Affordable Ways to Make Learning Fun

I recently conducted a Zoom video interview with educator and reading specialist Faith Borkowsky. I thought I’d share some highlights from the video interview here on my blog. This week, Faith is sharing her favorite affordable ways to make learning fun for young children and also help them with their reading skills, motor skills, and brain development.

The following information is from the video interview with Faith Borkowsky. You can watch the whole interview  below or on my Don Winn YouTube channel.

Don: What ideas can you offer to parents to help them make learning feel like fun for their kids?

Faith: One of the most important things you can do is to get kids to stand up and learn. What I mean by that is getting them to write on a vertical surface, using chalkboard and chalk. Painting on an easel works too. This is kind of the old-fashioned way kids learned, and I say bring that back!

You could implement this in any number of ways:

  • Set up an easel
  • Put up a chalkboard
  • Use chalkboard paint to create a drawing/writing area on the wall
  • Hang a whiteboard in your house

Writing on a vertical surface starting at a young age provides the following benefits:

  • Kids cross the midline when they write. This engages both sides of the brain and is great for their neural development.
  • Holding chunky chalk, markers, or crayons when they write on a vertical surface helps prepare them to use pencils.
  • They are standing up, so they strengthen their core as they write. When they progress to writing on a flat surface, such as at a desk, many times children don’t have the necessary strength in their upper bodies because they’re not used to standing up and working. We need to get them moving more.
  • Picking up and using small pieces of chalk helps them develop the all-important “pincer grip,” which enhances their fine motor skills.
  • Writing on a chalkboard (or other vertical surface) gets their wrists in the right position for writing on a horizontal surface.
  • When writing on a vertical surface, kids are physically closer to what they’re writing than they are when they write at a desk, so they really get a chance to connect with the writing.
A little boy in a red and black plaid shirt and bluejeans stands in front of a blackboard wall with a piece of chalk in his hand. Writing on a vertical surface is one of several affordable ways to make learning fun for young kids.

Here are some other cost-effective ways to help make learning fun:

  • Give kids a microphone to speak into, let them read aloud into the microphone and then play it back so they can hear it. That is very, very helpful for developing their reading skills.
  • Use a flashlight. At night, let kids read in bed, make a tent, read with a flashlight.
  • Flashlights can also be used to trace letters in the air. Kids can visualize a letter, trace it in the air with the flashlight, in the dark, so they can see it. This lets parents notice if kids are able to form letters correctly too, first with gross motor movement, and then with fine motor movement.
A little girl reads a book with a flashlight in a tent made out of a blanket. A flashlight is just one of many affordable ways to make learning fun.

Notice how nothing here is expensive. Chalk, flashlight, microphone (maybe a microphone is a little bit expensive, but that could be a nice Christmas gift). Nothing really needs to cost a lot. I would say, get them off the electronic toys. Kids are on the computer now, from morning until late afternoon, many of them, with this online learning. We need to get them up, moving, having some fun, but I say the number one thing, if you want something that is useful and fun, get them a vertical surface to write on. And start early. When I have grandchildren, that’s going to be my first gift when the child turns two years old.

Don: Thank you so much, Faith, for sharing these easy and affordable ideas that are so helpful for parents and kids. For more highlights from this interview, check out my two previous blogs featuring Faith Borkowsky called “Reading and Learning Challenges at Home” and “Does Your Child Have Too Much Homework?”

Faith Borkowsky is the founder of High Five Literacy and Academic Coaching with over thirty years of experience as a classroom teacher, reading and learning specialist, regional literacy coach, administrator, and tutor. Ms. Borkowsky is a Certified Dyslexia Practitioner and provides professional development for teachers and school districts, as well as parent workshops, presentations, and private consultations. Ms. Borkowsky is the author of the award-winning book, Failing Students or Failing Schools? A Parent’s Guide to Reading Instruction and Intervention and the If Only I Would Have Known… series.  She is also a board member of Teach My Kid to Read, a 501(c) non-profit organization with a mission to support and empower students, teachers, and parents through education so all kids, including those with dyslexia, learn to read.

Cardboard Box Adventures picture books are great for shared reading and can help parents establish a strong preliteracy foundation for their children. Check out the CBA Catalog for a full list of award-winning picture books, chapter books, and resources for parents and educators. Visit my Amazon author page for more information.