By Chrysta Naron If you’ve ever sat with a beginning reader, you’ll notice that knowing letter sounds doesn’t magically jump straight to reading words fluently. Learning how to blend those sounds into a word is your child’s next step to literacy. However, it can be tricky to demonstrate without just doing it for them. With this word slide, your child will learn this key reading skill and be able to control the speed at which they read. This simple activity is a great tool to teach reading. . . .
By Chrysta Naron Letters are keys for children to unlock the written world, and their futures. They’re also shapes—complicated ones. Teaching your child to see and form these important lines and curves will set them on the path to reading. Yet all those letters can look a whole lot alike to young kids. This crafty early literacy activity helps even the youngest kids, who can’t yet write with a pencil, distinguish and remember letters. This easy project leverages the power of talking about . . .
By Maya Payne Smart Austin may be known for live music and technology show stoppers ACL and SXSW, but the quieter, gentler TBF stole my heart when I landed in Texas. Within weeks of moving to town, I signed up to volunteer with the Texas Book Festival’s Reading Rock Stars program, which brings authors to Title I schools and gives each child a book, sometimes the very first they’ve ever owned. And within a few months I joined the festival’s board and served for four years. This year the . . .
By Kelsey Nickerson Why buy a pencil case when you can make your own in a few simple steps? Duct tape comes in so many fun patterns that you can use to create a super-cute DIY pencil case. You can even punch three holes along the bottom of your case and it will fit perfectly in a binder. Once you get the hang of cutting the duct tape, this DIY pencil case craft will not take long at all. Kids might need a little help aligning the tape, but they can easily join in and create their own . . .
By Maya Payne Smart More and more students enter school with no knowledge of classic nursery rhymes, primary school teachers report. Some traditional poems like Baa Baa Black Sheep passed from generation to generation for centuries, but they hold markedly less appeal for today’s parents. Indeed, many parents admit not recalling the nursery rhymes of their youth, let alone teaching them to their kids. And this has some educators, researchers, and early childhood experts . . .
By Chrysta Naron All my kiddos are top notch chefs. I have eaten some of the best imaginary banana cupcakes and sand buckets filled with stew in the world. I bet you have too. So today, let’s cook up a little “edible” literacy activity for you and your little one to enjoy! Dramatic play (aka “playing pretend”) is a very important part of child development and one of the most enjoyable parts of any day with young kids. It can be tough to ask a child to stop being a superhero in order to sit . . .
By Maya Payne Smart The term “read aloud” is deceptively simple—so self-evident in meaning that it seldom inspires discussion beyond admonitions to read with feeling and do it daily. But three decades of reading research reveals that there’s much more than reading aloud going on during the best story times. And, in fact, conversation that veers off the page may be as literacy-rich as the words in print. Caregivers use more than 20 different kinds of speech during read-alouds, ranging from . . .
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 . . .