1. Have your child tell you a story and then write it down. Print it and have them illustrate it. Give them opening lines if necessary ("'It was the worst day of my life,' said the pirate"). I still have a copy of Grace's masterpiece Omadus Omadus the Turtle. Gotta love that subtext.
2. Point out street and store signs to your child while driving around town.
3. Leave simple notes for your child: under their pillow, in their bureau drawer, inside their tennis shoes, on their pajamas.
4. Play rhyming games where the child must rhyme a word with one of yours. "Is there a bee on my knee?" "No, I think he's in the tree."
5. Find a pen pal for your child. Kids Space Connection is a good place to start.
6. Teach your children to read recipe notations such as "teaspoon" and "cup" and then help you cook using cookbooks.
7. Plan activities that relate to a specific story. For example, keep jars of "cures" from Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's store (cinnamon-sugar for Grouchy Powder, cherry syrup for Hurry-up Syrup, Lemon Drops as a Whining Cure). Make pepparkakor like Pippi Longstocking (but without the mess).
8. Make paper dolls for the main characters in a story. Use the dolls in the American Girl catalogue or Boys Life or have children draw their own and back them on cardstock. Read about dinosaurs and "bury" toy dinosaurs in plaster of paris and allow children to dig for them. A sandbox would also work well for the idea.
9. Help children publish their writing in a family newsletter utilizing fancy fonts, columns, borders and colors. Kids can also submit their writing to children's websites such as Stone Soup.
10. Read the sports scores or comics in the newspaper together.
11. Help children form book clubs with other children through local book stores or with friends and family. Throw a Nancy Drew party and play Clue; start a Harry Potter club and serve Bertie Botts beans; start an Animorphs club and make paper masks to morph into character.
12. Have round writing activities where each person writes one line or paragraph of a story then passes it to the next person who adds the next part of the story. This can be done in an hour or over a month.
13. Plan activities related to a specific story: Provide a box of miscellaneous hardware and electronics and make it the Invention Box in memory of Homer Price. Check out videos giving historical background about fictional stories such as the PBS documentary Seabiscuit or travel videos on Chincoteague Island after reading Misty of Chincoteague. Have children draw maps of fantasy worlds such as Prydain, Droon, Narnia, Mount Olympus, Hogwarts or Middle Earth.
Spencer and his best friend Gabe did this in second grade and was very successful in encouraging an interest in reading. I took a piece of canvas and hemmed it and they took turns adding to their map of Droon with colored permanent markers as they read their favorite series, The Secrets of Droon. One boy would take it home from school one day then bring it back for the other to have the next day. A picture is posted here.
For other ideas see two previous posts: Tips for Improving Your Child's Literacy and More Tips for Improving Your Child's Literacy.
Special thanks to The Wooden Porch for her kindness in awarding me a Perfect Post Award for October for Teaching Courtesy: Be a Little Nicer to the Waitress. It just made my week.
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