Thursday, March 26, 2009

Likes video games, running

There are lots of fun literacy activities for active kids.

I was talking to a mom yesterday who said she has two sons – one of whom isn’t a good reader. He likes video games and is quite physically active.

Here are some fun suggestions:

* Write a simple sentence on a long piece of paper. Cut it up into words and place them around the room. Time your son as he runs around, finding words, and making a sentence from them. (Remind him to use clues like the period at the end of the sentence, and the capital letter at the beginning.)

* Sink Scrabble tiles into a large bowl of rice. As he finds the tiles, he makes words.

* Show him how his Nintendo DS can be used for messages.

* In the summer, toss letters into the pool. He can dive for letters and make words by the side of the pool.

* Give him 8 Scrabble tiles (for instance, E L R E T I A S). Get him to make as many words as he can in two minutes, using those letters. See if he can make more the second time around.

* Make everything a fun contest! Time him, or get him to compete against someone else or simply beat his own score.

For more active-kid literacy ideas, check out this post on kinesthetic learning.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Time for a little Spring cleaning

It must be Spring.

This week I found myself on the floor, in front of my son's bookshelves, clearing out and arranging.

The shelves were getting too squished, and they weren't really... well, appealing. My theory is that books should be laid out like beautiful fruits, ripe for the picking.

His bookshelves were more like spinach and liver than blackberries and watermelon.

So I spent a bit of time parsing his book collection. I took out everything that was too young for him, or that I knew he'd never read. Then, because I'm a bit of a librarian at heart, I put all his collections together - all the Scooby-Doos, the Time Warp Trios, the Geronimo Stiltons.

The non-fiction books - dinosaurs and ancient Egypt, the joke books, the "How to be Immature" book - went on a separate shelf. And there's also a shelf of "haven't read, but isn't this interesting" books. That's for when he's bored. He'll stumble across that shelf and I'll find him sitting in a chair, surrounded by books, reading.

A little Spring cleaning now... for a year-round harvest.

Sorry about the mixed metaphor in that last line; I don't like it any more than you do. But sometimes it's hard to come up with a good closer. Anyway, you know what I mean.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Great website - reading and math

I love Soft Schools.

A wonderful kindergarten teacher told me about it years ago, and I’ve used it ever since.

At Soft Schools you can create fun puzzles, tailor-made for your child, and then print them out or let your child do them online.

For instance, there are:
Word Scrambles
Use your child’s name, relatives, and favourite things in the puzzle. Hit “Generate” and it creates the puzzle for you to print out.

Phonics activities
Online flash cards and phonics games such as the phonics scramble using short and long vowels.

Right on the home page you can access connect-the-dots games, fishing games featuring subtraction, math worksheets, colouring pages with the alphabet, money worksheets and a great balloon pronoun online game. It also has activities dealing with science, geometry, fractions, chemistry, integers, rhymes, and lots more.

I often use the site to create math worksheets for my son, who loves to solve math problems. You tell it how big the numbers can be (for instance, no solution larger than 100) and it creates a worksheet so your kids can show you how smart they are.

No, that's not an out-of-focus copy of their logo - that's their logo. It's soft. Get it?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


I'm recording some books on CD for our school.

It (and another mom in the schoolyard) reminded me that the Metro Toronto Public Library has a wonderful service. It's Dial-a-Story, and all you have to do is phone a number -- and let your child listen.

Every day there is a new story for little kids and older kids.

Stories are available in English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish, Polish and "other languages." Currently, you can also hear a story geared to black history month.

Even if you're not in Toronto, give it a try.
(416) 395-5400

This is the cool microphone my husband bought me to record the books on CD. I want to burst into song (and sometimes, I do).
Thanks, Kerry, for clarifying that new stories are posted every day (previously, this post said they changed every week). BTW, the "other mom"? Kerry!