Basic Reading Skills: Games to expand a child’s phonological awareness

easy games you can play to teach your kids basic reading skills

Even in grad school, I continued to confuse the emergent literacy terms phonics, phonemic awareness and phonological awareness, so it's difficult to imagine a Kindergarten parent without training in education having a strong grasp on what teachers and reading specialists are working with their children to understand. Therefore, it's probably even more difficult for a parent to gather ideas on how to make the learning process fun for her beginning reader. I'll try to break down the differences … [Read more...]

How to Prepare Your Child for Kindergarten

4 easy steps to get ready for kindergarten

With the start of Kindergarten just a few weeks away, here are some easy activities you can begin doing now to prepare your child and give her a fresh, exciting start in August or September. Learn Independence Separation anxiety occurs just as much for a kindergartner as it will for the parent. Whether your child has been in full-day day care or or playgroups, she’s likely been away from your side for a few hours in the past. But over the summer, it’s easy to fall into the side-by-side … [Read more...]

How to host a kid-run water carnival

easy and cheap ideas for kids to host a water carnival for friends -- a great list of activities for the summer. Check out the water balloon ideas

A hot week was ahead of us, when my kids announced their plans to host a Water Carnival. As a mom who loves when her children embrace a project from beginning to completion, I agreed to be a guide, but they happily accepted the positions of Carnival Managers.   Together, we sat down and started planning out the event. First, we brainstormed the vital information, creating an invitation list, setting the date and times (when I suggested first thing in the morning, the kids pointed … [Read more...]

How to book club with your child, and why you absolutely need to

how and why parents and children should form a parent-child book club

Like many parents, I love everything about story time. Cuddling with my children and reading books to and with them, is a treasured part of parenting. As they grow older, my reading to them became reading with them and then, in the blink of an eye, my oldest couldn’t wait for me to read the next chapter and began taking the books and reading ahead. As interests have grown, so have discussions about our books. With the older kids, I now look forward to reading books next to each other and sharing … [Read more...]

Help kids journal 100% better with these strategies

tips and strategies for journaling with kids. This post has lots of ideas, journal topics, journal prompts and suggestions to get kids to write in their journals

Until high school, I never had a teacher set aside time to journal. I kept a diary (just like every other 10 year old girl) who shared her inner-most thoughts “Jason was so cute today! He wore an aqua colored polo shirt” and “Sally Green is such a square peg. I learned that term when my dad and I watched a tv show tonight. She has warts!” Yes, sigh. I’m quoting myself. I really did write these deep thoughts in my diary.     In ninth grade, I signed up for a creative … [Read more...]

Homework help for parents who are tired of the stress

homework help -- take a break to make the homework hour less stressful. Here are some ideas for quick breaks

It’s hard to sit for a half hour. Really hard. Especially when there are distractions everywhere. So why are parents, and, sometimes, teachers, insisting students sit for a longer period of time while completing homework?   High school and middle school classes are, usually, about 50 minutes a day, often less, sometimes more. Elementary classes rarely top 20 minutes of sitting and focusing. So when homework for a 9 year old takes 40 minutes, how can we, as parents, help our … [Read more...]

What is Litter? Earth Day Activities for Young Children

Earth Day activities for kids to learn about litter. Great for preschool, kindergarten and elementary

In honor of Earth Day (April 22), here are several quick, easy lessons and activities to use with young children to tie-in to your celebration. These lessons are suitable for children in grades pre-kindergarten through second grade. What is Litter? Helping young children understand litter with The Wartville Wizard Prior to reading about litter with Little and her friends, I was surprised to learn that not all of the four year olds were familiar with the word “litter.” Together, we defined … [Read more...]

Here’s why we didn’t opt out of state testing (PSSAs)

here's why my kids take the tests -- why my kids don't opt out of the tests in Pennsylvania

After  years of posting about my frustration with required school testing, sharing articles on Facebook and viewpoints on Julieverse, I can certainly understand why people are questioning the fact that my third and fifth graders are taking the PSSAs this month. Opting out is certainly the thing to do. It's fashionable. It's on-trend. A nearby Pennsylvania school district, Lower Merion, is reporting 20 times an increase in students opting out. There are Facebook groups and pages of angry … [Read more...]

5 tips for visiting historic Philadelphia

visiting historic philadelphia

When visiting Historic Philadelphia, most visitors plan their trip around The Liberty Bell and Independence Hall and then reach out on Facebook or through email, looking for must-see spots in Philadelphia. We take our kids to Philly a few times a year (we live in the suburbs) and I’ve lived here nearly all my life. I’m also an educator and was a 4th grade teacher (we study PA history in 4th grade.) I've seen many local suggest skipping the Betsy Ross house, but I have to argue. It’s a … [Read more...]