Lazy Summer Reading Ideas

Sometimes we all need a little help to get moving with summer learning. Here are some great (mostly free) ideas I've come across recently. 

One of the favorite things I've found so far comes from Plenty of Picnics. They're called Summer Brain Time punch cards. I love them because I can say to my son, "Let's do some brain time!" and our reward for that is a punch on our Summer Brain Time card. I say "our" because I need a little motivation to focus on learning, too! Then when we fill out a card, we get to have a treat together like popcorn and a movie or ice cream. Here's the link to print out your very own Summer Brain Time cards! 

Summer Online Resources:
Summer Reading Resources for Kids 2012 from Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas is an amazing compilation of summer reading programs!!
A Mom with a Lesson Plan: idea for collecting book reports and rewarding with money towards Scholastic book orders in the fall!
Help for Struggling Readers :great compilation of ideas
The Measured Mom: Can You Read 100 Books This Summer? Do-It-Yourself Summer Reading and printouts
3 Dinosaurs Summer Printable Round Up: Lots of great ideas!
Growing Book by Book Table talk cards - topics to talk about at the dinner table or on a road trip!

Games for Summer:
* Lots more on my Pinterest boards!
Good for all levels:
PirateAttack ( Students discover pirates and treasure by identifying sounds/letters, reading sight words, or defining vocabulary words 
PlayingWith Plates:  Write sight words, word families, vocab words, or letters on small paper plates. Put them on the ceiling or floor and search for them in the dark with a flashlight. Fling them like Frisbees. Throw balls or balloons in them and read the words they land on. Sort the word family plates into words that rhyme (-at family = cat, bat, sat, mat, that).
MuffinTin Games: From one of my new favorite sites, Growing Book by Book. They are similar to the plate games but using a muffin tin and post-its or paper muffin cups. Use pennies or hard candy to toss into the cups or play a tic-tac-toe type game. 
Treasure Hunt: Hide short phrases around the house so kids can read and follow the clues. You can purchase the game Ukloo to do the same thing.

Memory or matching games with Letters/Pictures/Rhymes and have lots of resources for letters, rhyming, and sight words - print out the free samples!

Beginning Readers:
Word Family Mats from The Measured Mom
Zingo Sight Words bingo game:
Product Details


Great Sites for Free Printable Games and Word Lists:
·        Mrs. Perkin’s Dolch Words:  Lists of all levels of sight words plus much more!
·  Vocabulary word lists, SAT vocab lists, rapping program
·        Teachers Pay Teachers: just search for free items and the grade level you want – don’t be afraid to sign up, it’s easy and free
·        Primary Inspiration
·        Reading Resources
·        The Measured Mom: - sight word easy readers, word family mats, all sorts of good stuff
·        1 Plus 1Plus 1 Equals 1:  Lots of printables, especially for packets with popular themes from toddler to kindergarten level
·        Reading Tutors and Reading A-Z: Many free samples for learning letters and sight words
·        Reading Rockets printable family packets and parent articles

Books to Inspire You:
Games for Reading by Peggy Kaye
Games for Reading
Book Love by Melissa Taylor
I Can Teach My Child to Read by Jenae Jacobson
The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease
The Read-Aloud Handbook: Seventh Edition
Reading Magic by Mem Fox
Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever

Playing with Plates

Okay people, I am getting down to the bare bones for you. You are a busy parent who has no time to plan out wonderfully enriching ideas for your youngster. Don't worry. I've got your back. All you need is a Sharpie marker and some paper plates. If you need some inspiration on what words to choose, you can check out If your kiddo isn't ready for sight words yet, use letters. By the way, the importance of sight words is that they are the tricky words you can't always sound out. It is hugely helpful as you learn to read if you can recognize these words by sight.

Option 1:  Go into a dark room and ask your kiddo to find a word with a flashlight. You know they all love using flashlights! Some creative Pinterest people have even mounted words on the ceiling for this!

Option 2: Use pennies or a soft ball to have your kids throw them onto the plates. Whichever ones they land on, they read.

Option 3: lay out a few p,ages while you're reading. Every time you come across one of the words, your child puts a paper clip or penny on the plate. In the spirit of competition, see which word "wins" by showing up the most times in the book.

Option 4: Frisbee time!  If they can read the word, they get to fling the plate. See which word gets the farthest!

Sharing Hilarious Parent Mistakes = Writing Motivation

Sometimes inspiration hits in the oddest of places. As there are many education blogs out there, I always get excited when I think of something quirky that you might not be able to find on ten other sites. Tonight while getting my son's bath ready, I was doing about ten things at once. I decided to fill the sink to soak a few things while filling up the bathtub while helping him clean up his unending Legos. The next thing we know, we're back in the bathroom and there is a flood going on. I had totally forgotten about filling the sink and/or had extremely underestimated how fast it would fill. Probably both. So water was flowing over the counter and spreading out along the floor. Joy of joys. What does this have to do with literacy, you ask?

My son's first question was, "Can I be the one to tell Dad?!?!" He assured me that he was not gleefully trying to get me in trouble but merely trying to transmit some information. Yeah, right. And so this became a great opportunity for using new vocabulary - flood, spilling, soaked, etc.- while practicing his skills of retelling a story in the correct order. Even if he just got to tell the story orally to his father, there would be some literacy merit. However, I would suggest taking it a step further and writing out a glorious and humorous tale of how mom almost flooded the bathroom. If your kiddo is too little to write out a whole story, have them dictate it to you or label and illustrate boxes with order words such as first, second, third, and finally. They just get so excited when we're the ones who mess up, don't they? I can see him being very engaged in this particular writing activity. Not to mention, what a great way to preserve these awesome family memories. He did say it was his favorite part of the day.  

Fun and Games with Reading Parent Workshop

I'm very excited to announce my first parent workshop with The Kelter Center in Sherman Oaks! If you live close to there, I'd love to have you come!! While you're at it, check out The Kelter Center's own blog here. Their founder, Sasha Borenstein, is an incredible teacher with a deep wealth of knowledge about kids.

Summer Reading Fun & Games for Parents
The Kelter Center Workshop

Afraid of the summer reading slide?

Worried that you won’t have enough time to devote to reading skills?

Let The Kelter Center help with our first community learning event! We invite you to join Reading Specialist Ruth Edwards as she fills you in on the latest tips and resources for keeping your young readers (entering grades k-3) engaged and learning throughout the summer months. Parents and teachers are welcome. Come put together some fun, simple reading games (at your child’s learning level) that you can take home that evening!

Please Join Us
Thursday, June 27th from 7:00-8:30pm
Childcare provided
Please rsvp by June 25th
$10 per person, $15 for two

(310) 312-1056

Excellent and FREE Printable Packs for Learning

Printables Packs from 1plus1plus1equals1
I may have mentioned these packs before because they are so great. Wonderful for parents who only have a few minutes but want to do something valuable with their children to keep those brains thinking. I love these packets because they are extremely high interest. There was one on Angry Birds that I did with my 5 year old and he practically begged to get started. Plus, it takes advantage of the prior knowledge kids already have on these subjects, so they are automatically more confident and motivated to learn. I especially like the kindergarten packs I have tried because she includes an easy reader and cut-and-paste activties so we're not just doing worksheets. There are Tot, Preschool, and Kindergarten packs depending on what level you need. Click here to see 1 Plus 1 Plus 1 Equals 1's blog about all of her printable packs. Enjoy! 

Great Early Reading Resources!

I've said it before and I will say it again. I am just astounded and humbled by the amount of amazing work that mom and teacher bloggers are sharing for free on their blogs. I honestly don't know where they find the time to do all of this! Just learned about this fantastic resource from This Reading Mama . It's a Reading the Alphabet Pre K curriculum. Now don't be scared off by the word "curriculum." It doesn't mean you have to put in tons of extra work and preparation time. It just means that someone else has thought about what would work best and in what order. You can pick and choose whatever works for you. Just glancing though it, I saw a cute song to teach the word "the" - grab that if nothing else! Perfect for those of you who want to start reading activities with your little learners but aren't sure where to start. If you click on this post here, you can download all of the files via a zipfile. Thank you, Reading Mama! 

This curriculum is also mentioned in one of my favorite blogs for learning, The Measured Mom. If you have not already subscribed to get her emails, I do not know what you are waiting for. They're perfect for the early learner set. She is starting to create these great, FREE emergent readers for sight words. As you probably know, sight words are those words we just have to learn by sight so we can read them automatically without thinking. When we do, it makes reading soooo much easier. Click here or on the picture for her newest books for the word the
4 more printable emergent readers from the measured mom sight word the 590x740 Free Printable Emergent Readers: sight word the

Reading Belongs to Readers!

"Reading belongs to readers, not to teachers. If we want children to see reading as anything more than a school job, we must give them the chance to choose their own books and develop personal connections to reading, or they never will." Donalyn Miller from this post at the Nerdy Book Club.

Easy FREE Printable Books to Learn the Word "A" (Plus a Small Rant About Parent Attitudes)

Such a great way to practice a sight word and get some confidence with easy, printable readers from The Measured Mom. Print yours right now by clicking here! Go! Do it. Her post also gives very helpful instructions on how to read them with your child. Love how she brings up the point that parents are concerned their children will just guess their way through books forever if they don't learn to sound out words right away. So not true! The great children's author Mem Fox said it best when she said that children must almost see themselves as readers and have that confidence before they care to take the time to notice the letters and words. With these easy books, you are helping them see themselves as readers, which is a fabulous gift. 

While we're on this subject, I'd also like to warn you of the insidious poison that is an adult's secret thoughts about easy, simple books. I have had several parents say to me, "ugh, that book is so boring, why would my child ever be interested in that?!?" Sometimes it even includes eye-rolling. Please just compare it to the first toys your infant ever played with. Did you think back then, "Oh man, what a lame ball! It's only green and plastic. Boring. Why does she even care about that stupid ball anyway!?!" Obviously, I jest. But hopefully you get the idea. Babies are fascinated with simple toys because they are new and brilliant and exciting to them. It is the same thing for early readers and these books. They can access them and feel confident because those books are just right for them at this moment. So next time, when you see a super "easy" reader and you're tempted to roll your eyes, stop that thought and get just as excited to share this bright shiny new thing as you were to share a ball with your baby long ago.