Sunday, July 12, 2015

Fun Ways to Motivate Readers

    It is my steadfast belief that reading everyday improves literacy. I began reading to my own children as soon as we were home from the hospital! Crazy, maybe, but my children were solid readers well before kindergarten. Not all children are born natural readers. Some children really have to work hard at learning how to read, for multiple reasons. As an educator, I take reading very seriously, as I should! As a special education teacher in a 12:1:1 classroom, I can tell you that most of my students struggle with reading in one way or another. Some with decoding, others with comprehension, some with both. I can also tell you that these kids work hard everyday to improve their skill at reading. They also all love reading!
   I love coming up with creative ways to help children become motivated readers. Some kids are intrinsically motivated, others need a little push. I guess I am the reading pusher! Sounds scary but it's all good fun! Over the years I've developed many ways to motivate children to read, even children who like to read enjoy a new "gimmick" every now and then! So, here are a few ways to make reading fun!

1) The Reading Chain Challenge:  The reading chain challenge begins on the very first day of school! Everyone in the classroom including the aides, students, and me are invited to participate. It's an honor system so all books read count, even those read at home! After a book is completed the reader needs to fill out a pre-cut strip 
 of paper that includes their name, the date, the book title, and the author. If the children are young or unable to write, a note from Mom, Dad, or their guardian works too. Each strip is then added to a chain that we attempt to get all the way around the classroom. This year we made it about half-way around the room. As a class we read 233 books this year! On the last day of school the strips are tallied and the person who read the most books wins a  sizable prize! This year's winner read 35 books. The runner-up read 34 books! The race was so close! This strategy can be adapted at home. Imagine the great chain that could adorn your den or child's bedroom.

2) The New Year fifteen books in 2015: Just in cast the Reading Chain Challenge didn't give out a reward quickly enough, there is the 15 in 15 New Year Challenge! This challenge begins on the first day back to school after the holiday school break. The goal: To read 15 books before the last day of school in June. The Prize: A  BIG "Symphony" with a round of applause!  A big symphony is a large size chocolate bar from Hershey. Some students earned more than one Symphony with a round of applause! In this challenge, for each book read, the students had to write a short book report and draw an illustration. I keep track of the number of books read in a wall display (shown in the picture) with big numbers to remind everyone to read! I also use this challenge for "early finishers" who need a task to do to fill-in time while their classmates finish work they have all ready completed. This challenge is easily adaptable for home use as well.

3) Balloon Pop:  Balloon Pop is a motivational reading strategy that I enjoy using in the summertime but it can be used anytime during the year! I write the names of all of my kids favorite books on to tiny strips of paper (cut up sticky notes work well); I fold the paper and place it into a balloon. I then blow the balloon up and place the balloons into a basket or bucket. When reading time comes the child chooses a balloon and pops it! They can pop-it any way that's safe, stomping on it, sitting on it or with a fork or pin. Never ever let a child pop a balloon with their teeth because this can be a chocking hazard. I would of course suggest adult supervision, especially with younger children. This is a fun, memorable way to enjoy reading time!

In the end, the only thing that matters is to keep reading! It's fun to motivate readers. Reading provides a valuable hobby that promotes literacy. When done at home with the parent reading together creates a bond that lasts a lifetime. A child that reads will be an adult who reads. Have fun reading!

Book Review:

Diary of a Wimpy Villager by: Cube Kid. This is a self-published book for Kindle.  It is a diary of a twelve year old minecraft villager, named Runt.  Runt wants to be a warrior.  The characters in this story are engaging. Kids think it's funny.  In the end kids want more because Diary of a Wimpy Villager is a cliffhanger!  In my opinion this is always good, because it keeps kids reading!