6 Fun Activities to Improve Your Child’s Spelling

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Learning and memorising how to spell can be challenging for children and adults alike. The rules and exceptions of spelling can leave children feeling confused and disenchanted to learn.

Spelling is important because it aids in reading and writing. Proper spelling facilitates clear written communication and helps your child communicate their ideas through writing in school and beyond.

We’ve put together some fun and simple activities to improve your child’s spelling – minus the frustration! Read our previous post: 

1. Letter Lily Pads: On large pieces of butcher paper, print the letters of the alphabet. Cut the area around each letter into the shape of a lily pad and lay them out on the floor. Have two of your children pair up to play this game, or team up with your child yourself. Have your first person read the word aloud. The second must step on the letters to spell the word.

2. Stair Steps: This is an easy one to help your child memorise the way certain words are spelled. Have your child write each word as if they are stairs, adding one letter at a time. For example:

R

Re

Rea

Read

3. Spelling Ball: Here’s something the whole family can take part in. Stand together in a circle with a ball. Call out a word, toss the ball to another person, and have that person spell out the word, and so on. If the word isn’t spelled correctly, then whoever has the ball tosses it to another person who will try to spell it.

4. Magazine clippings: Have your child cut out the letters from a newspaper or magazine to spell words. This will encourage them to consider each letter carefully and individually, while creating visual representations of the words as a helpful memory aid.

5. Scrambled Spelling: Give your child a number of scrambled words. You can use alphabet blocks or fridge magnets, or even make your own by writing letters on pieces of paper. Then haven them unscramble the words within a time limit. This game makes a great competition for multiple little spelling bees!

6. Spelling Train: Read a word aloud and have your child write it down. Using the last letter in that word, ask them to write another word beginning with that last letter. They can continue the ‘spelling train’ using the last letter of the word. For example:

Toe

Eat

Tea

Ant

Tin

For more fun spelling tips and ideas, read our previous blog posts 5 Fun Ways to Remember Spelling and 5 Tips to Improve Your Child’s Spelling.

10 Watercolour Techniques For Kids

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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.

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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.

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.

Say “I Love You” with Your FREE Printable Valentine’s Day Card!

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Download your FREE printable Valentine’s Day card!

Roses are red, violets are blue, here’s something handy to help say “I love you!”

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and the Reading Eggs Team would like to help you celebrate! 

Download your adorable Reading Eggs Valentine’s Day card here and have your child practice their writing skills while expressing their love and appreciation for someone special! It could be for a sibling, a grandparent, or even a much-loved book character.

If your child is struggling to think of what to write, encourage them with the helpful prompt, “I love you because”. This will help them put their feelings into words and personalise their message.

Simply print out as many cards as you’d like, cut along the dotted line and fold at the crease line. Then have your child write their special Valentine’s message inside. We hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

5 Fun Christmas Activities That Build Important Literacy Skills

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The festive season is the perfect time to rummage through the old stationary drawer, pull out some glue sticks, scissors and pencils, and get creative!

Christmas is a great opportunity to celebrate with fun, hands-on and educational activities to keep those creative juices flowing over the holiday break. The Reading Eggs Team have put together a list of some of our best-loved holiday activity ideas designed to keep your child entertained and practicing important literacy skills, while getting right into the festive spirit. Enjoy!

1. A Christmas Poem

Get your child to brainstorm things that remind them of Christmas. Encourage them to think about items, animals, foods, activities and emotions (e.g. excitement, surprise, happiness). Once they’ve thought up a good list of Christmas-related things, help them compose a two-verse poem, verse one beginning with the words “It’s Christmas outside when…” followed by some descriptive sentences, and the second verse beginning with “It’s Christmas at home when…” followed by more sentences.

2. Create a Christmas Scrapbook

Flip through newspapers, catalogues and magazines together and find things that remind you of Christmas to paste into a Christmas scrapbook. You can add your own drawings and family photos too! Get your child to label each of the things they have included in their scrapbook and encourage them to write the words clearly. For example, if you choose a photo of snow, have them write “This is snow.” as a caption. Say the words aloud or show them how to write certain words first if they need some extra help.

3. Write to Santa

Let your child practice their letter writing by reviving this traditional Christmas pastime! Get your child to draft a wish list in proper letter form, complete with a date, salutation, a body paragraph, closing note and a signature. You can even get them to personalise the letter with information about themselves and how good they’ve been in the past year.

4. Santa Claus Alliteration

Alliterations are literary devices that children are expected to learn and recognise by the fourth grade. Just in case you’ve forgotten, alliteration is the repetition of the same sounds or the same kinds of sounds at the beginning of words, a common feature in tongue twisters (e.g. Peter’s piglet pranced proudly).

Have your child divide a piece of paper into three sections lengthwise. In the first column, write the heading “What Santa looks like”, in the second, write “What Santa does” and in the third “What Santa likes.” Brainstorm some descriptions for each column and work together with your child to come up with some silly, fun and nonsensical words that begin with the same letter or sound (e.g. “Santa sometimes steals soft socks to step into snowy streets”).

5. Santa Claus Adjectives

Imagine that you and your child have to explain who Santa Claus is to an alien! Encourage them to think of as many adjectives (describing words) as they can and get them to write a list of words to best explain who Santa Claus is. Discuss what an adjective means with your child first and ask them to point out examples in a paragraph or storybook beforehand.

Do you have any fun Christmas activity ideas? Share them with us in the comments below.

Happy holidays from the Reading Eggs Team!