5 Halloween Activities that Increase Reading Skills

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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.

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.

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.

6 Ways to Get Your Child Excited For Back to School

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The first few weeks of back to school can either be filled with excitement or dread. There are several reasons for why children might be feeling the latter – from being nervous about meeting new friends to simply wanting to hang on to the carefree sentiment of the holiday period. But with the right tips, you can help your child feel eager and excited about starting the new school year.

1. Go back to school shopping

Shiny new shoes, glittery notepads and decorated binders are a great way to get your child motivated about going back to school. Take your child along for back to school shopping, equipped with a shopping list and a budget (for tips on creating a budget and shopping with kids check out our blog post on maths tips here). Going lunch shopping is also a fun activity too – your child will love picking out what snacks they would like for their first week of school.

2. Organise play dates

For some kids, going back to school means making new friends. Once the class list comes out, hop on the phone or email and start scheduling play dates with old and new friends to remind your child about one of the best parts about going back to school. Often children will talk excitedly about starting school together, and it’s always helpful to have a friend by their side on the very first day.

3. Have fun with labels

Children love stickers! Brand new items like school bags, lunchboxes, pencil cases and exercise books are just waiting to be decorated all over. Stock up on stickers, labels and colourful pens and let your child have fun personalising their new items in their own unique way – it will be a great way to motivate them to go back to school and show off to their classmates!

4. Sign up for extracurricular activities

Even if your child isn’t looking forward to cracking open the books and learning new things, they might get excited about sports, music or art. There are so many extra-curricular activities to suit all ages, capabilities and interests. If your child is excited about what’s to come after school, it may help them feel more motivated about waking up to a new school day.

5. Alphabet breakfasts

‘A’ on a Monday is for apple pancakes. ‘B’ on a Tuesday is for banana oatmeal. ‘C’ on a Wednesday is for cereal. Have some fun on the first week of school and plan an alphabet breakfast for each day of the week. Let your child suggest some ideas and even let them help with preparing the ingredients. It will be so much more fun to wake up on a school morning and say, “Today is a letter ‘E’ day for eggs on toast!”

6. Scrapbook your memories

Scrapping your child’s school year is a great way to create memories of a major part of your child’s life. Throughout the year, find opportunities to take photos and record memorable events and milestones. Let your child be a part of starting the new scrapbook for the year. Go shopping together to pick out stickers, pens and decals, and take photos of them in their school uniform on their first day or waiting for the bus for the very first time. Record what their favourite things are and what they want to be when they grow up – it’s always fun to watch how these things change over the years.

FREE TRIAL OFFER: You can get your child reading-ready for school with a free trial of Reading Eggs here.

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

Five Fabulous First Day of School Ideas

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“All children have the unforgivable habit of growing up.” – Bjarne Reuter

Get your child ready for school in the best possible way with a special free trial of Reading Eggs.

For many parents the first day of school can be a time of mixed emotion. There’s a feeling of immense pride and excitement, but also an overwhelming sadness at watching our children grow up so fast.

We’ve put together five fabulously fun ideas to help you celebrate your child’s first day of school and mark it as a truly memorable occasion.

1. ‘First Day of School Breakfast’

For a very simple and traditional first day of school idea, what better way to mark the occasion than with an extra special breakfast?

Chances are your child has already watched you celebrate fun family occasions like birthdays or Mother’s Day with a special breakfast in the morning. A great way to let them know how special they are on their first day of school is by whipping up a surprise ‘First Day of School Breakfast’ filled with all of their favourites!

2. Say cheese!

Images are a powerful way to evoke special family memories, and every parent wants to capture a great shot of their child’s first day of school.

Keep the mood light and playful when you do your first day of school photo shoot, and don’t hesitate to get creative!

You can capture your child stepping onto the school bus for the very first time, or have them holding a sign written with all of their favourite foods, toys, books and activities that year.

Another popular idea is to have them posing by the same tree, swing or mantel each year to put together a beautiful series of them growing up, all the way from primary school to their last day of high school. Download your special ‘First Day of School’ picture frame here.

3. Launch your brand new homework station 

Your child’s new homework station should be prepared in advance. You can even unveil it as a special surprise when your child comes home from their first day.

Set aside a quiet space in the house, or in your child’s room, for their homework station. You want a place with few distractions, and include a desk, some shelves, pencils, highlighters, folders, books and a comfortable chair.

The most important thing is to let your child feel as comfortable as possible in that space. Invite them to get involved in setting up by having them choose how they would like to decorate it and what supplies to put there.

When they come home from school, arrange an official ‘Homework Station Launch’ by decorating their chair with balloons and tying a ribbon over their desk for them to cut (with their new pair of safety scissors of course!).

You can download your First Day of School activity sheets and use them to help your child recognise and write the names of their new school supplies.

4. Create a time capsule

A time capsule creates a fun and very special opportunity to record your child’s feelings and thoughts about their first day of school experience, from the months or weeks leading up to the day, to their very first few weeks.

Ask your child to help you decorate an old shoebox or used jar and label it with their name and date. Then have them draw a picture about what they’re feeling or what they enjoy doing most.

You can include a recording of them talking about what they want to be when they grow up or how they’ve met their new friends at school.

Now for the tricky part – pop everything into the time capsule and try to forget all about it! You can choose to keep it hidden until the new school year or give it to your child when they finish high school.

5. Make a Schultüte (“School Cone”)

This is a long-running German tradition where parents or grandparents give their child a large cardboard cone, decorated and filled with toys, chocolates, sweets and school supplies. The purpose of the tradition is to make the anxiously awaited first day of school just a little bit sweeter!

To make your very own Schultüte, take a large sheet of poster board and hold the shorter end facing you. Roll the paper into a cone shape (ensuring the bottom is nice and pointy) and tape it closed with heavy duty tape.

Trim the edge with scissors to straighten it and once your cone is ready, pack it with your child’s favourite treat and toys, plus some handy school supplies.

Close the Schultüte by gluing or stapling a cloth or coloured tissue paper to the outer rim of the cone and tying it together with a ribbon.

However you choose to celebrate your child’s first day of school, we hope it’s filled with excitement and joy (and maybe just a few happy tears!) for the brand new journey ahead.

Read our other First  Day of School blog posts:

Reading Eggs is the multi-award winning website that teaches children aged 3+ to learn how to read. With a comprehensive range of self-paced lessons and games, Reading Eggs is a highly interactive and fun way to prepare your child for their first years of school.

Get your child reading-ready for their first day of school with a free trial of Reading Eggs here.