With Dr. Seuss’ birthday falling on March 2 and the National Education Association (NEA) celebrating Read Across America Day on March 3, March is a great month to focus on literacy. While we usually focus on reading when we talk about literacy, writing is just as important. As a former first grade teacher, I always told my students that reading and writing went hand and hand and in order to be a good writer, you had to read lots of books. In honor of March being Literacy Month, take some time to focus on reading and writing in your home. Here are five suggestions for kids of all ages and parents too!
Learn pre-reading skills by playing with favorite characters.
Young children who love Buddy and the Pteranodon Family from Dinosaur Train will enjoy using the bilingual Dinosaur Train A to Z app. Designed for kids ages 3-6, Dinosaur Train A to Z allows kids to practice reading and the alphabet while encouraging a love of science and natural history through discovery, play and reading. Preschoolers and early elementary ages will love touching, feeding, and x-raying the 26 different dinosaurs while discovering different facts and more. The app is currently available for iOS devices through iTunes for $1.99.
Get your kids interested in writing with a journal.
Good readers are good writers and since journals are a great way for kids to express their feelings, now is a great time to get them started with one they love. Julie Pron has a fantastic roundup of journals for kids over on Julieverse, including Just Between Us, a favorite that Little Miss Techie and I have been using for a couple years to communicate back and forth in addition to our conversations. Captain Computer is a huge Diary of a Wimpy Kid fan and really enjoys The Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book and Greg Heffley style Diary of a Wimpy Kid Book Journal.
Enter a writing contest.
Good readers are often good writers and The PBS KIDS Writers Contest invites kids in grades K-3 to submit their written and illustrated stories to their local PBS station for judging and an opportunity to win prizes. One of the things that I love most about this contest is that the rules are age appropriate according to grade level. Kindergarten and first grade stories must have a minimum of 50- 200 words while second and third grade stories must have a minimum of 100 – 350 words. The contest also celebrates creativity since each story is required to have at least 5 original, clear, and colorful illustrations that can include drawings, collages, and 3-D created by the author or photographs taken by the author. For inspiration, kids can read past contest entries.
Download McGraw-Hill Education’s popular Grammar Wonderland iPad apps for free.
These visually compelling apps offer students in grade K-6 a quick and easy way to practice and reinforce different reading and writing concepts to enhance their skills while having fun at the same time. I love that the two versions of Grammar Wonderland (grades K-2 and 3-6) provide age appropriate instruction for each grade level. The differentiated versions ensure that kids are getting an app that’s just right for them and each can be played solo or with a friend thanks to a multiplayer version! Download Grammar Wonderland for K-2 and Grammar Wonderland for 3-6.
Improve your writing.
As adults we can be our own worst critics or editors but we don’t have to be thanks to Hemingway, a free web based and desktop tool that can instantly provide clarity to your writing. Copy and paste your writing in question into Hemingway and it will check for readability and complexity of sentences while providing helpful suggestions to turn adverbs into more forceful verbs and make your writing less passive.
Grammar Wonderland images courtesy of McGraw Hill. Dinosaur Train A to Z app and PBS Kids Writers Contest images courtesy of PBS Kids. Hemingway screen shot courtesy of Hemingwayapp.com. Amazon Affiliate links included but no compensation was received for this post.