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.

Teach Your Child to Write Their Name with 8 Easy Tips

teach your child to write their name

For most young children, learning to write their name is one of the very first literary milestones they will achieve.

Your toddler’s journey of reading and writing begins when they learn to write their very first word. It’s an exciting and very special moment for parents and young learners. So how can parents ensure their child reaches this important milestone with ease, enthusiasm, and a sense of accomplishment and pride in their new abilities?

Here are eight easy tips to help your child take their first steps at writing their name.

1. Start with capitals – Capital letters are the first letters your child will learn. Young children find them easier to distinguish, remember, and write. Once your child has mastered writing capital letters, you can slowly introduce lower-case letters, or wait until they have started school. Remember that most young children are yet to develop the fine motor skills needed to write lower-case letters, and trying to get them to do it when they’re not ready can quickly lead to frustration.

 2. Tracing over dotted lines – Before your child learns to write their name, they need to have some basic motor skills to write letters. A great way to develop this is by helping them trace over the dotted lines that form each of the letters in their name. This will help your child hone their motor skills while learning letter formation at the same time.

Note: It’s important to encourage your child to follow the one basic rule for both reading and writing English: start from the top working down to the bottom, always left to right. When your child begins forming letters, either using dotted lines or working independently, always encourage them to start at the top.

3. Gripping the pencil properly – Teach your child to grip their pencil properly in order to develop good handwriting skills. If they start off learning to write with poor grip, they may encounter a great deal of frustration when they start school and are forced to change their habit. The ideal way to hold a pencil is with the thumb, index and middle fingers. This is sometimes known as the ‘tripod grasp’. Holding a pencil this way ensures fluid movement and allows the hand to remain stable.

Note: Your child will be watching you make letters and words, and how you hold a pencil. Remember to be a good model; most adults are more accustomed to typing on a keyboard nowadays, so you may need to make a special effort to hold a pencil correctly.

4. Cheer on attempts at early writing – Celebrate your child’s earliest attempts at writing by displaying their scribbles on the wall alongside their artwork. This will give them a sense of pride in their abilities, and encourage them to improve.

5. Display their name on posters and labels – Help your child grow accustomed to seeing their name printed in their bedroom and around the house. Label their lunch containers, toy boxes and books, and hang posters on the walls which display their name printed in both capitals and using lower case.

 6. Have fun with letter formation – Children respond well to a multisensory and hands-on approach to learning. Learning to form the letters in their name doesn’t always have to be done with a pencil and paper. Experiment with different materials such as clay, paints, and even pieces of candy or dried fruit to help your child form letters. Take turns writing invisible letters in the air or on each other’s backs, tracing letters in the sand with a stick, or writing letters on the bathroom mirror when it gets fogged up!

 7. Create your own name puzzle – Before your child learns to write their name, they will need to be able to identify each letter and arrange them in the correct order. This can be achieved using fridge magnets, alphabet blocks, alphabet stamps, or even typing on a computer. You can also create your own name puzzle by writing each letter of their name on a separate piece of paper, and getting them to arrange the letters in the right order.

 8. Provide verbal instructions – Encourage your child and try to avoid being too critical. Learning to write letters takes time and patience. Before they try their hand at writing, show them how it’s done while slowly explaining as you go. For example, ‘I start at the top. I go down to the bottom.’ Use words to describe the formation of different parts, such as ‘big’, ‘small’, ‘straight’ and ‘curvy’. For example, if you’re writing the letter G, explain, ‘I start at the top. I make a big curve. Now I make a small line.’

Reading Eggs is the multi-award winning online reading program that makes learning to read fun for children aged 3+. With hundreds of guided reading lessons, fun games, lovable characters, exciting rewards and over 2000 e-books, start your child’s reading journey with a special free trial offer 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.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Helping Your Child Write a Story

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Taking those first steps towards writing a story can be both a fun and challenging activity for your child. By planning and writing a story, children learn to put their thoughts into order and use written language to communicate their ideas in a variety of ways.

Finding ideas and inspiration for writing a story can be tricky for both children and adults alike. Helping your child structure their story from beginning to end is a great way to make the writing process a whole lot easier.

Step 1: Think of an idea

A good place to start is by reading a book together. Stop and ask your child to make predictions about how the story might end. Your child’s alternative ending may become great material for a new and original story. You can also write stories based on real-life experiences, such as your child’s first day of school, an adventure in the park, or losing their first tooth.

Step 2: Create a character and a setting

Ask your child to create a character and a setting. Will their main character be a child, an adult, or even an animal? Will the story be set in the local park, a different country, or even outer space? Let your child’s imagination run wild and avoid being critical or adding your own creative flair to their ideas.

Step 3: The Beginning

All good children’s stories have a beginning, middle and an end. Ask your child to expand on their original story idea and set the opening scene. What’s special or different about their main character? Maybe it’s a cat who enjoys taking baths, a superhero who can’t fly, or a princess who lives in a cave!

Step 4: The Conflict

A story with no conflict can be rather dull. Help your child understand the concept of conflict in a story by revisiting some of their best-loved books. Explain to them when a conflict arises and encourage them to create one for their own story. They can even introduce a new character to shake things up!

Step 5: The Turning Point

The turning point is usually in the middle of the story, and helps to make a story more interesting. It can be a eureka moment, a time where a character discovers a hidden superpower, or a surprise that throws the whole story into a spin. Ask your child to think of something that the reader would least expect. It doesn’t always have to make sense – this is your child’s time to unleash their imagination!

Step 6: The Resolution

A good story doesn’t finish without a final resolution. Ask your child how the conflict in their story pans out. Challenge them to link the conflict with the turning point to create a meaningful resolution.

Step 7: The End

A satisfying ending is the perfect way to finish a story. What happened to the characters once their conflict became resolved?  Were they able to finally achieve something, or did they learn an important lesson as a result?

Do you have any tips for helping your child write a story? Read more helpful writing tips here.

Reading Eggs is the comprehensive online reading website that teaches children aged 3-13 essential early reading skills. Reading Eggs includes the Story Factory which gives children a step-by-step guide to writing a story. Start your free two week trial today

10 Ways to Encourage Your Child’s Writing

encourage child writing

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Children’s imaginations seem to always be filled with interesting concepts, ideas and stories. But capturing those things and putting them on paper isn’t always quite as easy.

Writing helps children become better readers, and reading helps children become better writers. Luckily, there are a few things you can do at home to encourage your child’s writing skills.

1. Keep writing supplies on hand: Inspiration can strike at any moment. Encourage your child to keep a pencil and notepad handy on family outings. At home, provide ready access to a writing desk equipped with pencils, paper, erasers, books and a wastepaper basket.

2. Encourage journal writing: Buy a journal for your child and encourage them to make a short daily entry about their day. Talk to them about what they enjoyed doing and ask questions to encourage their thinking. Try not to get too caught up in spelling, respect their privacy if requested, and let them feel like it’s a safe place for them to write in without any judgement.

3. Use a chalkboard or family message board: Children need to understand that the act of writing is purposeful. Let your child contribute items to the family shopping list or write messages on the family message board. Don’t forget to acknowledge their contribution.

4. Write letters: If you send regular greeting cards, letters or emails to friends and family members, invite your child to write and send their own messages to relatives. Allow time for practice by creating several draft versions together and taking turns reading them out loud.

5. Provide writing prompts: Creative writing can be tricky, and it’s often helpful to give your child a topic or theme to write about. You can create simple prompts and have your child fill in the rest. For example, ‘If I could choose to be an animal, I would choose to be a…’, or ‘The bravest thing I have ever done was…’ Reading Eggs has an interactive story-writing guide which provides useful word, sentence and illustration prompts. Try it for free here.

6. Create a story board: A story board is a series of pictures that tell a story and resembles a comic strip. Creating a story board is a fun and helpful way for your child to plan their story and draw pictures to help them clearly envisage what will happen.

7. Read before writing: Reading a book before setting pen to paper helps your child become familiar with story structure. Choose a book with a traditional ‘beginning’, ‘middle’ and ‘end’ and explain how the story is structured before they create their own.

8. Create your own storybook: Home-made books offer a wealth of benefits for your child. Provide a variety of paper and pencils and use other books as models for creating your own. View more tips on creating home-made books.

9. Encourage enthusiasm for writing through imaginative play: This is a good idea to encourage younger children to take an interest in writing. You can pretend to be working in a post office and have your child ‘write’ and reply to handwritten letters with scribbles. Alternatively, pretend to be a customer at a restaurant and have your child take down your order.

10. Be their biggest cheerleader: Always offer positive feedback and take an interest in your child’s writing. Praise them for having a go at writing words that are new and show them how to spell difficult words that they may not have been able to spell correctly.

Reading Eggs is the comprehensive online reading website that teaches children aged 3-13 essential early reading skills. Reading Eggs includes the Story Factory which gives children a step-by-step guide to writing a story. Start your free trial here today