The Children's Books and Reading blog will keep you up-to-date with any new information added to the web site. Check below for the latest recommendations for inspirational children's books and new ideas and games to help your child become a successful reader.
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Have you got a plan yet for keeping your children reading throughout the long vacation? My summer reading challenge is simple. I have challenged my boys to read one book a week and write a book review for each book once they have completed it.
If they achieve that, they will get quite a substantial monetary reward at the end of the holidays (enough to buy many, many thousands of Rainbow Loom bands - their latest craze!). Click to read more and download the templates we are using.
I am always trying to think of new, fun ways to encourage my children to get writing. Writing helps to develop literacy skills, such as vocabulary, grammar and spelling, as well as improving thinking and communication skills.
Using technology in a creative writing activity is one way to engage your child. Anything to do with an iPad never fails to capture my boys' attention and there are some excellent apps available which your child can use to create their own e-books, comic strips or movies.
However, I do worry that all the fun, creative tools that these apps provide can distract from the process of writing. The sheer versatility and potential of these apps can be a bit overwhelming for a 7-year-old (and, frankly, also for a 40-something-year-old!). There can be a tendency for your child to spend all their time tweaking the pictures or drawings, leaving little time for writing interesting prose to accompany the pictures.
So I decided to use one of these apps in a structured creative writing activity which would allow my son to concentrate first on writing the words to accompany a comic strip, and afterwards on tweaking the pictures. Keep reading to see what I did.
I have recently come across a great resource for helping my children to independently work out how to spell a word correctly while they are writing. As they work through the process of choosing the correct spelling for a particular word, they become more familiar with the different spelling patterns and so build on their spelling skills.
The Vowel Sound Directory lists each of the different vowel sounds, grouping them into three categories: short vowels, long vowels and 'r' controlled vowels. Each vowel sound is listed on a separate page of this spiral bound flipbook together with all of its spelling alternatives and example words for each alternative spelling.
Read more about the Vowel Sound Directory and how to use it to encourage your child to think logically and independently about how to spell words correctly.
As well as being fun to do, solving crosswords can be a great way for your child to develop their vocabulary and spelling skills. Crosswords for kids help your child to learn about the meaning of words and how to use them in sentences. To solve a crossword puzzle, your child needs to search for alternative words, evaluate word choices and differentiate between homophones (words which sound the same but are spelt differently eg pear and pair). These are all useful skills which help to enhance your child's vocabulary and reinforce difficult spellings. If your child is struggling with a word, they can turn to a dictionary for help, thereby helping to develop their dictionary skills.
Keep reading to find out how my children used specially designed puzzles to help practise spelling commonly misspelled words.
The most popular advice on this site about reading for kids. Check out which pages our visitors like the most.
Writing is a complicated process. First your child needs to formulate their ideas, then they need to search for the right words to express these ideas coherently. Next they must think how to spell the words and finally they need to write them down neatly, thinking about punctuation and sentence structure. No wonder some children are not that keen on writing!
Developing competence in writing takes time, and takes longer than learning to read. If you want to encourage your child to write more, think of fun writing activities for them to do, such as those shown here. While engaging in the writing process your child will learn many things. On the one hand they will develop literacy skills such as vocabulary, grammar and spelling. In addition, by thinking about what to write and how to write it, they will also develop their thinking and communication skills. Click on the link to find out more.
The latest addition to our kitchen wall is this Word Wall to help my son with his spelling. I have been really happy how enthusiastically he has taken to it. All I did was print out a title, stick it on a large sheet of white paper and laminate the sheet. I then bought some coloured whiteboard marker pens, for that added multi-coloured look.
When my son spells a word incorrectly or doesn't know how to spell a word, we work out the correct spelling and then he writes it on the Word Wall. At meal times I encourage him to look at the words and quizz him on a few at a time. Very simple and very quick. No time for him to complain or get bored. When he spells a word correctly a few times, we rub it out to leave room for the next word.
Following on from my post last week about reading fluency, read more about how my son and I have worked on improving the expression in his reading with this fun Read & Record reading fluency activity. It is amazing how a couple of props can make something as potentially boring as re-reading lots of fun! Take one tape recorder (or voice recording app, in our case) and one bell and, hey presto, you are all ready to create your own audio-enhanced picture book. Click on the link to find out more.
Practical tips on what you can do to help your child improve their reading fluency.
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