Make Learning Fun at Home!

Little girl with alphabet

All parents want their children to experience success in life. An important part of parenting is making sure that our little ones develop the skills necessary to be fully literate. You don’t have to have a teaching degree in order to help your kiddo learn. In fact, the main way that young children learn is through play! Check out these ideas on how you can make learning fun at home.

Repurpose Household Items – Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box when considering ways to teach your children. The primary way young children learn is through play and your home is a treasure trove of teaching materials! Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Flour Power – Everyone has flour at home. If you want to keep little hands busy while you are preparing supper, set up a small “sand tray” for your kiddo to practice tracing letters. A 9×13 or roasting pan with a little flour, salt, or sugar, becomes the perfect manipulative for practicing letter writing.
  • Magazine Messages – Kids love to cut and paste! If your house is like mine, there are several old magazines lying around. Let your little one cut out lots of different letters and identify them as she pastes. If your child is already spelling small words, have her form words with the cut outs.
  • Lego Love – How many times this past week have you stepped on one of those pesky Legos that are laying all over the house? Most moms have a love/hate relationship with these building blocks; but children are crazy for them! Check out how this blogger from One Perfect Day used Legos and play dough to spice up her little one’s learning.

Vary Reading Material – It’s always important to have plenty of reading material available throughout the house! Make sure you have a good variety for your kiddo to choose from, and encourage friends and relatives to donate or purchase books and magazines that you think your children will enjoy. Don’t forget about all of the free books at your local library!

  • Fiction and Non-Fiction Books – I love to read fiction; however, my youngest son prefers to read non-fiction books about animals. It’s important for a home library to have both fiction and non-fiction reading material. You may also want to have both shorter picture books and chapter books for read-alouds. How balanced is your kid’s bookshelf?
  • Other Reading Material – It’s just as important that your child see a variety of reading material available, including magazines, comic books, recipes, cereal boxes, and websites.

Make Sight Words and Spelling Words Fun – Let’s face it – it can be difficult to get excited about practicing spelling words and sight words at the end of a busy day. Nevertheless, it’s important that our little ones not associate literacy with drudgery. Here at Red Apple Reading we believe learning should be seriously fun! Check out these tips to help bring a little fun to spelling and sight word practice:

  • Refrigerator Review – If you have young children there’s a better than average chance you have alphabet magnets on the refrigerator. These manipulatives are perfect resources for varying how you review spelling/sight words. Instead of writing or spelling the word aloud, have your kiddo spell it with the magnets.
  • Wikki Words – Let your youngster use Wikki Stix to practice his spelling. These colorful sticky manipulatives can be twisted into different letter shapes and are wonderfully mess free!
  • Red Apple Reading –Your child will enjoy playing our online games so much that she won’t even realize how much she is learning. If you want to give your child a little extra help with sight words, phonics, vocabulary, fluency and reading comprehension, then sign up now for a no risk trial. Red Apple Reading makes it fun to learn!

We would love to hear how you make learning fun at home! Leave us a comment sharing your favorite ways to sneak a little fun into the learning process.

7 Books that Celebrate Uniqueness

Did you know that August 13th is International Left-Handers Day? Left- handed people are definitely unique. Only about 10% of the population is left-hand dominant! Southpaws may be in the minority, but they are also in good company. Albert Einstein, Aristotle, Helen Keller, and Marie Curie were all lefties! In honor of International Left-Handers Day, Red Apple Reading has composed a list of 7 books that celebrate uniqueness.

tacky the penguin


Tacky the Penguin (Helen Lester) – Tacky is a penguin who marches to the beat of his own drum! While the other Penguins have very “buttoned up” personalities, Tacky is loud in both his mannerisms and dress. In the end, Tacky’s unique personality actually helps save the day! (Pre-school – Early Elementary)





Leo the Late Bloomer


Leo the Late Bloomer (Robert Kraus) – Leo’s dad is worried about his little Tiger. He can’t seem to get anything right! But Leo’s mom knows that he will eventually “blossom” when the time is right for him! This book is a sweet reminder that everyone blooms at their own pace. (Preschool – Early Elementary)





a bad case of stripes


A Bad Case of Stripes (David Shannon) – Poor Camilla Cream! She is always concerned with what other people think of her. In fact, she will not eat lima beans (which she loves) because the other kids don’t like them! It all leads to a bad case of stripes. Will Camilla learn that it’s OK to be herself? (Elementary School Students)





Big Bouffant


Big Bouffant (Kate Hosford) – Annabelle doesn’t want a hairstyle like the other girls. She wants something exciting and different! After seeing a picture of her grandmother, she knows just what kind of hair-do she wants. This book reminds readers that it’s good to be an individual. (Elementary School Students)





the colors of us


The Colors of Us (Karen Katz) – Lena is learning that brown comes in many different shades! This charming book celebrates the different shades of skin colors. Children will not only enjoy the story, but they will love the beautiful illustrations as well! (Preschool – Early Elementary)





odd velvet


Odd Velvet (Mary Whitcomb) – Velvet doesn’t fit in with the rest of the kids. She doesn’t have a new dress like the other girls at the beginning of the year and she brings odd things to school! Will the other children learn to appreciate Velvet’s differences? (Preschool – Early Elementary)




same, same but differentSame, Same but Different (Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw) – Kailash lives in India and Elliot lives in America. These two boys learn that while there are many differences between their two cultures, there are also many things about their lives that are the same! A nice story about two pen pals who learn to value diversity while realizing they are also similar in many ways! (Preschool – Early Elementary)


Start the School Year on a Positive Note

Getting the School Year Off to a Positive Start

Summer break is almost over! Some school children have another month of vacation to enjoy, and many students are heading back to the classroom in the next few weeks. While returning to a structured routine is appealing, beginning a new year can be stressful for both kids and parents! Red Apple Reading has a few tips to help your family get the school year off to a positive start.


A Week Before:

  • Book Bag Deposit – Strategically placed wall hangers, cubbies, or baskets ensure that kids can quickly locate their back packs and books.
  • Homework Headquarters – Prepare a place for kids to work. A quiet work space stocked with pencils, pens, and paper, is a must for successful homework completion!
  • Parent Papers – We all know how hard it is to keep track of all those notes, calendars, and lunch menus that go home daily. Purchase a paper tray to keep all those pieces of paper tidy and handy. When kids empty their book bags, papers for home go immediately in the tray!
  • Time to Talk – One of the most important things parents can do to help their little ones get off on the right foot is to talk with them about the upcoming year. A simple conversation can reveal your child’s fears, hopes, and expectations. So before classes start take your kiddo out for an ice cream and discuss the approaching school year.

The Night Before:

  • Fuss Free Wardrobe – Avoid morning drama over clothing. Have your child choose his outfit and lay it out the night before. Make sure clothing complies with the school dress code.
  • Packed and Ready – Make certain book bags are packed with completed homework and other papers that have to be returned.
  • Reasonable Bed Time – One of the most effective ways to improve your child’s school experience is by ensuring she gets adequate sleep each night. The National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute recommends that preschoolers get 11-12 hours of sleep per night; while school age children require at least 10 hours, and teens need 9-10 hours.

The Morning of the First Day:

  • Time to Go– Make sure your kiddo has plenty of time to get ready in the morning. A mad, morning rush almost guarantees that you will be sending a disgruntled child off to school. Some kids move slowly in the morning and others hit the ground running. Plan your morning accordingly!
  • Breakfast Boost – Be sure to incorporate a healthy breakfast into your morning schedule. A full tummy will help your little one concentrate and give her the energy she needs to tackle the day! Many schools offer breakfast before classes begin each morning. Often these meals are free or reduced depending on your household income. Ask your school administration for details!

We can’t be in complete control over how our child’s first day of school unfolds, but we can implement a few strategies to help make the transition smoother. We hope your kiddos have an enjoyable first day of school this year!

Speaking of back to school, for a limited time you can get the complete Red Apple Reading Program for up to 40% off with our back to school special. If you want to learn more about helping your child become a successful reader with serious learning that’s seriously fun, visit our website for a free trial today!

Fun Read-Aloud Chapter Books

As children get older it’s easy for parents to let daily read-aloud time slide. This summer revive this important practice in your home! Not only does reading aloud to children help to combat the “summer slump”, but it also builds crucial attachments and makes for fond childhood memories. Not sure where to start? Red Apple Reading has compiled a list of 10 great chapter books that all parents should read aloud to their children.



My Father’s Dragon (Ruth Stiles Gannett) – Little ones will enjoy this tale of the brave, little boy, Elmer Elevator, as he goes on an epic quest to save a baby dragon. A nice read for preschool and young, elementary aged students.







The Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis) – For years, children have enjoyed this classic from beloved author C.S. Lewis. Little ones (and their parents!) will enjoy visiting the magical world of Narnia with its talking animals, witches, and other fanciful creatures. An inspiring set of stories for all ages!









Little House on the Prairie Series (Laura Ingalls Wilder) – Elementary school kids will learn all about pioneer life in the 1800’s as they listen to the captivating true stories of little Laura and her family. Kids as well as parents will love these wholesome adventures about the western frontier!





The Jungle Book (Rudyard Kipling) – Most adults are at least familiar with some of the wild creature stories contained in Rudyard Kipling’s famous work. I confess that I only recently read this gem when I bought it to read aloud to my son. If your child loves animals and a good adventure story, then they will enjoy this book as much as my little guy! Elementary and middle school kids will like these exciting tales!






Junie B. Jones Series (Barbara Park) – These stories about the mischievous Junie B. are sure to tickle your little one’s funny bone! Kids will love listening to all the predicaments this little girl manages to get herself into. Make sure to read these to your early elementary aged child!







Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White) – This classic tale of friendship is a must read-aloud! Charlotte the spider is determined to save her pig friend Wilbur from the fate that befalls most pigs. This lovely book teaches elementary children life lessons they will never forget!





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The Tale of Despereaux (Kate DiCamillo) – Readers will meet a cast of misfit characters who have big dreams in this delightful story by Kate DiCamillo. One of these oddballs is a little mouse named Despereaux who happens to be in love with a princess named Pea. Elementary students will enjoy the unfolding of this endearing tale!






A Long Way from Chicago (Richard Peck) – Children will love hearing about the adventures of Joey and his little sister Mary Alice as they visit their larger than life Grandmother each summer. An amusing and heart-warming tale of family for older elementary and middle school students.







Mr.Popper’s Penguins (Richard Atwater) – What happens when you put a well-meaning man and a brood of penguins together? Find out when you read this classic tale to your little ones. Elementary students will love this charming story.






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Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series (Jeff Kinney) Kids will love following Greg Heffley as he navigates the unknown world of middle school. These hysterical books are written in diary form with funny comic style pictures. Older elementary and middle school kids will get a kick out of this series!

Teaching While You Travel: Making the Most of Your Road Trip!

Teaching While You Travel - Red Apple ReadingAre you planning a family trip this summer that involves long hours in the car? Everyone loves a vacation, but the actual road trip itself can be tedious – especially for families with small children! Do you wish you had a dollar for every time a child asks, “How much longer?” Is it possible for a Mom and Dad to arrive at their destination with their sanity intact? If you’re looking for ways to keep your children entertained on your approaching car trip, then look no further! Red Apple Reading has some tips for not only keeping your kiddo entertained but also intellectually stimulated during your upcoming road trip!

  • License Plate Game – This oldie but goodie never fails to please! Have children search for license plates from as many states as possible while on the road. If you want to add a little extra geography boost, print out maps and let kids color in the states as they find them!
  • Audio Books – Before leaving for your trip borrow some audio books to listen to as you travel. Many children’s books are quite compelling and are fun for adults to listen to as well! One of my favorite children’s authors is Andrew Clements. See what you can find at your local public library!
  • Math Fact Fun – If your little one is learning her multiplication tables, then a long road trip provides the perfect opportunity to practice. Take advantage of the extra time together and quiz your kiddo on her math facts as you travel. Perhaps you could even reward progress with a milkshake or other treat!
  • Road Reading – A car trip is filled with opportunities to read along the way! If you have beginning readers challenge them to spot words on street signs, billboards, and buildings. The kids will enjoy shouting out their finds and you will enjoy the progress they make with their reading!
  • Keep Little Fingers Busy – We all remember how tempting it is to poke, pinch, and prod siblings on a road trip. Avoid hearing the backseat mantra, “He’s touching me!” by keeping those little fingers busy! Before leaving on your trip find some shoelaces and cut up several straws. Little ones can thread the straw pieces onto the shoestring, take them off, and do it again. This simple activity will keep the kiddos out of trouble and help develop crucial fine motor skills! Check this out on Knoala!
  • Memory/Alphabet Game – Help sharpen memory and letter skills with this fun road trip game. Someone in the car begins the game by saying, “I’m going on a road trip and I’m bringing________”. The first person fills in the blank with something that starts with the letter A. The next person repeats the first person’s item, and adds something that begins with a B. The game goes on until your list goes all the way to Z!

We hope these suggestions make your next car trip a little less stressful! We would love to hear what your family does to pass the time while traveling. Leave a comment below with your best ideas for keeping kids entertained on the road!