Time for a Story

Want to spend time with your youngster, build her reading skills, and help her learn to love books? You can do all three when you read aloud. Here are suggestions.

Read Regularly: Try to read to your child every day. You might aim for 10-15 minutes of bedtime reading for a peaceful end to the day. Bring along a book, and read to her during a sibling's sports practice. Or curl up together with a book when you get home from work.

Take Turns Choosing Books: Your youngster may want to hear old favorites again and again. Use your turn for new titles and variety, such as nonfiction or poetry.

Let Her Participate: Ask your child to turn the pages while you read. Also, she can finish sentences that rhyme or fill in words she knows. Go slowly so she has time to understand the story and look at the illustrations. She'll enjoy read-aloud time more if she plays an active role.

Be Playful: You can use different voices for different characters (a high, squeaky voice for a mouse or a deep, booming voice for a horse). Or substitute your youngster's name for the main character's name, and use family member's names for other characters.

Note: You don't have to be an expert reader--your child will love it when you read aloud because it's you.


Writing That Makes Sense

As your child first learns to write, his stories may not always make sense to others. Help his writing flow logically with these two ideas:

  • Even if your youngster isn't writing sentences yet, he can tell you stories. As he describes the new class pet or something funny that happened at lunch, you can jot down his tale. He'll practice relating events in a logical order, and that can help when he puts his thoughts and ideas down on paper himself.
  • Let your child read his stories to you. Ask questions to encourage him to add information ("What did you do with your friends at recess?") or to clear up a confusing part ("Who said, 'Let's go home'-you or your brother?").

A Journal Writing Tradition

My grandson Keith saw me writing in my journal and asked what I was doing. I explained that my grandfather got me started writing in a journal when I was a little boy. Keith said he wanted to start a journal, too, so I gave him a notebook.

He asked me what he should write about. I told him that I use my journal mostly to store memories, but he can do whatever he wants--even draw pictures. He decided to sketch the two of us writing together in our journals, and he had me help him write a sentence about his picture. Keith has stuck with his journal for a could of weeks already. Now when he comes to my house, he can't wait to share what he has written and drawn.


Spot the Details

What is an archaeologist? What do bears eat? Nonfiction books have the answers--and if your child reads carefully, he will find them. The following suggestions can help him read for details and boost his comprehension.

Read around the text: The pages of many nonfiction books are covered with "extras" that stories don't have (headings, photo captions, an index, a glossary). Point out these features. Then, ask your youngster what questions he has about the topic tat the book might answer. Say he's reading Archaeologists Dig for Clues by Kate Duke. He might think, "What tools do archaeologists use?" or "What are fossils?". Help him read the book, and see how many answers he can find.

Pair fiction with nonfiction: Together, read a story like Goldilocks and the Three Bears (James Marshall) followed by a nonfiction book such as Bears (Deborah Hodge). As you read the second book, encourage your child to look for ways that real bears are different from the fictional ones. For example, he might say that real bears eat things like grass, berries, fish, and insects, while the three bears eat porridge.


Vocabulary Boosters

A large vocabulary can turn your child into a better reader and writer. Try these everyday ways to help her learn new words.

Keep Your Ears Open: When you and your youngster go places, point out words that people use. Maybe a waiter describes an entree or the dentist talks about molars. Encourage your child to figure out what the words mean by the way they're used.

Go Beyond Nouns: Help your youngster add adjectives and verbs to her vocabulary. Sports and games offer opportunities to use action words. Let your child hear you comment on the softball that soars or the runner who sprints. When she sends thank-you notes or greeting cards, suggest descriptive words (a polka-dotted shirt, a fantastic birthday.

Wonderful Wordplay

Use these activities to build your child's phonemic awareness--her ability to hear sounds in words.

  • Choose a three-letter word, such as cap. Have your youngster substitute different beginning sounds from the alphabet to make new words (lap, map, nap, rap, sap, tap, zap). How many can she think of?
  • Pick a long word, and tell her to clap once as she says each syllable. For mozzarella, she would clap four times: moz-za-rel-la.
  • Ask your child to say a word without the first sound. Example. "Can you say sit without the s?" (Answer: It)
  • Think of a word, and give your youngster a "sound" clue to figure it out. For instance, "I'm thinking of a word for something that you chew but don't swallow. The word has an uh sound in the middle." (Answer: Gum).




3rd Grade: Straight 'A' Honor Roll

Corbin Miller, Gunnar Shonkwiler, Evan Stiles, Madison Tieman


3rd Grade: 'A' Honor Roll

Braden Adkins, Ava Baker, Eron Biggs, Anthony Bishop, Shaley Boggs, Roschelle Cantrell, Haley Carver, Laiken Caudill, Gracie Conley, Lucas Crabtree, Maleah Ehrhart, Luke Elliott, Rylee Fuller, Alexis Harsdorf, Rihanna Henderson, Colton Hill, Carter Ingles, Adalia Joseph, Carter Keyser, Destiney Lawson, Kylee McCleese, Tyson McGinnis, Madalynn Monarrez, Ethan Morgan, Peyton Mosley, Zane Pitts, Tilton Rapp, Wren Richards, Daulton Rose, Madyson Seibert, Ben Sparks, Aubrey Stone, Sophie Vernier, Macey Whisman, Aviawna Wolfe, Bailey Woodruff, Jayden Wright.


3rd Grade: 'B' Honor Roll

Isaiah Bays, Levi Bays, Kadence Boland, Chloe Bryant, Brianna Campbell, Caid Cantrell, Aiden Carpenter, Adriann Carver, Kaleigh Craft, Braylynn Crump, Kate Cyrus, Chloe Fraley, Brayden Frost, Aydan Gambill, Cadence, Givens, Blake Jordan, Kilie Keplinger, Trinity Lewis, Kennedy Lyon, Kenady McGraw, Creed Newman, Izaya Penix, Kindall Piccolo, Mia Rawlins, Harrison Richards, Owen Richards, Kalia Rosas, Joel Roush, Sheyenne Sheffield, Eutonia Stevens, Alexis Vastine.


Mrs. Hall's Class: Braydyn Frost, Hayle Lake, Riley Liddle, Gavin Veach


4th Grade: Straight 'A' Honor Roll

Max Bell, Carson Carver, Lauren Gambill, Zachary Holsinger, Sydney Kammer, Garcie Kilgallion, Gabe McNeil, Wyatt McNeil, Trever Patrick, Charlie Pollitt, Carson Powell,

4th Grade: 'A' Honor Roll

Micah Barnes, Kayden Bentley, Josie Burton, Ethan Doughman, Kate Entler, Maycee Ford, Austin Holsinger, Jack Jewett, Elijah Kasper, Will Kegley, Colten Lamblin, Grace Lucas, Mylei McGuire, Hayley Mosley, Ethan Patton, Levi Pickelsimer, Logan Ralstin, Owen Rawlins-Moore, Alex Smith, Aedin Strickland, Gracie Thompson.

4th Grade: 'B' Honor Roll

Camryn Adkins, Reagan Brown, Karenthia Carver, Hunter Cline, Landyn Day, Ariana Evans, Kylee Evans, Wyatt Gillum, Michael Grobowski, Kelly Harsdorf, Kamryn Hedger, Payton Howard, Ethan Kingrey, Naomi Luster, Kendal Matthews, Lita McGraw, Rileigh Miller, Macy Mosley, Eli Meyers, Wyatt O'Dell, Alton Porter, Cristian Quirasco, Katelyn Roberts, Coleman Shaffer, Haeden Shepherd, Kira Shumway, Bryston Stone, Kayla Throckmorton, Isaac Tipton, Bo Wroten.

Mrs. Hall's Class: Jerry Book, Seth Howard, Mason Jordan, Owen Wyman

Spelling Bee: Austin Holsinger, Champion; Gabriel McNeil, Runner-up.





Free Online Educational Games, Worksheets, Tools, and Informational Sites

ABCya focuses heavily on building math, reading and writing skills, but it also covers some additional topics as wells as holiday themes. All of the games and apps were approved by certified teachers.

Starfall provides free interactive materials and games that help kids practice reading and build their phonemic awareness.

PBS Parents: Online Games The Online Games section of the PBS website offers not only games but also printable activities such as coloring pages. These resources attract and engage young students because they feature popular PBS characters.

Game Classroom has compiled games, lessons, videos, and worksheets from a variety of reputable sites. The site also offers helpful articles and newsletters to keep parents informed.

Funbrain focused on improving math and reading skills, Funbrain features books and comics as well as arcades filled with interactive games.

Light Up Your Brain the brainteaser games and audio stories featured on Light Up Your Brain help students hone their problem-solving, reading, color matching, math, and fine motor skills. For example, your child can test his or her understanding of physics in "Successful Experiment" by using different sized balls to move an object to a designated place.

Prongo offers free games, e-cards, jokes, downloads, brainteasers, and links for most major academic subjects. You can also create interactive quizzes for your student using the Quiz Station.

Fact Monster combines reference materials, facts, and trivia quizzes for kids on all subjects. Parents, educators, and kids can get homework help and access almanacs, an encyclopedia, a dictionary, and an atlas.

Multiplication.com (Grades 2-6) helps students review multiplication tables as well as addition and subtraction facts. It has Interactive Games, Classroom Games, and worksheets that can be downloaded.

Scholastic: The Stacks (Grades 2-7) offers puzzles, games, and quizzes, but the first things you should check out are the writing games. These prompts are based on characters and themes from Scholastic books and encourage students to practice their creative writing skills.

Cool Tools for Schools: Wikispaces offers a vast variety of web 2.0 tools for students and teachers, including mapping, quiz and poll, graphing, video, music, and writing. Easy to use and provide descriptions of each tool. Site is easy to navigate and includes a teacher resource section organized by subject and topic. APPLICATONS: Students and teachers can use this resource to develop web quests, flashcards, and graphs. Depending on your need or goal, Cool Tool organizes dozens of sites so it is easy for students and teachers to choose the best application for the task at hand.

Wonderopolis: Where the Wonders of Learning Never Cease created by the National Center for Family Literacy, Wonderopolis focuses on subjects of which children are curious. This immediately engages the student and encourages him/her to learn more. A video is included in each topic of information. APPLICATIONS: Teachers/parents can create a "Wonder of the Day" bulletin board. Students can submit a question on a topic they are curious about. There is also an online support network for teachers and parents to ask questions and share ideas. Students can add comments to the daily wonder.

International Children's Digital Library multicultural digital library created by the International Children's Library. Students can read books online from 19 different languages from dozens of different countries. Children, parents, and teachers can search for books boy age level, topic, color of cover, length, award winners, and recently added. Books are visually appealing to early elementary students and children can begin reading and story immediately. All text and pictures can be enlarged. APPLICATIONS: Students can practice independent reading skills and easily choose books at their level and interest. Children can read different stories and share their opinions on Kidblog. Students can read the same story without worrying about having a classroom set.

My Storymaker students can create their own digital stories. They can choose their characters, setting, and topic. Children have many opportunities for creativity, as they change the setting and add details to their stories. Students can preview before they print and share their stories. APPLICATIONS: Children can be given a broad writing prompt, and they can use My Story Maker to make the topic their own. They have to opportunity to share their creations with family and peers. Can be used to create a whole class story with all students contributing.

Kerpoof: Disney best for 2nd grade and older, Kerpoof allows students to create stories, spell a picture, make a card, and create movies, drawings, and pictures. This site offers a teacher tools section which can help create lessons incorporating Kerpoof. Students can save their work as they go, so projects can continue throughout the year.

Tagexdo offers interactive word clouds with many creative outlets (shapes, colors, sizes). The site is visually stimulating and allows for individual creativity. APPLICATIONS: Word clouds are a great way to make "All About Me" projects interesting and different. Can be used after reading a book to create a character analysis. A great way to review vocabulary words in science and social studies. The main idea of a story or chapter can be enlarged, with supporting details around the main topic are smaller. When studying a historical figure, a biography can be created, with the descriptive words are in the shape of that person.

E-Learning of Kids is organized by both grade level and subject areas. Included interactive learning videos with practice within the video, perfect for the interactive white board. Each 'course' lists the appropriate age level for the students. Geared for grades K-6. APPLICATIONS: Perfect for review of a new skill (example: compound words). Great for whole class lessons and review. Allows for children to be actively involved in the learning content.

The Magic Tree House features teachers Resource Center with printable/downloadable guides and activities. A "Reading Buddies" Club includes Educators Reading Buddies Guide and supporting materials to set up a "Reading Buddies" Club and track progress. Includes interactive games.

Edutopia: 48 Ultra-Cool Sites for Kids & Teachers offers links to 48 different educational websites for teachers, parents, and students alike. 

15 Great Websites for Elementary Educators educational websites for teachers, parents, and students on varying subjects, topics, and grade levels. Some may require membership/fees.

PowerMyLearningConnect is a free platform to personalize instruction and to inspire student-driven learning. Designed for students K-12 students, educators, and parents it offers a flexible way to implement blending learning. Select from thousands of games, tools, videos, and simulations that are curated by educators; tagged by subject, grade, and more; and aligned to the Common Core standards through a multi-step process. 

Bogglesworldesl.com for grades K-8 offering ESL teacher and parent resources including flashcards, worksheets, games, crosswords, lesson plans, words searches & finds, creative writing and many other useful tools and materials.


Terra Nova Achievement Test: 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grades

Terra Nova is a norm-reinforced nationally standardized achievement test administered to students across the country, with norms including time of year administered. Unlike proficiency test where testing is on content that has been taught, achievement tests measure content that may have been taught and content students could be expected to have mastered according to their cognitive ability.

Why the Terra Nova? It is a widely used and respected achievement test that measures mastery in core subjects and is user-friendly with current content. The test provides detailed diagnostic information, norm- and criterion- referenced scores, performance level data, and results are available just days after exams are submitted for scoring. Terra Nova also aligns with state standards and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) framework and can report student achievement relative to state standards.

Go to Terra Nova Tests & Assessments for more information about Terra Nova Achievement Testing.

InView Test: Cognitive Abilities Aptitude Assessment

InView is a cognitive abilities aptitude test that measures verbal reasoning, sequences, analogies, and quantitative reasoning. Teachers can use InView results to reliable measure skills and abilities important to academic success, help plan effective programs for students, diagnose possible learning disabilities, and screen students for placement into special programs. For more information about InView, go to InView: Assessment of Cognitive Abilities.

STAR Assessments: Assessments for Early Literacy, Reading, & Math

All STAR Assessments are computer-adaptive tests (CATs). Computer-adaptive tests continually adjusts the difficulty of each child's test by choosing each test question based on the child's previous response. STAR reading and math assessments help determine reading and math achievement levels of students. Parents Guide to STAR Assessments can provide more information about the STAR Assessments. 


Elementary School