In our home I’ve decided to take a summer break from structured learning time to take advantage of the beautiful weather and to allow me to focus on planning for our fall curriculum. But I was realizing that for many parents summer is the only time they have their kids at home all day because school is out. For many this welcome summer break also presents a few challenges, mostly keeping the children happily busy and maintaining some learning so their child doesn’t backslide during the summer and is ready for the next grade in the fall.
Most parents know to encourage reading over the summer, especially for their older kids, and some schools even have a summer reading list for students to guide their reading. For kids who are already strong readers simply allowing them to enjoy reading on their own is enough and it will not take much convincing to get them to spend some time each day reading independently. However, many kids are not yet strong readers or are reluctant readers and could benefit from more guidance. These suggestions are for students in the Preschool-3rd grade range.
**If any of our readers have children above 3rd grade please comment and I can post a second version of this for older children.
The Four Types of Reading:
Reading Aloud- the parent chooses a book and reads it aloud to their child(ren). This is a great time to read books that would be beyond your child’s reading level, such as lengthy chapter books. Some classic suggestions include:
Little House on the Prairie series
The Boxcar Children
Island of the Blue Dolphins
The Bible or Children’s Bible
Swiss Family Robinson
Chronicles of Narnia
Tales of Peter Rabbit
Shared Reading-the parent reads aloud a book that is barely within their child’s reading capabilities and the child has a copy of the same book or sits on the parent’s lap where he/she can read the text. You can also copy and print the book as a small booklet for the child with the parts for them to say bolded in a bright color. At refrains or on repeated readings of the book the child joins in, reading the part he/she knows. This is a great chance to allow all your kids to join in as you read aloud and read some silly books and rhymes. Some suggestions include:
The Little Old Lady Who Wasn’t Afraid of Anything
Don’t Wake Up the Bear
Brown Bear, Brown Bear
Sandra Boynton’s books (many are written with a sing-songy part kids love to say)
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
The Very Busy Spider
Today is Monday by Eric Carle
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Who Stole The Cookie From the Cookie Jar?
Guided Reading-this requires one on one time with the parent and child. You can use the naptime for your little ones to lay down with your older child and cuddle and read together. In Guided Reading it is the child who is reading the story, but you are right there with them to help them as they struggle with a word and to observe and see where their reading level truly is. While with a younger child you might simply sound out the word for them, with older children your role is more mentor than assistant. You’ll want to refrain from jumping in and rescuing them from every difficult word, or becoming impatient if they take awhile to get it. You have many ways to guide your child during this time when they reach a word they cannot read, pronounce incorrectly, or do not understand the meaning of.
1. Remind them to sound out the word
2. Cover a portion of a long word to make it easier to sound out. (for example, if they struggle with the word butterfly you could cover up the ‘fly’ part and ask them to sound out the first part, then cover up ‘butter’ and ask them to sound our ‘fly’, then join the two together.)
3. Have them look at the whole sentence and see what makes sense in the word’s space. (this is looking at context for clues) You may need to model this by doing it yourself, thinking aloud, the first time and then ask them to do it themselves.
4. If they don’t know what it means, look up the meaning of the word in the dictionary, or tell the child the meaning.
5. Write the word down on a post-it-note or bookmark inside the book and practice it later.
Some book suggestions include:
Bob Books (these are leveled readers geared towards beginning readers that many libraries carry. You can also often find used copies inexpensively on www.amazon.com or www.half.com.)
Dr. Seuss books
Printable Booklets (http://www.hubbardscupboard.org/printable_booklets.html)
Online Stories (www.starfall.com)
Board Books geared towards babies/toddlers make for good beginning reader books for 4-6 year olds.
Fairy Tales (for 6-9 year olds)
Recipes--as you cook, ask your child to read the recipe or ingredients list aloud
Grocery List—have your child be your helper by reading each item off as you go through the grocery store, and they can check off each item that is put in the cart.
Guest List—when planning a party ask your child to read the guest list to you, or even to write it themselves. This is great for name recognition.
Letters or Cards—encourage grandparents and cousins to write letters to your child so they can practice their reading aloud.
Treasure Hunt—use written clues the child must read aloud to figure out where the next clue is hidden.
Any book your child finds that they are interested in reading. Sometimes they’ll surprise you with what books they can read!
Independent Reading-your child reads completely independently, preferably books of their own choosing. Be careful to monitor for content, some classic stories have a lot of inappropriate material in their original versions. Also, be sure your child is reading at their level, not too many ‘fast food’ books that they whiz through and not books that will frustrate them. A few ‘fast food’ books that are easy for them to read can serve a purpose, increasing confidence, fluency, and speed with reading. Just be sure your child isn’t only reading those books and refusing to deal with challenging books on their own.
A good test of whether a book is at your child’s reading level is to ask them to read aloud the first page of the book to you; if they read it and only struggle with 1-3 words on the page then it is likely within their capabilities. If it is a small board book for a 4-6 year old then they should not struggle with more than 1 word per page if they are to be left to read it independently, they have fewer tools to deal with confusing words and as new readers should have their confidence boosted during independent reading. Some suggestions include:
*Any book on the guided reading list that you know they can read easily (can read an entire page with no more than 1-3 words they struggle with)
American Girls Series
The Magic Treehouse Series
The Saddle Club Series
Comic Books (check for content)
Nonfiction Books About Favorite Topics (animals, cars, and truck-themed books are popular with kids)
Chicken Soup for the Kid’s Soul
The Chronicles of Narnia
The Berenstein Bears Series
This blog is here for you to find fun learning activities to do with your children. We share great ideas we find and love on the Internet, as well as ideas we come up with on our own! We also like to share resources we find helpful.
To find ideas for your child, click on the age range blog label or on the theme/topic you are looking for (on the left side of the page). In each post, we try to list optimal age ranges for the activity, but you must judge for yourself if it is appropriate for your child. When you try an activity out, please comment and let us (and everyone else) know how your child liked it!