Exciting Changes for Our Family!

You may have noticed that I haven’t been publishing as often as I’d like to over the last couple of months.¬†I have so many wonderful books and ideas to share! But with some upcoming changes in our family life, I wanted to announce that I will slowing down with the blog.

Last month, I accepted a full-time teaching position for the upcoming school year. I’m excited to return to teaching in the classroom! I believe that God has opened this door for our family. My daughters will be attending private preschool and my oldest is especially excited for that!

So this summer will be filled with lots of family time and preparations for the upcoming school year…. Hooray! I still hope to post on Sunshine Readers from time to time, but I’m not quite sure how often that will be. Please continue to stop by, or click on the button on the right to follow the blog so you receive an email notifying you of new posts.

Happy reading and happy summer! ūüôā

Cool Summer Alphabet Activities For All Ages

An Excessive Alphabet: Avalanches of As to Zillions of Zs by Judi Barrett is a fun, multi-use picture book for many ages. (It’s always a delight to find a good book or resource that can be used for kids of varying ages and ability levels! These are super helpful for classroom teachers and homeschooling parents.) The illustrations in An Excessive Alphabet¬†are intriguing and help further discussion and exploration of literary topics.

Because summer is right around the corner, I am going to categorize suggested activities for “Younger Readers” and “Older Readers” rather than distinguish between ideas for parents and teachers. Chances are, these will be used at home or in an alternative setting given the season! Whatever the case, I hope that you are able to take one or two of them and try them out. ūüôā

Plus, families with kids in a range of ages can do these activities simultaneously!

Best Ages: pre-k and up

For Younger Readers:

  • While you read, ask your child to name items in the illustration that begin with the letter of the alphabet represented on the page.
  • Using sidewalk chalk, go outside with the book and choose a few letters of the alphabet to work with. (Maybe use your child’s initials or the first letters in his/her name.) Then practice writing the letter in lower and/or upper case before finding words in the illustration that begin with the same later. Draw those words and any others you think of!
  • Choose a handful of the nouns used to describe an amount of letters in the book (for example, “dozens of Ds.”) Find items in your household to represent those amounts so your child can visualize each amount and make a connection between the text and the real world.

For Older Readers:

  • Using sidewalk chalk, challenge your child to think of a word that begins with each letter of the alphabet. Guess what each picture is before your child goes on to the next letter and picture. (I recently did this while having a 7 year old over for the day and we had a blast!)
  • Vocabulary expansion: have your child find definitions in a children’s dictionary that are seen in the book. For example, the adjective “excessive” in the title of this book, as well as nouns used on each page to describe the number of letters like “avalanches of As.” Then allow your child to¬†create a vocabulary book. I personally have used something similar to this one as a teacher and found it highly engaging and effective!
  • Design a poster to make an alternative illustration for the book using one word of the alphabet. Encourage him/her to think of additional words or even verbs they could illustrate in addition to the ones featured in the book.


7 Ideas for Fun Summer Learning

Can you believe it’s already June?! At this time of the year, the last thing our kids probably want to hear is the word “learning.” But learning in the summer can be fairly easy to sneak in… ¬†and lots of fun!¬†Here are 7 fun ideas for summer learning:

  1. Read, read, read! This is an obvious one, but arguably¬†the most important. For young children or struggling readers, be intentional about reading aloud daily whenever possible. (Audio books can be helpful, too!) For more¬†fluent readers, help find¬†enjoyable¬†reads at the public library or local bookstore. Magazines, comic books and graphic novels count! Just make sure you’re comfortable with the content of the literature – and if you’re uncertain, don’t hesitate to research online¬†or inquire with the¬†children’s librarian.
  2. Sign up for your public library’s summer reading program. Building on the first suggestion of reading, spend time at your local library and participate in their summer reading program if they offer one. These reading programs¬†vary from place to place, but are often a motivator to keep reading throughout the summer… as well¬†as a reminder to visit the library for fresh books as the summer goes on.
  3. Explore new places together. This can be as extravagant or as simple as your schedule and budget allow. Take a family vacation or go camping for a weekend.¬†Visit¬†a lighthouse, nature center or children’s museum in your area. Attend a festival or community event. Whatever activity you choose, be sure to¬†include some¬†relaxed, informal discussion time¬†with your child to help make a connection between those activities and real-life history, culture, and so on.
  4. ¬†Limit¬†entertainment¬†screen time.¬†I understand this is not possible for every family,¬†but if possible, limit your child’s entertainment screen time such as movies, TV shows and video games/iPad games. Encourage your child to find other things to do to keep their minds and bodies more active.
  5. Utilize educational screen time/technology. On the flip side, allowing your child to¬†a set amount of¬†screen time for educational purposes can help them maintain their progress from the current school year or even make academic gains. It can also be a time to learn something new that interests your child but might not be a part of their typical school-year¬†learning.¬†Diverse apps and websites (many for free!) can allow your child to¬†learn¬†a foreign language,¬†track¬†NASA space missions, or even¬†design his/her own video game….. The possibilities are endless!
  6. Sign up for a cool new activity. Park and Recreation departments frequently offer reasonably-priced summer activities. Check out what’s available in your area and let your child discover¬†a new skill or sport, from dance to soccer to art.
  7. Play board games as a family. Many board games help children learn social concepts (such as taking turns and understanding they won’t always win) as well as deeper critical thinking skills (such as number order, addition and subtraction, spelling, etc.). Make some popcorn and sit down for a board game or card game that’s age appropriate.

These 7 suggestions can help your child keep learning throughout the summer, even when he/she doesn’t realize it. ūüôā I’m sure there are plenty more ideas out there… I’d love to hear them!