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Our family, like many others in the United States, will be homeschooling this fall (and potentially beyond). While my little one is still in preschool and doesn’t require formal curriculum as a result, that is no reason not to provide fun and educational activities at home!
In anticipation of needing to keep my little one occupied at home, I’ve put together a ton of [FREE] printables for readers to use! There are options appropriate for toddlers all the way up through early elementary school!
I’m really excited to use these throughout the fall, and to share this content with readers!
I've created a ton of new worksheets, plus three different interactive activities perfect for binder books, felt board activities, and more. Most are either autumn or Halloween themed, though I've also created a few that aren't seasonal. And there is even more to come! I'm adding new resources to the library all the time (especially now that I'm homeschooling!).
DO I NEED TO SUBSCRIBE?
While the bulk of my new content is exclusively available to those who have subscribed for my free resource library, I've also made available 6 worksheets, ranging in difficulty from preschool level to early elementary school, for free and for immediate download. No subscription required! You can find those here.
1. A Halloween themed addition and subtraction page.
2. A more or less activity.
3. A relational language activity.
4. A first book report template that makes for a super flexible reading comprehension activity.
5. A shape, counting, and color awareness activity.
6. A counting and color awareness activity.
You can find printables available for immediate download on my activities page.
Making the Most Out of These Activities
Some of the activities new to the resource library are straight forward and include simple instructions.
The interactive activities are flexible; use them however you think best! That said, here are the ways we use these resources in our home.
Binder books have been a favorite activity of mine dating back to working in special education classrooms throughout high school. They are excellent for preschoolers, and super easy to make if you have a few basic supplies:
And, of course, content like that included in this content release!
Place the 'base' pages in plastic page protectors. Follow the directions below for each individual set.
Once you have printed the base pages and laminated and cut the appropriate cards, apple velcro to the page protectors and to the back of each card. Place the base pages in a binder, and you are done!
Be sure to check out a preview of the final product here.
Felt board activity
Felt boards are super easy to create by hot gluing a sheet of felt to a piece of cardboard (you can also use a cork board, or picture frame with the glass removed). Rather than placing base pages in page protectors, use them as stencils to create felt cut outs to place on the board. Finally apply felt to the back of each laminated card.
Apple Basket Activity
I've also created a two sided version of the apple basket base page. Laminate both the double sided page and the apple cards of your choice (the square cards, the individual red apple cards, or the individual colorable apple cards are all options!). Cut each of the basket sides out and either staple into an envelop, glue each to a small cardboard box, or create a felt pouch basket. You can do this by cutting a rectangular sheet of felt, folding it in half and hot gluing the two ends, and then hot gluing the bottom. Finally, hot glue the basket pieces to either side.
Make one basket for each number.
Then cut out the apple cards, and have your child place the correct number of apples in each basket!
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Disclaimer: This post has been sponsored by Rhyme to Read. All opinions are my own.
As a former educator with extensive training in the science of learning to read, I always have my eye out for products that are aligned with best practices. It seems as though children’s products touting their educational value are a dime a dozen. With homeschooling becoming an increasing choice due to the ongoing pandemic hitting the US, I predict this trend will only accelerate. But as a former teacher, I am frequently disappointed by many resources labeled “educational” that are on the market. Often, these products have no basis in the science of learning, and some even utilize strategies that are counterproductive.
When it comes to learning to read, literacy science suggests there are five core areas of instruction critical to promote (National Reading Panel, 2000). These are: phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency. An important note to make here, before I continue, is that phonics and phonemic awareness fall under a larger umbrella known as phonological awareness. This is a concept I’ll be returning to several times in this review, starting by letting you know that, from what I have seen from many early literary programs on the market, many programs do not promote critical phonological awareness strategies that contribute to the development of efficient decoding, and later automatic word reading. Instead, many of these programs focus on the first letter of words (rather than what sound that letter makes, that is, it’s phoneme), whole word or sight word reading (i.e. rote memorization of words while relying on the first letter and context cues to predict the word’s entirety), or poorly implemented phonics strategies (e.g. ineffective letter/sound mapping). For instance, you’ll see many programs utilize the word xylophone for the letter ‘x’. Take a moment to say ‘x’, and consider the sound it makes. The phoneme is roughly the same sound that ‘cks’ makes in the word ‘socks’. Does the word xylophone truly highlight that letter’s sound (i.e., the phoneme for ‘x’)? No. A better strategy is to find a word where ‘x’ makes its common sound; words like ‘fox’, ‘six’, or ‘box’. Circling back, problems like this are particularly prominent in products that are computerized, since many aren’t developed by educators, but rather computer programmers. The end result is anyone without a background in the science of education may be fooled into believing that a program is teaching their child to read effectively, when it is not. This isn’t to say these programs are worthless, necessarily (though some certainly are). Just that many programs aren’t quite hitting the mark in promoting effective early literacy strategies.
Rhyme to Read, a program designed by a reading specialist, alongside a PhD in special education, is different.
There are several things I love about Rhyme to Read. First, it isn’t another computer or tablet app that you set your child down in front of, and walk away. It requires effort on behalf of an adult, helping guide the child. Furthermore, while the program does offer an app, it also provides printable copies/ebook versions of the texts via digital download. Reading with your child is known to be an excellent way to build pre-literacy and beginning literacy skills (e.g. American Academy of Pediatrics, 2020). Therefore, the fact that Rhyme to Read promotes actively reading with your child, and offers several formats sets it apart from a lot of the competition.
Rhyming is a frequently used and effective strategy to promote phonological awareness and support reading development (e.g. American Academy of Pediatrics, 2020; Anthony & Lonigan (2004); Roberts & Neal, (2004); National Reading Panel (2000), Goswami, 1990; also, author’s personal experiences teaching and utilizing said instruction strategy under guidance of reading specialists and mentors at both Fitchburg State University and on site at the elementary school I taught at, though anecdotes should always be taken with loads of skepticism!), and this program does a great job of utilizing the strategy for the purpose of reading instruction. This reliance one effective literacy instruction strategy is a feature of Rhyme to Read that sets it apart from some other content marketed to parents as educational. No surprise, the program was designed by a team with expertise in reading instruction. By color coding written language and matching letter combinations with correlating sounds, this program also features an explicit phonics instruction strategy.
While it utilizes strategies often applied in classrooms, the program is easy for parents without a degree in education to use. It is also simple and coherently structured. Rhyme to Read builds throughout each short text on concepts from the previous unit. This progressive increase in difficulty while explicitly drawing from prior units is something known as scaffolding. That is, the program provides building blocks to allow a child to develop skills and move from a place of dependence to full independence with minimal frustration and minimal boredom (i.e., the content is neither too difficult, nor too easy; that is, to use the Goldilocks metaphor, it is ‘just right’ in terms of the challenge the content offers). Rhyme to Read starts with simple rhyming concepts and sight words, and uses color coding to draw readers’ attention to specific sound families. Sight words are called out page by page, and there is no unnecessary text. That is, the authors have carefully crafted each story so that it contains nothing but the conceptual building blocks being introduced. Concepts are also clearly tracked and carried over from unit to unit.
Finally, Rhyme to Read offers diverse representation in their texts. In an era where efforts are increasingly being made to ensure all children can see themselves in media, this program does a nice job of incorporating images of characters with a range of abilities and appearances.
It is important to note that rhyming instruction alone is not sufficient to promote future reading ability (e.g. Yeh, 2008; Martin, et al., 2002; Muter, 1998), and segmentation (something not focused on explicitly in this program) is a vital and potentially the most important skill associated with later reading ability (e.g. Muter, 1998). Furthermore, Rhyme to Read has not been scientifically validated; that is, there have been no experimental studies comparing this program's efficacy to that of other proven programs. As a scientist, this is something I ideally like to see from curriculum materials. All that said, I still would recommend Rhyme to Read to families looking to homeschool, supplement school curriculum at home, or get an early start on more formal reading instruction with their children before they start learning in school. I believe the program would best be used in combination with explicit segmentation/decoding instruction, and other direct reading instruction strategies.
Overall, I loved this program, and believe you will, too!
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References and Resources
Tips For Helping Your Child Develop Preliteracy Skills:
American Academy of Pediatrics (2020). Resources for Families: Top Tips for Families for Early Reading and Literacy. https://www.aap.org/en-us/literacy/Pages/For-Families.aspx
Anthony, J. L., & Lonigan, C. J. (2004). The Nature of Phonological Awareness: Converging Evidence From Four Studies of Preschool and Early Grade School Children. Journal of Educational Psychology, 96(1), 43–55. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-0622.214.171.124
Goswami, U. (1990), A Special Link between Rhyming Skill and the Use of Orthographic Analogies by Beginning Readers. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 31: 301-311. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.1990.tb01568.x
National Reading Panel. (2000) Report of the National Reading Panel--Teaching Children to Read: An Evidence-Based Assessment of the Scientific Research Literature on Reading and Its Implications for Reading Instruction. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. https://www.nichd.nih.gov/sites/default/files/publications/pubs/nrp/Documents/report.pdf
Martin, M.E. and Byrne, B. (2002), Teaching children to recognise rhyme does not directly promote phonemic awareness. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 72: 561-572. doi:10.1348/00070990260377523
Muter, V., Hulme, C., Snowling, M., Taylor, S., (1998). Segmentation, Not Rhyming, Predicts Early Progress in Learning to Read. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. 71(1): 3-27. https://doi.org/10.1006/jecp.1998.2453
Roberts, T., Neal, H. (2004). Relationships among preschool English language learner’s oral proficiency in English, instructional experience and literacy development.
Contemporary Educational Psychology. 29 (3): 283-311. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cedpsych.2003.08.001
Yeh, S.S. and Connell, D.B. (2008), Effects of rhyming, vocabulary and phonemic awareness instruction on phoneme awareness. Journal of Research in Reading, 31: 243-256. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9817.2007.00353.x
Over the last few weeks I've been working diligently on tons of new content for you, and in anticipation of the launch, I'm releasing some fun (and educational) printable activities for your toddlers/preschoolers/ kindergarteners. This downloadable package includes color, shape, and sight word activities with several levels of difficulty, as well as beach/ocean themed coloring pages.
You can get access to these printables here.
The following is a guide for making the most out of these downloads. And be sure to send me pictures of your little ones enjoying these great activities! I'd love to share them to Instagram and Facebook with links to your social media accounts.
How to Make the Most Out of These Activities
Disclosure: This post contains links to Amazon products. As an Amazon Associate, I earn on qualifying purchases. My participation in this program comes at not added cost to you, nor are there any strings attached. Learn more here.
The shape matching activity offers four levels of difficulty. The first level has shape words written in the same color as the shape itself, plus images of the shape in the same color. The next level has shapes and words on the main card, but no in color. The more difficult levels offers the shape words with coloring, which requires color matching with exposure to site words, while the most advance level offers shape words without coloring, requiring sight word recognition.
There are two great ways to use either level of this activity.
The first is to cut out each shape card, and the word card (you can cut this out into a single card rather than individual word cards). Then have your child use a glue stick and glue the correct shape next to the correct word.
You can also use a laminator and velcro to create a reusable activity. First laminate the entire page. Then cut out the individual shapes and the big words card. Finally, apply velcro to the backs of the shape cards and next to each word. Your child can then use the same cards over and over, rather than you having to print multiple copies and waste paper.
Product Recommendations from Amazon for This Activity
Fish (Color) Matching
This activity has three different versions; three levels of difficult for one version, two levels of difficulty for a second, and a single level of difficulty for the third.
The first version is similar to the shape matching activity, and can be done the same way (either with glue sticks or a laminator and velcro). Also like the shape matching activity, the fish matching activity asks your child to match colors to the correct color word. The easiest level has the color words written in color with a matching fish. The intermediary level offers site words written in matching colors to the respective fish. The hardest, sight word level simply has the color word written in black ink. A second version of this activity requires no cutting, just drawing lines from the fish to the correct color word.
A third version of this activity is a coloring page, where your child must color each fish with the color word on its body. This requires sight word reading, and is more advanced than the other versions of this activity.
This downloads pack also comes with four coloring pages for free play!
My toddler is already loving these activities!
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Not quite ready to sign up? While you would be missing valuable content, I do make select coloring pages available for download without signup on my Craft Corner page.
Have you done any of these activities with your child?
Be sure to comment below to let me know how it went, or send me pictures (via Instagram, Facebook, or email) of your child enjoying the activities, and I'll post on social media with a tag to your account!
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May 2020 (Prior to 5/31)
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