My kids have gone through some crazy phases in their little lives, times when all they could do was eat, sleep, and dream about their current obsessions: Dora the Explorer, Lightening McQueen, Fancy Nancy, American Girls, Mario from Mario Bros, Skylanders, you name it. The list can go on and on.
Since two of the key ways of motivating children to read are to 1. give them choice and 2. hone in on their interests, why not encourage reading when it comes to their current interest?
Let's play on the things they love and incorporate a little literacy learning along the way.
Here are my top 5 ways to play on kids' current character love:
1. Find books on that character. Go to the library and search for books about that specific character. Chances are that if it's a popular character, there will be something that the child can read. Many libraries have a "media tie-in" section where books about current television programs can be found.
No matter the reading level, grab the books! If the book seems to be a little easier than you'd hoped, it may help develop your child's fluency. If the book is more advanced, perhaps you could read with your child. Either way, they're worth trying!
2. Find books that somehow connect or relate to that character. Is the character a doctor? Look for age-appropriate books about the medical profession. Is the character a talking car or plane? Check out some books about racing, racecars, or planes. If the character is an animal, find some animal books or books about the area where that animal lives. There's always something close to the character that will still "count" in your children's eyes.
3. Play name games with the character's name.
• Using your magnetic letters to play with that character's name by mixing up the letters and challenging the child to put them in the correct order;
• Writing the character's name on a large piece of paper and "hunting" for other words within that name;
• Writing an acrostic poem, where each letter of the character's name begins a word or sentence about that character.
4. Create a word search or crossword puzzle with the names of characters, topics, setting, and ideas that connect to the character. You can create your own word searches by using any one of the free "word search creators" available online.
5. Find free resources available online. You will be surprised at the plethora of information available from many book publishers, companies, and brands. Do a search for the beloved character and find out what is free for you online; you may find printable short stories, mini-magazines, comic strips, and other treasures rich with reading material for your child!
What other ways work for you for sneaking in some learning while capitalizing on your child's latest craze? Tell us about it on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page.