Disclosure: I received a free sample of this book in order to facilitate this review, any opinions are my own.
Commercially “back to school” is often associated with stressfully garnering all types of supplies that schools require like backpacks, glue, scissors, and markers. Within weeks, we will all be back in the daily grind of our school routines and before long parents are sitting in curriculum nights with teachers. These days curriculum is so much more than learning basic concepts of addition, subtraction, comprehension and reading. I often joke that once Gavin makes it through second grade I probably won’t be smart enough to help him with his homework any longer.
If you’ve ever been to a medical doctor who uses all sorts of terminology that can’t be understood, I find the same is true of working in the school system. When it becomes part of your daily vocabulary, we often forget that most people have no idea what we are talking about when we say words like “phonemic awareness, Dolch sight words, fluency, graphic organizers and fine motor skills.”
At parent teacher conferences or Special Education meetings we might speak with parents about their child’s strengths and weaknesses with these same concepts. I think most parents generally ask how they can help their child conquer these difficulties at home. However, there aren’t always toys or “quick fix solutions” we can buy off the shelf. So aside from relying on your child’s individual teacher, parents often look to Google and Pinterest for suggestions. However, some activities can require a lot of prep time or materials, the project never gets completed and parental guilt skyrockets.
Amanda Morin, a former Kindergarten teacher and the About.com Kids Learning Activities Guide, has written an amazing resource for parents and teachers, “The Everything Kids Learning Activities Book.” The book includes 145 indoor and outdoor activities and games that were developed for children ages 5-12, specifically to provide children with educational activities related to the areas of reading, writing, math, science and social studies. Most of the materials that are required to complete each activity are readily available within your home. Each activity in the book is labeled by the specific curriculum area, so parents can search the contents or the index for the academic skill they are trying to promote. Each activity also shares the skills being practiced or targeted (vocabulary, spelling, categorization, etc), the supplies needed and step-by-step directions on how to play. Aside from just partaking in the activity there are questions to ask children along the way to expand their understanding of each concept, as well as ideas on how to make each skill more challenging when the child is ready. Though there aren’t any pictures in the book to illustrate the activities, the directions are easy to read and follow. What is amazing with this book is that it not only lists a lot of simple and fun activities to help children, it serves as an amazing resource for parents. Each chapter teaches parents about the concepts their children are learning about. Not only has Amanda carefully designed and crafted learning activities that are fun, but including them during routine family activities like carpooling, dinner, housecleaning and grocery shopping is brilliant. Parents now have the ability to infuse learning opportunities into their busy lifestyles, and their children will definitely benefit from this. Some of my favorite activities in the book include:
- “Label the House” – to encourage sight word reading, parents are encouraged to attach the written word to the object within the home. Parents can help the child read and remember the words when they use them during the day.
- “Vocabulary Parade” – teaches positional words (above, after, in, on, under, left and right) by hiding toy items in various locations at the playground or in the backyard following specific directions in sequence to “Slide down the slide, look behind tree, and search under the picnic table.”
- “Grocery Lists” – encourages children to cut and paste different pictures from store flyers to create a grocery list. Children can progress to spelling and writing their own list and use recipe cards to create the list needed for their favorite family meals.
- “Housecleaning Math” – prompts children to estimate how many items will need to be picked up off their bedroom floor while cleaning it. Children can also estimate how much time it will take them to clean their room and test their hypothesis with a timer.
- “Scratch and Sniff Painting” – combines jell-o, food coloring and powdered drink mix packets to create a scratch and sniff solution. In my opinion, aside from general painting, I plan to use this paint with the kids at school when we are working on general letter formation and recognition.
If you would like to order this book, purchasing information can be found on Everythingkidslearning.com.
Would you like to win a copy of the book plus a package of the Top 10 Materials for Learning Activities? Enter my giveaway in the Rafflecopter box below. a Rafflecopter giveaway
I received a free sample of this book in order to facilitate this review, any opinions are my own.