Fall is finally here! Now if we can just have a hard frost, I can bundle up and go outside for a walk! Housebound by asthma or not, this time of year is a lot of fun for kids. They can kick their way through leaf piles on their way to and from school or the bus stop. They can decorate pumpkins to sit out on the front stoop, and bake the seeds from their pumpkins to enjoy for a snack afterward. Hot cocoa – ever and always a favorite of mine – is perfect for a snack with some apples that are in season. I guess you can tell that fall is a favorite of mine! I hope you all find something that works for you and your kid(s). ~ Gina
So – Reading/Writing Activities
The PeeWees – For these youngest readers and writers (Pre-PreSchool) activities mostly consist of cuddling and sharing stories. Pick books that have bright pictures. Point out the detail pictures, too. As your child gets older, you can ask him/her to find things in the pictures. The main idea is that your child is going to form a positive association with reading through this interaction with you. To keep things exciting, read books that are easy for them to join in with your. Books like Boynton’s Moo Baa La La La are excellent choices.
The PreSchool Crowd – These guys have it all going on. They head out to school and hang with their friends several days a week. In preschool they are no doubt creating art and hearing stories about Halloween, Autumn, and Thanksgiving. If your family doesn’t celebrate Halloween, perhaps they celebrate the harvest? Whatever your family does in the fall – be it celebrating a holiday or going apple picking – there is something exciting going on for your child. Apples and Pumpkins is great book to read together. When you’re done, you can talk about all the things that happened. Then, ask you child to draw a picture of something that reminds him/her of October or of the book. [Do it again in November. And again in December.] Then have your child tell you about the drawing. You be the scribe and write down what he/she says. Make it a story if you can. Have your child sign or initial the completed story, to show that it is his/her words that are making up this story. Hang the completed work on the fridge or on a corkboard or wall. When the month is over, put it aside and at the end of the year, put it all in a book with a cover that has the year written on it. As the “book” grows, so will your child’s excitement. Remember – when you’re not sure what your child has drawn, don’t guess! Say, “Tell me about your wonderful drawing.” No time to sit and read. No problem. Make up stories for your child as you drive. As he/she gets older, start a sentence and the him/her fill in the blank. Think “Once upon a time there was a bear named _____________.” Your child supplies the name. You supply the next line. More than one child? Give each a chance to build on what the other added. You will need to jump in many times to keep this going.
Grades K-1 – You child will join the big kids at school during these years. He/she is going to go from being the big guy at nursery school to being the little kid in the school. I’d imagine it’s a bit overwhelming. You’re no doubt wanting your child to practice writing – with you paying attention to how he/she grips the pencil and forms the letters – and are eager to be part of this big step into the world of writing. One way to move them gently from pictures to words is to read a story with your child and then photocopy an illustration from the book. Cut out picture and glue it to a lined sheet of paper – or one of the composition books that has space for a picture at the top and then space for words on lines below. Once the picture is in place, ask your chid to write three sentences about the picture. It can be something from the story. You can help them write it if necessary. You can put the picture on a separate piece of paper if he/she needs more room to write.
For instance, one of my students loves Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse – who doesn’t. This student has a lot to say about everything until it’s time to write. Then she honestly can’t think of what to say. With a picture of Lilly skipping across the page, she wrote her sentences without any problem. She was excited to write about the story, too. I’ve tried it with several other kids in this age group and it works a charm!
Grade 2 – This crowd is certain they are oh-so-grown-up. At least they are until they get in a jam. Celebrate that independence and confidence by letting them read a story to you. Pick a book that goes with the season or the month. Because of an Acorn is not a difficult read, but it is an excellent step into a discussion about cause and effect, and the cycles at work around your child. If you’re up for a project to go with a book, take this opportunity to put a lima bean into soil in a see-through clear plastic cup, plant a bulb in a larger clear container, suspend an avocado seed over water with just the bottom in the water, or take some of the seeds from a pumpkin and plant them instead. Then sketch what you see every other day and ask your child to write three sentences about what he/she sees. Already doing that in school? Not a problem. Talk to them about what they’ve observed with the leaves on the trees and what they expect will happen next. Have them write a poem or a five things they love about the fall.
Grades 3-5 – These big kids are busy, busy, busy. They have spelling and reports and reading and math and social studies and computer literacy. It makes for a long day. Do something fun with reading with them! Read to them. Yep. After homework and before bed time, sit down and read to your kid(s). They can snuggle up with a quilt or a pillow on the floor and just listen to the sound of your voice. The thing is, you need to pick a compelling book. To get them into the book, you may need to ad-lib a bit at the start to help them place themselves in the setting and events. That’s okay. You may need to do that from time to time throughout, as well. Why not start with Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing or Beezus and Ramona. Kids love these stories and the quirky characters who live in their pages. There will be plenty to joke about after the story. Plenty of conversation around the characters will come up in the weeks that follow, too. Have fun!