Travelling with kids? Ways to keep your little one entertained…

Mother and son with a book in the car

Holidays – relaxing in the sun, swimming in the sea and playing in the sand. Fun for the whole family, and a chance to see and learn about the great cultures of the world.

Though the idea is to have a relaxing time, it doesn’t always pan out like that. Particularly when you are travelling to your destination with the little ones!

Here, our friends at Trunki share some top tips on how to keep your tots entertained on longer journeys – whether it is a drive, a flight, a coach trip or even a boat ride, these tips will make things that little bit easier, and much less stressful for parents.

Here we go…

  • Tablets & smart phones – It is the 21st century after all. These gadgets are exceptionally useful for entertaining on the go. Downloading great kids’ films and TV shows should guarantee a bit of rest bite, and you can also download some games and other apps to entertain your kids – such as fun educational apps like Reading Eggs and Mathseeds.
  • Pack their best-loved cuddly toy – ‘Mr Bear’ is always a great companion and comforter, and can be particularly useful at times when flights can be a bit frightening – like take-off, landing or the dreaded turbulence.
  • A children’s magazine – These can be bought at the airport itself, and are full of fun activities, articles and even free toys that should keep your kids occupied.
  • Crayons & drawing – An oldie but goldie! Nothing beats a bit of drawing to kill boredom, particularly when the kids are excited and surrounded by a new environment. You can encourage them to draw what they are seeing and experiencing, and hey, if you get crayon all over your clothes, it washes off easy as well.
  • Finger or hand puppets – When all else fails, time to get out the hand puppets! Fun for your little one when they require mum or dad’s full attention.
  • Finger foods – A tasty snack is always entertaining! If you are on a flight, chewing and swallowing food can also help with changes in air pressure…so little ears won’t suffer as much.
  • A new toy – What is more entertaining than the novelty of a new toy? Nothing! That’s the answer! Even just a cheap one bought at the airport will work. The novelty might wear off eventually, but it is usually long after the journey has finished.
  • Reading Eggs – There is absolutely no reason the entertainment can’t also be educational. Your little one can embark on the fun Reading Eggs programme during their holiday travels, helping to improve their reading skills. You can sign up for a free trail here and have your little ones enjoy our trusted, award winning reading programme for ages 3 to 13.
  • Take a look at Trunki: Trunki are experts in travel for children. They have a range of products that can make things much more comfortable for your little one, and relaxing for you. Take a look at their fantastic range here, including the classic Ride-on Trunki suitcase for little ones on the move!

There you have it, some top tips on how to keep those restless toddlers entertained on long journeys!

3 Fun Craft Ideas to Celebrate Poetry with Your Kids

poetry craft ideas and activities for kids

Poetry is a wonderful way to get young children enthusiastic about books and reading. Not only is it fun to read, it’s also a great way to boost essential literacy skills, such as phonemic awareness and fluency, while building your child’s vocabulary.

Here are three fun craft ideas to help build your child’s literacy skills and creativity, while fuelling their interest in reading and poetry.

1. Make a ‘Poetree’

This is a lovely craft idea to celebrate poetry in your home. Type up short poems on a computer or typewriter (choose poems that your family loves or collect ones that your child has written) and print them onto white sheets of paper.

Prepare your ‘Poetree’ by using small tree limbs tied together with twine and secured in a sand-filled pot, or use an actual tree in your backyard. You could even help your child cut out tree limbs using a large sheet of construction paper, and hang it on a wall.

To make the leaves, gather blank stationary cards, glue, safety scissors, a hole-punch, and ribbon. Help your child to cut out each poem and glue it onto a stationary card. Then help them to draw and decorate a leaf on the back of each card using pencils, crayons, paints, or scrapbook paper.

Punch a hole at the top of each card and secure the poems onto the branches using pieces of ribbon. Over time, your child can continue reading and adding new poetry leaves onto their tree.

 2. Make a shape poem

Shape poems are a fun and creative way to help your child write their first poems. These poems describe a particular object, and are written in the shape of that object (e.g. a poem about the moon may be shaped as a crescent or a circle).

To create a shape poem, you need to prepare a pen or pencil, safety scissors, markers or crayons (for decorating), and some construction paper or card stock.

To begin the poem, help your child think of a shape. Some good options include a heart, a football, a rainbow, a caterpillar, a star, a raindrop, or a kite or balloon with string. Good suggestions for beginners could also include animals, types of food, or musical instruments.

Next, encourage your child think of five to ten ways to describe their shape using words, phrases, or things that remind them of the shape. Outline the shape on a piece of construction paper or card stock and begin writing those words into the shape. Then help your child cut around the shape and decorate it.

3. Poem Petals

This is a great activity which is ideal for beginners, and helps young children to build early writing skills. All you need for this activity is an assortment of pencils or paints and a white sheet of paper. Help your child draw a flower (fill up the entire space of your page), and include five large petals, large enough to write two to three words into.

Help your child brainstorm words or phrases which describe flowers, springtime, gardens, or nature. You can even sit outside with a notebook and pencil and scribble down things you see for inspiration. Experiment with a range of literary devices, such as alliteration (e.g. red roses, green grass, purple pansies), similes (e.g. hot like the sun, sweet like ice cream, pink as candy), and sound words, or onomatopoeias (e.g. buzzing bees, gurgling water, swooshing leaves, chirping birds).

Once you’re finished, help your child write the descriptive words or phrases into each petal and then decorate their flower.

Reading Eggs teaches early literacy skills for children aged 3 to 13 using interactive games, bright animations and one-on-one lessons that they complete at their own pace. Your child can write their own stories and read over 2000 online books, including poetry and classic children’s titles. Register today for your FREE trial of Reading Eggs here.

10 Fun Holiday Reading Activities for Kids

Holiday Reading Activities for Kids

The holiday season is known to cause a pronounced dip – or ‘slide’ – in children’s reading skills. With an abundance of distractions and a shake-up of routine, getting your child to read over the festive season can be a great challenge as a parent.

But with a bit of thought and preparation, the holidays can actually be the perfect time to enjoy fun and meaningful family activities based around books and reading. Here are some great holiday ideas to keep the magic of reading alive at home.

1. Pair books with day trips – The night before you visit a museum, landmark, or special exhibition, find books and websites to read with your child to help plan your trip together.

2. Create a holiday reading list – Take a trip to the library and put together a list of books your child would like to read during the holidays. Display the list somewhere you’ll see every day, like on the refrigerator, and reward your child with something small each time they check off a new title.

3. Make ‘DEAR’ time fun time – DEAR stands for ‘Drop Everything and Read’, where everybody in the house must drop what they’re doing and read a book. Make it spontaneous and exciting, similar to announcing a special treat!

4. Read to relatives – Encourage your child to show off their new reading skills to grandparents or relatives by reading them a story. Most children love being the focus of attention, and grandparents are usually more than happy to encourage their progress.

5. Follow a recipe – Cooking together is so much fun over the holidays and provides a great opportunity for your child to read out the ingredients and steps. Afterwards, help them write a menu for guests and family members, using as many descriptive words as they can.

6. Create a family book tree – Cut out the shape of a tree from a large sheet of construction paper and invite the whole family to decorate it, adding the words ‘My Family Book Tree’. Hang up your tree near your usual reading area, and as each person reads a book they can write down the title and add a new leaf.

7. Re-enact stories and perform them for relatives – Choose a well-loved story with fun and interesting characters and re-enact it from beginning to end. Prepare some props and perform your story as a family for relatives when they come to visit. Here are some great tips for raising a reader through dramatic play.

8. Start a reading circle with some friends – Host a weekly reading circle at your house and invite your child’s friends and family to join in. They can take turns choosing which books to read together each week.

9. Play fun literacy games on long car trips – If you’re planning a long road trip during the holidays, games like ‘I Spy’ and simple category games can be great for building essential literacy skills. Don’t forget to also stock up on good books for the road!

10. Mix things up with joke books and comic books – Encouraging your child to read a variety of texts is great for setting them up to become lifelong readers. Choose books you know they’ll love and don’t be afraid to experiment with joke books, riddles and comic books, which all offer their own unique benefits to young readers.

Reading Eggs is the multi-award winning online reading program that children love! With hundreds of guided reading lessons, fun games, lovable characters and exciting rewards, inspire your child’s love of reading this holiday with a free trial of Reading Eggs today.


5 Halloween Activities that Increase Reading Skills

Halloween reading for kids

The spooky season has a tendency of sparking the imagination, creativity, and sense of wonder in young children, which sets the perfect environment for refining important early reading and writing skills.

If you’re celebrating Halloween this year, here are five fun activities designed to increase your child’s literacy skills and help you get into the spirit of the festivities.

1. Find costume inspiration in books

If your child hasn’t decided which character they’d like to dress up as for Halloween, search for some inspiration from a variety of children’s books, rather than television shows and films. This will give even the most reluctant of readers some extra motivation to read and explore new titles and genres. Sit down together and help them write a simple list of ideal character traits and features, for example: funny voice, dresses in green, owns a pet, kind to people, wears glasses.

Once you have your list, visit the local library and choose a few different picture books you can read together. Ask the librarian for advice on where to look, or do a bit of research online beforehand. After you read each book, your child can make a tally of how many desired traits each new character exhibits.

2. Halloween word list

Creepy. Ghostly. Eerie. Enchanting. There are so many interesting and exciting words associated with Halloween! Holidays and traditions are a great opportunity to introduce new words into your child’s vocabulary. Take a large sheet of construction paper and write the heading ‘Halloween Words’. Divide the paper into three columns and label each column with a category, depending on your child’s age. You may choose simple categories such as foods, costumes, and characters, or more complex ones such as sounds, emotions, and adjectives (words that describe nouns).

Brainstorm a list of words for each category and add some new ones, too. Once you’ve completed your word list, help your child decorate it with drawings that represent each word (e.g. pumpkins, lanterns, witches, ghouls, cauldron, cobwebs, haunted).  Display it on a wall and use it as a guide for activity number four.

3. Trick-or-treating prep through role-play

One of the most exciting things about Halloween for young children is trick-or-treating. But trick-or-treating is more than just stocking up on candy (although that’s definitely a big part of it!). Children love dressing up, getting into character, doing funny voices and reciting their lines.

Children gain so much from imaginative play, and Halloween provides the perfect opportunity to spark your child’s imagination and build important literacy skills through role-play. Help your child refine their trick-or-treating routine and get into their character with a bit of preparation. Do they have a funny laugh? What does their voice sound like? What is something they would say? Invite your child to try out their routine on you, and don’t be afraid to improvise! You can even help them reenact stories if their characters are derived from books. This will help build their comprehension skills and understanding of narrative structure. Choose books that include new words that will help expand their vocabulary in a fun and motivating way. For example, if your child is dressing up as a teacher, include as many related words as possible (e.g. classroom, students, blackboard, desk, books, learning, reading).

 4. ‘When I think of Halloween’ writing exercise

Encourage your child to sit down and think about all of the things they associate with Halloween (use your word list from activity number two). Write a poem titled ‘When I think of Halloween’, made up of three stanzas that include six lines each. Write the beginning of each line for your child and have them fill in the end by inserting specific words.

Begin the first line for your child with ‘When I think of Halloween, I think of’ and have them write two special features of Halloween. Then begin the following lines with prompts such as ‘I see’, ‘I feel’, ‘I pretend’, ‘I wonder’, ‘I try’ and so on. Close the poem by repeating the first line.

For younger children, try writing an acrostic poem by putting the letters in ‘Halloween’ down the side of the page. Then go back to each letter and have your child write a word, phrase or sentence that begins with that letter to describe Halloween.

 5. Spooky story starters

This is a fun activity that the whole family can play together. Have one person start an original Halloween story by saying one line (e.g. “There was a thump in the middle of the night…”). Then go around in a circle so that each person contributes a sentence to the story. This activity can be done orally or by taking turns writing a sentence and folding the paper so that the next person can only see the last few words (this usually results in a nonsensical plot line that’s guaranteed for laughs!). As a great memento, you can also create a home-made book about Halloween and encourage your child to add their own illustrations too!

Reading Eggs is the multi-award winning online reading program that children love. With hundreds of guided reading lessons, fun games, lovable characters and exciting rewards, inspire your child’s love of reading with a free trial of Reading Eggs today.

5 Pain-Free Ways to Help Your Child Learn Grammar

help child learn grammar

Helping children learn the rules of English grammar can be a struggle. Grammar can be difficult, even for most grownups.

But the good news is that learning grammar doesn’t always have to end in frustration. With a few fun and creative tricks up your sleeve, you can help your child navigate the twists and turns of English grammar with confidence, enthusiasm and ease. Here are five fun activities you can try together at home:

1. Sentence building game

You will need eight differently coloured pencils or pens, one sheet of paper and some index cards. On your sheet of paper, write down eight most common parts of speech, and go over them with your child. These include: nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections. Then place a colour code against each of the eight parts of speech using your pencils or pens.

On your index cards, ask your child to help you think of and write down 10-20 words for each category. Try to stick with adverbs that end in –ly, which are easier for most children to work with. Write only one word on each card using the correct colour that matches your colour code. Group your cards by category/colour and place them facing down on a hard surface. Ask your child to pick out one word from each group and use those words to build a sentence. For younger children, it’s best to start with just nouns, verbs and adjectives, and then slowly introduce other parts of speech as they gain more confidence. If you play this game regularly, try to stick to using the same colour code each time to help your child remember specific parts of speech by associating them with colours.

2. Spot the mistakes

Editing text for spelling and grammatical mistakes can be turned into a fun challenge for your child. Write one or two paragraphs down on a sheet of paper. Try to write something that your child would be interested in reading, or may find amusing or funny. As you write, include a single spelling or grammatical mistake in every two or three sentences. This may include putting an apostrophe or comma in the wrong place, misusing a question mark, or including common spelling mistakes that many children (and adults!) get wrong (e.g. there instead of their or they’re, alot instead of a lot, untill instead of until).

Give your child a red pencil or pen to spot the mistakes and mark them on the paper – just like a teacher would. Most children will enjoy this playful role-reversal and may even give you an overall score for effort!

3. Play the Simon Says of grammar

Many children respond best to a multi-sensory approach to learning. Actions and movement while learning can help cement conceptual understanding.  A great game to play with your child involves allocating a different action for each part of speech. For example, your child can place their hands on their head for a noun (e.g. table or shoe), jump on the spot for a verb (e.g. run or play), or touch the tip of their nose for an adjective (e.g. cold or funny). Once your child has rehearsed each action a few times, call out a word and ask them to do the correct action. This game can be a lot of fun with siblings, a group of friends, or the whole family. If you’re playing in a group, encourage each player to do the actions as quickly as possible, with the fastest person winning the game – a similar concept to playing Simon Says!

4. Cap-ital letters

This game is best played with three or more people, including one reader. You will need one cap for each player and a short picture book, story or simple song lyrics to read aloud. Explain that players will need to put on their cap each time they hear where a capital letter may be needed. To get the most out of this activity, choose texts that include short sentences that are easy to hear, and also include a handful of proper nouns (e.g. Jane, London, New York) and proper adjectives (e.g. Australian, English, Chinese). You can start the game by carefully reading each sentence of your text aloud. Every time a capital letter is needed, the players should signal by putting their caps on their heads. Remember to use the appropriate expressions while reading (e.g. placing emphasis on exclamation points, question marks, pauses, and doing voices for different characters) and encourage other players to do the same.

5. Present and past tense matching game

This game is a fun way to help your child reinforce their understanding of present and past verb tenses.  Using index cards and a pen or pencil, write the past and present verb tenses of different words, with one word on each card. Some examples include: jump and jumped, see and saw, play and played, run and ran. Use a blue pen or pencil to write present tense verbs and red to write past tense verbs, so that each set of matching words has one blue word and one red.

Mix up your cards and put them into a hat. Invite your child to pick out the cards one by one and read each word aloud. Once a card has been read aloud, place them face-up on a hard surface. When the hat is empty, ask your child to match each blue card to the correct red card.

Do you have any fun grammar activities that you play with your child? Share them in the comments below!

Reading Eggspress makes learning grammar, vocabulary and comprehension skills fun for ages 7-13. The program includes hundreds of interactive lessons, online games and activities, and over 2000 e-books for children to enjoy. Start your free trial of Reading Eggs and Reading Eggspress today.