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We hope you enjoy these special Mother’s Day-themed activities with your little ones this year. Happy Mother’s Day!
Mathseeds is the fun online mathematics program for children aged 3-8. Your child will work through a sequence of highly engaging online mathematics games and activities designed to build essential early numeracy and problem solving skills.
Higher-order thinking skills (or HOTS) refer to the ability to think on a level that goes beyond retaining facts and knowledge. It requires children to not only remember what they have learned but to also make sense of and be able to apply new information in a practical or creative way.
Higher-order thinking equips children with the skills they need to become lifelong learners. It means they are capable of thinking critically and creatively to solve problems and make connections between new information and what they already know.
Reading is a fantastic springboard to help your child develop higher-order thinking skills. Here are some things you can do at home.
Ask the right questions – Sit down and talk to your child about books you’ve read together. Ask questions that prompt higher-order thinking (e.g. ‘Why do you think…?’, ‘Why was it better that…?’), rather than knowledge-based questions (e.g. What is…?, How is…?, Where is…?)
Encourage creative and opinionated discussion – Make it a daily habit to talk about books and reading. Prompt critical and creative thinking by offering your own opinion and ideas, followed by questions such as, ‘Do you agree with the actions?’, ‘What would happen in…?’, or ‘What would you suggest…?’
Brainstorm solutions to problems and dilemmas – Higher-order thinking involves the ability to apply knowledge in order to solve problems. Encourage your child to point out specific problems that a character is facing in a book and suggest solutions. A good idea is to brainstorm possible solutions on a large sheet of paper before finishing the rest of the book.
Draw pictures – The ability to use visual imagery (e.g. picturing what the setting and characters look like while reading a book) is helpful to children in a range of different learning areas, including science, geography and mathematics. Read books, or parts of books, that don’t include pictures, and ask your child to create drawings that represent different characters, scenes, or events.
Encourage your child to understand multiple viewpoints – After you read a story, talk about how certain events might impact different characters. A fun exercise includes writing or role-playing the story from a different character’s perspective. Developing empathy and understanding different viewpoints and consequences is an important part of higher-order thinking.
Write or draw an alternative ending – Help your child write and illustrate an alternative ending to a book you’ve read together.
Sort books into genres – Looking for common themes among a group is a way for your child to flex their higher-order thinking skills. Help your child arrange their books into genres (e.g. adventure, mystery, science-fiction, nonfiction).
Make a collection around a specific theme – After you’ve read a book together, help your child find objects, magazine clippings, or newspaper headlines that relate to a particular theme featured in the book.
Write a story based on just pictures – Find a picture book your child hasn’t read and cover the text using bits of paper attached to reusable adhesive (e.g. Blue-Tack). Go through the pictures with your child and help them write out the story for each page.
Reading Eggspress is the online education website for ages 7-13 that builds children’s literacy, comprehension and higher-order thinking skills with interactive lessons, e-books and activities. Try it today, along with Reading Eggs, with a special free trial here.
Opening the door to chapter books is an exciting milestone for both you and your child. It means they are ready to make a giant leap into faraway places and expand their imagination even further, with less reliance on pictures.
There are several skills children need to acquire before transitioning to longer chapter books. Diving in before your child is ready can risk diminishing their enthusiasm for reading and lower their reading confidence.
Here are some indicators that your child is ready to start reading longer chapter books:
1. They remember what they have read
Chapter books usually require breaking up a story over several sittings, so it’s important that your child can remember what they have read a few days, or even a week later.
The day after you have read a new book with your child, ask them questions about the story, the characters, and the events. A good idea is to encourage them to tell the story – in the right order – to a younger sibling or a relative. You can also help your child role-play the story using fun props, or to draw picture of key events and arrange them into chronological order. Read tips on how to tell if your child is reading for meaning.
2. They can make predictions about stories
Part of the excitement of reading chapter books is anticipating what might happen next. The ability to make predictions about a story signifies that your child has the comprehension skills needed to fully understand what they read. To encourage your child to make predictions, stop periodically while reading to ask them what might happen next. Readers with strong comprehension skills will be able to take what they have already read and use that information to make predictions.
3. They can picture stories in their head without visual aids
Chapter books rely less on pictures and illustrations to create details about a story. Before reading chapter books with your child, see if your child can sum up or illustrate a story they’ve just read without looking at any of the pictures.
4. They know how to choose books
Reading longer stories means that your child needs to be able to stay interested long enough to reach the end. By the time your child transitions to chapter books, they would ideally have a preference, whether it be a particular genre (e.g. comedy, adventure, history) or subject matter. Let them choose which books they want to read and help them choose by looking at the cover, reading the back blurb, scanning the text (font size, paragraph length), and deciding if it’s a book they want to read.
5. They are equipped with enough vocabulary
Your child should know enough words to embark on longer chapter books. Reading a book with too many unfamiliar words can hurt their confidence and motivation. Remember to use the five finger rule before starting a new book. Your child should also be able to use context clues to determine the meaning of words they don’t know. Try these tips to build your child’s vocabulary at home.
Some other tips to consider when introducing your child to chapter books:
start with shorter chapters – avoid taking on too much too soon, and ease in with shorter reading sessions
choose books with some pictures – chapters books with pictures and illustrations will ease the transition
talk about the book and make predictions – between sittings, have daily conversations about the story and what you think might happen next
show them how to recap – pick up where you left off between sittings by showing your child how to revisit the last chapter and refresh your memory
don’t move away from picture books – continue reading picture books with your child and maintain reading variety
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Reading stories is a powerful way to nurture closeness with your child, inspire their imagination, and set them up for a lifelong love of reading.
But it doesn’t always come naturally. Sometimes when a long day gets the better of us, we get tempted to rush through from cover to cover, skip a few pages, or lose our audience’s attention with a flat and uninspired tone.
It’s important to make story time fun and engaging. Showing your child how great it is to read will help them grow into a confident reader. And for many parents, story time is a beloved family ritual–one that should be cherished for however long your child is willing to take part.
Here’s what you can do to turn story time into a magical experience, every time.
The most important thing to do is take your time and read at a steady pace. Young children need time to take in what they hear, and remember, children will pick up any slight hint of irritability or impatience. If you’re short on time, choose a short book or spread a longer book over several nights.
Set the right atmosphere
Switch off your phone. Remove distractions. Create an atmosphere where it’s just you, your child, and a wonderful story to get lost in. Make sure you have good lighting so that both of you can clearly see the words and pictures.
You don’t need to have done drama classes to be good at this one. Use different facial expressions, make eye contact, and use body language. Hold up the book in one hand and use the other for gestures. Bring to life all of the characters and emotions in the story.
Do the voices
How did the Grinch sound when he vowed to steal Christmas? Or what about the giant who caught Jack climbing up his magical beanstalk? It doesn’t matter how bad you think you are, your child will more than appreciate your efforts to make every character sound unique.
Books with great rhymes, rhythm and pace are fun to read and listen to. Before you read, get familiar with the structure in your head. Quicken your pace when you describe action verbs and place an emphasis on rhyming words. Pamela Allen, Mem Fox and Dr Seuss are some fabulous picks.
When you reach an onomatopoeic word, like buzz, hiss, meow, cuckoo, honk, or boom, go on and make it convincing! Watch your child burst into laughter or jump with surprise–the emotions you give them are part of what makes story time memorable.
Engaging your child by making simple remarks (e.g. ‘Wow!’, ‘That was lucky!’), talking about the pictures, or asking questions (e.g. ‘What could happen next?’) is a great way to make story time interactive and build your child’s listening and comprehension skills.
Be suspenseful and build excitement for the next story time
Slow down and stop before turning each page. Building up suspense is a great way to leave your eager audience wanting more, and get them looking forward to many more story times to come!
Reading Eggs is the award-winning online reading program that makes learning to read easy and fun for young children. The program includes fun games, exciting rewards, and self-paced lessons that children find highly engaging and encouraging.