By Laila Weir At MayaSmart.com, we’re all about supporting parents to raise readers by fostering literacy from day one—and all the days afterwards. Parents are uniquely positioned to help their kids build reading and writing skills that are best developed little by little over many years. Plus, the research shows that caregivers are an absolutely crucial part of the literacy equation. And a central tenet of the Maya Smart approach to raising readers is helping children learn through what . . .
By Chrysta Naron Knock knock. Who’s there? Boo! Boo who? Don’t cry. It’s only a joke! Or in this case, it’s only reading. Sometimes the OO spelling pattern can throw kids for a loop! The letters don’t make the short O sound (like hot) they learn to read first. And it doesn’t make the long O sound (like rope) that they know as the letter’s name. So just how can you teach your child the sounds that O makes when it’s doubled up? Play this . . .
By Mikee Mapalo Fun facts: Every word has at least one vowel, as does every syllable. (In fact, that’s the definition of a syllable: a word segment with a vowel sound!) Yet vowels are among the trickiest letters for kids learning to read, write, and spell. Every vowel can make a “short” sound, like A in cap, and a “long” sound, like A in cape. What’s more, they make different sounds when they’re doubled or combined with other vowels. Whew! Mastering all this takes practice, and as we . . .
By Chrysta Naron Arrr, me mateys! It’s the 19th o’ September, which means we be celebrating “Talk Like a Pirate Day!” For this silly and seaworthy occasion, we’re taking the opportunity to create a pirate treasure map reading activity and story time. And, along the way, we’ll be working on literacy and an important life skill: the ability to follow written directions. With that goal in mind, the treasure map we’ll be creating today isn’t any ordinary one. Instead of pictures, dotted lines, . . .
By Chrysta Naron Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. It has costumes, candy … and lots of ways to make learning fun. Building little moments of literacy practice into everyday activities is the best way for parents to raise a thriving reader. So we’ve put together some favorite tips for how to make Halloween a reading holiday. For many parents, teaching your child to read can feel a bit scary. But with these fun tricks, Halloween reading becomes a real treat (for kids—and their . . .
By Mikee Mapalo Did you ever wonder why storybooks for kids are filled with illustrations or visuals? It’s because it’s proven that using illustrations alongside text helps in increasing children’s learning retention. According to Dr. Haig Kouyoumdjian, “Words are abstract and rather difficult for the brain to retain, whereas visuals are concrete and, as such, more easily remembered.” This is the power of visual imagery in learning. There are a lot of fun ways to encourage young kids to . . .
By Maya Payne Smart With a cross-country move and book deadline looming amid a global pandemic, a long, lazy summer vacation on a beach somewhere just wasn’t in the cards for my family. But we rallied in August to squeeze in a few long-weekend trips by plane, train, and automobile, so all wasn’t lost. In fact, we found that shorter trips, though less relaxing, had some surprising benefits. Most pertinent to this blog, they ramped up our reading, writing, and learning in unanticipated . . .
By Laila Weir Little kids love crafts, and they love dressing up. That’s probably why making beaded jewelry is so popular with the preschool and kindergarten sets. It also builds important fine motor skills, but guess what--with a simple adaptation, you can also use this fun activity to teach early reading and spelling. The seeds to literacy are planted long before kids start school, so it’s crucial for parents to introduce key knowledge to kids early on. And the best way to do it is to . . .
By Chrysta Naron “Plain paper is boring. I don’t know what to draw!” Hayes whined. My little friend wanted a coloring book—a Paw Patrol coloring book, to be exact. I understood his point of view; coloring books can be a lot of fun. But here’s the thing about standard coloring books. They don’t allow children to create their own ideas. And children naturally are wonderfully and wildly creative, even when they doubt themselves. So I devised a plan. “Let’s make a surprise book!” I said to . . .
By Courtney Runn You have likely spotted one on a neighborhood walk: a small, wooden house perched at the edge of someone’s yard filled with books and a little sign reading, “Take a Book, Leave a Book.” Since the founding of the nonprofit Little Free Library organization in 2009, these mini book havens have sprung up in more than 100 countries and can now be found on all seven continents. While simple in concept, these free libraries have long-term impacts on local . . .