayons, Markers, or other item for coloring
- A favorite book
For my example, we read the story Orange Bear Apple Pear by Emily Gravett. It is a simple story with four words: orange, bear, apple, pear. The author uses the words in fun ways through her illustrations.
After we read the story, I asked my group of children to think of four words. They could use any four words. When they had a little trouble thinking of words, I asked them to name their favorite color, fruit, and animal.
We moved to the table. I gave them each a large piece of paper, and I told them to use their four words to write a story and draw a picture to go with it.
The most important part of this activity was letting the children be creative and work on their own. The hardest part of this activity was letting the children be creative and work on their own. Yes, you read that correctly. As adults, we have a tendency to want to make our children’s work perfect or help them the entire way. For this project, it’s important to let them figure it out on their own. Let them sound out the words and “kid spell.” Let them draw an animal the way they “see” it.
We did this with a mixture of age groups from 3 to 8 years old.
This mixes a little bit of process art (letting them create on their own) with a little bit of product art (there’s a specific end result with a few instructions). You will be surprised what your child comes up with!
Depending on your child’s teacher, school, or school district, he might be using DRA (Developmental Reading Assessment), AR (Accelerated Reader), Lexile, Guided Reading, etc…there are a number of ways to level books which can make labeling books and creating lists somewhat tricky. If you recall from this post last week, it is hard for a public library to label its books with so many different leveled reading programs.
One of our favorite resources to use at the Stark County District Library is the NoveList Plus database. (Click the link, and then scroll to the N section for NoveList Plus.)
You can use this database to search for read alike books to popular children’s and teens’ titles. You can also search by Grade level, Lexile, and/or Accelerated Reading level.
Here are some other ways you can find books that fit the needs of students.
- Here is a chart from Scholastic that is helpful in determining grade level and DRA level. This also helps tie together Scholastic-leveled books with the DRA levels.
- This chart is useful for AR (ATOS), DRA, and Lexile. This website also has some definitions and bulleted lists that describe how the books grow with children as they develop.
- For Accelerated Reader levels, you can search by reading level or book title using this website:
- If you are just looking for Lexile levels, you can use this website:
It’s important to keep this fact in mind as you search: Just because your child is in a specific grade level, does not mean he/she reads at that grade level. These reading systems are intended to help students find books within their reading levels.
It’s also important to remember children need to be able to find books that interest them. They are more likely to read the book and retain the information if it is something they have chosen and want to read. It is also important to note that reading with a friend, parent, or caregiver is also VERY beneficial!
Have you ever left the baby wipe container sitting out where your child can reach it only to find all of the wipes scattered all over the floor? Or perhaps the tissue box was left on a table within the reach of your toddler and now it looks like it may have snowed on your living room floor? Here is an inexpensive (virtually free!) and quick way to solve this problem–at least when you remember to keep the tissues and wipes in a hard to reach place.
Peek-a-Boo boxes are a great way to let your child have fun pulling out scraps of fabric or scarves from a box without using up all the tissues or wipes. I found these great little treat boxes after the holidays for pennies, but you can use a Kleenex box (the kind with a hole on top not on the side) or an old baby wipes container. Simply stuff the box with scraps of fabric or lightweight scarves.
You can use scraps of fabric to play matching games as well as build vocabulary. I found fabric swatches at a local fabric store. They usually have them in the upholstery section precut. Often times they are free (just ask before taking). I cut the fabric in to two pieces. For toddlers and preschoolers, hide one piece of the fabric in a bedroom or living room or other child-friendly space in your house. Show your child its matching piece, and then send them around the room to look for its mate.
You can also use the fabric to talk about texture, size, color, and shape. Ask questions about how it feels using words like soft, stretchy, heavy, light, and rough in addition to color or shape names.
It’s starting to feel like Fall around here. The air feels cool and crisp. The leaves are turning beautiful shades of yellow, orange, and red. You can find pumpkins and mums everywhere. So I want to share some outside of the box games you can play with your children right now.
1. Friendly monsters. This is an easy project using materials you already have at home. I used felt and cut out random shapes and pieces. You could use old cereal boxes for a sturdy base. You could use construction paper or old fabric, feathers, pipe cleaners–whatever you might have on hand. Then the fun begins. As your children design the monster faces talk to them about what they look like and why. Ask your children to tell you a story about their monsters. Have fun with this activity. Let your child be creative. If you can record them telling you about their monster or write down the story.
2. Where the Wild Things Are. After reading Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, use up your craft supplies and create your own wild thing. Ask your child questions relating to the story to help with story recall. Ask your child what it would be like to be Max. Talk to your child about the wild things in the story. Ask your child what would it be like if they went to their room and dreamed of a faraway place with “wild things.”
3. Stacking Pumpkin Towers. This is a great STEM activity. You will need toothpicks and some kind of gummy candy. We used pumpkin candy. Give your children the materials (making sure to tell them to be careful with the toothpicks), and then let theme have fun trying to build the tallest tower. If their tower falls, let them figure out what went wrong. Guide them with clues. This is a great activity to teach problem solving. You can also include counting and measuring.
4. Pumpkin Hammering. This is a great game to use a pumpkin if you do not want to carve it or if you have an extra pumpkin. Using plastic nails or large push pins and a plastic hammer, let your child hammer the nails/pins into the pumpkin. Add rubber bands around the nails or pins to create shapes. Talk about what shapes you created. Ask your child to identify the colors of the pins or the names of the shapes.
5. Fall Leaf Prints. This is a work of art for your refrigerator. It works best with watercolor paper, but you can use regular paper as well. Have your child gather three to four leaves–different shapes work well, if possible. Place the leaves flat under the paper. Rub the side of a white crayon over the paper pressing hard where the leaves are. (For younger children, you could do this before the children come to the table to make it a surprise.) Then let your child use watercolors to paint on the paper, allowing colors to mix. Watch your child’s face as the leaf shapes appear! And I recommend reading Fall is Not Easy by Marty Kelley.
Don’t forget to stop by the library and tell us which activity was your favorite this month!
Children are wiggly. Telling them to stand still or “stop it” doesn’t always work. (If it does, please comment below and share with us how you get your children to stop–we love tips and tricks!). In the meantime, I would like to share some of my favorite games you can play with your children when you are required to wait.
One of my favorite games to play while standing in line, sitting in the car, or waiting for dinner to finish cooking is I Spy. It’s such a simple game, but it can be played in so many different ways depending on the age and development of your child. You can spy colors, objects that rhyme with a certain word, objects that start with a specific letter, or even objects that are a special shape. Take turns “spying for an object” with your child. Let them pick the object you have to identify, and let them find the object you spy.
Similar to I Spy, pick a person, place, or thing, and have your child ask you “twenty” questions as he tries to identify the object you chose.
Grandma’s House is a simple game that can be played in many different ways. Each person takes a turn always beginning with the phrase, “I’m going to Grandma’s house and I’m bringing…” And what he brings depends on what everyone decides is going to be the rule. It can be an object that starts with a certain letter of the alphabet (the most common version), objects that are compound words, words that start with a specific letter of the alphabet, words with two vowels together, etc.
So you’ve probably noticed these games do not require much movement. Bambini Travel has some great ideas on how to let your children get the wiggles out without being too disruptive to others. Click here for ideas on teaching comparing, number recognition, balancing, counting, gross motor development, and patterning.
What are your favorite ways to keep your children from getting too fidgety when they have to wait?
I often get the question, “When do I really need to start reading to my baby?” My answer is almost always, “Yesterday.”
Here is a great infographic that illustrates my answer…
Credit: First Things First