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Use crafty tricks to teach the three R's

Illustration by David LaRochelle

Now that kids are in the back-to-school groove, look for opportunities each day when you're together with your family to reinforce what's happening in the classroom. When you look with an eye toward learning, you'll discover that the three R's are all around you, whether you're reading a recipe, writing a grocery list or counting missing socks in the laundry basket. Here are some extra-creative activities to practice one of those three R's that actually starts with a W — writing!

Write a pen pal

If your child made a new friend at camp or renewed a friendship with a cousin far away, write a letter and send it in the mail. To make it extra-fun, write today's date in the center of a sheet of stationery, and then begin writing the sentences from the date in a circular, spiral design. To read the letter, the recipient will have to spin it round and round in his or her hands.

What's for dinner?

Write the dinner menu in large letters on an index card using the printed lines as a guide. Help your child spell challenging words, such as "spaghetti" or "maraschino cherry." Place the card on the table propped on a small plate rack, or wrap the card around the outside of an empty jam or mayonnaise jar filled with flowers. Hold it in place with string, wire or thin ribbon tied around the middle of the jar.

Craft words with glue

For an offbeat way to write, draw a simple object, such as a flower, and write words to label it underneath by squeezing white household glue directly from the bottle onto a sheet of light-colored or white construction paper. As the glue dries, it will become almost invisible. Paint over it with poster paints and see the words and picture reappear! Experiment with textures, and try the "word art" on a remnant of leftover fabric, too.


Write Donna with your questions and ideas at www.donnasday.com. Donna's latest book, "Donna Erickson's Fabulous Funstuff for Families," is available in bookstores nationwide. © Donna Erickson Distributed by King Features Syndicate