Five Letter & Word Games to Play on Vacation


Learning to read is an exciting step for any child, opening the door to a world of new possibilities and adventures. Help your child strengthen his or her reading skills by reading out loud every day, using Frecklebox sight word pads and playing these fun word games for beginning readers.

1.     Starts with…
As your child starts to recognize letters, talk about the sounds each one makes. Play a game where you write down a letter or find it in a book or on a billboard; now try to think of as many words as you can that start with the letter. For example, with the letter “B,” you could begin with simple words: boy, bug, big, ball and so on.

2.     Alphabet hunt
Take out a stack of books or magazines and go on a scavenger hunt to try to find all the letters of the alphabet. Go in order (A, B, C, D…) and flip through the pages until you find all 26 letters. Pay special attention to the difference between lowercase and uppercase letters, an important distinction for beginning readers.

3.     Rhyme time
Playing rhyming word games can help your child recognize similar sounds. Start with a  simple, one-syllable word such as “cat” and take turns thinking of rhyming words (hat, mat, rat and so on). As your child becomes more comfortable with complex words, you can make slightly more complicated variations (for example, “fish” with the “sh” sound).

4.     Sound it out
Work on the skill of hearing individual letter sounds and being able to string them together to form full words. Take a short word and make the sound of each letter alone. For example, for the word “dog,” you would sound out the D, the O and the G separately. Have your child put the puzzle together and guess the whole word.

5.     Draw it out
Word games for beginning readers can also tie into artistic or creative activities. Spell out a word, letter by letter, and have your child write each down in a notebook without showing you, then draw a picture of the word. Stick to short words that are easy to write and draw.


Five Cozy Indoor Activities for Winter


When the weather outside is frightful and you have a house full of bored, restless kids, don’t fret. Turn a snowy, rainy or just plain chilly day into a party with these fun and easy indoor activities perfect for winter vacation.

1.     Indoor Picnic
Who needs sunshine to have a great picnic? Spread out a blanket and placemats on the living room floor and make a selection of simple finger foods (sandwiches, bagels and cream cheese, pretzels, fruit and cookies are good options) and a thermos of hot chocolate or tea for a delicious feast. For a little extra fun, go through the costume box and dress up with a theme in mind – anything from a day at the beach to the knights of the Round Table.

2.     Puppet Show
Looking for indoor activities with a dramatic flair during your winter vacation? Channel all that energy into writing, directing and performing a Broadway-worthy puppet show. Use puppets you already have or make your own with old socks, markers, glue, scraps of fabric, pipe cleaners, yarn or any other craft supplies you have on hand. Add personality to each puppet and get ready to break a leg on stage!

3.     Hide-and-Seek
This classic game is sometimes even more fun on a cold, gloomy day. Pick someone to be “It,” count to 100 and search for everyone else throughout the house (give this person a flashlight to feel more like a detective on a case). Keep playing until everyone has been “It” at least once.

4.     Sardines
For a different spin on hide-and-seek, play sardines, where one child hides and everyone else searches for her. If a seeker finds the person hiding, he joins her instead of pointing her out to the rest of the search party. This continues until all of the kids are squeezed into the one hiding place. The first seeker to find the person hiding gets to hide next.

5.     Reader’s Theater
Practice reading aloud in a fun and theatrical way with reader’s theater, where kids read lines from a script instead of memorizing them. It’s so easy you can put on a short production in an afternoon. Look at the library for scripts or print them out online.