Avoiding the Summer Slide

“What can we do over the summer?”

As a teacher, this is one of the biggest questions parents ask at the end of the year. Many times parents inquire about additional worksheets or websites to help their child get ahead for the following school year. However, what parents don’t realize is that unless children are actively engaged in some sort of educational activities they can regress in their academic careers. This is known as the summer slide.

There are lots of different ways to avoid the summer slide without making it seem like summer school. Today I’m going to give song ideas for parents that can be done at home to help kids stay up-to-date.

Outdoor Ideas

Summer is the time for kids to be outside, so take advantage of the outdoors.

  1. Sidewalk chalk. There are endless possibilities for how to use sidewalk chalk. Kids Sidewalk Chalkcan write their names in funky ways (squiggles, block letters, backwards, etc). Children can also draw pictures of what they see in nature and label them.
  2. Write outside. Some kids love to write stories or poetry, so encourage them to sit outside while they write. If they see a butterfly, have them write a story about the life of the butterfly and allow them to draw a picture. Allow them to use their imagination and have fun, since the writing is not graded they have total freedom about the style and content of the writing.
  3. Reading place challenge. Challenge your little reader to read in as many different Readingplaces as possible. They can read in a tree, on a beach towel in the back yard, on a slide, etc. Feel free to take pictures and share them with friends and family to make it exciting. If you have a reluctant or struggling reader, you may want to challenge them to 10 different places and then they can buy a new book.
  4. Go to parks. State parks often have historical information throughout the park which are full of interesting facts. Not only will kids get some exercising walking through a park, but they will also learn along the way.

Travel Ideas

Many families use summer time to travel, which often means hours of sitting in a car or plane.

  1. Play games. For younger children, games are perfect for practicing reading skills. The license plate game and the alphabet game are two great ones to help little ones with their letter and reading skills.
  2. Sing songs. Rhyming helps little ones with language development and reading skills, so feel free to use the time in a car singing songs. Depending on the ages I would suggest nursery rhymes or other children’s songs.
  3. Books on tape/audio books. These are fantastic for road trips. You can get them at Audiobookyour local library or download them from audible. If you have an beginner reader, I would suggest getting a hardcopy of the story for them to follow along with. You want to choose a book with some pictures to help with comprehension.
  4. Independent reading. Make a trip to your local library and let your child stock up on books they want to read.

Additional Practice

Some families opt to use the summer to help their child catch up if they struggled during the school year.

  1. Hire a tutor. There are many different options for tutoring, so you may want to consider all of the choices before deciding on which is the best for your family.
    1. You can hire a teacher from the school your child attends. The pros of this choice are that previous and/or future teachers can communicate with the tutor about expectations and student weaknesses. A con is often times private tutors are more expensive.
    2. Online tutoring is another option and there are always new websites. The pro to this is the convenience. You don’t have to worry about driving somewhere or having a tutor come to the house since the tutoring is aTutoringll virtual. A con is depending on the service you may not be able to talk directly to the tutor, but rather go through another person for progress reports.
    3. A third option is a tutoring center. Centers like Huntington and Kumon havetheir own curriculums they follow , and private centers often allow the tutor to determine what a child needs. A pro is that centers can give families assessments to track progress and communication is easy. A con is the expense depending on the program a child is enrolled in.
  2. Workbooks/online practice. I am personally not a fan of workbooks, but for many families this option is great because the work is done independently by the child. All the parent has to do is tell the child what pages to complete and check the work with the answer key in the back of the book. Online practice is even easier because the website will grade work and reveal the score. Barnes & Nobles is a great place to get workbooks because they have a huge variety. Ask your child’s teacher if there are any websites they suggest or that the school has access to.
  3. Summer school. Some schools do offer programs during the summer to help students. Sometimes it is only open to students who are struggling, so check with your school to see what the criteria is.

Summer Assignments

Many schools require summer work, mostly middle and high school students. To avoid the stress of summer assignments, sit down with your child and discuss all of the work their school requires. This will help determine the workload, what materials need to be purchased, and if a tutor is needed. Once all of the assignments have been reviewed, create a homework calendar with your child. This is a great tool to not only break up the assignment into manageable chunks, but it also helps with time management skills. This works really well for student athletes because they can schedule their homework in around practice, camp, and training.

If your child has summer reading assignments, there are a few different approaches in tackling the work.

Option 1: Just read the book first. Many kids like this option because they don’t have to worry about taking notes or answering questions, they can just enjoy the book. This strategy also allows kids to practice their reading skills without relying on a set of questions to guide them. After they read it, have them re-read the book to answer any questions or complete summer assignments.

Option 2: Read and work at the same time. Kids are used to this approach in school so they know what works best for them. Some stop reading when they find an answer to a question, and some answer questions after every chapter.

Regardless of which option they use, make sure your child re-reads the book right before school starts. Some teachers give an assessment or use the summer reading for a project. Your child will be better prepared if they know the material.

Preschool & Kindergarten Literacy

This week I did a Facebook class for preschool and kindergarten. It’s amazing how much the expectations for this age group have changed over the last decade with the changes in education. It’s quite clear after looking at the Common Core Standards for kindergarten that preschool is extremely important for children at this time.

This post is for parents and early childhood educators. Below you will find a bunch of information and book suggestions for children around 4-5 years old for math and reading.

Learning Math1001-things-to-spot-collection

Preschool

  • Counting (count on hands, objects)
  • Understands written expression means number of objects for #s 1-5
  • Can do basic addition and subtraction
  • Can put numbers in order

Kindergarten (from the Common Core State Standards)

  • wipe-clean-number-cardsCount to 100 by ones and tens
  • Write numbers 0-20
  • Solve addition and subtraction word problems using objects or drawings to represent the problem
  • Fluently add and subtract within 5
  • Identify and compare shapes

 

 

At Home Strategies

thats-not-my-height-bookMath

  • Make activities into games. Some suggestions include:
    • Number sense- count items, use a calendar to countdown to events, play simple board games
    • Geometry- name 3D objects, create simple patterns
    • Measurement- record height monthly

Learning to Read

Preschool

  • Make simple predictions and comments about story being read
  • Hold and look thats-not-myat words right side up, turning the pages one at a time front to back
  • Name the letter in first name and can recognize name in print
  • Say and point to at least 10 letters of the alphabet
  • Match a letter with beginning sound of word
  • Recognize words see often (sight words)

 

 

Kindergarten (from the Common Core State Standards)

  • Demonstrate understanding of the organization and basic features of print
  • Understand spoken words, syllables and sounds
  • Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words
  • Use a combination of drawing, dictating and writing to compose original pieces

At Home Strategies

Reading

  • Point out letters and numbers. “What word on this page starts with ‘s’ “
  • Make up stories about the pictures together
  • Ask comprehension questions. “Why is he mad?” “Where is hted-friends-with-cde going?”
  • Relate stories to child’s experiences (festive, doctors, et.).
  • Encourage writing and drawing. Have a constant supply of paper and crayons. Standing kid easels work really well.
  • Point out letters in your child’s name.
  • Make everything into a game so they don’t get frustrated.
  • Listen to books on tape.

 

Learning to Read Collections

As a parent and educator, I love to have everything given to me in a neat and organized pack. Usborne offers three different reading packages for parents that are really great.

Option 1: Phonics Reader Collection. 

Usborne has a fantastic Phonics Readers collection that is phonics-based, includes a guide for parents, and is leveled using Fountas and Pinnell. The books are sold individually, but can also be purchased as a box set with 20 titles.

phonics-reader-collection

 

Option 2: The Usborne Starting to Read Pack. This is the perfect set to help a child read. The pack includes an activity book, an alphabet chart and books. Here is a great video from a fellow consultant that shows specific details about this pack.

starting-to-read-pack

 

Option 3: Reading Box Sets. Usborne Very First Reading has 15 books that are meant to be read with an adult. As time goes on, the child takes on more of the reading.

Usborne My First Reading Library includes 50 books (the first are from the Very First Reading set) and the rest are leveled. The goal is to have the child read these independently, only getting help from an adult when needed.

Both sets come with a parent guide and links to “online help” at http://www.veryfirstreading.com.

very-first-reading-set

There is so much information to cover for this age group, it is truly unbelievable. For more information on the products featured, head over to my Usborne site here. To be a participant in my Facebook classes, follow me here .

 

Toddler Literacy

Last week I discussed literacy in the first year, so today I want to share some information for toddler literacy. In preparing for this class, a lot of my research for toddlers overlapped my baby research information. Many of the same materials we use with babies can also be used with toddlers.

This post is for parents and early childhood educators on literacy in toddler years (from my Facebook class). It includes toddler development information, stages of learning and book suggestions.

get-dressed-max-and-millieYoung Toddlers (12-24 months)

  • Books with children doing familiar things
  • Books about daily routines/customs

Toddlers (2-3 years old)

  • Simple rhyming books that can be memorized
    • Kids this age can say 150-300 words so they can recobig-book-of-colorsgnize those used in rhymes
    • It helps them learn sentence structure and expressing a complete thought
  • Books about counting, shapes, colors, and size

    • Kids this age can distinguish the difference between sizes and colors
    • Foundational skills are developing at this age (numbers and letters)

 

Motor Skillsvery-first-fingertrail-playbook-garden

  • Gross Motor Skills– larger movements
    • Crawling, running, etc.
  • Fine Motor Skills– small movements
    • Using fingers, toes, lips, and tongue
    • These are skills that can be practiced with books

Potty Training

  • Many parents say this is the most stressful part about having a toddler. It’s important to talk to talk to your toddler about going to the bathroom and use books to help him or her get familiar with going potty. potty-training-books

New Siblings

  • Some children have a rough adjustment to welcoming a new sibling. You can help ease the transition by including your toddler in discussing the new baby and by reading books about family.

Special Interests

  • By two years old many children have a special interest. This can be animals, trains, trucks, ballet, etc. Make sure to have plenty of texts to reflect your child’s interests. little-ballerina-dancing-book

Strategies

  • Talk or sing about pictures. This helps with comprehension skills. Some examples include:
    • Who or what is in the picture?
    • What are it/they doing?
    • What color are they? Etc.
  • Show children the words.
    • Point while reading
    • Books with labels
    • Feel free to spell the words out as well
  • Ask Questions.
    • While reading ask comprehension questions that include why, how, and what. Focus on feelings and actions from the story.
    • Encourage your child to ask questions while reading.
  • Let child tell the story.
    • By around 2 ½ or 3, children can memorize a text. Use this to their advantage by letting them “read” stories they memorized so they can embellish and make it their own.
      • This helps with creativity and processing skills.

For more information on toddler books, feel free to follow my Facebook page or check out Usborne Books and More.

 

Wipe-Clean Collection

Early Learning and Entertainment

I had a children’s book themed baby shower back in July, and we asked attendants to bring a children’s book instead of a card to start Molly’s home library. This was by far the best thing we did (along with a diaper raffle) because it gave us such a great variety of literature. Among the books we received, my grandma gave us two Usborne books, Noisy Farm and Wipe-Clean Dot to Dot Farm. My parents started a farm, Mini Mac, my senior year of high school and currently work it. My grandma (GG) thought it was the perfect opportunity to give Molly her first farm related book. wipe-clean-dot-farm

Today, I want to share some information about the Wipe-Clean collection from Usborne. These books are really cool in so many ways. The book and pages are thick and glossy, and aren’t that easy to rip, bend, or fold. A special pen comes with the book, making it convenient to use. These books can help kids with practicing pen control, numbers, letters, and numbers, and also provide entertainment.

Two words that best describe these books are versatile and portable. The Wipe-Clean books can be used as an independent activity or with a buddy/parent. It can be transported anywhere because all you need is the book, pen, and something to wipe with (tissue, paper towel, sleeve, etc.). There is no charging required, so you don’t need to worry about cords and outlets. They are thin and lightweight, and they fit easily into almost any type of bag.

Book Suggestions for Teachers and Parents

For preschool age kids, I would recommend using Wipe-Clean 1,2,3, Writing Numbers, Alphabet, and First Letters. Usborne also makes Wipe-Clean cards for learning the wipe-clean-telling-timealphabet and numbers that are also great for this age group. For kindergarten students, I would suggest using Wipe-Clean Capital and Lowercase Letters, Common Words to Copy, First Math, and First Words. For early elementary students, I recommend Wipe-Clean Starting Times Tables, Telling the Time, and Action Words to Copy. Depending on the student’s needs, you may need to differentiate with lower level or more advanced level books.

 The activity books come in great themes and can be used from preschool through early elementary. There are also some engaging sets meant for helping kids get ready for school, which would be a great summer activity. wipe-clean-ready-for-school-kit

Here are some great ideas on using these books for parents and teachers of preschool-early elementary kids.

Teachers:

  1. Center Activity. When I taught sixth grade, I would do a variety of center activities with my students. Mine didn’t look as appealing as elementary centers because of lack of space and resources. However, I always felt like I used the same ideas over and over (online games, videos, etc.). These books are awesome because students can work on them independently and they are easy to check. There is also minimal set up because all you need are the books, pens, and a tissue or paper towel.
  2. Remedial or Enrichment activities. As teachers we are always told to differentiate, and these books are PERFECT for doing just that. I suggest using these during math and/or reading instruction because that is where they would fit the curriculum best. Also, if you have ICS or pull out, these books would be perfect to use during those times as well.

Parents

  1. Extra Practice or jumpstart skills. As a parent, you can use these books however they work best for your child. They start at basic skills (pen control, learning the alphabet and counting, and common words) and continue into harder concepts, such as times tables and telling time. Again, it’s up to you as a parent to determine to use these books for fun, extra practice, or to jumpstart skills that will be taught in school.
    1. Independently. Over the years I have had parents ask me what they can do at home to help their kids with skills. Some parents want to be able to give their kids worksheets to do on their own, and these books can work the exact same way.
    2. Buddy Work (Parent). Similar to how some parents like independent work, others like to do practice work with their kids. One great strategy could be you do one page and talk about your thinking process aloud, then have your child do the same on another page. This allows kids to hear and see how an adult works and when they imitate an adult, it gives the parent a chance to understand their child’s thinking.
    3. Buddy Work (Sibling, relative, friend). Kids love to do activities with someone wipe-clean-pirate-activityelse. These books are a great opportunity to have your child interact with a sibling, relative, or friend. For the activity books, your child can do a part and their “helper” can do another. For instance, in the Dot to Dot books, there are dots to connect and words to write on each page. Depending on what the child wants or needs, they do that part and the “helper” would do the other.
  2. Fun activity books. While it’s great that these books can be used for writing and math skills, they are also meant to be fun and entertaining. As mentioned above, they are easy to transport and require little to no set up and clean up. Kids can complete mazes, dot to dots, and theme activities like dinosaurs and pirates.

For a complete look at the collection head over to Usborne. If you see anything you think could be useful for your classroom and/or little one, purchases can be made here.