Before your kids started school, you were their primary teacher. Use these simple grade-level ideas to reinforce learning at home and continue developing your child’s academic skills.


Language Arts
It’s important for a young student to know how to follow words in a story—from left to right, top to bottom, and page by page. One simple way for a parent to help is to always point to the words when reading a story. Move your finger or your child’s finger in a left-to-right sweep as you say the words.

In math, a fun way to practice “greater than,” “less than,” and “equal to” is with a die and some pennies. Have your child roll the die, then count out the number of pennies the die displays. Have him roll again and count out a second group. Compare to see whether one group of the pennies has more or less, or is equal to the number in the other group.

1st Grade

Language Arts
Retelling a story with detail is a key component of good comprehension. Try making a simple “flap book.” Here’s how:

  • Take a piece of 8.5-inch-by-11-inch paper and fold it in half horizontally, making two 5.5-inch-by-8.5-inch halves.

  • Open the top half and make two evenly spaced cuts from the top of the paper just to the fold line. Fold the top half back down to see three “flaps” that can be raised.

  • Have your child open the first flap, on the left, to draw or write what happened first in the story. Use the second flap for detailing what happened in the middle of the story, and the last flap for what happened at the end of the story.

In math, 1st graders are expected to know time in hours and half-hours, using both analog and digital clocks. Make an analog clock using two paper plates, a brad fastener (split pin), and a marker:

  • On one plate write the clock numbers with a marker, starting with 12 at the top. Evenly fill in the other numbers.

  • From the second plate cut out the two “hands” of the clock, with the minute hand cut longer than the hour hand. Make sure the top of each hand has a pointed tip.

  • With the point of your scissors, make a small hole in the bottom of each hand. Then make a small hole in the center of the paper plate with the numbers. Push the brad through the two hands and attach the hands through the hole in the plate.

  • Open the brad in the back of the plate to secure the hands while allowing movement. Let your child practice setting hour and half-hour times that you say. For example, tell her to show you 5:30 on the clock.

2nd Grade

Language Arts
Practice comparing and contrasting stories. Two good stories to use are the traditional Three Little Pigs and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs (from the wolf’s point of view).

  • Take a piece of 8.5-inch-by-11-inch paper and fold it down the center vertically, making two 4.25-inch-by-11-inch halves.

  • Draw a line across the top of the paper. Above the line, on the left side of the fold, write “Same.” On the right side of the fold, write “Different.”

  • Have your 2nd grader list at least five details of the two stories that are similar in the “Same” column. Then list the same number of contrasting details in the “Different” column. Practice this strategy until she easily can compare and contrast story details.

In math, 2nd graders should be able to recognize place value for three-digit numbers. Here’s a simple activity for practice. You’ll need three dice and a piece of standard notebook paper (8.5-by-11).

  • Fold the paper in thirds lengthwise, to form three equal columns.

  • Label the columns “Hundreds Place” on the left, “Tens Place” in the middle, and “Ones Place” on the right.

  • Roll all three dice. Use the numbers on the dice to create the largest three-digit number possible.

  • Write it in the correct place columns. For example, if he rolled a 2, a 6, and a 4, the largest number would be 642. The 6 would go in the hundreds place column, the 4 in the tens place, and the 2 in the ones place.

3rd Grade

Language Arts
When writing a story, 3rd graders are expected to properly use temporal words (words relating to time), such as “first,” “next,” “then,” “before,” “after,” and “last.” A good way to practice this at home is with a weekend jobs list. Write it together, in sequence. For example, first make your bed, then feed the dog, next take out the trash, and finally we can go to soccer practice!

In math, compare and contrast fractions. Slice a large pizza into eight equal pieces. Put one-eighth (one slice) on a plate. What’s the fraction left in the box? (Seven-eighths.) Or put two slices on one plate (two-eighths) and three slices on another plate. Which plate has more? (Three-eighths.) How much more? (One-eighth.) Bon appétit!

4th Grade

Language Arts
Students in 4th grade are expected to use words and phrases to convey ideas precisely. One way to practice this at home is to list different ways to say the same thing. For example, in a notebook, have your child write a commonly used word or phrase at the top, then brainstorm different ways to say the word or phrase. Record answers on the page, under the original word or phrase. For example, under “big,” your child could list “large,” “giant,” “huge,” “massive,” and “enormous.” For writing assignments, your child could reference this notebook for more descriptive and precise words.

Fourth-graders need to identify lines and angles, and use that knowledge to help classify shapes. You’ll need some flat wood sticks and glue. Form and glue the separate sticks into at least four various shapes, such as a hexagon, rectangle, pentagon, or square. When the glue dries, have your child write the name of the shape on the side of one of the sticks with a fine-tip marker. Then have her hang the shapes from a coat hanger with string or yarn to make a shape mobile.

5th Grade

Language Arts
Students in 5th grade are expected to make presentations of knowledge and ideas. Help your 5th grader practice by recording his presentation on a smartphone or video camera. This will give him the opportunity to “rehearse” before an actual class event. Have him rehearse three times, out loud.

In 5th grade math, converting “like” measurement units within the same system is an expected skill. Here’s a way to practice at home. Let your child use a yardstick, meter stick, or measuring tape to measure objects around the house: the length of a bed, the width of the kitchen table, etc. When those measurements are recorded, help her convert within the same system. For example, if the couch is 2.5 yards long, how many feet is that? Or, if the table is 3 meters wide, how many centimeters is that?