How Families Can Celebrate Read Across America Day

This Saturday, March 2nd, is Read Across America Day so I wanted to share some reading resources, tips to help your children develop a love of reading, ideas for a Dr. Seuss party, and even an awesome freebie ($40 value)! 

Early literacy has been a cause that’s been really important to me since my college days as an early childhood education major, throughout my years teaching pre-k, and now as a mom. From volunteering to read to children in schools, to hosting book fairs to collect book donations, to sharing about the importance of reading here on this blog, I try to do as much as I can to promote literacy. Since I’ve been celebrating this special day for years I wanted to share ways you can get your family excited about this “holiday” and reading in general. The first annual Read Across America Day was March 2, 1998 and it’s celebrated on the birthday of beloved author Dr. Seuss. The purpose of Read Across America is to motivate children to read because research has shown that children who are motivated and spend more time reading do better in school.

My boys recently developed a love of reading which makes me so excited because I loved reading as a child (and still do though I don’t have as much time to do so now). While both my boys have learned reading basics they are at very different places in their reading skills. With Lucas, who is a fairly new reader, we are working on retaining more information about what he has read so he is able to answer basic questions about the books. For Jacob, my goal is to find age-appropriate books he will enjoy at his reading level. Just this week he tested at almost a 12th grade reading level but he’s only in 5th grade so many teen books aren’t appropriate for him yet and books that are age-appropriate aren’t challenging enough for him. If anyone has any tips to help either of my boys I’d love for you to share them with me on Twitter or Facebook!

Anyway, let’s get on to the fun! Here are some ideas of how your family can celebrate reading this week and every day:

Throw a Dr. Seuss themed party

There is no better way to celebrate reading than with a party and of course, on Read Across America Day, we celebrate Dr. Seuss so I had to make that the party theme. Get Seussical party ideas here. All the ideas are based on Dr. Seuss books and characters. These Truffula Tree Cupcakes would also be fun to make with the kids.

Make reading fun

Another one of my favorite posts shared ways to encourage reading by making it fun! When I became a mom I vowed that I’d help my kids develop a love of reading like I had when I was a kid but, nowadays, kids just don’t seem to get lost in books like my generation did. I think that part of this is because there are so many distractions vying for their time, whether it’s screens or just busier lives in general. While we can’t eliminate all the distractions that are getting in the way of reading time, we can show them how much fun reading can be to encourage them to become life long readers. Here are some of my ideas to make reading fun:

PICK GOOD BOOKS.

This might seem obvious but kids are more likely to want to read if given books they enjoy (even if they are choosing to read books about superheroes in underwear or wimpy kids with diaries…. ) I’ve found that older kids are drawn to series and books with characters that they can relate to.

MAKE READING A GAME.

I’ve found when I make anything into a game it’s automatically more fun for kids (I can’t be the only parent who discovered that the cleanup “game” could even get children excited to do a boring task like cleaning up their toys!) There are so many ways to turn reading into a game when kids are younger but one of my favorites is to follow the likes of my child’s favorite YouTube stars and play the popular “try not to laugh challenge”. Challenge your kids not to laugh as you read the book out loud in as many silly voices as you can. Then let them take a turn trying to make you laugh!

READ IN NEW PLACES.

Part of the fun of reading is that books transport the reader to new places, whether real or imaginary. Bring that adventure to life by reading together in different places in your home or community. Spend a rainy afternoon reading inside a pillow fort in your living room and enjoy a beautiful fall day outside on a blanket in your backyard or in the shade of a tree at a nearby park. Books don’t just have to be read while sitting on a couch!

BRING THE STORY TO LIFE.

When I was a preschool teacher I found that the best way to get my class excited to read was to get them involved in the story. Whether they acted the book out, did a craft that corresponded with the story, or yelled out the repetitive lines in books like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, they loved participating. Being part of the story is so much more fun than just listening to someone read it. One of my fondest memories of story time was when I was a teacher and had created a giant caterpillar out of posterboard and let the kids in my class take turns “feeding” him pretend play food as I read the story of the Hungry Caterpillar to them.

I share more ideas on how to make reading fun here.

Consider reading apps and programs

While nothing can replace the feel of a physical book, reading apps can be a new way to make reading fun. Our boys LOVE the smartphone app Epic which they were introduced to in school. This app turns reading into a game and encourages them to read for badges with honors like “I read two days in a row” and “I read 50 books”. While nothing can replace the feel of a paper book, I was impressed that this app makes my boys so excited to read that in the past (even when Lucas was reluctant to read) he’d spend hours at a time doing so!

Hooked on Phonics is also a great program for younger children (ages 3-8) and they are offering a freebie in honor of Read Across America Day. HOP is offering their digital app “Learn To Read” year subscription plan for FREE ($40 value; iOS, Android, Amazon, Web) on Friday, March 1st, 2019. To get your freebie go to their landing page hookedonphonics.com/read2019 and put in READ2019 in the promo code area on the HOP website for your free year subscription. (Please note this is ONLY valid on Friday 3/1/19 which is the day before Read Across America Day.)

Other resources:

List of summer reading programs that reward children for reading.

Reading is Fundamental Literacy Central Parent Resource Page

How to make a fun superhero bookmark

My 10 favorite books for preschoolers

25 fun writing activities for kids (that build reading skills as well)

I hope that I have given you ideas to make reading fun for your family that will help you celebrate Read Across America Day. Though March 2nd is the official “reading holiday” I encourage you to spend time reading with your children every day, whether it’s a short book in between errands, an afternoon of reading as you are cuddled together on the couch, or a chapter a night before bed. 

Ways To Make Reading Fun For Kids

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MyLiteracyStory #DGMyStoryEntry #CollectiveBias

When I was younger I loved to read. Whether I was in the backseat of our van on a long family road trip, or curled up in bed begging my eyelids to stay open for “just one more chapter”, reading was something that I always enjoyed doing. So much so that at one point I even wanted to be an author and write books of my own! (A blog author is close right? I may not see my name on bookshelves everywhere but I still get to share my stories here!)

Anyways, I vowed that I’d help my kids develop a love of reading like I had when I was a kid but, nowadays, kids just don’t seem to get lost in books like my generation did. I think that part of this is because there are so many distractions vying for their time, whether it’s screens or just busier lives in general. While we can’t eliminate all the distractions that are getting in the way of reading time, we can show them how much fun reading can be to encourage them to become life long readers.

Here are some of my favorite ways to make reading fun for kids:

HAVE A SNACK WHILE YOU READ TOGETHER.

I was just talking to a mom yesterday about how our kid’s favorite part of their sports team seemed to be the snack at the end of the game and how they both looked forward to that every week. As silly as it sounds, snacks are important to kids- whether it’s their game day snack or their after school snack- so reading during snack time can make it more enjoyable (especially for reluctant readers). Our favorite snacks are ones that are easy and mess free- like bowls of colorful Kellogg’s® Froot Loops® Cereal.

(Hover over the image above to start shopping Kellogg’s® line of cereals at Dollar General)

PICK GOOD BOOKS.

This might seem obvious but kids are more likely to want to read if given books they enjoy. There are so many good books out there but here are ten of my favorite picture books:

  • The Way I Feel by Janan Cain
  • The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
  • Happy Birthday, Moon by Frank Asch
  • Love You Forever by Robert Munsch
  • Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
  • If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Numeroff
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  • What If The Zebras Lost Their Stripes? by John Reitano
  • There’s An Alligator Under My Bed by Mercer Mayer
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

Some of these books I enjoyed reading during my childhood and they are still favorites of mine! I also loved Shel Silverstein’s books like The Giving Tree and Where The Sidewalk Ends. Books have such a lasting effect on people!

As children get older I think that letting them select the books they read becomes even more important (even if they are choosing to read books about superheroes in underwear or wimpy kids with diaries…. ) I’ve found that older kids are drawn to series and books with characters that they can relate to.

MAKE READING A GAME.

Lucas spent almost four hours reading and listening to audio books this past Saturday, all thanks to a smartphone app that turns reading into a game. and encourages them to read for badges with honors like “I read two days in a row” and “I read 50 books”. While nothing can replace the feel of a paper book, I was impressed that this app made him so excited to read and kept his attention for hours! Another way to turn reading into a game? Follow the likes of your child’s favorite YouTube stars and play the popular “try not to laugh challenge”. Challenge your kids not to laugh as you read the book out loud in as many silly voices as you can (I know you all can probably do a great impression of Tony the Tiger from those Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes® Cereal commercials!)

READ IN NEW PLACES.

Part of the fun of reading is that books transport the reader to new places, whether real or imaginary. Bring that adventure to life by reading together in different places in your home or community. Spend a rainy afternoon reading inside a pillow fort in your living room and enjoy a beautiful fall day outside on a blanket in your backyard or in the shade of a tree at a nearby park. Books don’t just have to be read while sitting on a couch!

BRING THE STORY TO LIFE.

When I was a preschool teacher I found that the best way to get my class excited to read was to get them involved in the story. Whether they acted the book out, did a craft that corresponded with the story, or yelled out the repetitive lines in books like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, they loved participating. Being part of the story is so much more fun than just listening to someone read it. One of my fondest memories of story time was when I had created a giant caterpillar out of posterboard and let the kids take turns “feeding” him pretend play food as I read the story to them.

I hope that I have given you ideas to help make reading fun for your family. I encourage you to spend time reading with your children every day, whether it’s a short book in between errands, an afternoon of reading as you are cuddled together on the couch, or a chapter a night before bed. 

Early literacy has been a cause that’s been really important to me since my college days as an early childhood education major. From volunteering to read to children in schools, to hosting book fairs to collect book donations, to sharing about the importance of reading here on this blog, I try to do as much as I can to promote literacy. I really love when companies support causes that I’m passionate about so I was so happy to learn that Kellogg’s, a brand that makes some of my family’s favorite cereals, is promoting literacy as a sponsor of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. The Dollar General Literacy Foundation is celebrating over 20 years of helping individuals learn to read, prepare for their high school equivalency, or learn English. Since its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than $140 million (WOW!) to nonprofit organizations and schools that have helped more than 9 million individuals advance their literacy and basic education skills.

I encourage you to learn more about this literacy initiative and enter the #DGMyStory Sweepstakes for a chance to win a $50 Dollar General gift card. Entering is easy, just share your own personal literacy story with the hashtag #DGMyStoryEntry by 10/22/17. (Just think about all the cereal you could buy with that $50 to Dollar General! Yum! Just wandering down the cereal aisle you could grab all your family’s faves, like Kellogg’s Frosted Bite-Size Mini-Wheats® Cereal and Kellogg’s® Rice Krispies® Cereal, and you’d be set for easy breakfasts and snacks for months.)

How do you make reading fun for your kids? I’d love to hear your tips in the comments below or join the conversation on social media.

Help Kids Learn Phonics & Spelling With The Wonster Words App

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all thoughts are my own.

We love discovering new smartphone apps for the kids and the best ones, in my opinion, are ones that have a learning aspect to them. I feel like children are more likely to want to learn if learning is fun. Wonster Words, a free iOS and Android app, is definitely one of those games that kids enjoy playing and parents love because they see their kids learning.

In Wonster Words, kids will have a blast playing with animated letters to put together words through interactive spelling puzzles, letter hide-and-seek, and other engaging mini-games. The animated letters sound out the phonics, gliding vowels, and consonant blends as they are being played. Once the words are complete, then short animations and mini-games tells the story of the words via a group of adorable Wonster characters!

You can see the game in action in this video below:

I think this game is a great way to help children learn to sound out words and learn basic word families. Since children learn in a variety of ways, I think the addition of fun clips about the words just reinforce what the children are learning. The fact that the clips are silly and make children laugh is great.

Another thing I like is that the app encourages kids to engage and explore, with no scoring, quizzing, or limits. My youngest, who is on the Autism Spectrum, stresses out when he feels rushed through learning activities so the fact that he can just play without worrying about losing or running out of time is perfect. Though this game is for ages 3-6 typically, I think it’s also an app that’s useful and fun for older children on the Spectrum (or with other special needs) who are still learning to read. Lucas is seven and I saw an online review from someone with a nine year old on the Spectrum saying he enjoyed it as well.

Wonster Words has won numerous awards, including Children’s Technology Review, Parent’s Choice, NAPPA, and others. It comes with many free words, along with free daily “words of the day”. More words are available through in-app purchases (but don’t worry because the purchases are parent-gated so your child can’t make any purchases). The app updates monthly with more words so your child can continue learning and having fun.

Want to try Wonster Words? Download it for free using the following links:

Also, though the app is free, there is a “pro” version available with all the words unlocked. This “all access pass” is discounted on Google Play right now! You can get it for $9.99 until 1/6/2017 (the regular price of the “all access” app is $14.99.)

Making Reading Fun With Disney Story Central

Thank you Disney Story Central for sponsoring this post. Sign up for Disney Story Central‘s new subscription service today to access the largest collection of digital stories, featuring a wide array of beloved Disney stories and characters that kids and families know and love!

Getting my kids to read is tricky business because my boys would rather watch TV or play on electronics. Serious reading is more like a chore to them but luckily I discovered an app to help make reading exciting. Disney created a great app for tablets and phones called Disney Story Central.

 

Disney Story Central is the largest collection of Disney digital stories, featuring a wide array of Disney stories and characters that kids and families know and love. The cross-platform experience is available via iPhone and iPad app, tablet-optimized website and Video on Demand. All the titles can be read by the children or the app can read to the child. My boys are excited because summer vacation is underway and they are working on their summer reading lists. Disney Story Central is designed to encourage kids to develop a lifetime love of reading. Disney Story Central gives families the freedom to choose the reading experience that suits them best, whether through an annual subscription service or a-la-carte options, using Disney Book Tokens.

The best part is all the characters the kids already know and love and customizable bookshelves for each member of the family with personalized reading recommendations. A “Browse By Character” carousel lets families easily find books starring their favorite character. spanning all Disney Franchises, including Disney Princess, Disney Classics, Frozen, Doc McStuffins, Cars, and more. My youngest one is the biggest Toy Story fan so he is ecstatic for all the Toy Story selections.

Personalized book recommendations and character-driven navigation make it easy to find new books and to keep the kids reading there are Stars, Ranks, and Trophies that reward kids for reading and encourage them to keep it up. My boys get competitive so this will be a great feature for them.

The Disney Book Token system helps parents empower their kids to pick out the books they WANT to read, allowing them to build their own collection of stories, featuring the characters they love. Tokens work like currency, in which one token is worth one book and are used to download books and that will get my boys to do chores for the tokens. For our family getting a subscription seems to be the better option as the kids get download crazy. The subscription service gives kids unlimited access to Disney Story Central’s expansive library of books for $7.99 a month.

I want to encourage readers to download and access the free Disney Story Central app at Disney Story Central or on iTunes. It will make any child happy and pump up their reading desire. Summers fly by but the reading my boys will do will make them better for a lifetime.

You can even participate in Disney Story Central’s ‘Mid-Summer Light Reads’ Campaign – promoting weekly Disney reading themes — for a chance to unlock free books and enter the sweepstakes! Launching on June 11, the campaign will run through August 13.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Go On A Reading Adventure With Ooka Island

Jacob is just starting to read and I’m trying to do everything I can to encourage him in this journey. Ooka Island recently contacted me about working with them and using their adaptive reading program so I am going to try it out and write about it in a few weeks.

Ooka Island is a learn-to-read adventure for children ages 3-7. They are an educational company committed to using science-based reading methods and technology to increase literacy skills for children. The goal is to teach children to read fluently and well through reading instruction that is fun and compelling.

The key word there for me is “fun”. As a teacher of young children I believed that play was important and a key way children learned. As a mom I still believe that.

Ooka Island contains everything a child needs in one big learn-to-read adventure, including:

  • 80 hours of research-based curriculum for preschool to 2nd grade
  • An integrated, science-based approach to the five pillars of reading: Phonemic Awareness, Phonological Development, Fluency, Vocabulary and Reading Comprehension
  • Over 500 sequenced lessons with 7,000 discrete learning objectives
  • Guided progression through 24 levels in a variety of 3D, virtual world environments
  • A built-in e-Reader designed specifically to teach reading with highlighting and narration
  • 85 original Ooka Island e-Books, leveled and sequenced from preschool to 2nd grade
  • A fun and engaging learning flow cycle that motivates and supports each child’s journey
  • Comprehensive online progress reporting for parents and educators
  • Access to the Ooka Bookstore featuring all 85 e-Books and guides in print
  • Free motivational toolsworkbooks and a musical soundtrack app in iTunes
  • Curriculum alignment with Common Core State Standards for K-1
Want to try out Ooka Island? My readers can get 30% off a subscription here.
(Disclosure: Disclosure: I received compensation as part of my affiliation with this Ambassadorship via Splash Media Engagement. The opinions on this blog are my own.)

Literacy Events Around The Nation Today

Join the record-breaking literacy celebration today, October 3, with Jumpstart! People all across the country will read the children’s book Otis by Loren Long in support of Jumpstart’s mission to work towards the day that every child in America enters kindergarten prepared to succeed. Joined by Tiffani Thiessen, actress and star of USA’s White Collar, Jumpstart hopes to break last year’s record of 2.3 million participants reading the same book at the same time.

Jumpstart will host several large scale events on October 3 in cities and towns across the country with marquee events in Boston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. In addition, many of Jumpstart’s campaign Reading Partners and sponsors will be hosting events. Gymboree will host events in every Gymboree, Janie & Jack, Crazy 8, and Gymboree Play & Music locations across the country. Additionally, official Reading Partner, We Give Books will have Otis available to read online for free in both English and Spanish at www.wegivebooks.org.

”Jumpstart’s Read for the Record is a meaningful way for Americans to support the critical need for high-quality early education in our country,” said Jumpstart’s president and CEO, Naila Bolus. “We know that for children living in low-income communities, this need is significant. By the time these children enter kindergarten, they are already 60% behind their more affluent peers. Jumpstart’s Read for the Record brings light to this national issue and gives citizens a platform to voice their support for this cause.”

Learn more at http://www.jstart.org/campaigns/read-record.

Chicago Area Events

Chicago will hold two events today in honor of Jumpstart’s Read for the Record.

Lincoln Park Zoo:

The Lincoln Park Zoo will host three readings of “Otis” by Loren Long on Thursday morning. The readings are open to the public, and U.S. Congressman Mike Quigley will attend. Readings are at 9:30 a.m., 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

Chicago Children’s Museum:

The Chicago Children’s Museum will also hold an event. Kraft Family Free Night will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and is open to the public. There will be readings of “Otis“ throughout the night.

 

 

8 Tips For Teaching Your Child To Read

Teaching your Child to Read

Image courtesy of Rusty & Rosy Reading.

How To Read With Your Child, Not To Them

Reading a book to your child is a great way to help your child learn. Sometimes, though, simply reading the words on the page may not be stimulating enough. Some of the time your child might be perfectly content to sit and listen; on other days, he may not be able to keep one foot still! Do not fret. Your child can get his learning and keep his energy at a high level, too! The trick is to read with your child.

Start with the old standby–reading. Once the story has begun to unfold, ask your child some questions before moving onto the next page. Use questions that will encourage interaction.

For example:

* Point to some of the pictures on the page and see if your child can describe what the illustrations show. Is the main character revealed on the first page? Can you tell where the story takes place? Is it daytime or nighttime as the story begins? Do you think it will be the same at the end of the story? (And no peeking ahead is allowed!)

* Have your child try to reason how a picture on the page relates to the story. For example, you could ask, “Why does the candle droop?” Could it be that it is because it has been burning for a long time?

* Identify specific words used in the story as a teachable moment. Are some words written in a different way from the rest of the words? Are some bigger? Smaller? In a different color? Ask your child to guess why. Have your child say the special words in the story in the way he thinks the author intended for them to be read. Talk about how the words could be said differently to express a different emotion.

Are you getting a sense for how easy reading interactively can be? By reading in this way, your child is part of the reading time, too! Enjoy watching your child’s excitement as he/she figures out the answers to your questions and comes up with unique ways to add to or change the story. Encourage your child to ask questions of you too. Prompt your child to come up with the questions for you by announcing, “on the next page, it is Daddy’s turn to answer YOUR questions.” The possibilities are endless for ways that you can read interactively with your child.

If it isn’t naptime or bedtime, have your child act out part of the story, or make up a song or dance to retell the story to you after you have finished.

If your child has a lot of stuffed animals and they are the same type as in the story, let the teddy bear dance around or climb up the pillows and let the dog bark, etc.

Try to come up with new ways every time you read a book.

Happy reading!

About the Author:

Thomas Weck is the author/creator of the *Lima Bear Stories. Originally made-up bedtime stories he told his four children, the Lima Bear tales resurfaced when Weck’s son Peter had children. Peter remembered the stories and wanted to have his father write them down so that he could share them with his children. Father and son took it one step further and created Lima Bear Press (www.LimaBearPress.com) to produce the stories as books that children everywhere can enjoy. The first three titles were released in 2011: The Megasaurus, How Back-Back Got His Name, and The Cave Monster. The books are not only fun and funny with great illustrations, they also have an underlying message such as such as tolerance, honesty, courage, etc. Learn more at http://www.limabearpress.com.

(Disclosure: This is not a compensated post. All thoughts are those of the author.)

Creative Opportunities for Reading with Children During the Busy Holiday Season

The holidays are fast approaching. Families and friends will come together for food, fun, and festivities. The kids will be excited to have time off from school, and parents will hopefully be able to spend a little more quality time with their children. Somewhere in between all the shopping, sledding, cookie baking, and house preparation for the incoming friends and family, the bookshelf calls.

Reading can be a positive and relaxing outlet, especially in these busy times. You can help create special times with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other relatives whom they may not see often. One great way is by suggesting that the relatives read with the children (either reading to them, have the child read to them, or taking turns). Books can help open up dialogue and sharing that straight questioning never can. New books for this time can be very special. Or have the relative or friend bring along THEIR favorite book.
Setting up a reading corner for quiet time may also be a good idea when the holidays become hectic. Kids can escape all the noise and chaos, and so can the adults. After a while BOTH might grow weary of adult conversation.
Also during the holidays, we seem to become more thankful and aware of the things we have and the people who are in our lives. Just ten minutes of reading a book or two with your child in front of the fireplace or any other cozy spot can become a memory that lasts a lifetime. It could also become a tradition to read a book in that same spot each night.

Reading with your child means so much more to them than the book itself. They see their parent/grandparent/aunt/uncle/cousin taking the time to sit down with them, showing them that they care and want to be there. As each page is turned, a stronger bond forms and memories are made as giggles, jokes, and discussions transpire. Who knows? You may even come up with your own stories to share. So, this holiday season, make sure to take the time to read with the youngest members of the family and build that bond and tradition. Both you and your children/grandchildren will be glad you did.
~ ~ ~ ~

Thomas Weck is the author/creator of the Lima Bear Stories. Originally made-up bedtime stories he told his four children, the Lima Bear tales resurfaced when Weck’s son Peter had children. Peter remembered the stories and wanted to have his father write them down so that he could share them with his children. Father and son took it one step further and created Lima Bear Press to produce the stories as books that children (and parents) everywhere can enjoy. The first 4 titles in the planned 12-book series are currently available: The Megasaurus, How Back-Back Got His Name, The Cave Monster, and The Labyrinth. The 5th title, Bully Bean, will be released in April 2013. The books are not only fun and funny with great illustrations; they also have an underlying message such as such as tolerance, honesty, courage, etc.

Kindercare Offers Boredom Busters for Winter Fun

KinderCare Winter Science Camp:

The secret’s about to get out: science is a blast! At the end of December, 1600 KinderCare Learning Centers across the U.S. transform into Winter Science Camps that give preschoolers through school-agers a chance to unlock the mysteries of the natural world. Split into eight 1-day segments to better meet the needs of busy families staying in town for the holidays, Winter Science Camp uses age-appropriate activities and a lively, hands-on approach to get kids excited about what they’re learning. From fish to flowers, from robots to recycling-each center’s camp covers chemistry, earth science, and physics. Among many activities, younger campers will get to be “science detectives,” solving a series of science mysteries by using touch, smell and hearing. Meanwhile, school-aged kids will be busy experimenting with colored dyes, creating everything from paper to volcanic eruptions, building balloon rockets, and more. Kids can attend all eight days of camp, or drop in for a day or more. For more information about how KinderCare Winter Science Camp makes science as fun as it is smart, visit http://www.KinderCare.com/wintersciencecamp.

Winter Reading:

There is nothing better than snuggling up with your child and a good book. Reading to a child on a regular basis is by far the best way to encourage a budding reader.   From the earliest ages, parents are encouraged to begin a reading routine with their children. Building on its robust literacy curriculum and teaching expertise, KinderCare is now providing parents with a comprehensive reading guide  (available at http://www2.kindercare.com/uploadedFiles/Documents/a_guide_to_reading_to_your_child.pdf) that incorporates tips on reading to infants, toddlers and preschoolers as well as recommended age-appropriate book titles.   Some tips include:

o   You can help cultivate baby’s interest in books by choosing ones that capture his or her attention such as board books, pop-up books, etc. Your child will want to see these again and again.

o   While reading together, ask questions about the pictures. Children are delighted in finding objects on the page. If they’re saying ‘da’ and pointing at the dog, say, ‘Yes, that’s the dog,’ If the child says ‘ball,’ follow up with, ‘That’s a blue ball.’ You’ll be giving them additional language for their verbal bank.

o   Ask your child open-ended questions about the story you are reading, such as “Why do you think that happened?”

Play Time

The colder weather outdoors offers a good excuse for good old-fashioned indoor play time. Play is the natural work of children and essential to learning. Through play, children develop social skills, the ability to solve problems and the courage to express their ideas. The following are some quick tips for educational and fun family playtime:

o   For infants, playing peek-a-boo will help baby recognize your voice.

o   To help infants and toddlers develop fine motor skills, provide a variety of soft, easy-to-grasp toys, such as soft blocks or plush toys.

o   Blow bubbles with your child and watch them have a blast as they chase and catch the bubbles  – both reinforce motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

About KinderCare

With more than 1,600 centers located in 39 states and the District of Columbia, KinderCare Learning Centers, an accredited early childhood provider, offer a range of educational programs and after-school care for infants as young as six weeks old to school-aged children through age 12. For more information, visit www.KinderCare.com.

*****

(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post however I did work for Kindercare as both a teacher and as an Assistant Director and I believe that their programs are wonderful for young children.)

Guest Post: Avoiding The Summer Reading Slump

4708541783_73def324fa.jpegGuest contributor and MobiStories.com producer Wendy Toone, offers great tips on how your kids can avoid brain drain when they’re out of school. Take a look…

It’s Summertime! Catching fireflies, eating dinner on the deck, swimming, no school!!!

What have your kids been doing? Waking up late, lazing around in front of the TV? It’s nice to decompress after the school year. For a few days. But now what?? Camps, classes, playdates can fill up the days and keep the kids active and occupied. But my fear is always that their brains will turn to mush by mid-July, leaving them (and in turn, me) frustrated and floundering come mid-September when they’re back in school with flabby grey matter that hasn’t been exercised in way too long.

According to Kent State Graduate School of Education’s Dr. Timothy Rasinski, professor of literacy education, students can lose as much as 3 month’s worth of reading level over the summer. Research shows that younger elementary school students rarely make up deficits in reading once they fall behind. Conversely, students who read during the summer could end up 3 months ahead, too.

So, why not be even just a little pro-active in keeping your kids reading. That doesn’t mean they need to plow through “War and Peace” by August 24th. Here are just a few FUN ways reading can become part of your family’s summer fun activities:

Don’t fight TV: Kids insist on watching TV? Try letting them… with the sound off and the closed caption on (sneakyyyyy)

Act it out: Get the whole family in the act and tackle one of the classics as a play. How fun is “Charlotte’s Web” when every family member plays a different character and reads aloud…don’t forget to speak in accents and voices, use arm motions, whatever to have FUN.

Campfire stories: The art of storytelling is the original ‘reading’ before the printed page…. Everything sounds good around a fire – family memories, ghost stories, or fairy tales can captivate kids. Try a “make-it-up” story where everyone adds just one line at a time.”

Discover the classics : Treasuries of classic literature is available for even younger readers that may not be ready for the “real” version. Advanced readers can expand their world with the likes of Jules Verne and Mark Twain in addition to Stephenie Meyer and JK Rowling!

Log reading hours in a Read-A-Thon : Several non-profit groups such as Reading Is Fundamental and PBS Kids have read-a-thons that can be found on the web. Great goal-setting activity for the summer as well!

Use Your Local Library!! So many summer programs are available for all ages/reading levels. Story/song time for toddlers, book clubs for tweens and teens…And they’re FREE!

Organize a Book Swap: Get together with friends and neighbors to exchange previously read books. This allows the kids to read the latest titles (not always available at the library) while you save $$.

Get your kids excited about reading this summer by getting them excited about stories in new ways to keep them from suffering the “Summer Reading Slump.”

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Wendy Toone is a child expert, having owned and operated a leading children’s fitness center and now produces MobiStories, Digital Books for KidsTM. She is a cableAce-award winning television producer and has worked on hundreds of television commercials as a Production Manager after spending a decade onstage as a professional dancer. Wendy’s two children have been inspirational in the creation of MobiStories.

To download a free digital book for your PC visit MobiStories.com, click on Summer (in the Ages 2 – 4 category) add it to the cart and Michelle Obama then enter the code SUM0710 in the Coupon Code Box. Here’s a How To video for reference as well.

To purchase more stories, visit Mobistories on iTunes.

(Disclosure: I am being compensated for posting this guest post. I do, however, believe that reading to children and keeping their literacy skills sharp during the summer are very important and I think that MobiStories.com is a great resource for families.)