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 Everyday Activities to Boost Your Child’s Working Memory with Reading

learning memory reading

 

When you sit down to read a book, your brain is recalling and using a great deal of information to understand the text. This is because reading requires us to draw on relevant information stored in our memory in order to gain meaning.

A good working memory is important for reading and achieving success in school. Working memory refers to how we manipulate information stored in our short-term memory. Children use this all the time to learn, read, and follow everyday instructions.

Improving your child’s working memory is a powerful way to improve their reading fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. Here are five activities you can do at home to improve your child’s working memory.

1. Play category games

When words and ideas are put into categories, they become much easier to remember. Several studies have found that when category cues are applied, children are twice as likely to remember associated words than if left to recall them on their own.

You can play category games with your child after reading a book as a helpful way to recall new words and ideas. If the book features animals, ask your child to name as many animals as they can think of, including any new ones they may have learned from the book. You can look at grouping them in different ways, such as by where they live or their number of legs. If the book is about Egyptian history, ask them to list words under categories such as diet, buildings, rituals, or fashion. This type of associative learning is a great way to improve reading comprehension and vocabulary.

2. Connect feelings to information

Children remember things most effectively by processing information in as many ways as possible, especially if they have processed it emotionally. If your child is reading a book about bird migration, ask them to imagine what it would be like to fly thousands of miles to find food and warmth. Finding ways to connect what your child is trying to remember with things they are already familiar with is a powerful way to help them learn new information.

3. Talk about what you have read

Soon after you have finished reading a book, ask your child to give you a summary of the events that took place. Encourage them to draw pictures, write their summary, or simply tell you what happened in chronological order. You can also ask your child questions to reinforce key information in the book. Encourage a post-reading discussion by asking questions like, “Where did the dog find his family?”, “Why do you think the girl felt sad about leaving school?”, or “What would have happened if the day was rainy instead of sunny?”

4. Encourage your child to take notes

To enhance working memory while reading, young children can get into the habit of becoming active readers. Encourage your child to underline, highlight or jot down key notes in the margin while reading lengthy books. They might also use sticky notes on pages to write down and group together their ideas about the text. Another great strategy to help your child understand and recall what they have read is by reading the text out loud. By reading aloud together, you can take “mental notes” by pausing and placing an emphasis on key words and ideas, or discussing the meaning of a particular word or event in the text.

5. Prepare

Before your child sits down to read a book, help them prepare by priming their memory. Give your child an idea of what they can expect and what to look out for in a book by discussing the vocabulary and overall topic beforehand. By preparing your child before reading a lengthy text, you are making it easier for them to put the information into context.

Working memory is a skill that can be strengthened over time, and activities like these can be easily built into your child’s daily life. Do you have any tips for boosting your child’s working memory with reading?

ABOUT READING EGGS

Reading Eggs is the comprehensive online reading website that teaches children aged 3-13 essential early reading skills, including fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.

Special free trial offer: Start your free trial of Reading Eggs here and see how your child’s reading can improve in just weeks.

Gorgeous Printable Mother’s Day Coupons + Fun Activities and Ideas

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Mother’s Day is all about celebrating and expressing our gratitude for mothers, and the many things they do and sacrifice for us every single day.

RE1505051140-MothersDay_Coupons_650x433Most families agree that no Mother’s Day gift could be treasured more highly than meaningful, home-made keepsakes. In this post, we would like to help you celebrate Mother’s Day with our gorgeous printable Mother’s Day coupons plus some fun activities and ideas below to make your mother feel extra loved on her special day.

Rose and Stem Bookmark

Story time can create the most precious memories between mother and child. You can help your child create a rose and stem bookmark to mark those special moments with some pink scrapbook paper, glue, safety scissors, and green pipe cleaners.

With safety scissors, cut four hearts from your scrapbook paper. Turn one of the hearts upside down to resemble one of your center petals, and use glue to stick the top of your pipe cleaner stem in place. Place your second heart on top of the first and press down firmly while the glue is still wet.

Arrange the other two petals by folding them in half vertically, and use them to sandwich the sides of the center petals, using the glue to hold your rose together. Have your child write their Mother’s Day message on the petals. A great idea is to use the well-known writing prompt: ‘Roses are red, violets are blue…’

Recipe for the World’s Greatest Mother

Writing recipes are fun, and children love using their imagination for this exercise! Create a Mother’s Day card and write the words ‘Recipe for the World’s Greatest Mother’. Ask your child to draw or decorate the card with items you would find in the kitchen, such as a chef’s hat, a pot, utensils, and an apron.

Inside your card, help your child write a recipe for what they think makes their mother so special. Some ideas to get you started include, ‘one large cup of patience’, ‘a sprinkle of laughter’, or ‘one big serving of the warmest hugs’.

Mother’s Day Coupons

Treat your mother to something special every day. Mother’s Day coupons are so much fun to create and let your mother ‘cash in’ her coupons on whichever day she chooses!

Create a coupon book by stapling together the side of several long rectangular sheets of paper. Help your child decorate the cover of your coupon book with pencils, pens, scrapbook paper, and glue.

Ask your child to think of some nice things they would like to do for their mother, such as breakfast in bed, performing a concert, or reading a story. Create a coupon for each idea and encourage your child to write and decorate the pages in their own special way.  You can also download our free printable Mother’s Day coupons here where younger children can practice writing their name.

Love notes

What could make someone feel more special than constant surprise reminders throughout the day?

Cut out pieces of scrapbook paper and write special messages to your mother on each one. Invite your child to help you think of things to include, such as nice compliments, messages of gratitude, or a lovely quote from their best-loved books.

Encourage your child to write the messages on each piece, and leave them around the house for your mother to stumble upon throughout the day. Try leaving your love notes in place like the dashboard of her car, on the bathroom mirror, in the sock drawer, or inside the fridge!

Reading Eggs is the multi-award winning online reading website that makes learning to read fun for ages 3-13. See for yourself how your child’s reading improves with a free two week trial of Reading Eggs today.

5 Outdoor Activities that Improve Literacy Skills

outdoor kids reading

Outdoor activities are a great opportunity for children to get some fresh air, stretch their legs and enjoy a change of scenery.

Many children can be reluctant to sit down and read a book every day. But there are many outdoor activities you can do together to improve important reading and writing skills while having fun. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Nature walk

Nature walks are a wonderful way to encourage your child’s appreciation for the natural environment. Talk about the things you see, hear, feel and smell. Bring a camera along and take photos of birds, plants, trees, rocks and bodies of water.

When you get home, gather your images and attach them to a large sheet of construction paper. Ask your child to label each photo and write a few sentences to describe them. Reflect on the things you talked about during your nature walk, like the sound of different birds, the texture of certain leaves and the colours of interesting flowers. Older children can try to describe each photo by writing a poem.

2. Scavenger hunt

Scavenger hunts are a widely successful game for young children, and even adults! This is an activity that the whole family can do together. Choose a place to have the hunt, such as the park or in the backyard, and decide what kind of prizes to have at the end. Create a list of things for your children to find. It can be anything, such as a pencil, ball of string, a skipping rope, a book, a toy – the possibilities are endless!

Divide each team into groups of at least two people. Give each group a list of items and a time limit. Your children should have enough time to read the items on the list and find them. You can even be extra creative and write cryptic clues for older children to decipher!

3. Go shopping

Ask your child to help you write down what you need to buy at the supermarket. You can write down all of the items together, or you can even tell your child the items and ask them to try and spell them on their own. This activity is also a helpful way to introduce your child to writing numerals if you’re buying specific quantities of items. You can then go shopping and pick out each item on the list, demonstrating to your child what these words represent in real life.

4. Act out a poem or song

When children act out a beloved poem or song, they learn to appreciate rhyme, rhythm, and the images it paints with a few carefully chosen words. Children grow as readers by connecting feelings with the written word, which sets them on the path towards a lifelong love of reading.

Read a poem or the lyrics of a song with your child. Suggest acting out one particular section or the whole piece. Encourage your child to make facial expressions that convey the character’s feelings, and don’t worry too much about making mistakes – be enthusiastic and keep things fun.

5. Cook together (indoors or outdoors)

Does your child enjoy learning how to whip up their favourite cakes or desserts? Get your child in the kitchen to create their favourite dish, or ask them to help you prepare dinner. Cooking together is not only a lot of fun, but also allows your child to see you following recipes from cookbooks and reading instructions on packages. Before you start, you can sit down with the recipe and reword it in a way that is easy for your child to understand. While you cook, ask them to read out which step comes next.

Special free trial offer: Start your free trial of Reading Eggs here and see how your child’s reading can improve in just weeks.

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.