Welcome to Week 4 of the school closures in my area! I have officially settled into the notion that my son may finish the school year at home, instead of going back to school. (My husband and I had a moment of silence this morning for the loss of this last bastion of normalcy, no longer on the horizon.)
This week, I will have all sorts of posts on the blog about HOW TO MAXIMIZE learning activities so your child(ren) learn more effectively, but hopefully, they will find learning at home to be less boring, as well. Hooray for little victories!
Here is what’s available for Week 4!
Day 16: I Love Literacy!
In truth, I DO love literacy. I am the grammar-nazi in every friend group. I taught language arts for years and love exploring books with students of all ages. I can’t help myself!
Another truth: Most kids HATE grammar and literacy activities. The key is to remember the KISS Rule – Keep It Simple, Silly! Don’t get mired down with endless repetition or arguing over the details. When it comes to literacy, practice makes perfect and a little bit, every day, really does go a long way!
Readworks.org offers a very effective, adaptable program called Article-A-Day. There are a variety of grade levels, topics and themes, and difficulty-levels to choose from. Parents can print the articles or have them read online (they can even have it read to them through Human-voice audio). This program works best when paired with a simple, spiral notebook or 3-ring binder filled with paper. Children respond to what they read each day. In my house, my sons wrote the name of the article at the top of the page and then they took 2 minute to write (or draw or talk) about 2-3 things they learned from the article and wanted to remember. The statistics show that this is an wildly effective way to improve literacy – and it is so simple and straightforward! *Let your kids choose topics of interest for added engagement!
Improve grammar skills with . NoRedInk.com offers targeted skills practice for writing in grades 5-12. I like that they start with a diagnostic test so you can target the activities to your child’s weak areas. One other thing that makes NoRedInk unique is that it provides kids with real-time corrections, so they don’t make mistakes over again before learning that they did it wrong. Parents can access a free account and assign work to their child(ren) who see a customized dashboard when they log-in.
Achieve 3000 offers literacy practice for all ages and abilities! They offer an online platform or a series of printable packets. Each one contains interesting topics, comprehension questions and vocabulary building activities.
Looking for spelling word lists? K12Reader.com offers spelling lists for all grades, and even breaks them into weeks for you! This site also has printable content beyond lists, to help kids practice all their literacy skills!
Sumdog offers spelling (and math) practice in a game-based environment. Some students already have an account through their school/classroom. If not, parents can sign-up and access 6 free games to help their children stay sharp on math facts and spelling work!
Day 17: More On-line Literacy Tools
Many of you may be familiar with the ABC Mouse early learning program. Did you know that the same company also offers Adventure Academy for elementary and middle school learners? Right now, Age of Learning, Inc is offering free access to families for both programs.
You can also access a variety of e-books and readers through their sister site, ReadingIQ. The same access code will give you free access to all of their learning library.
Check out our blog this week for fun ways to take online lessons and make them more interactive and effective!
Day 18: Best Read-Aloud Stories Online!
One of the best ways to improve reading fluency and comprehension is to read! read! read! By reading aloud to kids, you not only model expressive reading, but you can enrich a child’s enjoyment of reading, as well as expose them to hundreds of words each week! Tapping into the amazing skills of famous actors and authors like Oprah Winfrey, Betty White, and Chris Pine makes these stories all the better! The folks at Storyline Online have done just that to bring you hours of delightful read-alouds that are sure to entertain kids of all ages!
Check out this wonderful read-aloud of Arnie the Doughnut, read by Chris O’Dowd.
You can search for stories by title, author, reader or even run-time.
You don’t have to go the book store or the library. You don’t even have to be able to make up funny voices for all of the characters! What’s not to love?!?! Find it all HERE.
Day 19: Scholastic Learn From Home – Like a Multivitamin for Your Literacy Skills!
Scholastic (the book fair people) has curated daily language arts lessons for all age groups. These lessons include high-interest articles, videos, and even virtual tours. The site also offers additional support for parents as well as other learning materials. Don’t forget to check out the Dav Pilkey@Home link for fun videos for your Captain Underpants and/or Dog Man fans! You can find out more about it all HERE.
Day 20: Reading Bear and Other Literacy Sites
Young, emerging readers benefit from a systematic approach to phonics. Sites like Readingbear.org provide kids an opportunity to practice phonics in a structured, but low-stress way. Lessons can be watched a video or an interactive slide show. Quizzes are even available to check for mastery.
Another vibrant site for literacy, as well as math, is Starfall.com. This is a free site that offers instructive phonics videos, games, and expanded learning opportunities beyond the individual lessons. The audio components are terrific for both audio and visual learners, as the site uses clear, supportive voices to help model sounds and speech.
Lastly, it is important to remember that literacy is about more than sounding out words on a page. Literacy involves engagement with the content and forming ideas and images in our minds based on the words we are reading. This kind of engagement is what Into The Book is all about!
Into the Book is a site developed in conjunction with Wisconsin Public Television. They offer a free account log-in or a guest experience for users, exploring key reading skills like summarizing, using prior knowledge, and visualizing. My favorite part is that they also have a combined skills area, as well, where kids can use these skills in concert, only after they have explored the other areas on the site.
This site also has supports for teachers and parents!
I hope this week provided you with an abundance of learning opportunities in the area of literacy! I can not express how important it is to read, read, read with your kids! It is the most important thing you can do to support their learning across the board! Let your kids read to you, too! Ask them questions about what you are reading, while you read. Ask kids, “What do you think about that?” or “Have you ever seen anything like that before?” or “What would you do if that happened to you?” Engaging kids during reading in this way helps actively model the kind of engagement with reading that sites like Into The Book supports.
Still have questions or concerns about literacy? Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.