Spooktastic Halloween Books for Every Age

Spooktastic Halloween Books for Every Age

Halloween is all about pumpkins, costumes, trick or treating, spooky characters and kids don’t even have to leave the house to find them. These spooktastic Halloween books are full of the fun characters and scary stories that kids crave around Halloween. There’s something for all ages, so little kids and those who prefer a more lighthearted Halloween will find something they can enjoy too.


For preschoolers, Halloween is all about dressing up and going trick or treating. These stories put aside the spookiness and just focus on the fun that comes with being in a disguise.

Something is peeking through the window, what could it be? Maybe it’s a green ghost or a silly cow? Kids will love trying to guess what it is in this cute Halloween story.

Click, Clack, Boo!: A Tricky Treat
Sandra Boynton’s favorite cows and other farm animals are back in this Halloween-themed story. Farmer Brown isn’t a fan of Halloween, but his animals are, and they’re ready to play some tricks.

Spot’s Halloween

Spot and his friends love dressing up for Halloween. What will they be this year? Kids will love flipping through the pages to find out.

Kindergarten-1st Grade

At this age, kids still aren’t quite ready for scary stories, but they do love the witches, skeletons, and other symbols of Halloween when they’re presented in a fun and playful way. These books are sure to be a hit.

Shake Dem Halloween Bones
Kids’ favorite fairy tale characters are headed to the Halloween romp in this fun story that is told with a hip-hop vibe.

Room on the Broom
Iggity, Ziggity, Zaggity, Zoom! Is there room on the witch’s broom? This cute story tells the tale about a witch and her cat who have to make room for some friends on their broom.

Bone Soup
The well-known story “Stone Soup” is re-imagined in this picture book about, Finnigin, a skeleton with a ravenous appetite. He fills his soup with spider eggs, toenail clippings, and all sorts of disgusting items that will cause kids to cringe with delight.

2nd – 3rd Grade

Go beyond the standard picture books and give kids a chance to learn how authors can bring the spookiness of Halloween to a story using their words.

The Witches

A boy and his grandmother must battle a group of witches who hate children. Like many of Roald Dahl’s works, it’s a bit creepy, a bit funny, and a bit weird – a combination that children at this age love.

This classic story from Neil Gaiman tells the tale of a little girl who discovers the door to a mysterious world. The world is eerily similar to her own, yet better.

Tell Me a Scary Story… But Not Too Scary
Kids who are anxious to hear a scary story, but not sure how scary of a story they can handle will appreciate this book. As kids listen to the scary story, they’re asked to decide whether they want to stop where they’re at or continue on as the story becomes scarier and scarier.

4th – 5th Grade

At this age, many kids can handle a bit of creepiness on their own, but don’t be surprised if they ask you to turn on a nightlight after reading some of these spooky tales.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Every child should be introduced to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. This classic story has become a Halloween legend. Is the headless horseman really a headless man or just a guy with a pumpkin on his head? Let your kids figure it out as they read this spooky tale.

Dracula meets bunnies in this hilarious, yet creepy mystery. As kids read they’ll have to decide whether Bunnicula is really a vampire bunny or if something else is going on.

No list of Halloween books would be complete without the Goosebumps series. R.L. Stine finds a way to make even the most common, everyday scenarios frightening for kids. These were the books you had nightmares about when you were a kid and Halloween is the perfect time to introduce your kids to them too.

6th – 8th Grade

Paranormal fiction has overtaken the young adult literature market, giving middle schoolers plenty of Halloween-worthy options. Instead of having them pick up one of their favorite paranormal books this Halloween, introduce them to some spooky classics.

Edgar Allen Poe Collection

Edgar Allen Poe is a master of spooky writing. Middle school is a great time to introduce kids to some of his classics, such as “The Raven” and “The Tell-Tale Heart.” These stories will show how scary words can really be.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
All it takes is a potion to change Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde in this classic story of alter egos and its exploration of the concept of evil.

Many kids have heard of Frankenstein, but have they ever read the story that inspired one of Halloween’s favorite monsters. The actual story is spooky and a great read for Halloween.

This Halloween, take a break from carving pumpkins and trick-or-treating, and get your spookiness fix in another way – through one of these spooktastic Halloween books. Your kids (and YOU!) are bound to have a wonderful time.


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Smart Strategies to Transition from Summer to School

Smart Strategies to Transition from Summer to School

Like it or not, it’s almost time to head back to school. While your kids likely want to squeeze every second out of summer, you can start taking some steps to help make it easier for them (and you) to transition from summer to school.

Go to Bed Earlier

Summer often means going to bed late and sleeping in. It will likely take some time for kids to transition to their regular bedtimes and wake up times for school. Start slowly by going to bed 5-10 minutes earlier each night. In the mornings, set an alarm to let kids know when it is time to wake up. Gradually make the alarm go off earlier and earlier so that by the time school starts kids will be jumping out of bed instead of reaching for the snooze button.

Get Back into a Routine

Do you have a typical routine you follow during the school year? Now is the time to start implementing that routine. If you do not have a routine, it is also a great time to put one into place. Consider the following questions as you set a routine:

  • How much TV can the kids watch during the school week? What times are they allowed to watch it?
  • What time will we eat dinner each night?
  • When will we pack lunch for the day?
  • What chores need to get done?
  • What happens before school?
  • What happens after school?

By starting to get back into a routine before school starts, you can work out any potential kinks before you are caught up in the flurry of activity that comes with the beginning of the school year.

Shop for Supplies

Most schools post supply lists at the end of the previous school year and most stores start their school supply sales late July-early August. Instead of waiting until the last minute, get a jump on shopping for school supplies now. That way kids can have their backpacks all packed and ready for the beginning of the school year. This can also build excitement and anticipation for the school year- your kid might want to show off their cool erasers or new backpack!

Plan Lunches and Dinners

Now is also the time to start shopping and planning for lunches and dinners during the school year. Make a list of easy, healthy dinners that you can whip up during the school year. Food Network offers a handy list of family-friendly weeknight dinners to get you started. If kids pack their lunches, come up with a rotating menu of items for them to pack. has a list of easy school lunch ideas. If you have a big freezer, you can also go ahead and make some of the items on The Organised Housewife’s 50+ Freezer Friendly Lunch Ideas or Six Sisters’ Stuff’s 50 Easy Freezer Meals.

Finish Your Summer Bucket List

In the midst of transitioning from summer to school, you still need to make time to enjoy the rest of summer. Now is the time to start crossing items off of your family’s summer bucket list. Instead of starting the school year saying, “I wish we had done x, y, and z,” get out there and do them. After such an awesome summer, you will be ready to settle down and enjoy the mundanity of the school year

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8 Apps to Encourage Kids to Love Nature

8 Apps to Encourage Kids to Love Nature

Summer is close and it’s time to hit the outdoors. Whether at school or at home, you can make the time they spend outside very educational. We’ve gathered some of the top nature apps to encourage kids to get outdoors, learn about the world around them, and discover ways they can make nature last for generations to come.

Exploring Nature

Project Noah (FREE) encourages kids to document their finds in nature. The app allows kids to take photos to document their finds and review photos and notes from other animals to see the types of plants and animals found in the area. Kids can also play a part in real scientific research, completing missions to help out science labs and have fun learning about the plants and animals around them.

NatureTap (FREE) uses beautiful photos to help kids learn more about birds and other animals. Simply tapping on a photo reveals in-depth information about the animals, as well as animal sounds. They can also play fun games to test their animal knowledge. Older kids will appreciate the app most, but younger kids will love the pictures and sounds.

Toca Nature (PAID) places kids in the role of a creator and allows them to experience nature firsthand. Kids build their own forests, mountains, and other natural scenery, and then zoom in to explore the wildlife that appears. The app contains realistic sounds of nature and cycles between day and night so kids can experience all elements of the outdoors.

Parts of Plants – A Montessori Approach (PAID) teaches the kids the parts of plants using the Montessori methods. Six different activities introduce kids to different plant parts and help them learn the names of tons of flowers and plants. They’ll be able to take what they learn with them the next time they head outside, helping to recognize the plants and flowers they see.

Using and Taking Care of the Earth

In addition to experiencing nature, kids need to learn how to use and take care of the Earth. These apps teach kids about the importance of preserving the Earth by introducing them to concepts such as recycling. They also show them the beginnings of planting a garden so they can see how the Earth can give back to them.

GroPlay apps (PAID) are a series of five different apps focused on teaching kids about the environment. The top apps in the series are Gro Garden and Gro Recycling. Gro Garden introduces kids to the basics of planting a garden. They plant and harvest the garden and use the scraps to build up their compost pile. In Gro Recycling kids learn about the recycling process by feeding the recycling bins. They also get to sort items in the trash by what they are made of.

The Lorax (PAID) has been telling kids about the importance of caring for the Earth for decades. This classic book has been upgraded into a fun ebook that allows kids to interact with the pages. Kids and parents can also record their own narration to personalize the story a little more. 

Grow Your Garden HD (PAID) is another fun gardening app for kids. Kids play games and solve puzzles to help them take care of their garden and build basic math skills at the same time.

Do you have any favorite apps that encourage kids to get out and explore nature?

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10 Reading Infographics You Need to See

10 Reading Infographics You Need to See

Reading infographics run the gamut from random facts about books and reading to strategies to help readers improve their reading skills. We’ve gathered the best reading infographics in all categories to help parents and teachers learn more about reading and to help kids become stronger readers.

Facts about Reading

Readers Save the World highlights the benefits of reading, focusing on how reading can improve your health, reduce your stress levels, and make you a better person.

Libraries are Forever shows that while e-books are becoming more popular, libraries still play an important role in society. It highlights reader preferences to show why libraries and print books are still needed.

Reading: The Road to Success highlights the importance of teaching children how to read by showing what literate and illiterate people are more likely to do. It also shares a few apps to help kids learn to read.

What Makes Frequent Readers provides an overview of the traits designed to encourage frequent readers. Parents can use these traits to make sure they’re modeling positive attitudes about reading at home and training up kids who love to read.

Finding Books to Read

162 Young Adult Retellings helps teens find books to read by highlighting adaptations of popular stories. The infographic covers popular fairy tales, myths, classic novels, and Shakespeare’s works.

Most Loved Children’s Books shares the history of children’s books from the 1800s to 2010. A portion of the infographic also focuses on the importance of teaching children to read, but it can also be a great way to find out what kids have enjoyed reading over time.

Fiction Meets Non-Fiction shows that a lot of fiction books and non-fiction books actually parallel each other in many ways. The infographic highlights non-fiction books and their fiction counterparts that deal with similar topics and themes.

Reading How-to

Understanding Close Reading provides tips to help kids learn how to close read. With these questions and suggestions kids can become stronger readers. 

On the Road to Reading takes the process kids should follow when they read and places it on a road to help kids see how to move through the steps as they read.

5 Pillars of Successful Reading Instruction highlights the five main areas of instruction needed to help kids learn to read. These include phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension, along with an explanation, teaching tips, and suggested books for each area.

If you’re looking for more reading infographics, check out some of our notable mentions below.

Some notable mentions include:

Share your favorites in the comments or on our Facebook page, too.

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5 Types of Reading Incentive Programs for Kids

5 Types of Reading Incentive Programs for Kids

Parents and teachers want kids to love reading for the sake of reading. However, the reality is that kids often need a little motivation to pick up a book. Reading incentive programs motivate kids to read by rewarding them with fun prizes or other incentives for reaching reading milestones. Best of all, the more kids read, the more they begin to discover the joy that comes not just from the prizes, but from the books themselves.

Online Reading Programs

Online reading programs help you encourage kids to read year-round. Many of these programs provide platforms to track kids’ reading progress and allow parents and teachers to choose the rewards kids earn. This makes them a little more personal than some more traditional reading incentive programs.

  • Book Adventure is an online program designed for kids in kindergarten through 8th grade. Teachers or parents can register kids for an account, help them set up booklists, and check their reading progress. Kids read books and take quizzes to earn points that they can redeem for prizes. There are also drawings where kids can enter to win items like tickets to movie screenings.
  • Reading Rewards is an online reading log for kids. Kids earn miles for reading which they can trade in to redeem rewards set up by parents and teachers. The log works with or without rewards. Some kids may simply find motivation by watching their miles increase as they read.
  • Learn2Earn is actually an online fundraising platform that promotes reading at the same time. Sponsors pledge money for every book that a kid reads or donate a flat amount to reward the kid for reading. 80% of the money raised is then given to the school or organization doing the fundraising, while Learn2Earn keeps 20% for its business costs.
  • Read to Feed is another online fundraising platform that encourages kids to read and give the money to charity. A teacher or group leader can set up a fundraising page and solicit donations based on how much kids read. Kids learn about giving back through their reading and Heifer International’s causes get much-needed support.

Commercial Reading Programs

Many businesses offer programs to encourage kids to read. While a few large programs are listed below, check out local fast food places, ice cream shops, pizza parlors, and bookstores to see if they offer reading programs of their own. If they don’t, encourage them to start one.

  • Book It!, Pizza Hut’s reading incentive program, has been reaching kids for decades and the program is still going strong. With the program, kids in grades K-6 can read to earn points towards a Personal Pan Pizza at Pizza Hut. The program is available for schools and homeschooling parents.
  • Chuck E. Cheese Rewards Calendars earn kids tokens for completing all kinds of tasks, including reading. If kids mark off that they have read every day for two weeks, they get 10 free tokens. A trip to Chuck E. Cheese is bound to motivate nearly any kid to read!
  • Six Flags Read to Succeed gives kids in grades K-6 free tickets to Six Flags theme parks in exchange for reading. Students must read for at least six hours by the beginning of March each year to earn a free ticket for the summer. Teachers can sign up for the program in the fall.
  • Braum’s Book Buddy program is open to kids who live in an area with a Braum’s restaurant. Starting in October each school year, teachers can pass out reading logs to students for every 6 books read,  kids get a free treat from Braum’s.

Summer Reading Programs

During the summer, kids aren’t required to read every night and don’t have regular silent reading time during school. As a result, motivating kids to read is even more important. Many local libraries sponsor their own summer reading programs for kids, but you can also enroll your kids in a few other national summer reading programs.

  • Barnes and Noble’s Summer Reading Program gives kids the chance to earn a free book. All kids have to do is read 8 books and record them in a reading journal. Then they bring their journal to the store and choose a free book from the company’s reading list.
  • Scholastic’s Summer Reading Challenge is designed to help elementary and middle schools encourage kids to read over the summer. Kids read and log their progress online all summer which allows them to earn rewards and unlock new stories. In the fall, the hours for the entire school are added up and the top elementary and middle schools win a visit from an author. Teachers and parents can also win prizes throughout the summer for encouraging kids to read.
  • H.E.Buddy’s Rockin’ Summer Reading Club is sponsored by H.E.B. supermarkets. Kids read 10 books, log them on a reading log, and then mail their logs to the address provided. Their prize is a special H.E.B. t-shirt.
  • Half Price Book’s Feed Your Brain program encourages kids to read 15 minutes a day in June and July. For younger kids, having an adult read to them counts too. After reaching 300 minutes, kids can take their reading logs to a Half Price Books store to earn Bookworm Bucks. High School students can also earn Bookworm Bucks by reading books and writing reviews.
  • TD Bank gives kids in grades K-5 a chance to earn $10 for reading 10 books. Kids track their progress on a summer reading form, and then take it to a TD Bank where $10 is deposited into a Young Savers Account.

Library-Based Incentive Programs

Many libraries offer their own programs designed to encourage kids to read. Sometimes these programs are just offered in the summer and other times they are offered year-round. Visit your local library to see how they reward kids for reading. If they don’t have any current programs going on, consider volunteering to set up a program for them. They can always use the help.

  • 1000 Books Before Kindergarten is a program adopted by many libraries to encourage younger kids to read. Parents keep logs of the books kids have read. Kids receive small prizes each time they read another 25 books and another 100 books. Reading 1,000 books earns kids a free book and a certificate.
  • Summer Reading Programs draw kids to the library for a chance to earn prizes and enter drawings when they read books. Libraries typically offer programs for kids from toddler through eighth grade and separate programs for teenagers. Prizes and program details vary from library to library.

Create Your Own Program

If you can’t find any reading incentive programs in your own area or aren’t finding anything that will motivate your kids, there’s nothing stopping you from creating your own program. All you need to do is designate what or how much kids need to read, track their reading, and provide them with rewards for meeting their reading goals. A few ways to do this:

  • Host a local battle of the books where a group of kids read the same books, and then compete in a competition featuring questions about those books.
  • Start a book club in your neighborhood and have kids read a different book each month. Turn the book club into a mini party related to the book.
  • Start a DIY Summer Reading Camp using ideas provided by

The goal of every reading incentive program is to encourage kids to read. How do you encourage your kids to read? We’d love to hear some of the programs and other tricks you use!

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6 Apps to Celebrate Poetry

6 Apps to Celebrate Poetry

Did you know? April is National Poetry Month! No time like the present to introduce kids to famous poems and give them a chance to write some poetry of their own.  These top poetry apps help you build an appreciation of poetry all year long.

Reading Poetry
Poetry can be hard for kids to read and understand, but the more they are exposed to poetry, the easier it becomes. Like anything, practice makes perfect. Introduce kids to both a mix of modern poetry and classic poetry to help them learn all about the beautiful art.

City Nights (PAID) uses poetry to put kids to sleep… in a good way. This creative app brings a poem to life by both illustrating it and adding the sounds of a city as the city slowly drifts off to sleep. The rhyming poem makes a wonderful bedtime story, but it is also a poem kids will enjoy throughout the day.

iF Poems (PAID) helps introduce kids to classic poems. Poems are organized by theme and age-range, making it easy to find great poems for kids of any age. Many of the poems also include audio readings from famous actors.

Poems By Heart (FREE) challenges kids to memorize classic poems. The app breaks down famous poems word-by-word and line-by-line to help kids get them down pat. Four free poems are included in the app, while additional poems are available for download.

Writing Poetry
After reading and memorizing poetry from some of the masters, kids can start writing poetry of their own. Encourage kids to be creative, to experiment with different poetic forms, and to even write poems that don’t always rhyme.

Word Creativity Kit (PAID) encourages kids to get creative with their poetry writing. The app incorporates word tiles, fun clip art and bright backgrounds to allow kids to put together their own poems. Word themes help kids think of topics to write about, but the rest is up to them!

Word Mover (FREE) helps kids create poetry. The app contains a word bank, as well as collections of words from famous works such as Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 18.” Kids can also add their own words to the app for use in future poems. They can arrange their poems on fun backgrounds to add an even more creative touch.

Poetry Creator (FREE) is another fun found poetry app for kids. Using the word banks contained in the app, kids can put together their own exciting poems. In-app purchases give kids access to dictionaries full of more words, including a Shakespeare dictionary, LOL-tionary and Hip Hop dictionary.

During National Poetry Month and for the rest of the year, why not encourage kids to express themselves creatively through poetry? And while you’re at it, expose them to poets who have been doing the same for centuries. Happy writing!

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Top 20 Educational Facebook Pages

Pinterest may seem like the go-to place to get ideas for your classroom or home, and Twitter is the place for your daily #edchat, but Facebook has a lot to offer teachers and parents too. Some of the top educational pages on Facebook share valuable content and great math ideas. These pages regularly post quality articles, teaching tips, and other ideas you can take straight into the classroom. They also toss in a little humor and inspiration to help keep you sane as you teach or work with your children.

Scholastic Teachers

Scholastic is one of the best-known education companies out there and their quality materials extend to Facebook. With Scholastic Teachers you’ll find teacher Q&A sessions, highlighted Scholastic resources, giveaways for scholastic products, and other articles and videos you can use to help inform your teaching. There is also a Scholastic Parents page focused on providing resources for parents.


TeachHUB regularly provides teachers and parents with articles and advice related to some of the hot topics in education. Many of their posts help unpack the Common Core, make sense of school report cards, and tackle topics such as differentiated instruction and bringing technology into the classroom. They also give those in the world of education a place to share advice and ideas with one another.


Many teachers may already be familiar with Edutopia as a website, but the Facebook page also offers a lot of valuable information. You can get tips from teachers and parents, some of the latest educational infographics, and many inspirational quotes related to the world of education.

Math Game Time

If you want to find out the latest news in the world of math education, along with free math games, check out Math Game Time’s Facebook page. The page regularly features interesting articles, blog posts, and infographics related to education, and math education in general. It also highlights some of the site’s free math games, videos, and worksheets.

Free Technology for Teachers

Discover the latest edtech news and resources by liking Free Technology for Teachers. You’ll discover many cool new websites and applications, as well as links to free online events designed to help teachers learn more about technology.

The Inclusive Class

The Inclusive Class focuses on providing resources for parents and teachers of special needs students. The page regularly contains inspirational posters to motivate special needs students, as well as articles designed to highlight how to set up a classroom that integrates students with special needs.

Educational Technology

By liking Educational Technology, you’ll start to discover some of the latest tools and strategies in the edtech world. The page shares how to best incorporate technology in the classroom, while also offering tips related to specific pieces of technology. For example, teaching teachers how to better utilize Google’s free applications.

Educational Insights

Educational Insights is a company that makes playful educational products. Its Facebook page is focused on sharing fun ideas, videos, and resources to help children have fun while learning. They also occasionally have contests and promotions to give you a chance to win cool products.

Word Game Time

Word Game Time focuses on providing teachers with ELA resources to use in the classroom. Find links to some of the site’s free word games and worksheets, as well as fun quotes and other cool ELA resources.

Teaching Ideas

Just as the name suggests, Teaching Ideas offers a lot of different teaching ideas. The resources cover a range of subjects, from creative art activities to different ways to put together a story.


TeacherLists is a national school supply directory site that encourages schools and teachers to post their own supply lists online. They also love to share school supplies humor, information about free and cheap school supplies, and other resources to help teachers.

Both teachers and parents will find plenty of resources and advice by liking They regularly share printable activities, lists of creative ideas, and fun pictures for parents and teachers to enjoy and use with their kids.

Irresistible Ideas for Play-Based Learning

Irresistible Ideas for Play-Based Learning highlights the posts from the blog of the same name, but it also offers a lot of advice for parents and teachers of young children. You’ll find crafts, inspirational quotes, links to other great blogs, as well as occasional questions from teachers and parents who are desperate for new ideas.

Math Chimp

Math Chimp’s Facebook page regularly posts articles, blog posts, and other resources related to math education and educational technology. You’ll find links to a lot of the site’s free math games, videos, and worksheets, along with other cool resources and news related to science, technology, and math.

What the Teacher Wants

Teachers looking for support and inspiration should like What the Teacher Wants. This page doesn’t downplay the struggle teachers face and instead gives them a place to talk about their struggles and give advice to other teachers. You’ll also find a few fun activities, classroom management ideas, and motivational images.

Busy Teacher

What teacher isn’t busy? Busy Teacher is a website focused on sharing free printables among teachers and the Facebook page highlights those printables. Find printables on all different subjects and at all different grade levels, as well as a few articles on classroom management and working with students.

Red Ted Art

Red Ted Art is a creative Facebook page focused on providing arts and crafts ideas for teachers and parents. Along with posts about throwing themed parties and making your own watercolors, you can also see occasional posts about awesome books and toys for kids.


Creativity is an important skill for kids to develop and Tinkerlab encourages the development of that skill through its Facebook posts. Parents and teachers will find fun arts and crafts projects, as well as creative contests for kids to enter. The page also regularly shares cool artwork created by kids.

The Cornerstone for Teachers

The Cornerstone for Teachers focuses on helping teachers become more effective. The site regularly shares motivational quotes and articles designed to help teachers. There are also a few humorous memes and plugs for the latest conferences the moderator is attending.


EducationWorld is one of those go-to websites for teachers looking for help with classroom management and general teaching techniques. The site’s Facebook page is an extension of that, providing teachers with teaching tips, as well as an overview of some of the latest news in the world of K-12 education.

Do you have any other go-to Facebook pages for education? If so, share them so we can like them too.

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4 Ways Kids Learn to Read

It is safe to say we all want our children to learn how to read and to learn how to do it well. However, the actual act of learning how to read is sometimes not fully understood. How does reading happen? Check out ways that foster a child’s passion and ability to read.

1. Phonics

Once your child knows the alphabet and knows the sound each letter makes you are good to go on this one. It’s all about sounding it out! Kids are taught to sound out letters as a way of figuring out unfamiliar words. Phonics involves letter combinations with various sounds. Talk to your child about word families, allowing them to make connections between words with similar letter combinations. For example, when learning about the “at” family, kids can learn how to read words like cat, mat, hat, rat, fat, sat and understand that they are connected with the same sound. Sound out words with your child, letting your child see how the word is composed of sounds they already know.

2. Sight Words

When reading we instantly recognize certain words. These are known as sight words. Sight words include some of the most common words kids are likely to encounter. While sight words include words such as “to,” “and,” “the,” “I” and “it,” they can also include common verbs, the words of colors, and objects. Kids are exposed to these words over and over again in various contexts. Pre-schools often label their furniture to help build a sight word vocabulary at a young age. Try labeling your kitchen chairs with the word “chair.” Label a white door with the word “white.” This is the idea behind flashcards. For example, to learn the sight word “give,” children may see a flashcard containing the word and a picture of two people exchanging presents.

3. Writing

Writing helps children make connections between letters and words. It also builds their spelling skills. (Kids who know how to spell a word while writing are more likely to recognize that word while reading). Include writing in fun activities for your child. A fun activity is to try writing with shaving cream or with chalk on the sidewalk.

Writing can also help kids build their reading comprehension skills. When children write their own short stories, they develop an understanding of the traditional story format and have an easier time finding the beginning, middle and end in the stories they read. When they write a response to something they have read, kids are forced to stop and consider what the piece was about and develop a reaction to it, even if it is as simple as “I really enjoyed the story because it had a princess as the main character and I love princesses.”

Photo by Tim Pierce

4. Read often

Practice makes perfect. The more opportunities a child has to read, the better readers they will ultimately become. However, kids do not become better readers by simply reading the same book or same type of book over and over again. Kids must be exposed to multiple types of reading material. Non-fiction books, newspaper captions, cereal boxes, signs, billboards, pamphlets and other types of texts are all reading aides! Point out words you see when taking a road trip. Ask your child to tell you what two words they notice around them at any given moment. As with anything else, make a game out of it!

When helping your child learn to read keep in mind how every brain makes connections differently. If it isn’t in your child’s nature to curl up with a good Thomas the Train book, don’t sweat it! Try an online word game or a puzzle in which you have to put together a word. Utilize technology, sports and anything else your child is interested in to guide their learning. Thankfully there is always a way to turn their interests into teaching opportunities. The brain is wired to learn, so it’s all about finding ways that appeal to the brain’s learning style.

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Reading Tips for 3rd Graders

If your 3rd grader struggles with reading, it’s time to do something about it. Research shows that not being able to read well by the end of 3rd grade may lead to students not graduating or even dropping out of school altogether. Help your 3rd grader experience reading success with these simple reading tips.

1. Break it Down

One thing that keeps kids from comprehending what they read is the inability to understand how different words and word parts interact with one another. Break down the parts of speech to improve your child’s comprehension skills. Play a game such as Word Invasion to practice recognizing different parts of speech and learn the roles they play. Watch word videos about parts of speech or prefixes and suffixes to build more word skills.

2. Build Vocabulary

The larger vocabulary a child has, the easier reading becomes. Build that vocabulary through games, worksheets and other interactive activities. Use a game like Word Frog to learn about synonyms and antonyms or tackle tricky homonyms. Introduce your child to specialized vocabulary, such as ocean animals or dinosaurs. Then put that specialized vocabulary to use by reading a book related to the subject. Focus on vocabulary that relates to your child’s individual interests.


3. Make It Fun

A child who struggles with reading will not be receptive to much that involves reading. Incorporate word games, videos and fun worksheets as a way of “tricking” the child into practicing reading skills. You can use games as a reward as well.  If a child enjoys a particular educational game, use it as incentive to read.  For example, “if you read with me for 15 minutes, you can play your game for 15 minutes.” Not only will your child build reading skills during that reading time, he will unconsciously develop reading skills as he plays the promised game.

4. Use a Variety of Books and Tools

Instead of having your child play the same game or watch the same video over and over again, introduce your child to multiple games, videos and worksheets to build reading skills. The more tools your child has, the more skills he will develop and the less likely it will be that he will get bored with practicing those skills.

Introduce different books for the same reason. Each book contains a different voice, a different set of unique vocabulary words and different information to comprehend. Look for books of different lengths, on different subjects and at different levels. Your child’s problem with reading may be that he is not reading books that interest him or is attempting to tackle books that are too difficult. As your child builds his reading skills, he will also learn what books appeal to him.

5. Read with Your Child

While games, videos and worksheets will help build those critical reading skills, none of that matters if your child does not read. The more a child reads, the more his skills will improve. To ensure your child is actually reading, read along with him.  Take turns reading passages in a short book.  Ask questions as you read such as, “what’s happening in this section?” or “what did you think about what just happened?”  This will help you identify areas where your child struggles and give you the opportunity to spend quality time helping your child build his reading skills.

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10 iPad Apps to Learn Spelling

10 iPad Apps to Learn Spelling

Teaching kids to spell takes a lot of work. Word games for kids with a focus on spelling do the work for you by providing kids with interactive games and multiple strategies for practicing spelling new words. With these 10 iPad apps to learn spelling, your children will improve their spelling skills and have fun too, making learning to spell seem less like work.

Amazing First Words

Amazing First Words by Joy Preschool Games is designed to teach sight words and spelling to early readers. This iPad and iPhone app features 264 words grouped into categories such as animals, festivals, geography and astronomy.  To play, children see a picture and an outline of the word. They drag and drop letter bubbles to correctly spell the word.

Build a Word

If your preschooler has ever seen the show WordWorld on PBS, he will enjoy Build a Word. Using the same concept as the show, children catch falling letters and drag them onto the outline of letters to form a word.  Once the word has been formed, it turns into a word picture.

Freefall Spelling

Freefall Spelling by Merge Mobile features multiple games, from word games appropriate for beginning spellers to 5th grade word games.  Children unscramble letters to form words, type the correct letters on a special keyboard and drag and drop letters onto a word outline. As they complete activities, they earn fish for their fish tank.

Intro to Letters

Intro to Letters by Montessorium is designed for the youngest spellers.  This word game teaches children to recognize letters by dragging their fingers along letter outlines.  In order to learn how to spell, children must be comfortable with all of their letters. This app is a great place to start teaching spelling without overwhelming your child.

iTouchiLearn Words

iTouchiLearn Words helps children as young as toddlers associate the spelling of words with pictures and animations related to those words. Children may simply view words or play games that have them drag and drop letters to correctly spell words.

My Spelling Test

A spelling game designed for elementary school students and older, My Spelling Test allows children to practice their spelling lists for school.  Simply input the spelling list and then practice spelling. Children receive instant feedback and you receive reports detailing your child’s progress.


SpellBoard allows you to input a spelling list and then generates spelling quizzes, word searches and word scrambles based on that list. Different levels of activities are provided to make this app appeal to children from first grade through 12th grade.

Spell Well

Spell Well by Sparkling Apps teaches children to spell by helping Frog Wordy fill his garden.  As children correctly spell words, flowers and other surprises grow in the garden and encourage children to spell more words.  All words are shown, spoken and used in a sentence.

Spelling Bug

Designed to help younger kids learn how to spell basic words, Spelling Bugs combines three strategies for teaching spelling into one game. First, children see a picture of the word.  Then, they hear the word.  Finally, they see the word and must drag and drop letters into the correct places.

Word Wizard

Word Wizard by L’Escapadou introduces children to spelling through animated, talking letters. Children can drag letters to form words and sentences. The text-to-speech feature reads what children have written.  Spelling lists are provided to help children learn to spell specific words or you may add your own words to use along with the apps spelling quizzes.

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