Tuesday, March 11, 2014

10 Tips for making reading fun

My daughter is good at math. Yes, my daughter. "Could we do the math homework first?" she asks. "Really???" I think to myself. Wow. She actually likes math. I am surprised and thrilled that my daughter has not inherited my math intolerance. It's pretty cool to watch the wheels turn as she plows through problems and seems to get a kick out of the challenge.

But, with every favorite subject there is a least favorite. Despite her mommy's love of literature, Lila is her own little person. She is scientific, logical, and mathematically inclined. She is also outgoing, athletic, and sociable. While as a child I could spend hours alone in my room with a good book or my journal, Lila would rather be out and about with friends, playing outdoors and exploring nature, running science experiments (which sometimes require goggles) and being active. To sit and read is just not her first choice and I have to remind myself that she is not my "mini-me." However, I too am up for a challenge! I have tapped into my own solution-finding abilities coupled with a dose of creativity to bring the fun into reading for Lila. I truly think she can discover her own love for reading, but just needs to build the same level of confidence that she has with math.

Here are 10 tips and resources for making reading more fun!

1) Act out stories together. Lila's favorite author right now is Mo Williems. She is particularly fond of his Elephant & Piggie series. When we read the stories together, we act them out as the characters. I am Elephant and she is Piggie. We tend to get really silly with the dialogue by using exaggerated tone, inflection, and facial expressions.

2) Compete to be the Scrabble champion. One of Lila's new games is Scrabble Junior which has been fun to play when we are winding down for the night. Lila just loves beating her mom at board games!

3) Pop for sight words! This is another new game that we like to play. Words are printed on little popcorn-shaped cards. Each player takes a turn picking a piece of popcorn and then reading the word. If you read the word correctly, you keep your piece. It should be played at a fast pace to encourage fluency. But be careful picking too quickly-- if you pick the word "POP" you have to put all your popcorn pieces back in and start over again. Lila thinks it's hilarious when this happens to me.

4) Beat the clock. This was a suggestion from Lila's teacher-- to have Lila read through a list of words using a minute timer. I was reluctant to try it, assuming it would be kind of stressful, but Lila actually thinks it's fun. She tries to see if she could read more words than the last time within the minute.

5) Read with a snap. Another teacher suggestion-- Lila flips through her flash cards while I snap my fingers. With each snap, she says a word. This is to increase reading speed, fluency, and overall confidence. She really gets into a nice rhythm which helps her to stay focused. Perhaps we can dim the lights, wear berets, and pretend to beat poets. {snap. snap. snap.}

6) Design your own flash cards. Lila came up with the idea to create her own flash cards. She had fun illustrating them and labeling them with some of the words she knows. I noticed all of them were food items: apple, tomato, lemon. This inspired our next reading activity...

7) Search for words while shopping. One of Lila's favorite things to do is grocery shopping, especially at Trader Joe's where she can push her own mini-cart. I make a shopping list and Lila has to read the list and then find the items in the store. The reward is a cart full of all her favorite foods!

8) Write your own book. My husband found this activity on Amazon and we've had so much fun with it-- Create Your Own Bitty Books. The kit comes with three mini-books, markers, and stickers. We have created two stories so far: "Our Family" and "Our Favorite Things."

9) Take advantage of technology. When Lila needs some down time, she will usually pull out the I-pad and zone out for a bit. When she's not watching cat videos on YouTube (which she is totally obsessed with), she logs into educational websites like ABCmouse.com. It's brillant because she feels like she is taking a little break, but she is really still learning and reading.

10) Read anything and everything! Lila's Nana, instead of getting her glasses, will say "Lila, can you read this recipe for me?" Her Grandma does the same with the offer of a little incentive-- "If you can read this, you can pick a treat." If Lila wants to learn how to play a game, her dad and I encourage her to read the directions on her own. And, she's gotten hip to us spelling words when we don't want her to know what we're talking about. So, when she gets frustrated with us for doing that, we simply say "Well, guess you better practice your reading and spelling." She crosses her arms letting us know she is up for the challenge. The perfect motivation!

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