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.

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.

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

FREE TRIAL OFFER: Reading Eggs is the multi-award winning online reading website designed for children aged 3-13 years. With hundreds of guided lessons, thousands of activities, and over 2000 e-books, see how your child’s reading improves with a free trial today.

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

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!