Saturday, May 30, 2015

No Summer Learning Loss Here! Resources to Help ALL Summer Long!---Part 2

Part 2: Reading & Learning Games That Count! (The 2nd in a series of 5 articles)

Our first article in this series presented good ideas and resources to help you Build a GREAT Book List as the first step in preventing Summer Learning Loss. This second article in our series will enable you as a parent, teacher or care giver to add interesting reading and learning games to the mix of educational resources, further promoting literacy and learning all summer long.

What child or teen doesn't like a board game or video game? Why not incorporate the "game idea" into summer learning or enrichment? Either you, your child or student, depending on age level, can design and create the games. However, if you prefer or if time is limited, ready-to-use reading and learning games are widely available for FREE or at a low cost both online and in parent-teacher supply stores. (Please see the lists of resources to follow this article.)

The reading and learning games you select should keep in mind the various learning styles and individual interests of the child(ren) or student(s) who will use them, as well. Create a list of game resources that will appeal to boys as well as girls and will provide variety, too. Try to incorporate all content areas into the games list. Be sure to include games that involve art as well as literature and history as well as critical thinking or problem solving games in the collection. This will also add to student preparedness for the fall term and provide more background knowledge for the child, something often found to be lacking in many students with reading and learning deficits. (Please see Other Related Resources to follow this article.)

Also consider including games that support STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), too. These additions will help prepare a child or student for STEM or "Maker" programs currently being developed in many schools and in homeschool settings. Allow for readers and learners to choose the literacy or educational games they wish to make and play from a grouping or collection of options. Children are likely to participate in a more engaged fashion if they have a choice in what they might be do able to do. They will also develop more ownership of a game project if permitted to choose from an array of choices, especially with older children. These factors will combine to help increase learning success AND retention of what is learned.

In this week's article, we have gathered a number of game resources (both physical and digital) to help you develop your own list of reading and learning games to prevent the Summer Slide in your child or student(s). We hope these reading and learning games will not only keep brains sharp over the summer months but also provide some excellent resources to better prepare students for their next grade level in school---while also having FUN all summer long!

Physical Reading & Learning Games to Help Prevent Summer Learning Loss

How to Make Educational Games (FREE)
by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd.
Learn how to make educational games that are entertaining and fun. Get the whole family involved in making and playing games that challenge their minds while they have a good time.

Seven Ways to Build Your Own Educational Games (FREE)
by Richard Byrne of Free Technology for Teachers
There are hundreds of places to find educational games and quizzes on the Internet. That said, sometimes you still cannot find quite what you're looking for. In those cases you're better off creating your own games. Here are seven good tools you and your students can use for creating games.

Free Kids' Educational Games (FREE) from (FREE)
All kinds of printable math, word, logic and memory games (some are online & not printable)

Fill-ins, Mixed Words, Mazes, Magic Squares, Crossword Puzzles, Word Squares, Sudoku Puzzles, Word Links, and others. (SKIP the Word Searches, as they rarely provide the "brain benefits" that the other games do!)

Printable Board Games from (FREE)
Printable board games are a fun and challenging way to help your child learn! Great for practicing math, reading, critical thinking, collaboration, fine motor skills, and more. Just download, print, and let the fun begin!

Fun and games: 8 summer reading activities for kids with learning disabilities (FREE)
by: Valle Dwight
Help your child keep reading skills strong over the long, lazy summer.

Digital & Online Reading & Learning Games to Help Prevent Summer Learning Loss

Online Games from Read | PBS KIDS (FREE)
Practice reading skills this summer with PBS KIDS reading games, videos and more.

Word Games, Puzzles and More---from Summer Reading at New York Libraries (FREE)
Fun & Games, Dinosaur Dive; Geology Quiz Your Noodle – Do you know the hard facts about rocks and the Earth? Undersea Treasure Hunt – Watch out for the octopuses!

Best Educational Apps for Kids of All Ages (Priced from $.99 to $4.99)
by Erin Dower
Looking for high-quality, educational apps for your toddler, preschooler, or school-age child? These award-winning and noteworthy mobile apps help kids of all ages learn a thing or two during tech time.

20 Free Educational Apps for Kids (FREE)
by Erin Dower
Mobile apps can be a life-saver, but the cost of buying them can add up. These 20 mobile apps aren't just educational — they're FREE to download on your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Android mobile device.

STEM Video Game Challenge | PBS KIDS Lab (FREE)
A short list of online games that support STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) for ages 3 to 8 years. The 2012 National STEM Video Game Challenge contest was open to four different categories: Middle School students (5th grade – 8th grade), High School Students, College students and Teachers/Educators. Participants who wished to produce games as part of the PBS KIDS category were encouraged to develop games for children ages 4-8 that focus on early math skills. This project is part of the Ready To Learn Initiative, and funded by a grant from the U.S Department of Education.

STEM | Games for Change (FREE)
Excellent lists of online STEM games (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) categorized by age (for 7 to 18 & up).

You Can Go Anywhere! from PBS Kids (FREE)
Get ready to go places with PBS KIDS this summer 2015. From reading to geography, summer learning can take kids anywhere! Each week you can share learning with your children with our suggested games, videos, and daily tips. We've also created related activity sets for you to download and take anywhere.
Week of July 20 - August 2:
Explore And Count With THE CAT IN THE HAT. Count up the points when you explore Clatter-Clang Island from THE CAT IN THE HAT KNOWS A LOT ABOUT THAT! Practice map skills with THE CAT IN THE HAT. Use map skills when you help the bees get back home in THE CAT IN THE HAT KNOWS A LOT ABOUT THAT'S Beehive Follow Me! Brush Up On synonyms and antonyms with WORDGIRL'S Maze Mania!

Math Games That Give Your Brain a Workout! (FREE)
Math, logic and word games to challenge your brain and keep it sharp! Kids who play these math games learn multiplication, fractions, addition, geometry, algebra, problem solving and more! Math Playground has 100s of fun math games and more!

Games from PBS Kids(FREE)
300+ FREE online reading, adventure, math, health, sci-fi games and more (for nearly all content areas)!

Super Games: Art Games (FREE)
Welcome to Super Games, the number one place on the Internet to find the free flash games to dazzle your eyes and blow your mind! We've got tons of Popular Games from all over the web, and with brand spanking New Games coming in every week, there's no way to ever be bored at Super Games!

Art Games from GameHouse (FREE)
Create a masterpiece of fun with the best art games at GameHouse! Have you ever wanted to be an artist among the likes of Van Gogh, Degas, and Michelangelo? It’s easy! All you have to do is assemble the pieces of the world’s greatest masterpieces of art in Super Jigsaw Great Art. Play this and a variety of other high quality art games and computer art games today.

Online Games for Critical Thinking & Problem Solving (FREE)
by Laura Ketcham & SmartTutor Education Programs
Article listing and describing FREE online games that are a fun and interactive way for children to learn about critical thinking and problem solving, especially during the summer months.

Other Related Resources

Background Knowledge and Reading Comprehension: The Evidence Grows
by Robert Pondiscio and The Core Knowledge Blog
Researchers looked at dozens of variables to determine which instructional factors were associated with student reading achievement. They found the most important factor in reading achievement was the frequency with which the teacher used materials from other subjects in reading instruction.

For information on customizable low-tech & digital reading tools for all kinds of challenged readers, please visit: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info and support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of:
Brennan Innovators, LLC at

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

No Summer Learning Loss Here! Resources to Help ALL Season Long!

Part 1: Build a Great Book List! (The 1st in a series of 5 articles)

It's been called The Summer Slide for some years now. Unfortunately, this phrase has nothing to do with child's play or any equipment found on a local playground. More recently, however, you may have heard the term Summer Learning Loss, which refers to any loss of knowledge, cognitive skills or even reversals in academic progress, commonly due to the extended, educational gap known as the summer vacation period.

At the beginning of each new school year, some educators take this summer learning loss in stride, building weeks (or sometimes more than a month) of review into their classroom schedules.

At the same time, however, there are other teachers who prefer to provide wise guidance for students and their families prior to each summer vacation time. Before dismissal on the last day of the school year, these teachers share resources with students' families to help maintain (and even improve!) their young pupils' reading and other cognitive skills over the summer months. Some homeschooling parents, especially those who choose to unschool during the summer months, have been using various educational resources in this way for many summer seasons---and with much success, too!

At times, these resources might be presented by educators in a special email message with resources that are hyper-linked and ready for use. Another method of presentation could be a simple yet comprehensive list or booklet of resources to keep children's brains sharp over the summer vacation period (not more than 4 or 5 pages, please). These resources might include the following items:

1. Recommended book list(s) with both fictional & non-fictional titles
2. Recommended reading & learning games (both physical & online offerings)
3. Well-vetted list of other reading & learning activities with brief descriptions (or links to more info)
4. Suggestions for no/low-cost educational field trips student families can make in-town
5. List of the key skills & main curriculum units to be learned in the NEXT school year

Because sustained, silent READING is so critical in preventing summer learning loss, the first order of business will be to build a great book list for students, appropriate for the age, grade level, interests and reading levels of the children. The list of recommended books you create should take into consideration and include ALL the reading levels in the student group---from challenged to gifted readers and everything in-between, too. Remember to include biographies and how-to books in addition to science fiction and choose-your-own-conclusion books, etc.

This week, to give you a head start, we are providing some good resources to help you begin building a customized book list. It will be most important that parents help students start the summer by establishing some type of daily reading routine. We hope our resources to follow here will be just the right amount of motivation needed to help you locate the best books possible, customized specifically for your student group or children. We believe you'll discover some excellent book selections there to start creating a great book list.

Over the next few weeks, we'll be providing additional resources for each of the other 4 recommended lists you'll want to create to help prevent summer learning loss in your students or children. For example, in next week's article, we will help you jump start your list of reading and learning games (physical and virtual) with the best resources we know to be available. Then the following week, the article will be all about other great reading and learning activities. We will continue each week in this way until all 5 articles are published with their respective resources to help you assist your children or students throughout the summer.

We're not at all advocating that you set aside your family's summer FUN here. We're simply suggesting that reading and learning be mindfully INCLUDED in students' summer vacation times. It is indeed possible to READ, LEARN and PREPARE this summer for the next school term AND have FUN doing so. It's one of the BEST ways we know to PREVENT summer learning loss!

Happy Reading---AND Happy Summer, everyone!

Recommended Book Lists (with Fictional & Non-fictional Titles)

Newbery Medal and Honor Books, 1922-Present
The Newbery Medal was named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.

Caldecott Medal & Honor Books, 1938-Present
The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.

Previously Published Literature Lists
(Literature Lists for K-12 published by the California Department of Education)
As with any work of literature used in the classroom, educators should read and evaluate the book to determine its appropriateness for students. Parents using the lists will want to consider factors such as the child’s particular interests, independent reading ability, motivation, and level of maturity.

Summer Reading Lists (for K-12)---from TeacherVision
Vacation time is the perfect time to read, read, READ! Check out these lists of super-entertaining books, from classics to fun picks, for you and your students. Enjoy the site's slideshows on summer reading to find the best of the best children's literature for your child or students.

Books & Resources (from 1996 to 2015)
Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K–12 (OSTB Award Seal)
Reading science trade books is the perfect way for students to build literacy skills while learning science content. The books that appear in these lists were selected

Baby Brown Reads
The books listed here celebrate, encourage, and promote literacy among African-American children.

Hispanic Heritage Booklists---from ColorĂ­n Colorado
The following link provides children's book lists that feature both fictional and non-fictional titles about Hispanic Heritage organized by topic that can be used all year long! Many books on our recommended lists are bilingual or are available in Spanish. Also, you can access additional Hispanic Heritage titles for young adults and other recommended resources there.

Other Related FREE Resources

Fight Summer Loss With These FREE Learning Tools---from MetaMetrics
As summer break arrives, students will leave the classroom and many may begin to slip in their reading and mathematics abilities. This slip has become known as summer loss. MetaMetrics has developed several FREE tools to help parents and educators combat summer loss.

8 Resources to Prevent Summer Learning Loss---by Jean Fleming from NWEA
Both teachers and administrators can make a big difference in thwarting summer learning loss, particularly for students with limited access to expanded and summer learning opportunities. Explore these FREE online resources and share them with families so that summer is a time of learning and growth.

For information on customizable low-tech & digital reading tools for all kinds of challenged readers, please visit: Tools for struggling readers of all ages! Info and support for struggling readers

Image courtesy of:
Brennan Innovators, LLC at