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Literacy Tips and Activities That Work for Families

The Children’s Book Review | July 15, 2019

Growing Readers: Learning to Love Reading and Writing Column 3

This editorial article was written by Lizzie Mussoline, M. Ed.

More Summer Slide Prevention Literacy Tips and Tricks

As we approach the one-month mark of summer vacation for my two boys, ages 6 and 4, I took some time to reflect on the literacy strategies that have been working over what turned out to be an incredibly busy month! I envisioned much more down time, but with two very active and energetic boys, this hasn’t really happened. Following are the summer slide prevention literacy tips and activities that have been working for us in case they resonate with you, too. Please be sure to let us know which tips have worked best for you and your family!

  • The Goals/Incentive Chart: My 6-year-old came up with the goal of reading 50 books before school starts on August 19th. He puts a sticker on his chart every time he reads 1 book and he earns a small reward after every 5 books. My son is very goal-oriented and visual so as soon as we put his very simple chart on the magnet board, he earned his 1st treat 24 hours later!
  • Books in the Car: Putting early readers in the car that are accessible for my boys has been great. I don’t force it, but merely suggest it occasionally, and oftentimes, they just decide to read on their own, or sometimes they read aloud so I can hear. This has also proven to be a great way to help earn more stickers on our reading goals chart.
  • Audiobooks and Podcasts for Kids: We were on a road trip and podcasts were a great way to get everyone calm and led to fun conversations later. Listening comprehension is hugely important as it is the precursor to reading comprehension. Listening comprehension isn’t just hearing what is said, it is the ability to understand the words and relate to them in some way.
  • Summer Writing Journal: It has been so nice to be able to explore, play, and enjoy all the extra time outside, at the pool, and with friends! As tired as the kids should be at the end of the day, sometimes they just aren’t, so we have found that sitting with our journals is a nice way to reflect on a special memory from the week or day. When their brains are able to focus on one thing, it helps prepare them to drift off to sleep, too, which is a great added bonus. You can find tips for starting a summer journal in the article How to Weave a Little Reading and Writing into the Summer Break.


Some New Literacy Tips and Activities

Here are 4 more tips you can add to your fun bag of literacy tricks …

Capitalize on Screen Time

Every family has different opinions and rules when it comes to screen time. If your family allows it, capitalize on it and have your kids engage with some educational apps. Nothing replaces reading aloud with children and the feel of a book in your hands, but occasional small doses of screen time can certainly help maintain literacy skills. Some of our favorite educational apps for younger learners are: ABCmouse.com, Writing Wizard (print and cursive options to work on proper letter formation and sounds), Teach Monster, Sight Word Ninja, and Bake Off (a great one for younger learners still working on visual discrimination of the letters p, d, b, & q). For all learners we like Newsela (current events articles that can each be adjusted for any reading level—talk about a great way to engage everyone in the family and discuss it later!), Keyboarding Without Tears, Whirly Word and RAZ Kids. Some podcasts we like are Brains on!, But Why?, Wow in the World, and What If World.

Gratitude Jar
Happiness/Gratitude Jar

Set up an area in your home with a jar, scraps of paper, and crayons or markers. Encourage your family to write down something that they are grateful for, or that makes them happy. Whenever the time allows, we pull from the jar and remind ourselves how lucky we are and what a great summer it has been. Through this, the kids work on both their reading and writing skills. To adapt for various ages and stages, younger kiddos can draw and/or dictate and older kiddos can include lengthier and more detailed stories about what they are happy about or grateful for. If you want to discuss gratitude and what it means to feel happy, here are 2 book lists with plenty of great recommendations: 12 Kids’ Books on Showing Thankfulness & Being Grateful and 5 Books For Raising Happy, Calm, and Resilient Kids.

Plan a Family Game Night

Kids love to play games—a few of our favorites that help reinforce reading, math skills, spelling and vocabulary skills are: Monopoly Jr., Bananagrams, Rummikub, Zingo, Uno, Spot It, Apples to Apples, Scattergories, Sequence, Word Slam Family, Braintopia, Boggle, and Buy It Right (a game where players learn to identify money, and add and make change).

Word of the Day

Children are exposed to thousands of words through books, whether they are being read to, or reading independently. Help increase their word knowledge and boost reading comprehension by incorporating a “word of the day” or week, based on what works for your family. “Unveil” the word over breakfast, explain the meaning of it, and then just have fun with it! Perhaps your kiddos want to draw a picture that helps them remember the meaning of the words. Other options to reinforce meanings are to brainstorm synonyms and antonyms for the word, or learn to properly use it in a sentence. Encourage your kiddos to add it to their own vocabulary, or teach the meaning to someone else. Does your family have a literacy goals/rewards incentive chart? If so, give a bonus sticker for trying to use the word accurately or identifying it out in the real world. Kids can also put each word on an index card and ring, or compile a list in their summer journal. Not sure which words to highlight each day or week? Choose ones that you may come across in books, the news, daily conversations, www.vocabulary.com, or the Weighty Word Books—26 higher vocabulary words in alphabetical order that each include fun illustrations and a silly story to help learners remember word meanings.

Use the comments section below to let us know which tips have worked best for you and your family!

Thank you for reading the Growing Readers: Learning to Love Reading and Writing column. Bookmark this link or subscribe to our e-newsletter so you do not miss out on the monthly reading tips. Literacy Tips and Activities That Work for Families: More Summer Slide Prevention Literacy Tips and Tricks was written by Lizzie Mussoline, M. Ed.—follow her on Instagram: @wildflower_learning_denver.

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Lizzie loves literacy. And alliteration! With over a decade of classroom teaching experience, and years of one on one reading and dyslexia intervention, Lizzie understands the challenges and rewards of engaging with young readers. Her passion for helping children overcome learning difficulties to fall in love with reading led to the launch of Wildflower Learning; a private practice that serves the needs of young readers in Denver, CO. Follow @wildflower_learning_denver on Instagram for more literacy tips & tricks.

  • Family Game Night is one of my faves. This week’s #NoSummerSlide post is all about games and how to choose them: https://thereadingtub.org/nosummerslide-week-7-game-on/

    Oh! and don’t forget music!! We have a tradition of putting together personal playlists then sharing in the car. It gives each person a chance to talk about why they love / chose a specific tune. Plus there is singing and opportunities for vocabulary practice (just don’t tell the kids)!

    July 15, 2019
    • Great tips, Terry! Thanks! I love the playlists idea with the sneaky vocabulary practice. 🙂

      July 15, 2019

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