By Chrysta Naron One of my strongest memories growing up as a child was playing board games with my family. My dad’s favorite game was Sorry! Each time he bumped my piece off the board he shouted, “Sorry! I’m not sorry!” Was my dad creating trending phrases 20 years ahead of time or secretly a songwriter for Demi Lovato? Uncertain. But one thing’s sure—30 years later, I carry the warm memory of those evenings with me. Family game nights can be a really wonderful way to spend quality time . . .
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 . . .
By Laila Weir To set kids up for long-term success and get them kindergarten-ready, it’s important to introduce them to letters early and often. Repetition is key to really fixing these all-important squiggles into their memories, as is exposing them to letters in a variety of contexts. But as any parent knows, small children have a whole lot of energy to let out of their systems. Getting our little ones outside keeps them healthy and happy—and offers a welcome shot at tiring them . . .
By Chrysta Naron It’s that time of year. We’re packing our suitcases, putting on the sunscreen, and eating Goldfish crackers aplenty! But all that time in cars or planes can be tedious for little ones, so how do you keep them occupied? Games, of course! Here are a few of my favorite educational road trip games for kids, to keep your children engaged and learning while you travel. All of them are free or cheap, require little to no prep work, and fit into a backpack or purse. Happy . . .
By Chrysta Naron Henry was a Go Fish shark. He was a legend among my Pre-K classes: The best Go Fish player you’d ever seen under the age of five. He played it every day in class. He played it to the point where none of the other kids wanted to play anymore. But Henry refused to play any other games. It happened to be April—aka National Poetry Month—and our class was focusing on rhyming. So I decided to freshen up Go Fish and make it all about rhymes. The result was this awesome free . . .
By Chrysta Naron Have you ever looked at an uppercase A? Really looked at it? It’s tall, angular, and has nice long lines. Now look at a lowercase a. It’s short and round and sometimes even has a little hood on top. You might think, “How are these two symbols the same letter?” Well, your young child is probably thinking the exact same thing. It’s important for us to help kids learn the connection between uppercase and lowercase letters—that these two symbols are actually one and the . . .
By Chrysta Naron As a teacher, I love to make a themed activity that goes beyond a simple craft (though I love a good craft too), and an Easter egg hunt is a fun option to mix up our playground time when spring rolls around. But if I gave my four-year-olds a bunch of candy in the middle of the day, I’d have kids bouncing off the walls like pennies in a tin can! So I created this sight-word Easter egg hunt, instead. Why sight words? Well, sight words—also called high-frequency . . .
By Chrysta Naron One March a few years ago I was teaching Pre-K and had hit a teaching wall. I felt like I had exhausted my whole arsenal of reading activities. My students were bored of the same small-group activities as they progressed from learning letters to reading simple words. I didn’t know what to do to spice things up. Cue Cara. Cara, one of my students, showed up one day and proudly showed me a bag of her newest treasure: chocolate gold coins to share with the entire class. . . .
By Karen Williams Of all of the ways we can encourage learning and development in children, reading aloud to them is one of the simplest and most effective. Reading picture books to even the youngest children builds their vocabulary and comprehension. But what it doesn’t do, at least not automatically, is help them connect the lines on the page (which are so much less eye-catching than the illustrations) with the words they’re hearing. To get the most out of story time, we need to . . .
By Chrysta Naron “How do I teach my child to read?” This is the number one question I hear from parents. They often feel lost or ill equipped to teach reading. But while there are incredible pre-designed resources out there, the truth is that you can totally do this on your own! Many of the best tools to help children learn to read are simple things you may already have around the house (though you might not associate them with reading). As an added bonus, most of these . . .