Summer is the perfect time to make reading fun for kids! With a little creativity and a few games, they won’t even realize you’re teaching them schoolwork.
During summer vacation, I try not to use many worksheets or flashcards unless they really are helpful to the child. Instead, I try to supplement with activities that the child doesn’t get to do at school. Here are some ways for any child to have fun developing their reading skills, hopefully for at least 20-30 minutes each day.
- Do kinesthetic learning methods. Try to make learning hands-on and active. Choose some words to practice and take turns throwing a ball back and forth as you spell each letter in a word. Something about moving our bodies as we learn cements knowledge in our brains a little better. Other activity ideas might include: hopscotch with words (recite them as you land on them), marching outside as you spell, playing h-o-r-s-e with a basketball (use any word, but when you miss a shot, you get a letter; first one to spell the word is out). Make up stories with practice words, and act out the words.
- Be visual. Sketch sidewalk chalk word games (ie. hangman, word search), or write a word and draw pictures to go with it. Purchase window markers and practice spelling words on a mirror or a kitchen or bedroom window. Go on a special field trip where you study what you’ve been reading.
- Use music. Go to the public library or search online for educational songs about phonics, etc. Play these songs over and over on road trips. Yes, it will drive you crazy, but when your child has mastered the basics, you’ll be glad you did it.
- Use public library resources. Sign up for summer reading programs. Many libraries offer great prizes for
kids who record their reading minutes and turn in reading logs. Be sure to visit storytimes and special activities. Also, see if your library offers specialized programs for extra reading help. Our previous library in Idaho had a Tales to Tails program where children could read to dogs–in the library! Of course, the program was a huge success.
- Read to a family pet or stuffed animal. Children who may be too self-conscious to read to a family member might relish the opportunity to read to a pet or stuffed animal. They’re nonjudgmental and will love what you’re reading no matter what.
- Practice phonemes. These are the letter sounds and combinations that make up words. I have a set of inexpensive illustrated phoneme cards (*affiliate link) that I bought online for less than $3. Students need to know at a glance that “sh” makes the “shhh” sound, “tion” is “shun,” etc. Help young readers master these basics. I normally don’t like to use flashcards too much during the summer, but this is one area where it’s really helpful. Just make a game of it. Hide and seek: they have to find the right phoneme card that matches the sound you say. Or without looking, put a card (front facing the child) to your forehead. They have to tell you the phoneme’s sound and you write it on paper. They check to see if you’re right; make occasional mistakes so they can correct you. Switch places for variety. After a while, practice a few drills to help your child recognize their phonemes quickly so they don’t have to sound them out each time. If your child is still learning letter sounds, master those before adding phonemes. Offer rewards for meeting certain timed goals.
- Read everything. Help your child read the cereal box, the newspaper, a comic book. Use those spare moments at a restaurant while you’re waiting for food. The menu is perfect practice material. The signs at the zoo and everywhere else? Yes, and point out any specific words that you’ve been practicing. Your child will be thrilled to see them in a real-life application.
- Use Youtube. Youtube has some cute video clips about learning phonemes and other rules of reading. For instance, I have shown Super E and Silent E video clips to my students because so many of them get confused about whether to say the “e” at the end of a word.
- Use online games/sites and educational television. Spellingcity.com is a favorite at our house. You can type in any list of spelling words, and it will offer your child several games to play using those words. Wordworld.com is another fabulous site. Everything in Wordworld is made with letters that form the object they represent. For instance, d-u-c-k magically morphs into a cute duck. My oldest son used to watch the episodes on tv when he was little, but now they’re only available online or on DVD. Anyway, there are hundreds of online spelling game options. Find two or three favorites and give your child permission to play on the computer. They’ll love it!
- Have Grandparents read to them via Skype. A friend of mine calls her granddaughter often to read with her over Skype. I could do cartwheels!!! Yay for grandmas who do this! Moms and dads read to kids all the time, but it is extra special when Grandma makes the effort.
- Let the child be the teacher. Have them quiz you on a list of spelling words while they hold the answers in their hands. They will be delighted when you “accidentally” misspell something. Discuss together what the words mean and use them correctly in a sentence.
How do you teach your children to read?
*Sometimes I use affiliate links to clarify which products I’m talking about. For this article, I purchased suggested products. My recommendations are based on my own experiences. If you choose to purchase through the affiliate link, I receive a teeny, tiny commission at no expense to you. 🙂