20+ Independent Reading/Writing Activities

During my years as an elementary school teacher, I would often hear complaints from both students and parents whenever there was a long break. Students would complain about being bored at home and parents would grumble about how their children were wreaking havoc on their homes and schedules because they just ran out of things for them to do. By the end of summer, I had a full understanding of why everyone was so excited (and relieved) to begin another year of school.

This list of independent work activities was compiled over my years as a classroom teacher of students at various academic performance levels. I wanted work that would challenge each and every student while meeting their individual needs as unique learners. Not only are these tried and true classroom activities, but parents have reported that their children actually enjoyed the flexibility of many of the activities… and their children were able to work and learn independently! Yay!

[photo: activities on index cards in small pocket chart)

  1. Write a letter to the author of a book and explain your reaction to the book.
  2. Make a poster advertising your favorite book.
  3. Make a word search using Bee Wordy WOWs.
  4. Write a letter to a classmate.
  5. Write an article or comic strip for the class newsletter.
  6. Quietly play the Bee Wordy game with a classmate.
  7. Write a short story using one of the Creative Writing story titles.
  8. Search the internet for information on your favorite celebrity and write a short report on what you find out.
  9. Write sentences for 10 Bee Wordy WOWs, but leave the word out. Trade papers and have a classmate fill in the blanks.
  10. Write an entry in your personal journal.
  11. Write 10 super sentences using Bee Wordy WOWs. Be sure to include a noun, verb, adjective and adverb.
  12. Illustrate each chapter of a book you are reading or have read.
  13. Write a different ending or an additional chapter to a story you’ve read.
  14. Write a diary entry from the point of view of your favorite character.
  15. Write an original dialogue between two characters.
  16. Find a poem. Neatly copy and illustrate the poem.
  17. Write 6 things that you think would make the community a better place and tell why.
  18. Read a fable. Write the title and the lesson it teaches.
  19. Read an article in a magazine. Write the 5 Ws and H of the story.
  20. Read a book, then write a letter to someone telling them about it.
  21. List 15 different careers. Write about the ones you might like to do someday.

4 Activities to Complement Your Game

Have you ever wondered what to do with all of those words written down at the end of a Bee Wordy game? Players will love the wordy fun that’s packed into these activities, and you’ll love that they reinforce skills in reading, writing, vocabulary and more. Bee Inspired and Bee Wordy!

Players can write a descriptive story using their five senses and Bee Wordy words.

Players can write a descriptive story using their five senses and Bee Wordy words.

Players will have a blast creating super sentences, and displaying their creativity and writing skills.

Players will have a blast creating super sentences, and displaying their creativity and writing skills.

This activity is perfect for independent work time and self-monitoring! Players will love going from red to green as they increase their vocabulary.

This activity is perfect for independent work time and self-monitoring! Players will love going from red to green as they increase their vocabulary.

This is a great sorting activity to use any time. It can also be transformed into an excellent writing activity!

This is a great sorting activity to use any time. It can also be transformed into an excellent writing activity!

20 Non-Toy and Educational Gift Ideas for Kids

I’ve been an educator for nearly 20 years, but now have my own children (stop doing the math, I’m a member of the older moms club), I look at everything that effects my children with a much more critical eye including the gifts that I purchase for them.

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Now I love this time of the year. I enjoy the constant Black Friday ads, early morning posts outside of retail stores, long lines everywhere, scuffles over the last latest, big, must-have item far less than I do decorating my faux fir tree. I even get giddy with each gift I hand-wrap and place beneath it. But, now that I have the benefit of watching my little ones learn with every experience they have, I want to be more strategic about what I do as a mom to add to those experiences. That got me to thinking… What can I give them this holiday season that will evoke all of the excitement in them that I remember having as a child while adding to their mental capacity?

We can alleviate the problems with Black Friday and last minute shopping at the mall by purchasing online, of course. But, being strategic about what we give to children that will add to their learning and development… well, that takes some thought. Luckily, I’ve already thought about it and here’s what I came up with. Bee awesome and Bee Wordy!

  1. Globe.

  2. Small Aquarium and Fish.

  3. Magazine Subscription. Encourage children to read a variety of topics by them a magazine subscription. Children’s magazines are available for all age groups, interests and reading levels (National Geographic for Kids, Highlights, Baby Bug). And, kids love getting things in the mail (because they don’t get bills).

  4. Easel.

  5. Camera.

  6. Books. Encourage kids to read and learn by giving the gift of print. All children are interested in something, and I guarantee that there is a book about it. If you have a struggling reader or non-reader, reading aloud to children not only increases their learning, but it helps foster positive relationships. Oh yeah, to keep your house from being overrun with reading material, have book exchange parties or just pass them along when you are done.

  7. Telescope.

  8. Planting Kit.

  9. Games and Puzzles. Games and puzzles are great way for kids to stimulate their brains and develop key problem solving skills. They’re also a wonderful opportunity for families – big and small- to spend time together helping build relationships and also promoting healthy social development. Of course, games like Bee Wordy teach, too!

  10. Science Kit. There are a variety of kits to encourage children to ask questions and seek answers. From chemistry sets for older students to ant farms and butterfly habitats for younger students, there is something for everyone.

  11. Stationary.

  12. Arts and Craft Supplies. Inspire creativity with a box full of craft supplies. There is nothing like the imagination of a child!

  13. Backpack with School Supplies.

  14. Microscope.

  15. Physical Activity Equipment. Wouldn’t it have been cool if you had all of the fun P.E. equipment that you had at school at your house? I know, right! There is nothing wrong with having jump ropes, hula hoops, and rubber balls in a box in your room waiting for the next Saturday afternoon.

  16. Instrument.

  17. Memberships. Whether it’s the local zoo, science academy, children’s museum or YMCA membership getting children out of the house, off of the iPad or Xbox is a good thing. Sadly, these wonderful places of learning and exploration are sometimes not visited because of the financial cost, so the gift of a yearly membership will sure to be greatly appreciated.

  18. Writing Journal.

  19. Classes. Music, dance, and art classes are a great way to encourage children to try something new or further explore their interests.

  20. Piggy Bank. It’s never too early to start learning how to save and manage your money effectively. Establishing good financial habits as a child, will more likely to lead to maintaining these good practices into adulthood. From setting financial goals to planning out purchases, one of the most important things we can do for our children is to prepare them to be financially astute.

Bee Wordy for Beginning Readers

For beginning readers, the 300 cards in the Bee Wordy game can be a bit overwhelming. Here’s a tip to support those learners: start small. Starting small means using only the cards your learners are familiar with. If children only know c, m, b, s, f, t, h, r, o and a, then play with only those cards and add additional sounds and spellings as learned.

With a smaller number of cards, children can still have the authentic Bee Wordy experience of building words, writing them down and adding up their points. Bee Creative and Bee Wordy!

3 Skills Every Beginning Reader Should Master

Reading is, undoubtedly, one of the most joyous activities in which one can engage. We can be taken to far-off lands, meet exciting people and become a part of thrilling adventures. Reading also increases our knowledge, sharpens our critical thinking skills, expands our vocabulary, and even reduces stress. Unfortunately, not everyone gets to experience the benefits of reading. In fact, 1 in 4 children in America grow up without learning to read. What’s more, students who fail to read proficiently by the 3rd grade are 4 times more likely to drop out of school. So what can you do to help children become proficient readers? Well, aside from immersing them in print-rich environments and being a model reader yourself, children need to be skilled at deciphering the written English code.  

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  1. Segmenting – Skillful readers have the capacity to separate individual sounds in words. For example, the word yellow has 4 distinct sounds - /y/ /e/ /l/ /ō/. Being able to distinguish sounds from letters is a key skill for beginning readers to master.
  2. Blending – Competent readers have the ability to push individual sounds into meaningful words. Reversing segmentation, the four sounds in /y/ /e/ /l/ /ō/ become the word yellow.
  3. Phoneme Manipulation – Phonemes are units of sounds, and putting sounds into and taking sounds out of words is another skill of proficient readers. Taking the letter n out of grown leaves grow. Replacing the g with c makes the word crow. Whew!

Phoneme manipulation also involves recognizing and manipulating phonograms or the symbols that represent sounds (letters). The English language is made up of all kinds of funny little nuances. Have you ever written a word and said to yourself, “This doesn’t look right.” As a reader, we often rely on our ability to substitute one phonogram for another. For instance, when croe reads the way we want, but doesn't look right, we make adjustments – taking the oe out and replacing it with ow to get crow.

In the end, given proper and explicit instruction, all children (and adults) can be taught to read. With the appropriate time and effort we can all live fantasy-filled, stress-free lives! Bee informed and Bee Wordy!