Creating Meaningful Family Gatherings

Making the Holidays MeaningfulMy husband and I have a little inside joke when the holidays come around. We say to each other, “Remember, the holidays aren’t about being happy – they’re about being with family.” Actually, both sides of our extended family are pretty great. The holidays can be stressful though! What would happen if this holiday season we focused on the strengths that our family members bring to the table? This time of year provides the perfect opportunity to learn about the traditions and values of other family members when we gather for the holidays.

Red Apple Reading has some suggestions for making the holidays especially meaningful for all of the generations in your family.

  1. Look Through Old Photo Albums – When planning the family gathering this holiday season, ask everyone to bring an old photo album to share. Everyone is sure to enjoy this mutually satisfying activity and the kids will discover that Grandma was actually a little girl once!
  2. Prepare a Family Recipe – Most families have a recipe that has been handed down through the generations. During the holidays invite the best cook in the family to share a recipe and prepare it with the kids. The adult will love to share her wisdom and the kids will receive a cooking lesson!
  3. Share Family Stories – My husband has quite possibly the best childhood stories of all time. It helps that he comes from a family of characters and is a really great story teller! The kids love to hear their father recount these stories. At the next holiday get-together, take turns sharing your stories with one another. Old and young alike will get a kick out of reminiscing together.
  4. Make Ornaments – If you have a crafty family, then break out the popsicle sticks, glitter, and glue and craft some Christmas creations together! A quick perusal of Pinterest will yield several cute ornament ideas. We like these ideas from Southern Girl Ramblings! You might find your family enjoys crafting so much that it becomes a holiday tradition.
  5. Volunteer – Another meaningful way to spend the holidays is by helping the less fortunate. Most shelters and soup kitchens prepare special holiday meals for those in need. Your family can volunteer to help serve, wash dishes, clean up, or visit with the guests. Giving back to the community is a wonderful way to spread some holiday cheer.
  6. Deck the Halls – Decorating for the holidays is fun; but it can also be overwhelming! Why not take advantage of Thanksgiving company and ask for a little assistance decorating the tree and hanging the stockings? When the decorating is complete, load up and head to the next family member’s house. After all, “a burden shared is a burden halved”!

Make your family gatherings meaningful this holiday season! Each relative is an important piece of your family heritage and has their own special part to play in the life of your family! We would love to hear how your family makes their seasonal get-togethers special. Leave a comment below sharing your ideas!



Gifts That Promote Literacy

Gifts That Promote Literacy Have you ever considered how precious the gift of literacy is? We often take the ability to read and write for granted, but many people will never experience the joy of getting lost in a good book. This holiday season celebrate the privilege of reading by giving gifts that promote literacy. Red Apple Reading has compiled a list of presents that are not only literary friendly but are also a lot of fun!


  1. Wooden ABC Blocks – Let’s start with an oldie, but a goodie! Small kids love learning and building with ABC blocks.
  2. Journals – Journals with fun covers and bright colors encourage kids to get their creative writing juices flowing!
  3. Boggle Junior – Combine playing and learning. Kids will love playing Boggle Junior on Christmas afternoon.
  4. ABC Puzzles – If your child is a hands on learner, he will enjoy constructing letter and word puzzles.
  5. MagnatabMagnatab alphabet boards will help your little writer learn to form letters. The magnetic stylus and bead board are perfect for kinesthetic learners!
  6. Magazine Subscriptions – This is the gift that keeps giving all year! Once a month your kiddo will receive a new gift via the postman.
  7. Dry Erase Board / Chalk Board – Let your little one write and erase until his heart is content with a dry erase or chalk board this Christmas. Don’t forget the chalk or markers!
  8. Books – Make sure there is at least one book under the tree for your kiddo to unwrap this season. We have it on good authority that Santa is a big fan of reading ;) Need some suggestions? Visit our Pinterest board, Nothing But Books for Kids, and you’re sure to find the perfect title for your bookworm.
  9. Magnetic Letters – Because they keep your kiddo occupied while you prepare supper, magnetic letters are a present for parents and children alike!
  10. E-Readers – Are you running out of nooks for all your child’s books? Why not purchase an E-Reader for your kiddo? They can enjoy a full library of books and you don’t have to find space for the extra reading material!
  11. Book Lights – Encourage night reading with attachable book lights.
  12. Rory’s Story Cubes – This creative story generating dice game is fun for all ages!
  13. Online Software and Apps – Last, but not least, online software and apps are the perfect gift for tech-savvy kids. Visit Red Apple Reading to purchase a membership today! Children will love the fun games and parents will love the results!


Tips to Support Young Readers at Home

Thankful for Reading!While our family celebrations may have looked a little different last weekend, many of us like to reflect on our blessings this time of year. Here at Red Apple Reading, we are especially grateful for the many resources available to support children’s literacy. After all, the ability to read and write has a direct effect on our kiddos’ future success. Did you know one of the most important resources available to your child is you – their parent? You don’t have to be a teacher in order to meaningfully contribute to your child’s literary development. All it takes is a little time and effort. As our gift to you, we have some tips to help you get started!

How You Can Support Your Young Reader:

  • Read Together – Probably the most important thing parents can do to promote literacy in their children is to simply read with them. Whether they read to you or you read to them, time gathered around a book is time well spent.
  • Visit the Library – Regular visits to your local public library speaks volumes to your child about the importance of books.  When parents are willing to take time out of their busy schedules to pop in to the library and borrow books, children realize that reading is valuable.
  • Play Games – Kids love to play games. Why not sneak a little learning into game time? For example, you could take turns naming foods that begin with each letter of the alphabet. Sometimes my five-year-old and I play a game where I sound out a word (C-A-T) and he puts the sounds together to form the word. It doesn’t take a creative genius to come up with a few simple games that encourage literacy.
  • Build a Home Library – A home that is filled with books is a home that promotes literacy. There is no need to break the bank in order to build your home library. Thrift stores and garage sales are excellent avenues for obtaining books at reasonable prices. Websites like Half.Com and Amazon also offer used books at reduced prices.
  • Help With Homework – Active involvement with homework is a crucial element in supporting your young reader. While school may be the primary vehicle for educating your child, parents should never underestimate the importance of their interest in the educational process. The simple act of sitting near your little one and being available to help will serve as a major source of support.
  • Model Reading – You’ve no doubt heard the old saying, “Actions speak louder than words”. These words of wisdom are especially true when it comes to encouraging good reading habits. We can talk all day about the importance of reading; but if our children never see us pick up a book, our words will ring hollow.
  • Make Technology Time Count – Parents can also help their little ones find online games that promote literacy. Fortunately, we know just the site to recommend. ;) Red Apple Reading’s online software program is a tool that every parent should have in their bag of resources! Check out our 30 day free trial today!



Balancing Your Child’s Use of Technology

Balancing Your Child's Use of Technology

One thing I’ve learned in my career as a mom is that much of parenting is a balancing act. One particular issue that can be tricky to navigate with kids is balancing their use of technology. Red Apple Reading has some suggestions that we think will help you achieve electronic equilibrium in your home!


Limit Screen Time – Does it seem like every time you turn around your kid is on the computer? It can be hard to managing technology time. Here’s a few ways to help curb the computer craze!

  • Set a Timer – Time flies when you’re having fun. If left to their own devices, children will spend endless hours in front of a screen. If you feel like you are constantly nagging your kiddo to get off the computer, let the timer be the bad guy. When the alarm goes off, the computer does as well!
  • Earn Screen Time – Another effective way to limit screen time is to have your child earn the privilege. For instance, for every chapter read, your kid could receive 10 minutes of screen time. If your little one has a hard time finishing her chores, offer 15 minutes of technology for each completed task.
  • Computer Curfew – When my oldest daughter was in middle school, I noticed that she was getting out of bed earlier and earlier to get online. To nip the problem in the bud (and make sure she was getting the sleep she needed) we told her no computer time before 9:00 a.m. If your kiddo is staying up too late because he has trouble “unplugging”, then put the computer “to bed” at an appropriate time each night.

Make it Count! – Another important piece in balancing technology is to ensure that time spent on screen is meaningful. There is no end to the different games, videos, and sites for children to peruse online. While they are plugged in, be sure to make it count!

  • Creativity – How creative is the content of your kiddo’s favorite game or website? Is your child watching countless mindless videos? Are the games he’s playing inspiring creativity? Be sure a substantial portion of your kid’s screen time inspires innovation.
  • Math – If you’re like me, you don’t consider solving math problems in your spare time to be much fun. Believe it or not, there are tons of fun educational math games for kids to play online. My son’s 4th grade math class recently participated in an online Kakooma tournament on Greg Tang Math and came in first place. They not only sharpened their math skills but had a good time in the process.
  • Coding – Computer coding or programming is growing in popularity even among children. Tech savvy kids are learning how to code and loving it! Check out this Edutopia article that lists 7 apps for teaching children computer coding.
  • Reading – Improving reading skills is one of the best uses of computer time. Of course, it may be possible that we at Red Apple Reading are a bit biased! We do think you’ll agree with us once you visit our website. Check out our free online trial today!

Online Resources for Families

Family Sitting On Sofa At Home With LaptopHow did I ever manage before I could go online? OK, as I recall I did manage to survive. But I have to admit, having access to the internet really makes my life a lot easier! If I don’t understand my kid’s homework he needs help with, where do I go? The internet! What if I need to know how to make my own taco seasoning? I go to the internet! If I need to order the next book in the Big Nate series for my son, I get online. You get the picture. Online resources rock! Today, Red Apple Reading shares 6 favorite online resources for families.

  1. Pinterest – Who knew you could gain so much information from an online pin board? Really! I can’t remember how I prepared dinner before I was introduced to Pinterest! If you are interested in crafting, cooking, education, fashion, humor, holiday planning, or just about anything else – you just can’t beat Pinterest! If you haven’t already become a pinner, go straight to this amazing site and get started immediately!
  2. Discovery Education – With resources for parents, students, and teachers, Discovery Education is a wonderful asset for families! This website is particularly helpful if your family needs help in the homework department – step-by-step math instruction is just one of the amazing resources available to families! I personally love the Puzzle Maker which allows you to create your own puzzles (word search, cryptograms, hidden phrases, etc.) for free!
  3. National Geographic – Watch a video about stink bugs, take a quiz on international foods, put together a puzzle of Africa, and learn 5 surprising squirrel facts. These are just a smattering of the fun things you and your family can enjoy when you visit this fun and informative website. National Geographic offers a plethora of fun games, activities, and videos that the whole family will enjoy!
  4. Fun Magazine – If you’re looking for fun crafts, games and activities for your kiddos, then look no further than Fun Magazine! This website was my go-to for years when I had small children. I love their party planning ideas and Toy of the Year awards. Make sure to check out this fun-filled online resource today!
  5. Scholastic – Who doesn’t look forward to receiving those Scholastic book fliers from their child’s school? I have to admit it’s one of my favorite things to find in my son’s backpack (my least favorite: the smushed snack). Did you know that Scholastic also has a great website with resources for children and their parents? Kids can read stories, find printables, play games, and watch videos. Parents will find homework help, suggestions for building their child’s library, daily tips and more.
  6. Red Apple Reading – Get ready, we’re about to toot our own horn (but it really does deserve sounding!). Red Apple Reading is a great online resource for families who have emerging, early, or struggling readers. If you’re looking for top notch reading instruction outside of the classroom, then look no further than Red Apple Reading! Your kids will love the fun and engaging games and you will love the results! Check out our free sample lessons today!