Literacy Crafts for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is a holiday that just begs you to break out the glue, construction paper, and scissors and get crafty. Here at Red Apple Reading we think the only thing better is mixing in a little literacy with the craft! After all, you might as well sneak a bit of learning into the fun. This year why not try out one of these literacy friendly Valentine crafts with your kiddo?

 

Beaded Name Hearts
This Valentine craft from Fun-A-Day encourages literacy as well as fine motor skills. Kids arrange pony beads into fun patterns and thread their name into this cute creation. All parents need to provide are multi-colored beads, letter beads, and pipe cleaners.

Conversation Heart Letters
What’s Valentine’s Day without those sweet conversation hearts? Small children will get a kick out of practicing their letters with this classic candy. Kids place the candy hearts onto the letters to create a yummy alphabet. Visit TotSchooling to download their free conversation heart Valentine’s printables today!

Write a Valentine Letter
Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to pen a letter to someone you love. Encourage your child to write a letter to a special person in his life listing all the things they love about him or her. Afterwards, supply your kiddo with markers, stickers, glitter, etc. to decorate their note.

Jar of Hearts
Your child will create her very own jar of hearts with this special Valentine’s Day writing activity.  Whether she chooses to write down the things she appreciates or people she loves, she will end feeling grateful for all the good stored up in her jar. This free download is available from Inspired Elementary.

The Sweetest Thing Writing Activity
This Valentine’s Day inspired writing activity comes from The Applicious Teacher. Children write about their sweet acts then display them on a homemade heart or chocolate kiss. Visit the website for instructions on how to assemble this craft and to purchase additional printables to expand the writing project.

Valentine’s Card Sentence Scramble
Who doesn’t like to receive cards on Valentine’s Day? Your child can create this adorable folding caterpillar card for someone special in his life. Have him unscramble the words to discover the message, then place each word on a different section of the caterpillar. When the card is unfolded this message appears: “Valentine, I’m buggy for you”. Visit Scholastic for instructions.

Valentine Book Marks
Let your little one create a Valentine-themed book mark. Simply provide cardstock, markers, stickers, and ribbon. After she completes her creation, present her with a new Valentine-themed book to go with the bookmark.

K is for Kiss
If your child is currently learning her letters, she will enjoy making this “K is for Kiss” craft. The end result (a googly eyed chocolate kiss) is adorable! Visit Our Crafts-N-Things to view this cute project.

The Day it Rained Hearts Craft
This craft is based on the book, The Day it Rained Hearts by Felicia Bond. Your kiddo will love the finished creation with red felt hearts falling from tissue paper clouds and blue yarn rain woven through gray cardstock. Of course, you’ll also want to read the book that inspired this craft! Check out the instructions at I Heart Crafty Things.

Love Monster Paper Bag Puppet
Here’s another goody from I Heart Crafty Things! If your child is familiar with the book Love Monster by Rachel Bright, he’s sure to enjoy this fun art project. This simple craft only requires a paper bag, red construction paper, glue, and a little cardstock. When he’s finished he’ll have his very own Love Monster puppet! Read Love Monster today!

Get crafty this Valentine’s Day with an art project that combines the two great L’s – Literacy and Love. When you make one of these crafts with your kids, we have a feeling that you will be speaking their love language!

Happy Valentine’s Day from Red Apple Reading.

 

Helping Your Struggling Reader

 

Helping Your Struggling Reader | Red Apple Reading

 

Some kids seem to be born readers. They pick up on the nuances of phonetics quickly and are reading independently on or before schedule. However, not all children find reading to be an easy skill to master – and that’s alright. Each child becomes proficient at reading at their own pace. The good news is, if your child struggles with reading, there are several things you can do to help him improve his skills.

 

 

Read Daily – Often, children who struggle with reading do not relish the task of dedicated daily reading time. However, it is important for your child to read every day. Sit down with your kiddo and work together to come up with a number of pages that they will read each day.

Find Interesting Material – Do everything you can to make reading appealing for your kid. If your child is interested in what she is reading, there’s a better chance she will stick with it.

Find Balanced Material – It can be challenging to find books that are easy enough not to frustrate your reader, yet don’t seem “babyish” in nature. Finding good material is worth the effort! Take a look at these high interest/low readability books from This Reading Mama.

Make Tasks Manageable – You may find it helpful to break up reading time into manageable chunks for your kid. For example, instead of having your child read the whole book, take turns reading with him. If you sense he is becoming frustrated, take a quick break and grab a snack. By managing daily reading wisely, you can cut down on aggravation and increase productivity.

Implement Oral Repetitive Reading – If your kiddo struggles with reading fluently, take time to listen to her read the same passage aloud to you several times. Usually, children improve with each reading. To see an example of this type of reading practice check out this video.

Prep for Success – Everyone wants to see their kid succeed. With a little prep beforehand, parents can ensure a more positive reading experience for their child. One way to prepare for reading is to go over potentially hard vocabulary words with your child in advance. Also, be sure your child is well rested and not hungry; a tired and hungry kid is not ready to work hard.

Provide Incentives – Who doesn’t enjoy being rewarded for a job well done? When your child has put forth significant effort to improve his reading, a little positive reinforcement is in order. Extra television time or a favorite treat can go a long way in providing the needed incentive to persevere in reading.

If reading is a struggle for your child, don’t panic! Begin today implementing some of the above strategies. It will be hard work for you and your child, but most good things require extra effort! If you suspect your child is facing a bigger issue (such as dyslexia, apraxia of speech, etc.) then contact your child’s teacher and ask for a formal evaluation.

 

Books: The Perfect Gift

Books: The Perfect Gift - Red Apple ReadingIt can be intimidating trying to find the perfect present for every person on our list. Plus, last-minute shopping can often be chaotic – hitting the stores and surfing online can put a damper on the merriest person’s holiday cheer. Look no further. Red Apple Reading has the perfect gift idea for everyone on your list: BOOKS!

  1. Books Provide an Escape – When you give a book you give a vacation. Books are the perfect way to escape our everyday lives and experience something new and different.
  2. Books Engage the Mind – There’s nothing wrong with some occasional mindless entertainment; but books are not only entertaining, they also engage the mind.
  3. Books Keep on Giving – A book is the gift that keeps on giving. You can go back multiple times to a good book and revisit the characters who have become old friends.
  4. Books are a Good Fit – Books are a good fit for everyone. You can always find a book no matter what the gift recipient’s interests. Biographies, novels, cook books, graphic novels… the possibilities are endless!
  5. Books are Inexpensive – Relatively speaking, books are not an expensive gift. Thrifty shoppers can also take advantage of sites such as Half.com which often have new or like new books for discounted prices.
  6. Books Communicate Value – When you give a book as a gift, (especially to your children) it communicates that you value reading. It’s important for our kids to understand that we as parents consider reading to be a gift.
  7. Books are Versatile – Books are available in so many forms these days you can easily find the right version for even the pickiest person. My husband is not a big reader but he’s listened to hundreds of audio books on his commute to work over the years. Maybe a subscription to Audible would suit a similar person on your list. Or, if your loved one doesn’t have the space for books, why not give him a Kindle or Nook gift card?
  8. Books are Simple – No special skills are needed to work a book. Anyone who can read can enjoy one. Even children who aren’t yet readers enjoy looking at picture books!
  9. Books are Easy to Wrap – We all know how demoralizing it can be to attempt to wrap a gift that is weirdly shaped. Books are easy. Books are straightforward. Books are easy to wrap.
  10. Books can be Shared – After you read a book you can pass it on for others to enjoy. In fact, a book is one of the few things you can unashamedly re-gift!

It’s pretty easy to see why a book is the perfect present. We’d love to hear about a meaningful book you received as a gift. Leave us a comment below! Merry Christmas from all of us at Red Apple Reading!

Building Your Child’s Vocabulary

Building Your Child's Vocabulary - Red Apple ReadingA robust vocabulary is a vital part of literacy. While a 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 kids will only reap the full benefits if they understand the text. A large vocabulary improves a child’s reading comprehension. So what can you do to help build a child’s vocabulary? Red Apple Reading has a few suggestions!

  • Read – The single most important thing to grow a child’s vocabulary is read to them. Kids will never use a word if they never hear that word. Simply put, reading to your kiddos will expose them to new words.
  • Model – Children pick up on the behaviors and habits (good and bad) of those around them, and vocabulary usage is no exception. When we have an expansive vocabulary our kids will follow suit.
  • Teach Context – When a child is reading a book and comes across a word he doesn’t know, teach him how to use the sentences around the word to clue into its meaning. When kids learn how to use context clues to determine the gist of a word, their vocabulary and reading comprehension will improve.
  • Make a Word Wall – Using a bulletin board, refrigerator, or door in your home, create a wall of words your child has learned or is currently learning and review them frequently. If you need a template to make attractive word cards, check out this Scholastic resource.
  • Use Flash Cards – Flash cards can be particularly helpful when testing kids for upcoming vocabulary tests. The above link for templates can be used for flashcards as well!
  • Sing – I have to admit that my singing voice is less than pleasant! However, my children never seemed to mind when I was off pitch. Singing with our little ones is fun and it also helps to expand their vocabulary. For example, when you sing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star to your kiddo, you are exposing him to interesting words like twinkle that you may not otherwise use.

There’s a good chance you are already doing many of the things that naturally build vocabulary in children. By implementing a few, new strategies you can give a child’s vocabulary an extra boost! Remember, a healthy vocabulary is a crucial component of literacy; the extra effort really is worthwhile! For more ideas on helping your kiddos improve vocabulary, try these fun vocabulary activities from the National Capital Resource Center.

Settling Into a New School Year

Settling Into a New School YearThe school supplies have been purchased, orientations attended, and bed times have been established – the new school year is well underway! Most parents have started settling into the routine for the fall, but how are your children adjusting? Don’t assume that no news is good news. Specific probing statements and questions such as, “Tell me about your teacher” or “What subject do you think you might struggle the most with this year?” can help your child to open up. Red Apple Reading has some tips for helping your child navigate issues with friends, teachers, and homework.

Friends – One of the perks of going back to school is hanging out with friends. While these interactions may normally be positive, sometimes they can become stressful. If your kiddo seems to be having friend drama, try the following:

  • Don’t Panic – Very often kids tend to work these things out themselves. Unless your child seems to be more upset than normal, resist the urge to jump in too quickly.
  • Try Something New – If your child seems to be having trouble making friends or her current friends are (ahem) less than desirable, encourage her to join some extracurricular activities. New activities will provide new acquaintances your child might not otherwise run into.
  • Host – Have your child’s friends over to your house periodically. This way you can observe firsthand any personality conflicts and perhaps offer a bit of guidance when issues arise.

Teachers – Every parent of school-age children knows the stress of waiting to discover who their child’s teacher will be for the new school year. Teachers spend several hours each day with our children and have a profound impact on their school experience. How should parents address issues with teachers?

  • Get to Know the Teacher – Don’t depend on hearsay from other parents or your child’s interpretation of events when forming an opinion of their teacher. Make an effort to get to know the teacher yourself. Ask if there is any way you can help her over the course of the school year. She’ll appreciate the help and you will be able to see how she interacts with the children and get to know the atmosphere of the classroom.
  • Frame Concerns Diplomatically – Be diplomatic when addressing concerns with your little one’s teacher. Remember that you and your child will be interacting with this person for the remainder of the school year – you don’t want to get off on the wrong foot. For instance, if your child seems to be intimidated by the way his teacher speaks to him, you could say, “Billy may seem closed off at times; we’ve found that he responds best to clear instructions delivered with a smile!”
  • Use Administration as a Last Resort – Most problems involving teachers can be easily resolved. However, if you have tried your best to deal with the situation in a courteous, understanding way without resolution, it may be time to speak to a principal. You are your child’s advocate and certainly have the right to address issues that concern your child’s well-being.

Homework – The older our children get, the more potential there is for problems with homework. Try employing some of the following strategies when you run into homework trouble!

  • Use the Internet – Is there anything that strikes more fear into the heart of a parent than when he’s asked to assist his 3rd grader with math homework? (Did you know they don’t carry the one anymore when doing multiplication?!) Don’t despair! A quick perusal of the internet can give you the much needed tutorial you need to be able to assist your kiddo with his homework.
  • Talk with the Teacher – If your kiddo is struggling with a particular subject, contact his teacher sooner rather than later. It is much better to get on top of the problem right away than to wait until your child has fallen far behind. Most teachers are happy to provide parents with resources and ideas to help them get their kid back on track! You may also want to check the teacher’s web page. Many instructors provide helpful resources that are only a click away!

Don’t let beginning of the year problems get you and your little one down. Most issues can be resolved with the support of a loving, involved parent. Here’s wishing your child a fantastic school year!