Paws-itive Reading Progress: Reading Therapy Dogs and How They Help

Red Apple Reading - Reading therapy dogs and how they help

Every child is different, and developing each individual’s reading ability needs a combination of approaches. There are probably many things you’ve already tried – so how about something you may not have heard of? Reading to therapy dogs is gaining popularity as a way to develop reading ability in children, as well as improve their confidence and social skills.

Benefits
Studies of therapy dogs in medical settings have proven that interaction with a friendly canine helps to lower blood pressure and stress hormones. This demonstrates that they create a calm and relaxed environment. Dogs can encourage children to read by being non-judgmental and unconditionally supportive. They do not appear to be superior, and do not correct the child as an adult might. The focus of the session becomes the dog, rather than the child, which is valuable for those with self-esteem issues or social anxieties.

Positive Outcomes
Reading therapy dog sessions allow your child to make new, happy associations with reading and speaking aloud. Many parents of children who have undertaken the programs report more motivation and excitement for reading even after the session has finished, as well as increased confidence and communication skills.

More detailed information can be found on the Particular Paws website.

Contributed by freelance writer Jocelyn Brown

 

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.

 

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!

Thankful for Reading

Thankful for ReadingWith the Thanksgiving season at hand, our thoughts naturally turn toward gratitude. No matter our current circumstances we all have something for which to be grateful. In fact, we often take our most precious gifts for granted. For instance, have you ever considered the advantages that being literate affords? Red Apple Reading would like to take time this holiday season to remind our friends what a privilege it is to read!

  • Reading Broadens Horizons – I’m an underfunded traveler, but that doesn’t mean I can’t experience new places and different cultures. I love to read books about people who live in places I’ll never see. My kids may never visit Afghanistan in person, but they can learn a lot about middle-eastern culture by reading Andrew Clements’ Extra Credit (a touching story about an American girl and Afghan boy who become pen pals).
  • Reading Enlarges Your Vocabulary – The exposure we receive to new words radically increases when we regularly read. Thus, reading is a great way to increase one’s vocabulary. So if you have an expansive vocabulary, chances are you have reading to thank!
  • Reading Increases Your Emotional Intelligence – Nothing quite puts you in someone else’s shoes the way reading does. Stories help us view situations from different perspectives. Learning to empathize with others allows us to see beyond ourselves and think big. When my teenager read The Outsiders in 9th grade, she not only experienced a great work of fiction, but she also learned how people from other socioeconomic backgrounds experience life.
  • Reading Improves Brain Function – In a study conducted at Emory University, researchers discovered that, “becoming engrossed in a novel enhances connectivity in the brain and improves brain function”. Who doesn’t want a better brain? If you want to improve brain function in your kiddos and stay sharp as an adult, pick up a book!
  • Reading Develops Imagination – If you’ve ever bemoaned your child’s lack of creativity, perhaps you should try reading to her. While reading or listening to others read, kids are imagining what the setting and characters look like; they are picturing the plot as it unfolds in their heads. Simply put, reading can help ripen the imagination.
  • Reading Aids in Navigating Life – Perhaps the most important reason we should be thankful for the ability to read is the convenience it affords us as we navigate life. Imagine for a moment your typical day, but without the ability to read. How would you know if you received an urgent piece of mail or help your child with his homework? Reading greatly impacts our everyday life!

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to pause and take stock of the good gifts in our lives. Chances are you’ve probably never thought about incorporating reading into your inventory. When making your list of things to be thankful for this year, don’t forget to include the ability to read!

 

Helping Toddlers with Pre-Reading Skills

If you have a toddler at home, you may not have thought much about teaching her to read. Most parents of toddlers would be thrilled if their little one would just learn to keep their food on their plate! While most toddlers have several years before they begin to read fluently, there are some activities you can begin now in order to build a strong reading foundation. And trust us, your child will be in much better shape when starting school if you have already taken the time to do these things!

Developing your little one’s phonemic awareness is one very important way you can begin to lay the groundwork for reading success. Simply put, phonemic awareness is the ability to recognize and manipulate sounds within words. The following phonemic awareness activities will help your toddler cultivate a strong basis for later reading.

  • Read Nursery Rhymes – Rhymes help children hear the phonetic connections between words with similar spellings and sounds. When you read nursery rhymes to your toddler, he learns the natural rhythms of spoken language.
  • Sing Rhyming Songs – Singing fun rhyming songs is another way to help your little one develop an awareness of rhythmic patterns among words. When you’re singing their favorite song for the tenth time that day, remember that you really are doing important brain work!
  • Clap Words – You can begin to introduce the concept of syllables to your toddler by “clapping words”. Clapping out the syllables in words helps your little one learn to isolate sounds, which is an important part of developing phonemic awareness.
  • Read Word Family Books – Reading books to your toddler that focus on a particular “word family” (words ending in a particular sound – “ad”, “an”, “op”, etc.), will help him gain phonemic awareness.  Dr. Seuss’ Hop on Pop is an example of a good book for introducing word families.
  • Go on a Sound Hunt – Help your toddler learn to isolate sounds within words by going on a “sound hunt”. For instance, look around the house for objects that have the /d/ sound in them (dog, door).
  • Talk and Read with Your Toddler! – Speaking abundantly with a young child and reading stories – both fiction and non-fiction – are easy and effective things a parent can do to help a child’s budding literacy.

Your toddler is probably still several years from becoming an independent reader, but it’s never too early to begin laying a good foundation for reading. In fact, you are probably already doing many of the things necessary for nurturing an emerging reader without even realizing it!

If you would like to know more about the concept of phonemic awareness, check out this video from Red Apple Reading!