One of the things I worry about over the summer is that 'YourKids' will suffer from the "Summer Slide", the erosion of learning that can occur over a busy summer of travel, camps, and of course too much TV and video games. Here are some interesting and engaging activities to keep 'YourKids' learning.
Reading Rewards can help keep 'YourKid' keep on track with their summer reading and also helps them share their recommendations with others. Lets call it an online book club. An easy signup is required and asks for parental verification. Parents approve 'friend' connections and can monitor all communication that their child has with their friends. Once verified, kids can easily add books to a virtual library - "My Library" - using an ISBN# or book title. Once a child has finished a book they can write a review and recommend it if they choose. Once connected to friends, they can see what their friends have liked and recommended.
Kids then track their reading by recording the length of time spent reading and earn a reading reward mile for every minute spent reading. The parent can approve up to 90 minutes/miles a day. If the parent feels that the child might have 'fudged' their claimed reading time, they can deny the reward or adjust to a more appropriate period of time. As a child earns miles they can choose to cash in the miles to play games, read jokes, or save them for bigger rewards. Reading Rewards provides some rewards, but the website allows for parents or other sponsors to provide rewards that are individualized to the reader in their own personal store. Sponsors can set the point totals required for redemption and can put any prize they wish. 750 miles for taking a bye on washing the dishes, or 1000 miles for an mid-week trip to the comic book store. Whatever might be valuable and worth working for can be placed in 'YorKids' store. Pretty neat stuff.
Also, the support I received from the site for my questions was fabulously quick and helpful.
Also check out Reading Rockets. One of my favorites.
'YouKids' may be asking a lot of questions about the oil spill in the Gulf, as this disaster keeps unfolding in breadth and scope. A PBS station in the Gulf Coast has done a great job in creating a starting place for parents and their student. The site includes vocabulary, answers to questions that might come up and activities for the family. From the WSRE website: "Visit the Teachers, Parents and Kids Section on wsre.org/OilSpill for special information including terminology that kids are hearing from their parents, teachers, and news sources; and links and information to help kids understand the science and environmental concerns behind an oil spill.Oil Spill Resources""
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics has a number of free non-member resources listed for parents to help students keep the 'math chops' over the summer. Including Figure This, a website that has problem solving practice that won't require parental math wizardry to get the kids through the problem.
Also check out NCTM's: Calculation Nation
The Fodey Newspaper Generator is a fun, short, creative writing exercise that my students love to engage in. The site allows kids to write a newspaper headline, byline, and snippet of writing and then creates a partial newspaper image. Kids love to create stories and fun headlines. I like the creativity that the activity usually unleashes, creating some memorable writing. One of my favorites came from St Patrick's Day "Leprchaun Gone Bad" Good stuff.
PBS Writing Contest (The contest is over, but you can still create an interesting story or mashups). Very cool.
For some brainless fun go to Kideos. The site seeks to find online videos that are thoroughly entertaining for kids and completely worry-free for parents. Videos are reviewed by an adult board for appropriateness and then grouped by age group and interest category. If you can manage not to laugh at the "Cat Flushing Toilet" video you're probably having a really bad day.
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