What could be better than reading with your children? Writing stories with your children, of course! Both are excellent activities for reading development, but writing stories develops organizational and thinking skills while learning use of language and vocabulary. Sound difficult? It's not.
Here is a wonderful online tool that can help. Storybird provides all the elements to engage and inspire you and your children.
For more ideas to help young children see grandparentsteachtoo.org and wnmufm.org for "Learning Through the Seasons." Fran Darling, technology educator, is a guest writer.
ANDEREGG, MACALADY, FOX, HETRICK, KATERS
Go to storybird.com. Click Explore to read hundreds of stories written by others just like you. Click Parents for many ideas and ways to share stories. Interaction is big part of Storybird. Making comments and suggestions engages writers and develops social skills at the same time.
What to do
Click Create to sign up for your free account. Start your story by viewing an extensive gallery of illustrations to inspire you to "unlock" the stories inside your children. You and your children collaborate to develop story ideas that bloom through imagination.
Type in your text online and drag the pictures into scenery boards that become the pages of your book. You can easily edit text and rearrange boards at any time. Work is saved as you go along and remains unpublished until you submit your final copy, it can still be changed anytime, even if you think you are finished and change your children change their minds.
Stories are saved securely in an online account to share on Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter. Snuggle up with your children and your iPad internet browser, marking your favorites. All this is free, but you can also purchase hard copies of the books your children write. Print stories on your own printer from downloadable pdf files or order published soft or hard cover books.
These are perfect for sending to friends and relatives for presents. Write your own personal histories and save them in beautiful, professionally illustrated books.
What else can we do?
Technology can be another friendly resource for helping young children practice their reading and writing skills. New young readers who cannot keyboard can dictate stories to adults and older siblings.
Then they can illustrate and read their own words. Families can add the Storybird site to their wealth of reading and writing experiences for their young learners.
How does this help
Read and write with your children for twice the learning! Since you are writing with online tools, you can join a global community of writers, readers, and artists of all ages and still remain anonymous. With supervision your family can enjoy the chance to interact and create with relatives all over the country, in your school, or community.
Editor's note: This column is penned by retired Marquette Area Public Schools teachers Iris Katers, Jean Hetrick, and Cheryl Anderegg. Esther Macalady is from Golden, Colorado. Tim Fox currently teaches at Superior Hills Elementary. It's supported by Northern Michigan University Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship, the School of Education, U.P. Children's Museum, U.P. Association for the Education of Young Children, and U.P. Parent Awareness of Michigan. Their book "Learning Through the Seasons" is available at area stores and www.grandparentsteachtoo.org. Their mission is to provide fun standards based activities that adults can do in the home to prepare children for school and a lifetime of learning and reduce the stress of child care.