Build your child’s skills at home with these quick tips and activities.

Language arts

Pre-K – 3rd grade


At home, put labels on objects in the house, such as a table and the bed in your child’s bedroom. This will build your child’s word recognition and help her associate letters and sounds with words.

Subscribe to a magazine

Get your child a subscription to an age-appropriate magazine such as Nickelodeon, Ladybug or Highlights. His name on the address label is a personalized invitation to read.

Make reading an outdoor adventure

Take it outside! Read aloud to your child on the front porch, in the backyard, at the park or beach. You can take turns reading. Model reading smoothly and with expression.

Home library

Encourage reading at home by creating a sitting area with a book case and books at your child’s reading level and interest. Organize the books into categories, such as adventure books and books about animals.

Rhyme away

Rhymes can be a creative way to boost your child’s reading skills. Rhyming helps him become familiar with the sounds, patterns and structures of written and spoken language. Make story time fun by reading rhyming books and nursery rhymes with your child, and have him point out the rhyming words.

Model dictionary

When reading a book aloud to your child, model the good habit of looking up unfamiliar words in a dictionary. Encourage your child to do the same when she is reading on her own.

Hands-on writing

Have your child form words using letters made of different materials such as clay, Play-Doh, cookie dough, shaving cream, etc.

Sharing books

Read books about sharing. Discuss the story line with your child, and encourage her to make everyday connections to the characters.

4th grade – 5th grade

Just the facts

Reporters are taught that every story should answer the questions: who, what, where, when, why and how. Read a newspaper article with your child and then ask him how the reporter answered those questions.


Ask your child to try “pre-reading” a textbook chapter. Authors put “clues” to the main themes in the introduction, subheads, graphics, photo captions, conclusion and study questions. Reading these first will help your child take better notes and focus on what’s important.

Keep in touch

Once the birthday gifts are all unwrapped, it’s time to write thank you notes. This is a great way to practice writing skills. Make it fun by letting your child decorate the card. He can draw, paint, or add stickers or rubber stamps to the notes.

Home library

Encourage reading at home by creating a sitting area with a book case and books at your child’s reading level and interest. Organize the books into categories, such as adventure books and books about animals.

Help your child be an expert

When your family gets a new board, computer or video game, have your child read the directions, become the expert and teach the rest of the family.


Pre-K – 3rd grade

Big foot

Children learn about measurement by comparing the sizes of familiar objects, before they move on to tools like rulers and scales. You can help your child think about relative sizes by having her trace her foot and yours on paper. She can use the cutout feet to measure objects in the house. How many of her feet does it take to measure the bathroom rug? How many of your feet does it take?

Shapes are everywhere

Have your child find shapes indoors and outside. Choose a shape such as a circle, and with your child find circular objects such as a wheel on a bike, a basketball hoop and more.

Smallest to largest

Gather objects from around the house and have your child put them in order from smallest to largest in size. Then have your child count the number of objects.

In a minute

To help your child understand the length of a minute, give her a task and put the timer on. For example, have her skip rope, read a book or write for a minute. Before the timer is set, you can have her guess how many jumps she can take or pages she can read in a minute.

How many days?

Find out how many days are in the school year. Look at a calendar and have your child figure out what day will mark the half-way point for the school year. What day will mark the 100th day of school?

Sandwich shapes

Make your child’s lunch “ship shape!” Cut sandwiches into a variety of fun shapes using a knife or cookie cutters.

4th grade – 5th grade

License plate math

While traveling in a car, help your child use her addition and multiplication skills by asking her to add or multiply the numbers in the license plates of passing cars. For more of a challenge, you can assign a value to the letters. For example, each letter could equal 2.

Basketball math

Have your child bounce a basketball as he says the multiples of different numbers. For example he can practice the multiples of 12 for each bounce 12, 24, 36, 48.

Math on the menu

Practice mental math while you wait for dinner at your favorite restaurant. Have your child estimate the family’s total dinner bill, based on what you ordered, or calculate how much it would cost to order every dessert on the menu!

Hometown math

Help your child improve his number sense: Have him look up the population of your town or city. Ask him how it compares to nearby cities, or to cities where family members live.


Pre-K – 3rd grade

Fall stroll

Take a walk around the neighborhood with your child and collect leaves from several different kinds of trees. Bring them back home and discuss the similarities and differences among them. Ask questions such as, “What do they all have in common?” When finished, your child can make a leaf collage by arranging the leaves between sheets of wax paper or contact paper. If using wax paper iron the sheets together.

Get a closer look

Have your child explore with a magnifying glass to observe details in objects he would not be able to see otherwise. He can look at items around him such as fabric, hair and dirt. Ask questions such as, “What details can you see when an object is magnified?” and “How do these objects look different when magnified?”

4th grade – 5th grade


Help your child learn about rain. Pour two inches of very hot water into a glass jar. Cover the jar with a plate, wait a few minutes and put ice cubes on the plate. Watch the cold plate make the warm air in the jar condense and form droplets.

Observation journal

Learning to observe is an important skill in science. Have your child keep a journal to write about and draw her observations. Encourage her to use all her senses (sound, sight, taste, smell and feel.) Be clear in letting her know not to taste something unless she has permission.

Social studies

Pre-K – 3rd grade

How do you get from here to there?

Talk with your child about different forms of transportation — car, bike, bus, plane or boat. Discuss the pros and cons of each.

Where in the world is…?

When planning your next family vacation, get out the maps and a globe, and talk with your child about where you’ll be going and what direction you’ll be heading. Measure the distance on a map with a ruler and convert from inches to miles.

Holiday traditions

With your child, research holiday traditions and customs in other countries. How are they different or the same as yours?

4th grade – 5th grade

Chart your course

The next time you and your child take a walk or a hike, take along a compass. Discuss why and how a compass is used. Then ask your child to use the compass to answer questions such as, “Which direction is north?”

Make a time capsule

Your child can gather newspaper articles, family photos and souvenirs of 2008. Label each, place in a shoebox and seal with tape. Decide on a date to open the time capsule and a safe place to put it.

The arts

All grades

Paper roll art

Collect toilet paper, gift wrap and paper towel rolls for art projects. Your child can make napkin rings or a rainstick. For more paper roll art check Enchanted Learning.

Art placemats

Running out of fridge space for your child’s artwork? Transform his art into placemats by laminating it or covering it with clear contact paper. You can use the art placemats at mealtime or as a work surface for him to create new masterpieces.

Imagine the house of the future

In the future, what will houses look like? Brainstorm with your child about what her house might be made of, how it will be heated and cooled. Then have her draw the house.

Musical exposure

Turn it on! Listen to a wide range of music with your child, from classical to reggae to oldies-but-goodies. Identify the beat and the instruments, and discuss what you hear.

Art scavenger hunt

Next time you visit an art gallery or museum, initiate a scavenger hunt for your child. Make a list of items for him to find, such as a painting that contains certain shapes, art made out of clay, a black and white photograph, etc.

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Updated: April 12, 2018