This Summer, Play Your Way to School Readiness! Simple Tips to Get Kids Ready for Kindergarten

Free Worksheets for summer learning

Woo hoo! It’s summer! Time for fun in the sun, trips to the zoo, and family vacations. But boy, can time fly, and September will be here before you know it. Below are some simple—and fun—things you can do over the summer to help prepare your child for Kindergarten.

Work It Out

Download our FREE summer math and ‘getting ready to read’ packets, which offer perfect practice for preschoolers preparing to enter Kindergarten. With 24 pages of fun readiness activities, there’s plenty of learning to last all summer long. And if your kids love learning with these pages, be sure to check out our selection of interactive Hot Dots® Jr. storybooks and card sets to take learning fun to the next level!

M0838 Math Worksheets_Page_01 M0838 Math Worksheets_Page_02
Click HERE to download our FREE Summer math packet

Reading Worksheet Page 1 Reading Worksheet Page 2
Click HERE to download our FREE Summer ‘getting ready to read’ packet.

Play It Out

Play, Play, Play! Set up playdates with kids your child’s age and trade off locations. This will not only help your child learn to interact with others, but also get him comfortable with being away from you. Story time at the library and music and movement classes at the park are also great ways to get your child used to being in a group setting. Be sure to provide plenty of toys and activities to keep little ones engaged—Magic Moves® Jammin’ Gym is a great way for kids to play together and release some energy, too!

Take Turns! Eager to never hear the words “I saw it first!” or “It’s mine!” ever again?  Help your child learn how to share and socialize by teaching them by example.  Play a board game like Kitten Caboodle, emphasizing “my turn” vs “your turn”, or trade off on the swings to practice taking turns and sharing.

Follow Instructions! Give your child a simple instruction and make sure she follows through. Then try two- or three-part instructions like “Please take your shoes to your room, put your socks in the laundry basket, and pick out a book you’d like to read.”

Act It Out! Slip some “first day” practice into playtime by acting out your child’s first day of school. Use stuffed animals or puppets like Puppet-on-a-Stick™ to represent the teacher and the students, and show your child what to expect.

Learn, Learn, Learn!

Learn Those Letters! Sing the alphabet song and look at letters on paper. Your child’s name is a great place to start but there are letters everywhere! Point them out in storybooks, road signs, and at the grocery store. Talk about the sounds each letter makes. “S, ssss…., S is for Star!”

Count It Out! Help your child learn to count to 20. You can count the Cheerios in his snack, the stairs up to the library, or the action figures in his toy chest. Then show him the numbers 1-10 and help him learn to identify each one and match it to the correct quantity.

Shape Up! Help your child identify basic shapes like circles, squares, rectangles, and triangles. Search the house for items of each shape, identify them, and try drawing them. Take a walk around your neighborhood and point out shapes you see – rectangular doors, square car windows, circular wheels. Games like Frankie’s Food Truck Fiasco are also a great way to practice matching geometric shapes to real-world shapes.

Read, Read, Read! Listening to a story hones concentration and focus skills as well as increasing vocabulary. Read together for just 15-20 minutes a day – then be sure to ask your child about the story they just heard. What was it about? What happened at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end? Our Hot Dots Jr. Interactive Storybook Sets are a wonderful way to get kids excited about reading and practice key Kindergarten concepts. There are also some wonderful books all about the first day of Kindergarten that can help ease your child’s fears and illustrate what she can expect. We especially love First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg.

Hot Dots® Jr. Princess Fairytales Interactive Storybook Set

Move That Body!

Gross Motor Skills! Make sure your child gets plenty of outdoor play time. Practice bouncing, throwing, catching, and kicking a ball. Run races. Hop, skip, and jump.

Fine Motor Skills! Afternoon quiet time is a great time to practice fine motor skills. Squishing, squashing, squeezing, and shaping molding substances like Playfoam®, stringing beads, and putting puzzles together are all great ways to develop fine motor skills.

Playfoam

Block Play! The benefits of blocks are nearly endless. In addition to developing motor skills, they also introduce important early math, science, and engineering concepts and encourage creativity and imagination.

Incorporating these simple, but crucial, activities into your summer days will go a long way toward preparing your preschooler for Kindergarten!

CHANGE IT UP! H.E.A.R.T.S.

A Little Bit Goes A Long Way!

Change it up - H.E.A.R.T.S.

May was EI’s Office Manager Maria’s month to choose the Change It Up charity for which our companywill raise funds, and she chose a group that’s close to her heart. In fact, the group is called HEARTS – Helping Elementary Achievers Reach the Stars!

Offered at 20 different schools in the Riverside, CA School District, HEARTS is an after-school program that provides FREE supervised care from the end of each school day until 6:00 PM. In addition to supplying a nutritious snack for all participants, the program also includes an academic hour and enrichment activities. Fun for the kids, HEARTSalso gives working parents the peace of mind that their children are being well cared-for during after-school hours.

Maria’s oldest son has happily participated in the HEARTS program for the last three years. He loves being able to spend time with his friends outside of the classroom and especially enjoys the enrichment classes HEARTS offers, like science and cooking (they recently made delicious and healthy fruit smoothies!).

HEARTS enrollment is limited, depending on the funding each school receives, and EI is proud to match the team’s contribution in hopes that even more students will be able to participate in the program.

Creepy, Crawly, and Oh-So Cool! Backyard Bugs That Will Boggle Your Brain!

Mind-blowing bugs!

For every person on the Earth, there are 1.5 billion bugs. Seriously! And some of them are pretty spectacular. We’ve rounded up a few of the wildest ones for you here, along with some fun facts about each of these crazy creatures. If your kids love bugs as much as we do, check out our GeoSafari® Jr Bugnoculars, the perfect way to safely contain and examine backyard bug finds, featuring a built-in 3x magnifier, snap-lock lid with air holes, and water-tight bottom.

The Japanese Giant Hornet

Japanese Giant Hornet

Habitat – Japan, of course.

Height – This bonkers bumble bee is actually about 3 inches long – that’s bigger than your thumb!

Fun Fact – When threatened, the hornet shoots poison – in your eye! And if that wasn’t bad enough, the poison doubles as a rally cry, calling more hornets to help!

 

The Puss Moth Caterpillar

The Puss Moth Caterpillar

Habitat – Europe, Asia, and North Africa

Height – The caterpillars can be 3 inches or longer; the wingspan of the moth is about 1.5 inches.

Fun Fact – The “face” of this creepy caterpillar is actually a form of mimicry intended to scare off predators. The black eye spots and giant mouth are just a ruse to hide the caterpillar’s real head, which rests inside. Oh, and the horns on its back can spray acid!

 

The Spiny Flower Mantis

The Spiny Flower Mantis

Habitat – Africa

Height – This itty bitty beauty stands about 1.5 inches tall.

Fun Fact – They may look as sweet as flowers, but the Spiny Flower Mantis is actuallya cannibal – theyeat their own kind, which makes mating particularly difficult!

 

The Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

The Hummingbird Clearwing Moth

Habitat – North America

Height – These wanna-be hummingbirds have a wingspan of roughly 2 inches.

Fun Fact – This giant moth feeds through its proboscis, which looks a lot like a hummingbird’s beak.

 

The Planthopper Nymph

The Planthopper Nymph

Habitat – These babies really get around, making their homes all over the globe, including north of the Arctic Circle!

Height – See the swirly wrinkles on your fingertips? Planthopper Nymphs are about the size of the center swirl.

Fun Fact – These baby Planthoppers have a system of gears in their legs that help synchronize all of their legs when jumping! Oh, and that sparkly stuff on their backsides? It’s made of waterproof wax that slows their descent when falling and also scares away predators.

 

Hot Tips to Make BBQs Sizzle for Your Little Ones

BBQ-games-blog-2

Summer’s right around the corner – time for trips to the shore, poolside play, and, of course, backyard barbecues! Check out these tried-and-true tips backyard barbecue game ideas to make your next BBQ as much fun for your little ones as it is for the grown-ups.

Let’s Race!

Kids love to race! These outdoor summer games for families get kids moving and burn up some excess energy while they wait for their burgers and baked beans!

  • Red Light Green Light – Assign a “Stop Light” to stand a good distance away from the rest of the kids, who are lined up hand to hand facing him. When the Stop Light says “Green Light”, all kids run toward him, until he says “Red Light” and they stop. Wiggle or cheat on a Red Light and you’re out! The first player to reach the Stop Light becomes the Stop Light for the next round.
  • Blob Tag – Great for playing with a variety of ages! One player is “it” and races to tag any of the other players. When she does, both kids race together to tag another player, who joins the blob, until all of the kids have been absorbed into the blob.
  • Pancake Pile-Up- A tasty twist on the traditional relay race! Players form two teams and line up. One player flips a card to show the type and order of a stack of pancakes and yells “Order Up!” The first player in each line races across the yard to the pancake pile, scoops up the correct pancake with her spatula, races back without dropping it, and sets down the first pancake. The next player takes the spatula, races to find the next pancake in the stack, and races back to stack it atop the first. Play continues until one team correctly completes the stack exactly as shown on the card.

Get Artsy!

Provide a place for kids to take a break from the summer sun by setting up an art table and chairs in a shady spot. Be sure to provide:

  • Chalk – Great for art and for drawing hopscotch courts! Add beanbags and help kids draw a bull’s eye.
  • Crayons, markers, water colors and paper – Consider creating a few summer scenes for the kids to copy, like sandcastles at the beach or a park full of green grass and trees.
  • Playfoam- Perfect for outdoor crafting, Playfoam never dries out and doesn’t pick up dirt, even if you drop it! Set a few colors out and challenge the kids to sculpt the sun, flowers, butterflies, or burgers!

Cool It!

Keep kids cool with some wet n wild water games!

  • Balloon Toss – Fill a bucket with water balloons – lots of water balloons! – before the BBQ gets started and bring them out at the height of the heat.
  • Water Guns – From cheap, plastic water guns to serious Super Soakers, water guns are a fantastic way to keep kids happy – and cool! – on a hot day. Just make sure you have enough for everyone!
  • Sprinklers – If you’ve got the space, turn on the sprinklers! If you’re really brave, bust out a Slip n Slide – you can make your own with a tarp and a hose.

Got Game?

As the sun sets and the energy wanes, board games and toys are a great way for kids to stay engaged. Replace your arts & crafts supplies with a few of the following:

  • Checkers or Chess Sets
  • Card and Dice Games – Classics like Go Fish and Old Maid are fun for younger kids – or try Marco’s Polos- a frenetic, match em’, stack ‘em, pack ‘em card game for kids ages 5 and up! Older kids flip for Even Steven’s Odd!™, the fast-paced, dice-rolling race.
  • BBQ Blitz – No BBQ is complete without a rousing round of BBQ Blitz! Players race to flip and find the burgers that match the ones on their cards – and place buns on top – in this frantic, fast-paced, burger-flippin’ game.BBQ Blitz

 

 

Keep On Reading! Teachers’ Read-Aloud Recommendations for Elementary School Students

Best Summer Reading For Kids

Story time isn’t just for little kids – older kids love to be read to, too! Elementary school teachers know that reading to their students increases their vocabularies (a proven predictor of academic success), as well as aiding with focus and attention span, and introducing new subjects in a casual, comfortable way.

As summer approaches, consider continuing this teacher tradition by reading aloud to your kids at home.The former-teachers on our team have curated a list just for elementary school students, including some of their favorite read-aloud picks. Check out these best books for middle schoolers and choose the ones your kiddos will love!

Best Books for First Graders

1alexanderAlexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst – Your kids have seen the movie – now read the story where it all started! From gum in his hair to a missing dessert, Alexander’s day just gets worse and worse. A terrific anecdote to a rough day.

 

2whinedingillyThe Wingdingdilly by Bill Peet – Scamp the dog is not satisfied with his life… until a witch turns him into a Wingdingdilly and he learns how much worse things could be! A great introduction to gratitude.

 

3fernidand

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf – Teach your kids to stay calm and cool, just like peaceful Ferdinand. Despite his forever frolicking friends, Ferdinand would rather stop and smell the flowers.

 

hotdotsfairytales

Hot Dots Interactive Storybooks – Great for those struggling readers, this set of four interactive books features Ace the Dog and Kat the Kitty in a series of outrageous adventures. Ace – the Talking, Teaching Dog® brings the books to life, helping kids master key alphabet readiness and beginning phonics skills.

 

And a series…

4arthurs

The Arthur Series by Marc Brown – From Arthur’s Underwear to Arthur’s New Puppy and Arthur’s Family Vacation, kids adore Arthur and look forward to every adventure.

 

 

Best Books for Second Graders

 stripes

A Bad Case of the Stripes by David Shannon – “Be yourself” is the moral of this colorful story featuring Camilla Cream, a girl who learns first-hand what can happen when you worry too much about what others think. A great conversation starter!

 

6library

Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen – This sweet story about breaking the rules features librarian Miss Merriweather and a lovable lion whoenjoys attending story time.

 

 

7givingtree

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein – “Once there was a tree… and she loved a little boy,” begins this classic tale of generosity, friendship, and love, written in true Shel Silverstein style.

 

 

jamesandgiantpeach

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl – James lives a loathsome life with his terrible aunts until help arrives in the form of an insect brigade living inside a giant peach. Once you’ve told the tale, watch the movie together – it’s just as tasty!

 

 

9thekeepingquilt The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco – Anna learns that nothing is stronger than family and love lasts longer than a lifetime as she and her mother craft a quilt that will span generations.

 

 

 

Best Books for Third Graders

10amazingboneThe Amazing Boneby William Stieg – Pearl and her talking bone show considerable courage as they outwit a dangerous fox in this tale full of fun language and imagery.Steig’sSylvester & The Magic Pebble and Amos & Boris are wonderful, too.

 

 

11charlottesweb

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White – A timeless tale of friendship, this classic story of Charlotte the spider and Wilbur the pig includes humor, kindness, and yes, some tears.

 

 

12-owl-moon

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen – Introduce the solace of nature with this quiet story of a girl and her father on a nighttime owling expedition through the snow.

 

 

13_winndixie

Because of Winn Dixie by Kate Di Camillo –New in town, lonely Opal befriends a puppy who opens the door to all kinds of new relationships. A heart-warming tale of friendship and community.

 

And a series…

15boxcarchildren
The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner – You may remember the Alden children from your own childhood, on their own but turning their travels into adventures and solving mysteries wherever they go!