This past Summer, I found myself with a rising Kindergartner and rising 1st grader. If you have had children pass through these ages then you will know exactly how important reading becomes! Everything else they do and learn as they get older will stem from this cognitive ability to read and comprehend. But let's be real a sec. Can we be real? My grammar gets lost when I get real apparently. Reading is NOT ALWAYS FUN. Let me rephrase that, LEARNING to read is not always fun. Selfishly, I imagined my children and I clumped together in a pile on the sofa, our noses in our own separate fantasies for hours on end. I love to read, so obviously they will also love to read... right?
As I ping ponged ideas around in my head as to figure out a way to make reading enjoyable for my kiddos, I happened to stumble across a reading tree online. It wasn't quite like my version if any similarity at all actually. It was just the concept of a reading tree that snagged my attention.
This is how my idea came to be. When I think about how incredibly EASY it was to tackle, I figured I should share my idea with all of my lovely readers!
You're going to need to run to your hardware store (Lowe's, Home Depot etc.) and pick up a container of chalkboard paint. This is not the brand I used, but very similar. It's going to run you anywhere between 6 and 12 dollars and comes in a plethora of colors.
Also, grab a 2 inch brush which should be all you need to get started. It literally could not be any easier!
I chose to paint a door in our home that never gets used. This is a door that is in my children's play room and it leads to a little balcony. One day when they are older, we may decide to use that balcony for something other than bug and leaf collecting. For now, it stays locked and unused. I do not have any pictures of the painting process because quite frankly, I would rather let you use your imagination than have teal thumb prints on my otterbox. If you've ever painted anything at all, you have enough experience to complete this project. Just make sure you do an even coat all over and try to have your brush strokes going in the same direction.
Once the door is painted and has been given 24 hours to dry, the magic can begin! The possibilities are endless, truly.
I drew the tree onto the door with chalk and I cut out different colored leaves from construction paper. Over the Summer, I kept a thick pile of these leaves ready-made so that I could just grab one and jot down the book title and WHO read it. I found small round magnets to use on our door because it is metal but if you need to use a wooden door, I would suggest getting the little blue puddy that our teachers would use to hang posters in the classroom. To add some incentive to our Summer reading, every time one of my children reached 5 entire books read, they could choose a treat from a treat jar. Did I really bribe my children with treats, to read? YUP. The more comfortable they become with reading, the more they will enjoy it. My advice would be to not worry about whether or not they will "always" expect treats for doing things they need to do and should do. In my experience with working with children in many different facets, this is not the case. If treats in the beginning cause reading to become more frequent, and frequent reading leads to fluid reading, fluid reading leads to comprehensive reading... then at long last, the joy of reading will become established.
I hope you will give this project a go and make learning to read, FUN!