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!



Football Fans Score with Reading

Football Fans Score with Reading - Red Apple ReadingFootball season is in full swing, and in the South we are serious about this sport! It’s like a five month long holiday filled with joy, gatherings, food, fun and hard feelings. I joke (kinda). Obviously, there are football fans all over the country, and the nip in the air that comes with autumn signals the arrival of this beloved pastime. To be honest with you, I’d rather read a good book and leave football watching to my husband and sons. But really there’s no reason to choose between these two loves. Red Apple Reading has some fun ways for parents to combine reading and football for their little pigskin fans.

  • Football Reading Challenge – If your kiddo enjoys the competition that accompanies football, she would also probably enjoy a reading challenge. Create a fun competition that encourages your child to read. Sit down with your kid and help her come up with a reasonable number of books to read during the season. After you have established a goal come up with some fun incentives to keep her motivated. Perhaps a funnel cake or other yummy treat from the concession stand at the school football game for every book read. At the end of the season, have a Super Bowl size celebration to reward your champion reader.
  • Football Books – Do you have a football fan in your family who isn’t crazy about reading? Perhaps a book about their favorite sport would provide a little encouragement. Fortunately, there is no shortage of football-themed books available for children these days. Whether your kiddo likes fiction or non-fiction reading, there are books out there for him! Check out this list of 10 football books for kids on Fancy Shanty!
  • Football Sight Words – If you have an emerging reader in your family you probably know all about sight words! Sight words are words that appear regularly in kid’s books that children need to know upon sight (they can’t always be sounded out phonetically). Young readers who love football can practice their sight words by writing them on football shaped pieces of construction paper. They will also enjoy Football Fanatic – a football sight word literacy packet found on Teachers Pay Teachers.
  • Football Writing Prompts – Reading and writing go hand in hand. If you want to nurture your football fan’s passion for writing, encourage him write about what he loves! Give your kiddo some ideas to help him get started. For instance: “If you were a professional football player, who would you play for?” or “Why do you think football is the best sport to play?”. After all, children are more inclined to write if they’re writing about something that they find interesting!
  • Football, Tailgating, and Reading – Many families enjoy tailgating during the football season. If your crew tailgates before the big game, add a book to the game day menu. While the burgers are on the grill, pull out a book and read to the family. This will not only help pass the time while you wait on lunch but also boost your children’s appetite for reading!

Don’t make the mistake of assuming because your child is a sports nut that he or she will not enjoy reading. Find ways to incorporate football into your child’s reading time. With a little creative thinking and planning you will find that you not only have a football fan in your home but you also have a reading fan!


Fun Fall Books

Fun Fall Books - Red Apple ReadingFall is one of my favorite times of the year. The weather finally begins to cool down, the days get shorter, and the holiday season is right around the corner. There’s just something special about the season. Another one of my favorite things is a good book! This week Red Apple Reading is combining these two good things to bring you a bushel load of fun fall books. You’re sure to find a book that you and your little one can enjoy together!


Pumpkin Books

  • Little Boo (Stephen Wunderli) – This little pumpkin seed can’t wait to grow up. Preschool – Early Elementary.
  • The Pumpkin Patch Puzzle (Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew) (Carolyn Keene) – The River Heights Fall Festival is in jeopardy of being cancelled. Nancy Drew and the clue crew are on the case! 1st – 4th grade.
  • Pumpkin Heads (Wendell Minor) – Children will enjoy a wide range of Jack-O-Lanterns with different expressions and personalities. Preschool – 3rd grade.
  • The Berenstain Bears and the Prize Pumpkin (Stan and Jan Berenstain) – Will Papa Bear win the pumpkin contest? He may not, but the family learns the importance of being thankful! Preschool – 2nd grade.
  • Ten Orange Pumpkins: A Counting Book (Stephen Savage) – A fun backwards counting book. Where do the pumpkins go? Preschool.

Leaf Books

  • Leaf Man (Lois Ehlert) – Where will the wind blow the leaf man? Beautifully illustrated with leaf collages and includes an identification guide. Kindergarten – 2nd grade.
  • Fall is Not Easy (Marty Kelley) – The tree in this story can take all the seasons in stride – except for fall! This hilarious book details the hardship a tree faces as it changes colors in the fall. Preschool – 2nd grade.
  • Trees, Leaves, and Bark (Take Along Guides) (Diane Burns) – A kid-friendly field guide to trees. Children learn how to identify different parts of particular trees as well as tips on where to find them. 3rd – 7th grade.
  • We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt (Steve Metzger) – Three friends participate in an exciting hunt for leaves! Find out what they do with their leaf finds at the end of the story. A nice rhyming read-aloud. Preschool – 3rd grade.
  • Fall Leaves (Loretta Holland) – A beautiful picture book about the changes that take place during the fall season. Nice, rhythmic book for autumn. Preschool – 3rd grade.

 Halloween Books

  • Creepy Carrots (Aaron Reynolds) – Jasper Rabbit loves to eat carrots but he starts to suspect that they may be following him! Funny read illustrated in film noir style. Preschool – 3rd grade.
  • Click, Clack, Boo! : A Tricky Treat (Doreen Cronin) – Farmer Brown may not like Halloween but the farm animals do not feel the same. They are ready to party! Preschool – 2nd grade.
  • The Monsterator (Keith Graves) – Edgar is bored with the usual Halloween costumes – then he discovers the “monsterator”. 2nd- 5th grade.
  • Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween: A Safety Guide for Scaredies (Melanie Watt) – Scaredy Squirrel is back and he’s preparing for Halloween. Discover this anxious squirrel’s funny tips for pumpkin carving, costume selection and more! Preschool – 3rd grade.
  • My Weird School Special: It’s Halloween, I’m Turning Green! (Dan Gutman) – It’s time for A.J. and his friends to trick-or-treat, but when a monster steals their candy things take a weird turn. 1st – 5th grade.

Thanksgiving Books

  • Turkey Trouble (Wendi Silvano) – Oh no! It’s Thanksgiving and Turkey doesn’t want to be the main course. Kids will love the hilarious disguises Turkey tries out to escape being a Thanksgiving meal. Preschool – 2nd grade.
  • Thanksgiving Is… (Gail Gibbons) – A nice read about all that Thanksgiving means. The perfect amount of history for young children along with contemporary traditions. Preschool – 2nd grade.
  • Thanksgiving on Thursday (Magic Treehouse) (Mary Pope Osborne) – Join Jack and Annie when they travel back in time to 1621 for the first Thanksgiving celebration. 1st – 4th grade.
  • Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving (Joseph Bruchac) – The story of the first Thanksgiving told from the viewpoint of Squanto. An inspiring story about a very courageous Native American. 1st -3rd grade.
  • Arthur’s Thanksgiving (Marc Brown) – Arthur has been chosen to direct the class Thanksgiving play. What will he do when no one will play the role of the turkey? Preschool – 1st grade.


The Importance of Vocabulary

Importance of VocabularyBeginning in first grade, my kiddos have all had a vocabulary test once a week all the way through elementary school. I would like to have you believe that I’m the world’s greatest mom and relish these opportunities to quiz my little geniuses! But in all honesty, some nights I just don’t want to go through the vocabulary list again. After all, we’ve already tackled spelling and multiplication facts – do we really need vocabulary too? The answer to my own question is a resounding “Yes!” Increasing vocabulary is an essential skill for young readers. Red Apple Reading has some helpful information about the importance of vocabulary and how you can help your little one boost her language skills.

What’s the Big Deal?

You might be wondering what all the vocabulary fuss is about. Does your child really need to know the meaning of all kinds of words?

  • Dictionaries Are Not Always Available  – While dictionaries are wonderful tools (every household should have one) they are not in themselves sufficient for helping our kids develop their language. After all, we do not always have quick access to this resource. And even when a dictionary is available, children may not always take advantage of this luxury.
  • Improved Reading Comprehension – While your child may be able to read a word, it doesn’t necessarily mean she understands the meaning of the word. Reading is an important life skill and your kid will only reap the full benefits if she comprehends the text. A large vocabulary will help to improve your child’s reading comprehension.
  • Self-expression – Vocabulary not only helps our kids academically, it also benefits them socially. When children have a large vocabulary, they are better able to express themselves and be understood by others. In an article for Scholastic, Francie Alexander says, “How many times have you asked your students or your own children to ‘use your words’? When children and adolescents improve their vocabulary, their academic and social confidence and competence improve, too.” A broad vocabulary is a great tool for helping children succeed in social situations.

How Can I Help?

There are several ways that you can help your little one increase his vocabulary!

  • Be a Vocabulary Model – Most of us could never make it in the fashion industry, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be models! Modeling a good vocabulary is a great way to help your kid increase her language skills. Conversing with our children is a natural part of our day. By being intentional in using new words and explaining the meaning of words, we will help our kids boost their vocabulary! Check out this mom’s fun way of modeling vocabulary in What Do We Do All Day.
  • Read – When you read to your child, you are not only spending some great quality time together, but you are also helping her build vocabulary. Regular exposure to the written word is an ideal method for boosting language; and with mom or dad there to explain new words it makes reading that much more meaningful.
  • Teach Context – Teaching our kids how to use context to figure out the meaning of words is an important skill in growing their vocabulary. When your child comes to you with his book asking for the meaning of a word, resist the urge to automatically reply. Instead, teach him to look at the text around the word to find clues to the word’s meaning. This is an invaluable skill for readers of any age and comes in particularly handy when a dictionary is not readily available!

How do you help your kiddo expand his vocabulary? Leave us a comment below – we love to hear your ideas!