By Laila Weir Big eyes in little faces as they behold a trove of gifts just for them. Delivering an enticingly wrapped bundle to a loved one. Spreading holiday cheer, and letting someone know we’re thinking about them. Nothing says holiday spirit like sharing gifts, and, as the days turn colder, thoughts naturally turn to acquiring them. All that generosity may bring joy to young and old, but it isn’t always a gift to our planet, or our pocketbooks. Creating homemade presents can be . . .
By Maya Payne Smart From the pediatrician’s office to parenting magazine columns, numerous voices tout the benefits of regularly reading aloud to young children for language development. But storytime quantity is just part of the equation. How parents read to kids (not just how often) matters too, and I don’t mean the pacing and performance qualities of reading aloud. No matter how thrilling the story or a parent’s delivery, a verbatim front-to-back reading of a book leaves out critical . . .
By Chrysta Naron Matching letters to sounds is a crucial step on the road to reading. It’s a seemingly simple skill that actually requires a whole lot of practice to master. Every app and workbook alike asks kids to draw a line from a picture to the letter it begins with. This literacy activity is everywhere for a reason—it works. But I think we can upgrade this classic to make it much more fun and interactive. Given how much repetition kids need to commit the sounds of all 26 . . .
By Maya Payne Smart Book enthusiasts have long credited family reading with healing and restorative properties, calling it a "magical elixir" or a "super multivitamin" for a range of personal and social issues. As 2020, the year of COVID, yawned to an end, one mom even declared that families reading aloud just might be "the panacea the world is looking for right now." In her estimation, reading with kids just a few minutes a day can combat feelings of pandemic defeat and allow parents to . . .
By Laila Weir There are so many reasons to encourage a kid to pick up a new book. Maybe you have an emerging reader who needs to build skills and confidence. Maybe you have a reluctant reader or one who’s stuck in a rut (how many times can they read Harry Potter?). Or maybe you want to keep your kid gainfully employed on weekends or vacations—without screens. Just as kids are more likely to try new foods when they are presented appealingly, an appetizing literary “spread” can get kids to try . . .
By Maya Payne Smart The idea of reading to children daily is deeply entrenched in American culture, even if the practice hasn’t completely taken hold. Books advising parents on creating family reading routines, and recommending what to read to kids when, have flourished since the 1930s. Raise-a-reader stories are standard features of parenting magazines and blogs. Schools, teachers, and community organizations all tout the benefits of reading to kids. My local grocery store chain even runs a . . .
By Chrysta Naron William Shakespeare once asked, “What’s in a name?” Letters! That’s what’s in a name. As children begin to read and write, they’re often eager to learn to write their own name. They love discovering what letter it begins with (and every letter that follows!). A name graph is a simple, yet brilliant, way to teach young kids to spell their names, and help them practice writing a variety of uppercase and lowercase letters at the same time. This simple literacy idea . . .
By Kelsey Nickerson Raising little readers and writers means providing plenty of reading and writing material, which in turn can mean a whole lot of pencils and pens trailing around your home. But never fear! With just a little glam, you can upcycle a plastic container into the perfect storage container for pencils, markers, and even crayons! This craft is quite simple and can be used for so many different things. Do your kids have writing utensils floating around their backpacks? Give . . .
By Chrysta Naron Playing Sound Search is a delightful way for kids to learn letters and their sounds. Plus, this fun alphabet game engages children during days cooped up inside. They’ll crawl, climb, run, and spin looking for just the right items to match their letters. Reading letters and practicing their corresponding sounds can sometimes feel a little abstract for kids. They can make the right sound when shown a letter on its own, but learning to isolate that same letter sound in . . .
Need to keep kids entertained on the go? This simple DIY activity kit is perfect for road trips or plane trips, for restaurants, or for anywhere kids need some distraction while they wait. (Think instant entertainment on the sidelines of big sister’s soccer game or big brother’s cello practice!) Help your child follow this simple tutorial to make their activity book, and then let them personalize it with their own decorations and favorite activities. Or stuff it for them as a fun surprise to . . .