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 . . .
By Sydney Moninger, COTA/L Kids love to make a mess. So much so that even the most painstakingly arranged craft can quickly turn into demolition time! Sometimes, the best way to hold their attention is to use the mess productively. This simple and free tactile letter activity lets kids make a controlled mess while learning essential reading and writing skills. The key is using a multisensory approach. A multisensory activity uses a combination of the five senses: touch, taste, smell, . . .
By Chrysta Naron As summer begins to wind down, all I can think is, “I want s’more!” S’more fun, s’more sunshine, s’more time by a campfire, and definitely s’more of the delectable dessert of the season itself. In that spirit, and to keep up the summer learning, we’re going to create a fun s’mores spelling game that teaches tricky consonant blends. This activity will evoke the fun of toasting marshmallows, but with a lot less gooey mess. (Or for an extra-gooey edible option, see the end of . . .
By Chrysta Naron As grownups, we often think of playtime and learning time as two separate parts of the day, when really they overlap! Play is a great way to engage young children and spur brain growth and development. Kids can gain cognitive skills, social-emotional knowledge, new vocabulary, and literacy abilities—all without boring drills or rote repetition. So when it’s time to help your child learn academic subjects, infuse play into the activity and you’ll see your child grow quickly . . .
By Amy Williams You can’t get started too early preparing children for school. But if you think that means strapping them into high chairs and busting out the blackboard, forget it! Getting kids ready for kindergarten—at least academically speaking—mostly means engaging with them and making sure you expose them to lots of letters and words, books and ideas. (Numbers too, but in this post we’ll be focusing on pre-reading skills.) There are simple things you can do at home to make sure your . . .
By Chrysta Naron I scream, you scream, we all scream, “Ice cream!” And, if you’re like me, you might also be screaming for a break from the summer heat. However, I still want to make indoor play fun, creative, and, if possible, educational. Enter scoop sentences! When kids are learning to read, they can begin to identify sentences by capitalization and punctuation. Yet, when they begin to write and construct their own sentences, it can be difficult to know what a sentence needs. This super . . .
By Laila Weir Summertime is almost here! Whether for your family that means hitting the road, getting outside, or lounging at home, we have some tips to keep your little ones learning at the same time. Hint: The key to summer learning is the same as the key to all learning with preschoolers—keep it fun. With that in mind, enjoy this roundup of fun summer learning games, activities, and more for preschoolers and young elementary school children. Mix Summer Learning into Your Preschooler’s . . .