Write on!

Practicing writing is a good way for kids to build reading skills, as it helps them sound out words and shows them how letters form words. In fact, new brain research has shown that writing may be a more natural first learning step than reading.

What you’ll need

  • Paper and pencil

What to do

Ask your child to write a grocery list as you both figure out what you need at the store. (Add a couple of challenge words like yogurt, spinach, or peppermint tea to see if he can sound them out) At the store, have your child read out loud and check off your purchases as you throw items into your shopping cart.

Tackling difficult words

Teach your child to attack new words with a vengeance!

What you’ll need

  • Cardstock or index card
  • Pencil

What to do

Help your child create a “killer word bookmark.” Have him decorate one side of it with something he associates with power — a shark, himself as a super hero, whatever your child is inspired by. As you read together and come across a word that is especially challenging to sound out, write that word down on the bookmark. Then as you read each day, review the words on the bookmark. So as not to overwhelm your child, add only a couple of words a day, but choose examples that require him to use decoding strategies, like breaking the words into chunks and recognizing common suffixes.

Beginnings and endings

Recognizing prefixes and suffixes is a key reading skill.

What you’ll need

  • A book at your child’s level

What to do

Go on a prefix/suffix hunt, and see how many words on the page have a prefix or a suffix. Help your child find the root word, and talk about how the prefix or suffix changes the word’s meaning. For example, “How does the –less on the word thoughtless change the word thought?” or “What does the prefix dis– do to the word appear?”

Wrestling with words that just don’t play

Some words in English are words that you don’t want your child to try to decode! Why? Because they are easier to memorize than learning those complex language rules that govern their crazy spelling. (Examples: would, though, through).

What you’ll need

  • Markers
  • Index cards
  • List of sight words (see Sight words for Third Graders)

What to do

It’s a good idea to make flashcards to practice these tricky words. Write each sight word on an index card, or better yet, have your child write them. A game such as Concentration or Go Fish can make flashcard time more fun.

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Updated: March 11, 2016