Posts Tagged “Literacy”

Scavenger Hunt Reading Game

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Partnering with companies like uKloo afford us the opportunity to bring honest reviews of learning games to our readers. This is a #sponsored post whereby we were provided a complimentary copy of uKloo. The opinions expressed herein are strictly my own. This article contains affiliate links.


We know teaching our children to read is essential but it doesn’t have to be painful. UKloo is a scavenger hunt game that encourages children to read, as they go from clue to clue. The game features 3 reading levels and a word chart to assist them in recognizing words on the clues. Kids are so busy moving from clue to clue that they don’t realize that they are reading in the process. In the end, children find a surprise, which could be anything parents desire: chocolate chip cookies, tickets to the movies, a new coloring book. UKloo is designed to take your children on a house-wide scavenger hunt and is suggested to use 5-7 clue cards.

We liked that blank cards were included for personalizing the game. Just write a clue in dry erase marker and later wipe clean to use over and over again. Great game to get your kids up and moving while still strengthening their reading and comprehension skills. Check out our brief video review below.



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Prompting Creative Writing

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Disclosure: While this is not a sponsored post, it does contain affiliate links. The contents and opinions expressed herein are strictly my own.

writing-prompt-pic-2Even for the most creative or artistic students, creative writing can be challenging. Many students struggle with a blank sheet of lined paper, not knowing where to begin. Will the topic be enough to write about? Do I have anything interesting to say about this? My advice for parents trying to inspire children to write creatively – openly, is to offer smaller digestible writing exercises. Thank you cards, for instance, are perfect.  Along the same line, postcards offer a terrific way to fold in some writing skills without having it become overbearing. As an alternative, have your child describe the picture on the front side of the postcard. He/She can make up a story or describe a recently visited place. Then they can be mailed for sharing… or not, but it’s really about making writing feel less intimidating.


Another writing trick is to incorporate lists but in such a way that the child is expanding on each bullet point. This of course is the start of an outline, but that already is projecting too far. Keeping the concept simple allows for freedom and eliminates unnecessary pressure. Outlines will come later but for now we’ll look at my example below about summer break. Again the idea isn’t to “teach” your child how to write but instead allow your child the freedom to write. Normally a child would jot down 3 to 5 favorite places he’s been in the summer. Instead encourage a string of thoughts, not necessarily not complete sentences. Once the child has written a few points, then he can pull them together into a small paragraph. For me, I don’t worry about the spelling, grammar and punctuation… I just want to see well constructed thoughts expressed in a simple paragraph or essay, depending the age/skill level.




A third option for getting the creative juices flowing is using a tool like Daybook of Critical Reading and Writing by Great Source.  Using small passages, this resource prompts children to dig deeper into the story to answer open ended questions, look for clues, draw inferences and in some cases write an essay in response to the lesson. It will be awhile before Victoria is ready for the copy I picked up at a second-hand shop. In the meantime, we have a book called Monkey Business (Road to Writing) by Sarah Albee that incorporates doodles into simple writing exercises. For instance, one activity is to create an ad for skunk perfume… super silly, colorful and engaging story prompts to build the child’s confidence and creativity.

writing-prompt-picBefore long, the essays and research projects will creep into our children’s routine. Let’s empower our children to feel confident about writing. Let’s help them overcome writer’s block and fear of written expression. A small prompt can kick off a full discussion and plenty of insight… and afterall that’s the gold, right? Knowing what’s going on inside their minds.

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Walls & Warriors Connect Strategic Thinking with Literacy

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Connecting Critical Thinking skills and Literacy

We love when a game ties critical thinking skills to a love of reading or a topic a child is passionate about.

Thank you SmartGamesUS for providing us a review copy of Walls & Warriors. The opinions expressed herein are strictly my own. This post contains affiliate links.

Connecting Critical Thinking with Literacy

Back to school is in full force and in the spirit of things – we’ve found the perfect pair for connecting strategic thinking skills with literacy. Another SmartGamesUS puzzle game, Walls & Warriors, (coming soon) with knights and a castle is perfect for our adventure stories of knights and midevil times. Victoria was fascinated to learn that castles truly exist and aren’t just “part of the story”. We love the book  I Wonder Why Castles Had Moats by Philip Steele that showcases the inside of a castle… including the ever-famous bathroom. What really went on behind those stone walls? It is a great resource for bringing fantasy and history together. And as long as we’re talking castles and all… be sure to check out SmartGamesUS’ Castle Logix game as well.


Couple the Walls & Warriors puzzle game with fictional stories about knights, such as The Barefoot Book of Knights by John Matthews. Children won’t realize that they are exercising their critical thinking skills while playing the game, especially if listening to the narrated version of the stories or chatting about them should you have had your reading time prior to game play. Either way… take the theme to a whole new level and completely amp up the educational value of these resources when paired together.


Below you can see that the puzzle is appropriate for varying ages with 60 challenge cards, multiple knights (blue and red) and a single castle to defend. There are four wall pieces used to enclose any number of the blue knights (based on the challenge card layout) and the castle. The first few are pretty simple, even for Victoria (age 6) but they do get more challenging. I think everyone in the family has picked up this game on their own to play… something about the pieces and design that is enticing. LOL SmartGamesUS nailed it on this one.


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