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.

Help Your Child Avoid the Summer Slump

Help Your Child Avoid the Summer SlumpReady or not, another summer season is upon us! For months children have dreamed of an extended break from the structured school schedule. While summer is a wonderful time to decompress, parents need to be mindful of the phenomenon that has become known as the summer slump. The result of not receiving enough educational stimulation over the summer months, the slump often leads to a loss of previously acquired education. What can parents do to avoid this reversal of learning? Red Apple Reading has some tips to help your child beat the summer slump!

Keep Reading – One of the most important things that parents can do to fight the summer slump is to continue to read to and encourage their children to read over break.

  • Make sure that your kiddos have plenty of reading material as well as a designated time set aside each day for reading.
  • We can’t sing the praises of the local public library loudly enough! Take advantage of the free reading material available for borrowing as well as the summer reading programs that are offered.
  • Start a summer book club. Have your kiddo and her friends pick 3 or 4 books to read together over the summer. Once every couple of weeks, come together to discuss and enjoy refreshments.

Monitor Screen Time – When left to their own devices, kids will not always choose the best video games to play or television shows to watch.

  • Limit Screen Time – Carefully monitor children’s screen time during the summer to ensure that an excessive amount of time is not being idly spent.
  • Encourage Wise Choices – When your little one does have permission to use electronics, encourage him to choose shows and games that are educational in nature. Check out Red Apple Reading’s online reading software for free!

Review Math Facts – As frustrating as it can be to review math facts with our kids over the summer months, the payoff for them when school resumes will be huge.

  • Check out online reviews – There are several really great websites out there that will help your kiddo avoid a summer math slump. Quizlet and Greg Tang Math are just a couple of quality sites that you should check out.
  • Make Flash Cards – The old fashioned flash card still does the job when it comes to memorizing multiplication and division facts. After several rounds of quizzing, pull out the ones your child is consistently getting wrong and focus solely on those.

Maintain Structure – A flexible schedule will ensure that your child is getting plenty of rest and spending a good portion of her day productively.

  • Set reasonable bed times – Your kid may not have to attend school the next day, but she still needs plenty of rest. Don’t throw bedtime out just because summer has arrived.
  • Make sure that your kiddo is not spending large portions of his day in mindless activity. Chores, learning activities, reading, and outdoor play should be incorporated into the daily schedule.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with your child having a break from the rigors of everyday school. Like us, kids need down time to relax and recharge their batteries. Just be mindful of the brain drain that can occur over the summer months and incorporate a reasonable amount of learning and structure into the break!


Inspirational Resources for Girls

Inspirational Resources for GirlsIt is the responsibility of parents and educators alike to supply girls with resources for developing strong, intelligent, and compassionate characters. Because March is Women’s History Month, it is the perfect time to encourage the young ladies we know to lead meaningful lives that make a difference. In honor of this celebration of Women’s history, Red Apple Reading  is sharing some of our favorite inspirational resources for girls.

  1. Amelia Earhart Group Mosaic Project – Looking for something crafty to do with a group of kids during Women’s History Month? This fun project found on Teachers Pay Teachers might be exactly what you are searching for! Each child gets a piece of the mosaic to color according to instruction. Finally, when all the pieces of the mosaic are put together, Amelia Earhart’s image is revealed!
  2. Her-Stories in History Virtual Quilt – A unique approach to learning about famous females who changed history –this virtual quilt is made up of 31 pictures of important historical women. Simply click on the picture of the person you want to learn about and get a brief bio of her life and achievements!
  3. A Mighty Girl – This wonderful website is chock full of toys, books, movies, and clothing that inspire girls to be intelligent, strong, and brave. Visit A Mighty Girl today and peruse all the amazing resources available for your mighty girl!
  4. Our Story – If you’re searching for stories and activities to do together for Women’s History Month, then check out Our Story. Your family will learn about all kinds of events in American history. Check out these exciting resources about the women’s suffrage movement!
  5. – This website is a fantastic resource for girls who wish to learn more about inspiring women . Simply type in the name of the person you are interested in and watch a short video and read a synopsis about her life. Check out this one about Ruby Bridges!
  6. Goldie Blox Construction Sets – Only 14% of engineers in the world are women. The Goldie Blox toy company is seeking to change that statistic by creating fun building sets with accompanying stories that help girls improve their spatial skills while simultaneously utilizing their strong verbal skills. Take a look at the different construction sets that are available for your little engineer!
  7. Books About Women Who Changed History – No Time for Flashcards has compiled a list of 12 picture books about women who made a difference in their world. Check out these inspiring reads today – they will encourage the girls in your life to dream big!
  8. Girl Scouts – In March of 1912 Juliette Gordon Low held the very first Girl Scout meeting. Girl Scouts has been empowering girls ever since. The mission of the scouts is to build “girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place”. For more information on Girl Scouts, visit their website today.

We hope you will take advantage of these excellent resources this month. Leave us a comment below telling us which is your favorite!

Advanced Learners – Reading Essentials #23

Advanced Leaners - Rdg Essentials #24 - Red Apple Reading ExpressIs your child the brightest of the bunch? Most all moms and dads think their kids are the shining stars of the class, and why shouldn’t they? In reality, though, some youngsters truly do learn at a more advanced pace, and while this can be a huge advantage for them, it’s not without its unique challenges.

Advanced learners often become bored with an age-appropriate classroom environment, and may even “act out” to demonstrate their boredom or frustration. This can lead to the child being labeled as a troublemaker or simply refusing to do assignments he doesn’t find challenging or interesting.

Fortunately, educators are continually looking at ways in which they can support all of the many different learning styles they encounter, with the goal of differentiating instruction for all of their students. This differentiated instruction can significantly benefit students who are inspired by extra challenges, especially those who thrive in a school environment in which they are offered additional work and assignments beyond grade level expectations.

Accelerated learners will most likely thrive academically when offered additional challenges within the classroom, and will continue to seek out such challenges. If your child seems to show a readiness for more challenging work, you can collaborate with your child’s teacher to find ways to accommodate his or her needs within the school environment. You can also enrich your child’s learning at home by:

  • Providing your child access to books above his or her grade level
  • Introducing your child to a wide range of subjects and pursuits
  • Encouraging your child to engage in independent research, and perhaps even write about his or her findings
  • Seeking environments in which your child can be around other like-minded children

While you strive to help provide your child with academic challenges, however, it is important to remember that even the most eager children can sometimes be negatively affected by involvement that might feel like “pushing.” Children who demonstrate academic advancement well beyond grade level still need the same support as other children his or her age, perhaps just in different ways. The right environment for advanced learners might be a school with an accelerated curriculum and like-minded peers, it might mean staying within a traditional classroom setting and receiving additional assignments, or it could demand alternative educational options such as home schooling. These decisions will of course depend on the individual child’s learning style, and on the conclusions of a child’s parents and teachers.

If your child is demonstrating the tale-tell signs of advanced learning abilities, you may want to have him or her tested for a gifted program. In the meantime, check out these ideas on how you can support your child’s accelerated learning.

Children with Reading Difficulties – Reading Essentials #22

Children with Reading Difficulties - Red Apple Reading ExpressOne of the most challenging conversations that parents and teachers can have involves the possibility that a child might have a reading or learning disability (RD/LD).  Parents might notice at home that a child struggles with reading, or with particular aspects of reading—phonics, for example. Or, a teacher might discover during an assessment that a child is reading at a lower level than expected.

When a child is having difficulty learning, parents are understandably concerned and want to know exactly what is impairing their child’s learning. It’s important to understand, though, that the root causes of reading difficulties can be incredibly diverse, and they are not always related to learning disabilities! Sometimes they can result from:

  • Lack of exposure to or practice with reading:  Children who come to school without having spent much time with letters, words, or books will sometimes take longer to become comfortable with reading skills. For such children, extra practice at school and at home can bring them up to speed.
  • Vision or hearing impairments: Frequent ear infections during the infant or toddler years and other early childhood illnesses may affect the development of early reading skills. Hearing impairment may lead to sounds being distorted or even inaudible, and vision impairment may make recognition of letters and words difficult. Doctors can recommend the appropriate treatment if a hearing or vision impairment is identified.
  • English language learners can also demonstrate reading delays, as they may have learned to read in a language other than English, may speak a language with a different phonics basis, or may be struggling with comprehending teachers’ instructions. Often, ELL students make rapid reading gains when given extra practice and specialized instruction.
  • Behavioral or developmental disorders such as ADHD and autism can also impact the learning process.

Unfortunately, in some cases, the root cause of reading difficulties is, in fact, a learning disability. Dyslexia is perhaps the most well-known learning disability, but there are varying degrees of severity within a dyslexia diagnosis, which may result in varying outcomes. There are also more generalized types of learning disabilities, such as those related to auditory processing or speech/language delays.

Assessing the Cause of Reading Difficulties

The process of examining the source of a child’s reading difficulty can differ from school to school. However, when a difficulty is first observed, teachers or reading specialists will usually devise a course of targeted instruction and then monitor the child’s “response to intervention.” The manner in which the child responds to instruction can give teachers valuable information relating to the source of the reading difficulty. Children who do not demonstrate reading improvement, even after intervention, will typically be recommended for specific assessment. Usually consisting of formal, standardized tests, educational assessments can result in a more specific diagnosis.

Types of Reading Interventions

Teachers and parents can work together in supporting a child throughout this process, especially as more information becomes available. If a specific diagnosis is made, parents and teachers will then be able to come to conclusions about the best learning environment for a child going forward. Some children with an LD diagnosis will do best in special education programs, or even in specialized schools. Some, however, may remain in a general education classroom but receive differentiated instruction. They may take untimed tests, receive audiotape versions of textbooks, or be given alternate versions of homework assignments, for instance.

Above all, parents whose children receive an LD diagnosis should know that having a learning disability is in no way a barrier to leading a successful and fulfilling life! A quick Internet search will reveal countless names of people who have had a significant impact on society, despite their “disability.” What a diagnosis does mean, however, is that the child may need additional support and/or alternative methods of learning during his or her time at school.

If you suspect that your child may have a reading impairment such as a learning disability, don’t panic, but do seek advice from your child’s teacher and/or pediatrician. In the meantime, you can learn more about conditions that may affect a child’s learning at the National Center for Learning Disabilities’ website.