Travelling with Kids: Reading Games for the Road

car reading games

Holidaying with kids can be lots of fun – but the actual travelling part of it can be far from it! Children can often get bored and restless on long car rides, but luckily, there are some ways you can keep them entertained, all while building important reading skills.

Play ‘I Spy’: This classic car journey game is perfect for helping your child with phonics (i.e. developing an ear for sounds). Pay attention to your surroundings and take turns giving clues about an object you have spotted. For example, “I spy with my little eye, something beginning with mmm.

Sound Lotto: Developing strong listening skills is important for your child’s reading skills too. Make a list of the sounds you expect to hear on your travels, such as trucks, motorbikes, laughter, high winds, or a particular instrument in a song played on the radio. Each time someone hears the sound, they can shout ‘Bingo!’ Older children can play a more sophisticated version using the sounds in certain words.

Find a word that starts with the letter…: Word games help your child think about word structures and increase your child’s awareness of letters and sounds. Take a few minutes to search for words that begin with a particular letter, such as ‘B’. Kick the game off by giving your children a few examples, such as ‘barn’ or ‘baby’ and ask them to find more.

Make time for rhymes: Rhyming is a powerful way to develop phonological awareness. You can start off by taking your child’s first name and match it with words that rhyme. Then take turns finding other things you come across and coming up with words that rhyme with these too.

Put things into categories: Vocabulary is one of the five essential components of reading instruction. Pick a theme such as ‘red’ or ‘animals’ and have every family member find ten words that fall under this category. This game will aid in your child’s vocabulary development after they eventually hear someone’s suggestion and ask, “What does that word mean?”.

Licence plates and signs: Go on a letter hunt and have your child spell a word that they know, such as their first name. Start by trying to find the first letter on licence plates or road signs. “The first letter in your name is ‘S’, can you find a licence plate or sign with an ‘S’ on it”, and so on.

What would you do if…:  This game is a great way to spend your time together and get to know how your children think. It also uses the same processes of comprehension, analysis and expression applied when children are reading. Think of interesting scenarios and ask your child what they would do in that situation. For example, “What would you do if you discovered hidden treasure?” or “What would you do if you got lost in the shopping mall?” You can also stock up on riddle or joke books, or some educational apps on your phone or tablet device to give your child some positive educational screen time on your travels.

Do you have any other fun games you play with your children while travelling?

Reading Eggs is the multi-award winning online reading program for children aged 3-13. With a comprehensive range of self-paced lessons and activities, the program is a highly interactive and fun way to build your child’s reading skills.Start your free 2 week trial today.

5 Fun Easter Activities to Help Your Child’s Reading

easter reading activities

Easter is a great time to get crafty and creative with your kids, and you can do it while building important literacy skills too.

To help you celebrate, we’ve put together some fun and easy activities to inspire some reading and writing fun this Easter. Plus, don’t forget to download your FREE Easter activities to practice important sight words with your children.

1. The Easter Hunt

The classic Easter hunt is a fantastic opportunity to practice reading and comprehension skills. Hide your Easter eggs around the house or in the garden. Write some fun clues on a piece of paper, for example, “I’m bound to get wet in the place I’m hiding” (shower, sink, near the hose), “You might find me admiring my reflection” (by the mirror), or “Flowery and green is where I can be seen” (plants).

Hand out your written clues to your egg hunters and encourage them to help each other read and decipher each one. You can also print out our Reading Eggs Egg Hunt activity sheet.

2. Fun with Easter Puns

Experiment with words that begin with the ‘ex’ letter combination and sound like ‘eggs’ in words like ‘eggs-cited’, ‘eggs-plode’ and ‘eggs-perts’. Provide a large, egg-shaped sheet of paper. Have your child turn it into a character based on their preferred ‘ex’ word (e.g. “Mr Eggs-pensive” or “Ms Eggs-pert) by using crayons and other craft material to create a face, hairstyle and outfit that matches their ‘ex’ word.

For example, “Mrs Eggs-pert” might be wearing glasses, holding a book and sporting an academic dress. “Mr Eggs-pensive” might be wearing expensive jewellery and driving in a fancy car. Let your child create their egg puns and use their imagination to invent quirky new characters.

3. “When I think of Easter” Poem

Encourage your child to sit down and think about all of the things they associate with Easter, such as eggs, the Easter Bunny and hot cross buns. Write a poem titled “When I think of Easter”, 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 Easter, I think of’ and have them write two special features of Easter. 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 ‘Easter’ 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 Easter.

4. Hatch and match

Here’s one for preschoolers. Draw several medium, egg-shaped ovals on a large sheet of paper. In each oval, draw a zigzagged line in the middle to create a crack. On one side of each egg, write an upper case letter and on the other side, write the corresponding lower case letter. Cut each egg half out and scramble your eggs. Have your child pair each upper case and lower case letter. You can also download our Reading Eggs alphabet and sight words activity sheets.

For older children, you can mix and match compound words such as ‘armchair’, ‘barnyard’, ‘nothing’, ‘racehorse’, ‘milestone’, ‘toothbrush’ and ‘wheelchair’.

5. DIY Easter Wreath

Take some sheets of construction paper and create eggs by folding the paper then cutting out an egg shape. Make sure to keep one side folded so that the eggs can open like a greeting card. Then cut out a sizeable ‘wreath’ using a sheet of green construction paper.

Inside each egg, have your child write an Easter wish such as ‘Help a friend’, ‘Talk to grandma’ or ‘Make hot cross buns’. Decorate the front of each egg using crayons, magazine clippings or glitter. Attach the eggs to your wreath and hang it up on the wall.

Happy Easter from the Reading Eggs Team!

Reading Eggs is the multi-award winning online reading program for children aged 3 to 13. With a comprehensive range of self-paced lessons and activities, the program is a highly interactive and fun way to build your child’s reading skills. Start your free trial today.

10 Watercolour Techniques For Kids

Father And Daughter Painting

In our special guest blog post, art teacher Jen Roberts provides some fun tips on experimenting with watercolour techniques with kids. Prepare to get messy!

As a children’s art teacher, I find most kids love mixing paints and experimenting with different techniques.

A recent lesson which proved incredibly popular was on watercolour techniques. It was a great way to combine simple drawing, writing and other fun activities to see what happens with each step.

Tips: When using watercolours, dip the brush in water and then twirl it on the colour of choice. Dip again for a lighter and more watery colour. Always rinse the brush well in a water pot between different colour applications. If the water pot is too murky, rinse and get fresh water – this will keep the colours in your painting vibrant.

ArtBlog_1What you will need:

  • Children’s watercolour pallet (find these in art shops and discount stores)
  • Paint brush (medium-sized)
  • Water pot and water (you can use a cup or jar)
  • A3 drawing paper
  • Lead pencil
  • Marker
  • Permanent marker (such as a Sharpie pen)
  • Drinking straw
  • Salt
  • Oil pastel
  • Paper towels

Using lead pencil, draw a heading ‘Watercolour Techniques’,  then draw 10 rectangles labelled with each one of these headings: Plain, Mixed, Oil Pastel, Marker, Permanent Marker, Salt, Wet on Wet, Wet on Dry, Straw, and Paper Towel.

ArtBlog_2

1. Plain

Paint the rectangle in one primary colour (red, blue or yellow).

2. Mixed

Using two of the primary colours, create a secondary colour and fill the rectangle.

3. Oil pastel

Using an oil pastel (white or yellow works great for this), draw patterns in the rectangle, then choose any colour to paint over. See what happens!

4. Marker

Draw any pattern in the rectangle with the marker and paint over the top. Watch the marker disappear and blend with the paint.

5. Permanent marker

Draw a different pattern with the marker and then paint over the top in a different colour. Observe the difference from the standard marker.

6. Salt

Mix another colour in the rectangle and then sprinkle salt onto it – be generous. Kids love to watch the salt absorb the colour. Once the paint is dry, shake the salt off and enjoy the effect.

7. Wet on wet

Paint the rectangle in a different colour and while the paint is still wet, paint some dots onto the wet paint (black works well for this). Watch the new colour blur into the other colour.

8. Wet on dry

Choose a different colour and paint the rectangle and leave to dry. Once dry, paint some dots or lines onto the dry paint – see the difference from the above.

9. Straw

Load the paint brush up with lots of water and paint the rectangle – it should be very wet. Using the straw, have your child blow and watch the paint dance off into different part of the page and give a dripping effect. They will love this!

10. Paper towel

After painting the last rectangle in any colour, use a scrunched up paper towel to dab the paint – it should produce a blotchy effect.

Chat to your kids about using any of these techniques in an artwork of their choice. The salt technique works well for creating an ‘underwater’ effect, and the paper towel effect is great for painting animals with fur. You can also try out the straw-blowing technique for a crazy monster artwork!

Have fun!

Jen runs Kids Art Classes, School Holiday Workshops and Art Themed Birthday Parties in Sydney. Visit www.kidsartclasses.com.au.

5 Fun Ways to Teach Your Child about Patterns

Teaching Patterns Children

Patterns are all around us. Children have a natural tendency to find patterns; research shows that if you give a child a box full of cups, they will most likely stack them into a pyramid.

Patterns help children learn sequencing and to make predictions, which leads to stronger mathematical skills. Times tables, addition and skip counting all require an understanding in patterning. Parents can play a big role in helping their child discover and understand patterns, and often the best way to do it is through play.

1. Stack, sort and count blocks

If your child is in preschool, you can help them sort items before learning to recognise patterns. You can use different coloured blocks and have them stack, sort and count them.  By doing this simple and fun activity, your child will begin to notice things repeat in a certain order by size, shape or colour.

2. Match socks by size and colour

While folding the laundry, ask your child to help by matching socks by their size and colour, and then putting them into pairs. This introduces them to sorting and classifying based on pattern recognition. You can also use mittens and earrings. Count out loud by two’s with them so they become familiar with the concept of skip counting.

3. Sort kitchen items by category

Unpack your pots, frying pans, kitchen tongs and utensils and have your child help you sort them by category. You can guide them to sort the items by colour, shape, texture or size. Ask your child to name the groups of each category, like ‘containers’, ‘heavy objects’ or simply ‘black objects’. Sorting and classifying activities like this one encourage children to think analytically.

4. Beads on a string

Bean-making is a fun way to keep children occupied for hours, and is a great way to teach them simple sequencing and pattern creation. Whether you use paper beads or pasta beads, make sure there are at least two different shapes, sizes or colours. Label each type of bead with a letter (e.g. ‘A’ for purple beads and ‘B’ for pink beads) and ask your child to create a pattern on a string based on sequences you say aloud, for example, ‘A-B-A-B’.

5. ‘I spy’ patterns in nature

There are so many patterns to observe in nature, from the colour of leaves to the notes of a songbird. Play a guessing game ‘I spy a pattern’ to encourage your child to observe and create patterns. You can start off with something simple like, ‘I spy with my eye a pattern with stripes’. Your child can then take guesses by looking around while you give them more clues until they guess correctly.

Mathseeds is the fun online maths program for ages 3-6. Children work through a sequence of highly engaging interactive lessons designed to build essential early maths and problem solving skills.

Visit www.mathseeds.com for your free 14-day trial of Mathseeds and let your child experience the fun way of learning maths.

Valentine’s Day Ideas to Teach Kids Valuable Lessons

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For many of us, Valentine’s Day is about telling all of the people we love how much we appreciate them, and how important they are to our lives.

Expressing our appreciation for the people we love is a valuable lesson to teach our children, and what better day to show them the importance of saying ‘I love you’ than on Valentine’s Day!

Here are some fun activities to do with your child on Valentine’s Day:

Gift differently

Set aside some time to create homemade gifts with your child, rather than going out and spending money on something ready-made. Make it something meaningful, like a painting, a short poem or story, or a handmade card about the person they love.

Make a Valentine’s Day gift for the grandparents

Whether they live hundreds of miles away or right under your roof, it’s always nice to encourage your child to show their love and appreciation for their grandparents.  Help your child make a card, photo album or a drawing to gift to their grandparents, and let your child know how much their effort will mean to them. You can get your child to decorate and write their own message in our printable Valentine’s Day card here.

Teach them to express appreciation by starting with ‘I love you because…’

Encouraging your child to express their love and appreciation for someone is a great exercise, but sometimes it’s not so easy to find the right words. A good prompt to begin with is asking your child to complete the sentence ‘I love you because’ either on paper or in a card. If your child hasn’t learned to write yet, get the family around the dinner table for a special Valentine’s Day meal and have each person finish the sentence ‘I love you because’ for each of their family members.

Help them create simple Valentine’s Day messages for their classmates or friends

Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse for arts and crafts! Whatever your child loves to make, ask them if they would like to make a small gift for their classmates or friends. It could be origami boats, tissue paper flowers, handmade bookmarks or even a simple card. Teaching your child to show appreciation for the people around them, even those who they may not talk to very often, is a great lesson in respecting and accepting others, as well as maintaining positive relationships with the people they see every day.

Surprise your kids with cut out love hearts

You never know when somebody you love may need to hear it most! Cut out some hearts using scissors and pink construction paper and leave them for your child to find on Valentine’s Day. You can put some in their lunchbox, by their bedside table or inside a book to remind them of how special they are. Demonstrating love and appreciation is the best way to encourage it, while making them feel extra loved on Valentine’s Day!

Set a powerful example by volunteering in the community

Valentine’s Day can be the perfect day to volunteer in the community with your child. Some good ideas that the whole family can get involved in include helping staff at a local animal shelter, reading to the elderly, or volunteering at the local soup kitchen. Volunteering not only shows your child the importance of helping others less fortunate, it also gives them a newfound appreciation for their own lives and what they have.