Teach a person to read and you open a door—not only to an unparalleled world of wonder and entertainment—but also to independence, freedom, and success. Yet those doors are remaining closed for too many: In 2019, the National Assessment of Educational Progress showed that two-thirds of the nearly 294,000 fourth- and eighth-grade students who took the test couldn’t locate information that’s stated in a text, infer the main ideas of an article, explain the theme of a story, or evaluate a . . .
By Courtney Runn Teach a person to read and you open a door—not only to an unparalleled world of wonder and entertainment—but also to independence, freedom, and success. Yet those doors are remaining closed for too many Texans: Just 25 percent of Texas public school fourth graders scored at a “proficient” level or above for reading in a 2017 study, a full ten points lower than the already-unacceptable national rate of 35 percent. Going by the statistics, the deck is already . . .
By Chrysta Naron Let’s face it, letter names and letter sounds don’t always match up in a way that makes sense. Judging by their names, C should sound like /s/ and G should sound like /j/. Meanwhile, when X starts a word, it makes the same /z/ sound as the letter Z. This can be very confusing for early readers. They need constant reinforcement to internalize these nuances. Rather than sitting down and drilling letters every day—endlessly drawing lines from the letter C to a clip-art . . .
By Chrysta Naron Word families, sets of rhyming words that share the same ending spelling and pronunciation, are great tools for helping kids recognize patterns and build awareness of the sound structure of words. For example, the “at” word family includes words like “cat,” “hat,” “sat,” and so on. Word families are wonderful because they teach two skills at once. First, children learn to connect certain letter combinations with particular ending sound chunks or rimes. This can help them . . .
By Chrysta Naron Sandpaper letters are a popular Montessori material and a wonderful tool for helping young children master their ABCs. These letters cut from sandpaper and mounted on solid backgrounds allow children to experience the alphabet in multiple ways—before they have the fine motor skills to write the letters themselves. They can see how the letters are formed, and feel them as they trace their shapes. This sensory element can help them retain the names, shapes, and sounds of . . .
As lovers of literature, tossing books into the recycling bin can feel almost sacrilegious (even that dog-eared paperback that’s lost half its pages). And the nature-lovers in us rebel at the idea of crafting and decorating with brand-new paper when stacks of books and magazines are tossed every day. That’s why we celebrate the idea of giving unsalvageable and obsolete books a second life by upcycling them into book-page crafts. Creating decorative and useful objects out of old book . . .
By Chrysta Naron If your little ones are anything like those I teach as an early child educator, they probably get very bored very quickly sitting still, especially when workbooks are involved. Alphabet Hopscotch provides important alphabet knowledge and letter sound practice—all while reinforcing gross motor skills and getting kids some much-needed exercise and fresh air. But most of all, this easy alphabet game is a fun way to bolster literacy while on the move with wriggly kids. . . .
By Karen Williams Looking for a resource to help your child to get more out of reading at home? Give FlipGrid a try. It’s an educational platform that allows educators to post a written or recorded prompt and learners to create short, shared videos in response. FlipGrid is used in PreK to PhD classrooms around the world as a popular tool for social learning. FlipGrid isn't just for teachers, though. As a parent, you are your child’s first and most important educator. You can use . . .
By Kelsey Nickerson With just a little help, kids can craft these handmade book page pinwheels. This is a fun activity in its own right, plus they’ll get a new toy to boot! You can make them to keep or to gift—this is a great present for older children to make for younger siblings or friends. Like many of our DIY book crafts, you can really make this project your own. Keep your pinwheel simple or have some fun coloring and decorating it! Younger kids may enjoy adding stickers and glitter . . .
In December 2014, I attended a Kwanzaa workshop at Central Montessori School in Richmond, Virginia, that continues to resonate, across years and miles. The speaker was Kwanzaa educator Jessica “Culture Queen” Hebron, and her celebration—culturally rooted, historically aware, hands-on, and high-energy—introduced Kwanzaa to my toddler daughter in grand fashion. She transformed the gathering space with an ornate Kwanzaa table and song, dance, crafts, and stories that kept families engaged from . . .