Summer Reading Fun for 2nd & 3rd Graders
Summer is here. The boredom is starting to hit and kids aren't as easily entertained. Emails are coming in from your school reminding you what school supplies you'll need and to start getting your kids ready with reading and math games. After many long days of asking my children to pick up a book and read, or work on some math skills or creative writing, I decided to revert to my mother's tried and true methods below to relieve summer boredom while making learning fun.
Even if you're reading to your children, it works on their reading comprehension. AND, by following along with you, they learn how to use commas, question marks, and other punctuation for dramatic effect. Have them read pages to you as well to work on their pronunciation and to build confidence. I love discussing the book as we go. I ask my twins what they would do if they were in a certain situation, and if there are any parallels between the character's life and their own lives. Boy did I learn a lot about my son from this exercise – it's amazing how children open up when they put themselves in the place of story book characters. As a parent, it's wonderful to watch how children process information and observe how their imaginations grow from reading together. My children are 11 years old and we just finished reading Tuck Everlasting. It's a book we read together when they were in 3rd grade and it was fun to see them process that same story three years later.
Visit a dollar store and grab some fun items. Make coupons good for an ice cream cone, a trip to the movies, a family camp out in the backyard, etc. Stuff them all in a paper bag. Make a chart for your child that includes learning tasks to complete. There are only five items on my children's chart but they're fun and challenging ones, including reading a book or completing a fun computer math game. When they were in 2nd grade, each time they finished a chapter in the book they were reading, they would pull something out of the mystery bag. And did I mention what wonderful bonding time the rewards are for us parents? We started the mystery bag in kindergarten, and my daughter asks to do the mystery bag every summer! She takes pride in checking off her achievements for everyone to see in hopes to get the ultimate prize should she complete the entire chart – a trip to the amusement park.
I'm super sensitive to screen time. I'd rather my children be outside than on a device, but as I'm breaking away from my 1980s childhood, I'm realizing I have to gently embrace technology. Log onto your school's website to find out what learning websites they recommend. I've liked FunBrain.com, and if you like apps, check a variety of app reviews by TeachersWithApps.com.
In a recent interview conducted with Holliston Elementary School Librarian and Start U.Reading event manager, Lynda Canal, we learn more first hand about what incoming 2nd and 3rd graders can do over summer to prepare them for the fall.
Q: Are there any activities we can do this summer that will harness my kids passion for reading?
A: Summer is a great time for reading! I grew up in a house of readers. My parents were huge readers and because of that I believe that is why I love to read. We learn what we live. If your children see you reading I do believe that they will become natural readers. I do often argue with my son about getting some reading time in, and we decided that the Kindle for him is the way to go. I will often buy a book and get him the audio option and he can follow along while he reads or just listen to the book. Some people think that listening to an audio book is considered "cheating," but I don't think so. When you listen to a story you are still using your imagination, and are actively working to understand the story and use listening skills. This summer when you're going on a family trip, pop a book in and listen as a family!
Q: What can I do to help get my children to the same reading level as their peers entering 2nd and 3rd grade?
A: First off I would not get caught up in needing to get everyone on the same reading level. I think this is a very unrealistic goal. Children all develop reading skills at different speeds and times. I get excited when a child finds something that he or she wants to learn about. I have a lot of kids that take out books that might be too "hard" for them but they want them anyway. I let them take the books and encourage the parents to read with them. If I have a student struggling with reading, I will often tell the child to take the book home and look at the pictures and make up his or her own story, then have mom or dad read the story and see how close the child is to the author! Graphic novels and comic books are becoming hugely popular with the elementary kids, and a great way to get them to read.
Q: How can I help my struggling reader over the summer months?
A: There are a lot of fun ways to get your child interested in reading over the summer. I often read the same books that my children are reading, and then we talk about them. I was very surprised at how much they liked to share with me. I also realized that we may interpret the book differently from one another. Let them choose what they want to read. It is okay if it is a magazine and not a novel. Consider getting them a subscription to a magazine they enjoy.
In second grade my son loved the Magic Tree House series and would go through a book every 2-3 days. At the same age my daughter preferred drawing but when she discovered the Rainbow Fairies, her reading passion took off and to this day she seems to always have a book in her hand. We never pushed, just offered new reading suggestions. My advice is to create this excitement while they're young because as they get older, it becomes much more challenging unless early habits have been created. They'll go in ebbs and flows so if you're having trouble helping them find that book or series to hold their interest, work with your community librarian. If they're having trouble finding something in your own town library (sometimes because it's just too familiar), visit your neighboring town's library. Maybe a new face and new atmosphere will spark your child's interest!