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Read?… in the summer? A collective sigh rolls through the classroom like a wave breaking onto the shore.
Summer is screaming its way in. Teachers are scrambling to keep their students on task and engaged and parents are furtively thinking and searching for ways to pick up that baton to continue the uphill race to keep their kids entertained and engaged as well. The task can be downright daunting. Speaking from experience of course.
Getting kids to read is a challenge in and of itself. Getting your kids to read during what they consider their time, well you have stepped into hostile territory. Throughout the school year teachers and parents make great efforts to introduce, maintain, and develop a love for reading in their children. As a student, I happened to have that mom that loved to read and travel. Oh, the stories! Among my favorites, Greek mythology. Then as a teenager I went through a serious phase of reading romantic novels. Can we say addiction? Addiction doesn’t sound healthy, right? So, let’s say… a healthy addiction to reading romantic novels. Fast forward to my adult years and I can practically live in a Barnes and Nobles.
So as a teacher I sought to instill this love of reading in my students and my own children. I truly disliked reading logs because I realized that my students were not reading, parents were not signing, or were signing and students were ‘pretend’ reading, so I implemented different concrete ways to track my students’ reading. Here are 5 creative ways to get your kids reading this summer.
Reading Book Clubs
If you are a literary lover like myself, I am sure you enjoyed when Oprah started her book club. Well this concept is similar: The Kids Reading Book Club. Start a kids book club with the neighborhood kids or your children’s’ classroom friends, or your friends’ children. Of course, try to group the children by levels. But here’s the splendid part, when the book club meets how about arranging it in a park, under a tree, or meet in a tree house? Set up a tent in someone’s backyard or throw a picnic. Who doesn’t love reading and food (finger foods!).
Summer Reading Listening Program
During the school year, I try to get my most reluctant readers to listen to the books their reading while they follow along, great motivator. This can be done at home as well. Libraries have hundreds of books on CD’s ( I do this as well. It brightens my otherwise mind-numbing commute to work). There are audio books available as well that can be downloaded. Here’s a way to take this listening gig to the next level and make it even more kid-friendly; have your children record a book and share it with their book club members.
Read and Travel
Well, if it’s in the budget why not? But I meant have your children read about places around the world. Time for Kids and Newsela are two great sites that have articles about different places around the world and current events. Bonus: Nonfiction reading. Which brings me to my next amazing, creative tip!
Not traveling this summer? That’s ok, your children can still use their passports. Create a reading passport, get a free fold-able here and when your child reads a book this summer have them identify the location, the setting. By the way they should have heard of the ‘setting of the story’ it’s one of the story elements. Have them draw a picture of the setting, label the city, state, and/or country like a real stamp from the airport! Remember reading can take you places.
Every child I know loves a good competition. Hey, it’s healthy, gets the adrenaline pumping. Which in turn makes the brain turn on like switch! Ok so I’m not a neuroscientist, but I do know well set-up challenges in my classroom and at home has been entertaining, engaging and most of all rewarding. It has been so much fun to hear and see the excitement in my students. Now there are several ways you could implement this at home. Pinterest has some interesting reading challenges or you could pick up a free printable here.
There are many more ways to get your kids to read for the summer and continue this energy throughout the following school year. This summer I’m actually going to try the travel and read. I love to read but my last daughter doesn’t. So, I am willing to try anything to get her to enjoy reading as much as I do. Wish me luck 🙂
Have you got some amazing reading strategies you would like to share? I would love to hear about them.
Happy teaching and learning!
Did you hear that? It’s that faint sound enthusiasm being let out of your classroom. Take the groaning sounds out of test-prepping time. So, instead of only preparing review chapters and practice tests, play games!
Let’s face it test-prep time is by far the most dreaded time of a school year for both the students and the teachers. I mean what could possibly beat the #1 way to teach students how to hate coming to school and learning. It is stressful, exhausting and downright boring and that’s my opinion, the teacher! Students like this time of the year even less. Furthermore, unfortunately it begins right after the wonderful holidays. Certain to suck out every joyful moment you had during those times. And speaking from experience any kind of alternative ways used to teach a lesson that was implemented before this time immediately turns to this enormous countdown clock to “test time”.
I mean there’s a lot riding on those scores but no pressure… yeah right.
Over the years, I have tried to talk myself off the ledge and make great efforts at incorporating engaging activities for my students while still ensuring they are learning and practicing the skills, strategies, and knowledge required to pass the upcoming exams.
So, I have personally used each one of these engaging activities in my classroom.
Jeopardy takes first place because this game can be used for every subject from Math to Writing. The game Jeopardy is structured as an array with rows and columns. The top row squares have the categories for example, geometry, fractions, and decimals. The column squares would have the questions or statements based up the category topic for example: What geometrical shape is a quadrilateral with four equal sides and four equal angles?
You can create a jeopardy board with paper using colored paper to represent the concepts (for the creative and adventurous type) or you can create a jeopardy board on PowerPoint (for the technologically inclined teacher such as myself). The students really enjoy playing this game!
To teach is to learn twice—Joseph Joubert
2. Teacher for Day
This concept can be applied to and renamed as “Teacher for review” or “Teacher for a lesson”. You get what I mean. We are teachers rename as you see fit. Though this is not much of a game, it would be an awesome activity for the students for test-prep. The students become the teachers for the review lesson. Bonus: the ‘teacher’ student learns the lesson twice. The ‘teacher’ student can conduct test-prep review during collaborative grouping. With this scenario, you can have multiple teachers (a teacher for each group). The ‘teacher’ students are active learners responsibly engaged in their own learning. There is also an element for self-evaluation for the student as well. By the way students love to be the teacher!
The game Memory or what a student once told me “Oh miss this is just a matching game.” Memory can be used for test-prep in a variety of ways or learning and practicing math concepts such as multiplication, or algebraic expressions. I love this game for language arts such as grammar or vocabulary terms. You can even use it for reading comprehension such as Q &A. The basic rules for Memory is there are 2 players, each competing for the most matches. The one with the most matches can be “graded” (bonus) for understanding the concept that the game focused on.
Educational Bingo that is! There are so many ways you can use bingo in the classroom as a test-prep activity. This immediately changes a dreaded test prep into an exciting one. Educational bingo is perfect for multiplication facts, states and capitals, grammar, review of historical events and the list goes on. Bingo cards can be printed blank, laminated and reused over and over. Even when it’s not test prep. I use it to break up the monotony of lessons.
5. Wheel of Fortune
I have left the Wheel of Fortune game for last because it can result on some serious learning fun and… it also takes some time to prepare. At first glance, Wheel of fortune lends itself towards words, phrases, and sentences for Science, Social Studies, etc. But it can be used for Math as well such as definitions, formulas, geometrical shapes characteristics you get the picture; all great for test-prep. Now back to the prep time. It will take many weekends to create this masterpiece but I promise you it will be used year after year. And I have to tell you I had so much fun creating this game board there was glitter, glue and paint. Need I say more?
Final words on test prep
Inspire active learning. When a lesson is structured as a game, what was an eye-rolling, sighing day is a play day with a bonus. The active learning encourages interactive engagement with a little friendly competition thrown in. Your students will be having so much fun they won’t realize they are preparing for a test.
I would so love to hear what test prep alternative methods you have used to engage your students during test-prep time. Have you tried any of these activities? Do you have others you have used in your classroom? Let me know!
Happy teaching and learning!