• 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!


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  • 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!

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  • 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?

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  • National Pet Day Celebrations: Read these 7 books!


    National Pet Day is April 11th

    Are you celebrating National Pet Day? Who doesn’t love pets?! While we don’t necessarily need an excuse to celebrate our pets, I am using National Pet Day as an excuse to shower our dog with even more love and read quality books! It’s always fun to add a random day of celebrating to the calendar!

    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.

    Read Aloud to Your Pet on National Pet Day

    Whether you have a Beginning Reader Ben, Transitional Reader Taylor, Reluctant Reader Rosie, or Fluent Reader Freddie, let your little reader read aloud to your pet! Skip down to the section for your reader’s type. If you’re not sure what type of reader you have, then start by taking the quiz here!

    Not sure which section to skip down to? Take the quiz by clicking the image above. You’ll receive book suggestions and strategies for your reader!

    I used to ask my first graders to read aloud to their stuffed animals. It was one of their favorite assignments! Reading aloud to ANYONE~ grandma, mom, an uninterested sibling, a stuffie, or a pet, is great for practicing their reading fluency. It is always wonderful for your kids to hear YOU reading to them as well. So grab your pet, snuggle up with your kids, and decide who is reading aloud today!

    Pet Books for Beginning Reader Ben

    A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka

    My very first recommendation is a wordless book! You may be thinking, “What is the point of a book with no words?” However, this wordless book is PERFECT for Beginning Reader Bens (spoiler alert: It’s already on the Beginning Reader Ben book list!).

    Let your child “read” the pictures to you. A Ball for Daisy is about the classic pet, a dog, so, most kids can easily relate to this book! They can make up their own story according to Chris Raschka’s illustrations. Since this practices directionality and many other prereading skills like turning the pages and reading those pictures, it is a great book for Beginning Reader Bens!

    I Wanna Iguana by Karen Kaufman Orloff

    My first graders LOVED this book. To be honest, I also read I Wanna Iguana to my fourth graders to show how this author’s purpose is to persuade its readers to get an iguana. If your child has been wanting a reptile pet, but you are not ready to fulfill that lifelong dream for them, you may want to skip this book 😉 Karen Kaufman Orloff has a few books in this series, including I Wanna New Room and I Wanna Go Home. These are not pet-related, but maybe books that your Beginning Reader Ben will enjoy!

    For a more comprehensive book list for Beginning Reader Bens, be sure to take the quiz! You’ll get a book list and strategies delivered straight to your inbox!

    Transitional Reader Taylor Pet Books

    Alfie by Thrya Heder

    You may hear this a lot around here, but this is one of my favorite books! This is a longer picture book, which is why I did not put it under the Beginning Reader Ben section. There is also a lot of inferring from the pictures in this book, which I also love and sometimes Beginning Reader Bens do not pick up on this. In this story, we hear from the little girl, Nia, and also the turtle, Alfie’s, perspectives. This heartwarming story will show your child the power of friendship and how friends can see the world differently!

    According to Kirkus Reviews, “A perfect companion for a young pet lover or pet owner-to be.” So, you see how I had to include this book for National Pet Day!

    Mercy Watson Series by Kate DiCamillo

    Have you ever considered a pig for a pet? No? Then you should talk with Mr. and Mrs. Watson who do not consider Mercy a pig, but rather, a porcine wonder! One of my absolute favorite authors for Transitional and Fluent Readers is Kate DiCamillo. My little interns absolutely love Mercy Watson. Since these transitional texts are easy to pick up and reread, they are perfect for this type of reader!

    Want to learn more about Transitional Reader Taylor and see if you have one? Take the quiz for more book suggestions and strategies!

    Pet Books for Fluent Reader Freddies

    The World According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney

    Humphrey is one of the most famous class pets in the literature world! Because of this, I actually used one of Betty G. Birney’s Humphrey books for a book club with Adventures With Books! First, how can you not fall in love with this cute hamster? Because Humphrey is so loveable, Betty G. Birney wrote an easier series featuring each classmate’s adventures when they take Humprhey home. Together with Humprhey’s adorable character and reading from his point of view, this is the perfect series to read aloud on National Pet Day!

    How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O’Connor

    I told myself I would limit the dog books on this list, but this is just too good of a story not to include! Barbara O’Connor also wrote Wish, another story with a dog in it! She touches on some heavy topics, but does it in such a loving way. Readers will fall in love with Georgina and her want to “borrow” the right dog. The IRA’s review states, “A must-have for a classroom library.”

    Reluctant Reader Rosie Pet Day Books

    Reluctant readers can be found on every reading level! It is hard to choose books for these readers, but our main goal is to motivate them to read! These books turned movies are a great place to start for reluctant readers!

    Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Florence and Richard Atwater

    This is another book club pick for Adventures with Books! Have you ever wanted to keep penguins as pets? This book outlines some of the challenges you may face! However, you’ll see how easy it is to fall in love with these animals. Additionally, this book is also a movie. Many of the book club families watched Mr. Popper’s Penguins for their family movie night after we read the book together!

    So, what is your favorite National Pet Day book? Do you have any books you would add to my list? Let me know in the comments and be sure to take the quiz to get your reader’s book list!


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