How the School Library Promotes Independent Learning

Although school libraries’ role is shifting in the digital age, they are still a critical resource for students in fostering the skills for independent learning.

The Internet has changed how information is consumed, and some have even questioned whether libraries still have a role in the modern school system. However, libraries have and continue to adapt, offering critical support for student success. In fact, a well-equipped and staffed library is a key differentiator of the most successful schools.

Libraries continue to be important for student success because they don’t just offer access to books and resource materials—they also help students become independent learners.

 

What is Independent Learning?

As defined by Brightside, independent learning is “when an individual is able to think, act and pursue their own studies autonomously, without the same levels of support you receive from a teacher at school.”

In other words, independent learning is the ability to learn on one’s own, without outside support.

 

Why Does Independent Learning Matter?

When a child becomes an independent learner, limits on their education begin to dissolve. An independent learner is free to discover new books and pursue what they are curious about, from bugs to baseball to why the sky is blue.

This can, in turn, reinvigorate the learning process for students, even in the classroom, and turn them into lifelong learners who will continue to grow and learn long after they graduate.

These are critical life skills that will help their grades in school, their job performance in adulthood, and overall life enrichment.

 

How do Libraries Support Independent Learning?

To start, libraries offer access to a wide range of books and materials, both print and digital. Studies have shown that students are better, more avid readers when they have a wide range of engaging materials available to them.

Perhaps even more importantly, librarians help students become critical researchers. Mainstream search engines tend to produce results based on what a person has searched for and clicked on in the past. This means that search results reaffirm the searcher’s bias. But a school librarian can help students learn to apply strong research methods, evaluate the quality of provided information, and seek out balanced resources.

In a digital world, these are important skills not just for the classroom, but for life.

 

A Skill Set to Get Ahead

An independent learner is motivated, curious, and able to overcome challenges. These are qualities that would serve every child well and help them reach their potential. School libraries have a big role to play in developing this skill set in children, and schools can help their students get ahead by supporting them.

20 Ways to Show Appreciation for Teachers

Teacher Appreciation Day this year is May 3. What are you doing to appreciate the teachers in your life or in the lives of your family? If you do not yet know what you will be doing, then please allow me to offer some suggestions. After all, teachers do some of the hardest work in the world right up there with nurses. They present our students with information necessary for their success, but teachers do much more than that. Many people report that a special teacher was the difference between success and failure for them or was their mentor when things were going badly at home. That is why teacher appreciation is important. However, your gifts to your teachers do not have to be elaborate. In this article, we will discuss twenty teacher appreciation gifts that will not break your bank.

 

Write a Note

Perhaps the best teacher appreciation gift is a note. Tell the teacher in your life how much they matter. If you are a parent, tell them how much you feel that they have helped your child. If your child likes that teacher as well, then they could make a note of their own, mentioni1ng some of their favorite experiences in class.

 

Send an Apple

It may seem slightly cliche, but an apple is a good gift for a teacher, preferably a glass one that can serve as a paperweight or desk ornament. Apples of this kind never go bad, and you do not have to worry about accidentally triggering any food allergies. As a bonus, an apple of this type will last for years to come and will be a gift the teacher can hold onto and display in their classroom.

 

Make Custom T-shirts

Custom t-shirts can be a great way to show a special teacher they matter. Get together with other parents or other classmates if you are a student, and decide on a design. Then you as a group can present the finished shirt to the special teacher.

 

Treat A Teacher

Get together with your classmates or other parents and make a small lunch for the teachers at your school. This is a great way to show all the teachers you appreciate them. Be careful to include foods that can be eaten by anyone regardless of food preferences or allergies. Foods that can be eaten with your hands, such as small sandwiches with a variety of fillings and breads work well for this. That way, the teachers can make their own sandwiches the way they like them. Be sure to ask the school’s permission before doing this one, especially if you are a student.

 

Pamper The Teachers

Teachers work hard every single day. During Teacher Appreciation Week, why not pamper them? With the administrators’ permission, set aside a space. Then hire a nail technician to come in and do the teachers’ nails or give hand massages with hot lotions. Every time the teacher looks down at their hands, it will become clear how much they matter.

 

Cookie Coupons

Slide coupons for cookies into teachers’ mailboxes. Then arrange with the cafeteria to allow teachers to retrieve the coupons. Alternatively, if you know the teacher’s favorite type of cookie, small packages of homemade treats could be inserted in the mailboxes instead.

 

Take Over the Class

With permission, take over the class of a special teacher for one period for a read-aloud session. You could read a favorite book and do a follow-up activity. This gives the teacher a chance to catch a break or do some planning activities. For older children and teenagers, you might do a writing activity.

 

Provide Special Gifts

Find out what sorts of things your teachers enjoy. Then keep an eye out for gifts that match those interests. For example, if the teacher in question loves knitting, you could get them a new book of patterns.

 

Gift Certificates

Give gift certificates for special teachers. Make the gift certificates redeemable at any point, and give the teacher a choice of which certificate they choose.

 

Recognize Birthdays

If you know of a teacher who is having a birthday, celebrate with them. Organize a small party for the teacher and be sure to wish them a happy birthday.

 

Send Encouraging Words

Attach an apple sticker to a blank piece of cardstock. Ask the principal to begin the chain by sending out the first five cards with words of encouragement written on them to five faculty members. Then ask those five people to send the chain onward. Be sure to recognize every staff member in this project.

 

Send Flowers

Most people like fresh flowers. Send a special teacher a bouquet of fresh flowers for their desks. They will brighten up the desk and smell lovely while making the teacher who receives them feel special.

 

Do Lunch

Take a special teacher out for lunch outside of school if you know them well. During lunch, make sure to tell the teacher they matter.

 

Provide Coffee Mugs

Coffee mugs make a great gift for teachers. You can provide a coffee mug with the teacher’s name on it. That way they can feel appreciated as they drink their morning beverage of choice.

 

Buy Supplies

If you know of a supply that teachers are missing, you could buy a stash of that supply for the classroom. That way the teachers do not have to spend their own money to furnish the classroom.

 

Purchase a Special Book

Purchase a special book to commemorate a teacher on a special occasion such as a twentieth teaching anniversary or retirement. The book will then have the teacher’s name in the back, and students for years to come will be able to honor that teacher. Allow the teacher to pick which book to buy.

 

Chocolate for Teachers

Buy boxes of candy for special teachers. Put these boxes in their mailboxes for them to find.

 

Stress Balls

Teachers are often very stressed. Slip a stress ball into each mailbox.

 

Give a Reward

Sometimes simple rewards are the best. Give special teachers blue ribbons that proclaim them the best teachers.

 

Vacation

If you are the principal of the school, provide your teachers with a coupon for a local attraction that they could go see with their families. It is nice to know that administrators appreciate you both in and out of school.

 

Teacher appreciation is very important. Teachers need to know they matter. Now that you have read this article, you have some great ideas to let them know just how much they matter.

Do Strong Libraries Boost Student Achievement?

In a time when budgets are tight, every aspect of education is assessed for its value, and school libraries are no exception. Do school libraries contribute significantly to student achievement?

Research into the answer to this important question dates to the 1960s. And for just as long, a strong correlation has been found between library resources and student success.

Here are seven research findings that reflect the importance of libraries for student achievement:

  • Studies in the early 1960s found a correlation between elementary schools with centralized school libraries staffed by certified school librarians, and increased average test score gains. An ever-growing body of research has backed up her findings since.
  • A study of schools in Colorado showed that students had better reading scores on standardized tests when they had access to a school librarian, even after controlling for outside factors like poverty.
  • In a 2004 assessment of existing research, a correlation was found between access to good libraries and children who read more and performed better on reading tests. This was particularly true in areas of poverty, where libraries are often children’s only access to books.
  • In a 2003 comparison of schools with and without librarians, students at high schools with a librarian performed an average 8 percent better in reading achievement, and students at elementary schools with a librarian performed 35 percent better.
  • The more time librarians spent collaborating with teachers, taught information literacy, and provided in-service teacher training, the higher students scored on tests, according to a 2000 study.
  • When teachers collaborate with librarians, they were three times more likely to rate their literacy program as “excellent,” in a 2009 study.
  • A study of third, fourth and fifth graders showed that students with a full-time librarian had 4-5 percent higher scoring proficiency. These schools also had a lower number of students who scored “unsatisfactory” by 2-3 percent absolute difference. (The same results applied for programs with one and a half FTE library staff.)

Because every school system, body of students, library, and librarian is a little different, assessing exact impacts of a given program on students can be complicated. But even across many different assessments over many different years and across several different states, the correlation between school libraries, trained librarians, and student success remains consistent.

The bottom line is clear: Strong libraries make for stronger teachers and stronger students.

100 Awesome Science Fair Project Ideas

Science fairs are a fun and interactive way to learn about how the world works in an up-close and personal, hands-on manner that  allows a person to showcase their favorite fields. But with so many interesting experiments in the world, how do you narrow your focus down to just one question you want to answer or hypothesis to test? Below is a list of one hundred interesting ideas to help you out in that all-important search for your next science fair project topic. The ideas cover a varied list of fields of study and a wide range of subjects from astronomy to zoology and everything between.

These projects are perfect starter ideas to get you thinking if you are stuck. But they can also be used on their own to create an awesome project that will wow your family, friends and classmates and may even make you the winner of your next science fair.

 

  • How Does a Hovercraft Work?
  • How do Duck Feet Swim?
  • Design Aerodynamic Paper Airplanes
  • Which Kite Flies Best?
  • Race Milk Carton Boats.
  • What Are Saturn’s Rings?
  • Build an Astrolabe
  • Test Evaporation Speed of Liquids.
  • Do Tea and Coffee Stain Teeth?
  • Best Methods for Cleaning Coins
  • Vinegar and Baking Soda Balloon Inflation
  • How Do Butterflies Fly?
  • What is the Link Between the Moon and Tides?
  • Why are there Seasons?
  • Can Chewing Gum help you Recall Information More Easily?
  • Which Food Molds Fastest?
  • Physical Effects of Digital Gaming
  • Make a Potato Clock
  • Does Hair Color Impact Personality?
  • Is The Five-Second Rule Reliable?
  • Build a volcano.
  • Solar oven.
  • Does music affect plant growth?
  • Do people like natural scents best?
  • Does fertile soil conduct electricity more effectively?
  • Static electricity. Does the color of hair affect conductivity?
  • Climate change and ecosystems.
  • Test food acidity.
  • Test water for microorganisms.
  • Can soda dissolve bone?
  • Test ideal stargazing conditions.
  • Build a lever.
  • Test minerals for fluorescence.
  • Make a string telephone.
  • Design a device to prevent a dropped egg from smashing.
  • Create fossils.
  • Build a model cell.
  • How do plant leaves get water?
  • Make an ant farm.
  • Grow a crystal.
  • Can plants sunburn?
  • How much water is in fruit?
  • Use iodine vapor to detect fingerprints.
  • How are taste and smell linked?
  • Effects of dehydration on a potato.
  • Make homemade lightning.
  • What makes blood pressure rise?
  • Discover the iron in breakfast cereal.
  • How does sun block work?
  • Peanut power.
  • Test the energy of moving water.
  • What material conducts electricity best?
  • Structural soundness: Which shapes are strongest?
  • How does plate tectonics work?
  • How do fish breathe?
  • Why are bubbles round?
  • Best conditions for popping popcorn.
  • What causes static electricity?
  • Make a gear.
  • How does blubber work?
  • Pollution and water sources.
  • What battery brand lasts longest?
  • Build a model of the human heart.
  • Demonstrate the water cycle.
  • Build a soap-powered boat.
  • Will birds eat oddly-colored seeds?
  • Make a geyser.
  • Make homemade slime.
  • Do bacteria look different?
  • How does milk become butter?
  • Can you make eggs bounce?
  • Make a prism.
  • Build a molecule.
  • Does hot air expand?
  • What is buoyancy?
  • Does salt in water increase buoyancy?
  • Which object is densest?
  • Sugar and salt. Which dissolves fastest.
  • Make non-frozen ice cream.
  • How do plants reproduce?
  • What colors attract bees??
  • Raise a caterpillar.
  • Do worms help plants grow?
  • Grow plants in up-side-down pots.
  • PH of various soils.
  • How do germs spread?
  • Information retention while distracted.
  • What is noise pollution.
  • What makes stars shine?
  • Grow a plant in air.
  • Rock and mineral display.
  • Make a magnifying glass.
  • What microorganisms live in air?
  • What substances conduct sound best?
  • When does bread mold fastest?
  • Parts of a seed.
  • Why is cold air denser?
  • Different types of cells.
  • Which feathers fly farthest?
  • Perform some optical illusions.

 

Science is all around you. Every time you wonder how the world works, that is science in action. A science fair, and the project ideas listed above are a catalyst for science and for your own understanding of the world’s workings. And if you win the science fair, that is just another bonus.

Mother’s Day Crafts for the Classroom

If you are a teacher, Mother’s Day is an excellent time to get your students’ creative juices flowing. Celebrating an important female relative in a child’s life, whether they are a mother or not, gives students both a chance to show those people how they feel and a chance to stretch their imaginations. As a bonus, other lessons can be worked into these crafts such as color, perspective, creative writing and explanations of types of art that the students may not know. The possibilities are endless. If you are looking for ideas for your own classroom’s Mother’s Day crafts, look no further. Below are some of the best Mother’s Day craft ideas out there.

 

Write a Poem

Poems are a wonderful way to show someone you care. Have your students write poems for the special women in their lives. This craft is an excellent way to discuss rhymes, pacing and phrasing. The students could print their new poems inside cards they decorated themselves.

 

Photo Cards

Use a camera to snap photos of your students standing with their arms held out as if they are giving a hug. Trim these photos into heart shapes and attach them to Mother’s Day cards. Allow your students to decorate around their photos and write letters inside the cards. This craft is an amazing writing practice.

 

Coupon Books

Give your students pieces of cardstock and have them decorate them. The cardstock will become the covers for a coupon book for their mother or special woman in their life. Then you can either pick up free coupons from local businesses or ask your students to come up with coupons that their mother can redeem at any time, such as a coupon for a free hug or a coupon that entails that the student will do the dishes one night so that their mother can have a break.

 

Origami Roses

There are free printable instructions for making all kinds of origami online. Get colorful paper and help your students fold origami roses for their mothers. If you have enough time and paper, each student could fold a small bouquet of roses. These bouquets can then be tied with ribbon bows and presented to their mothers. Unlike real roses, these will never wilt and can be used as beautiful keepsakes for years to come. Most students love origami, and this is an excellent way to teach them new shapes.

 

Recipe Book

Each day in the weeks leading up to Mother’s Day, print a recipe on the blackboard and have your students copy them on plain white paper. Then have them make a cover for the recipe book which they will then give to the special woman in their life. This craft is excellent for teaching good penmanship as well as vocabulary related to cooking. Your students will be delighted to present their homemade recipe books to their mothers.

 

Picture Frames

Have your students decorate special picture frames for the special women in their lives. Be creative! The picture frames can be decorated with paints, stamps, pebbles or shells. Picture frames are cheaply available at most budget outlet stores. Remove the glass before allowing the students to decorate the frames.

 

Clay Pots

Buy very inexpensive clay pots. Then allow your students to decorate them. Do this a few weeks before Mother’s Day. Then sow flower seeds in each pot. Water the flowers as needed and watch them grow. This is both a wonderful present for the special women in your students’ lives and an amazing science lesson about how plants grow and the various types of seeds.

 

Fingerpaint Bookmarks

Make bookmarks from strips of white cardstock. Then allow your students to go absolutely crazy with the finger paints. This is a fun, messy craft and  your students will enjoy getting to finger paint a gift. Poke a hole in the end of the bookmark and add a ribbon to make it extra special once it is dry.

 

Mother’s Day is a wonderful creative time of year. Children are excited to show the special women in their lives just how much they are loved, and mothers, grandmothers and other special ladies are happy to receive gifts from their favorite children. Mother’s Day is also an excellent teaching opportunity. Many important lessons can be taught effectively by craft projects. These lessons include perspective, color choice, creative writing, simple arithmetic skills, penmanship and grammar. As a bonus, these crafts are not expensive. Most of them can be done with found objects or ones bought from budget outlets. The key here is to be creative. Use your imagination and let your creativity flow. The ideas listed above are merely a starting point. Use your imagination and who knows what wonderful ideas you could discover!

Ten Teacher Appreciation Gift Ideas

When things get busy during the year, it can be easy to overlook what a fantastic job your child’s teacher is doing. Teachers put in much more time and effort than we might realize, often going above and beyond in order to give our kids a great education, so the end of the school year is a fantastic time to recognise this.

Help your child to honor their teacher with this fantastic list of simple, inexpensive gifts which are suitable for both male and female teachers. Some of these gifts can be made with a few simple materials which you may even find around the house, some require a small purchase and others simply require your time.

No matter which gift you choose, we are certain your child’s teacher will appreciate the time you took to say ‘thanks!’

 

1. A Smooth Year

Quick and easy, this small gift is the perfect last minute gift to show appreciation for your teacher! Simply purchase a nice, fragrance appropriate hand cream or body lotion and print off a simple tag with the saying “hope you have a smooth year!”

l

For more instructions, go HERE

 

2. Color My World

Easy and inexpensive, this sharpie gift is both practical and fun! Teachers love when they are given gifts of stationary supplies that they would otherwise have to purchase so this small but cute gift will go down a treat. Have you child grab a pack of sharpies and a piece of paper and let them tell their teacher how much ‘color they bring’ to the world, or how ‘sharp’ they are!

If your child has more than one teacher that they want to give an appreciation gift to, you can buy a larger pack of sharpies and divide it up – it couldn’t be simpler!

ll

For more instructions, go HERE

 

3. Candy Collage

This collage is super fun to make and will bring a smile to any teacher’s face! Grab a range of candy bars which have words that you can incorporate into a story or a series of messages and glue them onto a large piece of paper. After the teacher has enjoyed it on the wall, he or she can raid it for snacks!

This collage is also fantastic for encouraging your children to put words into context and be creative!

ee

 

 

4.  Crayon Wreath

Beautiful as a classroom decoration, this crayon wreath is the perfect gift for a teacher of any age classroom. Simply purchase a packet of dollar store crayons and a basic wreath (or you can fashion one yourself out of paper mache or a pool noodle) and stick the crayons on the wreath at even intervals. To add an extra touch be sure to add a nice sign with your teacher’s name on it.

ee

For more instructions, go HERE

 

5. Nuts About Teachers

This one is super simple and can be picked up while you shop for your usual groceries. Simply have your kids draw or print a super cute sign about how ‘nuts’ they are about their teacher and attach it to a snack size bag of peanuts or other nut. These nuts will make the perfect morning tea for the teacher!

ee

For more instructions, go HERE

 

6. Orange You Glad?

With colds and flu’s rife in schools, teachers sure need their vitamin C! Make sure they get it with this fun and healthy gift that will brighten up their day! Simply bag up some oranges with a bright colored ribbon and print or draw a sign that reads “Orange you glad” it’s the holidays, the weekend (or whatever message you choose). Kids will love putting it together and teachers will love receiving it.

ee

For more instructions, go HERE

 

7. Beary Thankful

Adorable and tasty, you can’t lose with this super cute and easy gift. Simply package up some gummy bears and attach a card telling the teacher how ‘bear-y thankful’ your child is to have them as a teacher. Just make sure all the gummy bears end up in the bag bound for the teacher!

ee

For more instructions, go HERE

 

8. So Fortunate

No matter how old you are, cracking open a fortune cookie never stops being fun. Fortune cookies are super easy to find in stores so grab a box and attach a tag telling your child’s teacher how fortunate your child is to have them. This is one of the cheapest gift ideas and is a great idea if you need to give a gift to multiple teachers.

ee

For more instructions, go HERE

 

9. Fingerprint Tree

If you want your teacher appreciation gift to be super personal and almost free, then get this great printable and have your child or children place their fingerprints on it for the tree leaves. Your teacher will treasure the time and effort your children put into creating this beautiful piece of artwork, just for them.

ee

For more instructions, go HERE

 

10. Pencil, Pencil Holder

Yes, you read that one correctly! This pencil holder is quite literally…made from pencils! Cute and easy to make, your teacher will love how themed this pencil holder is and will give it pride of place on his or her desk.  Simply hot glue plain HB pencils around a clean, old aluminium food can and secure with a ribbon. If you want to go the extra mile, you can even fill the pencil tin with pens and pencils for your teacher to use, or fill with confectionery for those must-have-sugar moments!

ee

 

For more instructions, go HERE

Promoting Summer Reading

Reading is more than a great way to pass the time. It expands vocabulary, develops empathy, and improves analytical skills. Research has also shown that how much a child reads over the summer has a strong correlation to how much they retain from last year’s lessons—the more a child reads, the less of a “summer slide” they experience.

But how can teachers motivate students to read over the summer? Even if students love reading, not all are lucky enough to have tons of books in their home or a library within walking distance. And getting students to want to read can be a challenge itself.

Here are some tips to get students motivated to read on their own all summer long:

 

Introduce a Book Series
It’s great when a child loves any book, but series can be especially great for encouraging students to read more, beyond the one story. Each time they finish a book, there is a clear next step to keep them reading.

Let Students Borrow from the School
For some students, the biggest hurdle to reading is access to books. This is especially true for socioeconomically disadvantaged students who suffer most from “summer slide.” Simply providing access to books they can hold onto and read over the summer can be one of the best ways teachers can encourage students to read.

Start a Facebook Page or Blog
Highlight age-appropriate books students will enjoy, and get them to share what they’re reading, too. This can helps students find good stories to check out even when they’re out of school, and the social factor can help them keep it up over time.

Read Book Excerpts to the Class
Select exciting passages from age-appropriate books, and read them out loud to the class with dramatic flair to entice them. Leave the book out during free times later, and be ready to lend copies to interested students.

Model Good Reading Behaviors
During class quiet times, show students that you love to read by modeling the behavior for them—simply pick up a great book and read it where they can see you. Tell them how interesting it is, and how you can’t wait to read more later.

Encourage them to Read What they Love
All kinds of reading counts when it comes to stimulating the mind. Support student reading in all its forms, whether its novels, comics, magazines, or something else entirely.

Encourage All Opinions
Ask students whether or not they liked a book, and respect their answer—no one likes everything! Even better, ask them why they don’t like the book, and get them to engage their critical thinking and express their thoughts.

Promote a Summer Reading Challenge
Tell students about summer reading activities at the local library or other challenges like the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge, and encourage them to participate.

Reward Good Habits
Before students leave for summer vacation, get them as prepared to read over the summer as possible. Then tell them if they can meet a designated reading goal and come show their progress in September, there will be a special reward for them. Some fun pencils or other small prizes can go a long way to incentivize and reinforce good reading habits!

 

Good Summer Reading Habits Start in Fall

A passion for reading doesn’t just appear in June when school lets out—it’s got to be fostered throughout the school year.

The more teachers work with their students to develop a habit of reading for fun in fall, winter, and spring, the more likely these students will be to seek out and take advantage of opportunities to read over the summer.

Reading: 20 Top Tips for Teachers

Reading is an important part of anyone’s life, and for a child, the ability to read can help send them to different worlds full of adventure, fun, and education.  Of course, we are not all born with a reading ability ingrained into our minds!  Children must be taught how to read, and whether they learn at a school, preschool, or at home with a parent or guardian teaching them, it is important to get them started on the road to reading in the way that works best for them.  Here are some ideas for teaching children to read, no matter what kind of learners they might be.

 

  • Start by reading to your child.

Read to children as often as possible even when they are still babies.

 

  • Have your child copy down letters.

Repetitive copying of letter shapes helps teach kids what the letters mean.

 

  • Ask your child to repeat letter sounds aloud.

Repetition can also be used to teach letter sounds.

 

  • Teach sight words, and ask your child to identify them.

Sight words, like a, an, the, to, and from, can be easy to recognize.  Teach them early, and ask kids to point them out in newspapers and magazines.

 

  • Put words into word families.

Ask children to organize words into families based on different structures, such as color words, sound words, and more.

 

  • Consider teaching phonics.

Phonics is sometimes a controversial subject, but many kids respond well to learning phonemes as they learn how to read.

 

  • Teach children how to sound out words.

Sounding it out can be a great way for a child to make a guess at a complicated new word.

 

  • Make letter arrangement puzzles.

Cut up simple words or the child’s name into individual letters, mix them up, and ask the child to reorganize them into the correct order.

 

  • Glue or sew letters.

Gluing or sewing around letters is a great way for kids to remember their shapes by touch.

 

  • Teach with simple clues or scavenger hunts.

 Write down easy to read clues and have kids read them to for “treasure” around the room.

 

  • Ask children to organize items into boxes by letter or sound.

A toy duck should go into the D box, and a pencil should go into the P box.  Teach kids word beginnings using this method.

 

  • Clap out syllables.

Syllables can be tricky, but if you make a game of clapping them out, they can be fun to learn.

 

  •  Focus on punctuation.

Slightly older kids can learn about punctuation marks and what they do to a sentence.

 

  • Spend a while on vowel sounds.

 Vowels are difficult, since they make a lot of different sounds.  Be sure to spend plenty of time focusing on them.

 

  • Read simple poetry to learn about rhymes.

Simple children’s poems are excellent ways to teach vowel sounds through rhyme.

 

  • Set a daily reading time.

Reading every day is a sure way to improve those skills!

 

  • Allow children to put together simple scrapbooks of their families, friends, or pets.

Cutting and pasting pictures and mementos into pages organized by name can help kids sort words by family member, emotion, and more.

 

  • Ask children to classify their favorite stories by type.

Older kids might benefit from sorting out their favorite stories as fantasies, school stories, and more.

 

  • Teach children how to write simple notes.

Small notes to and from friends or family are great reasons for any child to learn reading and writing both.

 

  • Utilize flash cards.

They may be a little outdated, but flash cards can still help some kids learn how to recognize words, letters, and sounds quickly.

 

 

When a child knows how to read, he or she is able to enjoy books, comics, and more without struggling.  With these methods for teaching children to read, you can easily help a child in your home or classroom.

20 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

Earth Day may not seem like much of a holiday. After all, banks and stores do not close and mail is delivered. There are not even big celebrations for it most of the time. However, Earth Day is very important despite its general lack of notice from most people. It is on this day that we celebrate our planet, raise environmental awareness and take a moment to look toward the future. But how can we celebrate Earth Day? If you are trying to figure out plans for your next Earth Day celebration, keep reading. Below are twenty great ideas to get you started.

 

  • Plant a Tree

Perhaps the most classic way to celebrate Earth Day is to plant a tree. Trees release oxygen into the air as well as removing carbon dioxide which is harmful to humans. They also can provide some much-needed shade. Just be careful to only plant trees on land you have permission to plant on.

 

  • Grow an Herb Garden

An herb garden is an excellent addition to your home. Not only do herbs smell nice, they are wonderful to use in cooking. When you grow your own fresh herbs, you know exactly what is going into your body. The use of fresh herbs can help the environment as well. Commercially bought herbs often include pesticides and antibiotics which are harmful to the environment. Your use of fresh herbs prevents a bit of those chemicals from entering the environment.

 

  • Carpool

Fossil fuels are a huge problem. The burning of these natural resources leads to air pollution as well as deforestation and soil erosion due to mining. With this in mind, a good way to celebrate Earth Day is to find friends to car pool with. This way, though there are still fossil fuels being burned, the impact is much less than if everyone was driving their own individual cars. If car pooling is not an option for you, perhaps you could take a bike to some of your destinations or use public transit.

 

  • Repair Your Leaky Faucets

Another problem facing our planet is water waste. Fixing leaky faucets is an inexpensive way to do something to help the environment as well as saving money on your utility bills. As a bonus, you will no longer have to hear that annoying drip drip drip.

 

  • Get Engaged

Earth Day is a wonderful time to learn about the environment. Do research to discover what the problems facing your particular area are. If you live near a body of water, for example, you could look online to find out if it is healthy or in need of cleaning.

 

  • Join a Forum

There are plenty of groups out there dedicated to environmental concerns. Find one for a concern you are interested in, and join it. There is nothing more amazing than the strength of a group of people working together toward a common goal.

 

  • Care for Animals

Donating to the WWF or the ASPCA or even your local shelter can be an amazing way to celebrate Earth Day. This sort of donation is vital to the continued work of these causes that protect our planet’s animals and assure that species do not go extinct.

 

  • Save Energy

This Earth Day, make a conscious effort to save energy. Unplug appliances when not in use. Turn off the television when you are not watching it. If you have power strips or surge protectors, make sure to turn these off when the devices connected to them are not in use. This, like the waste of water above, has a twofold bonus. You will be caring for the environment while saving money on your electric bill.

 

  • Go Outside

Earth Day is in the spring, the highlight of beautiful weather. This Earth Day, take a moment to go outside if it is at all possible. Take a moment to relax, smell the spring flowers and appreciate our planet for its beauty.

 

  • Make a Recycling Plan

Recycling is important for our environment. It cuts down on the amount of garbage which would normally be thrown into landfills. Recycling insures that metal, plastic and other wastes can be used again. Work with your family to develop a recycling plan. Even children can help out, making it a game as opposed to work.

 

  • Swear Off Bottled Water

Many of us drink bottled water, but it is very bad for the environment. The number of empty water bottles in landfills today could stretch from the Earth’s surface to the moon twice! Giving up or cutting back on the amount of bottled water we drink reduces the number of bottles rotting in landfills. Further, some companies take water for their bottled water from drought-stricken regions such as California, which drastically worsens the problem.

 

  • Get Your Friends Involved

Put up a white board in your office or school. Invite your friends and co-workers to make a small change that would help the environment and to post those changes. Working in groups will increase accountability and give each of you someone to cheer you on.

 

  • Buy Local

Locally-grown foods are easier on the environment as they do not require massive amounts of fossil fuels to transport and are not grown in hot houses with chemicals. Further, if you buy local and organic, you are supporting the farmers. This support is vital to their continued livelihood. Both the farmers and the planet will thank you.

 

  • Go Paperless

Due to the production of paper, millions of trees are cut every year, trees that we need to breathe. Paying your bills online can help reduce the amount of paper wasted every year. Another way to go paperless is to carry reusable shopping bags, or ask for environmentally friendly alternatives at your local supermarket.

 

  • Install a Bird Feeder

Watching birds feed can be a fun and relaxing way to celebrate Earth Day. Do research to see what types of birds live near you and what types of foods they like. Then install bird feeders in nearby trees. They do not have to be fancy. Even a pine cone spread with peanut butter and coated with seeds will work. For hummingbirds, install hummingbird feeders filled with nectar.

 

  • Plant a Play Garden

A play garden is a space for children to grow food and get their hands dirty. Teaching the next generation about the value of plants is very important, and they will enjoy eating the things they have grown.

 

  • Walk to School or Work

Avoid the car altogether. If the weather is nice, take a walk to school or work. This way you help conserve fossil fuels while also getting fresh air and increasing your energy level.

 

  • Check Your Carbon Footprint

There is a site that allows you to check your carbon footprint, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by a person or group’s consumption of fossil fuels. Using this site, you can calculate the amount of fossil fuels you use and discover ways to use less of them.

 

  • Test Your Car’s Emissions

Testing your car’s emissions can be a great way to help the environment. A car that does not meet the national emission standards puts out a lot of carbon dioxide and other harmful chemicals into the air. Furthermore, having a car which does not meet emission standards is also illegal in some states. Checking your emissions can actually save you a lot of money in fines.

 

  • Get Away for a Day

If you happen to live in a large city, plan a day trip to the country. It may sound old-fashioned, but a trip out into the country where air pollution tends to be less prevalent can actually show you more of the beauty of nature. You can even pack a picnic lunch to eat once you are there. Sit back, relax and feel all the beautiful gifts this world has blessed us with.

 

 

This planet is the only one we have, so we need to try to conserve resources as much as we possibly can. Earth Day reminds us to slow down and take a moment to do something nice for the environment and to enjoy the beauty around us. And that makes it a very important holiday indeed.

20 Ways to Teach a Child To Read

Learning to read a major milestone and rite of passage for any child. And yet, one in four children in American grow up without becoming literate, according to DoSomething.org. Weak reading skills makes it harder for a child to succeed in school and work, and is even linked to greater risk for dropping out of school and incarceration.

As parents and teachers, we are eager to do all we can to support our children and give them a strong start in life with great reading skills. Here are 20 ways to get kids on the path to reading well—and loving it.

  1. Read out loud
    A child can benefit from reading together even as a newborn. In fact, the earlier you start, the better you can establish reading and a special time for bonding and relaxing fun. This association can set kids up for a lifetime of learning and imagination.
  1. Read to yourself
    Set a good example for children by modeling the behavior you wish them to emulate. When a child sees you reading, it shows that reading is an activity adults partake in and enjoy—and that s/he can enjoy it, too.
  1. Create a tactile experience
    Babies and young children learn by touching, feeling and even chewing. Let reading be a safe tactile experience by opting for baby-proofed books make of cloth or sturdy cardboard. Also, look for books that create many different feels for young kids to engage with, such as tufts of fur, crackly swatches, buttons that squeak and mirrors to look into.
  2. Use your surroundings
    Everywhere we go, there are examples of letters and words in action. No matter what stage of reading a child is at, you can use these real-life examples to help kids learn. Point out uses of this week’s new letters, or turn it into a game of “I Spy.”
  1. Explore the pictures
    While reading together, ask kids questions about the pictures. This encourages children to interact with the story and develop important critical thinking skills that make reading meaningful. Ask questions appropriate to their age and reading level.
  1. Introduce the letters
    Start with the letters in the child’s name, then move on to the most common letters like T, C, and M. Instructables recommends introducing two letters a week. Write each letter on a piece of paper together, talk about the letter’s name, and review the sounds the letter makes. Hold onto the written letters and review them together regularly.
  1. Point to the words
    As you read together, children will pick up the basics of what a book is—the cover and the pages, how the illustrations relate to the words, how to go from front to back. When you point to the words, you help them pick up the correlation between the letters on the page and the words that create the story.
  1. Sound it out
    Build on the alphabet by introducing phonetics. “Phonemes” are the small sounds of the English languages that words are built from. By learning these sounds, a child can begin to sound out words for him/herself. Sound out words together and break them into their pieces, then show how they come together to create a word.
  1. Teach sight words
    Being able to recognize sight words is a key milestone in reading fluency. “Sight words” are the common, short words of the English language that we come across all the time, but don’t necessarily follow the rules of phonics, such as “the” and “said.” By memorizing these words, children can blow past them in a book and focus on sounding out bigger words.
  1. Get to know word families
    If a child can recognize that the “-ain” found in “rain,” “train,” and “gain” are the same, they can begin to recognize these words more quickly in context. Being able to identify word families is a crucial step in understanding phonetics.
  1. Read predictable stories
    There is a category of books for children called “predictable stories,” which use predictable sentence structures and clear illustrations to help kids make informed guesses about the words on the page as they learn new words.
  1. Up the ante
    As children learn and grow, offer new, more challenging books to keep them learning and stimulated. This will make sure the child continues to learn new words and develop their critical thinking.
  2. Rhyme
    Stories with rhymes are another way to offer a child predictability in reading, while also reinforcing word families. In addition to this, rhymes are just plain fun, which helps keep the process enjoyable.
  1. Set a challenge
    As a child learns, keep pushing him/her to reach for the next step. You can do this by teaching him/her new words, get more complicated books, or ask more advanced questions.
  1. Let the child set the pace
    While it’s great to keep kids challenged, don’t push them. Every child has his/her own pace for learning to read. Pushing him/her will only make the experience stressful. To keep the challenge fun, turn reading into a game.
  1. Stay positive.
    When starting school, it can be discouraging for a child who is not as far along in reading as some of their classmates But if you stay positive, you can help the child stay positive, too.
  1. Keep lessons consistent
    Avoid confusing children by keeping reading lessons at home consistent with what they’re learning at school. Teachers can help by sending letters home about the methods you’re using in the classroom. Parents should pay attention to information from school.
  1. Talk about the plot
    Reading isn’t just about knowing the words on the page. It’s about the greater meaning the words create, too—the story. Help a child develop this important comprehension by talking about the plot with him/her.
  1. Respect a good guess
    A child uses a story’s context to inform his/her guesses as s/he reads. So if a child reads “I have soap to wash my hands,” when the sentence says “I have soap to clean my hands,” the child is showing s/he understands the meaning of what s/he is reading. Instead of just correcting the error, assure the child that s/he is close, and review the sentence again together.
  1. Schedule well
    The timing of reading sessions matters. Keep them short (about 10 minutes) and keep it positive—don’t start at a point when a child is upset, tired or hungry.

Reading sets kids up for success

Beginning to read is a milestone in the learning process, and the beginning of a wonderful lifelong habit. These 20 ways to just some examples of the many ways you can help children learn to read. Whatever you do, keep it fun and show them how enjoyable reading can be!