Back to School Newsletter

Alabama Reading Initiative's Family Literacy Activities

Our Mission

The Alabama Reading Initiative (ARI) is a statewide K-3 initiative committed to supporting the development of high-quality instruction that will prepare all students with the literacy skills needed to meet or exceed grade-level standards. The goal of the ARI is to significantly improve reading instruction and ultimately achieve 100% literacy among public school students.

"My Child Can" Packets K-3

The Alabama Reading Initiative is excited to share our resources with parents! We have created a guide to help you understand the current Alabama Course of Study Standards. Check out the documents below for videos, articles, and games to help you support your child at home.

Click a link below to access your preferred "My Child Can!" Packet.

My Child Can - Kindergarten Packet

My Child Can - First Grade Packet

My Child Can - Second Grade Packet

My Child Can - Third Grade Packet

Alabama Literacy Act

Are you familiar with the Alabama Literacy Act? The Alabama Literacy Act was signed into legislation in 2019. We have included a video below that explains the different components of the literacy act.
The Alabama Literacy Act (updated 8.15.23)

QR Code Family Resources

Oral Language, Phonological Awareness, Phonics, Fluency, Comprehension, and Writing are all important components of literacy. This resource provides an activity for each of the different areas. Simply scan the different QR codes to access the activities.

23-24 Parent Resources QR Code.pdf

Activities for Phonological Awareness

Phonological Awareness is the ability to recognize and manipulate the spoken parts of sentences and words.


Phonological awareness is simple to start at home. All you need for phonological awareness is language. Help your child understand that the words they hear in speech are made up of parts and sounds. You can begin building phonological awareness in your child by:

  • Reciting nursery rhymes.

  • Reading books with rhyming words.

  • Playing with alliteration (words that begin with the same sound) Example: Seven silly sisters said surprise!

  • Reciting tongue twisters with a focus on individual sounds in words. Example: How much wood would a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

On My Way to the Store

You and your child/children can sit across from each other or in a circle with something to toss, such as a small ball or beanbag. To begin the game, say, “I was on my way to the store to buy some cheese", then toss the ball to your child. They must repeat the phrase and add a rhyming word at the end, such as “I was on my way to the store to buy some peas" (or trees, fleas, bees, etc.). They should then toss the ball back to their parent who repeats the original phrase with a new rhyming word (e.g., “I was on my way to the store to buy some jam" (or ham, Pam, ram, etc.).
Clap Our Syllables | Jack Hartmann | Syllables Song

Activities for Phonics

Phonics is instruction in the relationship between letters (graphemes) and the sounds (phonemes) they represent.

Fly Swatter Phonics Game

Materials Needed:

Sharpie Marker

Index Cards

Fly Swatter

How to Play:

1. Write letters or words on index cards.

2. Spread out the index cards on a table.

3. Call out a letter or word for your child to find.

4. When they find it, they say the letter or word as they hit it with the fly swatter.

5. Continue playing until your child has had the chance to swat all of the letters or words.


1. Have your child say a word that begins with the letter.

2. Have your child use the word in a sentence and then write the sentence.

Activities for Vocabulary

Vocabulary is a person's knowledge of words and word meanings.

Sensory Word Search

Materials needed:

- Large tray or shallow container

- Salt, sand, or rice

- Small objects or flashcards with words (e.g., toy animals, household items)

Step-by-step directions:

1. Fill a large tray or shallow container with salt, sand, or rice.

2. Bury the small objects or flashcards with words in the sensory material, ensuring that they are partially hidden.

3. Invite the child to explore the sensory tray by touching and feeling the material.

4. Explain that their task is to find the hidden objects or flashcards and match them with the corresponding word/object.

5. Encourage the child to search through the sensory material, using their fingers or small tools such as tweezers if desired.

6. As the child finds an object or flashcard, ask them to read the word aloud and match it to the correct item.

7. Discuss the meaning of each word, encourage the child to use it in a sentence, or describe the object.

8. Repeat the activity with different sets of objects or flashcards to further enhance vocabulary and sensory exploration.

Nature Vocabulary Walk

Materials needed:

- Outdoor space such as a park, garden, or backyard

- Notebook or paper

- Pencils or crayons

Step-by-step directions:

1. Take the child for a nature walk in an outdoor space such as a park, garden, or backyard.

2. Provide them with a notebook or paper and pencils or crayons.

3. Explain that during the walk, their task is to observe and identify different objects or elements from nature.

4. Encourage the child to use their senses of sight, hearing, and touch to explore their surroundings.

5. As they encounter different objects or elements (e.g., trees, flowers, birds, insects), ask the child to name and describe them.

6. Have the child draw a picture or write down the names of the objects they encounter in their notebook or on the paper.

7. Engage in conversations about the objects, their characteristics, and how they relate to the child's existing vocabulary.

8. Once the walk is over, review the drawings and words together, discussing their meanings and expanding on the child's understanding of the natural world.

Toss and Answer

Kids love to play with balls so why not use one when practicing vocabulary words? To make this hands-on vocabulary game, all you need is a piece of paper cut up into small rectangles, an old muffin tin, and a small ball. Write a vocabulary word on each piece of paper and place them into the muffin tin spots. Then have the child toss the ball and see if they can land it into one of the spots. Once they do, they have to define the word, or you can challenge them to give a sentence, synonym (a word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase in a given language), antonym (a word or phrase that is opposite of another word or phrase), etc. If they can, then they get to keep the word card.

Vocabulary Tic-Tac-Toe

A super easy activity to practice vocabulary is tic-tac-toe! All you need to do is draw your tic-tac-toe board and have small cards with vocabulary words on them. To play, kids will play regular tic-tac-toe by placing down one of the vocabulary cards onto the spot that they claim. BUT instead of moving on, they have to define the word and use it in a sentence. If defined correctly, then they can draw their X or their O on top of the card to claim it and that spot. Super fun and easy!

Activities for Fluency

Fluency is the ability to read with appropriate speed, accuracy, and proper expression.

Echo Read

Model reading fluently with shared text- a big book or text displayed on a screen. Read a sentence, then have your child read the same sentence trying to match your fluency and expression.

Roll and Read

Materials Needed:

-Roll and Read Handout

(If unable to print, you may hand draw on a blank sheet of paper.)


-Crayon or marker


-Fill in the Roll and Read handout with letters, high-frequency words (words your child has been taught), or short phrases


1. Roll the dice.

2. Read a box in the column according to the number rolled.

3. If read correctly, your child can color in the box. If read incorrectly, provide immediate feedback and continue playing game.

3. Continue playing until a column, row, or entire sheet has been colored in.

Activities for Comprehension

Comprehension is the understanding and interpretation of what is read.

Retelling Activity

Use a glove to make a story retelling prop with your child. It can then be used with any narrative story again and again!

To make the glove follow the steps below

  • Thumb: Draw a stick person or face.
  • Index Finger: Draw a tree, house or clock.
  • Middle Finger: Draw a question mark, sad face, or lock.
  • Ring Finger: Write the numbers 1, 2, 3 or draw a ladder.
  • Pinkie Finger: Draw a happy face, exclamation point or key.
  • Palm of the hand: Draw a heart or light bulb.
How to use :

  • Touch the thumb of the glove. Ask: Who were the characters in the story?
  • Touch the index finger and ask: When and where did the story take place?
  • Touch the middle finger and ask: What is the problem in the story?
  • Touch the ring finger and ask: What events happened in the story? What happened first, second, etc.?
  • Touch the pinkie finger and ask: How was the problem fixed? What is the end of the story?
  • Touch the palm of the hand and ask: What is the message the author wanted to send?

Spend time each day reading with your child or children while using the glove to help promote their reading comprehension of the story. Then they can look at the glove and retell the story as well.

Main Idea and Details Ice Cream Cone

Find a great book, article, or passage and have your child read it to you. Once finished, ask them to determine the main idea and details of the story. They can then write the main idea on a picture of an ice cream cone like the one shown and write the details on the scoops of ice cream on top.

Then once you’re done, go out for ice cream and discuss all the wonderful things you did over the summer as they get ready to start school.

Family Stories

This is a wonderful activity for a family picnic or for a rainy day when you're snuggled together on the couch. Share a favorite story about your childhood or a family story that's been passed down from generation to generation. Use vivid language and details about people, places, and things. Funny or scary stories will really get your child's attention! Your child will probably have lots of questions, which keeps the storytelling alive. You also could ask your child if she has a favorite family story of her own.

Kitchen Conversations to Build Background Knowledge

Take advantage of dinnertime activities. For example, while in the kitchen, encourage your child to name the utensils needed. Discuss the foods you'll be eating, their color, texture, and taste. Where does the food come from? Which foods do you like? Which do you dislike? Who will clean up? Emphasize the use of prepositions by asking him or her things such as: put the napkin on the table, in your lap, or under the spoon. Then ask questions to identify who the napkin belongs to: "It is my napkin." "It is Daddy's." "It is John's."

Activities for Writing

Make a Back-To-School Memory Book

One of the best ways to commemorate the back-to-school season is to create a memory book. This can be as simple or as elaborate as you want it to be. You can include photos, drawings, and essays about your favorite memories from the summer or the past school year.

First Day Jitters Emoji Writing

The first day of school can trigger a variety of emotions for children. Read a book with your child about starting back to school, such as First Day Jitters. Talk to your child about how they are feeling about going back to school. Then, ask your child to choose emojis they feel best represents their feelings about the first day of school. After choosing their emojis, ask your child to write a story about going back to school. We have included the read aloud if you do not have a copy of this book at home. (See below)
📚READ ALOUD: First Day Jitters By Julie Danneberg #firstdayjitters

10 Ways to Get Involved in Your Child’s Education

  1. Spend some time learning together. Sit with your child during homework and transform something “boring” into a bonding experience.
  2. Tweak your attitude when talking about certain subjects or school in general. Try to keep a positive attitude.
  3. Read to and with your children. Take turns reading before bed, in the car, during homework, or whenever works best for you.
  4. Make everyday activities reinforce educational concepts. This could include reading recipes while baking, learning about science while playing outside, or engineering strong structures out of Lego blocks.
  5. Join a parent group with other parents to affect positive change.
  6. Monitor your child’s schoolwork. Doing this regularly creates opportunities for you to congratulate, help, and encourage.
  7. Keep open lines of communication between you and your child’s teacher to help them better understand their mood or behavior at school.
  8. Prioritize parent-teacher conferences. They are one of the best ways to ask questions and raise concerns. Don’t forget to take notes!
  9. Try supplemental activities. Be mindful of your child’s learning style to help ensure that they learn as effectively as possible.
  10. Volunteer at your child’s school. Let your child’s teacher know when you are free and for how long. Then get excited!

Additional Resources

Resources - Alabama Partnership for Children

The APC has compiled resources surrounding a FOCUS (Focus On Children Under Six) topic for all organizations that request the information for distribution in local communities. It is our hope that the FOCUS resources will provide more attention to birth-to-five topics statewide.

The Alabama Family Central is a single platform for families to access services and programs. Its purpose is to help families easily navigate and find links to support their needs. State agency partners include Departments of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention, Early Childhood Education, Education, Human Resources, Medicaid, Mental Health, Public Health, Rehabilitation Services/Early Intervention, with support from the Office of Information Technology.

Starfall Education: Kids Games, Movies, & Books K-3

Starfall provides free resources that can be used at home to support reading. These interactive activities place emphasis on phonemic awareness, phonics, and common sight words. Starfall's systematic approach, in conjunction with audiovisual interactivity, is perfect for Pre K-3, special education, homeschool, and English language development (ELD,ELL,ESL).

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The information included in this document is done from the perspective of improving LITERACY instruction for students and is only intended to outline support that directly relates to literacy instruction. Please use any resource links with discretion, as their position statements are their own and not necessarily representative of ARI and the ALSDE. Usage of any materials should be with adherence to rules and regulations of the Alabama State Department of Education.
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"Alabama Course of Study English Language Arts." Accessed 16 June. 2022.

"Alabama Literacy Act ," link act2019-523.pdf ( 2023 Revisions -

"Back to School Song | Jack Hartmann - YouTube." 26 Jul. 2019, Accessed 28 Jul. 2022.

Ice Cream Cone Template. IceCreamCone.pdf Accessed 9 June 2023.

Starfall Education: Kids Games, Movies, & Books K-3. Retrieved July 22, 2022, from