Kim Creigh, M.Ed

  • 5 Best Tips for Summer Slide Prevention: It’s not too late!

    We all know that the summer slide in reading is real. Kids are going to lose some of their reading and math skills over the summer simply because they aren’t using them. Today, we’re talking through the 5 best tips for summer slide prevention.

    Kids reading a book outside to show the 5 best tips for summer slide prevention
    It’s inevitable that your child’s reading skills will suffer over the summer if they do not READ! Read to find the 5 best tips for summer slide prevention. It’s never too late to pick up a book!

    Tips for Summer Reading

    The absolute BEST way to combat that summer slide is to find a way to motivate your child to read every single day of the summer. I totally understand that is easier said than done! Let’s figure out how to make that happen this summer.

    If you want a book list that your child will LOVE, take this quiz and you’ll get strategies and book suggestions sent straight to your inbox!

    Reading quiz to determine your child's reader type and provide a summer reading list
    Take this two-minute quiz to get a summer reading list your child will WANT to read this summer!

    1. Sneak in reading for 20 minutes a day

    There are so many ways to sneak in reading for 20 minutes a day, yet I know it’s a struggle in the summer! One of the biggest recommendations I have for reading over the summer is NOT to save reading for before bed. It is the easiest way to skip reading each day!

    Hear me out. Our bedtimes seem to get later and later during the summer, and sometimes they fall asleep on the way home from an activity or event. A late bedtime usually means heading straight to bed without any reading that night.

    If you are home with your child over the summer, I recommend setting a timer to randomly go off in the middle of the day (that’s a convenient time for YOU) and once they hear that special alarm, it is D.E.A.R. time, or Drop Everything And Read time.

    Ideally, you would pick a book up with your kids. I also understand that you need to get things done, so set a timer for 20 minutes and let them read! Reading for 20 minutes a day is the best way for summer slide prevention.


    2. Join a library summer reading challenge (or any reading challenge for summer slide prevention!)

    Library Summer Reading Challenge

    Your public library probably has an amazing summer reading program that you just have to register for (usually online). Put your child in charge of tracking their reading. You may be able to do everything virtually, or you could pop into your library to claim your prize!

    BookIt! Summer Reading Challenge

    To motivate my summer reading when I was younger, I was always so pumped to win my personal pan pizza through the BookIt! program. I didn’t even like the pizza; I was just so excited to win it!

    Good news! Your child can win a personal pan pizza for reading too! You can sign up here. This runs June through August, since BookIt! realizes pizza is a great summer reading motivator 😉

    Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Challenge

    This may be my favorite summer reading challenge since kids are rewarded with actual BOOKS! And the book selection this year is pretty amazing. They do have to fill in their favorite parts and record 8 books they read, but I think it’s fair since they get to pick a free book for turning this little journal in!

    You can print the Barnes and Noble summer reading journal here (but you will need to bring it to a store to claim your free book). Again, put your child in charge of tracking and filling in their own journals!

    3. Find a children’s summer reading program

    If you want to brush up on those reading and writing skills this summer, you may be interested in Virtual Zoo Camp. This is pre-recorded fun for 7-10-year-olds that I designed to help encourage a love of reading, and brush up on those writing skills a bit too!

    Your child should be able to read for this program IF you want them to complete it independently. If you want to work together with your child, the lessons are short and quick in order to encourage reading and writing this summer! You can grab your zoo pass here!

    Virtual Zoo Camp image of everything included in this summer reading program for summer slide prevention, including literacy lessons, animal movement breaks, animal snack recipes, and printables.
    Virtual Zoo Camp is a children’s summer reading program your child can do at their own pace. Brush up on those reading and writing skills before you head back to school through these EASY, FUN, QUICK activities!

    4. Encourage a book swap between friends

    Getting new books for your child helps with summer slide prevention. This does not mean you need to do weekly Amazon orders or run to a bookstore for new books! (Although let’s be real, this is one of my favorite pastimes!)

    There are many ways to get new-to-your-child books. Obviously, the library is a great place to start! You could also host a book swap where everyone brings a certain number of books and leaves with that same number. I recommend sticking to 5-10 books so this does not get overwhelming!

    You can decide if you want the books back or if you want to swap and keep the books. Be sure you have your child’s name or a sticker marking your books if you want them back!

    5. Join a children’s book club for summer slide prevention

    I don’t know about you, but if I have to read a book by a certain date for my own adult book club, normally I’m staying up late the night before to get that book done! I don’t want to be the one- especially since I own a reading business- to not have read the book. Talk about motivation!

    This same process works for kids. They WANT to read books in my book club since they’ll get to chat with their friends and celebrate together. 

    Now, I’m not going to have 7 and 8-year-olds cramming chapter books and reading until midnight every month! I break up the books into 3 separate parts and we discuss vocabulary and different strategies they used to read the section.

    Not only is it motivating for your child to read (and get in those 20 minutes of reading each day!), but they also form genuine connections and brush up on those reading skills. Joining a book club is an excellent way for summer slide prevention.

    Want to get in on this month’s virtual book club? Send me an email~ kim{at} and I’ll get your child reading with their new book-ish friends!

    A computer screen showing a virtual book club in action, along with printables and activities for the book. Book clubs motivate kids to read and work on summer slide prevention.
    Book clubs are an excellent way to motivate your child to read with their friends! It also brushes up on some of those reading and writing skills.

    Summer Slide Prevention

    Now that you’re aware of the summer slide, let’s get your kids reading this summer! Figure out a way to motivate your kids to read for that 20 minutes a day, whether it’s through a summer reading challenge, a summer reading program, a book swap, or joining a virtual book club! If you want a list of books specific to your reader type, take the quiz here for your book suggestions!

  • Summer Slide in Reading: How To Help Your Child


    Have you ever wondered about the summer slide in reading & math and if it’s real? Spoiler alert: it is! Today, I am focusing on the summer slide in reading, but those math facts can also slip a bit over the summer. Learn how to help your child prevent the summer slide in reading in less than 30 minutes a day!

    If you want to take the 3 day challenge WITH your kids to prevent the summer slide, we start this week!

    Click the image above to enroll in the 3 day challenge and learn how to prevent that summer slide!

    What Exactly is the Summer Slide?

    It’s exactly as it sounds! Over the summer, kids tend to slide back in their reading and math skills. Think about it. If we do not practice a skill, we tend to lose that skill.  How much are we really practicing reading and math over the summer?

    According to the NWEA’s studies, students can lose from 20-50% of their school year gains in reading and math. Those are HUGE percentages! So, how can we, as parents, help?

    Make a Summer Reading Plan to prevent the Summer Slide

    I don’t know about you, but if it’s not in my calendar, then it doesn’t happen! Summer is great because there are no routines or schedules, but honestly that is what causes that summer slide. It’s easy to skip a day of reading which turns into a week, and then before you know it,  a whole month has gone by without anyone opening a book! 

    The first step to summer reading is to schedule it into your calendar. Some ideas for scheduling:

    • Before you go to the pool, can you sneak in 20 minutes of reading? 
    • Can 20 minutes of reading be a requirement before they go outside to play? 
    • Is the plan to read before bed? Are you going to be in bed before everyone is exhausted to make sure that happens?

    There is a lot to think about, and every family is different! Plan what works best for your family. This week, during the Summer Slide Challenge, we’ll all be making a plan with our kids to figure out the best time to read this summer! Click here to join.

    In just 20 minutes each day, let’s make a summer reading plan together1

    How Can You Incentivize Your Child to Read Over the Summer?

    The best way to prevent that summer slide in reading is to READ! There are many ways to make it fun. Does your child have a bunch of books to choose from? Take the “What type of reader do you have?” quiz and get a list just for your reader!

    Figure out what will incentivize your child to read. Can they earn a reward after they check off their reading calendar every day? What do they like to do? Again, this is going to look different for everyone. We’ll be chatting about incentives in the 3 Day Summer Slide Challenge, so be sure to register here

    Let’s Prevent that Summer Slide in Reading Together!

    Make a plan WITH your child this week as we prevent that summer slide in reading together!

  • Reading in 3rd grade: Why is it so important?


    Why is reading in 3rd grade so important? As a former third grade teacher, there is a lot of pressure to “catch” kids up by 3rd grade. There are very good reasons for this! Third grade is the last year kids are learning to read and in fourth grade kids are reading to learn. There is a huge distinction between these two ideas, which is why reading in 3rd grade is so very important. Learn how one of my third graders entered the year on a kindergarten reading level and left on an end of second grade level in reading. That’s over two years of growth in just one school year!

    If you’re looking for help for your reader, you may be interested in a personal reading plan. I assess and use many research-based strategies to help your reader grow!

    Kindergarten Reader Entering Third Grade

    Meet Jay. Adorable little blonde third-grader who stepped into my classroom reading on DRA 4. The DRA is a reading assessment our district used to assess reading skills. While no assessment is perfect, it is a worthwhile assessment since it includes fluency (reading aloud) and comprehension. Jay came to me reading on an end-of-the-year kindergarten level.

    I always had students enter the year reading below grade level. The summer slide is real! It is not uncommon for kids to end the year on one reading level and slide back a little over the summer. Jay was different.

    He did not have the decoding skills to read at a first-grade level. He needed a LOT of reading help. I think it was fate that Jay ended up in my classroom that year as I just started my Master’s in Reading Education through the University of Virginia.  

    I made a plan with my instructional assistant to get Jay the help he needed. She taught Morning Meeting each morning while I essentially tutored Jay for 30 minutes every morning. I completely understand the importance of Morning Meeting, and Jay definitely still felt a part of our group. He just needed the extra support so we all decided together.  After the greeting, Jay would say “Good morning” to the class and get right back to reading. 

    Building Relationships is Important for All Readers

    When Jay walked through my door and we met for the first time, I asked him, “What are you excited about for third grade?” His response:

    “Anything but reading.”

    As I had just started my Masters in Reading Education, I felt this in my soul. I said, “Jay, we read so many great books in third grade, what do you mean?” His response:

    “I hate reading.”

    Of course, I couldn’t let this go as a young teacher. I think he saw the shocked look on my face and explained further:  

    “I can’t read.”

    Without showing how much he was breaking my heart, I simply said, “Jay, we’ll change that this year.”

    What kindergarten books look like

    He was telling the truth. This is a page in a DRA level 4 book, Sam’s Race. 

    “Look at Sam,” said Mom. 

    “Sam is in the race.”

    The majority of the words on this page are sight words. If the teacher previews the book, Jay would already know the words Sam and race from the title and the picture walk. Basically, Jay wasn’t even reading the words on this page. He had them memorized.

    The problem with DRA 4 books is that they are not very interesting. It is really hard to get kids excited about reading when they are reading one to two sentences on a page. The stories are short and basic- as they should be at this level- but for a third-grader, they leave much to be desired for both the plot and decoding practice.

    I knew I had to rebuild Jay’s relationship with books. I had to show him that not every book was this simple and boring. This part was easy, since reading aloud quality picture books has been a goal of mine since student teaching! Jay saw books come to life in my third grade classroom.

    I also had to build a relationship with Jay. I think this part of reading instruction is overlooked. Obviously, your child’s teacher or tutor needs to be qualified and understand how to teach reading. However, your child also needs to trust that person and have a good relationship with that person. Both of these are important.

    Reading in 3rd Grade: From learning to read to reading to learn

    In third grade, the focus shifts. There are no longer two hours+ per day spent on phonics, sight words, reading, and writing instruction. There is much more social studies, science, and math that plays a huge role in the schedule. While you can teach some reading strategies, there is less time in the day for explicit phonics instruction.

    In fourth grade, students are expected to read to learn. That means they need to read the Social Studies textbook or Science article and synthesize and learn from it. Jay was really going to struggle in fourth grade if he entered as a beginning reader.

    Wondering what type of reader you have? Take the quiz and find out!

    Research-Based Reading Activities

    Every single strategy I tried with Jay came directly from my Master’s program. I would go to class on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning we would be trying something new! I had a specific plan to get him from a kindergarten reading level to as close to a third grade reading level as he could get.

    A lot of teachers put a lot of emphasis on sight words. Jay had a hard time remembering specific words, so I made a list of words he was struggling with and the rest of the sight words (like, my, etc.) we just used phonics to figure out when he was reading. Did this take longer? Sure, but at the end of the day, he was reading!

    I spent a lot of time studying words with Jay. We looked at patterns and really attacked the words. Word Study was developed at the University of Virginia, so I definitely took everything I learned and applied it to specific sorts for Jay.

    Sometimes we get lost in “cute” reading activities. I’m always up for a good craft, don’t get me wrong. But, at the end of the day, we don’t need to be coloring pictures or copying words for a “reading activity.” If we want to teach better readers, we need them to, well, read!

    It took some warming up, but eventually Jay looked forward to the books I picked for him. He loved anything with sharks, dinosaurs, or bugs! If I couldn’t find a book on his level, I wrote one myself and he flew through those reading levels. Book choice really does matter.

    Reading Help in 3rd Grade

    We want to help struggling readers ideally BEFORE they get to third grade. Reread all the books and develop that love of reading at home! I promise that’s step one. You can read more about the importance of reading aloud to your kids here. If you want to know what type of reader you have, and get a list of strategies and books specific to your reader’s type, then click here to take the quiz.

    If you think you have a struggling reader, let’s help them! You may want a personal reading plan or apply for virtual tutoring. Let’s spread that love of reading together!

  • 10+ Earth Day Activities for Kids + Free Printable!


    Looking for some Earth Day activities for your kids? Did you know we have been celebrating Earth Day for 51 years? The very first Earth Day was on April 22, 1970. I’ve included some of our favorite Earth Day books, activities to help explain reduce, reuse, and recycle, and easy ways to celebrate Earth Day with kids.

    This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Please see my full disclosure for further information.

    10 Easy Earth Day Activities for Kids:

    1. Go on a walk and talk about your favorite parts of nature
    2. Pick up litter in your neighborhood
    3. Go on a nature scavenger hunt
    4. Use a reusable water bottle and talk about the harm to the environment of using plastic bottles
    5. Turn off the water when you brush your teeth
    6. Don’t use straws for the day
    7. Reduce, reuse, recycle activities (see below)
    8. Read Earth Day books (see below)
    9. Write a poem about the Earth
    10. Do an Earth Day Word Search
    Click the image above to print your copy!

    Explaining Reduce, Reuse, Recycle to Kids

    There is a great song by Jack Johnson about reduce, reuse, and recycle. Your kids can also learn some of the 3s math facts (multiplication) if you listen to this Reduce, Reuse, Recycle song.

    Earth Day Activities for Kids & Ideas to Reduce:

    From my teaching experience, this is a hard concept for kids to understand.

    • Using both sides of the paper. (We are working on this in our house!)
    • Using reusable water bottles reduces the number of plastic water bottles we waste each day. It’s also a good example of what it means to reuse!
    • Using a towel to dry off your hands reduces the number or paper towels we use and waste each day.
    • By just drinking from your cup and not using a plastic straw, you are reducing the number of plastic straws that are in the landfills.
    • Turn off the lights when you leave the room.

    Ask your child to come up with their own ideas to reduce!

    Earth Day Activities for Kids Ideas to Reuse:

    This is a little easier for kids to understand.

    • Reuse your clothes- hand them down to a younger sibling or donate them to other kids who can wear them again.
    • Use that reusable water bottle each day!
    • Wear your pajamas a few nights before washing them.
    • Reuse books! Again, donate, or head to your local library.
    • Reuse boxes from all of that online shopping {wink!}.
    • Reuse those egg cartons for holding paint or other art projects.

    Earth Day Activities for Kids Ideas to Recycle:

    Most kids understand recycling. To celebrate Earth Day, we are going to do a recycling sort. I plan to keep whatever we recycle for a few days in an Amazon box (I should reuse something from all of my purchases!) and then have my little interns sort the recycling into:

    • paper
    • plastic
    • metal
    • glass

    Put out different boxes around your yard and have your kids run to the different boxes with different items. Junk mail goes in the paper box next to the garage, that soda can goes in the metal box near the mailbox, etc.

    Most places do not require you to separate your recyclables. This is just a way to get active and have your kids realize the different items that can be recycled.

    How are you celebrating Earth Day this week? Download your Earth Day Word Search and let us know how your family is celebrating!

    Earth Day Books

    These books are appropriate for ALL readers. Some are simpler than others, but even older kids enjoy picture books. If you want a list of books for YOUR reader type, click here to take my “What Type of Reader Do You Have?” quiz. You’ll get a list of books and strategies for your reader delivered straight to your inbox!

    The Earth Book by Todd Parr

    Todd Parr has a very noticeable style of books. I heard him speak at the Virginia State Literacy Association’s Conference this year. While his books seem simple, they all send great messages. This is the perfect book to read any time of year, but especially for Earth Day!

    10 Things I Can Do To Help My World by Melanie Walsh

    This book is an amazing resource to help explain to your kids there are so many EASY ways we can be kinder to the earth each day. The pictures are perfect to help illustrate these simple ideas that they can do without anyone’s help!

    I Stink! by Kate and Jim McMullan

    This is a funny book about the role of garbage trucks. It’s a great story and one your kids will love. You can have a lot of discussion about how important these trucks and truck drivers are to our environment!

    The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

    This sweet story illustrates how just one person (Liam) can make a difference in the world! This little boy changes his city in a very positive way by dreaming big and doing a lot of research and trial and error. I just love the moral that anyone can make a difference in the world!

    The Great Paper Caper by Oliver Jeffers

    The trees are mysteriously losing their limbs and branches in the forest. After a thorough animal investigation, they realize a bear has been stealing the branches to make paper airplanes! This is a sweet story illustrating how to reduce! You can always take some old papers and make paper airplanes to go along with this story everyone is sure to love!

    Plant the Tiny Seed by Christie Matheson

    This is a great book for toddlers and those Beginning Reader Bens because it is very interactive! If you’re not sure what type of reader you have, click here to take the quiz!

    The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

    This is one of my FAVORITE books (I know I say this often!). It is such a sweet story about how the boy’s needs change as he grows older and how the tree will give whatever he needs. You could have so many discussions about this book with your kids since the message is unclear. The boy takes and takes and takes but the tree is always giving and giving. I think the ending, “And the tree was happy” just gives such a positive outlook and can lead to great conversations. The Giving Tree is perfect for Earth Day or any day of the year!

    The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

    It wouldn’t be an Earth Day roundup of books without this gem! One of my favorite memories from last school year was sitting with two first-grade students and reading this story aloud. This is also a great book to read and then watch the movie to compare. These books vs. movies discussions are great for those Reluctant Reader Rosies. Not sure what type of reader you have? Click here to take the quiz!

    More Activities in Learn to Love to Read

    If you enjoyed these Earth Day activities, you’ll LOVE my Learn to Love to Read Activity Pack! This activity pack is perfect for whichever reader type you have at home. Click here to read more.

    Take the quiz and then flip to the section of the activity pack designated to your reader type! Lots of book suggestions and activities to help your specific reader!

    Don’t forget to download your Earth Day word search! Let me know in the comments. How are you celebrating Earth Day?