In seventh and eighth grade, students lay the foundation for skills they will master in high school and beyond. Learning how to read critically and write succinctly will set your child up for success as she takes on a heavier workload and begins thinking about college.
If she needs extra help with language arts, introduce her to these engaging videos and games. They’re fun, entertaining, and educational — the best of all worlds.
Mr. Nussbaum Learning + Fun gathers games by subject and grade level. The site offers games in mathematics, history, geography, science, and language arts. Games are categorized by grade level and type, making it easy to find just the right game for, say, a sixth-grader who needs help with punctuation. How can you not love a website that features a game called "Torture the Teacher"?
Boggle is a word jumble game in which you must construct words from adjacent letters on a puzzle board. The letters shuffle each time you play, resulting in a completely new game each time. If you love word search puzzles, you're likely to love Boggle as well.
In eight brief, entertaining videos, author John Green (The Fault in Our Stars) teaches critical literary concepts (characterization, prose and poety, narrative voice, metaphor and simile) and analyzes classic works of literature (Romeo and Juliet, The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye). "Reading is always an act of empathy; it's always an exercise in imagining what it's like to be someone else," Green explains in the opening video to answer the question "Why do we read?" His insights and enthusiasm make this series well worth the 90 or so minutes it takes to watch all eight episodes.
Often one of the hardest challenges in teaching kids to read is convincing them that reading matters. YouTube has compiled a range of videos in support of Banned Books Week. These videos, called Read Outs, feature people selecting banned books to read from and discuss.
The short videos offer eye-opening insights into the importance of literature. Readers range from authors like Lois Lowry and Sherman Alexie to actors like Jeff Bridges and comic book legend Stan Lee.
The Utah Education Network has amassed a wealth of resources, and the site features a group of interactive games geared toward helping students build vocabulary and master language arts skills. From “New York Times Crossword Puzzles" to Analogy games to “Beat the Clock Apostrophe," the activities here are both fun and educational. Students choose which category they want to work on: grammar, word games, vocabulary, or writing/spelling.
"Free Rice" is a simple but surprisingly addictive game. Each screen presents players with a multiple-choice questions. When students answer correctly, rice is added to their bowls. It's not hypothetical; the United Nations World Food Programme donates actual rice to needy populations each time you get one right. Don't worry; they don't take food away from the needy if you answer incorrectly!
"Free Rice" offers questions in many different categories. In language arts, it asks about English grammar and vocabulary, as well as non-English language instruction. The game also has questions about geography, the humanities, mathematics, and science.