Guest contributor and MobiStories.com producer Wendy Toone, offers great tips this week on how your kids can avoid brain drain when they're out of school.
It's Summertime! Yipppee! Time for swimming, trips to the beach, camping, and all sorts of "no more school" activities. However, many kids suffer from a backward slide in their reading development when reading activities wane over the summer months.
Students can lose as much as three month's worth of reading level during the school break. Research shows that younger elementary school students rarely make up deficits in reading once they fall behind. Conversely, students who read during the summer could end up three months ahead, too.
Children will benefit more if their reading activities are fun and not looked upon as 'homework.' While reading books is important, games that use letter-recognition, alphabetizing, syllable, rhyming and rhythm skills can keep kids' reading skills sharp without cracking open a book. If you have a road trip or plane excursion planned, use that travel time wisely. Here are some games to try when traveling on summer vacations:
Create a New Ending
Exercise their storytelling skills by rewriting their favorite story or a book they just finished...'It could also have ended like this....'
Write That Tune
Remember the game show "Name That Tune"? Pick a familiar song and rewrite the lyrics....a topic such as "gardening" sung to the tune of "Frere Jacques" ? This exercise works on rhyming, syllable recognition, creativity, and can expand vocabulary.
Kids get carsick reading but can watch movies on DVD? Try digital books.
Amazon's Kindle is amazing for Young Adult and adult digibooks, but they don't have children's titles. Only publishers such as MobiStories.com provide children's picture books in color, narrated and ready for on-the-go reading practice. Order from digital publishers that offer downloads to your mobile devices for convenience.
Car Games: Animal ABC - 2 ways to play...either start w/ "A" and name as many animals (aardvark, alligator, antelope) as you can, or take turns (Cindy does "B", Joey has "C"). Great for young readers (K - 2nd grade). Can make it more challenging by starting the next animal's beginning letter w/ previous animal's ending letter, i.e. dog -> goose-> elephant.
Roadsign Roundup - Same idea, but this time call out words seen alongside the road in alpha order: billboards, safety signs, signs of businesses being passed. Good for intermediate readers (2nd - 5th grade).
Pimp My Plate - Using letters found on license plates, create what the personalized plate meaning would be (phrase, name of their business, whatever you can come up with). Can work on alliteration, homophones and creativity. Good one for advanced/older readers who need something more challenging.
Where Do I Turn - This one isn't really a game, but why not let the kids pass a little time reading the map and becoming the navigator. You trust them, right?
TrueText - If they've got the phone and you have unlimited texting, you could institute a 'must spell it correctly - no text jargon' rule for a portion of (or the whole?) trip. Of course, no texting to or from the driver, please.
So whether you're traveling by car, plane, train, or sticking around for a "staycation," remember to incorporate reading activities into your children's summer schedules. Read to them, read with them, and give them plenty of encouragement to keep their reading skills from sliding in the wrong direction. Happy reading!!
Wendy Toone is a child expert, having owned and operated a leading children's fitness center and now produces MobiStories, Digital Books for KidsTM. She is a cableAce-award winning television producer and has worked on hundreds of television commercials as a Production Manager after spending a decade onstage as a professional dancer. Wendy's two children have been inspirational in the creation of MobiStories.
To download a free digital book for your PC visit MobiStories.com , click on Summer (in the Ages 2 - 4 category) add it to the cart and Michelle Obama then enter the code SUM0710 in the Coupon Code Box.