Education Guides

Shining Stars: Second & Third Graders Learn To Read: How Parents Can Help Their Second & Third Grade

You are your child"s first and most important teacher. Use this article to help your young child learn to read.

The story "The Old Red Chair" is about the parent of a 3rd grader. As you read it, watch for ways that Jason"s mother helps him learn to read, like listening to him read and reading a map together.

Build your child"s reading skills by trying the suggested activities.

Use the CHECKLIST at the end to think about your child"s reading skills.

A Parent"s Story

The Old Red Chair

Our old red armchair has
seen better days! The stuffing"s coming out of the arms and one leg wobbles a
bit. But Jason, my nine-year-old, has made it his special reading place, so I
guess we"ll keep it. I can tell it"s a magic place for him. He sprawls across
it, opens a book—and it"s like he"s in another place.

Sometimes he even seems
like he"s in another time. Lately he"s been reading about ancient Egypt. He
tells me he wants to be an archaeologist when he grows up. He wants to find
artifacts from thousands of years ago. I was impressed that he knew the word
"artifact." He said he found it in one of his books and his older brother Andy
had helped him sound it out. It means things made by people, rather than
natural things, he told me.

His vocabulary is
growing so fast! From reading about archaeology he"s added words like
"excavation" and "observation." I know they"re just fancy words for "dig" and
"look," but they"re more exact. It seems like the more words he knows, the
better sense he can make of the world.

Jason"s interest in
Egypt started last fall. The school librarian had gone on a real "dig" over the
summer, in Mexico, I think. When she got back and the school year began, she
showed the students how real archaeologists work. Then the students did their
own dig. They marked an area in the schoolyard, dug it up carefully, and made a
note of everything they found. Jason came home nearly bursting with excitement.
He had found an old-fashioned skeleton key!

"It was so cool, Mom,"
he told me. "There was so much in the dig! You know, leaves, and rocks, and
bugs—and then I found this real key! At first I thought it was just another
rock but I kept digging. When I found it, even Mrs. Stevens got excited. It"s a
real artifact!"

The stories he made up
about that key! First he decided the Pilgrims had left it, but his teacher told
him that the Pilgrims didn"t travel this far west. So he decided pioneers had
left the key behind on their way west. "I"m sure there"s a story about it," he

That night, I took the
boys to the library after dinner. Andy, who"s crazy about baseball, took out a
biography of Satchel Paige. Jason met me at the checkout desk with a
musty-looking book that turned out to be an early history of our town. "That"s
a grown- up book, isn"t it?" I asked.

"Yeah," he said. "Can
you help me with it?" I told him I"d try.

The book was pretty hard
reading, so the next night, I read part of it aloud to my boys. I still read to
them when I can. Our days get so busy it can be hard to find any time for the
three of us to be together. So I read most nights, even if it"s just for
fifteen minutes.

Reading to them is like having
them little again, except now they talk more! As I read about our town, Jason
wanted to know where the oldest house was. Andy was amazed to learn that the
early settlers just laid out the streets of our town and built a flour mill.
"Just like that?" he asked.

"I think so," I said. I
didn"t know much about our town, either. The flour mill must have been torn
down a long time ago. There is no sign of it anymore. We came to a map and
looked at that for a long time. The boys tried to match places on the map with
places in town they know. I can see why they call it "reading" a map. They even
found the place where our house is now! It was just fields in the old days. So
was Jason"s school—no clues there about his skeleton key! But he decided to
write his own short story about his pioneers idea and where that key came from.
He just had to know!

This school year will be
an important one in Jason"s life as a reader. His teacher said that next year,
in fourth grade, students begin to "read to learn" rather than "learn to read."
That means the teachers will expect Jason to know how to read pretty smoothly
so they can begin to teach more complex ideas.

I"m sure Jason will be a
strong reader by then. He"s starting to get the habits of a good reader. For
example, when he comes to a word he doesn"t understand, he reads me the whole
sentence and tries to figure out what it means. If I don"t know, we look it up.

Then he goes back to the
red armchair, stretches out over it, and goes back to his book and the place he
goes when he reads. I don"t know if he"ll stay interested in archaeology or if
something else will seem "awesome" to him later. Whatever it is, I think he"ll
start by reading about it.

The End

There"s more to reading together than just saying the words.

Try asking your second
or third grader questions like these when you read together.

Talk about the text...

How does the author say
the Egyptians got the idea of mummifying bodies? Does this make sense to you?

They noticed that bodies
did not decompose in the dry sand.

Why was it important to
the ancient Egyptians that bodies be mummified? They believed the spirit would
survive if the body was preserved.

Talk about words and sounds...

Let"s count out the
syllables in mummification. Five.

What"s the noun based
on the word "invent?" Invention.

What are some other
words that end in "tion"? Intention, nation, reflection, etc.

Talk about new words...

What do we call a place
that gets very little rain? A desert.

What"s another word for
invent? Create, build, etc. The Mummies of


Ancient Egypt

Activity Page

Ancient Egyptians
probably discovered the process of mummification by accident. Because Egypt is
so arid, (it has almost no rainfall), bodies buried in the sand did not
decompose, but were preserved instead. Later, the Egyptians began mummifying
the bodies of kings and other important people on purpose.

To the Egyptians, a
person had both a body and spirit. They believed that a person"s spirit could
live after the body"s death, if it had a body to live in. The Egyptians
invented mummification to preserve the body so the spirit could live on.

The mummies of ancient
Egypt are so well preserved that today we can have a good idea of what a person
looked like thousands of years after he or she lived. The best preserved
mummies date from about three thousand years ago.


Second grade

[ ] My child knows how
to use the rules of phonics to help him figure out unfamiliar words.

[ ] My child reads many
sight words and regularly spelled one-and two-syllable words.

[ ] My child reads and
understands second grade fiction and nonfiction, and compares and connects
information from different sources.

[ ] My child reads for
specific purposes and specific questions, and explores topics of interest on
her own.

[ ] My child answers
"how," "why," and "what if" questions, and recalls information, main ideas, and
details after reading.

[ ] My child interprets
information from diagrams, charts, and graphs.

[ ] My child takes part
in creative responses to stories, such asdramatizations and oral presentations.

[ ] My child pays
attention to how words are spelled and correctly spells words he has studied.

[ ] My child spells a
word the way it sounds if she doesn"t know its spelling.

[ ] My child writes for
many different purposes and writes different types of compositions (for
example, stories, reports, and letters).

[ ] My child makes
thoughtful choices about what to include in his writing.

[ ] My child takes part
in writing conferences, revises and edits what she has written, and attends to
the mechanics of writing (spelling, capitalization, and punctuation) in her
final versions.

[ ] My child learns new
words and shares them at school and at home.

[ ] My child uses clues
from the context and his knowledge of word parts (roots, prefixes, suffixes) to
figure out what words mean.

[ ] My child is
increasing his vocabulary with synonyms and antonyms.

[ ] My child uses parts
of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs) correctly.

[ ] My child learns new
words through independent reading.




[ ] My child uses what
he knows of phonics and word parts (prefixes, roots, suffixes) to sound out
unfamiliar words.

[ ] My child reads third
grade level texts (stories, non-fiction, magazine articles, computer screens)
with fluency and comprehension.

[ ] My child explores
topics of interest and reads longer stories and chapter books independently.

[ ] My child can explain
the major points in fiction and non-fiction books.

[ ] My child identifies
and discusses words or phrases she does not understand.

[ ] My chi


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