Preparing for Summer Break

With school wrapping up for the year, school children across the country are itching to begin their summer vacation. Parents, however, realize what a mixed bag summer break can be. We love a more relaxed schedule but hate fighting the battle against mind numbing entertainment. How can parents plan a balanced summer for their little ones? Can we really have a fun break that also includes some education and structure? Red Apple Reading is helping parents plan the perfect summer for their little ones.

Ask yourself some questions
Think about what you would like your summer to look like. Are there any goals you have for your family? Do you want to spend more time outside? Read a certain book series? Teach the kids a new skill? Do more crafts? You’re more likely to have a productive break if you begin with some clear objectives.

Embrace a little structure
Once you know what you would like to accomplish, you can begin making a plan.  Start by making a loose schedule. For instance, you may want to dedicate the first part of the day to chores, have outside time before it gets too hot, and spend part of the afternoon reading. Your schedule will depend on your goals for the family. If you are a working parent who has someone come in to keep your child during the day, communicate your schedule to the babysitter.

Remember to be flexible
It’s always good to have a goal in mind for the day, but hold your schedule loosely. If your kiddo wakes up cranky you might need to give her some extra cuddle time on the couch. You may let your little one bring his tablet along on a day you have several errands to run. Remember, you rule the schedule, it doesn’t rule you.

Include some academics
The transition back to school in the fall will be easier if your kids have engaged their brains throughout the break. One of the best things you can do for your children is to have them read regularly throughout the summer. Many kids lose gains they made in reading during the school year when they neglect summer reading. You can also review math skills, perform science experiments and visit a museum.

Don’t forget the fun
Remember that summer break should be fun! Even if you don’t have any big trips scheduled you can still incorporate some fun activities into your week. Need some inspiration? Check out our Summer and Outdoor Fun Pinterest board.

Make this summer break the best yet! If you don’t have a subscription to Red Apple Reading’s online reading program, consider getting one for your kid this summer. It’s a great way for kids to have fun while brushing up on their reading skills. Try our free trial today!

 

Earth Day for Toddlers

Toddler-hood is a great time to introduce your kiddo to environmental conservancy. If you’ve been the parent of a toddler for any length of time, you understand just how quickly they are able to catch on to ideas. A simple activity can go a long way in increasing your toddler’s awareness about environmental issues. Here’s a list of ten simple Earth Day activities you can do with your toddler, courtesy of Red Apple Reading:

  1. Re-purpose a Cardboard Box – Here’s an Earth Day activity every toddler is sure to love! Demonstrate the importance of recycling by re-purposing a cardboard box you have around the house. Cut windows and a door in a refrigerator box to make a house, or turn a smaller box into a car. Be sure to take the “well loved” treasure to the recycling bin when your little one is done playing with it.
  2. Take a Nature Walk – Make a point to get out of the house regularly to enjoy a little outdoor exercise with your toddler. Visit a local walking trail or arboretum. A simple stroll in the sunshine is sure to nurture your kiddo’s love of nature.
  3. Plant an Alphabet Garden – Your little one can practice their ABC’s as they play in an alphabet garden from Mom Inspired Life. This activity is super easy to put together and your kiddo will love “planting” their alphabet flowers in the green play dough.
  4. Clean Up a Park – Take a trip to a nearby park and after a little play time, pick up trash around the area. This will teach your child how to take care of outside areas as well as provide an important lesson on the importance of not littering.
  5. Set up Earth Day Sensory Play – Toddlers love sensory play! This year create a special Earth Day sensory bin for your toddler to explore. Place items such as soil, rocks, animal figures, and tree figures in a plastic bin. Allow your child to play using the items however she wishes.
  6. Have a Snack – Celebrate Earth Day with a special snack. Your tot will love these Dirt Pudding Cups complete with squishy gummy worms wiggling around the top! Visit Oh Nuts for instructions.
  7. Read a Book – When it’s time to read your toddler a bedtime story, choose a book that applies to Earth Day. Fortunately, there are several Earth Day themed titles from which to choose. Check out these suggestions from The Jenny Evolution.
  8. Go on a Scavenger Hunt – Create a nature scavenger hunt for your toddler. Cut out pictures of things like leaves, grass, rocks, sticks, etc. and have your child collect the nature items on the list.
  9. Create Chia Pet Pictures – You’ll definitely want to create one of these Chia pet picture planters with your kiddo. You’ll love having the photo of your little one and they’ll love seeing themselves with long grassy hair! Check out this example from Apartment Therapy.
  10. Construct a Bird Feeder – Construct a simple bird feeder with your toddler using the cardboard tube from toilet paper or paper towels. Afterwards, put out a blanket and watch your feathered friends enjoy a snack. Follow these easy instructions from The Resourceful Mama.

When it comes to introducing toddlers to new activities, keep it simple. You don’t have to have elaborate Earth Day plans in order to make a meaningful impact on your little one. An ecological lesson that is fun and simple is the perfect introduction to Earth Day. Try one out with your toddler today!

 

Spring into Creativity

Spring into Creativity - Red Apple ReadingWho doesn’t love the arrival of spring? The weather warms up, the flowers begin to bloom, and the days last a little longer. The advent of spring marks a newness of life; and the changes taking place outdoors seem to spark something inside of us as well. We’re inspired to try something different or make something new. In honor of the arrival of spring this year, why not take a little time to nurture your kid’s creativity?

Spring into the Garden
Something about spring makes you want to get your hands in the dirt! You don’t have to undertake a big garden to satisfy your desire to grow something. You don’t even have to have a green thumb! Try starting a small succulent garden with your child. Succulents are hardy plants with thick leaves for retaining moisture. Since Easter is this weekend, try placing them in these dyed eggshell planters (see Emily Takes Photos).

Spring into the Kitchen
The kitchen seems to be the natural gathering place in my family. Often one of the kids will come in and share a little something about his day while I prepare supper or play just outside the room to be close. Why not invite your kiddo into the kitchen for a little spring time fun? Kids will love these cute flower pretzel bites and parents will love how easy they are to put together. Thanks Two Sisters Crafting for this delicious spring sweet treat idea!

Spring into Poetry
Get your child’s creative juices flowing with a little spring poetry practice. Acrostics are a great introduction to poetry. They also inspire creative thinking in children. Download this template from The Happy Teacher so your kids can produce their own tribute to spring. Let the creative writing begin!

Spring into Art
Pay homage to spring with this fun dandelion thumbprint masterpiece from Glued to my Crafts.  All you’ll need to make this beauty is cardstock and a little paint. You won’t believe how pretty the outcome is when this simple project is complete!

Spring into Reading
There’s no better way to inspire creativity in children than by providing them with good books to read. Fortunately, there are plenty of terrific titles out there for your child to peruse! Check out these spring themed books from Hen Family if you need some suggestions!

We hope you and your family are enjoying the onset of spring. It really is a great time of the year! Leave us a message below and let us know what you do to inspire creativity in your crew. Happy spring from Red Apple Reading!

Fun Book and Activity Pairings for Kids

What’s more fun than reading a good book? Pairing the book with a cool project, of course! If you want your kiddo to get the most out of her reading experience, try adding an activity that enhances the story and allows for further discussion. If you’re not sure where to begin, Red Apple Reading has a few ideas to help get you started. Check out these pairings!

 

The Listening Walk  by Paul Showers

If you have a particularly chatty early elementary school child, this book may provide the encouragement he needs to simply listen. In this classic story a father and daughter go on a “listening walk” and pay close attention to all the sounds around them.

Activity:  Take a Listening Walk

This story lends itself to a super simple activity that requires only walking shoes. Take your kiddo on a listening walk! Ideally, this walk would take place outside, but if the weather doesn’t permit, a walk could be taken in a supermarket, mall, or library. Make sure to take note of all the different sounds you hear along the way.

 

Diary of a Worm  by Doreen Cronin

What does a young worm do all day? Kids will find out in this funny book written in diary form by the main character. This amusing book will be a big hit for preschoolers and early elementary aged children, and parents will enjoy it just as much. Get ready to giggle!

Activity:  Vermicomposting

O.K., this may not sound like much fun, but trust us, your kids will love it! To put it simply, you and your child will make a worm bin. Vermicomposting (worm composting) is a great way to take care of your food waste. Afterwards, the compost can be used for your garden! Read more about worm composting here from Cultural Care Au Pair.

 

A Rainbow of My Own  by Don Freeman

Preschoolers will enjoy this simple story about a boy who wonders what it would be like to have a rainbow of his own.

Activity:  Rainbow Nesting Blocks

Surprise your kiddo with a rainbow of their own! Young children will love pairing these rainbow nesting blocks from Grimm’s with this cute story. After reading, present these fun building blocks to her and let her imagination take over!

 

Only One You  by Linda Kranz

Filled with colorfully painted pebble fish, this inspirational book encourages children as they swim through the sea of life.

Activity:  Painted Pebble Fish

Sun Hats & Wellie Boots has the perfect activity pairing for this story: paint your own pebble fish. Kids will let their artistic side shine when they create their own unique and colorful fish using only small rocks and acrylic paints.

 

The BFG  by Roald Dahl

Here’s a book for the older elementary and middle school crowd. When Sophie is carried off in the middle of the night by the Big Friendly Giant, adventure ensues. Kids will probably already be familiar with this book that was recently made into a major motion picture.

Activity:  Making Frobscottle

Frobscottle is the delicious drink served up by the B.F.G. in the story: “It was sweet and refreshing. It tasted of vanilla and cream, with just the faintest trace of raspberries on the edge of the flavour.” Take a shot at making this yummy treat with your kids after reading the book. Don’t have a recipe for Frobscottle on hand? No problem! Check this one out from Food in Literature.

 
Perhaps after tackling one of these book and activity pairings, you’ll be inspired to create a project of your own to go along with a favorite book! Be sure to leave us a comment below sharing what books and activities you enjoy putting together.

Fun Ways to Celebrate Presidents’ Day

Many of us are enjoying a long weekend since Presidents’ Day is this Monday.  While our federal government officially calls this American holiday “Washington’s Birthday”, it has come to be recognized as a time to pay tribute to both past and present presidents. How is your family spending this holiday? Red Apple Reading has some ideas for celebrating Presidents’ Day with your family.

Read – Reading is always a good way to celebrate a special occasion! Take a look at this list we compiled a few years ago: Perfect Reads for Presidents’ Day.

Presidential Fun Facts – Check out this video from History.com with fun presidential facts. Who knew Calvin Coolidge had a pygmy hippo?

Dinner Discussion – If your family is like mine, dinner is one of the few times that everyone is together. Take advantage of this time by steering the discussion toward presidential issues. For instance, have everyone complete this statement: “If I were President, I would…”

List the Presidents – Most people know that Washington was our first president and Lincoln was our 16th, but what about the others? Take time this weekend to learn all the presidents in order! Need a little help? Check out this song!

Presidential Word Search – See which family member can complete this presidential word search the fastest!

Patriotic Snack Time – Create this yummy flag fruit dessert from Family Fresh Meals. Be sure to take a picture of your completed creation before the kids devour it. Snacks this delicious don’t last long!

Scrambled President – You might as well sneak a little word work into the holiday! Have your children compete to see who can make the most words from the letters in the word, President.

Get Crafty – Get a little crafty this Presidents’ Day with this cute presidential creation from Eberhart’s Explorers. Your kiddo will enjoy constructing their very own George Washington portrait using minimal crafting materials.

Write a Letter – Children can write their very own letter to the President. Follow the directions on this website.

Perhaps you’ve never considered how you could celebrate Presidents’ Day with the family. By simply planning a few small activities you can make the holiday a special time for the entire family! Happy Presidents’ Day from Red Apple Reading!