Read More Usborne

Building literacy one children's book at a time…

Fun and Games on the Go: Usborne Activity Cards!

Summer is here! Vacation plans, anyone?

My 3 year-old and I recently traveled to my sister’s wedding and Usborne activity cards saved my sanity more than once during the trip!

Before we left, I looked through my stash of Usborne activity cards and decided to start with 100 Things for Little Children to do on a Trip. I selected about 20 of the easier cards that I thought might engage my 3 year-old (suggested age is 6+). Then I punched holes in the corner of each card and put them on a binder ring so that they’d stay together.

The cards were my daughter’s first choice whenever we needed a distraction.

She used the dry erase marker included with the cards to draw lines between animals and their favorite foods, match shadows with the appropriate dog, find and count hidden butterflies and frogs, draw legs on a boy so he could run away from a monster, and most of all – she loved turning the large cat into a leopard (by adding spots) and a tiger (by adding stripes).

The cards easily kept her engaged for an hour at a time and although the first time through I had to tell her the instructions for each one (because she is not able to read them herself yet), the second time through she knew what to do and was able to entertain herself.

And she made up her own games with some of the cards. I think at times she had more fun erasing the marks with a tissue than drawing the marks in the first place. (Hint: Attach a small piece of felt with a hole punched in it to the binder ring for an eraser.)

I am embarrassed to admit that it took me this long to actually put these cards to use – one of my customers mentioned that the activity cards she bought were a bigger hit with her preschooler than the books so I figured I would give them a try. I am now convinced that they are a winner!

I plan to keep them with me for impromptu entertainment at restaurants, in the car, and while waiting in line.

There are several activity card sets to choose from – see the Usborne site for more details. Enjoy!

Advertisements
Leave a comment »

Games Make Reading Fun!

As promised in an earlier post, here are some great games mentioned in Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox. Games can make reading aloud more fun for both you and your child and add spontaneity to learning!

  • Turn the book upside down and start reading (or start reading on the last page of the book) and see if your child notices and corrects you. I don’t do this very often, but it’s funny to see my daughter turn into a little teacher/parent when I do. “No – this way!”
  • Read the wrong words. For example, if reading Little Red Riding Hood, begin with “Once upon a time there were three little pigs…” This game teaches that the illustrations should match the words. This one elicits giggles and “That’s not what it says!” responses.
  • Sometimes skip reading altogether and just discuss the pictures with your child. I think my daughter really likes this because she has more time to really absorb what’s in each illustration and find all the hidden gems.
  • Point out words that are repeated and see if your child can spot more. I admit that we have only done this a couple of times and not very successfully.
  • Seek out letters on the page. For example, if your child’s name begins with “M”, see how many “M”s you can find on the page. One of my favorite letter recognition memories is when we were driving by the Golden Arches of McDonald’s and Maddie pointed and shouted excitedly “Big M! Big M!”
  • Stop mid-sentence and let your child finish (works best with favorite and familiar books). This also can let you know if your child is bored and not paying attention (and you haven’t noticed) – then you can find ways to re-engage.
  • Allow your child to turn the pages. Along with teaching the child left-to-right reading and page-turning, this game also helps keep an easily distracted child focused on the book and invites participation.

More games from Fox to help pre-readers learn include the following:

  • Use alphabet fridge magnets to write your child’s name. Also, these can be used to spell a simple word such as “can” and change one letter at a time to make different words like cat, rat, rut, rub, etc.
  • Encourage “writing” (scribbles).

Above all, keep reading aloud light, fun and spontaneous. Don’t bog your child down with too many rules and it’s best to leave out fun-killers like “Don’t be silly! Sit Still! Pay Attention! No! That’s Wrong!”  You get the idea…

Leave a comment »

Interactive Read Aloud – Quick Tips

I admit as a first time and busy parent (with zero experience around young children in my adult life) that I thought reading aloud was about getting through the story. Check! One more book finished! (Maybe it’s the engineer in me?)

Since I’ve been learning more about the importance of reading aloud and how to foster reading comprehension, I’ve made some easy tweaks to my read aloud methods over the past few months that have reaped big rewards. I can already tell that my kiddo is more engaged while we’re reading and more eager to read when we’re not. (“I want to read a book!” has become a common request.) Here are some quick tips from the experts that have helped me:

  • Talk about the book before reading it – especially the first time. Look at the illustrations on the cover, title page and back cover and ask what the book might be about. Then maybe  say “Hmmm…. I think this book might be about sea turtles. What do you think?”
  • Ask the child to turn the pages. This may seem like a “duh” suggestion, but I was interested to learn that my daughter didn’t even know when to turn the page and I still have to prompt her in many books. It is my understanding that the timing will eventually come naturally to the child.
  • Allow the child to finish lines. This works best with rhyming books and books that are familiar to your child. Start using this technique with his favorite books so that it will be easier for him to “get it right”. For example, “Hickory dickory dock, the mouse ran up the…” [pause for child to say “clock”].
  • Ask questions throughout the story such as “What do you think will happen next?” and “Why do you think the fox did that?”
  • Define vocabulary words as you go. For example, “Canine is another word for dog.”
  • Discuss the story afterward and ask questions such as “What was your favorite part of the story?” and “Why did you like that story?” and “What would have happened if…?”

It’s OK if you don’t make it all the way through the story the first time or two. Pick the book up again tomorrow and you’ll breeze through the parts you already discussed. Another option is to just start incorporating one or two of the techniques until the timing feels right to add more. Sometimes I only use one or two and other times I use them all depending on which book were reading, how much time we have, and our moods.

Try these suggestions and I’ll bet your child will gain big dividends in vocabulary and reading comprehension. Have more tips?? Leave a comment – I’d love to hear from you…

Leave a comment »

So… How do you start a blog??

D’oh! I have been a little slow at getting this blog going. And I know there are millions of you out there on the edge of your seats waiting to see what I’ll type next. Sorry about that. You can stop holding your breath now. Breathe. Fresh air is good for you.

Excuse #1: I am a busy mom who works full time and is starting a part-time children’s book business. Oh yeah, I also volunteer on a non-profit board and a city/county commission a little here and there (although not as much as I’d like).

Excuse #2: I have a ton of ideas, but it’s taking me a little longer to actually gather my thoughts and write about each of them. Yes, I’m a blogging newbie or is that a newbie blogger – see, I don’t even know what to call myself. Doubly sorry about that!

So… anyhoo… I am committing to blogging 1-2 times per week for the next 3 months and we’ll see how it goes from there. I am busy and hopefully you’re busy too. This blog is dedicated to busy parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, caregivers, friends of kids, and anyone else who cares about children. I intend for most posts to be quick and easy reads for busy people.

Stay tuned for reasons to read aloud to the children in your life, how-tos, ways to make reading aloud more fun for everyone involved, book reviews and more!

Leave a comment »

%d bloggers like this: