The University of Iowa

6 Family Blogs That Can Be Used in the Classroom Today


Posted on: January 29, 2016

The Iowa Reading Research Center is working to improve children’s literacy across Iowa. Our weekly blog is currently centered on helping make literacy more accessible for families, as we know a parent/caregiver is a child’s first teacher. Even though our posts target families as the primary audience, most activities are applicable to the classroom.

Most of our blogs offer tips and suggestions for working with children to improve reading. Below you will find 6 IRRC Blog Posts that have activities that teachers can use right now.

1. Building Blocks of Reading

Teaching reading is a very complex task teachers have to take on. Out of the many skills that need to be taught for students to progress successfully, the five building blocks of reading are critical. This blog post provides an overview of the five building blocks of reading and an accompanying activity for each. While the post is intended for families, it could serve as a refresher for teachers if needed. In addition, teachers could use it as a way to share these five critical skills with families to support reading at home.

2. Be the Reading Boss

Teaching students how to interact with informational text is a large part of literacy instruction. It is important for children to understand that non-fiction and fiction texts are different and can be read in different ways. This post offers a couple of ways teachers can help students learn how to read non-fiction texts. Children love being able to take charge and be the “Reading Boss.”

3. How to Find the Right Books

Teachers are very busy and most likely don’t have time to ensure EVERY book a student reads is a good fit book. They most likely don’t have time to preview every book a student reads in the classroom or checks out from the library. In my children’s classes they have individual “book boxes” where each student keeps a small collection of books they should be able to read independently. They usually have a book shopping time and their teachers aren't able to oversee every book a child selects for their book box. Teaching children how to select good fit books is a great way to make sure they are able to read and understand books independently.

Our “How to Find the Right Books” blog post shares a great strategy children can use to help themselves select good fit books. It even shares how we tried it out and found it successful. It is a great tool for parents, but great for teachers to use in the classroom as well.

4. Write Track

This blog offers tips for how families can encourage writing at home. These tips translate to the classroom as well. Teachers can read about how giving kids time to write and making writing a group activity can help motivate and encourage writing. The best piece of advice is that teachers can show children writing is a part of communication in the real world by having them send an email (or letter) to someone they know. Teachers could make this an activity children do at home or they could pair with another class in the school and children could write another student in the school. Some classes at my children’s school do something similar to this. Griffin’s first grade class is paired with a fifth grade class and he has an assigned buddy he meets with monthly. They read together and they write each other notes that they share between visits. Griffin looks forward to having his buddy, Chris, write him letters and always brings them home to share. Our Write Track blog offers easy tips for how teachers can encourage writing in their classrooms.

5. Wordless Books

Who knew that books without words would promote language-building skills? This blog post highlights how books that have no words motivate children to actually use the illustrations and their own words to create the story. Teachers can use wordless books in the classroom to help their students enhance their oral language skills by having them create part of the story. Additionally, wordless books can be useful tools for teachers to use when teaching students how to make inferences. By using the illustrations and their own experiences, students are making inferences about what is supposed to be happening in the story.

6. Beat the Clock

Memorizing sight words is a way for students to build vocabulary and improve reading fluency. This blog post highlights a game that helps children learn sight words. Griffin and I found that it was an easy way to make sight word learning fun. Teachers could use this as an activity when children are working in small groups. Instead of a parent working with the child, the teacher could assign partners who take turns.

The IRRC Blog is a way for families and teachers to get ideas for how to support children’s literacy. Our weekly posts feature a way for families to incorporate literacy activities into everyday life. These family blogs can also be used in the classroom to support instruction. By becoming an IRRC blog subscriber, you can learn great ways to help improve reading skills of children in your family and/or in your classroom.