9 Ways To Get Your Child To Read

In this post I am sharing some of my tips on how we prepared Vir to read. Social distancing has been helpful in giving a lot of one on one time to our son as he has been home since March 2020. I used this time to work with him on reading, writing and building other skills as you must have seen on my Instagram Page The Snazzy Mom

Please note I am not an expert or a teacher and have used my personal approach to prepare Vir and build his interest in reading. Vir is currently 4 years old and in PreK 4, he is currently reading Kindergarten level books. Reading at bedtime has been a daily activity in our home and that has helped us encourage our son to start reading. I recommend including reading daily in your routine.

Also recently I was contacted by Motherly to share my take How we’re defining success this school year. You can read all my mantras here!

Once Vir mastered identifying the letters visually, and memorizing the sound associated with the letter we started with below steps. You can help memorizing letters by incorporating in play, by clay, drawing or through letter magnets and toys.

1.Phonics is Important

Phonemic awareness (understanding sounds in spoken words) and an understanding of phonics (knowing that letters in print correspond to sounds) are the most basic first steps to becoming a reader. We practiced it daily by reading books out loud and using Reading Eggs app. This app has been extremely helpful in making phonics a fun process and after a while I didn’t even need to supervise my son as he enjoyed doing it himself.

(Reading Eggs uses self‑paced lessons that match each individual child’s ability. Children are regularly rewarded for completing activities and reaching new levels, which keeps them motivated to stay on track. Parents can also view instant progress reports to see how a child’s skills are improving.Free trial.

Additionally, we used songs and nursery rhymes to build phonemic awareness. the rhyme and rhythm help kids to hear the sounds and syllables in words, which helps them learn to read.

2. Making word cards

Cut out simple cards and write a word containing three sounds on each one (e.g. dog, sat, pig, top, sun, pot, fin). Invite your child to choose a card, then read the word together and hold up three fingers.  We focused on the sound each letter makes, more so than letter names. In my Instagram posts I have shared how I used Post Its to DIY these words cards and color code it. You can also use the post its for learning lowercase and uppercase letters.  And play a word scavenger hunt at home.

3 Create Print Rich Environment at home

Seeing printed words (on posters, charts, books, labels, white boards etc.) enables children to see and apply connections between sounds and letter symbols. When you’re out and about, point out letters on posters, billboards and signs. Focus on the first letter in words. Ask your child “What sound is that letter?” “What other word starts with that sound?” “What word rhymes with that word?”

We love Highlights preschool workbooks because it’s designed and written just for their age group. Highlights is an exciting, colorful, fun-filled magazine developed by the early childhood experts at Highlights. Vir loves practicing his writing in the workbook and reading and solving puzzles in the magazine.

Additionally, we also put cartoons for Vir on Netlix with captions on so he can hear and read the words as well. I have seen him point at many new words he now recognizes.

4 Start Introducing Sight Words and Play games

Sight words are typically shorter words that come up very frequently in text and sometimes they don’t follow predictable spelling rules. Some examples are: look, yes, the, do. It’s better to know them by sight rather than trying to sound them out. Sight word practice can include flash cards as suggested with post its, hunting for the words in books, and using computer games or apps like Reading eggs.

We also started with Bob Books and now Vir is reading the Advanced Readers Set 2 book. Bob books helped a lot in learning sight words and build the confidence in reading. I really like how each set focuses on a few key reading concepts. Throughout the set, each book uses repetition to build mastery of that concept before moving on to another set of concepts in the next set.

Sight words examples

5 Play CVC word games

Say a CVC word (consonant-vowel-consonant), for example ‘cat’, and ask your child to spell it using the magnets or write on a magnetic board. I help Vir, say each vowel sound aloud (/ayh/, /eh/, /ih/, /awe/, /uh/) while pointing at its letter, and then ask him which one makes a sound similar to the middle sound. We practice this daily too on the magnetic board and I often use this site for free printable and CVC word list. Pinterest has a lot of free downloads too. You can download 1 here.

CVC list for A

6 Read together daily and ask questions about the book

A lot of people don’t realize just how many skills can be picked up through the simple act of reading to a child. Not only are you showing them how to sound out words, you’re also building key comprehension skills, growing their vocabulary, and letting them hear what a fluent reader sounds like. Most of all, regular reading helps your child to develop a love reading, which is the best way to set them up for reading success.

Strengthen your child’s comprehension skills by asking questions while reading. For younger children, encourage them to engage with the pictures (e.g. “Do you see the boat? What color is the cat?”). For older children, ask questions about what you’ve just read, like “Why do you think the little bird was afraid?” “When did Sophie realize she had special powers?”

7 Reading online apps & books

Reading books aloud from your collection at home or online works best. You can use FREE digital libraries or tools available online like. We have all these below e magazines saved on Vir’s ipad and often switch to online reading to make it more fun and interactive.

Time , Nat geo kids library Story online Scholastic learn at home Lego Life Magazine

For  more information on other online digital tools for kids of all ages check this resource.

8. Get magazines in mail or make going to library a monthly affair.

Arranging for kids to receive free or monthly subscriptions of fun and educational items by mail is a great way to bring smiles to their faces and bring joy to reading. There are many sources of free items you can order, and your kids will have fun anticipating and receiving free stuff by mail! Here is FREE PETA helping animal guide I ordered recently for Vir.

If your child is between ages 5 and 9, they can receive a free two-year subscription to LEGO Jr. in the mail. The magazine is sent six times throughout the year and includes LEGO news, interviews, and fun projects to build.

We have Highlights magazine annual subscription for Vir and he loves receiving it in mail. He has his own mini car library full of Highlights magazines. Currently annual subscription is for $29.94

Due to COVID we have not had access to the library for months but few weeks back the library opened in our city and so we might go to it sometime soon.

9 Be Patient and make it fun!

We all know every child learns at his or her own pace, so I remind myself the single most important thing I can do is to make it enjoyable. By reading regularly, mixing things up with the activities you choose, and letting your child pick out their own books occasionally, you’ll instill an early love of reading and give them the best chance at reading success in no time.

We also have a list of podcasts on Spotify that Vir listens too and asks questions about new words he is learning . Here is a link to the FREE podcasts you too can follow. I highly recommend this activity.

Also resources like School in a Box by Tittle Tot are engaging kids at home with their unique, fun, and exciting, programs designed for kids age 3-8 years. It is a combination of online classes and do-at-home activities. Tittle Tot has 50+ themes, 30,000+ worksheets, 5,000+ DIY activities, and STEM projects. From Science, Math, Arts, Space , Halloween and many more. You can check them out. We recently started with Artist Box.

Tittle Tot theme boxes.

I will love to learn some of your favorite resources that helped your kids read.

Happy reading with your little ones!

Here are some more posts on Homeschooling , Crafts and My most recommended products

DIY Back to school activities

Learn & Play activities for Kids At Home

Pretend Play Indoor Activity Ideas for Kids. Free PJ Masks Activity Sheets Printables

DIY Back to School Activities For Kids

With the school year approaching, we’re ready to beat after-school boredom with some classic DIY- inspired activities and crafts you can do at home with your kids. When the school year turned virtual, Vir and I loved spending the days cooking and creating new crafts – we even set up a camp tent for our “summer vacation!”

Even though I loved the extra time with Vir, I know he missed his friends and teachers while we were at home. Homeschooling my son while working from home has made me realize how much work and effort goes into teaching our kids all day. Our teachers really made the year special, which is why I’m so happy that we’re a part of the new Juicy Juice 100% Thankful Teacher Contest. To honor and thank the teachers that go above and beyond for our kids, Juicy Juice is giving away over $30,000 in prizes to set them up for the best school year yet, and Michaels is even providing gift cards for the teachers.


Do you have a stellar teacher you want to nominate? If so, it’s super easy!!


1) Throughout August, parents can nominate the superhero teachers who have made school special for their kids, whether in-person or through virtual learning.
2) Entrants can go to juicyjuice.com/thankful to nominate teachers until August 31.
3) 20 finalists will be selected and then the grand prize voting begins!
4) All finalists will win an assortment of prizes, with 2 grand prize-winning teachers each receiving $10,000 and others winning a selection of Juicy Juice merchandise, product and a Michaels gift card!

Enter here.

To help get ready for the year, we found inspiration from Juicy Juice to help get in the back to school spirit and find at-home entertainment.

We usually play with the sprinkler in our driveway to cool off in the 95 degrees Houston weather and hydrate with Juicy Juice fruit juice boxes. Juicy Juice is an iconic kids’ beverage brand enjoyed by families for over 40 years. Available in 15 juicy flavors, Juicy Juice 100% juice has no added sugar, ever! I love that Juicy Juice is an excellent source of Vitamin C, making it a great choice as we head back to our school routine.

Below, I’ve shared a few of our favorite crafts and activities that you and your family can enjoy while getting ready for the year. Paired with 100% juice from Juicy Juice, it’s a great way to get ready for a new year!

1) Making tie dye shirts was on our bucket list, and it’s not as messy or daunting as it sounds. Vir was very excited about the project.

You need- White T shirt, Tulip one step Tie Dye kit and plastic bag. I searched on you tube to learn some tie dye techniques and used the spiral one for Vir’s T shirt. The idea is to keep it simple and mess free.

After tying the T shirt with rubber bands, we squeezed the dye bottles to get the color on the T shirt and then let the T shirt soak in the color up to 8 hours in the plastic bag. Later wash the T shirt in cold water and run a cycle too in the washing machine to get rid of the remaining dye and air dry.

2) Juicy Juice Monster Juice Box craft – Vir is fascinated with googly eyes and Halloween and we decided to decorate Vir’s favorite strawberry + watermelon flavor and berry flavor Juicy Juice boxes with felt paper, goggle eyes and colorful Chenille stems. It was one of Vir’s favorite craft activities to date. We are reusing the monster Juicy Juice boxes after they were empty as pen and crayon stands.

3) DIY hand painted bug rocks-These DIY hand painted ladybug rocks are perfect for your garden or indoor pot decor this summer. They’re so adorable, and so easy to make for kids. If you have stones is your front yard this is a great way to re purpose them. Vir learnt some facts about the bugs and insects too as it was the main theme for one of the camp days.
You need smooth rocks, acrylic paint, black color pen, glue, google eyes. (You can also use spray paint for better coverage)

4) Nature Scavenger Hunt – Taking a walk with the kids in the summer is exciting especially when they have the Summer camp Nature Scavenger Hunt sheet. This activity makes them more aware of all the things going on around them that they might otherwise miss. You can download the free Scavenger hunt sheet here.

I hope these are helpful and you enjoy them with your kids.

Happy Homeschooling!

Learn and Play Summer Activities for Kids at Home.

There are no doubts that trying to juggle working from home with children is challenging. Whether you’re in a video call, focusing on writing, or making a presentation, there are going to be several times you are going to be interrupted and called out Mama, Mommy, Mom breaking your concentration or rhythm.

In these 3 months of working from home with a four-year-old I have realized that there are some activities where you will need to be involved with the kids and some that need minimal involvement. In this post I am covering ONLY those activities that have worked for us.

For many parents around the country school year is closed, and for those with younger kids who go to daycare, there is still time when things can go back to normal schedules. And so I hope this post can help you to keep your kids busy and occupied while learning from home.

Honestly the first few weeks of homeschooling were hard, but after trying and testing several things I have found a schedule that works for all of us. The key is Flexibility. We made sure each day for our son flows like how it would have been at school. (screen time is a new entrant although in this timetable).

Not every day is the same, we switch activities, play and learning time as the day goes by. We have no hard timetable that we follow for Vir, it is not possible given the fluidity of the workday. (Except for breakfast, lunch, snack, nap, chores and outdoor play.)

Below list is broken down into different categories.

I highly recommend Children’s Museum of Manhattan for daily inspiration and ideas on new topics and activities you can have the kids do.

Outdoor time

We step out of the house at least twice in a day, once after breakfast to get some activity for 20-30 minutes and once in the evening at 5pm for longer time anywhere between an hour or more. We take necessary social distancing measures and now have started wearing masks too. (walks, scooter rides, biking, dog walk, nature treasure hunt, park hikes etc)

Educational Time

Vir is in Pre k 3 and at at almost 4 years of age I try to ensure 3 core activities are part of his educational time. Reading, Writing and Numbers. Below are some resources

Reading online apps & books

Reading books aloud from your collection at home or online works best. You can use FREE digital libraries or tools available online like

Time , Nat geo kids library , Story online , Scholastic learn at home

We also love the Reading Eggs App and Vir has picked up so many spellings. He is learning to read and can form 4 word sentences. I love the amount of puzzles, activities the app offers. Also there are worksheets that come with it, so we download that and practice too. I highly recommend this app.

For  more information on other online digital tools for kids of all ages check this resource.

Writing, Tracing, Patterns

We follow this daily with some workbooks I bought from Amazon to make sure Vir practices his writing. He has learnt writing all alphabets big and small.Here are some resources

Alphaprints Workbook from Amazon

Skillmatics Free downloadable tracing puzzles, pattern work sheets

Reading Eggs to has worksheets available. You can download it here.

We also use the Notability App on Ipad with Ipencil. That has help change things around when Vir is bored of the books. I use the app for work but have realized we are able to lot more things with Vir for his writings and dot to do activities that are reusable.

Pinterest has several free printables online that you can use.

I also recommend having a magnetic slate, it makes it more fun and has multiple uses.

Numbers and Counting

Using flash cards has helped most in teaching Vir numbers. Also, we use a white board at home and the magnetic slate daily. All the above online resources have math and number printables available too

Visit a Zoo and Aquarium online.

Although some states have opened up and museums and zoos are accessible, you can watch animals online here

Open Play

1.Household scavenger hunts have been a huge success whether be it with hiding eggs indoor on Easter or to reintroducing the Easter hunt every week. We improvised with a monster truck hunt and recently took it outdoors with nature hunt too. Below are some ideas. You can download these free printables

Indoor Treasure Hunt by aboutamom.com  , Pj Mask Super Hero DIY costume and FREE Printables for preschollers, Egg hunt printable from Skillmatics , Nature Scavenger Hunt from Free Kids Craft. Pinterest too has loads of ready-to-print ideas.

2. Lego Time or Building Activities: Lego is sharing videos and daily challenges online for kids to build something new.  We have been following the lego masters build amazing cities and characters. You can see more here on Lego’s initiative to help families 

3. Toy-Washing Bin or Water activity – Let your kids wash their plastic toys, cars trucks etc. Add tear-free bubbles, sponges, towels and other supplies. You can also open your backyard or driveways to water play with water table, balloons, toy water guns. Summer is here.

4. Bathtub Play When the day is long, and I feel I did nothing that day, all I have to do is fill up the bathtub with a little bit of water, put some fizzy bath tablets in the water and give Vir markers and toys and also a Popsicle somedays and we are good to go for a 45 minutes at least!

5.Ice Smash Game – By far one of the most IG shared and successful games to keep Vir busy while I am on office calls. Just freeze tiny toys in water overnight and give it to the kids next day to break and smash with toy hammers, spoon. Sticks etc.

Creative Time

1.Pasta Necklace with food coloring – We recently made our quarantine accessory at home.To make the “jewelry”, you need 2-3 spoons of water in a ziplock bag + 4 to 5 drops of food coloring + pasta. Shake the bag and dye all the pasta. Repeat step for different colors. (Optional: sprinkle in some glitter) Let the pasta dry and use a yarn to string the pasta! You can also use acrylic paint if you like. With food coloring the pasta is dyed evenly. Vir enjoyed the entire process and was proud of his creation. I love how I can do this fun activity with my son and match with him too!

2. Tootpick and Playdough STEM activity– We have started discovering the concept of Geometry and it is so much more fun while playing! We use playdough and toothpicks in this classic, hands-on activity to learn about shapes on a 3-dimensional level.

3. DIY a Boardgame Forget about a ready-made game. Your child’s creativity will kick into high gear when they make their own board game. Vir and I made a simple board game with markers, colors and paper and he loves playing with it. You can keep changing it up every few weeks by adding stickers, more colors, levels on a new chart paper or sheets

4. Nature Craft. One of Vir’s favorite activities is picking flowers from our plants and on our morning walks. We made some mixed material crafts at home on paper and with flowers, beads, crayons, colors, paints, clay and more. Try it out !

Online Dance & Karate Classes

Learn specific stances and basic positions for karate, Taekwondo or another martial art or even free dance lessons by following YouTube videos. (Definitely requires supervision.)

Pretend-play

1.You can include little kids in your new WFH schedule by giving them their own briefcase full of office supplies and asking them to “work” quietly nearby. Use markers, pads of paper, child-friendly scissors, stickers, and any other grown-up things like pencil cases, a measuring tape, or an old-school calculator

2.We recently converted Vir’s kitchen into a café, and he loves it. The Ikea kitchen is one of the best investments we made.  I have ordered some chalkboard paper to switch things around and make a taco truck and ice cream parlor too. He is learning to count money and understanding simple math like addition and subtraction.

3.Super Hero pretend play. Check out my recent blog post here for all superhero activities you can try.

Below are some of my other posts with additional ideas & resources

Toys and Games for overall development.

10 Best Educational Apps for Toddlers

List of Age Appropriate Chores for Kids.

Easy and Fun Summer Activities for Babies and Toddlers.

Hope this post is resourceful and can help you navigate summers with your little ones at home.

The 10 Best Educational, Interactive & Engaging Apps For Toddlers & Preschoolers

TOP 10 APPS FOR TODDLERS AND PRESCHOOLERS (2)

The right amount of screen time is a completely personal choice for all the parents to make and I would like to stress I am not promoting the use of devices on this post today. However, we live in a device obsessed world and setting limits on screen time is a more crucial point to think over than ruling it out completely. One of the greatest struggles we’ve experienced as new parents has been how to foster digital savvy‐ness in our child– while we don’t want to shield him from today’s latest technology.

Responsible use of media currently is important, and tablets or phones can be used for either reading books out loud, or for learning apps and games that could be like educational toys. Or for example sometimes watching language promoting cartoons (in our case Hindi cartoons) while eating dinner or having lunch at the restaurant. (moms just banish that mom guilt, we can eat at least 1 meal in peace)

Note: The American Academy of Pediatrics has offered guidance on children’s and adolescents’ media use saying, “Limit entertainment screen time to less than one or two hours per day; in children under two, discourage screen media exposure.” 

We are constantly looking for some new ways to entertain our energetic toddler without feeling guilty about, while offering something that offers creativity, is educational and engaging!

So, I am rounding up some apps that is my top picks. We have often used these on our long flights and have usually downloaded them just days before to keep him interested.

Recommending apps for kids of age  1-5 year below

  1. Lego Duplo Train (Age 2+ )– This app is a lot of fun – first it FREE,it’s Lego there are Trains ! One of Vir’s favorite, build tracks, choose the wagons, load the train , drive it and also make bridges. It is almost like a puzzlelego
  2. Talu Town for (Age 5 and under) – Another app we recently introduced to Vir. In this app kids drive around a virtual city and help friendly characters with various tasks—disguised as mini games. I love how all the tasks help in practice counting, matching, sorting, shapes, puzzles, and more. Completing each task allows them to earn stars, which can be used to buy new cars and outfits.talu
  3.  Artie’s World (Age 3-6) – We started using this a month back and love it. Artie’s World is a playful app that teaches kids how to draw with a dot-to-dot system. Kids trace basic and irregular shapes to draw toys, vehicles, and animals, then watch as their creations come to life with funny animations. The app is simple enough for young kids, and there is no reading requiredartie
  4. Woodie Hoo Animal Friends Ages 2+ . This game can be played  at the kid’s own pace and stimulates to learn with fun, colorful, high quality animations and pictures. I like how it hold’s the attention for a good amount of time. Note there are in app purchases.

woodie hoo

 5. Alphabet Flash cards 3+ to Pre-Schoolers -This app helps to learn the alphabet by using digital flashcards. Our son has learnt all alphabets with practice and this was helpful too part from books.

6. Sago Trucks and Diggers (Age 2+) One of my son’s favorite he likes to play it till date. Kids can drive a dump truck, pile dirt high and dig deep in the ground with diggers, cranes and bulldozers. Great for motor skills and no in app purchases.

sago

7.My Very Hungry Caterpillar (Age 2+) This is a unique app and promotes imaginative play. The app is basically an extension of Eric Carle’s classic book. Vir really enjoyed it as he was reading the book and could see the caterpillar in action. On the app daily, the caterpillar is up to some new challenges and things to play with including painting, making music, and watering your garden. After around 6 days, your caterpillar is quite large and makes a cocoon, emerging the next day as a beautiful butterfly. A great lesson on the life cycle!

cater

8.Daniel Tiger’s Stop and Go Potty (Age 2+) – This app helps in toilet training and helps in understanding important bathroom routines. There are some games too that  are simple and appropriate for the target age, and the narration is excellent.

daniel

9. Bimi Boo Kids Baby Piano (Age 1+) This app has been one of the first musical apps Vir started with. It allows little ones to develop creativity, an ear for music, hand-eye coordination, fine motor and attention.

bimi

10. Peek a Boo Barn (Age 1+) was one of the first few apps that we introduced to our son when he was 2. He learnt the names of animals and sounds within days. They have many other apps but first definitely try this.

peek

Please do share with me in comments your most recommended apps too.

Thanks

Arushi (2)