Here are some ideas to keep children engaged and learning throughout the summer, whether they're interested in reading, science, art, nature, history, current events, or almost anything else.
Learn about the process of writing songs, from brainstorming to writing to rehearsing from children's author and songwriting coach Mary Amato. Listen in to science-themed songs written by first graders, and find out what parents can do at home to encourage songwriting and an ear for the elements of a song.
A teacher shares his success in using podcasts to improve literacy skills in the classroom, in this blog post from Common Sense Education. Learn more about how reading along with a podcast builds confidence and literacy and keeps students engaged.
For today's students, smartphones are essential tools for processing and documenting the world. A field trip offers the perfect platform to show students how phones can offer extra context to their experiences, not distracting but enhancing. This blog post from Common Sense Education shares three ideas to try: scavenger hunt, guided tour, and re-captioning.
It’s a great time for children’s nonfiction! In recent years, these books have evolved into five distinct categories. Learn more about the characteristics of traditional nonfiction, browse-able nonfiction, narrative nonfiction, expository literature, and active nonfiction.
Children's magazines are a wonderful supplement to classroom instruction. Students are exposed to a wide variety of texts and lots of interactive content. From stories, poems, and action rhymes to nonfiction, crafts, puzzles, and games, kids’ magazines can offer an abundance of high-interest content to support your curriculum.
Similar to comic books, graphic novels weave rich, lively visuals with a limited amount of text to drive the narrative. They can be especially appealing to young readers who are reluctant to pick up a more traditional book. Graphic novels are a great way to help struggling readers strengthen vocabulary, build reading confidence and stamina, and develop a deeper appreciation of storytelling.
A veteran teacher describes how she used visualization, Google images, video, and Skype to build background knowledge and enrich her students' classroom read aloud of a fiction book about ospreys.
Today’s Independent Reading (IR) programs differ significantly from SSR and DEAR. Effective IR programs require active teacher engagement, time, a broad range of leveled texts, talk around texts, and differentiated instruction. The benefits are well worth it: increased student achievement, motivation, and a love of reading.
Reading Rockets has developed a set of reading adventure packs to encourage hands-on fun and learning centered around paired fiction and nonfiction books.
To comprehend a story or text, young readers need a threshold of knowledge about the topic, and new, tougher state standards place increasing demands on children's prior knowledge. This article offers practical classroom strategies to build background knowledge such as using contrasts and comparisons and encouraging topic-focused wide reading.
Oral language development facilitates print literacy. In this article, we focus on the ways in which teachers can ensure students' speaking and listening skills are developed. We provide a review of effective classroom routines, including some that can be enhanced with technology.
Vocabulary lies at the heart of content learning. To support the development of vocabulary in the content areas, teachers need to give their students time to read widely, intentionally select words worthy of instruction, model their own word solving strategies, and provide students with opportunities to engage in collaborative conversations.
This commentary discusses what disciplinary literacy is and why it is important. It then discusses the ways in which elementary school teachers can infuse aspects of disciplinary literacy into elementary instruction. It argues that the Common Core Standards, even those at the K-6 level, are providing avenues for preparation for disciplinary literacy.
A classroom teacher examines the importance of the nonfiction read aloud as part of ongoing daily instruction, and highlights the need to empower students in both academic achievement, and as life long lovers of nonfiction, through focused informational literature.
The new focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) includes efforts to get kids involved in computer programming. Coding builds logical thinking and problem-solving skills. It's also creative and collaborative! Find out how you can introduce your child to the basic concepts of programming.
Concepts of print need to be expanded to include graphics, with instruction in how to read and analyze graphical devices such as diagrams, timelines, and tables. Learn more about how to teach young students to read and understand visual information.
Is your school using the new Common Core standards? This is a big change for students — and their parents. Get to know the four "anchors" of the Common Core writing standards and simple things you can do at home to help your child build skills in all of these areas.
Is your school using the new Common Core standards? This is a big change for students — and their parents. Get to know what the four main areas of the Common Core reading standards mean and simple things you can do at home to help your child build skills in these areas.
Smartphones and tablets are everywhere, and even our youngest children interact with technology on a daily basis. Find out what you as a parent can be doing to help your young learner navigate the digital world — you may need to reconsider how you connect with your child during technology use.
April 22nd is Earth Day, an annual celebration dedicated to environmental awareness. Discover five ways you and your family can participate in Earth Day while also practicing reading and writing skills.
Discover ways to support literacy skills such as predicting, inference, cause and effect, and categorizing, as well as build STEM vocabulary and background knowledge, at home and in the classroom.
Give your students a chance to deepen and share their travel experiences through narrative writing, diagrams and illustrations, and the reading of all kinds of print (including maps, brochures and menus). Authentic reading and writing experiences help students connect what's happening in class to the real world outside.
Your child may be at a school where they are using an approach called "flipped classroom" or "flipped lesson." If so, keep reading to find out more about the concept, and three ways that you can support flipped learning at home.
Nonfiction books give kids a chance to learn new concepts and vocabulary, as well as broaden their view of the world. Learn how to take a "book walk" with a new nonfiction book and how to model active reading.
Our interconnected and digital world demands a lot of our learners. Here are five simple ways to help build your child's critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Children's author and historian Marc Aronson discusses the importance of reading nonfiction in developing critical thinking skills.
Calendars help young children learn the basics of the days of the week and the months of the year. Your family calendar offers opportunities for other learning as well, including vocabulary, sequencing, and math.
Science fiction is a type of fiction where the stories revolve around science and technology of the future. As exciting as these books can be, it's good to remind your child that while science fiction may be based loosely on scientific truth, it is still fiction.
Read and discuss poetry with nature imagery with students. Take students on a poetry walk around the school, neighborhood, or community to observe and collect sensory images from direct experience with nature: the sights, sounds, smells, and textures of things outdoors. Students can take a poetry journal with them to write down words as they observe, listen, smell, and touch things outside the classroom.
Creativity is an important characteristic to foster in your child. Fostering a creative spirit will give your child experience identifying a problem and coming up with new ideas for solving it. Here are four ways to encourage creativity in your young child.
Explore two ways you can help your child begin to develop information literacy: learning to tell the difference between fact and opinion, and figuring out if a source of information is reliable.
This guidance from the International Reading Association represents a consensus of the thinking of literacy leaders in the field who support thoughtful implementation of the Standards for student literacy achievement. Seven key topics are addressed: use of challenging texts; foundational skills; comprehension; vocabulary; writing; content area literacy; and diverse learners.
Science learning involves lots of new vocabulary words. Focusing on root words, prefixes and suffixes can help your child learn new science words more quickly and become a word detective!
Many kids love to read about science and nature as well as real people, places, and events. Nonfiction books present information in engaging and interesting ways. Find out how you can help your child learn to navigate all the parts of a nonfiction book — from the table of contents to the diagrams, captions, glossary, and index.
Almost every week there is a news story about a new finding or discovery in science. These news stories are one of the exciting steps in the science world: sharing what you find! Helping kids share their own scientific findings will make them feel like part of the scientific community.
Real-life scientists use charts and graphs as a way to organize and understand the information they have gathered. Young scientists can do the same! These activities will help you and your child create simple bar charts together, learn the vocabulary of graphing, and have fun building graphs using real objects.
Inferences are what we figure out based on an experience. Helping your child understand when information is implied (or not directly stated) will improve her skill in drawing conclusions and making inferences. These skills will be needed for all sorts of school assignments, including reading, science and social studies.
Discover some simple hands-on activities and games that can be done at home or in the backyard to help your child develop a deeper understanding of cause and effect — and strengthen reading comprehension and scientific inquiry skills.
Helping children understand the concept of sequence develops both literacy and scientific inquiry skills. Here are a few simple activities that families can do together to give kids opportunities to observe, record, and think about sequencing.
Using students' questions as a basis for investigations in science education is an effective teaching strategy. Not only do students pose questions they would like answered, but they are asked to find ways to answer them. This article also recommends nonfiction science books that use a question and answer format to find information and model how to communicate what you know.
Keeping a science notebook encourages students to record and reflect on inquiry-based observations, activities, investigations, and experiments. Science notebooks are also an excellent way for students to communicate their understanding of science concepts, and for teachers to provide students with feedback.
When fiction and nonfiction books are integrated into the teaching of a content area such as science, graphic organizers are useful for organizing information and enabling students to classify observations and facts, comprehend the relationships among phenomenon, draw conclusions, develop explanations, and generalize scientific concepts.
Children begin using their senses to recognize patterns and categorize things at a young age — skills that play an important role in early learning. This tip sheet provides some simple activities, as well as recommended books, that parents can use to help their kids build pattern recognition and categorization skills in science and math.
Young kids love technology, gadgets, and nature! While parents may be looking for ways to reduce screen time for their kids, here are a few helpful suggestions for integrating simple technology and books into your outdoor adventures in a fun and educational way.
This study of first and second graders looked at teacher-led read alouds as a way to introduce science concepts. Results suggest that multiple exposures to a related concept across different stories gave students more time to build a mental representation of important ideas. This evidence suggests that moving beyond a single text as a source for building students' understanding is an important instructional approach.
Science and math explorations give your growing reader a chance to strengthen observation and writing skills by keeping a special journal to fill with sketches, notes, and graphs. Try these ideas to get your child started.
Teachers often find it difficult to integrate writing and mathematics while honoring the integrity of both disciplines. In this article, the authors present two levels of integration that teachers may use as a starting point. The first level, writing without revision, can be worked into mathematics instruction quickly and readily. The second level, writing with revision, may take more time but enables teachers to connect the writing process more fully with mathematics instruction. Six examples are provided, including student work, in which teachers have successfully attended to the goals of both writing and mathematics.
Hands-on measurement activities are fun to explore with children. Introduce your young learner to these interesting new vocabulary words and knowledge, and help your child develop an early love of measuring everything in sight!
This article presents a developmental framework of informational writing developed from a study of children's writing in K-5 classrooms. See examples of children's compositions at each developmental level, and learn how to use this continuum to support increasingly more mature forms of informational text.
Scientists, just like readers, make predictions all the time. Help your child begin to see the connection between what she does as a reader and what she can do as a scientist. Here are two simple ways you can encourage your child to put her prediction skills to work as a scientist.
Many of the "tools" needed for science, math, and engineering exploration are right inside your home! Here are five ideas for putting everyday tools to work for some everyday fun:
Expository text can be challenging to young readers because of the unfamiliar concepts and vocabulary it presents. Discover ways to help your students analyze expository text structures and pull apart the text to uncover the main idea and supporting details.
One way parents can help children become interested in science is by explaining the scientific process. The scientific process is the way scientists go about asking and answering scientific questions by making observations and doing experiments. It starts with asking a question.
Students often have difficulty understanding abstract map symbols. Learn how to introduce map skills with literature that contextualizes mapping in a narrative, can be related to where in the world each student lives, and engages students by actively "doing geography."
Music stories are compositions of a narrative or descriptive sort. Students can listen for the story in the music, and this type of music can be integrated with literature, literacy, social studies, science, mathematics, and the other arts.
Stepping outside is a simple way to set foot into nature's laboratory. Backyards and neighborhood walks can lead to interesting conversations, new vocabulary words, observations, predictions, and investigations. Try these fun outdoor exploration activities to nurture the budding scientist or mathematician in your home!
The framework provided in this article for viewing students' science writing offers teachers the opportunity to assess and support scientific language acquisition.
Summer's temperatures often send kids and parents inside to cooler air. Here are a few tips to make the most of those hot afternoons with some literacy and math fun using only your newspaper, computer, or other household items.
The text feature walk guides students in the reading of text features in order to access prior knowledge, make connections, and set a purpose for reading expository text. Results from a pilot study illustrate the benefits of using the strategy, and practical suggestions for implementation are offered.
Sharing lots of different kinds, or genres, of books with your child exposes him to different words, different kinds of images, and whole new worlds. This tip sheet suggests some genres to try with your young reader that complement 'traditional' fiction. Some are suggestions for read alouds, while others may be ones your child can read on his own.
Knowing how to engage in signature scientific acts, such as formulating questions and using evidence in arguments is an important part of science learning. This InfoBrief from the National Center for Technology Innovation offers more information about using technology to support struggling students.
This study describes a second-grade science curriculum designed to individualize student instruction so that students, regardless of initial science and literacy skills, gain science knowledge and reading skills. The instruction incorporates flexible, homogeneous, literacy skills-based grouping, use of leveled science text, and explicit use of discussion and comprehension strategies.
Children's nonfiction picture books is a genre that is exploding in both quality and quantity. Recent nonfiction books reveal an emphasis on the visual, an emphasis on accuracy, and an engaging writing style. Suggestions are included for choosing and using nonfiction picture books in the classroom.
This article explains how to teach students to identify the compare-contrast text structure, and to use this structure to support their comprehension. It also shows how to use compare-contrast texts to activate and extend students' background knowledge and expand and enrich their vocabulary.
Parents and teachers can do a lot to encourage higher order thinking. Here are some strategies to help foster children's complex thinking.
As students grow older, they are asked by their teachers to do more and more with the information they have stored in their brains. These types of requests require accessing higher order thinking (HOT).
Exposing young children to informational text early on can help them to handle the literacy demands of fourth grade and beyond. Practical instructional techniques can be used to promote understanding and enjoyment of informational texts. The three techniques described here — Text Impression, Guiding Questions, and the Retelling Pyramid — can help children become familiar with the language and structure of non-fiction books.
By providing an environment rich in language and where thinking is encouraged, you can help your preschooler develop important numeracy and literacy skills. Here are four everyday examples of ways to integrate language and math.
Day trips, vacations and special outings create special memories and great learning opportunities for families. Here are a few "stops" to make before your visit to help your child get the most out of a family or school educational experience.
A simple trip to the grocery store can turn into a real learning experience for your preschooler. Below are some easy ways to build literacy and math skills while getting your shopping done at the same time!
A simple trip to the grocery store can turn into a real learning experience for your child. Below are some easy ways to build literacy and math skills while getting your shopping done at the same time!
Technology tools and supports can be an excellent way to help struggling students engage with social studies texts in a meaningful way, and build deeper understanding through guided inquiry.
What is Concept-Oriented Reading Instruction (CORI) and how does it work? Find out more about CORI and how it helps children's comprehension and motivation through science inquiry.
Getting information from a non-fiction text can be especially challenging for ELLs, who may not have had much experience working independently with expository texts. This article offers ways that teachers can help ELLs work effectively with non-fiction texts and includes strategies for introducing components, structure, and purpose of expository texts.
Concerns about how to build academic vocabulary and weave its instruction into curricula are common among classroom teachers. This article reviews the research and offers some practical suggestions for teachers.
Children are full of questions about the world around them, and summer is a perfect time to tap into your child's interests. Here are some ways to start a journey of discovery together.
Using Concept-Oriented Reading Instruction (CORI) or practices to encourage engagement, educators can advance the breadth and depth of students' reading by explicitly and systematically nourishing students' motivations as readers.
Writing is a complex operation requiring knowledge of text structure, syntax, vocabulary, and topic, and sensitivity to audience needs; so it is not surprising that many teens find writing challenging. This article identifies the qualities of strong writing instruction, and offers advice to teachers for incorporating writing instruction into their practice, using tools like notebooks and journals, and sharing strategies that reinforce the importance of pre-writing and revision.
Every time you pair a book with an experience, you are giving your child an opportunity to learn more about their world. Find suggestions for books and corresponding activities to extend your preschooler's reading experiences.
Every time you pair a book with an experience, you are giving your child an opportunity to learn more about their world. Below are some suggestions for books and corresponding activities to extend your child's reading experiences.
Are your students drowning in information, misinformation and downright bunk? Are information literacy skills tested in your state? Teaching information literacy skills has never been more important. But it's easier said than done. As teacher-librarians, how do we teach those critical, all-important information literacy skills in ways that capture and hold student interest?
As you teach content areas to ELLs of diverse backgrounds, you may find that they struggle to grasp the content, and that they approach the content from very different perspectives. Drawing on your students' background knowledge and experiences, can be an effective way to bridge those gaps and to make the content more accessible. This article offers a number of suggestions to classroom teachers as they find ways to tap into the background knowledge that students bring with them.
Interesting experiences give kids a broader framework for new information they might encounter in books, and when kids have lots of experiences to draw on, they have a better chance of making a connection with what they read! Help your child build background knowledge this summer with these activities.
Students must be taught to write and then be expected to write for a variety of purposes to a variety of audiences, including in mathematics, science, and social studies. As part of building the writing prowess of students, they must write routinely, both short and long pieces. As part of a comprehensive writing curriculum, students’ writing fluency should be fostered, students should participate in lessons designed to build their composing skills, and students must learn to write from the sources that they read.