New Blog

I am no longer updating this blog. I will continue to keep it open as a resource, but any future literacy or other educational posts can be found on the literacy and education page of my new blog, Striving for Kairos:  https://strivingforkairos.wordpress.com/literacy-and-education/

Blog Status Update

This blog is closed to new content and has been for awhile, however I am keeping it active for now because my purpose in creating the blog was for it to be an educational resource for parents and teachers, and that purpose hasn’t changed. Though the posts are old, the content is still relative, and I hope that it can still be a source of information and ideas for helping children develop their literacy skills.

In the meantime, I have been busy with other projects, including doing some freelance work for an educational company, writing and editing a Middle Grade novel, and developing concepts for picture books. I’m also in the process of creating a new blog and an author website. My new blog (title TBA) will be coming soon, and will have a broader scope of context than this current literacy blog. Though it will still have an educational component, it will also cover other topics relating to mind, body, and spirit. Once the blog is up and active, I will link my literacymatterstoday blog with it and close its url site. All of the content on this blog will be found through a link on my new blog.

Thank you for following this site, and I hope that you continue to find helpful literacy resources and tips within its contents.

Summer Learning Fun

It’s that time of year again – school is ending and summer break is beginning! It’s the season to unwind, play, and enjoy some summer fun. But while it’s important for kids to take a break from school, it’s equally important for them to continue practicing their skills so they don’t fall behind. Learning in the summer doesn’t have to be as intense or demanding as it is during the school year, however. Learning in the summer can be as relaxing and fun as the season. What’s important is that students maintain the progress they made over the past 10 months during their 2 months off. For most students, this can be done through regular reading time, playing learning games, building learning into your summer plans, taking a summer school class (which are often less intense and more interest-based), or participating in a summer workshop, program, or tutoring.

Find fun ways to build learning into summer activities in this previous post: Ways to Have Fun This Summer and Promote Learning.

For a list of learning websites, check out the links on the right under Fun Online Learning Games and Reading Websites, or check out these quick guides found online:

http://www.achildwithneeds.com/parenting/learning-websites-for-kids/, http://www.parenting.com/blogs/mom-congress/melissa-taylor/10-best-educational-websites-kids-are-free, and http://www.freehomeschooldeals.com/10-free-learning-websites-for-kids-with-free-printable-listing/.

Keep learning simple for your child this summer. It will help them maintain their skills while still allowing them to have a a much needed break. Most important, make it fun!

 

Free Online Reading Program Helps Others

I’ve mentioned this site before on my blog, but it’s worth mentioning again because it’s that fabulous. We Give Books (www.wegivebooks.org) is a site created by the Penguin Group and the Pearson Foundation that has many wonderful books that can be read online for free. Books can be searched by genre, age range, author, title, or popularity, and there are many well-known titles, both fiction and nonfiction. For every digital book read, the site donates a book to children in need to help spread literacy world-wide.

Currently We Give Books is offering a free 10 Week Online Summer Reading Program. Read for My Summer is perfect for kids up to age 10 and includes special books to be read each week online as well as fun interactive tools and activities to make each book come to life. Also, one reader has a chance to win a special prize pack if they are the one who completes the three millionth book.

For more details or to sign up for this free online summer reading program, click here: http://www.wegivebooks.org/give/summer.

Read Across America – Motivating Kids to Read (March 2nd and 3rd)

Every year the National Education Association celebrates Read Across America in conjunction with Dr. Seuss’ Birthday on March 2nd. According to the NEA website, it looks as if this special day will also take place on March 3rd, assumedly because the 2nd falls on a Sunday.

Read Across America is a national celebration of reading that many schools and libraries participate in.  It’s a fun way to share in the joy of reading. Here are some ideas for ways to participate in this special celebration of reading:

1. Attend a library program – check your local libraries for special events or programs happening in honor of Dr. Seuss and Read Across America.

2. Attend a story time at a library or bookstore – many libraries and book stores will have special story times on March 3rd. Some Barnes and Nobles will be hosting a read aloud of a favorite Dr. Seuss book on this day.

3. Read a book online – try We Give Books if you haven’t already – you can choose from many great books to read for free, and every book you read online, the site donates a book to kids in need, www.wegivebooks.org.

4. Find a new book to read – snag a new deal of the day e-book or get a classic or best-seller you’ve been wanting to read from the library.

5. Schedule family reading time – set aside a special time to all share in a favorite story together, or read individually during your designated time and share with each other afterward what you read.

6. Share a book with a friend – participate in a book swap with a friend, and/or loan a friend a book you feel is a must-read.

7. Read to someone – parents and older children can read to younger children, and younger children can read to a pet or a favorite stuffed animal.

8. Read with someone – participate in a shared reading of a book or a chapter, each taking turns reading a page.

9. Join a reading program (library or online) – extend the celebration of reading through the spring by signing up to participate in a reading program. Check your local library or book store for ongoing programs or find one online. If you can’t find one that works for you, create your own reading challenge on Book Adventure: http://www.bookadventure.com/create_reading_challenge.aspx.

10. Join, start and/or attend a book club (in person or online) – if you like to take reading one step further and talk about the books you read or if you want ideas for great books to read, find a book club to join. Check your library or local book store for one in your area or join Good Reads, www.goodreads.com, Barnes and Noble book clubs, www.barnesandnoble.com/bookclubs, or The Stacks for Kids, www.scholastic.com/kids/stacks/, to find one online that fits your needs.

For more ideas and resources to celebrate Read Across America and Dr. Suess’ birthday, check out these sites:

http://www.nea.org/grants/886.htm

http://www.seussville.com/special/read.html

http://www.readacrossamerica.org/

TAG Reader…one mom’s thoughts

As a teacher, when I first heard about the TAG reader, I have to say that I was not very open to the idea of kids using this device. It is an electronic “wand” that when used with special books, will read either the page or each word separately to the user. I thought that it would take away the opportunity for children to work through text on their own. I thought, what child would want to learn to do that on their own if given the choice to have a device read their books to them? I also thought it would be very limiting to children’s reading experiences, as you have to use it with the special TAG books, each sold separately.

For Christmas, my son got a TAG reader along with a stack of books to go with it. He was very excited to try it, so we set it up for him. After downloading the books that would fit (only 8 at a time), he set out listening to Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. He listened to the whole page, going through the whole story. Then he went back, and looked for letters and words that he knew, squealing with excitement when he was “right”. He played the interactive games that are “extras” on each page. He spent a good 20 minutes reading and re-reading that book, then moved on to another. He was so motivated, and he used the TAG system as a tool to check his own understanding, and to push himself to learn a few new words in that one session.

Now I still think that there are limitations to this tool. Most of the books are not exactly the “high quality” books that I would choose for my son. There are many books that feature popular Disney and Nickelodeon characters, and relatively few without. Most of the titles are fiction, although it seems that some tools for learning featuring nonfiction are being added to the offerings. But given these limitations, it still seems to be a highly motivating tool that helps foster early literacy skills and fluency as children use it.

Now, we are several weeks into living with the TAG reader. Given the early experiences with it, though, I will be on the lookout for more TAG books whenever I pass the clearance toy section at Target. It might be a toy you want to consider adding to your library.

Awesome Reading Site and Fun Online Reading Challenge

One of my favorite reading sites is We Give Books. This fantastic site both promotes a love of reading, and helps give books to children in need. According to the We Give Books site, it “enables anyone with access to the Internet to put books in the hands of children who don’t have them, simply by reading online.” The online books available on the site are a mix of fiction and nonfiction picture books, appropriate for children up to age ten. New books are added monthly, and there are books suited for read-alouds and independent reading. There is a wide variety of books, and you can search by genre, age range, or author. Best of all, it is FREE to join and read books online, and for every book you or your child reads, a book will be donated for free!

Currently We Give Books is offering a fun online reading challenge in conjunction with WWE. Get more information here for how your child can join the WrestleMania Reading Challenge 2014, which includes reading with an online reading buddy and the chance to win great prizes. http://www.wegivebooks.org/wwe

Read great children’s books for a great cause! Support literacy by reading, sharing, and giving on http://www.facebook.com/WeGiveBooks, @WeGiveBooks on Twitter, or www.wegivebooks.org.

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