Summer Is Coming and It’s Going to Be AMAZING!

“How do I keep (insert young person in your life) engaged with reading during the summer and avoid the summer slide?” Do not fear, Storytime Sue is here! Keeping the kiddos engaged is really about keeping reading fun — so here are some of my favorite suntime, funtimes!

Here we are, we finally made it. Grades are submitted, pedi appointment has been secured, and sunglasses are perched atop of head. You’re ready for it: relaxation mode set to “ON” (cue pan flute).

But, if you’re like me, you are also thinking, “How do I keep (insert young person in your life) engaged with reading during the summer and avoid the summer slide?” Maybe the young person is your niece or nephew in Cheybogan. Or the cute twins you signed on to babysit or tutor. Or perhaps you have your own toddler running amuck in your house.

Whatever the case: Do not fear, Storytime Sue is here! Keeping the kiddos engaged is really about keeping reading fun — so here are some of my favorite suntime, funtimes!

  • Make it a Playdate! As a mother and an educator, I’m really digging the community of toddlers and families that I’ve met on the preschool scene. They are the perfect crowd to invite over for an interactive, book-themed play date. This week we’re reading Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site (with Novel Effect of course). Then we’ll set the kids loose in a big, ol’ pile of dirt with their diggers, construction equipment, and washable dolls to dig, dig, dig and build, build, build (no permits required). Here are some pretty great, additional activities for the book from the publisher as well.
  • Get Thee to the Library. You know the library is full of good stuff, and many of them have great free programs all summer long that you can participate in. Want to do something a little less structured? Grab that crumpled piece of paper in the bottom of your bag and brainstorm with your kids five or six things they’re interested in learning something new about. Then set them free on a Library Scavenger hunt, scouring the racks for related titles. (Don’t limit yourself to kid books, reference books are full of cool diagrams and information too!)
  • Camping, Camping, Camping It doesn’t even have to be in the wild! It can be in your backyard or your living room. Set up a tent, grab a flashlight, snuggle into a sleeping bag, and read some fun stories. I suggest Bear Snores On or All Aboard, National Parks: A Wildlife Primer (both available with wonderful accompanying soundscapes on the Novel Effect app). Discuss future travel adventures, both real and imagined.

Download Novel Effect for free in the App Store | on Google Play!

Summer Reading Fun and Adventures

While research shows the “Summer Slide” can cause the kiddos to lose some of what they learned the previous school year, there’s plenty of fun ways to incorporate the brain-boosting activity of reading into a summer of adventure!

Here are some of our suggestions, inspired by items in the Novel Effect library:

Summer is a great time to explore and try something new. Whether it’s a new beach, a new park, or a new camp, the break from the daily grind of school allows young minds to make all sorts of discoveries.

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Research shows the “Summer Slide” can cause the kiddos to lose some of what they learned the previous school year, but ask any child and they’ll tell you that summer is all about adventure and trying new things! There are plenty of fun ways to incorporate the brain-boosting activity of reading into your summertime fun! Our team shared their favorite summer soundscapes and the ways they inspire their own families to spend some hot sunny days with their nose in a book!

Here are some of our suggestions, inspired by titles you can find in the Novel Effect library:

1. “Make a Joyful Noise”

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Make your own joyful noises! “Make a Joyful Noise” is a short poem you can read using the free e-book right in the app. Open the poem, tap ‘read book,’ and then tap ‘open free ebook’ to read together as a family. When you’ve finished, encourage your children to use their imaginations to write their own poem and make their own music and sound effects. Take a video and tag us (@Novel_Effect) – we love showcasing your creativity!

 

2. Fight the Monday Blues

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We love featuring independent, self-published authors and small publishers to help you expand your bookshelves at home. Books like Alycat and the Monday Blues offer unique characters and stories your children probably haven’t read before. Keep reading fresh by trying one of these new titles. You can connect with the authors like Alyson Foti Borque and let the author (and your friends) Then, hop on social media and let the author, and your friends, know how much you loved their work!

 

3. Scavenger Hunt All the World

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Use the books you’re reading as an inspiration to discovery by using your favorite books as the framework for a scavenger hunt! Hello Baby has lots of animals that you can search for at the zoo. “A Marching Band of Vitamins” is a another free ebook that highlights fruits and vegetables you’d find at a farmer’s market. All the World lists items you can find in a variety of locations that range from a beach to your family gatherings or home kitchen. Engaging with the words of the story and the sounds from Novel Effect soundscape in this deep way increases understanding and gives you an excuse to both read and explore more!

 

We love hearing your ideas for how you’re keeping your children’s brains active this summer. Head on over to our Facebook Page to join the conversation with other parents who love reading with their kids!

A Note to Teachers from our Chief of Education

As an early childhood educator and now a parent, I know that it can be exhausting to fit everything you need to do into jam-packed days. As the school year comes to a close, I hope you take a moment to reflect on the joyful moments of success and the challenges that inspired to do better.

We created our app so that story time is an achievable daily goal that can create those moments of success. Novel Effect is an aid for those of us who don’t like to read out loud, for those of us who are too tired to make choo-choo train noises or roar like a lion, or for those of us looking for something to jazz up the ol’ classroom routine and get the wee one’s attention back to the basics of listening to a good story – with a little magic thrown in for good measure. 

“If every parent and every adult caring for a child read aloud a minimum of three stories a day to the children in their lives, we could probably wipe out illiteracy within one generation.” – Mem Fox

As an early childhood educator and now a parent, I know that it can be exhausting to fit everything you need to do into jam-packed days. As the school year comes to a close, I hope you take a moment to reflect on the joyful moments of success and the challenges that inspired to do better.

We created our app so that story time is an achievable daily goal that can create those moments of success. Novel Effect is an aid for those of us who don’t like to read out loud, for those of us who are too tired to make choo-choo train noises or roar like a lion, or for those of us looking for something to jazz up the ol’ classroom routine and get the wee one’s attention back to the basics of listening to a good story – with a little magic thrown in for good measure. Below are some tips on getting the most out of Novel Effect during your classroom storytime. 

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1. Get a nice blue tooth speaker

This isn’t crucial when reading to one child. You can simply use your device by itself for smaller audiences. In the classroom, though, you want something so the whole class can hear. I recommend something that doesn’t stand out – so that no one is distracted by all those fun buttons and flashing lights. There are plenty of great options out there, but my personal favorite is this economical little guy.

 

2. Practice during the summer. 

I know – the last thing you want is to think about class when you’re relaxing at the lake in July. Hear me out! Using Novel Effect is really fun for grown-ups, too. If you see books you enjoy reading to your class, try them out with the app with your family, friends, or pets. Our accompanying soundscapes have made me a better, slower and more articulate reader of stories. Once I read the stories a few times, I know when the sounds are coming, and this makes me slow down and enjoy the wonder of the story. Plus, my family has had a lot of fun perfecting our dance skills.

 

3. Figure out your set-up. 

The phone can be situated near you on a table or desk. Sit comfortably or sit on the floor with the phone not too far away. Placing the blue tooth speaker away from the phone (on your other side perhaps) will ensure the app isn’t picking up sounds coming from the speaker. Make sure the speaker is somewhere projecting so that the kids in the back can hear it but also isn’t blasting the front row sitters.

 

4. Take your time.

We’re following you in the text! If you don’t hear sounds right away – give it a few words, and it’ll pick you right up. If you want to skip around the story or stop to ask comprehension questions or talk about the illustrations, you can. We’ll be ready, listening for the text as you pick back up again.

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5. Get the students involved.

Have the children read lines to trigger sound effects and music. The students can participate by reading their favorite parts or lines aloud and get instant positive reinforcement with a fun sound effect or musical note. This promotes an even deeper engagement with the text, asking students to remember their favorite parts to share with the class.

 

Today, I had the good fortune of reading to a class during their lunch, incorporating many of these tips. As they happily munched on their taco boats, they participated in the story, answered questions and responded to the music and sounds as they played throughout the story. This reminded me that storytelling is about the possibility of something new. It’s about the wonders and mysteries in life. Stories allow us to learn things about ourselves and the world around us.

From everyone here at Novel Effect, we hope this summer brings you many wondrous stories of your own! No one deserves the break more than teachers! 

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Melody Zagami Furze is Chief of Education for Novel Effect and is a certified special educator with an emphasis on early childhood populations with blindness and visual impairments. With over a decade of education experience, Melody does research and development on Novel Effect’s application in educational settings. She lives in Olympia, WA with her husband, toddler, and fluffy white dog.