Keep Your Kids Reading Over the Holidays
As the holiday season moves into full swing and kids are home from school, it's easy to get lost in the preparation and forget to keep children on a regular reading schedule.
One of the things kids look forward to in December is the academic downtime, but there's no reason why they can't keep their minds sharp during the holidays. And, believe it or not, they can have fun while doing it. “Reading doesn't have to mean sitting at a table with a boring school book for a set amount of time each day,” says Kathy Doyle Thomas, executive vice president of the bookstore chain, Half Price Books. “You can easily 'sneak' reading into daily activities.” Here are her tips for sneaking learning into holidays at home:
Great Ways to Keep Kids Reading Over the Holidays
While breaks from school should be fun, they don’t have to be breaks from learning. The down time of the holiday season is the perfect time of year to keep kids entertained with books.
And with recent adoption of the Common Core State Standards, which set expectations for what students should be learning so they will be college and career ready, children of all ages will be expected to read more non-fiction.
“As a parent, you can play an important role in helping your children meet the Common Core State Standards while on break,” says Donna Elder, senior literacy specialist for the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL). “By using fiction and their interests as a springboard for informational reading, you can make this a fun experience.”
Elder is providing reading ideas to feed your children’s interests. It’s all about offering them books on subjects in which you already know they are interested:
• For example, if your child enjoyed “The Cricket in Times Square” by George Selden, you can help foster his or her interest in crickets with “Insectiopedia” by Douglas Florian, “Chirping Crickets” by Melvin Berger, or “Cricket”s by Cheryl Coughlan.
• After reading “The Snow Child: A Russian Folktale” retold by Freya Littledale, follow up by encouraging your child to read about the science of weather with “The Kids’ Book of Weather Forecasting” by Mark Breen and Kathleen Friestad or “Weather” by Seymour Simon.
• Teens who couldn’t put down “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins may be interested in learning more about the origins and history of real athletic competitions. Start with “The Olympics: A History of the Modern Games” by Allen Guttmann.” Or entertain a newfound interest in the outdoors with “The Ultimate Survival Manual” by Rich Johnson or a field guides to birds.
• Together, visit the non-profit website www.Wonderopolis.org, voted one of TIME magazine’s 50 Top Websites of 2011. Wonderopolis is an effective way to teach nonfiction reading, which the Common Core State Standards identify as a critical skill. The site’s feature, “Wonder of the Day,” is aligned with these standards, examining a new topic daily.
• Is your child interested in baseball? From historical accounts like “Baseball: A History of America’s Favorite Game” by George Vecsey to a book that explains how bats are made, such as “Good Wood: The Story of the Baseball Bat,” by Stuart Miller, you can help kids score an academic homerun.
• Inspire the inner-chef in your children and test their ability to follow instructions with “Kids’ Fun and Healthy Cookbook,” by Nicola Graimes. Or opt for a picture-book biography like, “Bon Appetit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child” by Jessie Hartland.
Don’t let “educational” and “boring” mean the same thing in your household. By seeking out reading material that engages your children on their level on subjects that are meaningful to them, you can help them meet the Common Core State Standards, while having a very merry holiday season.
As one of the three Reading Specialists, I am fortunate to see students from each of the grade levels at Edison School. If your child receives services from me, here is an update on what we are working on together.
Third Grade Small Group Intervention
This group of students is using a program to help them build their phonics and decoding skills. We are working on several of the short vowel sounds and some consonant sounds. Every Monday I send home several books on a topic. Please read these books with your child and fill out their reading log. Reading at home is an important way to help your child build their reading skills.
Third Grade WIN Writing Group
This group of students is working on nouns and verbs and how these are used to make complete sentences. We will also be looking at sentence fragments and run on sentences. Ask your child if they can tell you how to use CUPS to check their writing. (Capitals, Understanding, Punctuation and Spelling) Please remind them to use CUPS when writing at home.
Third Grade Literature Block B Group
Each week we take a deeper look at the comprehension strategy for that week in Treasures. For example, this week we are looking at how a reader uses What They Read and What is in Their Head to make inferences (or draw conclusions). Students also read text at their instructional level and have the opportunity to apply the comprehension strategy.
Fourth Grade WIN time Group
This group is working on both their fluency and comprehension using materials from the Treasures series.
Fifth Grade Small Group Intervention
This group sees me for phonics and decoding and Mrs. Binder-Markey for comprehension at a different time during the day. We are using a program called Megawords to help teach the students how to break apart longer words into syllables. This helps them both be able to decode longer words and spell words correctly.
If your child sees me and you would like more information on their program, please call or email me. Thank you!
Here are some of my favorite sites for families on reading.
When a child is reading by themselves at home or at school, the text they are reading should be at their independent level. You may notice that your child sometimes picks books that are too difficult for him/her (frustrational level) or too easy. Our goal should be to help him/her learn how to pick books that are Just Right. One way you can do this at home is to reinforce the Five Finger Rule for picking books to read independently. Once they have found a book they think they would like to read, ask them to follow these steps.
Step One: Open the book to any page. (Sometimes the beginning or end page of a chapter only has a short amount of text on the page. Teach them how to pick another page if this is where they open the book.)
Step Two: Start reading the page aloud.
Step Three: Hold up one finger for every word you do not know how to pronounce or have trouble pronouncing.
Step Four: At the end of the page, see how many fingers you held up and compare them to this chart:
0-1 Fingers - This book might be too easy.
2-3 Fingers - This book is at the Just Right level.
4 Fingers - This books is challenging. You can try it and see if it makes sense.
5 Fingers - This book is too difficult. Maybe an adult can read it to you or you can try it later on in the year.
For older readers, another version of this strategy is the “I PICK” strategy from the authors Gail Boushey and Joan Moser.
I can pick a book that has...
Purpose (Why am I reading it? For entertainment, for a project?)
Interest (Is it holding my interest?)
Comprehension (Will I understand the book?)
Know (Can I read most of the words?)
Hello. My name is Mrs. Dellota and I have been a Reading Specialists at Edison School for over sixteen years. I really enjoy working with my students and helping them grow as readers and writers.
When I'm not at school or taking classes, you can find me with my husband and four year old daughter. We enjoy dancing, playing at the park, watching a little football, reading and cooking.
Please email or call me with any questions.
Have a great school year!
Lincoln Junior High