Read Across America Day is an annual holiday celebrated across the United States. This reading holiday was started on March 2, 1998 by the NEA, or the National Education Association. Everyone is encouraged to celebrate reading on Dr. Seuss’s birthday (March 2) every year.
Read Across America is actually a literacy campaign that lasts all year. However, Read Across America Day is still important, as it encourages the promotion of everyday reading and gets free books out to students and schools across America.
How Can Your School Or Organization Celebrate Or Get Involved?
There are many ways to celebrate or get involved with this special day. Find great ways to celebrate on Seussville, including printable activities and guides. ReadingRockets is also offering free downloadable print guides for parents, teachers, and anyone else interested in improving children's reading achievement. They also link to similar free publications from other sources.
Another idea on getting involved is to volunteer to read to children at schools, hospitals, and daycare centers. To do this, you will need to contact the appropriate departments at the locations you are interested in offering your services to.
Simply celebrating the holiday by reading with or to your children or students and holding your own events and activities also helps to promote this special day. Some teachers and parents like to use t-shirts and other fun gear to get children excited about Read Across America Day.
LEFbooks.org (The Literacy Empowerment Foundation) is giving away free books to literary organizations and schools across America, for a small handling fee of 65 cents per book. They do this throughout the year. To promote Read Across America Day, help a teacher or organization become aware of this or request some books for your own literary organization. The books are currently for reading levels from Preschool up to grade 2.
How We Celebrate and You Can Too!
As a homeschool teacher and public school parent, I also happen to be celebrating Read Across America Day with my kids. In the past, we’ve made hats similar to the one worn by the "Cat In The Hat" in Dr. Seuss's books. The children could then wear the hats and read Dr. Seuss stories aloud to one another. We’ve also attended library storytime events. Usually, we get out and do a variety of activities throughout the week of Read Across America Day. Although we read a great deal every day, I still feel it is important to celebrate this day and let the children know just how important reading is.
Any other ideas you have related to celebrating reading and motivating children to read will also help to promote and celebrate Read Across America Day. There is no exact formula or limit to reading, celebrating reading, or promoting reading. Simply get out there and do it.
Some may assume that because parents homeschool, their children will not be social. However, this is generally far from the case. Being social is generally a part of a homeschooled child's daily routine by default. However, there are many ways to increase and enhance these skills on a regular basis. I'm a veteran homeschool mom who has been dedicated to enhancing social skills in my kids for years. Many of these methods will come easy because they are simply an extension of your child's daily learning and activities.
Take elective courses, such as art and music at a separate location from your home. You can even do this in a group of homeschooled kids or a co-op. This way the core subjects will still be taught by you and your children will get a little extra knowledge in something they love. Some community centers and private organizations offer these classes for free or at a low-cost.
Offer arts & crafts time at your house. If you cannot find a resource, consider becoming one. Chances are, other families have been looking for something similar. Try scheduling craft activities a few times per week for children the same ages as yours. If you don't know many people in the neighborhood, try posting about the events at the local library, schools, or anywhere else you are allowed.
Attend story time and other activities at your local library. Depending on the ages of your children and what's on the schedule, your local library could have a great deal to offer. Some libraries offer special classes on a variety of subjects. At the very least, there will be storytimes to take advantage of.
Take field trips often. Visiting parks, museums, zoos, and other educational venues can also help enhance social skills. Because these trips will naturally be a part of the homeschool curriculum, this one is simple to implement. Don’t just visit the places. Talk to the tour guides and other visitors. Take the extra informational courses, workshops, and special classes. This gets the kids interacting with people of all ages, which is vital to social development. When visiting the park, go during times many other children will also be there. Let the kids make friends and schedule play dates.
Be sure that your child also has many opportunities to play with friends, attend birthday parties, attend family gatherings, and other social activities. The next time you go to the grocery store, let your child do the shopping and have the child ask the store associates for help when an item cannot be found. Also ask the child to pay. Maybe your child is a baker. Have a bake sale and sell baked goods and lemonade. Plan a neighborhood block party once per month. You and the kids can volunteer to help out at a local church, soup kitchen, or other social organizations. This can help with not only enhancing social skills, but in teaching humility and caring.
Homeschooling offers so many more ways to be social than other schooling methods because of its flexibility. Just be creative and go with the flow. In the end, your child will grow immensely. When I first started homeschooling my children, I was worried about social skills. But I soon realized that my kids had more opportunities to enhance social skills than they ever did before.
Homeschooling can be challenging, but because of the freedom allowed, such as not waiting for everyone in class to finish a subject, the students sometimes find themselves finishing classes early. Many children will still want to do something. Below are some free things to do when kids finish their homeschool lessons early.
- Do crossword puzzles, word searches, or other pencil word games. These stimulate the brain, which is excellent for comprehension skills.
- Take a nature walk. Try to reference something from recent studies. If that isn't possible, teach a lesson about what you do see.
- Play flashcard games. These can help to keep current lessons fresh in the mind. Flashcards can be made for any subject using index cards. Just cut them in half for a more convenient size.
- Make and play a homemade learning game together. Games can be made out of many different things. For a jumpstart on homemade math games, try these free, easy and effective math games for kids.
- Play educational software on the computer or online educational games. Educational games can stimulate the brain and some games can even teach new things.
- Visit a local library and attend storytime. This will not only be fun and educational, but it's a great opportunity for socializing with other children. Library storytime is often very interactive, requiring children to work together.
- Do extra language or math worksheets. This might sound hard to believe, but my children actually enjoy worksheets and sometimes ask to complete more than what were assigned in these areas.
- Practice handwriting skills. Having good handwriting skills can help your child immensely. Daily practice can be very useful. If you already practice this every day, a little extra time will be even more beneficial.
- Write a story. Writing is an essential life skill that should be practiced regularly.
- Keep a calendar of free events, festivals, and activities going on in your area. Check your calendar when the kids finish early to see if there's something you can surprise them with. Many cities also have free educational activities and classes available at universities, libraries, museums, churches, hospitals, parks, and more. Some are even especially for homeschoolers. Always check the paper and surf the internet for free offerings so you can keep many items on your calendar.
- Read a book. Reading stimulates the mind. In fact, there has been recent research showing that reading regularly is one of the very few ways to create new brain cells.
- Draw a descriptive picture of something recently learned. Putting thought into pictures helps improve comprehension, as well as enhance creativity and imagination.
- Watch an educational video.
- Do some of the next day's work. This will build confidence in children because they will learn they can do anything if they put their mind to it.
- Call around and see if any museums or zoos are offering a free day. If they are, take up the opportunity.
- Have a picnic (lunch or snack) and reading circle at the park or in your backyard.
- Go to the YMCA open gym. This will be free if you're a member. If you're not a member, the fee is minimal.
- Ride bikes to a local nature spot. This could be a large park, mountains, bayou, or any other area where wild animals might reside.
- Tour a neighboring city. This will require gas money and possibly money for food, but is relatively close to free.
Remember that learning can come in many forms. Keeping an open mind is essential to running a successful home school. You don't always have to spend money to learn. There are educational opportunities all around us. Also remember that it's okay to finish early and just let the kids play sometimes, too. After all, they did earn it by working so hard to finish early.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Our family walks frequently, even during the summer months. It is essential that everyone stay energized, hydrated and cool during a walk. A walk should not be tiring to the kids, but refreshing. It should be a form of exercise, but also a form of enjoyment, relaxation and entertainment. Bearing that in mind, there are things one can do to avoid common problems that may arise in children during a walk. Dehydration and fatigue is common in the summertime, and can be especially dangerous for children. Here is how to keep kids cool, calm, and energized on summer walks.
Dress For the Sunny Weather
Wearing appropriate clothing for the temperature will help keep the kids cool, as well as relaxed during a summer walk. Thin, all-natural fibers, such as cotton, are the best for hot weather. Sun protection clothing is also a good idea. Sunscreen should be worn on all unprotected skin areas. Sun hats should also be worn. An alternative to sun hats is applying sunscreen to the hair and scalp.
Wear Shoes Appropriate for Walking
Any kids or babies who will not be riding in a stroller need to have on comfortable shoes. Yes, kids are more lightweight than adults, but that doesn't mean their feet can't get tired from holding them up. Good kids walking shoes should be lightweight, durable, have shock absorption, and provide ample cushioning and support.
Bring Plenty of Water on Summer Walks
We happened to live in Texas for four years, where it is blazing hot during the summer. Now we're back in Denver, where it can be hot and dry. Even for those in less scorching climates, water is an essential part of a summertime walk with the kids. Water gives energy and keeps everyone cool and hydrated. There should be at least one thermal water bottle per person - more for longer walks.
Snack on Nuts & Fruits as Needed
Nuts and fruits are a great source of energy. Combined with the water, this type of snack will keep kids and parents walking with energy. You don't want everyone getting too tired to return home. Plus, many kids love nuts and fruits, so this is a win-win situation. Apples and grapes are great for this. If the walk is long, you may want to opt for dried fruits (such as banana chips) or trail mixes, rather than fresh fruits.
Cool Off With A Mister to Avoid Overheating
I like to bring along spray bottles equipped with a misting nozzle. Filling them with lukewarm water beforehand keeps everyone cool on the extremely hot days. We simply spray each other at certain intervals. It can also be made into a fun game. Do NOT fill the bottles with cold water. If someone is too hot or suffering from heat exhaustion, cold water is a bad idea. It can put a person into shock. Kids especially are vulnerable to this. There are also battery-operated handheld misting fans that are great for this, too.
Use Portable Neck or Pocket Fans for Hot Walks
Clip-on mini necklace fans and other portable neck or pocket fans also are a great idea for summer walks with the kids. Give each person their own. They can clip it onto the stroller, clothing, or another safe place. For babies inside the stroller, clip the fan out of reach of the baby at an angle where it will keep them cool.
Play Fun Games While Walking
Playing games with the kids such as "I Spy" can help keep the kids entertained and less focused on how long the walk is. Also try pointing out interesting things along the way (plants, animals, people, etc). Bring a camera and some pocket notebooks and pencils. Allow the kids to take pictures and write down things they observe. My kids like to do the above, as well as play trivia.
Think about things the kids have recently learned and form questions surrounding that. Allow kids to come up with their own questions for each other as well. Just be creative and have fun. You can even sing silly songs. Basically, you want to make the walk fun, not a chore.
*Note: The author is not a licensed medical professional. Always consult a physician before starting or stopping any physical activity.
**I originally published a version of this on the Yahoo! Contributor Network
LAST UPDATED 7/28/2022
Are you looking for a simpler and faster way to teach your kids their sight words or spelling words? Kids can get discouraged easily when progress isn't made quickly. My method for teaching kids spelling and sight words fast comes in several steps.
As a homeschool and traditional school mom, I've developed many learning methods and lesson plans. I always play an active role in teaching my kids, regardless of their schooling method. When it comes to fully grasping new words, kids need to make the connection in several ways. If they only make the connection to the word in one or two ways, it will be harder for them to learn current and future words.
Here are the steps I've developed to teach kids sight words and spelling words fast.
Step One: Make flashcards of all the words together. Write each word on its own index card in dark lettering. The child can help with this by looking at the words and copying what they see onto the index cards. This helps practice the visual connection, as well as the writing connection.
Step Two: Show one flashcard to the child, clearly pronouncing the word.This triggers an audio-visual connection to the word. Be sure the child is looking at the word as well as listening.
Step Three: Have the child repeat back that same word. This will tell you if the child is listening to you. It also helps with the speech connection. A child needs to be able to say a word properly before truly understanding the way the word should be formed.
Step Four: Have the child write the word. Just seeing, hearing, and saying the word is not enough. A child also needs to know how to write it. This will help with spelling tests and reading & writing in general. Writing it also triggers the memorization of it.
Step Five: Have the child read the word back to you, sounding it out. If the child is reading it back without sounding out the word, it may just be that they are saying it because you just said the word. Take the time to have the child say each sound in the word so that they know how the word is formed.
Step Six: Repeat steps two - five with each word. This same process should be followed with each word, including the easier words. Going through this process helps to give the child a good understanding of how words work, which will help with reading and writing current and future spelling and sight words.
Practice these steps until the child can read and write each word quickly.
*I've successfully used this method with more than one child. Let us know in the comments how it worked for you and any tips you may have as well.
LAST UPDATED 1/17/2023
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